Monday, November 21, 2011

The Gamble

Stage 2 and 3 was a gamble for me but for the team it was kicking ass and taking names
Having used the facilities last night more than I have in the past month I was a little nervous to get in the car for a long period of time. The soigner however was looking out for me and put 2 rolls of toilet paper on the dash. Still not terribly reassuring but a nice gesture none the less. Today was a 40k stage in the morning and an 80 k in the afternoon. Yesterday we won every jersey but top Rawandan. The guys are so hungry for wins having had a pretty piss poor season that they wanted to try to keep them all however the DS Jack encouraged them not to look like American assholes and be content with the yellow leaders jersey. Keil Riejnen is our top guy. We had a lot of hopes for him early in the year but he developed some yet uncertain infection in February that caused him to miss his whole season. He's back and really wants to prove himself to management. He's got good legs and a really smart guy as well. In the short event the other riders really protected him and he was able to win stage 2 out of an uphill sprint. We had lunch and 3 hours later we started stage 3. Basically a little extra distance but essentially a return trip to Kigali. Unfortunately at lunch 3 of our riders got their bike computers jacked by kids. Unfortunately for those kids we told race officials who literally kicked several kids asses until we got them back. Although not really looking like a repressed society, because of the genocide and lingering effects there is a very low tolerance for bad behavior. Stage 3 was relatively uneventful. Patrol the front, don't let anything get up the road and then duke it out on the 2 k uphill finish. Keil remains 3 for 3 by winning this as well. The team worked hard for him as well so we kept the yellow jersey and best team as well.
Some Interesting items- I often feel like an animal at a zoo. In fact the whole team does. We are certainly a fascinating site for the Rwandan's. Everything about us seems odd to them. These are an extremely soft-spoken people, almost as if they are afraid? Some of my reading on Rwanda before coming mentioned this was common. Conflict is to be avoided and coexistence encouraged. Almost 1/6 of the population was killed in the genocide and as there was no way to really punish all but the worst offenders the Rwandan people have had to basically forgive their neighbors. Killers and surviving relatives of those they killed still live in the same villages and through the wisdom of their President have been convinced that coexistence is the only way to prosper as a country. This must take some incredible mental gymnastics, but also an amazing ability to repress emotion. It still boggles my mind how they do it but Rwanda seems to be a relatively prosperous as a country. I will be curious tomorrow to see what the countryside is like once we leave Kigali.
I am now sitting in an Italian restaurant next to the team hotel. I have not had anything other than 4 bananas in the past 30 hours and simply couldn't wrap my head around goat at the hotel. I may come back for a second pizza later but I can guarantee that I am going to loose 5-10 pounds here. The food is interesting, but I am having a hard time with 3 times a day.

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