Yesterday (Tuesday) I followed the posted directions for a bike route. According to the race website there were supposed to be two different routes posted, which were to start from the swimming hall (the 50m pool I’ve been swimming at). I showed up at 8am with my bike, ready for a good ride, and was stoked to see a bright orange sign with an arrow that said “Cityman Triathlon”.

I startd off spinning down the bike path (the sidewalks here all have red bricks on one side that marks the bike path). A half block later I hit an intersection, and there was sign #2 indicating that I go straight. Excellent. A block later, another orange sign, still pointing straight. “Somebody did a great job of posting.” I thought. Half a block later, sign number four, indicating that I should continue down the block. “that’s overkill” I thought. Then I hit a 5 way intersection; no sign. I looked to the left, no signs. I looked straight, no signs, I looked right, no signs, I looked down the sharp right, no signs. I looked behind me, there was a sign on the back of the sign I had passed. It pointed back to where I came from.

Frustrated, I rode a block to the left; still no signs. I rode a block ahead; still no signs. I rode a block to the right; still no signs. I rode a block down the hard right (into a tunnel); still no signs. I rode back to the last sign I had seen. There were signs on both sides of the pole, both agreed that I should be going straight past that pole. I had spent 20 minutes of my 45 minute ride waiting for walk signals, and had no idea where to go. It was rush hour traffic, and the fumes were getting to me. I rode back to the swimming hall. The lady at the front desk told me that I was the second person to ask about the bike path, but she had no idea where it was supposed to go, and didn’t think there was a map.

I gave up. I waited another 10 minutes for my parents to get back from their breakfast, put my bike in the back of the car and grabbed my swim suit. I went into the pool intending to take out my frustration on the water, but before I could get in I got into a conversation with three Aussies who were changing out of their wetsuits. Turns out they were staying on the bike course and had been riding on it already. After throwing some wake their way for a couple thousand meters, they invited me to join them for a ride later in the day. Eagerly, I scribbled my email address down and thanked David and Paul. (I forget the girl’s name, because a waiter told her she looked like Kylie Minogue, and now “I can get [it] out of my head”)

Ben and the Aussies

After my ride, and a short run, I was went to Landungsbrücken, which is an old building on the river where tour boats and ferries leave from. There I met up with my friend Joerg, who worked with me at the Autonomous Systems Laboratory in Honolulu. Joerg lives in Stuttgart but was in Hamburg for the day to interview with Airbus. He and one of his high school friends took me to a small sandwich shop at the ferry building. They drank beers, while I figured out how to order tap water. Apparently in Hamburg the restaurants are required to give free water if you ask for it, but I had no idea how to ask. Joerg took out a pen and wrote:


Then below it he wrote:


Then bellow that wrote:


“That’s all you need to know.” He told me.

The two Germans were very polite. They spoke English to each other, even when it was just the two of them catching up on with each other. This reminded me of how upset Joerg used to get when the Koreans in our lab would start speaking in Korean to each other in the middle of staff meetings (It didn’t bother me because I was usually somewhere between nodding off and snoring.). I’m glad Joerg is not a hypocrite.

After that I passed out at 9pm, then slept for 10 hours. Sleep is so good.

Today is the accreditation. This will be the first time that I see another American athlete. I haven’t even received an email from USAT since all the drug testing info, so I hope I haven’t missed anything.

Has anyone else been watching these fires in Greece? If only the mid-west flooding and the fires were combined, there would be no problem at all.

(update) – OK, only 2 people saw this between my posting and the *update, but I’m calling it an update anyway.

I forgot to tell another story from yesterday.

After leaving Joerg, I was walking back to meet my parents when I realized that the Leitungswasser was rapidly approaching then end of it’s journey through my body. Luckily there was a public toilet accross the parking lot, so I b-lined it over there. A line of merry drunk Germans were standing outside, so I asked “is this a line?”
“A line? Yes. We are in line.” several of them replied in unison. (I love that everyone speaks English, but I still feel weird about going to another country and expecting them to speak English to me.) I stand next to them, but then I notice that there’s a coin slot that says ,50 euros. (I had no coins) “Is this a pay toilet?” i asked.
“Yes a pay toilet ” said one woman with a chuckle.
I must have shown my disappointment.
“it’s ok, you don’t have to pay” Laughed one of the old men.
Just then a woman came out of the toilet in a hurry, as if there were snakes trying to bite her butt. Just as quickly another woman jumped into the sliding door as it slammed behind her.
“Only one needs to pay!” said the other old man, smiling at me.
A couple of fast exchanges later I was able to jump into the sliding door and relieve my bladder. On the way out a woman handed me a moist toilette and wished me a good night.

Crazy drunken Germans.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

Join the Conversation


  1. You know they do have these things call German-English dictionaries, might have been a good idea… just a thought. Oh, and the flooding in the Midwest, I am experiencing the after affects of it, like the mud pit I had to drive through to get into my hotel parking lot. Question: how does one sleep for 10 hours? I can sleep for like 5 in a row at most.

  2. It’s easy, two steps:
    1) close your eyes
    2) keep them closed for 10 hours

    I once considered becoming a professional sleeper. I dreamed (excuse the pun) of sleeping in the window display of a mattress store and getting paid for it.
    Wouldn’t that be the life? Being paid to look comfortable sleeping.

  3. Sleep? Is that German for something. I swan in my trisuit today. It’s harder but I think better for me. I’ll be swimming like that until Tinley’s. Can you please post more pictures of Kylie please? Preferably just her. Our guest house is apparently Aussie friendly as am I. I think Greta would be cool with that.

  4. I’m so jealous of your European vacation! (OK, not actually the vacation, but the race at the end.) Love all the recent posts, can’t wait to hear how it goes at Worlds!

  5. mmm…. professional sleeper… now that sounds interesting, I think that is all that I did living in Italy and so now my body is all “sleeped” out. And Loren I think Greta would have some issues if a Kylie Mingue look alike started staying with you, unless she was really really good at babysitting and cleaning.

  6. The title of professional sleeper, I do believe, comes with the hodel-collins blood. And your brother in law is becoming more and more like us! My coworkers think it’s rediculous that I can sleep 10-12 hours when given the opportunity. But I enjoy it 🙂

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *