TDT day 2

Monday dawned cold and windy in the village of Lacluba, but well before the dawn the race compound was alive with activity.  Sleep is not easy in this place.  One’s tent is placed side by side with 2 or 3 others, and somewhere in the not-far-enough is at least one generator.  And of course there are the roosters.  They like to welcome the dawn here in Timor Leste just like everywhere else in the world.  But Timorese roosters are perfectionists.  They are consummate performers, and like all performers they require rehearsal.  2 am is when rehearsal begins, followed by warm up at 3 am and some technical vocal exercises at 4 am.  Then a short rest, so that by 6 am they are well and truly primed to crow.

Sleep on Sunday night was particularly hard for me.  I was determined not to be denied the chance to ride on Monday, and to get that opportunity I had to consume enough fluid to put at least a few kilograms of weight back on.  So I sipped and gulped at water bottles all night, and, as one thing leads to another, I rose and urinated also at frequent intervals during the night.
And towards the morning sleep becomes more difficult, as trucks roar to life and people start to go about the business of looking after 1000 riders and volunteers and medics and support staff and mechanics and various hangers-on. So it wasn’t what you’d call a good night’s sleep, but I felt refreshed and OK nonetheless.
After breakfast I sought out the medical people with some trepidation.  But alas!  They had already packed away the scales and were not able to weigh me.  A brief interview would have to do – and I was pronounced fit to race.  The day began with a rolling, neutral start – the first two kilometres (mostly downhill) back out of Laclubar – behind  a lead vehicle.  After that we were off again.  120 kms of rough road, gradually descending in a now-familiar Timorese up and down fashion to sea level.
It might have been cold and windy in the morning, but by 9 (an hour after start time) it was getting hot.  My aim for the day was to ride myself back into some better heath – not to push it hard.  I was lucky enough to meet up with a couple of women from Cairns at about the 30 km mark.  They seemed to be riding at a good pace, they were good to talk to and they were happy to trade turns.  I ended up spending nearly all of the last 70 km with them.  Rett (short for Loretta) and Lesley, all kitted out in pink Shespoke gear.  These girls are regular MTB travellers.  In the last couple of years they have completed both the FNQ Crocodile Trophy, and the Central Australian Red Centre Enduro event.  There were two other women in their team, but they were behind us somewhere.  Rett and Lesley were sitting just outside the top 10 in the women’s classification – so they kept up a good pace.
The last hour or so seemed to stretch on forever – as it often does in events like this.   Finally we rolled into the coastal village of Viqueque.  I was looking forward to walking casually past the medical tent and smiling at them and letting them know that I was OK, but first I headed to the showers.   This time I had arrived a lot earlier in the day, so there were fewer people in the showers, and I was out and cleaned in no time.  Showering had alerted me to a problem, however.  As I washed the backs of my legs, and few bits of skin came away in my hand, accompanied by a goodly strong stinging sensation:  saddle sores.  So I was back to the medical tent after all.  I’ve never had a saddle sore before, so up until now I’ve had no idea what I’ve been missing out on!  Ouch.
A huge lunch, a bit of a snooze, and poke around Viqueque and it was time for (a huge)  dinner.  At dinner I caught up with  Kiwi rider I’d met back in Dili – Marcus.  He’d had a pretty good first day, but had spent most of his second day jumping off his bike and into the bushes with diarrhoea.
As we ride along there are rarely any sections of road with no-one standing there watching.  In some places, like going through little villages and bigger towns, there are large crowds on the road.  Sometimes they stand there mute, watching these foreign crazies go by, and sometimes they cheer like mad.  Viva Timor Leste! is a favourite.  Or they call out something or other in Portugese or in Tetun.  Sometimes you answer and they smile, sometimes you answer and they laugh quite wickedly, and it’s hard to ignore the feeling that you’ve just been made a fool of.  Maybe they called out something like “are you a foreign idiot with more money than sense flogging yourself around our country on a bike like a moron?”, and, not understanding you innocently reply something like “Yay” or “Hello” or somesuch, or maybe even “YES!” and they just break up.
And quite often there will be 10 or more kids in a row, all with their hands outstretched in a kind of horizontal high five gesture, and it’s almost impossible to go by and not stick your hand out and slap each hand as you go past.  At some point during the day it occurred to me that all this high fiving, followed by reaching into my pocket for food, or grabbing a drink, *might* be a good way to catch some kind of gastro.  I’m not sure if that’s how Marcus got the runs, but it seems possible.
By the end of day two I was happier, healthier and nearly heavier than I’d been the night before!
internet is pretty slow here folks, and there’s lots of sightseeing to do, so I’ll dig out some pictures for day two and post them later.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Bulls
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 12:46:35

    I think you have a found a new calling – not a semi-pro biker but a travel writer – the new Bill Bryson! Well done so far you are a legend all be it a skinny one. Damien


  2. Sandra Smith
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 21:22:26

    Lol … ouChY ! Good Luck with that.


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