I had thankfully uneventful flights to Atlanta, Georgia and then got my rental car and headed down to Macon. Though I was tempted beyond all measure to stop at every Waffle House or BBQ joint along the way, I managed to make it into Macon fairly quickly- with only one brief tangle with Atlanta traffic... YAY!!
I got in early enough to hang out with team mechanic John Columbus and his hired help (and my Twitter buddy) Josh Boggs! I sat with the two of them as they put together team bikes- they're both smart enough to know better than to let me work on the bikes. Josh's incredibly cute daughter Sophie was there as well- she is a total doll!
The next day, was more bike building and more rider arrivals. That afternoon, I got out for a nice ride with Mario Mazza (one of the sponsors and also a rider) and Bruce Thompson (father of Chad Thompson- team owner- and legal counsel for the team). We rode for about 2-2.5hrs in the strong winds on some great country roads around Macon. It was great to get out and spin the legs after being on a plane the day before.
More riders arrived and that night we had a nice team dinner and then the first of the nightly team meetings. Chad Thompson welcomes the riders to the camp and we all introduced ourselves. Frankie Andreu, the team's new Director, spoke to the riders as well and talked about his plans and hopes for the team. Lemme tell you- he's a straight forward guy and the team is going to benefit from his experience as one of the top American professionals ever. The fire of a competitor is still very visible in his eyes and it is not hard to see why he had such a successful professional career.
Johnny Sundt getting fit to his new team bike by rider and fitter Jim Baldesare.
Team owner Chad Thompson talking to the riders and introducing everybody on the first night as Frankie listens.
The next morning was an early one and we headed out on the roads for a 3.5hr ride again. Billed as a "shakedown ride" for the riders on new bikes/ bike setups, the ride was "mellow" for the pros... though I was dragging my tongue in my spokes by the end. The highlight, as it is each year, was simply getting to ride and chat with the guys. Getting to hang out on a bike and ride with new riders like Johnny Sundt and Chad Hartley, or returning riders like Jake Rytlewski is always a thrill... and yes, I admit I had to fight off the bike geek fanboy moments while riding and chatting with Frankie. More meetings and bike fits followed- after I fell asleep and took a 3hr nap after the ride!
The next morning was another early one, as we drove back to the Atlanta area to take part in a group ride and Q&A with Frankie and a few of the riders at Lifetime Fitness. A few of the riders were having performance tests done, for VO2 and lactate threshold. Frankie and I rode from Lifetime Fitness to Outspokin Bicycles for a short meet and greet before heading back to Lifetime with a few other riders and joining up with the much larger group that came out to ride with the team. It was another great Georgia ride in the cold and wind... except for all them danged hills!
Frankie signing autographs at Outspokin... oddly, nobody wanted my autograph...
A whole lot of sexiness lined up at Lifetime Fitness!
Team rider Chad Hartley talking about nutrition during the Q&A session.
My rep, Scott, joined me at the ride and once everyhing was done with the ride and the team, I left with him to begin the dealer portion of my stay in Georgia... which will be in Part II of this trip recap!!
Stay tuned kids!