Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Melbourne Chronicles - Day 1

It was way back in early August when the announcement was made. Told Senn about it and we were both excited. "Yes, let's do it!" was the common reaction. After all, 2011 was an Ironman sabbatical year for us, and this race was the perfect race for a comeback, even more so now that IM Langkawi is gone.

Then on August 28, registration opened. It started at 11am Malaysian time. At 10:55am, my laptop was on, finger on the refresh button, ready to enter my email address to begin registration.

Five minutes later, the race was sold out. Fortunately, both Senn and I got our slots.

Fast forward to March and here we are: 3 days away from the inaugural Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships in Melbourne. 3 days away from racing with the likes of World Champions Craig Alexander and Mirinda Carfrae.

We arrived early this morning. Very early. We landed at Tullamarine Airport just after 2am. The good thing about arriving at this ungodly hour was that we were the only flight arriving, so passport control and customs were very quick. Kinda felt sorry for the customs guy though, he was overwhelmed by the number of bikes going through customs. There were about eight to ten bike on board our flight! The conversation at the Customs line went something like this:

Customs guy: What's in the box, sir?

Guy in front of me: A bike...

Customs guy: Ok, I need you to move ever here and open up the case. And how about you? What's in there?

Me: A bike.

Customs guy: Ok, Over here I'll need you to open it up so I can look at it. (Then to Senn) Is that a bike too? (Now he looks behind Senn and sees a few more bike cases) What is with all these bikes coming through???!!!

The bad thing about arriving this early was that nothing was open save for some fast food outlets. The car rental place only opens at 5 so we had a two and a half hours wait to get our car. We grabbed some food from McDonalds then found a nice comfortable spot at departures to plonk ourselves down and sleep.

At 5am, Senn's uncle met us and took us to the car rental office. Got ourselves a fiery red Ford Falcon XR6. It's got a huge boot so after unpacking the bikes, we managed to fit both into it. The cases folded flat and just fit the back seat. Our luggage went into Uncle's car and finally, we could leave the airport.

After about an hour's drive, we arrive at Glen Waverly. We were so tired, we didn't even bother unpacking the car. Went straight in and slept. Till mid-afternoon.

The afternoon was spent putting the bikes, then off to the nearby mall to get us a couple of local SIM cards. After that we took a short drive out onto the Eastlink tollway to see how steep the tunnel climb really is. The course description said 12% but it didn't really look like it.  But then again in a car, you can't really tell. It looks to me like it can be done in the big ring but we'll find out on Sunday.

We then took a short bike ride out into the park to see if everything was put together ok and that nothing broke during the flight. I must have looked like a major dweeb with an aero helmet and disk wheel, wearing a windbreaker, going all of 15kmh!

Tomorrow, we're off to St Kilda's to check in and check out the finish area and expo. Can't wait to see what the atmosphere there is like. I'll bet it's electric :)

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