Monday, February 11, 2013

MTNAyiti in Haiti-Day 1:

Now that I have been home a few days from Haiti I am going to tell you about my experience at mtbAyiti. Day 1 – Day 1 started on Sunday January 27th and ended on Monday the 28th. I left Vancouver Sunday afternoon and arrives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Monday morning. As I stepped off the plane I was immediately greeted by the heat and humidity of the Caribbean island. The ride from the airport was chaotic. The traffic was crazy and there seemed to be no order. Lots of trucks and small motorbikes with as many as 3 people on one motorbike. The roads were a real mess. Potholes everywhere. First stop was the Olofson Hotel where everyone had been staying for the past few days. Met up with my tandem partner Eric Miller from Pueblo, Colorado. Eric was here as the medical director and also my tandem pilot. The Olofson, built in the 1800’s, is an historic landmark in Haiti. It was a favorite destination for a number of celebrities including Jacqueline Onassis and Mick Jagger.
From there we headed to the Plaza Hotel where we would stay for the nest 3 days. A nice North American style hotel, I heard it used to be a Holiday Inn. One of the first people I met after Eric was Hans “ No Way” Rey, a legend in the sport of trials.
The rest of the day was basically spent meeting the other riders, staff, organizers and video crews who had arrived. About half were here and the other half would be arriving on Tuesday.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Heading for Haiti

On Nov 30th of last year I received an email from Jan Ditchfield, friend, agent and President of PARA Promotions, asking me if I would be interested in doing a race in Haiti. Seems a colleague of hers, Eric Miller, founder of the Rush-Miller Foundation, an organization that donates tandem bikes to visually impaired kids throughout the US and also internationally was looking for a stoker who might be interested in this challenge. Haiti huh……sounds interesting. Never been to Haiti. Always looking for new places to race. “Ya, I’m in, when is it?” I was having a sport hernia repair in 4 days so the timing of the race was important. I was thinking it was going to be in early spring and I would have ample time to recover and train for the event. Turns out it is February 1st & 2nd. This could be a bit of a problem, only 8 weeks after surgery. After a minimum of 4 weeks recovery it would give me only 4 weeks to prepare. I wasn’t sure but I really wanted to go so I said “Let’s go for it”. Now to find out the details. Turns out it is not a road race but a 2 day mountain bike race and we are going to do it on a borrowed full suspension mountain bike. OK, I am still in. We had a few issues putting this together and there were a few times I thought it wasn’t going to happen but thanks to the “ Never take no for an answer” attitude of 3 stubborn people (Jan, Eric and myself), we finally put it together and things were set. As time passed I learned more about the event Eric had planned and I became much more excited about it. Turns out Eric and the Rush-Miller Foundation were going to donate a tandem to St. Vincent’s School in Haiti. St. Vincent’s is a school for kids with a disability from aged 5 to 18 years of age. So now this was going to be more than an insane mountain bike race on a tandem but a chance to make a difference in some less fortunate kids lives. If you remember Haiti was devastated by an earthquake in January 2010. Now the bike race took a backseat and now it was all about the kids. It also has a number of health issues as I soon found out. I felt a bit like a pin cushion after all the inoculations that were required fro cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus and probably a few mire I can’ remember. There is also the threat of rabies from the dogs, cats, monkeys, chickens , pigs and whatever else can bite you. Malaria is also a real danger from mosquito bites. The race doesn’t sound so bad now. I began focusing on them and we have put together some adaptive sports equipment together to take down to Haiti for them. This is going to be the perfect example of “it is better to give than to receive”. I am going to get so much out of giving this equipment to those kids. I almost feel a little selfish because I think I am going to get more out of this than are they. The race as I said is a 2 day stage race. The first day is basically uphill, with 10,000 feet of climbing the first day, topping out at about 7,000 feet . The second day is basically downhill to sea level. Each day is about 35 miles (56 km). As Eric and I discussed, nobody remembers and talks about the easy rides. The way I look at it is going to be one day of PAIN for a lifetime of memories. Not only about the race but about the smiles we hopefully put on the faces of the children from St. Vincent’s School