Sorry for the radio silence.
We got to Tobago, and I didn’t really want to do anything…shockingly (SEE THAT BEACH?!).
I’ll break it down briefly.
Before our transfer to Tobago, we had a rest day on Monday, which we spent in Trinidad mostly doing a whole lot of nothing. I found avocados the size of newborns, went mango-raiding, and there was an ill-fated sponsor “appearance” adventure to a sports nutrition store (one of the race sponsors) at a local mall. The staff was bewildered as to the reasons behind us expertly studying all of the labels on their products and laughing our asses off. Our cursory observations concluded that about one in three of their products contained banned substances. And HEMO-RAGE! Can’t forget the HEMO-RAGE!
Our mall quest did involve one of the sort-of Starbucks (Rituals), though! One of the baristas asked me if it was anything like the coffee shops in the US. I had to break the news that it was close - kind of in the same sense that vegan cheese is sort of like real cheese. It’s vaguely like it, the idea behind it, but the lack of a “coffee culture” (as Cesar likes to put it), shows through. They’re really big on frozen juice concoctions here, so there’s a whole lineup of different coffee-flavored concentrates in tubs to be added to what really amounts to something like a fruity frappucino (not that I’ve ever had one). For fans of nothing but fresh brewed coffee and espresso, things at Rituals are a little sparse - but it certainly is a breath of fresh air from the instant stuff we’ve become accustomed to.
The day after would serve up a 5 AM ship ride from Trinidad to her sister island, Tobago, followed by a circuit race in the afternoon. Turns out I don’t do so well riding big boats on the ocean (note: this was brave Nate’s first real seafaring adventure), and the ferry ride from Port of Spain to Scarborough, Tobago was…rough. I spent a good half of the three hour trip doubled over on the back deck, ready to expunge the contents of my stomach into the sea.
We stayed at the southwestern tip of the island, right on Store Bay. The scenery was quite pleasant, and the snorkeling wasn’t bad, either. While we’d heard Tobago was a tourist destination, it anecdotally appears to be a local thing than international. There were a few foreigners about, but it seemed to be mostly Trinidadians soaking up the rays.
Our stage that afternoon was set to be something like a 90km circuit race, but as has become the norm, it was drastically changed. We’d now race a whopping 50km owing to time constraints. My stomach was still turning from the ship ride over, and I found myself puking in my mouth every time we hit the throttle. The course was actually a lot of fun. The best race to compare it to would be the Awbrey Butte CR at the Cascade Classic in Bend, OR, though the laps were about half as long, and the climbs about half as tall. The shortened duration of the race made it tough for anything to really happen. Had it been a good 120km, we could have done quite a bit, but 50km isn’t long enough to really make it hard. We put one of our German strongmen Lars in the break, but the Colombian team (barely holding onto yellow right now) gave all they had to bring back the small escape group on the last lap for a bunch sprint finish.
No matter, we were plotting bigger and better things the day after, a long road race that was slated to really break things up. Hard climbs, technical riding, and the heat would surely give us a hand in getting Cesar and Jaime atop the podium.
Except not. After a nice 30 minute cruise to the start, we waited around for the usual song and dance that accompanied most of our racing so far. About 20 minutes later, word came down that the stage was cancelled outright. According to sources, the local police were too busy practicing for the independence day parade to escort the race - after they had already been paid for. A huge letdown for everyone (except the Colombians), so instead we went for a nice lap of the island, guided by Emile. I’m saddened I didn’t have my camera as the quick ride was fantastic, with a series of insanely steep 500m climbs. Apparently, most of it is on the UCI-sanctioned Tobago Classic race held in October. I’m finding myself wishing they used the same course for our race.
With yet another rest day coming up and the mood amongst the remaining international guys comical to say the least, we opted to take the night and go out to a bar. A bar next to a fireworks stand. Stay tuned!