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Pre-Vuelta a Espana Journal: Bingen Fernandez
By Staff
Date: 9/4/2004
Pre-Vuelta a Espana Journal: Bingen Fernandez

Hello friends!

One year later and here we are preparing for La Vuelta. How quickly the season passes. It seems like just yesterday we were at training camp in Calpe and now the last big race of the season is upon us.

Yesterday I left home in a frantic. Packing was stressful - this was not the normal 5 day race, which means that packing requires a bit more thought. Pack this, remove that, exchange this for that and maybe through that in just in case. In the end, I was sitting on top of the suitcase trying to get it to close. By the time I had cleaned the house and made dinner it was midnight, but there was still one problem - one big problem! Where was my passport? In my backpack? No. In my drawer? No, no, no. I looked everywhere but my passport did not turn up, so my paper driverís license would have to suffice for identification.

The next day my suitcase and I met up with Inigo Cuesta and Luis Perez, who also had a lot of stuff. Inigo and I did not have to worry too much since we arrived by car, but Luis had flown from Madrid. In Spain, and throughout most of Europe, the weight limit for baggage is 20 kilos (less than 45 pounds). When Luisí suitcase was weighed the scale read 40 kilos! This was just the suitcase - they had not even counted the weight of the bike. The customer service agent for Iberia Airlines was not happy.

Luis lied and said that there was only a bike frame in the bag, and not a complete bike. It would still have to be weighed though, which meant that Luis would have to do something. Luis set the bike carrier on the scale, but of course he didnít let go of it completely. He continued hold his end up so that the scale only weighed it in at one kilo. Not bad! He was still 21 kilos over the weight limit though, and there was no way that he could leave anything behind - this was a 21-day race. He begged and pleaded with the woman who finally let him pass. Hopefully it would arrive with him. Often enough suitcases arrive a day late when they are overweight. For this reason we always keep out shoes with us in our carry-on. It is easy to borrow someone elseís jersey or helmet but not shoes, they are too individualized.

Our new team bikes had arrived and we would have to try them out and make any needed adjustments before the race began. Arriving on Wednesday would give us a few days to iron out all the quirks. Even things like new seats change your position on the bike greatly - they have to be broken in enough. Bike seats usually break-in really easy in the rain, but I would much rather prefer 3 or 4 days or slight discomfort over training in the rain for a day.

There was a team presentation before the start of La Vuelta, which is great because you get to see and talk to all of your other friends. This was our last chance to relax - by afternoon the stress had begun to mount. The Vuelta would be very difficult, especially the last week. I imagine the first week will be great to watch on television as there will be lots of rain and the echelons always make it exciting - to watch - but not to ride in. As a cyclist, it is what I think is the most interesting of all to watch. So please, enjoy every moment of the Vuelta a Espana for us while you are nursing your beer (or your coffee for those out west).

Bingen Fernandez
Yellow Jersey Tours

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