Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tour of Georgia

What a day! According to the radar, it was supposed to storm the whole time. I went anyway, because the threat of storms was still better than the last trip up for a race finish at Brasstown when it was snowing. Brrrrrr...

This year the Tour of Georgia had a mountain top finish at the Brasstown Bald, which is the highest point in Georgia. The climb basically goes from Jack's gap, which isn't really to much of a climb, to the entry road to Brasstown, and that road immediately looks like it is going straight up. And, NO, the picture doesn't do it justice. I saw some people off their bikes and walking by the second turn in the shot below. It's that steep, and this is the "flat" part...

Once your legs adjust to climbing with some heavy effort to go 6 miles an hour, it kicks up and you slow to about 5. But wait, that's not all, you only thought you had reached the steepest part. It kicks again to a 20% grade and with the bike creaking you just shove your pedals down over and over just to maintain enough speed to stay upright. I am not exaggerating...just to stay upright on the bike and not walk. I have ridden this climb several times, and I keep thinking that it will get better. Alas, the climb manages to stay the same and I just get older and heavier...and lazier...and many other things that keep me from being a better cyclist.

In the end, I did make it, and I didn't walk, and I didn't get passed by old people with walkers or anything...

At the parking lot I met up with Herman, my partner in crime for the day, who in retrospect wisely took the Jittery Joe's tour bus up to the top. The bus had chicks, fun people, food, beer...all the things that my bike was sadly lacking.

We set up camp to watch the race as it progressed through all the climbs that we ride all summer, and it was both amazing and disheartening. There was a massive screen that allowed us to keep up with the race, and as they made their way we noticed that these pro riders were averaging 20+ miles an hour which is a lot faster than we ride those roads... A WHOLE LOT FASTER. I won't go into details on our average speeds to protect the innocent (and my ego). The hills did beat up on the riders and the field was pretty scattered along the climbs

As the riders made their way up Brasstown, the lead group split up and in the end, there were 5 then 4, and then 3 guys together. As they passed through the 1k mark, the lead group of 4 flew by in the only flat section they would see before the last kick that would deliver one of them to the winners podium. On the Jumbotron (yes it is a word) I got to watch them climb. I don't think I heard their bikes creaking and they didn't seem to have issues staying upright either.

Dude, that's just not fair. My legs still hurt from that climb among others in the 40 miles I rode that day.

The race leader, from Team Slipstream was with one of my favorite riders, Levi Liepheimer, but a very strong climber from Team HighRoad (a lame story goes with that team, but that can be another post) attacked and rode away for the win. It was a great climb and a great race to watch especially since I got to see top teams on the roads I know so well.

See the face on the Rock Racing guy? On that climb, I am sure I made that face too. It's the face of OOOOOooooooooooooowwww! My Leeeeggggsss!

David Zabriski - I still like the Wild West Mustache he has going. Think about it, here is a professional rider that has worn the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France. He shaves his legs arms and...well, hopefully that's it... Weight and aerodynamics is everything to these guys, but he has a 6 pound squirrel hanging on to his lip.

1 comment:

Rodney H. Mabry said...

Great pictures and fun commentary. You captured the essence of elements of the big Atlanta race up the mountain. Mostly, it is clear that fitness takes on a new meaning--or a new standard--for any of you riders, and certainly for the professional riders.

I take it that I would have to walk my bike up Brasstown?