It was a BIG deal then and it was a bigger deal now.
So where to begin....every single thing was perfect about the trip and it all fell into place just right.
|Beto Franco, Leones Pereira, and Vanessa Pereira|
It started at the airport in Sao Paolo. I was sitting there waiting for my flight. I don't know what I was doing, could have been scratching my ass or whatever... but to much relief, a guy came up and asked me if I was 'Tinker' and I said yes. He spoke good English and we chatted a while. It turned out that he was also on his way to Balneario Cambrio for the UCI Mountain Bike Master World Championships with a friend and his friend's wife. So we traveled on the same flight, took the same ferry, and as it turned out, they even had a reservation at the same hotel. They say there are angels all around you all the time. Beto, Leones, and Vanessa are three angels for sure!
|View of Santa Caterina Brazil on the way from the race to the ferry|
|Pirate still hang out off the coast in Brazil|
Not much was very exiting in the two days leading up to the race. I got to rest as much as possible. Rest is always the secret after a big exhausting trip with a time change. The only little complaint I had was even on the seventh floor, the traffic outsite was crazy late into the night. It was a fun little nice town with a lot of little stores, malls, beautiful beach, great fishing, excellent restaurants, and it was very convenient to the Parque Unipraias track, where they had the Pan Am games and World Cup races in 2005 and 2006. But I was not there to have fun. I was there to bring home a gold medal.
After the race started, I began to relax in the saddle a little and managed to gain over a minute. The second lap was a little more focused, but no one could give me split times because they didn't speak English, but I knew I had a comfortable lead so I knew I had to continue on the same pace and keep focused and careful. I was also worried if something mechanical could happen, and I wanted to keep something in the tank for the last lap.
|Bento Franco at the World Champ Finish!|
|45-49 class with all the country leaders in the front|
Bento was there racing in my class with me. His goal was to finish well and he was excited to be a part of all of it. He did great too! I wish I could have cheered him on and handed him bottles or whatever because he and Leones and Vanessa were all really great to me the entire trip. Leones passed bottles for me and Vanessa took photos. When I said they were angels I really mean it! I am so grateful to them!
Half way through the race I knew I had to be extra careful and not do anything stupid and ride the course smooth and easy. The fifth and final lap was still overcast and warm, and I realized I had not drank enough. I was riding on adrenaline by then I knew I should have drank more but I didn't. I began to panic when the cramps hit me. I think I had a cow and paniced a lot more with every painful crank up the climbs. I definitely was not going as fast as the first four laps. But I kept my head up and tried like hell to focus to finish. With the comfortable lead I had, I knew I just had to finish so I set my mind to it. My new old motto is 'Never ever give up'.
It sunk in when I got home and I got a chance to really think about it...while I was at my favorite local fishing spot today...
|A few tears of joy at the interview|
|Three World Champions|
|I'm the one in the middle|
|Joshua eyeing the celebration cake|