Cycling Southland's Nick Jeffrey is part of a southern deputation along with Stephen Canny and Dale Tye attending the 2012 UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne to promote the Junior World Championships in Invercargill in August and to shadow event organisers to gain ideas on running large scale events behind-the-scenes.
TUESDAY 3 APRIL
Our accreditation for the Worlds was only confirmed a week ago, so I haven't really had the chance to get excited about the trip.
After meeting with UCI officials in Invercargill over the weekend I now realise what a great opportunity we have over the next week to learn about the mechanics of delivering major event ... plus the racing should be quite good too.
Gilles and Tiziana from UCI were outstanding in advising of any major requirements we hadn't considered ahead of August's Junior Worlds and were able to clarify a number of areas for us. I'm not sure whether it is our level of preparedness or the oysters we fed them while they were here, but they are happiness-filled with our planning and facility.
They will also be assisting us over the week in Melbourne and promoting our presence and information to each of the 40+ countries in attendance.
We've quickly pulled together some extensive information packs (in multiple languages), well when I say we I mean Sue Clarke and Cathy Jordan have thanks to Venture Southland, the Invercargill Licensing Trust and Sue and Cathy's hard work in the office. So I depart Invercargill with 36 kgs of luggage - 33.5kgs of that being info packs. They come complete with colour coding for French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and English versions. The hardest part of my trip will be remembering which colour belongs to which language.
My first challenge is to negotiate with the very helpful Air New Zealand staff over excess baggage. The 36kg is too much for one piece of luggage apparently, so (joy-of-joys) I have to transfer some of the info packs into my hand luggage and then pay an extra $75. Not a bad result considering the amount of info we have to dish out. This will provide excellent motivation to ensure we hand out as many packs as possible, as there is no way I want to be bringing them home with me after that!
I spend the flight to Christchurch opposite an old cricketing mate Owen Ramsay and we spend much of the trip discussing the Worlds and as someone outside the sport his enthusiasm for the event and what it means for the region again brings home to me what an outstanding job all of those hard-working folk in our organisation have done through the years, getting Cycling Southland into the place where we can host a world championship event in a world class facility.
Rammo is also bound for Auckland so he very kindly gets me into the Koru lounge in Christchurch and then it's on the Auckland for a 90 minute wait before the flight to Melbourne.
Word comes back from DT that our accrediation provides extensive access - even if she did have a bit of drama getting hers done. The passes include photo id and have to be swiped into bar-code scanners to get access to some areas - going to be very interesting to see how that works. I'm hoping Dale's experience will lead to a smoother run when I pick mine up on Wednesday.
Flight's a little bumpy but arrives on time and thanks to Melbourne's marvellous public transport I am in the city half an hour later. Stu and Dale happened to be in town and after exchanging a few confused texts with the Welshman we locate each other and grab a quick bite.
We bump into Chris O'Connor down-town who tells me everything in the build-up has run very smoothly mechanically. He's got a big first day with the Men's Team Pursuit and both Team Sprints to have ready.
Stu's really happy with how Tarsh Hansen and Katie Schofield are going. The Women's Team Sprint qualifying is first up in the first evening session. So the girls will meet with the coach in the morning, have a gym session to get them pins firing, get to the track about 5pm and then hit the boards first up at 7pm. Venezeula ride a couple of heats later and their respective times will pretty much decide which one of those countries gets the final Olympic qualification spot in the Team Sprint.
Big Eddie Dawkins is also in action with Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster in the Men's Team Sprint along with Alex Frame in the Men's Scratch Race (keep an eye on him people - if it comes down to a final sprint he could well get in the mix - the guy is flying apparantly) and Marc Ryan, Sam Bewley, Westley Gough and Aaron Gate in the Men's Team Pursuit.
Naturally all teams are keeping an eye on the competition. Even after one of their guys got hit by a car and had to go home, the Russians are looking super-slick with Australia and Great Britain the other major hurdles which stand between the NZ foursome and a World Champs medal.
The track has been re-sanded and by all accounts, after a dusty couple of days to start, it is running fast.
With the help of a friendly local taxi driver (who incidentally didn't know much about the cycling being in town) I find my accommodation. Lucky I didn't bring my cat - because there's no way I could swing it in here - but it's just over a kilometre from the Hinsense Arena and it was, how shall I put it, cost effective.
So now the hard work begins - for the riders and for us. Expect lots of photos, lots of video and a few travel takes over the next week. I already have a few which I can't put down on paper :-)
Technology willing we will be posting regularly to the Cycling Southland Facebook and Twitter pages for those of you hooked in. Otherwise each morning pior to the session we will provide an overview of our experiences from the day before here.