|60+ Ready to hammer for the crowd at Grant Park, Atlanta|
|Star Bridges pins on his number in the shade.|
As is my custom I began early last week trying to talk people into going to the crit with me. It was easy to talk Sean Philyaw into it because he's infected with the cycling bug. More on that another time. When I told Star Bridges about it he actually offered to pick me up. Yes! You see Mr. Bridges is a veteran of the Georgia cycling community and has done this crit several times. He knows right where to park and likes to arrive really early. This is why I like him. We arrived with almost two hours till race time and headed to registration. As we walked, Star began laying out the course for me and we talked strategy. I was really excited and then I wasn't. The course was on some pretty terrible pavement. There were patches of sand where someone tried to save our lives by filling in the pot holes. As this area of Atlanta was very old there were a lot of trees close to the road with branches hanging right where you don't want them to be. During the race if you're not paying attention you'll be doing a little pruning with your head. The back side of the course was... bumpy. Like our own personal Paris Roubaix. The top half of the course where the finish was is up hill and the bottom half is down hill. Basically you have about 20 seconds to recover on each lap. That's the bad.
|The Start; see notes in picture.|
|That's me on the right in a combo kit from two different years.|
It was Dustin Mealor. I hadn't looked back since my attack began but after the voice spoke I turned to see the peloton, in their drops, right behind me in a long thin line. Crap! I began to re-think my tactics. Perhaps I wasn't the strongest man here. Perhaps many others felt good today as well. I had just wasted several bullets and needed to recover so I backed off. Recovering was a good idea but it wasn't to be. The pace was high if you wanted to remain near the front. To fully recover I'd have lost the front and been at risk of being pulled by the USA Cycling Officials on the motos. That's what happened to Sean and more than half the field. Once the head of the race begins to reach riders off the back they get pulled. It's safer and I'm ok with it but if I just paid $40 for a DNF I can see why guys get mad. So, there I was, heart racing, looking for some help from God, then I saw my friends Robert Loomis and Star Bridges. They were all around me. I had new life. Robert is a young 21 year old punk kid. He's super strong because he plays soccer for a college but it was his first race. Here's how strong he is; Robert tried several attacks off the front to no avail, Robert wouldn't stay in the draft because he wasn't comfortable in a pack so he raced almost the whole time out in the wind, Robert still ended up 13th. At one point Star actually grabbed Roberts jersey and pulled him over behind the riders in front of us. The kid is green but the kid is powerful. Like all people who are half my age he could recover in half the time and kick again. He just didn't know how to race.
|Robert Loomis...in the wind...attacking again!|
|The field is strung out. Robert is there again. In the wind.|
|One to go!|
|Sprint Finish! Look at the size of those guys!|
I can't remember every little thing we all talked about. I wish I could because there are moments when men are together that need recording. Spontaneous stuff you can't recreate. Every guy needs times like these to just relax and be a guy. It was a great time with friends at a well organized event. I wish the hills were steeper or that I was bigger and 20 years younger but you can't have it all. Next up is the Chainbuster Tribble Mill Mountain Bike race in Grayson, Georgia. This time I'm taking the whole family for a day of fun in the sun!
Thanks for reading! Get out and exercise! Ride in groups! Be safe and I'll see you out there soon!