It was wonderful to be back in Europe again, and to see all my friends and co-workers at round 7 of the 2008 FIM World Motocross Championships!
But lets rewind a little bit first … you know how I love filling you in on all my experiences traveling overseas : )
Let’s start with Wednesday. About 5am I got in the car and began my drive to LAX. About 45 minutes into the drive I realized that I had forgotten my cell phone. Just enough time for me not to be able to do anything about it. (Now I don’t know how you are with your cell phone, but my cell phone is pretty much attached to my hand at all times. So, to say I was stressed is an understatement. But thanks to a quick call from a borrowed cell phone, I reached my mom at her home, and asked her to FedEx my cell phone to my hotel in France. Great! I would have my cell phone delivered to me by Friday at my Hotel =) Technology these days! You got to love it!
Arriving at LAX that early in the morning was a breeze … no traffic, no fuss, things were going very well. I got checked in, went through security, boarded the airplane, and was about to rack up my frequent flyer miles!
You know that saying ‘When things seem to good to be true, they usually are??’ Well, now, I can definitely agree! The plane ended up sitting on the runway for around one hour before it even moved an inch, let alone to even take off.
But wait – there’s more! After a seemingly quick flight to New York, we sat on the plane for another hour on the tarmac, because they could not find an open gate for the jet to de-plane. Some folks on the plane waited patiently. Many people on the plane were very un-patient (like the very loud New Yorker that was sitting next to me).
It did seem like forever to get off the plane. Good news was – I was finally able to get off the plane. Bad news was – I’m now going to miss my flight to Paris. Great!
As I looked at my watch, realizing that I was too late to make the flight to Paris … I saw on one of the departure display screens that my Paris flight had been delayed as well. Yea! I grabbed my bag and ran to the boarding gate. I made it onto the airplane with 30 seconds left to spare! My luck was turning around now!
After flying all night and arriving at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, it was now Thursday morning. I picked up my rental car and began the 4 hour drive to my hotel in southern France. It rained almost the entire drive, but the weather was warm. A bit like Florida sometimes – humid and wet.
By the time I reached the town I was going to be staying at for the next few days, the sun was shining very bright … which seemed odd to me because it was after 9pm!
Now, finding the hotel was a entirely different story! I’ll turn the long story of that into a short one for you … IT TOOK ME FOREVER!! At least 2 hours. People were giving me directions left and right and none of them were helpful. I finally stopped into the local police station and asked for help. And about 20 minutes later I was all checked into my room and ready for sleep.
Friday morning I woke up early and drove straight to the race track – Circuit St. Jean d’Angely. The drive was beautiful. I drove through a vineyard and a field of corn and wheat fields. Then I came thru a very old, rustic town, with very old buildings and brick roads and some sections that were run-down. Sounds a bit ugly right? It was anything but. There was so much character and so much charm – it’s France! I couldn’t stop taking pictures … and thinking to myself that I am truly so lucky to be here.
When arriving to the track my thoughts were very close to that of the town. It was more beautiful than any pictures or any video I had ever seen of it. There were extremely steep hills and a great area to watch from, where you are able to see 90 percent of the track.
I wasn’t at the race track for too long before I got an e-mail from FedEx saying that the delivery address was wrong, and my cell phone was going to be returned to sender (my mom) in the USA. That was … stressful to me! It’s very difficult in this day and age, and working with the Internet and Television to not be able to communicate and be reachable all the time!
I called FedEx and they told me the package would be at a FedEx location 45 minutes away from the race track, and if I wanted to pick it up I needed to be there before 7pm because that’s when they close and that’s when it would begin it’s journey back to the USA. for me to pick up.
My jaw dropped when I looked at my watch. It was 6pm! I had one hour to get into the town (Rochefort) and then find the FedEx office. I jumped in the car and sped the entire way towards the town. At no time did I reach 170 km per hour to see where the rental car company had the ‘governor’ kick in to make sure I didn’t speed too much. (Yes, it kicked in at 170. Darn! I would of went 200 km per hour if I could of!)
Once I got into town (in only 30 minutes!) there was just one little problem. I had no idea where FedEx was!!! So, I ran into a local flower shop (thinking they must know where it is! They probably use FedEx to ship flowers, right??)
There were 2 ladies working behind the counter, both were very nice and pulled out the phone book and searched franticly for me because I mentioned to them that FedEx closes at 7pm. After spending 8 minutes in the flower shop, my hope was fading that I’d be able to get my cell phone at all. In walked another lady with curly dark hair, flip flops, and a smile, and asked what we were doin. The ladies behind the counter explained to her and she looked at me and said “I’ll help you! I may know where it is … LETS GO!!”
We ran to our cars and took off! We drove first to one building … but that wasn’t it … then another building … but that wasn’t it. We were running thru red lights and stop signs as the clock ticked closer to 7pm. We’d run into building after building asking if they knew where FedEx was. None one seemed to know.
After getting zero useful information from all these people in all these buildings – viola! Out of no-where a big building with the words ‘EuroExpress’ apeared. We ran in to ask them abotut FedEx and they said “thats US!” I was so happy to get my phone! And to be able to communicate with all my co-workers at the track over the weekend. And I made a new friend – Emmanuelle – thank you so much for your help! (Dinner is on me next time I’m in town!!)
With 4 hours of sleep I headed to the track Saturday morning. Although I was tired, I was also so excited to be there at St. Jean d’Angely!
I had a short TV meeting with my boss, and told her about the feature I wanted to do on the history and tradition of the race track. She looked over my notes and with a great smile Mireille told me to “go for it!” Then I got together with my camera guy and we were off! First I interviewed Dr. Wolfgang Srb, President of the FIM Motocross Commission, and asked him the correct pronunciation on the name of the circuit. It was funny. He had to laugh when I tried to say it even after he told me a few times … But thank you Dr. Srb! I think I got it now! I’ll be a Pro at saying “Saint Jean d’Angley” by next years race! Next for the feature, I met up with Stefan Everts (perhaps you’ve heard of him – 10 time World Motocross Champion – best GP rider ever! : ) and asked him his thoughts of the ciruit and what his history was with the track. After him, I had the opportunity to speak with Seb Pourcel, #90. He was definitely one of the favorites for the win in the MX1 class – it was his home GP and he was by far the crowd favorite. He had a lot of great things to say about the track, and he was very excited about getting out on the track to race! It was a a fun news feature to put together. And I can’t wait to see the way it turns out. (I get the 52 minute television program mailed to me about a week after it is played on TV in Europe). After work on Saturday I headed back to the hotel to get some sleep so I would be 100% for the race on Sunday!
One highlight (or low-light – I’m not sure yet) of this trip was that I got to eat frog. Frog Pate to be exact. Really, I tried to like it. But the fact is – I don’t. And I don’t think I ever will!
Sunday, I arrived at the track early, met up with the TV crew, and was so happy to hear that on top of my normal job tasks during the day, they wanted to try something new – interview the winners right as they pull off the track … LIVE on TV worldwide! (Normally we give them a little time to catch their breath, clean up a bit, talk with their team, etc.
Later this week, you’ll see some video of me doing that … it was crazy and hectic and exciting and fun – all at the same time! The French crowd was totally ecstatic that their ‘hero’ had won that day! And you’ll be able to see it in the the videos we’ll have published this week.
A few people thought I might be nervous to do this on worldwide live TV, but I couldn’t wait! Doing Live TV gives you such an adrenaline rush it’s hard to explain. Anything can happen at anytime, and you have to just smile and roll with it!
The race itself was incredible. The fans were so loud and didn’t stop cheering the entire day. They had air horns and noise makers, face paint, wigs, flags, signs, … there was even a guy with a chain saw! Seriously … a chain saw that he’d rev until you thought it would explode! (no chain in it though … that would be a little scary!)
As the MX1/450 class lined up for their first moto, we took the live camera out and asked Steve Ramon (current MX1 World Champion who rides for Suzuki and had the fastest laptime the day before), Josh Coppins, Marc de Rouver and hometown favorite Seb Pourcel a couple quick questions before they got on the starting gate.
During that segment, I have 2 minutes to get as much done as I can, and wrap it up with no error for the Live TV. So stressful, and yet so so so much FUN!
Tommy Searle won both MX2 motos, and I was able to interview him as soon as he came off the track (as planned). He was so happy! It was the first time in his career that he has won two motos back to back. His girlfriend Harriett was crying she was so happy too. I was able to do the same for MX1 double moto winner Seb Pourcel as well. He was fun to talk to after the race because the fans were sooooo loud it was hard to hear each other. But it was a blast!
After the podium ceremony I spoke to 1st and 2nd place in both classes for Supercross.com =) So watch out for those videos to be up soon!
On Monday at 4am, I checked out of my hotel and started the drive back to the Paris airport. What should of been a nice leisurely drive turned into another one of those travel nightmares. Evidently, automobile and big rig truck drivers had arranged to have a ‘strike’ because of high gasoline prices. Soooooo, a few thousand of them just parked their cars on the freeway to protest. That made getting into Paris …. quite a pain. And now I’m starting to sweat, but time keep going bye, yet I wasn’t moving much towards the airport. Thoughts turned to missing my flight … which was becoming more and more likely as I was stranded in traffic.
I was about five miles from the airport. And I thought “I just might make it in time! I’m almost there!” (And I always leave early just in case problems arrive – I try to always give myself a few extra hours just in case.)
Well, the car and truckers ‘brethren’ in mass transit decided to strike as well. That meant that everyone that normally takes the bus or train to the airport now had to drive. The last 5 miles to the airport took about 2 hours. I was bummed. I knew for sure I was going to miss my flight home. Darn!
I pull into the rental car return area, and, another (big) problem. I won’t mention any names (Budget Rental Car) but THEY CLOSE THEIR OFFICE IN THE CAR PARK AREA from 11am to 1PM FOR LUNCH! What?????????????
So, what does one do when they are late for their flight and they need to return the rental car and can’t? I left the car in the lot with the keys in the ignition. Hopefully they figured out the rest : )
I grabbed my bags, ran like a track star to my gate just to see what they’d have to say about me missing my flight. And, lucky for me, the flight from Paris to LAX was (you’ll never guess!) DELAYED! Delayed just enough time for me to make it on the plane while they shut the cabin door behind me.
Vive la France! And the French MXGP! Magnifique!
To see the results and the first video from this race, please visit this link