Sunday, September 23, 2007


So I just rolled into Stuttgart a few hours ago and am already having a blast! My flight was booked through London on British Airways, and let me tell you something: the Brits know how to treat you! Everyone I encountered was quick, proficient, and helpful, and they even had good food on the plane!

My whole sleeping cycle shift didn't seem to work that well, though. I had been dialing back my clock in order to get ready for European time, but the assumption was I would be able to sleep the entire plane ride and then I wouldn't have any jet lag. Have you tried to sleep on a trans-Atlantic flight lately? Let me tell you, I felt more like a sardine than a human! Also they never really turned the lights out, and no one seemed to be too concerned with getting any shuteye. I managed a few hours, but far from a solid 8 like I had thought.

Unfortunately our plane was delayed for a while, so I had assumed I would miss my connection. I followed British Airways' [meticulous] directions and was in the line for a new ticket when my voice was called over the intercom: "Passenger Frey, traveling to Stuttgart: please come to the gait IMMEDIATELY, your flight is departing!" HOLY SHIT! I sprinted from the ticketing counter as people snickered at me and found my gate in record time, just as they were about to shut the door. Apparently the flight to Stuttgart had been delayed, and they decided to wait for me!

I made it, and my suitcase made it . . . my bike did not. British Airways is going to deliver it to the hotel when they have it, and I am a little nervous. However, they are very proficient and I understand why the bag did not make it--I can also do nothing about it at this point.

After meeting Ken Whelpdale (Toronto native, director of logistics for USA Cycling) and his girlfriend Magda (from Mallorca, Spain), we boarded our sweet black VW van (called Vito in Europe) and made the 7 minute trip to Hotel Gloria. Ken is hilarious, very sarcastic but not in a cynical way, and he and I were cracking each other up on the way here. When he met me outside the baggage claim, he said, "Nick? I was worried you had decided not to come!"

"Yeah, I was going to scalp my plane ticket, but I couldn't find any buyers."

"Well I am glad--but if you're planning on riding, you'll probably need a bike . . . "

"Well, I actually have it right here in my duffel: it is a folding one!"

"Hey, that's a great idea! Dave Zabriskie actually just pours water on his and it sprouts into a full-size bike."

It was a great way to take the pressure off of lost luggage, and I know it will be an excellent trip if it is being run by Ken! Hilarious.

After shacking up in the new digs, I went down to the restaurant for some lunch. AMAZING! First of all, everything I do in the hotel is on Ken's tab, and the entire hotel staff knows the team and is basically catering to every whim. Second, the food was TO DIE FOR! Two pasta shells stuffed with traditional schnitzel and smothered in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with cucumber-potato salad on the side. And of course, sparkling water.

Then, while sitting outside on the beautiful patio admiring the other diners and soaking in the sun, I see Kristin Armstrong and Alison Powers walking buy. They immediately recognize me as an American, and we introduce ourselves. I asked them what there was to do in this place, and they reminded me: nothing, it is Sunday! Then I find out we are all eating dinner together tonight--Dave Zabriskie (World TT runner-up in 2006), Jason McCartney (recent Vuelta stage winner), Kristin Armstrong (defending world TT champion), Alison Powers, Amber Neben, Christine Thorburn, and my teammate Tejay Van Garderen. SWEET!!!

Pictures will not be on until I get home--I forgot my camera dock! However, I have already taken many, so it should be a good show!

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