December 6, 2008 4:45 AM PST: Bags packed, feeling mostly recovered, and looking forward to a fun trip and a great race. Mostly, we were looking forward to meeting Ian van der Walt of DCM Chrome and Janse van Rensburg, my partner for the Sabie Experience, a 4 day MTB stage race in Sabie South Africa. Sabie is really close to the Kueger National Park and we were also hoping to get a chance to see zebras, a giraffe, or some other exotic animals and wildlife. I was feeling much better after the accident but I think I will have a scar for the rest of my life to remind me how dangerous this sport can be. And I thank God every day for my custom painted Uvex helmet that I think saved me that day.
The travel crew included myself, my 23 month old son Joshua, wife Terri, Elmo, and Tracy Clinton who we recruited to help out with us and Joshua. Here we are after unloading at 5:30 AM at LAX.
The mission statement for MonaVie-Cannondale is "Epic Racing Around the World". One thing about epic racing around the world are all the cool stamps you get to accumulate in your passport. Mine include such places as the UK, Brazil, Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Peru, Singapore, Japan, etc.... It is an awesome portfolio reminder about all the cool stuff I have had the good fortune of experiencing on a bike! I was more than ready to get a stamp for South Africa. I have never been there and was really looking forward to it.
We arrived in Atlanta at around 4:00 PM EST. We had a good lunch, and then went to stand in line to get on the flight to Drakar and Johannesburg. Terri and Joshua went ahead of me but the guy checking passports prior to boarding held me back. He said I needed 2 full pages in order to travel but I only had 1 and 1/2 pages available. Huh?
We asked, begged, pleaded...there was nothing we could do on a Saturday in Atlanta. The passport office is closed on the weekends and even if we tried, you can't get a US passport in less than 2 weeks. That meant no trip and no race for me. Terri said she could go without me, but she was just joking of course! (maybe...)
Not much to get mad about. They wouldn't let me on the plane to South Africa and that was final. So they booked a flight for us back to LA. There wasn't much more we could do so we made the best of it and had a beer and let it sink in. Joshua ran around checking out all the cool Christmas decorations in the Atlanta airport.
There are people that only take one trip like this in a lifetime. We felt like one of those people with our hopes and dreams of waking up with a giraffe looking at us in the window, riding bikes for hours in Sabie, and hanging out with Ian and the rest of the folks at the race. Yep it was disappointing but what really gets to me is I made a promise to race with Janse and I had to let him down. Good luck Janse...I hope you the best with who ever gets to race with you.
The most disappointing part of it all was telling Ian and Linda that we couldn't be there and why. Meanwhile we worried about the luggage but that showed up later in the day on Sunday. All in all, we were really grateful we found this out before leaving the US. We are also trying to schedule a make-up trip sometime in 2009. Will let you know what works out.
Today I filled out my passport application and it is ready to be processed.
December 6, 2008 7:30PM PST. We arrived back at LAX. The baggage didn't arrive so we filed a report. We also looked into recovering the $300 I had to pay to take the bike with me. Damn - the airlines are nuts these days!! Most people don't have bikes that cost that much.
So after feeling sorry for ourselves the rest of the night, we decided to head to Las Vegas for a couple of days. We needed a break so once the bags arrived we loaded them into the truck and headed to the Red Rock Resort and Spa in Las Vegas.
Red Rock was awesome. We woke up each morning to a breathtaking view of the red rocky mountains. I got some good riding in, and we enjoyed a few good meals. We didn't even spend a penny on slots or gambling though. Neither of us are big into gambling but we did go to the arcade and won some tickets which bought us a toy train whistle, rubber snake, and a big green bug.
Then, one of the most incredible moments happened. Joshua pooped in the potty for the very first time on Monday morning. It was so awesome! We are just hoping he doesn't wait a year until the next time!