Well, Portugal wasn’t exactly easy….
I know I was completely wrong in dreaming of warm sun, sandy beaches, beautiful Portuguese women, relaxed racing, and an all round good time as I made the pilgrimage to the wholly land of pain last Monday. A man can dream right? Alas, it was little more than a dream. I’m sure many of you have heard the rumors of the insanity of Portuguese racing and listened to the tails told by Pro Tour riders who, upon returning to their native lands, preached nothing but shocking tails of distain, pain, and caravan surfing. So I won’t elaborate too much on the racing side of things and give you a quick day by day:
Stage 1- “Wow I hope my legs wake up for tomorrow because spending 36hrs traveling from the states then driving 18hrs to Portugal has me in the hurt locker”
Stage 2- “F***!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could have F***ING WON THAT F***ING SPRINT!!!!!!!!!!!!! F***!!! I’M GOING TO KILL THAT LITTLE PORTUGUESE PIECE OF SH*T TOMORROW!!!! (I got 21st after being 4th wheel w/ 1km to the finish before being nearly killed…. lame)
After stage 2- Seriously contemplating crawling down the stairs to dinner. Legs giving out
Stage 3- “F***!!!!! I SHOULD HAVE MADE THAT BREAK!!!! F***!!! (Shortly after….) “Boy I’m sure glad I didn’t make that break because there’s no way in hell I’d be able to make it over all these climbs”
Stage 4- “Oh Sh*t. Did I really forget to eat for 40km? Looks like I’ll be finishing off the back. I sure do hope they don’t make me ride to the hotel after the race…. Damn it.
Stage 5- “I love circuit races and I slept for 12hrs like a dead man last night! I feel great!.... This is not a circuit race. A 4km climb with a 4km decent is torture.”
All things considering (lots and lots of travel, spare bike that kinda fit (if you can consider a 3cm longer reach “in the ball park”)) I did ok. Nothing special and I did finish off the back on a few days but at least I was still givin’ it hell and making the cracked out (I’m not necessarily saying they’re all dopers but every single one of them is twitchy as hell on the bike…) Portuguese earn their podium kisses. If nothing else it brought me up another level on the toughness scale. A few more races like this and I’ll be up to Clint Eastwood tough.
Anyways, w/ zero regard to the racing, Portugal was pretty damn cool. We stayed in a tiny little Mom and Pop hotel just above a local bar. Aside from the toothless 90 year old men and poorly camouflaged transvestites the place was pretty cozy. There were even a couple of English movies on one of the 4 TV channels! Yeah, Fast and the Furious 2! Although, I’m still trying to understand the meaning behind the psychedelic heard of running horses that would play in substitution of commercials… I think I want to join the Portuguese army?
All our food was home made (the first time I saw the kitchen counter covered w/ dead rabbits I was a bit shocked until I realized their purpose) by a small army of semi toothless old women. And any hair found in the food was quickly forgotten with a smile from the granddaughter who worked behind the bar. The sun was hot, nights were cool and the breeze was always the perfect temperature. We stayed 20 km from the ocean and the day we arrived we were granted the rare opportunity to go on an unstructured team ride to the beach. I took advantage of the situation and can now say I’ve jumped in on both sides of the Atlantic! At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think it’s safe to say my dreams came true. Portugal, I’m coming back for you someday.