Thursday, September 8, 2011

Off to the Tour de Timor!

Tomorrow, I'm heading off on what I am confident will be a pretty special experience. The third Tour de Timor takes place from the 11th-16th of September in a little place called Timor-Leste.

If I'm to be honest, I'm also confident it will be pretty hard. In fact, I am shitting myself a bit. I have never done a multi-day stage race before. I don't think I have ever ridden 550km in a week before. I am not very good at riding up hills and I have spent the last six weeks training in Phnom Penh where there is nary a mound in sight, let alone a mountain, or even a hill. And, we have to get up at 5am each day (except one day which is 4am!).

There, now that I've got my excuses out of the way, I can continue. This is the course. It starts in Dili with the blue bit, then continues around the brand spanking new country in an anti-clockwise direction.

And this is the profile. If it looks hilly, that's because it is. Day one (in dark blue) makes me feel particularly unwell. Day four (in light blue) also looks a bit long for my liking.

Despite the fear and the excuses, I'm really excited. The event seems well-organised. Apparently, all riders will be met on the tarmac at Dili Airport and taken to VIP rooms to have our immigration requirements sorted out. Then we'll be driven in UN vehicles to our hotel. I hope I get to wear a bullet-proof vest and a blue helmet too. Not that it's dangerous there Mum, but it just seems it would be a bit of a waste not to be clad thus when rolling in a UN convoy.

Each day, we are fed and our gear is transported to the finish line. There will be ocean views, rainforests and rice paddies. There will be very fit people with shaved legs. There will be very fit people with hairy legs. There will be less fit people, some with hairy legs, some without. There will be pros, amateurs, try-hards and me. There will be lots of Westerners and some Timorese. All counted, there will be 400 riders.

That's about all I know, but I'm sure come Tour's end there will be lots of new things I know too, which I will share with you.

Of the pros racing, I'm particularly excited about the indefatigable Tinker Juarez. Despite his birth date being a very long time ago (1961), he is still racing at a top level. He raced as a professional BMXer from 1976 to 1984 and then turned his hand (or should I say legs? Yes, I should) to mountain biking. And he hasn't stopped pedalling since. He now specialises in 24-hour and ultra-long distance races. He also has a made 'do.

If all goes to plan, I'll secure an interview with him. Anything you want me to ask?

Tinker...a somewhat strange looking man

So, that's what's in store for me next week. Wish me luck and I'll see you on the other side (I don't think I'll have much access to internet so I'll just have to fill you in when I get home). I'll be sure to say hello to José for you.

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