Getting to the Dominican Republic was slick. Hop a couple planes from Victoria-Toronto-Miami-Santo Domingo, arrive 2 am, walk outside get a shuttle into town, check into hostel, sleep for 8 hours. It couldn’t of gone much smoother. My rippin Kona Road bike, King Zing, and I were both safely in the Caribbean and ready to kick off the season! Or so I thought.
Day 1 in the Dominican turned into being the unofficial Stage 0 of the Dominican Republic Tour, “Le Tour De Santo Domingo’s Slums”. After having a chill morning in the touristy Colonial Zone, I started to build my bike so I could head over to find my teammates (I’m guest riding for the Quebec team 1% For the Planet) at the Fiesta hotel. This is where it all started to go sideways as the USA airline security had gone through my bike box and taken my bag of C02’s which also happened to contain my headset bearings. My bike was pretty f’d up without the bearings, un-raceable, but rideable after I jimmy rigged it with some headset spacers.
Lesson learned: if flying with C02’s, don’t pack them with anything valuable..
So I imprinted a google maps image into my head and took off on my jiggidy bike to find a bike shop in the city of 2 900 000 people. After 45 minutes of sketchy riding through slums I got to where the bike shop was suppose to be, but it wasn’t there. Danm. Next up was Spanish 101 as I practiced my spanish trying to find where a decent bike shop was. 2 developing bike shops later, I got directions to a more modern shop which could help me. Back through the slums, down the freeway, through a tunnel, a couple backroads and there was the shop. Aro Y Pedal. They were great. New headset bearings a new Maxxiss Courchevel tire, and off to the races I go! Almost.
Next up was getting my gear and riding to the Fiesta hotel. I had already booked my hostel for another night as our team was unsure of accommodation at the hotel, but apparently it was now confirmed so I set out to join them. Too bad google maps came up with two locations. So I called the hotel, thought I got confirmation of its location from its Spanish receptionist and biked off. Again riding through slums, through some not touristy zones to eventually find more back streets and no hotel. Eventually I came upon a crew of sketchy 16 years olds who acted like sketchy 16 year olds as I road bye on my $4000 dollar bike and purple spandex. At that moment I decided I had enough slum biking for one day. With it starting to get dark I pulled a U turn and headed back to my nice hostel from the night before. Catching a night Taxi was another option but I’ve had some sketchy experiences in the past and don’t like putting myself in a sittiing duck position with a flashy bike and gear, late at night in an unknown 3rd world city.
Lesson Learned: Your not always as wise as you think you are (AKA my spanish skills). Note to self. Go to Guatemala in the near future and study Spanish.
Tommorow I will try again to find my teammates. Hopefully with more luck and less slums.
PS Santo Domingo is really a nice city, with a great historical zone, nice ocean front, and the slums I saw weren’t all that bad in comparison to some Central American cities.