for the last time, greenville sc hosted the us national championships. i was there. i took some bad pictures. where's part 1 you might ask. haven't gotten to that one yet. i figured the road race was more current. i'll do the TT sometime this week. exciting things happen near the finish downtown (like Timmy Duggan using his incredible atoc form to earn himself a stars and stripes jersey), but i prefer to act a fool on top of paris mountain, which the riders climb 4 times. this year was a little subdued, compared to prior years at least. we partied a little too hard saturday night and rode for hours hungover in the heat on sunday. thankfully, a couple buddies of ours showed up sunday night and made sure we had fun on monday.
we stayed at a hotel downtown, which we shared with the garmin mechanics (and their truck full of goodies) and the united healthcare guys. after the jump, you'll see what things looked like from my point of view.here we go.
that's the garmin truck on sunday. the mechanics were busy getting all the bikes ready. those cervelo P5s look pretty good in person. they wouldn't let me take one home. what impressed me most was how nice the UHC wheels looked.
those are chris king hubs. they would not let me take a pair home. we also got to catch a glimpse of the behind the scenes preparations the soigneurs are tasked with. not glamorous, but essential.
so we woke up at a decent hour monday, got some breakfast, and headed downtown to see what was going on. 45 minutes before the start, we headed out towards paris mountain. quick stop at the liquor store that's conveniently on the way.
don't ask. with a couple bottles of vodka and a couple more of whiskey, we made our way up the mountain. it's not that bad of a climb (at the rate we ride it).
but you do get some nice views of the surroundings. the top of the hill wasn't too crowded this year, but the atmosphere is great. cycling fans know how to have fun. the drinking commences, and not too long thereafter, the various cop cars and race vehicles start streaming by. then you hear the sound of the helicopter and you know it's on. here they come:
there was a pretty big break. eventual winner Timmy Duggan was in it. this year, they instituted a KOM prize, so riders were attacking (those two signs on each side of the road are 200m to go signs)
the main pack came by a minute or two after.
then it's wait around time. you talk to the other fans, meet some people, get some beers. eventually, the cars and bikes come by again, the heli is heard and here we go again. here's Timmy in the break on lap 2.
little more waiting, little more drinking.
before you know it, it's lap 3.
the camera skills deteriorate.
ashamed of what i'm doing with the camera, the batteries decide it'd be best if they just died. unencumbered by the need to take pictures, it was beer hand-up time. got 3 this year, not bad. the original plan was to follow the convoy back to town after lap 3 to catch the finish, but we were having so much fun we decided to stay on the mountain. when we did make it back to the hotel, i caught a glimpse of a garmin rider heading towards the mechanic's truck. i follow and it turns out it's DZ. he wasn't too happy with the way things turned out that day. i tried to cheer him up by reminding him that garmin did manage a giro and a us tt championship in a weekend. not too shabby. i also asked him to sing a song to the crowd when he wins the tt next year. we'll see how it goes. and you should too. it'll be in chattanooga tennessee. just as close for me. hopefully we'll see a few more pdcers. i got the beer covered.