Last year, I told my friend Jim that I would join him for a bike event in Athens, GA as part of Twilight Weekend 2009. A friend from college came in town that weekend so it threw a wrench in the plans and while I got some awesome photos of the races, my bike unfortunately stayed in Atlanta.
Given that Twilight Weekend happens every year, I promised to make it this year and things ended up working out that way! A few months ago, while perusing athenstwilight.com I noticed the "Twiathlon": a 5K run, followed by a 100K bike ride, followed by a tour of the Terrapin brewery and some free beverages. Jim and I have a habit of suggesting ridiculous bike related things and then following through on them, so we signed up for the Twiathlon and Jim reserved a hotel room in Athens for Saturday evening. We also conned our friend and fellow FM:Race team member Bob into joining us (and driving us there!).
Early Saturday morning we strapped our road bikes to the top of Bob's car, hopped in, and drove through the rain to Athens. This was Not Good. The weather forecasts called for rain all day, and we discussed abort conditions as we pulled into Athens. After parking in my terrible "secret" parking place and registering, we moved to FM:Race Dan's order-of-magnitude-better "secret" parking place ~100ft from the finish line and geared up to run. The rain subsided a bit, and we stood in the drizzle and laughed as other runners tried to find cover as if they would somehow remain dry throughout the event.
At 8:30am the 5K Race began, and Jim, Bob, and I stayed together at a sub-7-minute pace as Jason Spruill sprinted off in the distance to try and win something. Jim and I were shooting for sub-25 and we told Bob that he had to do the same thing, so off we ran. Bob slowed down after the first mile but managed to come in at 24 minutes and change, and I stayed with (IRONMAN) Jim until the last little hill where he started to inch away for his 22m32s finish, a personal best for him. I came in at 22m44s which was a personal best for me because it was the first timed 5k I've done, and I thankfully didn't feel the need to quickly empty my stomach like the guy right in front of me wearing a grass skirt. Here's my watches view of the race. It was raining for most of the run, and after the finish we walked through some lighter rain to the cat-5 crit course to see our teammate Justin after he managed to stay with the pack in his first crit. Go Justin! Rumor has it our friend Jon got 4th place in what was also his first crit, but the official results aren't up yet.
Back up at the secret parking lot, we changed from wet running clothes into soon-to-bet wet bike riding clothes and assembled our crew. Me, Bob, and Jim in FM:Race kits on road bikes, Dan in a FM:Race kit on a tandem with one of his kids, and Jason along to keep us honest about keeping the pace up. We barely made the start at 10am and rolled out under cloudy but dry skies on a very very wet 100k worth of road. Our primary tactical focus was beating Dan's wife and 2 younger kids that were doing the 50k, but Jason quickly learned that he could attack on every hill and Jim would try and stay on his wheel but wasn't quite able to keep up. Bob and I had never run before biking and our legs were very confused, but we all managed to hold together as somewhat of a group for most of the ride, including pacelining at 30mph in pouring rain. Terrible, and not something that I'd willingly do in the future. Here were are at the driest point of the ride somewhere around the middle:
This event, the "Terrapin Wake N' Ride" wasn't a race (and while we beat Dan's family, they had to bail a few miles before the end and get picked up due to general terribleness of the conditions), but there are some super sweet prizes and Bob may have won something very fancy. Everyone has the option of taking a 50k or 100k route, and along the route are several checkpoints. Each checkpoint gets you a poker card (we got bonus cards for running the 5k), and at the end of the ride, they give out prizes to people with the best hands. I ended up with 2 pairs, but Bob managed to get 4 7s. Hopefully he'll get a phone call this week once they tally everything up! Here's how my watch saw things.
By the end, we had been riding in pouring rain for 45 minutes (after ~3 hours of slightly less wet riding) and were all pretty wet and miserable, but Bob and I somehow convinced Jim to let us enjoy one free beer at Terrapin in the colder but slightly less wet inside. Then it was back to Athens (riding bikes in the rain slightly buzzed with empty beer glasses in our jersey pockets) for some hot showers and learning about mining silver and copper on the History Channel. To prevent Jim from killing and eating us, we suited back up in our matching FM:Race work shirts (see Bob's), found our way to the race course, accidentally ran into our friend Kazz, and acquired some burritos. The only thing left to do was to find a place to enjoy the races from 5pm-10pm, and a $5 donation to charity got us primo seats (actual seats!) on the inside of the second section of turn 3. Given the weather and potential for beers, I left my nice camera at home but the point-n-shoot shows what our view was like for the evening:
Highlights included not seeing any crashes but seeing the coordinated look of shock from people on the other side of the turn that saw a crash outside of our field of view, having Kazz yell at us as she rode in the pace car during one of the races, and the general awesomeness of drinking beers while watching bike racing. Shortly before the end of the pro mens race, we walked back to the hotel, absolutely destroyed a few Dominos' pizzas, and slept up for the early Sunday morning drive back to Atlanta. Here's the rest of the photos. Jim had fun.
Watching crits in the rain isn't as fun as when it's dry, and I don't plan on riding that much in the rain again, but running in the rain was a lot less terrible than expected. The only things that would have made this better is if it didn't rain the entire time and some of our teammates were in the evening crits, but hopefully both of those will happen next year!