Athens, GA, USA, May 18, 2006
After Tour de Georgia the five-day rest we had went pretty quickly. Before I knew it, Hoppy and I were back in the mini and back in Athens, Georgia, for the post Georgia crits - the US Criterium series.
On our arrival in Athens, there was an unusual buzz as is normally the case. There were people everywhere and lots of bike riders. Hoppy and I wasted no time going to the Karma Salon (a Jittey Joes sponsor) arvo Barbie (as Aussie as the yanks are going to be). With cold beer, a hot Barbie, models and the sun out it was a perfect afternoon.
Saturday night it was back down to business, and at 9pm we started the infamous Athens Twilight criterium. The night before I went to a seminar/panel function and kept getting bombarded with questions or more like statements on how hard the Athens Twilight crit was. I just thought it was another bike race
The build up was huge and sure enough the crowd was big; at least 20,000 drunken uni students came to watch the event, it was a great buzz. I didnt have great legs and after winning a sprint prime and having a few digs up the road I thought about pulling the pin as my legs were smashed. I hung in and went on to lead Hoppy out for the bunch kick, although I lost him with 1.5 laps to go. I had to have a crack myself and ended up sixth - Hop came in 14th.
The next night was the Roswell criterium, with a quarter of the crowd, but double the money - work that one out? There was a break up the road for the majority of the race and we had no one in it, so it was up to us and Health Net to bring it back. After Pete and I pulled a few big turns I called it a day with a few laps to go and Hoppy ended up third.
We then had two days off and I needed them; I had bad hay fever, sore legs and needed sleep. I enjoyed every minute of the two days off. We even got a chance to fit a team game of golf in - very funny.
Next stop was South Carolina, and the criterium was Waltersboro. I had really bad legs in this one but still managed to get amongst it. The whole team rode well together and got in every move all night. I got Hoppy on the wheel with 10 laps to go and coming down the back straight I hit out, taking him into the last corner third wheel. Hoppy then drag raced the others to finish third.
The next night was the Greenwood criterium, and my legs were far from better. I had no kick whatsoever and when I attacked it was as if I was in slow motion. I was hating every minute of it. To make matters worse it was a really dangerous finish and I had to take a lot of risks to lead Hoppy out. Also when your not travelling as well as you'd like, the gaps are smaller and the wind feels stronger. I had nothing and had to leave Hoppy with half a lap to go - he ended up seventh.
Spartenberg was the next stop, and after setting an all-time park up record in the coffee shop, 5 hours 20 minutes, it started raining. We had to book out of our hotel in Greenwood early, so that meant kickin' around in a brew shop for hours. Three coffees, lunch, a biscotti, a game of slang scrabble, a lot of emails later we started racing well the boys did, I took an RDO. Way too dangerous and wet for me. From the VIP tent the race looked tough and Hoppy finished 15th, with a few of the other boys in the top 30.
Finally after a week of being on the road we finished off with the Aniston crtierium, Alabama. I wasn't too motivated and when our DS, Jesse, rocked up and told me how I looked, it backed up how I felt. Though once I threw the leg over the bike I felt better. I got away with another rider for about 30 laps and picked up a few sprint primes before getting caught. 10 laps later. Richard England and I had another go to try and get across to Rapinski who was off the front solo...10 laps later we were caught. I tried to give Hoppy a hand but didnt have the legs, but Pete Hatton was there to lend a hand and Hoppy once again finished third and Pete rolled in for a top 10.
Overall it was a good week; Hoppy finished fifth overall and I was 17th, which is interesting seeing I finished in the points twice. Now we have a three week break before we head to Philly week. See you there.
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