London World Championships Day1: A Rough Start
A day in the life with Aaron is always an adventure and our travels to London and getting to our hotel was definitely just that. Our day started off early in Seattle on Sunday morning but was going well. Brittney, Colin and I left Seattle after a sad goodbye to the most loved dog in the world , Retina. We loaded up my friend’s truck with what seemed like a life’s savings of luggage and we were off. Although we received many questions about what could be in the enormous box from the TSA we made it to our plane and headed on our first leg to Chicago O'Hare where we would add a fourth member of the group Amanda, Colin’s girlfriend. We boarded the Seattle produced Boeing Triple 7 jumbo jet and as we walked back to where the “common folk” sit we were mesmerized by the luxury of spacious quarters, massage chairs and coffee tables of the privileged in the front of the plane.
Our flight across the pond was lengthy but went by quickly as I slept and listened to the audio book, “unstoppable: From Underdog to Undefeated” by the one-legged wrestler Anthony Robles. Robles is an amazing individual and was the winner of the 2011 ESPY for Mall Athlete with a Disability when I was also selected as a finalist. Its a great read and will really give you an appreciation for what the human body can do. I was so into the book that before I knew it we had arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport.
We got through customs and got luggage quickly but then the circus show began. Because we had the massive tandem box, I decided against taking it on The Tube and arranged airport and bike pick up through the Nirvana Transportation Company recommended by the race organizers. Brittney and Amanda took The Tube to the hotel to avoid the 70 pound per person ($112.13) fee from Nirvana. Now thinking back , I really wished we would have just trekked with the bike onto The Tube. After searching around to find the man in the orange shirt from Nirvana Travel, we found out our name wasn’t on the list and then trekked about a mile through tunnels and up and down airport ramps to what seemed like an airport loading dock to take the coach into London. This was all done with the tandem box on a wheeled cart in the UK where we didn’t know which side of the hallway to walk on. It seemed that half of the people walked on the left side of the hallway and the other on the right. I assume that this is because either half were not British and the other half were British and they were following their own country’s custom or half were trying to be like Britt’s and the other half were confused. We never really did figure out where we should be walking throughout the trip so it became quite “dodgey” at times. We resolved the issue of our confirmation and began waiting and waiting for them to round up the trips and get on the coach. While waiting, of course the most intriguing woman had to pick us to begin a conversation. I seem to attract these types of people butI don’t know why. Maybe its because I look like an odd ball putting things up to my face and having wandering eyes I don’t know.
After about 45 minutes of waiting around we loaded the bus into about twenty groups by drop off location. From there I knew this was going to be a long journey but never did I think it would be what it became. Because we had waited around for about 90-minutes, we were leaving right aboutf rush hour and ran into traffic on the roads into the city. Colin informed me as we passed building after building of five-story glass car dealerships right off the side of the highway. Our first stop was at an apartment building where one person got off and got his bike from the truck following us. From there the coach turned onto narrow streets where he managed to miss other cars by inches. The next stop was a Holiday Inn and this was the start of the “Where’s Waldo” hunt. The coach driver began having difficulties finding the drop off locations. People started to get restless and with the neurotic triathletes on board many of them began to get off to stretch or walk down the block at the stops. The coach driver read out loud the list of stops and there were multiple stops not on the list. We began going around the block stopping and starting as the driver and the passengers looked for the next stop. It made it a little difficult that it seemed that all the places had near identical names or were a pert of a chain with multiple locations. We continued to go around and around the block. Colin mentioned to me how many Starbucks and KFC’s they had there but then we soon realized that we were just repeatedly passing the same ones. Multiple times the driver said, “Don’t try this at home folks,” as he proceeded to do a five-point turn in the middle of a narrow round about. I will say, although the guy had no idea where he was going, he definitely could turn the bus in small spaces. We began receiving texts from Brittney and Amanda about our whereabouts but we didn’t really know how to answer other than “we are on a wild goose hunt and we hope to be there soon.”
The coach driver was getting very irritated (he didn’t work for Nirvana but was evidently volunteering) and one of the Nirvana employees from the truck behind came onto the coach. The coach driver told the employee, “At this point , you need to give these people money for taxi’s and sort everything out later.” If this isn’t a sign of a disaster than I don’t know what is. Luckily, Colin found the address for the Kensington Thistle Garden Hotel on my phone and we had just went by it. We informed the coach driver to let us off and as he did so I also heard the him say, “hold on a second I have to call my boss.” Whatever happened after that I don’t know but we were just happy to be off that bus. To give you a better visual of who the coach driver reminded me just remember back to Chris Farley as the bus driver on Billy Madison. His mannerisms were near identical. When it was all said and done that fiasco took 4hrs and the girls had been at the hotel for over three.
After dropping off all our luggage, we headed out on our next adventure. Luckily both Brittney and Amanda had both lived in London for short stents because we had to take The Tube and then a train to Salisbury where we would visit the very mysterious but historic Stonehenge. Stonehenge is basically a bunch of massive rocks that tower above the ground in a circular formation. There are many myths on how it was created. Some say it was created by people in the stone age as a religious and burial site while others believe it was created by aliens. My belief is that little baby giants were playing blocks and were erecting a structure but their structure collapsed and fell into the circular pattern we see today. Nobody will ever know the true story behind Stonehenge so I am sticking to my idea.
From the cornfields where Stonehenge lie we took the bus back into the small town of Salisbury. We made a quick stop to look at the Salisbury Cathedral which is the tallest in the United Kingdom before heading to our hotel to clean up. Brittney was a bit jet legged and passed out for a few hours while the rest of us found a local restaurant that had half off food on Monday’s. Considering that it was like $200 for a one star hotel room in what I believe is the most expensive country in the world, we tried to find any deal we could get.
We were all quite exhausted and falling asleep at the dinner table so we headed back to our hotel where the band had started their nightly set. Brittney had woken up to the sound of the jazzy music and was sitting at one of the tables. I joined her for a bit and then we went up to hit the hay. Day one of the crazy London adventure was over and boy was I ready for a good night’s sleep.