Only 10 days have passed since the end of our 2015 CX Worlds campaign in Tabor, Czech Republic. In August of 2014, I heard a rumor that the hotel we had selected 2 years ago and paid a 50% deposit to, may be in dire straits economically. Following up on the rumor, I contacted the hotel and they re-assured me that all was OK and that above all they were looking forward to hosting us. With 3 weeks remaining before the team’s arrival, I submitted my rooming list, meal program and dietary requirements via e-mail. When the e-mail went un-answered, my suspicions awoke from their slumber. After 48 hours, (note that is my e-mail grace period) I called the hotel directly. One number after the next disconnected…….Oh shit! Finally, I got an answer and talked with my contact who assured me that they were simply on a short holiday and that they would follow-up with me on Monday.
With a huge sense of relief and a mountain of hotel research completed, I relaxed through the weekend with a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.
On Monday, I eagerly/nervously waited for the e-mail response. At 3:30p, when I had received an email back, I started my calls again. After getting no answer, I received the mail I was waiting for at 3:45p detailing the fact that the hotel was indeed in bankruptcy proceedings and the restaurant was closed and un-usable. PANIC!
Luckily, I had a B, C and D plan in place and had even made some cancellable bookings via some web-sites. Another 8 or so hours of work, I had found an excellent place checking the boxes required to support the team in a successful campaign. Yes, it was a bit farther than I would normally find acceptable, but in the end the hotel was excellent and being 40 minutes away actually allowed the athletes to relax more than when we are in close proximity to the races. Another few hours of finalizing payment arrangements, meal planning etc. and we would be confirmed.
Depending on the team size, event location and logistical challenges, I typically fly in one or two days before the team’s arrival. As we had raced Worlds in Tabor a few years prior and our athletes had used the hotel we had first booked for their World Cup campaigns, I intended to fly in a couple of hours before the team and drive down to Tabor from Prague. Given the change in hotel, I decided I should fly in the day before to ensure that all would be up to our expectations – change flights, change rental car (no comment on how ridiculous this was) and up-date the UCI for anti-doping pre and during competition of our whereabouts.
Fast forward to the event, and all went really well. We had an excellent staff, willing to do whatever it takes to support our athletes and the athletes were in general there to hunt podium spots. Yes, at this level, it is not about participation, it is about GOLD, SILVER AND BRONZE!
So, CX Tabor was my 46th World level event with USA Cycling. This is the first time we ever had a hotel go bankrupt and leave the team out in the cold. If I do another 46 events, I hope it doesn’t happen again! The risk is always there and especially when racing in economically challenged parts of the globe.