Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tuesday - Team Presentation

Given that the hotel was in the middle of the city and on a steep hillside, we had all been wondering how we might spin the legs out. My friend Marielle from France and Burlington, VT was racing with her Italian team and had plans to go for a ride. Andrea, Megan, and I scrambled into bike clothing and leaped on a bus to go for an easy ride with Marielle and two of her teammates - the Ukranian Tatyana and Caroline from the UK. We drove about 30 minutes before the bus pulled over on the side of a highway by a roadside stand selling coconuts. Time to ride. The diesel exhaust was incredible. Tatyana insisted we ride exactly 60k, to the decimal. Tuesday afternoon we piled on the bus in our matching polos for the team presentation. This is where I started to understand the lay of the land: The race is sponsored by an El Salvadoran who runs a Swiss bank and who is a massive cycling fan with an interest in developing South American riders. He's created an Italian team, Cogeas, starring an El Salvadoran talent, Evelyn Garcia, and this team was the starring team of the race. Ruben travels in an armored Lincoln Navigator with sirens and never without several guards armed with automatic weapons. We sat in the center of a velodrome under a tarp. VIPs sat beside us. School children and military personnel in camouflage filled the stands on the side of the velodrome, occupied by promotional give- aways and whatever else forced them to be there. Soon we realized in some disbelief that the guest of honor would be the president of El Salvador himself... With great fanfare and security he made his entrance and spoke of the importance of the race in showing people that the country had recovered from civil war.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

She lives! *hug* Glad you're back safe and sound. Looks like you rode well, too! I look forward to reading about your adventures!