Roughly five or so of the national teams are staying at the same hotel: the Four Points Sheraton. The other teams are spread throughout the city of Cali at various hotels and the uci has provided bus shuttles to transport athletes, coaches and staff between here and the velodrome. A daily training schedule as well as bus timetable are posted in the lobby so it's not difficult to navigate between the hotel and the track.
Yesterday, Andrew (the logistics manager for usa cycling) arranged for Megan, emy and I to have a shuttle swing by the sheraton and take us to the track earlier then the late late shuttle. We boarded a large greyhound sized bus, complete with disco interior and blaring air conditioning only to travel two blocks, wait for ten minutes and then be told we were switching to another much smaller bus that would whisk us away to the track. Little did we know this smaller bus would be filled to the gills - with the denmark national team, some of the kiwis and all of their bikes. Quite a different experience then Melbourne, where we stayed with emy and weren't as integrated into the international scene except when at the track. We giggled and laughed when one of passangers couldn't take his eyes off emy. And when even snuck in a game of UNO while we waited an additional fifteen minutes for the pick up.
As the bus approaches the velodrome, hordes of locals surrounded the area and my first thought was, whoa, track cycling is happening in Columbia! But a few tight turns later, and our bus turned off the crowded street to the back entrance of the velodrome. We found out later that crowds were there for a bull fight. Silly me, like anyone is into track racing!
The cali track is pretty amazing. It is has an open air cover, composed of Abarco wood (form the columbian pacific coast) and bugs the size of small children. The open air roof provides amazing natural light to filter through and i snapped a few photos yesterday of the riders passing through rays of sunlight, it was amazing. The track is somewhat smooth except for a large dip in corners three and four in the pull lane. The transitions between the straights and the corners is similar to la, except the banking in the straights is a hair or two shallower.
We did a roller warm up as the uci designates certain track times to the different countries and teams at different times, so the track is manageable with the number of athletes wanting some track time. You want to make the most out of your time on the track and emphasize feeling the track, dancing with its nuances and discovering its subtleties. Later in the session, which we had the last one of the night starting at 6:30 pm, the wind picked up quite a bit, creating a massive head wind on the back straight. Thank goodness marymoor's frequent headwinds prepare you for the unexpected. What marymoor doesn't prepare you for though is doing a team pursuit effort and having malaysia's team sprint guys nearly take a rider out in the middle of an exchange. Holy smokes Megan almost went down!
We finished our efforts, got a quick ten minute cool down on the rollers before hustling onto a shuttle bus and being whisked back to the sheraton. Our return trip to the hotel had a quicker route - the driver decided to go up and over the hillside, through switch back ascents and harrowing descents. I was thankful to be in the back of the bus, except if we did hit something, i would be ejected to the front of the bus in no time.
Aye aye aye!
The hillside was covered in blinking Christmas lights - a nice reminder that christmas is coming and people still celebrate it. I was still buzzing from the effort, or maybe it was the gu? by the time we got back to the hotel and took a quick shower before i got notified of an evening massage from Viggo.
Today we have an early morning roller session followed by lunch, our final track time before racing tomorrow. Should be fun! Wish us fast legs....