It was the eve of Stage 5 when the policewoman walked into the hotel dining room. We were in Palmerston North, where the presence of the local constabulary at mealtimes is not an uncommon occurence. No one in the room looked up, except for Alex, who had thought the policewoman was actually one of the chefs delivering another tray of roast potatoes. The policewoman cleared her throat.
'We are looking,' she said, slowly, 'for the driver of the NTID vehicle that was in the race convoy today.'
The NTID team looked up (except for Alex, who was still disappointed about the potatoes). No one said anything.
'It was a red van,' the policewoman added, helpfully.
'The NTID team squirmed a little and looked at each other. We knew if we just kept quiet, the unwritten code of cycling teams would prevail, and no one would rat on a fellow team. And although we were all wearing our team shirts with the NTID insignia proudly embroidered on the chest, we were fairly confident that the policewoman couldn't read. And I was starting to get an inkling of why Ben and Paul had suddenly announced that they were getting dinner elsewhere that night.
Unfortunately, the unwritten code of cycling teams, it appeared, did not extend to certain mechanics who proudly got up and announced to the room that they knew who the NTID managers were and where they lived. Great. Now the game was up. Someone on the table let out a giggle. The policewoman turned to our table and asked if that was us. Roy, clearly a skilled negotiator, kept it neutral by stating only 'That may or may not be our team.' Her brilliance clearly baffled the policewoman, who threatened to pull our entire team from the race if she didn't find those dastardedly NTID managers. The lawyer in the team, clearly fearing that she was in danger of having to get her own bidons the next day, capitulated and managed to negotiate a plea of leniency with the policewoman following a chance discovery of a mutual love of miniature dachshunds.
And so the NTID team lived to ride Stage 5, with only a very loose threat of jail hanging over Paul. And so a valuable lesson was learned: Never hire a bright red van in a sea of white vans and sedans, because when everyone is breaking the law it is the red one that will be caught.
Luckily, following their brush with the law, the team rallied and arranged some cunning disguises for Ben and Paul.
Lisa's Mum truly enjoyed her experience in NZ. She enjoyed the novelty of NZ Olympic television coverage (who would have thought you could spend 8 hrs a day following the progress of a lone skeleton bobsledder?); she enjoyed having her washing done for her by two handsome men in their early 30s (Mum is a bit of a cougar); but most of all she enjoyed hanging with the NTID crew who are a top bunch of chicks. She did not like the sausage surprise dinner so much, but you cannot have everything Mum.
The brilliance of a long tour like the Tour of NZ is that you get to know your teammates quite well. For example, Mum learned that Bec is pretty amazing at organising ad-hoc birthday celebrations. Most people would baulk at the idea of finding a cake, candles, presents and willing accomplices in the hotel kitchen staff, but not Bec. Mum also learned that Bron and Alex can be kept quite easily amused by You Tube videos of Charlie the Unicorn and dancing badgers. (Incidentally, Mum has a wicked picture of Bron's ass post-crash that she was dying to put up here, but she thought she had better ask Bron first.) Mum was privileged to be kept informed of Laura's daily bowel movements, and extremely disappointed that she missed Roy's fashion parade. But mostly, she was disappointed to be sitting next to Lisa on the team bus when she was writing her blog, because it was not very exciting.
The final GC results for the tour are up at http://www.cycletournz.com/Default.aspx?alias=www.cycletournz.com/womenstour. Mum reckons they should have given all the crit people a bunch time instead of pulling them because it's rubbish to bust a lung riding a 6 stage tour and then be given a DNF just because of a tough crit on the final stage. And she appreciates that it is a big job to run a tour and is not criticising the organisers; she is just saying that her NTID teammates were awesome and deserve a finishing place. Fair call, Mum.
Thanks to Roy for her cool pics.
*Lisa's real Mum would like to mention that she is not responsible for any posts written by Lisa's Mum. I think everyone already knew that, but just in case any members of the Kiwi police force are reading this, Mum holds you in the highest esteem and would never imply that you guys can't read.