As promised, part two (part one here).
And Corey is still harder than you.
From: Corey the Courier
The next morning Mike bumped into a shuttle driver who was from Pana that said he could get us there by back roads. I was a bit hesitant as we had already paid the other drivers for our still incomplete trip and the roads were still questionable. After a group conference we gambled on paying the new driver to get us to our final destination. The last person we saw before leaving town was the driver for King Kog Gina, her husband and Montreal Chuck. He said in Spanish that the roads were not good, but if you’re going to go be careful. As my time in Guatemala increased so too did my listening and speaking skills improve. That was one occasion where ignorance would have been bliss. We waited on the highway for two hours as road crews worked to clear debris and direct traffic through the heavily damaged roads.
True to his word, once traffic began to flow, our driver did take back roads to Pana. Near the end of the trip at the north end of town, we had to disembark from the van to walk across a wire cable bridge, a modern version of the rope bridge, but with wood plank across the middle. The thinking was that if the vehicle fell down the gorge on the horseshoe curve, only the driver would be killed. It was interesting walking across the bridge as it bounced and swayed under the weight of two dozen pedestrians, not knowing if the bridge would last the duration of the short walk.
Upon arrival in Pana, the crew and I went to a restaurant to eat. For some strange reason, this was the second consecutive evening that I couldn’t finish my meal. I later discovered I had the stomach sickness from contaminated food and/or water. I spent the next several days peeing out the front and back…
Although things were bad, at least I had made it to Pana. I began running at sunrise while everyone else slept. I needed strong lungs if I were going to be the bully of the bikers. I learned all of the roads as everyone else tossed and turned trying to ignore the crowing of the roosters.
La Ocho, a figure eight track, talked about for years and finally built in Pana, was destroyed by the erosion of the land near the river due to the deluge of water from the nearby mountain. A replacement flat track was carved in the dirt in a nearby football field (soccer for you gringos) The Ocho race was won by former CMWC Champion and Olympian Ivonne Kraft.
I thought I was going to win Foot Down until near the very end someone falling took me out by grabbing my bike. Three seconds later Aaron of NYC was declared the winner.
In Team Foot Down, there was a captain and their crew of blockers. The captain was identified by the blinking light on the front of their bike. I was the captain for our team because I had a blinking head lamp. Team Australia had it in for me and immediately sent kamikaze bombers to get me. The winner would be the first team to score 3 wins. I was so angry by Team Australia’s vigorous campaign to derail my chances to win that I yelled to one of their guys that I was going to take out their captain. They thought it the usual trash talking. At the start of the final round I made my way through the mob of crashers and smashers to the Aussie Captain. He was very surprised to see a team captain barreling toward him. Down he went in the mud, but I fell soon after because of a random large rock. Team DC won. I won the respect of Team Australia.
On the morning of the qualifiers I was the first to race breakfast. My stomach was solid, my appetite had returned. I was to sport the DrunkCyclist jersey and socks for all see. All of the riders were given a cell phone. Their race started when they received a call telling them which checkpoint on the course had their manifest sheet. I was lucky because my hotel was on the course. It was awesome watching everyone nervously lounging, then hearing a phone ring and freaking out. The called rider would then burst into speed, beginning their race.
When my call came, I was so flustered, I began to speak in Spanish, confusing the dispatcher momentarily. I was given my start info and flew away. I scrambled and bounced around the streets of Pana, death grip on the bars, yelling in “derecha, muevete” as I passed other riders and pedestrians. I lost a few points due do arriving after my one hour time limit because of one pesky rider who refused to stand aside despite me roaring past him, lapping him several times on the course. I am quite certain I was the fastest on the streets that day. The second heat, comprised of the odd numbered racers, figured out a system of going to certain checkpoints to get the most points without actually riding the entire course. It was interesting to note how of the top 30 to qualify, only a few riders and almost all from the second heat had a massive point spread higher than everyone else.
On the morning of the finals I was unable to find the cornucopia of fruit like the organizers had provided the day prior. I felt at ill ease, unable to eat exactly what I wanted or to even find it. The race began with a flurry of riders all bombing to one checkpoint. At the second checkpoint I noticed a stem bolt had mysteriously went on its own expedition much like the headset bearings days earlier. I tightened down the other three and resumed racing. As I passed my hotel, I had noticed the entire female staff had come out en masse to cheer for me. “WE LOVE YOU COREY!” as I flew past. That threw me off for a moment when I remembered that they don’t speak English. Then typical of my races disaster struck. A tuk-tuk, a small three wheeled taxi, darted onto the course leaving no place to go. Locking up the brakes and skidding sideways, I came to a stop by colliding with the front end, destroying the windshield. I growled at the driver and his two passengers and hobbled away straighten my handlebars and replace my chain. As I arrived at the finish line, I was informed there was not going to be another manifest for me. Shit. I was to be an also-ran. F*ng Shit. Hours of potential parties squandered on so-called fitness lost in the toilets of Guatemala.
The next day I had some whiskey in my pepsi at the pool in Hotel Rancho Grande. I missed out on most of the parties, but the day after lounging was the best. Several American riders all left the same day. It was a bittersweet farewell at the airport, with everyone promising to meet again at the next year’s event in Warsaw.