The Grant Park Criterium was the first bike race I watched. The teams, the speeds, the excitement pulled me in. Seeing the bike racers casually riding their bikes through the crowds as though they were just walking, on fast bikes with super aggressive geometries and high end components looked so cool. The racers themselves - looking as tough as iron, with strong legs, lean, deeply tanned, with road rash and scars and veins - looked so cool. I was hooked.
I've raced it every year since (except last year), and it's always fun. In my mind, it's one of the three big races in Georgia - Athens Twilight, East Atlanta Criterium, and Grant Park Criterium. There are other great races, that are more difficult (Gainesville Gran Prix, one of my favs) or great in their own way, but I think these three are special because of the crowds they draw, and that it's a fun atmosphere to to watch the races.
The racing was high caliber this year as it always is, with a large pro field and a great crowd. There were two craft beer tents, which makes me pretty happy.
Excellent racing by the 5s this year too. I like watching these races - the pace is slower and you can see the pain etched across their faces a little more clearly.
Here's on-bike footage from my race - I got dropped about 10 minutes into it. I just couldn't hold on up the climb on the back of the course.
I guess it's also fitting that this marks the end of the 2015 road season for me. I'm looking forward to a bit of a break with some fun/casual riding before figuring out my cross and winter training goals/plans.