David Richter, adventures across the border in the Vuelta Sonora... "On the
stage one roll-out I flatted. As I dropped back for a wheel, I realized the
support car was in front of the race. So I did a mild freak-out and bolted
through the field with a rear flat..."
By David Richter
As we roared into the border town of Nogalas, Mexico you could see
immediately things were different. We searched for the race hotel and six guys
had six different opinions on which way to go and what to do. This, along with
the third-world traffic, cracked Devon and Omer took the wheel. Actually I think
Devon’s driving cracked Omer. But before the driver switch Devon stopped and
asked some Mormons for directions. Bad move…we broke the cardinal third-world
traffic rule…don’t stop for anything!
We received directions from the only dudes in town with ties, and switched
drivers. That’s when the Policia moved-in. A Nogalas policia is one-third cop,
one-third soldier, and one-third gangster. He asked Omer for his papers and we
all shit. He explained that we could pay our “ticket” today. We bartered our way
down to $33. Not bad, better than a Mexican jail. After that we didn’t stop for
The race hotel was just bad, which makes it Nogalas’ best. We hooked up with
our Mexican team mate, Christian and went to pick up our numbers. We didn’t have
Gagg (our director) with us because of some visa problems. Good thing Gagg
wasn’t there, he would have torn that place apart. They wanted us to pay. We
were supposed to GET start money. We told ‘em to stick it. The plan was to leave
early the next morning if they didn’t release our hostage numbers. Well, they
gave us our numbers so we raced.
Breakfast was a bean/meat gruel or a pancake option. I was excited for
pancakes. I was hungry and a stack of pancakes is what I needed. Two little
cakes are all they would give. I bargained with the server and in the end I gave
up everything for four pancakes.
As I sat down smiling I realized that there was no syrup. I immediately put on
the same expression that Omer had when that cop asked for his papers. I slipped
back into that mild depression and wondered if they were torturing us or if they
were just retarded. I drowned my four glorified tortillas in butter, or maybe it
was lard. My stomach went from growling to gurgling.
David chowing down after returning to the U.S. after a
week with no veggies.
On the stage one roll-out I flatted. As I dropped back for a wheel, I
realized the support car was in front of the race. So I did a mild freak-out and
bolted through the field with a rear flat.
That wasn’t enough, so I jumped the median and headed the car off at a
We went to the front (on the ‘neutral’ roll-out.) Most thought we were crazy
‘till we zagged through some killer trenches and iron grates. I could hear the
carnage behind. We stopped at the border (the race was to start in the US and
come back into Mexico) and I looked around to see dudes already bloody before
After an eternity the race started. We cruised down the national highway at
forty mph, dodging oncoming tractors, trucks, and livestock. This kind of danger
sent me to the front. I wanted to see what was going on. I saw a dude get
tangled in bailing wire. It was so bad he couldn’t pedal any longer…he was
cocooned. Five seconds later I found myself wrapped in barbed-wire!
This was like an episode of American Gladiator! I was waiting for one of the
Policia in a jeep to nab one of the gringo racers as hostage. So I tried to look
as Mexican as possible. It must have worked.
After stage one nothing would surprise me or even get much of a rise out of
me. Some queer shit did happen, like when the Chivas dudes jumped in their team
van on a category one climb, only to jump back out at the summit. Like when
Jonny Sundt’s glasses were swiped off him when he crashed. Like when Glen was
karate kicked. Like when Nathan was fined but he wasn’t even in the race.
Like the stage they said was all down hill…of course they didn’t mention the
20k of climbing near the end. Whatever. We survived “tough camp” in Mexico.
I think CSC should do their survival training at that race next year. Like
Plato said, or maybe it was Socrates…whichever did the Vuelta Sonora, “What
doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
David Richter is a rider with the Monex Pro Cycling Team
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