August 3/99 10:20 am - Shep Report from Winnipeg
Posted by Editor on 08/3/99
The Shep Report From Winnipeg
You know I've never attended any sort of "games" before so upon landing my mind was open, and I was treating it just like another race. Room mate was Shamoe, coach was there, mechanic, all the regular fixings that make my job a great one. The first thing that stood out was the accommodations. Gone were the Marriot, the Sheraton, the condos....enter the Dorm! Having attended University in my home town, I had never had the luxury of staying in a 5 foot by 10 foot dwelling that housed two by way of bunk bed.This room was definitely meant for midget volley ball players, not two riders, two bikes, two bike cases, and four suitcases (now I know why they told us to pack light)! I'm sure everyone is shedding a tear for us right now! I could only imagine the poor 6'10 basket ball player that had to live there for two weeks!
The next thing the athletes had to deal with was the heat in those huge rooms. Every night I would lay awake in bed glazed in sweat till about 3am thinking that this is what POW's who had it good went through! The difference aside from the obvious was the fact that we weren't POW's, but PON's. Prisoner's of our Nation! To get in you had to make it through the airport tight security that had everything except a 250 pound customs officer toting a rubber glove! Passes to get around, fences to keep us in, and standup metal detectors were guarded by big dudes with mustaches. But aside from all this the spirit of the volunteers was truly amazing, and made our (everyone's)stay enjoyable.
Race day was like any other with nerves creeping up on me once the coffee took hold in my blood stream. After inhaling my regular race day breakfast, it was time to do the 120 km drive to the only hill in southern Manitoba! The course was an awesome display of designing that kept the crowd entertained due to the overlapping, multiple loop, bridge cross-over design. Spectator trails were cut with maps to guide the fans to all the technical descents and short steep climbs (hey NORBA, Canada Cup take some notes). Our laps were about 27 min with there being three five minute loops that would brush by the start finish each time.....that made for serious speculating and an exciting race. I couldn't believe that thousands turned up to cheer us on in the middle of nowhere! They really kept us going and without the constant cheers, life would have been more difficult then it already was.
After the starter pistol sounded the usual NORBA suspects appeared at the front. MexiFry Madrigal (Ziranda from Mexico), Larson, Brenes, Shamoe, and I chased some Dominican dude who was out of the saddle cranking it, little did he know that the race was longer than 6 minutes! The big move of the day occurred when Brenes crashed on one of the many corkscrewing, switchback descents.....a 15 sec gap opened up, Larson jumped on it and the game of cat and mouse began. Seamus was the first to take the reins to try to real back Larson, but the big problem was the fact Brenes wouldn't work except on one or two climbs when draft wasn't an issue (also along for the ride was a Brazilian who didn't like to work either). The first two laps were quite painful with Larson gaining 15 sec a lap.....on lap three I took over and would pace the crew till the end of the race....halfway into the third Carl Swenson joined on, but because his teammate was up the road he couldn't help Shamoe and I chase Steve down, so chalk up yet another racer along for a free ride!
Onward we rode in pursuit of the rabbit, but the time gap kept going up till the start of the fourth when it maxxed out at 2:10....at this point I decided to attack hard on the first three steep climbs and ensuing descents. First to go off the back was the Brazilian, then on the second climb Brenes wound off, but each time I looked back there was Swenson, with Shamoe latched on (which was a good thing). Suddenly the time gap started to drop by about 5sec a kilometer, but without Carl being able to work Larson would stay away (I would have done the same had I been in Carl's shoes)....on the last lap Shamoe fell back paying for the hard work he had done for me (and the guys who sat on).
My last opportunity to drop Carl before the final climb was a series of descents where I decided to take some risks and go for the silver, but the gap I formed wasn't big enough to hold him off at the top of the climb. Bottom line was Steve in gold, Carl getting me on the final climb for silver, and yours truly in Bronze. Brenes got a hold of Shamoe on the last climb and was fourth with the dreaded one bringing it home in fifth. All and all the games were a truly unique experience....one of the highlights was doing two hours of "meet and greet the people" at a local Tim Horton's. People flowing in the whole time excited about our race and wanting autographs! You can't ask for more than that!