This past Saturday was the always exciting Athens Twilight Criterium in Athens, GA. This year, like years before, did not disappoint in the action department. First and foremost, I was the photographer for VeloNews.com (go check out the gallery). Secondly, it rained. And not just any rain, but on and off down pours mixed with lightning and strong wind gusts. Basically the exact opposite weather you would want to race a bike in or take pictures of said bike race.
Vanessa, my buddy Mike, and I arrived in Athens well before the races were scheduled to start. We found some food at the local Mellow Mushroom just before the amateur race began. The first thing that was apparent was that the rain has kept away many of the spectators. It appeared to be about half to a quarter of the number of people who attended the race last year. That was probably the only good thing the rain did for me all day because it made my life a whole lot easier to get around. But truth be told I would have taken dealing with crazy crowds over the rain.
After lunch and a thorough wrapping of my cameras. I made my way to the start of the womans race. Of course the rain did not let up and I soon found myself treking through heavy rain and deep puddles. I soon took cover under the Felt Bikes test ride tents with the rest of my crew. From there I took a few shots but wasn’t too happy with the results.
With no end of the rain in sight I did the only thing I knew to do. I sadly had to ask Ness to follow me around with a giant umbrella and be my little helper. Not that I didn’t want her to help but I didn’t want to drag her out in the weather, but it had to be done. She helped without any question, never complained, and was right there the entire time. For that I am so very grateful. Thanks a ton honey!
Back to the racing. The womens race ended with a bang, almost literally. Not 20 yards after crossing the finish, a few of the ladies collided leaving one of the racers motionless on the wet streets. After a few intense minutes the racer came too and everything seemed to be fine. She later appeared at her respective place on the podium, 3rd place.
Before the mens race started, I managed to get out on course and take a few shots of the riders relaxing at the starting line. I also ran into Neil Browne (his twitter) and had a small conversation. He is one of the guys I would love to sit down with, have a few beers, and just listen to him talk. I think he is kinda crazy and extremely hillarious.
The mens race went on without much drama all things considered. There were a few wrecks here and there but nothing that was race altering. With about a quarter of the race left, a 7 man group broke away from the main group. Their lead grew each lap until it seemed as though they would lap the main pack. Just as it seemed the breakaway was going to lap the group, they backed off the pressure just enough to keep a separation between the two groups.
The 7 man breakaway ended up being the winning breakaway with Karl Menzies coming away with the victory. When it was all said and done 35 of the 151 racers actually finished the race. Many fell victim to the small wrecks and mechanicals that are to be expected when you race in wet weather.
After the podium presentation the rain finally lets up, of course that would be our luck. Too bad my work was not quite done. On our way home I began editing the pictures for VeloNews, which continued when we got home until 4:45am. I was toast and still haven’t fully recovered from the weekend. But even with everything I went through I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Good to know that this edition of Twilight could quite possibly be as bad as it could get and I still had an awesome time. Good things are happening from the work I did the past two weekends and it is only up hill from here. Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading along. Please enjoy my pictures from the race and feel free to contact me with questions, comments, and usage rights.