We’re now in Athens, GA for the Athens Twilight Criterium. This is my first time in town and it seems like a very cool place. The University of Georgia is located here, so there’s tons and tons of college students around, especially along the streets where we’ve been loitering. Our butter Hilton Gardens Inn is right along the crit course, just 2 blocks from the course. So backtracking, Tommy’s in heaven because of all these southern co-eds. Down Tommy, down!
We’ve had a bit of excitement since arriving in town. Firstly and sadly, I suffered a loss last Thursday… I shaved off my chops. Yup, they were pretty sweet they stacked up nicely in facial area against Tommy’s thicker chops in the “Priority Health Side Burn Showdown” but after about a month of hard work and precise touch-up work, they had to be removed. Bye guys, you’ll be missed.
Also on Thursday Rich, Tommy, and I went on a spin and had a little bit too much fun with our bikes, a road sign, and a camera. More than a few drivers pass us while we were setting up this scene in the farthern south parts of Lookout Mountain, and they looked at us like were were morons… which at the time is not that far from the truth.
Friday morning we left Eddy and Carlee’s after almost two awesome weeks of training to get to Athens. Our departure was a bit precarious, because about 100 yards from the Hilger’s house, the front brakes started locking up without warning and without being pressed! It was especially the front left brake, so our fully packed 15 passenger van was pulling hard to the left side of the road. Keep in mind, that the first 3 miles of driving immediately after leaving Eddy’s house are steep down hill. We had about 1500 vertical feet to descend and ever single one was scary. Luckily Robbie is a car guru, and he noticed that the stability control light was going on as well, so after driving down the mountain babying the brakes in 1st gear, we pulled into Blockbuster (where we had rented Jarhead – good flick) to fix the van. With Robbie as our fearless leader, we went through the fuse box in the engine and yanked fuse number 48 – the ABS and Stability Control. This alieved the problem, because between Lookout Mountain and Athens is all highway, so relatively little ABS would be necessary.
We arrived in Athens around 1pm, meaning Tommy had to get ready quickly for his CompuTrainer race. This is an all day event in which 8 racers are on stage at a time in 12 heats throughout the day. We race a 6km time trial hooked up to computerized trainers that add more or less resistance depending on the “hills” we’re climbing or descending. There are 2 TVs – one in front of each group of four – and one bigger screen behind us so that the crowd can see what we’re doing.
The screens show: our name, our position, a map of the course, the profile of the course, our current power output, and how many feet we are in front or behind our competitors. All in all, it’s pretty cool.
So Tommy won his heat with relative ease, as compared to Gordon McCauley as seen by the picture. Next Robbie won his heat, although I didn’t catch it because I was busy riding the trainer in my hotel room trying to sweat off a few more pounds (we were weighed in right before our start, because the computer program inputs our weight to find a power-to-weight ratio).
I was our last rider to go and qualified with the 2nd fastest time of the day right behind Matty Rice. That was for the team tough because Glen Mitchell was flying in from California at 8:50pm and our final showdown was at 9pm. One of us was supposed to not qualify so that we could head back to Atlanta to pick up Glen. Unfortunately we were all too fast for the competition and so Glen would just have to wait (it turned out that he caught a shuttle to the hotel here in Athens, saving us from 3 hours of late night driving).
Anywho, with three Priority Health guys in the final, we were easily the most represented team, all the while looking stunningly good. The same 6k race course was followed as before and once again I finished with the exact same time of 7:30. Only this time, rather than having to deal with the second-place stigma, I beat my next closest competitor by 7 seconds! The cool part of this deal is that I get a call up for tonight’s tonight’s Twilight Criterium. Booya!
Here are some pictures that I think you’ll find amusing. We all got a kick out of Tommy’s facial expressions, because he appeared to be fully amused at everything going on around him and not at all concerned with the race itself. Meanwhile, as you can see in this picture, Robbie looks as terrified as I’ve ever seen him! He’s apparently just seen a ghost.
Next it’s the glory shot of me taking first place over Matty Rice to the left and my teammate from last year, John Murphy. Yea me.