June 14, 2016
Guest post by John Croom
“Next Stop Port of Spain” is all I heard on the loud speaker as I entered my American Airlines flight to Trinidad and Tobago. Several things rush through my head…”I hope my bike makes it” “Who’s picking me up from the airport?” “Will my phone work here?” “How do I fill out this customs form?”
Nervous yet excited is really all I can say I felt after a 12 hour day of travel. When I entered the country I was asked by several taxi drivers if I needed a ride and so on, so my instant response before they could really ask was “no thanks”. I was told someone would be there to get me and “I’ll know who it was when they ask”. Shortly after quickly saying “no” (thinking it was another taxi driver), my ride was there, I felt a tad embarrassed but lucky he understood. From Port of Spain it was then another hour drive to Marabella where the races where being held, so I strapped down and along for the ride, dozing in and out (it was like 1 am). I started to take in what is around me… It was so quiet out, not many people out and about or driving. That all changed…
I got to the hotel we were staying at and was barely settled, only to find out that I needed to have my bikes built by 10am because we were riding to the new velodrome which was being built in Trinidad.
The morning came and I went out to grab breakfast, met a few of the riders, had a cup of powdered coffee, and began to build my bikes. We headed out for the ride and I instantly hit a shock. First off being on the other side of the road was new, then the driving was so much different, people were going, stopping, turning either which way, pulling out in front of people, rushing around people, sitting at a stand still… It was insane, and they didn’t even bat an eye. It was common for people to be driving and just pull over and start talking to friend they saw on the side off the road. The people behind them were okay with and just either waited or slowly went around them. In hindsight it was kind of beautiful to see these people not care about time but only care about the experience they were sharing with one another.
That night was the crit, a twighlight down town hot dog crate. It was unlike anything I have ever done before – the race ‘started’ at 7pm and they closed the streets around 6:50, the entire town came out to watch us race. It was something else – I finished 5th. The crit may have been simple with the straight down 180 turn and back but the stray dogs and spectators made for a interesting night.
The next day was the start of the southern games which was a 468 meter grass track, I was told to attack in both the 2k race and 10k race from the gun and just keep attacking. That’s what I did, and I ended up finishing 5th in both of those being brought back in the 2k with 30 meters to go and finishing last in a break 4 in the 10k.
This was a unreal experience and I can’t thank RIDEROCKHILL enough for helping with this opportunity!