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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
(x-post RBR....warning: roadie content...also, NOT dial-up friendly. sorry)

Last week, I took a week off work and my friend came all the way out from San Diego for a week of playing Tour de Georgia groupie and I tried to kill him. Not intentionally, of course (really!), but that's sorta the way it turned out.

All roads lead to Rome...
First, I get us so lost on the way to the time trail on Thursday that we missed the race and the only thing that saved us from certain starvation was the fact that by some freak of directional nature we ended up in downtown Rome. Don't ask me how. Fortunately, the resturants had anticipated the crowds better than last year and had not yet run out of food.


Lance - from last year's TdG TT

The 10 plagues...
On Friday I managed not to get us lost (no small feat given how directionally challenged I proved myself to be on our ill-fated adventure to Rome) and we had a fantastic 3 gap ride (Neels, Wolfpen, and a big ring sprint up Woodys) before rolling back to find a spot on the guardrail about 2/3s of the way up Woodys Gap. We settled in next to the Floyd Landis fan club consisting of a group of the kindest people ever from Floyd's hometown (Landcaster, PA) and waited for the peleton to arrive.

crrrrrraaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCK...... BOOM
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (the sound of 25,000 startled cycling fans)

I look back towards Suches (about 3 miles down the road from where we are perched) and there is an enormous black thunder cloud heading at mach 1 towards us. You can see the rain falling in sheets from the cloud as it advances. Within seconds it is raining and shortly thereafter pouring. The wind picks up and the temps drop about 20 degrees instantly. And we are standing in the deluge wearing nothing but our riding shorts, shoes & short sleeve jerseys. Fortunately, the wonderfully kind folks from PA take pity on us and give us their yellow Tour de France umbrella and sprint for their car across the street.


the umbrella faries

We hunker down on the guard rail and huddle together trying to stay warm under our borrowed umbrella. Could things get worse, we laugh and wonder? In fact, they can! The downpour soon turns to pea sized pellets of hail then to gumball sized hail and then to jawbreaker sized hail. It's coming down so hard it hurts as it slams into and off of exposed body parts and skin.


hail


more hail

Our little yellow borrowed umbrella may be poor protection but we are in better shape than the guy across the street from us who has resorted to putting his helmet back on for protection (who would have thought he would wish for one of those '80s vintage salad-bowl style helmets with no vents?) or the couple sitting next to him who are forced to shield their heads using only their forearms.

The storm is right over us. On our guardrail perch we shiver and huddle closer watching the chaos from under our umbrella. We can only laugh.

Suddenly it feels like someone kicked me hard in the butt, my left leg kicks out, I have the weirdest sensation that someone has just hit my left foot (right at the buckle on my Sidi) with a piece of rebar, and with a yelp we find ourselves on our feet. The yelp travels up the length of the guard rail and it suddenly occurs to me that we just got hit by lightening...in the butt no less (talk about smoking crack)!!!!! Who'd have thought that a wet chamois on a metal guard rail in a thunder/hail storm under trees on a mountain while holding an umbrella would be such a great conductor of electricity?! DUH!! :rolleyes: :eek: :rolleyes:

Not sure where the lightening hit the rail initially but it zapped a whole host of cycling fans who made the same brilliant decision to continue sitting on that rail during the storm. If we?d have died we would be top candidates for this year's Darwin Awards for sure.

After about 30 minutes storm finally spent its fury and moved onward leaving us lightening struck, blue with cold, shivering, and up to our sidi buckles in hail.


waiting...

And then the peleton came through and we forgot everything...


the leaders (sorry forgot to change the camera setting to action....:eek: )


the peleton



There?s snow in them thar hills...
The plan for Sat was to ride the back 3 gaps (Jacks, Unicoi, Hogpen) and then ride up Brasstown. In a brief moment of good sense we looked at the weather and decided not to ride. Instead we hiked...and hiked...and hiked to get from where we parked to the foot of Brasstown. Then, to add insult to injury, on Saturday I dragged my poor thin-blooded SoCal friend 3/4s of the way up Brasstown Bald to stand in a howling wind, 32 degree temps and SNOW!! He who has seen snow a total of maybe 3 times in his life. But at least this time we were dry and somewhat prepared wearing more layers than I've seen since my last ski trip 2 years ago.


Tom Danielson & Levi Leipheimer


Lance & Floyd Landis


Bobby Julich & Marco Pinotti (i think. correct me if i'm wrong)


the largest group of riders we saw all day. the rest came up in 2s and 3s.

All in all, it was a fantastic week. :cool: :)

rt

ps - gregg, francis et al. - it was a complete and total PITA to get these pics uploaded because i had to refresh the gallery page over and over and over and over and over and over and over to get it to load. i know you guys are trying to fix the problem but it took me close to 3 hours to load the 11 pix in this post
 

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So, that was you I saw going by near the top of Neels Gap! We were setting up chairs on the inside of the last right hand hairpin turn before the top, and I glanced up and thought that was you going by. I started to holler "RT!", but you were already past, and I wasn't even sure it was you at the time.

We got the bad weather, too, but the hail never got any bigger than pea sized. When the rain first started, we sat in our chairs holding umbrellas in a fruitless attempt to keep the chairs dry. When the lightning got close, we abandoned the chairs for the safety of my truck. The storm had passed by the time the racers came through, but the peleton was badly splintered. Over thirty minutes from the lead group to the tail end riders.

Good pics! I've got a few I may try to post later.

Glad no one was hurt by the guardrail lightning strike.
 

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Smokin' crack is correct!

Why you all were anywhere near (leaning on!) a DOT installed lightening rod, I can't imagine. Very fortunate that the steel rail and post conduct electricity better than chamois and shoes - barely - so the juice bypassed ya'll for the most part!

Great write up *rt* - Danielson the Durango Kid did good! I heard Lance worked for him...
 

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Is it play time yet?
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Good pics, rt.

Myself and 7 friends got caught at the top of Woody's when the big one hit. Luckily we were invited to help hold down a tarp and got some shelter out of it :p . We even got to use their copy of the AJC for a make shift chest warmer.

My goal Saturday was to get up Brasstown without stopping to tuck in a lung (I stopped 4 times last year). We climbed Unicoi, Hog Pen, then a mile into Brasstown....*PING*, I break a front spoke climbing :eek: Luckily my buddy was aware of my personal goal that day and let me use his wheel to finish the job.

Yup, it was crap weather again.....but it sure beats the heck out of being at work.

-Erik
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
cyclesmith said:
So, that was you I saw going by near the top of Neels Gap! We were setting up chairs on the inside of the last right hand hairpin turn before the top, and I glanced up and thought that was you going by. I started to holler "RT!", but you were already past, and I wasn't even sure it was you at the time.

We got the bad weather, too, but the hail never got any bigger than pea sized. When the rain first started, we sat in our chairs holding umbrellas in a fruitless attempt to keep the chairs dry. When the lightning got close, we abandoned the chairs for the safety of my truck. The storm had passed by the time the racers came through, but the peleton was badly splintered. Over thirty minutes from the lead group to the tail end riders.

Good pics! I've got a few I may try to post later.

Glad no one was hurt by the guardrail lightning strike.
yup! that probably was me. funny, i don't remember seeing anyone on that curve. on the other hand, i was suffering pretty well at that point. my friend was kicking my butt up the climbs until we hit woodys when i had a sudden surge of i don't know what and pushed it into the 53x25 and hammered my way to the top. :)

you're lucky on the hail. that was a special (in the short-bus kind of way) experience! :D by the time they got to woodys i think the group had splintered further and there were about 3 separate groups plus the leaders. the 1st group was about 10 minutes back on the leaders and the second group was about 20 minutes back on the 1st. we stuck around to watch them all come through once and then made a beeline for my car shivering our way down woodys and back to Turner's corner. amazing views as we descended woodys though:



looking forward to seeing your pics.

rt
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
glenzx said:
Why you all were anywhere near (leaning on!) a DOT installed lightening rod, I can't imagine. Very fortunate that the steel rail and post conduct electricity better than chamois and shoes - barely - so the juice bypassed ya'll for the most part!

Great write up *rt* - Danielson the Durango Kid did good! I heard Lance worked for him...
LOL!! not only were we sitting on a DOT installed lightening rod but we were holding an umbrella and sitting under trees. how much stupider could we be??! :eek: I'm pretty sure the actual strike was much much further down the line from us because we only got buzzed. on the other hand, i know of someone who got nailed while sitting on the ground in a tent. apparently there was a strike near by and he got zapped! it was crazy.

speaking of crazy, wish i'd gotten a pic of the guy at the top of the climb that was dancing around in a speedo and nothing else during the hail storm. i think OLN got him on tape though.

Danielson did awesome!!! he really shined and Lance did work for him. :cool: they're going to have a strong team come july.

rt
 

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You must got some booty...

First you get killer bee sting in your butt, and now your booty get hit by thunderbolt. What's next...catch a fire on your butt? :D

Wish I could've been there to see Lance in person. He was supposed to race the last two SF Grand Prix (aka T-Mobile International) here in bay area, but he never did...

K-Zero
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
erik99 said:
Good pics, rt.

Myself and 7 friends got caught at the top of Woody's when the big one hit. Luckily we were invited to help hold down a tarp and got some shelter out of it :p . We even got to use their copy of the AJC for a make shift chest warmer.

My goal Saturday was to get up Brasstown without stopping to tuck in a lung (I stopped 4 times last year). We climbed Unicoi, Hog Pen, then a mile into Brasstown....*PING*, I break a front spoke climbing :eek: Luckily my buddy was aware of my personal goal that day and let me use his wheel to finish the job.

Yup, it was crap weather again.....but it sure beats the heck out of being at work.

-Erik
thanks Erik. did you see the guy dancing around in the hail in just his speedo? i heard about him but didn't actually see him.

my goal for saturday was exactly the same as yours & i also had to stop 4 times last year. however, we got a late start and then decided that the weather was just not conducive to climbing brasstown. did you absolutely freeze standing around in your cycling clothes waiting for the riders to come through? that was one of our fears. after turning blue on woodys we weren't up for a repeat performance. nice job doing the climb without stopping!

rt
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
K-Zero said:
First you get killer bee sting in your butt, and now your booty get hit by thunderbolt. What's next...catch a fire on your butt? :D

Wish I could've been there to see Lance in person. He was supposed to race the last two SF Grand Prix (aka T-Mobile International) here in bay area, but he never did...

K-Zero
apparently i have a very attractive booty....at least to lightening and bees! :D

it is really cool to be able to see all those guys that you normally see only on TV up close and in person. you never know, lance may still show up for the SF Grand Prix.

rt
 

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*rt* said:
thanks Erik. did you see the guy dancing around in the hail in just his speedo? i heard about him but didn't actually see him.

my goal for saturday was exactly the same as yours & i also had to stop 4 times last year. however, we got a late start and then decided that the weather was just not conducive to climbing brasstown. did you absolutely freeze standing around in your cycling clothes waiting for the riders to come through? that was one of our fears. after turning blue on woodys we weren't up for a repeat performance. nice job doing the climb without stopping!

rt
Yes! I think Mr Speedo was a member of "Creed Nation"......the Michael Creed Fan Club. He had on only slightly less clothing than we bikers :)

Yes, in hindsight you had the better plan Saturday. Not only did I freeze but my calves were cramping from the walk down Brasstown. I toughed it out long enough to watch Christian Vande Velde (CSC guy you show in yr pics) lead the charge up. He was trying to lead Bobby Julich up the climb, but his chain was skipping.

See you,

Erik
 

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avg. joe
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Hey there...

Another great write up and pictorial. Sounds like it was a fun time, even though there were some distractions.
 

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*rt* said:
nice picture!!

rt
Thanks.

I probably could have been clearer in my description of where we were setting up. We were on the inside of the last full hairpin (180 degrees), just below Blood Mtn cabins, about 3/8's of a mile from the top. There is one more right hand turn of about 90 degrees or so just a few hundred yards from the top. Sorry for any confusion.

Here's a few more pics. That's my silver truck in the second pic. We had planned to watch from the inside of the turn for close up viewing and pics, but the course worker made everyone stand on the outside of the turn. :mad:





 

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*rt* said:
apparently i have a very attractive booty....at least to lightening and bees! :D

it is really cool to be able to see all those guys that you normally see only on TV up close and in person. you never know, lance may still show up for the SF Grand Prix.

rt
Hmmm... Lightning is my middle name...

or is it Bees.

Anyways - great pictures! I spent some time in the southeast - I had forgotten how beautiful it is down there.
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
forkboy said:
Hmmm... Lightning is my middle name...

or is it Bees.

Anyways - great pictures! I spent some time in the southeast - I had forgotten how beautiful it is down there.
gorgeous at this time of year. wish i had pix of the azaleas blooming in my neighborhood. takes your breath away.

rt
 
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