Pedal for no Medal – Day 17
Who knows how Russians get up in the morning, but for us the 8 o’clock wake up call came like a cold shower in a dark cave. The contrast of which with the warm and sunny days was just mind freezing. This was the most challenging morning of our trip, because the guys had to set aside their bikes and deal with bureaucratic stuff. We spent almost 2 hours filling in the forms and getting our pictures just right, but there were still no guarantees that we will receive the spectator passes in time. Also we had no clue about the requirement of these papers to get to our destination, because each person we asked had a different story to tell. To tell you the truth, there was a lot of confusion and irritation in the air. At 12:00 the riders got back on their bikes at last and the day got into it’s natural bed. The road made sudden twists and turns alongside the beautiful coast of the Black sea, the sun was indulging us with a bright and warm light and the radio was playing the song from the beloved movie Abduction in Caucasus. As the late Lou Reed once said – “It’s just a perfect day.” And it truly was – the perfection even blew Kaspars sunglasses off and threw them under the van. Lucky for the glasses the driver wasn’t changing the radio channel at the time, so the glasses safely returned on Kaspars frost-bitten face. Today we learned, that there are other crazies under the sun – some French guy had cycled solo to Soči in 22 days riding approx. 2500 kilometers. Total respect, whomever he is. If we would give out some awards, today Kaspars would be the winner in the mountain route. God knows why, but at some points he started pushing like crazy and got far ahead of the others, however, the prodigal son always returned to his pack. At the 56th kilometer Roberts went short on air in his tire, so the caravan had to stop to change the inner tube of Roberts rear wheel. During this pitstop an odd thing came to light – the bike tires had begun to crack. Could it be that 1850 kilometers in the mild European winter is just too much for Schwalbe tires? There is no knowing what kind of crazy air Roberts pumped into his inner-tube, but soon after the pitstop he managed to enrage a bunch of policemen by riding through some kind of a X-ray machine used for scanning trucks. “I’ve never seen a gismo like that,” he explained afterwards. It’s a good thing, that he didn’t see a wood-chipper for the first time, because otherwise we would have to search for the duck-tape again. As if the mountain route was not enough, the final stretch of our way turned out to be a real fat burner. We took the shortest route to the hotel and found ourselves on an unbelievably narrow and freakishly steep road through a district of allotments. There were times, when we weren’t sure if the van will fit in the passage or manage to crawl up the 29% incline. Who knows, how we will get out of here, but for now we have found a cosy base-camp in Tuapse approx. 110 kilometers from our destination. According to the current plan tomorrow the riders are crossing the security perimeter without the support crew, just to see, how things really are. If they return safe and sound, all of us will go to Sochi on the next day to meet some of our Olympians.