Monday, August 31, 2009

Tour de Timor 2

Day two began with roosters who had what I found out to be an epidemic in Timor-Leste - seriously out-of-whack circadian rhythms. I mean, really, do you have to start crowing at 4:30am? I don't think so.

Yesterday's top riders got pole position and I took my place wherever it seemed like 77th should go. I'd met some Kiwi's and we rode a similar pace so when I found them shortly after the start line we stuck together. I made a couple of attempts to organize a pack and made it clear that everyone drafting should darn well take their turn at the front. Just as I was about to suggest to some of the stronger guys that we leave the hangers-on behind we hit a fast downhill. I saw one guy loose his bottle on a pothole and a moment later I heard mine go too.

Had it been only water I'd have left it, but it was my food source. Having run out of food the previous day I wasn't about to go 2+ more hours with no food. I stopped and turned back to look for it. After several minutes of looking (and many riders passing) I was stopped on the edge of the road and suddenly a police vehicle came screaming up the hill against race traffic. I couldn't believe how fast it was going and the wrong way UP a hill where riders are sure to be flying down. The president had issued strict orders "ZERO traffic against the riders". Little did that driver know it was a career-ending move. He ended up getting reposted to some remote area. Oops.

Things took a positive turn, though, when a woman called from the bottom of the hill. She had a bottle in her hand and as I approached I recognized the thick brownish drink I was so worried about. A man had found it about 10 meters off in the bush and recovered it for me. I gave him a big hug & continued on.

We hit a big downhill on a VERY rocky... road? Well it was sort of a road, and it was definitely rocky. But nothing like the ice cream flavor. I realized a little too late that I had my front suspension locked out. I guess I wanted to feel every single bump and rock. A mistake I don't plan on making twice. I survived the downhill and made it onto some smooth grass and then... puncture. :( I'd put a 3/4 inch slice in my tire too. Garrgh.

With a crowd of village children watching I pulled the wheel off, disassembled the tire, put a tube patch on the inside of the tire, inserted a Singapore $2 note (for added strength), replaced the tube, and started pumping it up again. But somehow the tire bead came off and the tube burst out like some massive goiter. The valve broke off and I had to stab the tube to get it out & start over. Boo!

I finally got on my way and finished the day 133rd.

The village was lovely and lunch was pretty good. It had been a short ride so we had plenty of time to chill, repair, relax, and enjoy.

Each evening, the organizers set up a massive inflatable movie screen and showed the movie Balibo. It's the first-ever feature film about Timor-Leste and the Indonesian invasion. It was great timing as it's release came along with both the Tour de Timor and their 10-year anniversary. Everyone turned up to watch it! Unfortunately everyone didn't exactly want to go home afterward and who could blame them? This was a big deal and they wanted to party. Someone got hold of the DJ booth at 10:00pm and that's when Jesus got involved. His name is actually Sean, but he looks like Jesus.

To finally get everyone to go home (2 hours later), the UN police force had to start patrolling and the elected chief of the village got on the loudspeaker for a good hour telling them to go home. I wasn't the only one worried, but it all ended peacefully.

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