We’re proud to have access to former world silver and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist – and now Eurosport commentator – Tony Gibb, who will be providing us with a daily insider’s view of life in and around the Olympic velodrome. Here’s his first blog.
A bed, a bed, my kingdom for a bed (or at least a towel)
So, the track cycling competition has not even started yet and I have some great stories. Eurosport, my kind and generous employers for this particular gig, have booked me in to the Bloomsbury Hotel!
Now without meaning to bore you with logistics I live 1½ hour’s ride from central London. I want my bike with me so I can train, but I also have my warfare bike to get up there so I can ride to and from the track, and ten days’ worth of luggage and kit. So I decided to drive up at 1am on Tuesday night, having Googled the hotel, checked I could leave my luggage and lock my warfare bike up outside the hotel. I would then drive home, sleep and ride in the next day.
The gentleman on the front desk said that he could not find my reservation but “we have lots of reservations with no name as the Olympics are on at the moment.” Oh, I’m glad you told me, I would never have known!
Anyway, after leaving my bags with him I drove around for a while not too sure that I was sorted. Turns out I wasn’t, bags at wrong hotel. Sounds a doddle to sort, right? Well, try driving around London with most of the junctions routed towards Stratford! Anyway, went home, rode in the next day to a very plush hotel, and expected weird looks at the sweaty mess clip-clopping through the marble reception. Nope, the woman behind reception asked me if I would like a damp towel. Ah I see, Brad has just won the time trial. Cue cycling in the UK hitting the big time.
Now I know Bradley Wiggins. I’ve spent time with him socially, not so much recently but in the past. I’ve raced with him and I have interviewed him at length for Eurosport, a piece called ‘the skies the limit’, though you wouldn’t know as my brilliant work was, ahem … replaced! Anyway all I know is that he is a top bloke. If you know him and know how to take his sense of humour, he is very clever, funny, engaging and passionate. A month ago he was a British cycling great, he is now a truly global legend and he deserves all he gets, a ‘Sir’ is a certainty, and if he is not 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, I will personally ‘Jarvis Cocker’ the stage!
A walk in the (Olympic) park
So after catching up with the time trial I headed over to the Olympic park. Up until now this was just another gig, one that I felt privileged and honoured to be doing but that was about it. That all changed soon enough!
My ride to the track was trouble-free. However, having finally found my way in, I locked up my bike and then started walking, 45 minutes later I finally found the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), a building so vast that I am sure you could build an Airbus A380 in it, and in a few months’ time it will be torn down. How this place in temporary is beyond me! Anyway I found it via the OBC and then the BBC BC – it’s confusing around here! Anyway, I managed to find the Eurosport office, then was shown to the accreditation validation centre – another 20-minute walk. After all of this I decided to head off, somewhat exhausted.
The atmosphere, however, is great. Everyone’s happy and cheery and sociable, no one’s rushing around to get anywhere and there’s very little traffic apart from about two miles around the park. The Games lanes seem to be working very well, so well in fact that I am going to use the buses rather than ride – a decision influenced by the army stealing my deodorant! Yes, they thought it was as silly as me, but then don’t ask me to tell you the story about the police dog Mercedes vans and not being able to buy a simple plate of chips anywhere on the Olympic park. Well, only in one retailer anyway. Oh, and if you want to pay for said ‘fries’ it’s cash or Visa only, sir. MasterCard, er no. Amex, er no.
Off to bed, can’t wait for tomorrow!