Thursday, September 25, 2008
Spare a square?
Well, it’s been a while! I had every intention of writing weekly, but sometimes it goes by so fast, I feel the week is like a rug that is being snapped out from under my feet!
Regardless, the benefit to you is that I now have several interesting and laughable (though not necessarily at the time!) events to share. For this week, I will start with my first KSA bike race:
Many of you have probably seen most of the pictures already posted on Facebook, so I will only re-post a couple here. We arrived at the race course – a site far outside the city and away – at 6:30am. There were already people in the parking lot when we arrived. Equipment varied widely from brand sleek new Trek Madones, to old school fuschia colored Brikos, to TT helmets with mirrored motocross goggles (which were perpetually lopsided).
I have a message to anyone who has ever arrived at a Spring Series Race, sighted the blue Porta-crappers and launched into a self righteous tirade of self-pity. You know the expression about the grass being greener on the other side? Well, having now hopped that fence, I can reveal to you that the greener grass is a hallucination brought on by the self centered Western illusion that every toilet should flush, that every stream should be delivered with bulls eye accuracy to the centre of the hole, and that one should never have to view the unwanted roughage of someone else’s intestines. I have included a picture of the facilities at the race start (above). Please, don’t waste your energy trying to imagine there is anything more luxurious on the inside than would appear from the exterior. The only thing missing in the picture is the steady stream of Filipino and Western men proudly yielding their rolls of toilet paper they so resourcefully remembered to bring with them. Anyone remember a toilet seat? A shovel to dig a hole? Did I use the facilities? Absolutely not. The only further piece of information I will reveal to you in order for you to better fine tune your imagination to my experience is that I had eaten a moderately large bowl of Weetabix, Cornflakes, All-Bran and Museli for breakfast.
The race was a 16km TT, and in keeping with one of my teammates pledges to avoid race reports on his blog, I will spare you the finer (boring) details of the course and my feelings during the race. The only thing different about the race here was that you had to dodge the occasional camel turd (like baseball sized rocks, and deadly if they clump in your chain), and in my oxygen deprived state, I had to be sure to avoid drinking if there was a car going by due to Ramadan (outlined in last blog). I was also amazed at the number of people who showed up – about 50 starters! Competitors were mostly Filipino, although a moderate number of Westerners as well (4 women including myself). I have also included a picture of the parking lot scene and a shot of part of the course (above). I knew only 2 people when I first arrived, but quickly met many others – I am happy to report that the camaraderie amongst cyclists in KSA is much the same as that in Canada, possibly even tighter as the community is so much smaller. It was almost a little disconcerting how many people already knew who I was and that I had just ordered a new bike from Bahrain…! Regardless, it was just really great to meet some people outside of King Faisal Hospital, talk about something other than nursing, and learn about where other expats are working in Riyadh.
By the way, the results for the race are posted at www.riyadhwheelerscom for anyone who cares.
Got another great story about a desert adventure (I have included one pic as a taster), but I will save it for next week - and I promise it will only be a week this time!
Thanks for all the emails, wall writings, Skypes, etc. It is so great to feel so connected with everyone back home! I am trying to reply to as many as I can in a relatively timely manner, and I must apologize that sometimes I take a while to get back. I have also been known to forget, so feel free to send me a nasty reminder if you don't hear from me and I will remedy the situation