Melissa Westergard had the opportunity to spend 5 weeks out in GA this summer to complete her first clinical for school. Read about her adventures riding and racing in Savannah.
This summer I had the opportunity to go and experience Southern culture in Savannah, Georgia. I visited for a month to complete my first clinical as a student studying physical therapy. In preparation for this trip I quickly perused the USAC website to see which races were going to be held in the area while I was there. Four races within one month! I made arrangements to bring my bike with me so that I could get in quality training time and a few races. Before arriving in Savannah, I contacted a local bike shop that offered group rides throughout the week to get the scoop on where safe places were to ride and to meet a few of the locals. The people at the shop, Perry Rubber Bike Shop, were more than happy to help this newbie find her way around town.
The first race I registered for was scheduled for the day after I landed in the new city. It was part of a race series called “Nestor Cup” and put on by a local bike club, the Savannah Wheelman. I took the opportunity to take an easy ride through the neighborhood that morning of my first race to begin my conditioning in this new environment – hot and very humid! The women’s fields in Savannah are small so the women’s 3/4 is combined with the men’s 4/5. I arrived at the race a couple hours early so that I could pre-ride the course. It was a circuit race held on an old speedway (2.1 mile loop). The average temperature during the race was 97 degrees, quite an increase from the cool 70’s that we had been experiencing out here in CO. The first few laps of the race were great! I held on and stayed with the pack of very fast men, and then they took off, sprinting at 32 mph. Even after getting dropped, I somehow managed to make the podium that day. Soon after the podium shots were taken the effects of the heat finally set in and I got sick, really sick. The next two days were spent hydrating and spending only shorts bouts
of time outdoors.
From then on I knew that I would do most of my training in the early morning, right after sunrise. I found a great 10-mile loop that I could do laps on that had very little traffic and beautiful scenery. I also took advantage of the group rides on the weekends that consisted of 50 and 70-mile rides. This is where I made most of my friends during my visit to Savannah. I went on to race 3 more times in GA and thankfully became more acclimated to the heat and humidity.
If you ever have the opportunity to travel to a new city with your bike, I highly recommend it. It gives you a chance to make friends with the locals quickly and see the city from a different perspective.