Athens Twilight Criterium has grown over the years to become the biggest, baddest, craziest cycling crit in the world. Believe me I'm not exaggerating. The event draws thousands of spectators and includes a huge bike festival with vendors selling food, charities giving out swag, BMX bike show, jumpy things, Kid's Crit, a century ride (The Gambler), a 5K run, and best of all Professional Teams bring their best riders to race around downtown at speeds I dare not mention.
I don't mention the speed because I don't want to loose my nerve to continue to try and qualify for this thing. You see those of us lowly wanna be racers have to qualify at the AM Races in order to race in the big boy one down town. This has been my 3rd attempt to do so. If you hold a USA Cycling license and want to race against 70+ other wacked out bike racers then you too can give it a shot. Here's how high you have to finish in order to qualify for the big dance.
- Cat 1/2 (35)
- Cat 3 (25)
- Cat 4 (10)
- Masters 35+ (15)
- Masters 45+ (10)
- Juniors 15+ (5)
- Women 3/4 (5)
Let me quickly recap my last two attempts. Keep in mind that as a CAT4 I have to Top 10.
|2010 Twilight AM Qualifiers|
It was raining. The race was the fastest I'd done to that point in my crit experience. On the last lap...in the last corner...I started my sprint somewhere inside the top 20. A crash happened behind me and a rider fell into my back wheel. It only caused my derailleur to skip a gear and I was able to restart my sprint. I finished in 11th. One spot out of qualifying. That year I was scared and alone. I was jacked up on caffeine gels and just knew we were all going to slide into the fences. When it was over I felt relieved just to finish. I went on home but heard stories of the night time race being a crash fest in the pouring rain. When I recounted the experience and my failure to qualify to Star Bridges he told me something I'll never forget, "Sometimes God does for you what you're too stupid to do for yourself."
Attempt #2 (2011)
|2011 Twilight AM Qualifiers|
Attempt #3 (2012)
You can't see the final turn from up at the finish line so when the lead car finally popped around the corner I almost fell over from leaning out to try and see if Robert was coming. I caught myself holding my hand over my mouth like a little girl. A furious sprint took place in which a guy got a great lead out from his team mate to take the win. Robert was alone and in the wind but still managed to get 3rd. He's an ox. Pure power. If we can just keep him upright he's a sprinting star. This time he got a chance to prove it. Great job Robert!
Then it was time for my race. A field of 61 Category 4 racers trying to finish in the top 10. I got to the line with Star and Sean and we were off. The pace was high from the start. Riders would advance on the outside when we hit the back side of the course so I had to continue to advance as well. Thankfully I stayed out of trouble because I think there were some crashes near the back. Star had no intention of doing the final in the evening so he told me that if he was able he would come up the outside on the last lap and take me to the front. With around 10 laps to go my family and friends showed up to cheer for me. They would be my Wife, Lisa, my kids Molly and Ellie and the Pattillo's, Jessica, Thomas and EG.
The entire race passed by and then Star rode up. His wife Lisa was on that corner and saw the whole thing. We rode together to the finish line where my worried wife awaited the reason I wasn't in the finishing sprint. I got my result..46th place. Yippee.
This is the race I've been trying to get to: 2012 Athens Twilight Amateur Final
So after yet another failure to launch I declared my future CAT4 crit racing intentions. They are as follows: Attack...then attack some more. If I'm off the front I won't be in a crash. Most likely. The other rule I'm making for myself is to race Master's whenever possible. Yeah, I may get my butt handed to me but at least I won't be sitting on it on the last lap. No more relying on CAT4's to hold their lines.
The beauty of Twilight is that there's more to do than just race my bike. There's a Kid's Crit. And a Kid's Parade Lap. And lots of other cool stuff for the family to enjoy. And so we did.
The Kid's Crit takes place on the back side of the course at the top of the hill. They race in groups by age. I made a quick video.
SeaSucker guy from New Jersey. That guy loved his job and loved his product. I also enjoyed talking with the owner of Snyder Cycles. His company is in Atlanta and they make custom frames. Very nice stuff.
Jessica Pattillo liked the 24 Hours of Booty tent. Not real sure why. She's lost like 300 pounds and half the booty. Maybe they take donations? I don't know.
After we wore out the festival we found ourselves a little patch of heaven on turn 4 where we could watch the carnage. The racing was fantastic! We saw some close calls and some down right failures.
Sean Philyaw now brings you his story from the Roswell Crit. A story that confirms my new crit strategy. Sean did fantastic...however if he continues in this manner he'll accumulate enough points to be CAT'd up to a 3. Are you sure you want that Sean?
|Sean Philyaw on the front in Roswell.|
And so ends another great adventure in the life of your average roadies in Georgia. Stay tuned for more tales of woe from yours truly and my gang of friends.
Have a great week!