Tyler Hamilton Diary
It was a little bit sad to see them extinguishing the flame in the Olympic Stadium in Athens last night.
tight. Cab drivers couldn't even figure out where the entrance to the place was - it was so well disguised and tucked away. The best part about being out there was the cafeteria. Seeing that many athletes in their various shapes and sizes milling around was a sight in itself. I called my wife one night and remarked that it was amazing how many ways the human body could be perfected. It was like looking at a thousand different kinds of art all at once.
There were two big deals going on in the caf. The first of which was a McDonalds. You could tell who was done competing by what they carried on their trays. And it seemed by my observation that the Big Mac is universal food.
The other big deal was pin trading. Everyone would be walking around in sweatsuits advertising their nationality so it was easy to find the athletes who's pin you needed. Levi Liepheimer, who is normally pretty reserved, became a pin trading maniac. I think he had the most of anyone in our group. The ribbon on his credential probably weighed 10 kilos by the time he flew home, he had so many pins stuck through it.
I was a bit nervous about the Road Race because the streets were slippery and the temperatures were - kill bacteria in the oven - hot. Spectators looked like they were suffering - before the start. So I knew we were in for a long day. My goal was to test the legs a little after being away from racing for so long, and see if I could manage to slip into the winning break away. Although the US team did not get a medal as we were hoping, it was a successful day in my book considering the way I felt. I wanted to save as many matches as possible for the Time Trial. Hats off to race veterans Bettini and Merckx, two guys I was happy to see go home with medals.
The day after the Road Race we left the Olympic Village, headed south for the coast and checked into a hotel near the start/finish line of the Time Trial. The weather had cooled considerably in the days following the Road Race so we were able to do a lot of good training and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere outside of the city.
August 18th, is a day I will never forget . I've been an athlete all my life and always dreamed of being an Olympic Champion, but I don't know if I ever truly thought I'd get there. I woke up the morning after the race, jumped out of bed and bolted over to my suitcase to see if the medal was really there. My wife just laughed, shook her head and said, - "no, I don't believe it either." Needless to say, it took a couple of days to sink in.
It was one of the biggest days of my career and one I was happy to