Sunday, March 11, 2012

10th Annual Clasico MTB Florida (Puerto Rico)

The real reason for my going to Puerto Rico this weekend was not looking at trees and flowers but rather to work an international mountain bike race. To be frank, we were lucky that it became international when three US riders showed up this morning, well after the deadline for inscription and number pick-up. The 10th annual Clasico MTB Florida near Arecibo has been on the UCI's calendar for a number of years, and 2012 was my time to come down here. With the recent changes at the UCI (we will have to decide between serving as commissaires or DCOs very soon) this may very well have been my last race as President of the Commissaires' Panel.

The day was perfect: The night had been void of rain, and the morning was sunny and almost cloudless. Race organizer Luciano S. had things so well under control that he even toed the line for the 8:00 a.m. start of the first race—and promptly won his non-UCI Masters race. Look at the determination, and you see what this lawyer cum bike racer cum organizer can do.
Senor Sanchez displays his race face
We had a good race—an on-time start, knowledgeable local commissaires, a perfect course, friendly racers, no injuries, happy faces, zero protests. Yes, the number of UCI racers was anemic, but we ran the show in a professional way, and it seemed to be appreciated. And no, this was not a World Cup, but all races start out (and sometimes stay) small. Hey, the mayor of Florida showed up, and a great salsa band served up the music. Puerto Rico is A-OK, believe me. In Costa Rica they'd say, Pura Vida!
The start area at Clasico MTB Florida
As I said, the local commissaires really are a good crew. Lucano, who worked as Starter, learned the hard way why you have a whistle in your mouth as a starter—just in case the pistol doesn't fire, twice. Somebody had loaded the ammo back-ass-ward! Old stalwart Nitza was rock-solid as my Secretary, and the ever-so-lovely Yelitza is on my A-list for, well, whatever crosses your mind, or mine (but, alas, I'm sure not hers)! All kidding aside, thanks for your hard work today, Yeli.
Please meet the Finish Judge, Yelitza
Let me tell you one thing: Down here in Puerto Rico (and the same is true for Costa Rica and Chile) the organizers and the local staff treat us commissaires like royalty. It makes me feel ashamed when I think how a South American commissaire might be "welcomed" to a UCI race in the USA. Here, I have been treated to all meals, one has included me in meeting the local families, and one has asked me umpteen times whether everything is OK—all the while telling me how glad and honored one is that I took the time to come down for this event. I've never experienced this type of appreciation in the US. I always feel welcome at the cycling races south of the border, and I am glad that I can help out to improve these events in my own small way.
Luciano y Eduardo, con el jefe
We finished off the day at La Ponderosa, a mall-based restaurant with US roots but definite local touches. Thank you all, Luciano, Eduardo, Alberto, Rodolfo, Roberto, y todos los commissarios y obreros. Sin ustedes, el Clasico MTB Florida no esta possible. Muchas gracias, amigos. Hasta luego,


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