Thursday, September 16, 2010

The 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Championship Race in Balneario Camboriu

What can I say?  It seems like the last time I sat down and was able to talk about the World Championship races was such a long time long ago...but it was a long time ago.  I was 33 and I was a young guy!  I had no idea it would take so long to get here.  Your body changes, hair falls out, weight changes.  I now have a new life - a new wife, son, house, everything is so much different now. 

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.

Can't resist....
The night before the race I was nervous like didn't matter who could have been on the start line.  I was nervous about not knowing who was going to be there, if it would rain, and just the fact this was the World Championship race I've been working toward for the past 16 years....  yep I was a nervous wreck.  But the race went off well.  I took the lead after we started the first climb.  I was careful on the technical descent, which could have been very slippery if it had rained.  It turned out that we had some nice cloudcover but it didn't rain and weather was good, the track was really nice, and it flowed just right. 

Cannondale Support!!
I had great support from one of the local Cannondale dealers, who was there for me for anything I needed.  Unfortunately, I did not get a card and my CRS brain can't remember his name right now.... but for sure I want to extend my very sincere thanks to him and Cannondale and Cyclingsportsgroup for the opportunity to be able to work with him and for all his time.  That means so much when we are out there traveling alone to get this kind of excellent support!  Thank you.

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'.

There was a little jump at the end of the lap and one excellent photographer grabbed a great shot of the cross-up I pulled off at the finish!  And then I got to cross the finish line for the first time as a World Champion. 

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

happy guy

Let's celebrate!
Before I close, I just want to mention how friendly the people were there!  It didn't matter if I didn't speak the language - we definitely communicated.  People took photos three days straight with I think I got a shot with every single person at the event but every one was so nice.  It was awsome to be able to make friends without saying a word.  That blows my  mind - and always has.  What a great sport to be in!


Mike said...

Congratulations again!!! Thank you for sharing your story! :)

Paul said...

Hey Tinker, great job! It is great to read and hear about you in this blog, it is really inspiring. Keep the stories coming.

Congrats on the win from Spain!

ps: By the way, it would be great to have the pic of that great jump you did in the finish line!