It feels time to wrap up Trinidad and Tobago. It’s been languishing like that mother-in-law that’s been knocking on death’s door for two decades, sitting in the back of my mind, needing to come out (read: die), whining incessantly, but I’m a little torn. Part of me wants to do this:
“So the race went like this in boring cycling jargon, I worked my ass off, got in the break for 90km, but the race bible was inaccurate and the stage was 120km instead of 96km…”
And the other part wants to go:
“Oh my God, how did I make it out alive? That was AWESOME.”
I think the latter will be far more entertaining than detailing the specific mechanics of a bicycle race in terms only .0003% of the globe’s populace can comprehend, yes?
So, Trinidad. As you may have inferred, the last couple days of our exciting journey were fraught with (surprise) peril. Yes, I was in the break very early, as planned. With one other guy. ONE. At least he was a super-chill Danish man-beast who helped me annihilate the Colombian track team holding yellow, as planned. And we got brought back, as planned, after completely turning ourselves inside out. Cesar (how I love that Colombiana Greyhound) attacked at exactly the right moment, snapping off from the peloton like a man possessed. As planned. In fact, he held virtual yellow - as planned. Then, in typical fashion, the course was not as planned. Cesar crossed the 96km mark - the supposed finish, yet there was no fanfare, no crowd, no finish line…because the finish was, in truth, another 20km away. In bike racing, efforts are metered for exact distances with little room for error. Cesar’s room for error was about 5km, and he was spent. Our chance at total victory was vanquished like an errant fly in a spotless operating room, and we’d end up settling for third and fourth in the general classification. I’d sacrificed any hope I’d had at a decent finish by destroying myself in the break for the team, and would finish somewhere in the nether regions of the GC.
The night before the final stage, we found ourselves in a hotel that likely gave a number of members of the peloton Dengue fever - but there was something a little more pressing beyond questionable food and the languishing manner in which it was served. The two story building was picturesque, lying directly on the beach, with almost nil in the way of telecom infrastructure. We were residing on the eastern shore of the isle of Trinidad, the most remote area of the nation - and a true black hole of modern communication. We weren’t sure if the hotel even had a land-line.
The morning of the final stage, we were assembling in the usual manner for the jaunt over to the start line - which is to say, pretty slowly, because we’re in T&T…and we be limin’. The food the night before seemed to have afflicted most of us in terrible, porcelain bowl-destroying ways. Cesar and I opted to visit the bar down the street for breakfast - a safe haven of food cooked in 350F oil that no amoeba, virus, bacteria, or other tiny organism hell-bent on annihilating my GI tract could survive in. We returned from our greasy sanctuary to pack up for the trip out. As Cesar wandered to the bathroom of our second-floor room to gather his assortment of belongings, the floor beneath him began to make suspect noises. What was at first though to be nothing more than a loose tile revealed itself to be an actual sinking of the floor beneath him. A loud crack announced our immediate departure from the room. I gathered my stuff like a Russian peasant fleeing the approaching Mongol horde. As I clambered down the stairs, losing bits and pieces of kit from my arms, I spotted one of the proprietors coming the other way.
Nate: “Hey, so our room is uh…it’s collapsing. The floor is collapsing.”
Proprietor: “Oh. Ayekay.”
She continued up the stairs at her herded gait, as if the collapse of second-floor rooms was a regular occurrence here. We got on the bus, and the laughter began. Laughter and smiles.