So here we are: 15 hours later, no sleep despite the requisite glass or 2 of red wine, 8000 miles later, we land in Hong Kong, minus baggage. Cathay Pacific decided last minute to take on extra fuel instead of baggage, how novel.. but actually, in the light of the information that we were heading into a typhoon, we were happy to be temporarily seperated from our bags and bikes. We were met by Louis Shih, the owner of Champion System clothing http://www.champion-sys.com/ who was to become our translator, our baggage recovery man, our dinner negotiator, our source of clean undies while we waited for our baggage dellivery. Louis has a vision of the business and cycling worlds that intersects in such a way that has placed us 5 ladies on the other side of the world, getting to know each other as we stroll around our HK home dressed in his T-shirts. How bizzare. Somehow, he has arranged for us to stay at a YMCA type camp on the outskirts of the city, waterfront property on an inlet somewhat remniscent of Butlins / Mosney from my childhood.. At least, the vinyl covered bunks and paper thin mattresses were remniscent of Mosney, the air in HK being heavily laden with jasmine and orange blossom was nothing like the air in the farmfields of county Westmeath.. Louis loaded us with windvests, skinsuits, bib shorts, cycling jersies, socks galore, hats, raingear and all the "Pocari Sweat" (strange grapefruit scented Japanese product) electrolyte drinks we could shake a stick at. We pranced about the condo in our new Champion System bike kit, singing the praises of the YKK zippers, the italian chamois, the silky fabric, the non-vice-grip leg grippers, the beautiful naked lady on our bosoms and backsides! We introduce ourselves through cycling stories, shared teammates over the past years and began to settle into the company of the characters that we would live with for the best part of the next 2 weeks.
So here they are:
Sarah Tillotson, social work student, professional cyclist, arrives solo via 2 horrenduous plane rides from the mid-west, gladly adding her pro-cycling experience to our team: Normally riding for team Advil-Chapstick, we are delighted to have such a strong all-rounder and seasoned international cyclist with us in China. She seems calm, collected, witty and relaxed.. so far so good!
Kathryn Bertine, ESPN journalist, Triathlete, US and St. Kitts / Nevis citizen, joins our squad in her pursuit of a slot at the Bejing Olympics. Check out her journey, help her out with a title for her book!
Kathryn arrives with her tri-all-3 bike case in tow: this thing is so huge, it looks like you should just throw a saddle over it and ride it to your destination. She is bubbly, full of beans after 36 hours travel, and immediately winds the group's tempo up a notch.
Jennifer Magur, R.N., emergency room nurse, Crit rider, ex-owner of Verge cycling clothing, short and strong looking, recovering from a couple of amazing years and back in the saddle racing for the first time in 18 months.. I am devastated, intrigued and inspired by her personal journey: there is definitely a book in this one, maybe even a screenplay.. Keep your eyes open for a story involving international illicit sex, Kielbasa, bike racing, love, hate, divorce, illness and dead transvestites..
Next up, Lucretia Cavan, head-hunter extraordinaire, sex-in-the-city-type of glamorous business woman from Manhattan, climber, road racing billygoat on the hills, high-heels no bother even on the beaches in Ireland in winter. Lucretia and I know each other from TEAmLipton, Aquafina and EAS: many fun miles on the road together: she is the one who called me in mid-February, signing me up for this adventure while I was choking with snot, coughing and sneezing with a chest / sinus / end-of-winter-infection having not been on my bike for a month or more. Thanks Lucretia!
And me: physical therapist, triathlete, mountain biker, cyclocross racer, roadie, sailor, jack of all trades...
Looks like a fun group: We yak it up for a few more hours in the sultry night air, finish swatting mozzies from our bloody shins, and slide into our respective bunks: it is now 40 hours since leaving Dennis in JFK, and I am still nowhere near sleepy..Lordy..