|The chair in Jittery Joes on E. Broad Street.|
The answer used to be things like; "I paid good money to race" or "I've trained hard for this" or "My friends are expecting me to be there". But now on days like that, when I question myself in the car on the way, the answer is less clear and yet more comforting. I'm going because I don't know what is going to happen. I'm going because I want to find out. I'm going because it's the right mix of competition, fun and friends. And that's a combination I can count on... even if I don't know what is going to happen. It's the same good time guarantee I have when I'm with my family... only there's more testosterone.
This new team is actually a club. Formed this year and backed by SkyBlu Smart Fuels they have a junior division as well as a race team. Anyone can join. The club is basically a North Georgia cycling club who promote health and wellness in the community through rides and races. There are many associated partners like Dingo Race Productions, Kali helmets, Kathy Anderson Trucking, Berry Automotive, The Longstreet Clinic, Landmark Logistics, A+ Garage Service, and of course Hayes Automotive. I am happy to support the efforts of this club.
I arrived in downtown Athens, Georgia before 8:30am and registered for the Masters 35+ (CAT1-4) race. Note the parenthesis. That will be important later.
I thought I was early and had time to set up a tent before everyone else got there but as I walked back to the truck there was Sean Philyaw who had already staked out a place in the parking lot for us.
|All the yellow makes me look pasty.|
John informed me that after he saw the starting list of riders for the M35+ race he convinced the nice people at registration to move him to the CAT4 race. Why for? Well here's were the parenthesis was defined for me. It means that if you are a PRO1 or PRO2 category racer who just happens to be 35 years old or older then you can and should race in the Masters field. You see the top 15 places in this qualifier go on to race downtown that night. The very qualification that has eluded me the last 5 years. And these Pro's were going to all but assure themselves of qualifying by not racing in the Pro1/2 qualifier and in the Masters race. My legs were hurting already.
|Star Bridges, Sean Philyaw, Chad Hayes|
John rolled back up and told us the races were running behind while they tried to sweep away the glass. We hung out and talked about worldly things before resuming our warm ups. It was fun.
The race started like any other and I figured I would ride near the back and watch the attacks that never work before I made my way to the front for the last 9 laps. Oh boy was I wrong. As soon as the first lap was done the attacks started and they never let off the gas. I found myself in a terrible position in the back where riders would get gaped and I'd have to bridge across. Each time I made it back there was another attack that would gap the field up again. I couldn't recover enough to advance to where I wanted to be.
Sean was in the same race and he moved up early on. Very smart. I wish I had joined him when he did it. After one too many efforts I finally reached a point when I could not close a gap to the main group. I eased up to catch my breath and they were gone. I was all alone. So I focused on the positive.
No more wheel spray.
And I looked really cool in the new kit.
With matching socks.
With 9 laps to go I had been dropped like a hot rock. But I know better than to quit. If you quit you don't get a result. You just get a DNF. And I hate that. So I hammered on, gaining positions as a result of other peoples bad fortune. I passed dropped riders and riders with blown tires. With 2 laps to go I felt good about myself for keeping the pace high and not getting lapped by the field. And then it happened. In turn two my bike got a little squirrely. When I looked down my rear tire was completely flat. 2 stinking laps to go.
I almost let some un-righteous anger slip in.
I unclipped... hoisted my bike onto my shoulder and started the long walk back to the car.
Here's the video from Sean Philyaw's GoPro - http://youtu.be/Y1sBNyCtJkE
The long walk gave me plenty of time to reflect on my life. To put what just happened in perspective and remember that the only thing I can control is myself.
But I still need to say something...
To the residents and guests staying at Perennial Skyline Apartment and 909 Broad Apartment
On the evening of April 26th, Friday night, some losers in the apartments adjacent to Willow Street decided that it would be fun to break bottles all over the road where the races would be happening the next morning. These losers have no idea what it takes to compete in a bike race. No doubt they are fat and lazy and selfish. I'm sure they have never been without a cell phone or a car. They probably don't know what it's like to work for a living and I'll bet they expect to be handed a nice high paying job after they finish getting their higher education. They probably have no clue about the riders that got hurt and the money that it cost those riders. But let me give you turds a little advice. The real world is waiting to teach you some hard lessons. You will regret how hard you made it on others trying to enjoy their hobby. My Dad always told me that I could have all the fun I wanted as long as I didn't destroy some one's property or hurt anyone. You losers did both. Probably because the only way you can have any fun is to get drunk. How sad. Your parents must be proud. I hope I get the chance to fire you one day.
|Austin and Nathaniel drive the pace for SkyBlu.|
So next up was the CAT3 race with team mates Robert Loomis, Austin Ulrich and Nathaniel Rowe. Within the first few laps there was a terrible crash that took Robert out of the race. He looked really bad. His fiance was not happy either.
Austin and Nathaniel were able to get back in the race and really looked great. As you can see the new kits really make a statement but it's the legs that do the work. These guys worked hard the whole race and qualified for the night race.
It was great fun watching all the SkyBlu kits in all the different races. As you can see from the photos it's easy to spot them. I can't wait to see how the season goes.
After those races were through I walked the streets of Athens with Sean. We checked out the vendor row and the festival. I learned about the new Maxxis Padrone Tubeless tires and even ordered some to replace the Hutchinson tires I have. They are the worst tires I've ever owned. I purchased some American Classic tubeless wheels and the tires. The first time mounting the Hutchinsons was terrible. One even blew off the rim and the shop had to wait 2 weeks for a replacement. After riding them for a month I let one loose too much air and it blew off the rim when I tried to inflate it. The shop tried to reinstall it and couldn't because the bead was twisted so bad. So now I have some Maxxis Padrone's and so far they are great. Much easier to mount and seem to do everything better. Now this is what I hoped tubeless road riding would be like.
|Sean, Mike, Star, John awaiting the java.|
While we walked around Athens, Star Bridges was out riding Jefferson River Road in his old school Sunshine Cycles jersey. He enjoyed a qualifying race, then a ride, then hung out with us and then raced downtown. I can't tell you how jealous he makes me feel. He's like a celebrity!
After watching team mate Mike Long (Age 57) compete in the CAT5 race we all walked to Jittery Joe's for some java. The stories were overzealous and full of manly bravado. We sat out on the porch and enjoyed what turned out to be a fantastic day. It made me wish I had become a weather man because obviously you only have to be right half the time. Or simply speak in code (50% chance of rain).
Normally I would be hanging out with my family but they decided not to come since it would be raining all day..?? I was having a great time but missed the girls so I headed home without seeing the guys race the final at 5:30pm. It wasn't all bad though. I got to watch the races online and on my HDTV which was great!
So that's how it went. Pretty great I think. And as usual it ended up better than it started. The very result I expected.
Thanks for reading!