A week-long trip to a foreign country and witnessing a race like the Worlds leaves tons of things to talk about in a story. Here are some things worth mentioning:
o We ate too much bread.
o 12 of us got stuck in a super-small elevator at our hotel. We were stuck for over a half hour in a sweat box. Can you say: “Stupid Americans?”o England’s Steven Murray won the King of Dirt contest one night during the week.
o The last week of the Tour de France was going on the same week that we were there. American Lance Armstrong won. The Tour ended the same day as our Worlds did. Many of us followed the Tour each day by watching it on Euro Sport¿a European sports channel broadcast in English.
o Many French people and Europeans don’t bathe and use deodorant as much as us. Simply put, some of them stunk. Specialized should have flown out a few of their Speed Stick girls to hand out deodorant.
o Euro-Specialized, GT, Sunn, Schwinn, and DK all had big rigs set up. Many were big Mercedes trucks.
o Todd Lyons backflipped the big doubles on the first straight in his third moto and then 360’d the doubles into the last turn and still qualified out of the motos. The crowd in the stands went absolutely nuts when they saw this.
o During the mains the crowd would go crazy for people on the gate when their name and country were announced, then, the announcer would ask for silence and it would be dead quiet¿you could hear the gate commands from anywhere in the arena. When the gate fell, music would immediately start blasting (usually that crazy Pulp Fiction music) and the crowd would erupt.
o There was a big party at a club in downtown Nantes on the last day of racing. A lot of celebrating and partying went down. At some point in the evening, someone smashed up Christophe Leveque’s Mercedes rental car and caused over $800 in damage.
o Team GT killed everyone else. They took the Junior Cruiser win (Hernaez), the Junior Men’s win (Shanahan), and the Elite Men’s win (de Wilde). They got the overall team trophy award.
o People went crazy during a GT autograph session and sticker giveaway. They broke through the pit barrier and had to be held back. Pure insanity amongst the fans.
o “Euro” is the term that was used to describe just about everything. If something was different or weird, it was labeled “Euro.”
o Kart City was the place to go to have fun. The go-cart place had super-fast carts. We had to wear helmets (many riders brought their own race helmets and wore their jerseys for fun). One night it was the Americans vs. the French and we shut the place down for a half hour after everyone drove out of control. When the manager yelled at everyone for crashing and bumping all of the French guys got out of their carts¿the Americans, on the other hand, stayed in and refused to leave. Eventually we were allowed to keep going. The employees were pissed, but they made good money off of our big group. People ended up with bruises on their hips from hitting wwalls and each other’s carts hard at high speeds.
o Food was expensive.
o If you knew French or had someone with you who could speak the language it made things so much easier. A lot of French people could speak English, but it seemed like they didn’t want to. I’ve always heard that the French people are rude to Americans, and at times it was true, but not always. Some were nice and helpful.
o There were tons of fast Europeans.
o The French and Europeans have a totally different respect and love for cycling and BMX than people in the US do. I’ve never seen people in the stands so into it. They were loud, excited and made the intensity level go up more than a few notches.