Monday, September 12, 2011

Stage 1 Dili to Lacluba.

just as we were taking off.

on saturday we confirmed our designated roles. Mat on motorbike, covering the ride, me in the heli covering from above and Sara with the President. after finally working out what was happening and being given our times and places to be, we got about 4 hours sleep and were up at 4.30 to be ready to be on the road or air in my case.

i was pretty excited about getting to hang out in the chopper, mum wasn't happy when i told her, but i understand why, the week i left for Timor, i think it was 3 helicopters had gone down in 1 week.  though so far so good.

i had to be at the heliport at 7am for a 8am flight, we got there, were briefed, and jumped in. we got to go a bit early as we wanted to catch the start of the race, which was to start at 8am from the front of the Presidents Palace.  Joe the camera guy filmed last years TDT also, so he jumped in and grabbed the headset so he could direct the pilot, we ended up getting some great shots so everyone was happy. we got the start which is all joe wanted today. haha. he is this loud crazy old californian guy, he makes me thing of the turtles in finding nemo. he frequently uses, dude, wicked, woah man, etc. you get the idea.. awesome guy though. the heli ride was AWESOME. i had never been on one before so it was pretty cool. but im going to get to have plenty more rides by the end of the week!

we had to fly reasonably quickly over the riders on this flight as the next flight was for the Pres so there is no room to be late on that one.  we arrived in Laclubar at about 8.40am, first rider isnt due in until 12 so i had a bit of time to kill.  it was market day in Laclubar today so i went for a wander, much to the delight of almost everyone in the market. Get stared at omg its crazy. it still happens in Dili but no where near to the same extent as it does in the more remote districts. i was stopping traffic haha, never been able to say that before. basically as long as you smile and say Bondia, (good morning) everyone is happy, especially the little kids, i had an entourage at one point. i was pretty happy with myself, i had an entire conversation in Tetun with a lady at the market, by full conversation i mean i said. "good morning, 5 bread please, thankyou, and then shook my head and smiled when she tried to give me change." anyway i thought i was cool.
i really just wandered around for most of the morning, once the President arrived i helped Sara out a bit with some shots. then just waited for the riders to start coming in. the projected time for this stage was about 4 hours, so the first rider should have been in around 12. it was closer to 12.40 when the first guy came in. they all looked wrecked. though they had just riden 115kms or so 40 of which were straight uphil so i guess they were allowed to be. i continued taking photos of the riders coming over the line and the crowd till about 1pm. we had to have a selection of 15 images between the 3 of us to send back to Dili with me on the chopper at 2.30pm, so we began editing and selections.
i was sitting up in the media tent talking to Jackie, she is a flim maker from melbourne who we met a couple weeks ago, she was out on a motorbike doing film. i asked her if she had seen mat, and she goes "you know he came off right?" um no, WTF... freakout. apparently he was ok, so everyone kept saying, kept freaking out on the low down until i had spoken to him. largely he was ok, scrapes, bruises and the like but no broken bones. and yes the cameras were ok too, but he would take the fall before he let the cameras. found out a bit later that i had actually seen his crash from the air, it happened about 10mins into the race. we were too far away too see who it was, it just looked like a rider had come off and everyone was going around. anyway i still havent seen him but he says he's ok, more than anything i think he is pissed off at his driver. he has a timorese guy riding the bike with him on the back, so communication isnt the best, and he is experienced and trying to keep up with the really experienced motorbike riders. Mat doesnt really want to get back his bike tomorrow but doesnt have much choice, and tomorrows stage is supposed to be the most dangerous. he is going to give his girlfriend a heart attack, im just glad his mum doesnt know. iv told him though, i refuse to bring his body home to his mum, so if he dies he will have to organise his own transport..
could feel myself getting a bit burnt while i was down shooting on the finish line, but i couldnt find the sunscreen i had packed. i took the 'it'l be right attitude' and paid for that.. i didnt think about the fact that we were on top of a mountain and out of the smokey smog of Dili so the sun is really bad there.. i got super burnt on my arms, neck and and face, i look like an idiot,  have a massive sunnies tan, my nose is so so red! sad face..
it was getting on towards 2pm and Mat still hadnt come in off the race yet (which only added to my anxiety), so the 15 images had to come from what Sara and i had shot for the day. we selected, edited and had them on the harddrive by 2.30pm on the dot, then i had to run down to the helicopter to head back to Dili. tonight is to be the coldest night on the road, and i hate camping when its cold so im kinda glad im back in Dili with a real bed but its no fun being on your own. 
im going to post this, then head to bed, another 5am wake up and heli ride is in order.

smoke over Dili as the sun rises.
Race start, in front of the Presidents Palace (white building, blue roof)

racing through the streets of Dili.

Riders passing through Dili.

amazing reefs around Dili, from the heli.

Trickling river.

Lacluba, everyone milling around the markets waiting for the riders.

Arrival of the Pres.

BYO grandstand, there is a truck under all those people somewhere.

Pushing to the finish.

more people out supporting the race.

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