Oh boy oh boy oh boy. This one is a long time coming. To my LEGIONS of angry fans, I’m so sorry to keep you waiting for so long. An exciting race, exotic location, and I don’t write the report for 2 weeks? I suck! I won’t go into graphic detail on my excuse, I’ll just say this: because of the last 12 days, when I now type “di” into my cellphone, autotype automatically selects “diarrhea.” Actually, that was fairly graphic.
So anyway, this trip was epic, the race was epic (in the wrong way), and the post race celebration was epic. In that way, I feel obligated to make this blog epic. So whether you like it or not, this is going to be a long ass blog. But to help you deal with it, I’m going to break it up into two parts. Part 1 below all the pre-race stuff. Part 2 (**posted here now), will be the race, the post race, and a crazy number of thank yous for all the people that enabled this incredible experience. Stay tuned!
Manila – Crazy Town
I arrived in Manila on Tuesday night after 32 hours of travel and went straight to bed because I was super duper tired. I’m not sure if it was jet-lag or lack of intelligence, but I woke up the next morning and decided to head out onto the streets of downtown Manila for a bike ride. When I asked the hospitality center for a good place to ride, they just laughed a lot and nodded their heads. It was clear in 90 seconds (my first near-collision) that I underestimated the algorithmic complexity of riding in southeast-Asian traffic. It was less like driving, and more like being in a video game. Speed Racer. Or maybe Mario Kart.
|Ok, it doesn’t look like quite like Speed Racer, but this was the chill section, I swear.|
The first lesson I learned was that there are no traffic rules in Manila. Lane lines, stop signs, policeman whistling at you to yield…all optional. You just do what you want and try not to get run over, because it slows down traffic. Float like a butterfly, avoid swerving vehicles like a bee. I also learned that it doesn’t matter what country you’re in or what language you speak, riding though the city in full lycra on a TT bike with a disc wheel and an aero helmet is universal code for NERD ALERT.
|If you listen closely, you can hear hundreds of screaming girls.|
Cam Sur – Heaven on Earth
The following day, the event organizers flew all of the pros out to the race destination, Cam Sur, a quick 40 min flight south of Manila. This airport was tiny, literally a one plane at a time kind of place. But when we stepped off the plane, we may as well have been the NY Yankees. We were greeted, on the runway, by a full marching band, cheerleaders, and a slew of photographers snapping our every move. When I stepped off the plane, hundreds of Filipino girls were crying and screaming, “Oh my God, Jesse! We love the Aviator!” Ok, that part’s not true, but the rest of it is. I seriously felt a little like Justin Beiber, or more like his taller, less talented & less popular brother, Jesse Beiber.
|Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal in the Philippines.|
It was insane. The streets were lined with signage and flags, including, no joke, a 20 ft banner for EACH pro, welcoming them to the event. Boomshakalaka! It was the first taste of what would be a full weekend of lavish superstardom and extreme pampering.
Each pro stayed in a private cabin at the Cam Sur Watersports Complex, a resort featuring villas, restaurants, bars, convention center…and, of course, a world renowned wakeboarding facility! So I spent the next two days just focusing and preparing for the race by stuffing my face at three buffet meals a day, and watching wakeboarding pros tear it up!
|How hard can it be?|
The Pre-Race Smack Down
You see, I grew up wakeboarding, and the problem with that is that I think I’m really good. So when I heard that there was a post-race wakeboarding competition, and that the Governor of Cam Sur (larger than life Lrey Villafuerte) was the reigning champ, I just about crapped my pants. And at the pre-race press conference with all the pros and in front of all the media, when I was asked my first (and only) question, “What made you decide to come race the Philippines 70.3?” My response was, “Definitely the incredible people and hospitality….And the post-race wakeboarding competition against the Governor. I just want him to know, I’m in.” Oh yeah, and the Governor was sitting right next to me. The pre-race smack down had begun! Too bad it didn’t have anything to do with triathlon. And too bad I’m an idiot and would later DEEPLY regret that 5 seconds of Jesse Beiber induced confidence.
I’ll pause the story there, but like I said, stay tuned for Part 2, which includes how I rode well, cried on the run, but dug deep inside myself and stayed mentally tough for post race wakeboarding and stick dancing. See ya soon!