We met and saw a fair bit of interesting people during the Tour de Georgia.
The first day, at Road Atlanta, it was my sincere pleasure to meet Jamie Smith, author of Riders Ready blog and the book entitled Roadie. He was kind enough to sign my copy of his book and we chatted for a while. What an incredibly nice guy!
We also saw a very young slipstream rider who looked like he was launching a breakaway.
Friday, at Dahlonega, we spoke with a nice man from Biloxi, MS who had ridden some of the route the riders did. He mentioned there was a woman by the name of Cheryl in their group who was driving from the south back to Maine, where she lives. I gave him a couple of my business cards so she might contact me if she’d like to ride with us. (I believe she was heading to Freeport.)
In the evening at Enota we met a man from North Carolina that had come down to see the TTT and the remainder of the stages. His son, 12 years old, is a Cat 5 rider in the junior circuit in North Carolina. He also does some cyclocross racing in the fall. We met his son after a while as well. It was cool to meet a young rider and one day we might see him on a continental team or better yet, as a pro-tour member. (Unfortunately we don’t see many junior riders in Maine and it’s nice to know there are pockets within the country that are producing new young riders.)
Saturday I spoke with a woman that was from Texas. She was with a group that was related to Craig Lewis of High Road. They had been following the tour since the start on Monday at Tybee Island. I told her about some of the pictures we took and look for her to contact me for the link to our Flickr page so she can see the photos.
Later that day we stood on the last turn before the finish at the top of Brasstown Bald with a nice young man from North Carolina named Tony. He had driven down the previous night to stay with his in-laws nearby to see the stage. We talked about biking a fair bit and what he does for a living.
On the final stage we were able to see Johan Bruyneel walking around near the start, we saw Bob Stapleton several times, and who can miss Michael Ball at the event? What sporting event can you attend where you can really get up close with the participants? We went to the Braves game while we were in Atlanta. Having a chance to see, or meet the players isn’t even an option.
At the end of the final stage we walked through the area where the teams busses were located. I saw the CSC guys in a motor home and asked Bobby Julich, who was sitting at an open window, if he would sign my jacket. He was very gracious and asked if I wanted everyone to sign it. Sure enough, they all did, even though I know they were tired and just wanted to go back to their hotels. (The only signature that’s missing is that of Jason McCartney and JJ Haedo as they were at the podium to receive their respective awards and recognition.)
The people you meet and see at these events are very friendly and down to earth. We all share a common love of cycling and are at these events to support these teams. Hopefully we’ll see the support of these events grow over time. It would be a shame to see something like the Tour de Georgia not take place because of lack of fan support and/or funding, like other events that were planned for 2007 but didn’t come to fruition such at the Tour of Utah and the Montreal to Boston race. We need more races like the Tour de Georgia and the Amgen Tour of California in this country and perhaps with the strife between the UCI and the ASO that will push us into that direction and bring racing in the States closer to the level seen in Europe.