Race day reached 96°F, and Augusta did not offer the most ideal physical layout for a race. Transition was nearly 2 miles from the finish line, and no one seemed to know how, when, or where shuttles were running. We were told to be ready to start receiving bikes at noon. Noon. Heh. The first bike arrived at nearly 2:30. At that point, we knew it was going to be a long and hot day. We had coolers filled with water, Gatorade, and cold Coronas with lime for our athletes as they dropped off their bikes. The published materials said we would be accepting bikes until 5 pm, but as the clock hit 7 pm, bikes were still trickling in. We also had 24 Finish & Fly Valet bikes to pick up from transition.
As the sun started to set, we started to run – literally. Jordy set the pace as we jogged to transition to collect bikes and bags to bring them back to our corral – riding the bikes back the 300 yards to our pen where we had to tag bags and pull pedals to finish the collection and organization for the load out. By 9 pm, we were ready to start loading. At this point, we had been working in the Georgia heat for 9 hours straight, pulling pedals, handing out beers, and getting bikes racked in the system. We needed to eat.
We rode our bikes back downtown to have a very late dinner. I have to admit it was great seeing the post-race atmosphere from the outside in. I am usually a racer and don’t see the overall energy of the whole scene. Downtown Augusta was alight with the fire of post-race glow, while Jordy and I were just trying to get ready for our final push.
We found a cool bar that listed Japanese fusion bar fare. It sounded interesting, and it was, but I cannot remember seeing a slower kitchen. We just wanted to eat, and by the time we got our food, they were turning off the lights and pushing us out the door. At least we had nutrition to face the task at hand. And no, we didn’t drink. I had four sweet teas to caffeine up before the task at hand.
With food in our bellies and all caffeinated up, it was all about the bikes. Tracking the bikes and bags is a very tedious process when intermingled with extreme labor and heat when one is already exhausted. Keeping every bike and bag in order kept us sweating and swearing till 3:30 in the morning. I cannot remember working harder at something which simultaneously took so much physical effort as well as technical diligence. It was almost the identical sensation as one has at hour 15 on an Ironman run course when everyone else was in.
When we crawled into our hotel room at 4 am, we both showered off the layers of blanket dust that had pancaked itself to every inch of our bodies as it stuck to our sweat. I then started our laundry. I had to have clean clothes for the ride back. Yes, yes, I did.
At 9 am we got up, packed up our room, and drove the bikes 3.5 hours back to Asheville, where my only hope was that when we arrived, we would not be sorting and packing that day. Thankfully, I got my wish.