Monday, November 5, 2012

The one where I don't know where I am

There must be something wrong, as I find myself in Halifax, at home (an interesting concept for me to think about at the moment, more later) and not contemplating another trip any time soon. My bag is unpacked, no need to leave anything in there in advance of next week's trip (all the better to find it). I've even cleared the race-day detritus out of the bottom; the spare safety pins, that gel you don't really like but goes to the races anyway like some kind of talisman, the fliers, pens, advils and energy bars that came in race kit bags and the just-in-case arm-warmers, socks and throw-away gloves that never seem to get unpacked.

More than race-day crap came out of my bag. After the last trip, which was to IRL and GBR via USA, I have coat-pockets full of boarding passes, train & tube tickets and change from four different countries (USD, CAD, EUR and GBP).

I feel that I need a week off to get over my week off. We were away for eight nights which were, in terms of sleep, feast or famine. Either sleeping in until 10:30 or getting up at 05:00 or worse to catch a flight, catch a race or catch a wedding.   I thought I could sleep in until nearly nine this morning and still make it to work, for once, by the skin of my teeth, but instead the jet-lag woke me up at 06:30. Bastard. Of course, when I woke up I had no idea where I was and why I was getting up while it was still dark; did I have a plane to catch? Or maybe a marathon.

I think my brain is still over the Atlantic, maybe somewhere near Iceland. A least when it lands on this side of the Atlantic, my poor, abused inner ears can get some respite from the last few weeks; from the rough ferry crossing to PEI to the flights to Europe, they need a rest too.

I'll tell you what else is still over the Atlantic; my sense of culture. Over here, I'm still described as "the British guy". In fact for 15 years, I've been described as nothing else. I self-identify as British. Yet if the's one thing I felt in the UK this time it was culture-shock. The last time I was in the UK it wasn't this way, but then I spent most of my time ensconced in the bosom of the ITU on the blue carpet, so I could have been anywhere in the world. This time, no acclimatisation time in TZ, just dropped straight into the pure, unadultarated Britishness of it all. Sure, I could make myself understood, I never had to repeat myself, but I just felt slightly alien. I looked the wrong way when crossing the road. I asked who called 9-1-1 not 9-9-9. The hotel, as I charitibly call it, in London was a prime example. No internet, luke-warm water in the shower with no pressure to speak of (our energy-savinig shower-head here has more oomph), low-quality toiletries, instant (instant!) coffee in the room and the creaky floor-boards, drafts and warped wooden fittings were less quaint than a sign of a poorly managed property. Yet it cost the same as the Holiday Inn. It wasn't just the hotel we were in; from what I heard, the Premier Inn just around the corner wasn't much better and it didn't have the benefit of Georgian architecture to mitigate for it's myriad other deficiencies.

I'm try and get around to posting some pictures of the trip when I finally work out where I am, what I am and which coins in my pocket I can use to pay for a cup of coffee in whichever country I decided I'm in in question 1.

In the meantime, a sock. Chris King socks; ten quid from the sale bin at Condor Cycles. Yes, they're actually DeFeet socks and not direct from the Portland, OR Gods of anodized headset bling and buttery-smooth bearings, but still, Chris King! Chris King!!  CHRIS KING!!! What cyclist wouldn't?