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4/18/2007 - DESTINATION TOUR DE GEORGIA
It all began with a turn of the key in the ignition of our rented cargo
van. Since Ryan and I started planning this trip five or more months ago,
I had looked forward to this moment.
Last night we picked up the van and built a loft in the back to elevate
a mattress 10" off the floor, allowing gear to be stashed below. Our road
bikes were mounted at the back of the van for luxurious transport, and grocery
shopping for the next week was also done.
Then it was time to roll.
The plan was to head south to Georgia to watch three stages of the Tour de
Georgia, one of only a couple top level, international professional bike
races in the US. We would see a time trial, a mountain top finish and stage
Following several days as spectators we would head to the Asheville,
NC to pedal our own machines.
In classic roadtrip style this was a low budget excursion. No hotels and
no restaurants... okay, we figured we would dine out at least once, southern
BBQ is too good to pass up. Our expenses would include
the van rental, gasoline and campground fees. Unlike a professional baseball
or football game there is no charge or admission to watch a cycling race.
We thought Knoxville, TN would be a good destination for our first night
of driving. Skipping out of work a little early, we were on the
road by 5pm. Ryan took a long pull at the wheel after Cincinnati and I took
over around 11pm about 1 hour north of Knoxville.
Exit 347 was our stop for the night. We pulled into a truck plaza, used the
restroom and promptly crawled into the back of our van. Ryan was asleep before
I closed my eyes. A pair of foam ear plugs to block the traffic noise
from I-75 was all it took for me to fall asleep.
Tomorrow we would drive just into Georgia where the time trial stage starts.
The pros will ride a 19 mile course with about 2800' of climbing. I have
heard the climb up Lookout is tough, but I will see for myself tomorrow.