In a nutshell then...
A week in the UK before South Africa saw me attempt to learn to wakeboard, session at Bolehills for 5 hours with pretty much every one, one of the best sessions i've had in a long time! I spent time with my family, had lunch with friends and went in hard with the seabass! Had a sports massage with Sally from Sheffield Chiropratory and Physio clinic which was off the chain, walked around sheffield and took in why it is I love that City. Good times for real. I have a long way to go on the wakeboard though..
2 shots courtesy of RB.com and Warren show the thrills and the spills. I hit the water so hard, but I was laughing the entire time. I also loved the woman at the the wakeboard center that I first thought was Latin, then realised it was just a lot of fake tan. Stay classy Rotherham.
|Sick session at the hills RB.com, AT and DC sending it on the fresh back straight!|
|Me, going, going, gone. BOOYA!|
After leaving the mandem in Sheffield I headed back to Essex to get my things ready for South Africa, for the 2010 UCI BMX World Championships sponsored by Swatch, swatch swatch, swatch....
After convincing myself the flight was only 6 hours, then finding out it was actually double that, I went into the flight feeling a little despondent. Coupled then with the seats being made to accommodate little more than a string bean it was going to be a rough 12 hours. The food was top notch though, and the movie selection sterling. One blockbuster after another, as long as those blockbusters related to the very interesting, although, deeply disturbing stories of the apartheid era, starred Morgan Freeman and were all over 3 hours in length. Perfect.
I arrived a little flat, but buzzed all the same, excited to be in SA and only hours away from our final destination, Durban. It couldn't come soon enough.. The 6 hour coach journey was a delight, watching old BMX videos and dosing in and out of consciousness, taking in some incredible views and discoveruing the awesomenesss that is a mugg and bean coffee house. I want to bring Mugg and Bean to the World, the best coffee shop, and the BEST muffins i have ever experienced! Big things.
Durban was beautiful, a sea view, incredible food, a cool sea breeze, beautiful sand, and amazing waters. sprint sessions, fillet steaks, water parks and swimming with beautiful marine life. track sessions at Queensborough BMX track into the evening and then Giba Gorge, good times! The facilities were pretty special, floodlit, and sheltered, with a bar or coffee shop and the sessions went off at each one.
Yes. A bar.
No drama, just good times and in a strange way, being amongst friends, it felt more like being on holiday than being at the Worlds, I detached myself from all anxiety. It was perfect. I loved Durban, every day was filled with laughs and enjoyment, and I love being by the Ocean, it puts me in a special place.
But time was moving on, we had bigger things ahead of us. The 40 or so of us, saddled up, got the hell outta Dodge and made way to Pietmaritzburg, the City of Choice.. Not a lot goes on in 'Maritzburg, much sleepier than Durban, but we weren't there tio party, not for a few days yet anyway. We went to the track and scoped out the beast, met our cheif D'equipe, the legendary Tony the Butcher, one of the best blokes in BMX, and reunited with the rest of the GB massive out there, ready to represent and achieve what we set out to do.
2010 World Domination.
I think in total there were perhaps 60 or so GB riders, parents and family there flying the flag and making noise. We were one the larger teams, and we made our presence felt in the bleachers! A one Country atmosphere, and we gave the South Americans, famed for loving a bit of noise, a good run for their money!
Racing was a joy, I loved the track, after eventually figuring it out, it wasn't the fastest, but it was definitely challenging, the hill, being a beast at around 6 meters was a challenge, you pick up speed much faster than normal, and hit the first jump in less cranks than perhaps you're used to, but it didn't take long to get into. Practise was tough on the Tuesday, but wednesday I just went with the flow a little more and felt more at ease, throwing the bike about, getting some good gates and just having fun experimenting lines.
The younger ones raced on the Thursday and in the GB camp we scored some W plates from World specialists Darcy and Harley Taylor. Great rides from those 2, you did us proud!
The guestlodge we were staying at not only had 2 awesome old guard dogs with a parchant for licking eachothers balls, but a pool worthy of any Arctic diver in need of increasing thier tolerance. It was freezing, brutally freezing, but there is nothing better for tired weary legs than an ice to reduce lactic acid and aid recovery, Marco and I went in deep for a fuull body 3 minute submersion, if i'm honest I didn't feel much better for it, but Marcos positivity towards these things rubs off on you, so I began to relish in that and convince myself that this was the difference between Moto'd and doing some damage.
Marco loves a gimmick, whether he be rocking a skin suit on the plane, taking an ice bath, or using his power band whilst downing a protein shake, the man loves to find that edge. There's only one Dellisola.
Race day rolled around, the alarm went off at 6am, and I headed downstairs to face the breakfast of champions, 2 hour old porridge and toast as tasteless as drywall. Lather it up with some honey and it least had some distinguishable attributes. I went and performed my back excercises and took a shower, donned my race kit, and made my way down to do battle.
Lots of pictures and results here and videos here.
The track was much like the 3D image that was branded about everywhere, 4 pretty long straights, lots of room for pedalling, but not all that fast, the jumps were a decent size down most of the straights and it certainly wasn't a track you could dial in after a few laps. My moto was okay, a couple of guys including a worlds finalist from the year before but nothing hectic. I raced my motos well, getting a 1 1 and 2 in them. Stoked with that, but knowing the hard work hadn't really begun yet I went to chill before the semis went up.
Out of the 2 semis, I did get perhaps the easier one. Last years World champ and the Aussie guy that was storming were in the other, but It wasn't going to be easy. I didn't get a very good gate, but one thing this track allowed for was room for passing and opportunity for the calm rider, I knew I had stuffed it going into turn 1 and had to make some headway to stand a chance, I worked my way into 5th and then got a smooth 3rd straight in, I made up the 3 bike lenghs on the rider in front, but it was half a bike off, I went in for the dive, and tried to make the move that would secure me a spot in the main event, it wasn't to be. I hit the floor and watched as my months of hard work went up in the dust. I didn't really show it, but it hurt me a lot, not physically, but mentally. All the sacrifices I had made as i'm sure everyone had made going into this, the training, the hours on the bike, in the gym, trying to get my back as close to 100% as possible, gone. Just like that. But BMX is a cruel sport, although one that has afforded me this life, and makes me happy, strong and fulfilled, it can also be cruel. I simply can't stay mad for long though.
I didn't so much as drown my sorrows, but water them lightly them and soon enough I was back to my old self. I had come here ready, and I gave it my all. Next year i'll work harder and work on the areas that need attention, tha aggressive 2nd people I yearn for so much, and a better body composition in the corners. It's never to late to brush up.
The GB team made an impact though I think something like 23 W plates and a W1 in the form of Marco. I guess the gimmicks paid off! Riders like Barnard, Luckhurst, Mangler,Smith, Goodman and Stupple did us proud, and lets not forget Kelvin making further then the rest of our male elite riders die to injuries, and of course the newly re-crowned Shanaze Reade. Amazing rides from all of those, and those of us not able enough to make the mains, simply just weren't on it that day, but our days will come.
I had an amazing time in South Africa, and unforgettable trip filled with laughs and amazing memories, with some incredible people. A trip of a lifetime, thank you to Zelltours for sorting it, the BMX family for being what it is, and the host nation for being simply astonishing.
I still had almost a week to look forward to back in the UK before heading back to NYC, but along with some pictures, I'll pick that up in another post..