1. The Athens Twilight Criterium. Mayhem. Chaos. Riding in a circus. Deafening. These are attempts at describing the Athens Twilight Criterium, but until you actually take part in the race, it is truly impossible to understand. Perhaps the estimated 30,000 fans could try to describe it to you. Actually, cancel that – they were all too drunk to remember anything about it.
2. Crappy Racing Roads. The roads that we raced on were generally in such decrepit condition that they give you a strong appreciation for the good roads that you race everywhere else in the country. (In all honestly, though, the training throughout the south was generally amazing. The climbs are awesome and the weather has been nearly perfect. Lookout Mountain is just about the best riding I’ve ever experienced.)
3. Beer. I was offered beer before, during, and after all of my races here in the south. Beer is apparently the official beverage of choice in this part of the country. Hard liquor places a close second.
4. Southern Hospitality. Southerners’ main objective while you’re in their care is to ensure you are as comfortable and happy as possible . The deep fried fish, huge beds, the infinitude of “Can I get you anything?“, and coffee maker in my bathroom really make it feel you feel like royalty.
5. Road Kill. Okay, sure this is a weird one, but this is a list of the Top 10 Reasons to Visit the South, right? So if for some reason you like road kill, then you’ll love it here. I haven’t traveled more than a quarter mile on my carbon steed without seeing some carcass stretched ten yards across the road. Be it armadillos, opossums, frogs, or perhaps a handful of typically in-house animals, it’s just plain gross.
6. The Accents. Traveling with a pair of Aussies and one Kiwi is funny as is. Incorporating them into the heart of southern society is an entirely different situation, as we Americans act as translators from Australian English to/from Southern English.
7. USA Crits. This new-for-2006 series had 6 races in 8 days. It also had $75,000 in prize money. The only thing that would make this better is if they thought of having the races in some sort of geographic order. Driving from Georgia to South Carolina to Alabama just doesn’t make sense when it involves 6+ hour driving transfers.
9. To Get Sick. This is similar to number 5; it’s not necessarily a good reason to visit the south, but it’s a reason nonetheless. In the three weeks we’ve been here Brian, Robbie, Tommy, Glen, and I have all been sick with one illness or another. I’m not saying the south is making us sick, but I’m not denying that fact either.
10. Keally. This one is last because it strictly applies to Tommy. Keally was one of the girls who came up on stage with us finalists in Athens for the Computrainer Finals. She’s come to visit him, driving all the way from Athens, GA to Anniston, AL. Now that’s true love… after a one week relationship.