Oh city life-big culture shock. Everyone is in a hurry and if you’re not you’re getting shoved out of the way. We’re getting used to that.
We said goodbye to Steve on the terminal sidewalk. He was on a different flight then us a direct flight so he was checking my bike as luggage. Then we ran into him again going through security, and again once inside, our gates were right near each other. Couldn’t believe the actual time had come for Worlds and we were getting on a plane.
Flights were great. I didn’t sleep at all. Sinea took one of Regina’s Dramamine and slept the entire way. Five hours went by pretty quickly. We landed in Shannon Ireland and had a two hour layover, I tried to sleep there but that was useless, too much going on, at least I looked good and we saw sunrise.
It was very exciting arriving in London. We had set up transportation with Nirvana Europe, the official travel company of the 2013 World Championships. The reservation was for 5 people, luggage and one bike. We arrived to find the folks of Nirvana dressed in orange
t shirts like they said. And they had our names on their list. Great. We also arrived
with two other parties, one which didn’t have a reservation and she kind of shoved us out of the way.
Our liaison took us aside and said we had a private transfer our ride was all set except he
didn’t know how to get us down to the transportation area. It is a good thing
Steve had arrived earlier and knew how. After 15 minutes of confusion and
frustration we found the elevators, carrying our own bags, got in the elevator
and waited and waited, finally Tami spoke up and said “hit the button”. The guy didn't know to hit the button to move the elevator. We made
our way over to the pickup area where we waited again, our liaison said the car had to circle around, I thought we should wait outside so we would know when they arrived, after 5 minutes he made another call. When we finally
met up with the driver his eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw our
gaggle. He said he barely had room for the five of us there was no way he could
take my bike. We were shocked because we had a reservation for the bike. Our liaison spoke up and said our bike would be delivered to our flat. I thought how we
could swap around luggage and people so my bike would fit. The driver said
there would be no room. After confirming our address several times and writing
it on the bike tag, emphasizing that we needed it delivered to the flat that
day, we walked away and I was nearly in tears.
We loaded the mini van and all five of us knew the bike would have fit. I should have asked to try and fit it. Of course it was raining so that added to the foul mood. After an hour of negotiating our way through London driving on the wrong side of the road holding our breath we arrived at our flat.
It was a vary narrow white door squeezed in between a florist and a stand of trees. We unloaded our luggage in the rain while Tami and Sinea walked the ½ block to get the key. It was 12:30 we had been traveling for 26 hours. They returned to say it was being cleaned and would be ready at 2pm. We dragged our luggage around the corner back to the office for storage. We were served dinner on the plane at 8:30pm and snacked our way since then. We couldn’t wait to eat!
Just across the way was a small restaurant with one table big enough for the 5 of us. Salads, wraps and a burger were gone in minutes. We searched for wifi to get messages State side. I sent an email to my mom, couldn’t connect to FB, Sinea called her sister and Steve texted Gwen. Steve got through to Paul at Nirvana w/ limited connection in a loud cafe; he said my bike was on its way with 5 other bikes in 3 vehicles. Steve and I went back to the flat and waited under a small awning and still got soaked. The girls checked out the grocery store and got the key. They returned in the pouring rain with the entire luggage.
We opened the narrow door into the narrow hallway leading to a narrow turning staircase. As we dragged our suitcases up the stairs, Sinea blurted out “Thank God we’re not fat!” We all laughed and nearly dropped our stuff.
Steve and I were glued to the window watching for my bike and I iced my calf. We waited there for an hour and a half. When the truck pulled up we ran downstairs and thanked the drivers. We lugged the bike carrier upstairs and started putting it together.
The plan for the afternoon was an easy walk to Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben and if my calf was feeling ok an easy run. We also needed a pump for my bike. Crossing the roads was a little tricky, glad they paint Look Right at every intersection. It was pretty cool to see the balcony where Kate and William kissed. The bike course also goes right in front of it too!
My calf was too sore to run so we decided a bike the next day would do. We walked a little more and I was getting pretty tired and need to head back to the flat. We split up and Steve and I planned on taking the train back. We both weren’t familiar and didn't know how much was on the Oyster Card. We tired to figure out the map, what zone to be in and what platform to get on, being overtired makes it pretty hard to do. We decided we’d walk, looked at a map and tried to remember the roads to take but again we were tired so we bought the map. We walked for 20 minutes tried to hire a bike from the automated rack and after 10 attempts gave up. Walked some more and bought dinner, turkey sandwiches at 8:30pm. We arrived at the flat, I iced my calf then fell asleep on the couch and woke up when the girls got back after sightseeing and grocery shopping and Steve was almost asleep on the floor, the couch is his bed.
We were up at 6:45 the next morning to be in Regents Park for a hard bike workout, just 4 city miles away. Steve and I packed our bags and headed for the bike hire station. After walking around yesterday I was so scared to ride and navigate the city with backwards intersections and cars traveling on the opposite side of the road. After being denied at the first bike station we walked another 10 minutes to the next one and still no luck it wasn’t taking our credit cards. I rode the sidewalks while Steve jogged for the next 15 minutes until we found another station. I was getting all sorts of looks riding on the sidewalk but I was terrified of riding the road. I guess third time really is a charm because we finally got through! The bike weighed 40 lbs and had 3 gears. We checked the map and made the leap onto the right side of the road and joined the bustling bikes, double decker busses, taxis, motorbikes who make their own lane in between the cars and motorists all seemingly running late for work. It was as scary as I thought it would be. Luckily there are lots of bikes so cars are used to them all over the roads and do a fair job mingling. We stopped in the safety of the sidewalk several times to check the map and made sure we looked right all the time! We survived the ride and made it to the park. There were two loops; the inner circle and the outer. We did a lap on the outer to get warmed up and did some intervals on the inner which was less than a mile and took me 2 mins to get around I rode for about 40 mins so I felt like a hamster in a wheel. It felt good to go hard. We mapped our way to the World Triathlon venue two roads at a time. The first turn was right and as we exited the park we were hit with a three lane roundabout going in the oppposite direction. We got right behind some local bikers and decided we’d risk it and follow them. After a few minutes of watching the traffic whiz by us they went for it and just sprinted into the middle park area we did the same. Then we had to cross again to make the next left. Luckily there was a light, we crossed to the right and the light turned green, I couldn’t get clipped into my pedals and glanced back and thought I was going to get run over! I tried again and pedaled hard for the side of the road, which has a two-inch shoulder. The more we rode the quicker my heart rate dropped. The bikes ride on both sides of the cars so to make a right turn we needed to be on the right side of the car. At one light we were on the left side of the car and needed to turn right. All cars in the line were going straight, our only option was to jump on the sidewalk and use the crosswalk. We did that several times. We made it to Hyde park and it felt amazing, first because we survived and second because the venue was getting set up. It looked just like the Olympics and there were athletes from other countries checking it out. There is a small stretch of Serpentine Lake called the Lido which is used for swim training. The limit is 100 swimmers at a time so it’s on a one in one out basis until 6pm.
We made it back to the flat and told the girls about our morning, they decided they’d stay on foot until Ireland. Sandwiches for lunch and a tour of Windsor Castle 45 mins away by train for the afternoon. I packed all my swim stuff including my wetsuit and my hydration bladder in my daypack and we were off to the train station to add money to our Oyster Cards. The plan was that after the tour of the castle Steve and I were going take the train back to swim at the Lido. We finished touring the castle at 5:45, no swim for my swim workout. But the tour of Windsor Castle was amazing. This is the one London attraction tops on Regina's list and well worth it. We decided to stay in Windsor and ate dinner at a small English pub and boarded the train for home at 7:40. I was exhausted I tried to sleep on the train by they announce every stop so it was point less. Another 10 min walk home and I wanted to finish my Blog but couldn't keep my eyes open. I needed to close my eyes. I slept for 30 mins and woke up to Regina typing what I began to hand write on the train. We don’t have wifi so I’ll have to shoot down to the café, insert the pictures and hope to connect. It’s 11pm and tomorrow is a very long day. Need to ride, run and swim early in the morning, then check in for packet pickup is mid day, the Expo opens but Opening Ceremonies don’t start until 8pm. The alarm clock is going off at 6:15 fingers crossed for issue free bike hire for Steve.
Results on Friday can be found at www.london.triathlon.org or return to my blog.