August 26th, 2011 | By Marjie No Comments

That is how Brent Bookwalter’s latest blog begins, and it’s not hard to understand why. Just days ago, this Athens resident finished his second Tour de France, yet he’s already starting his next race.

As his first blogged sentence states, “Here I am about to start the next race of my 2011 season and I realized I haven’t even done a Tour de France recap. It’s been an overwhelming whirlwind, but one that’s been a real honor and overall pleasure to experience. Being part of our team’s effort last month, especially with the outcome we’ve had, is something I’ll carry with me and treasure forever. The huge waves of support have been incredible.”

A Michigan native who has also lived in California, Brent now resides in Athens because of a teammate and a fiancé. But the cycling atmosphere in Athens is “truly amazing,” according to Brent, and he feels as if he’s found a home here in more ways than one.

We asked Brent to help us communicate to our young readers and their families just what it takes to be part of a world class cycling team. “Certainly, joining a cycling club can be a precursor to being part of a team,” states Brent. “It may be the best way to get the recognition you need and want, and team members are scouted – just like any sport – so clubs are competitive and teams are looking for members. It’s a great too to use to further yourself in the sport.”

There are different levels of cycling teams as well, from local fun clubs to internationally competitive teams. Climbing that ladder of advancement is something that takes persistence as with any level of sport. Cyclers must identify themselves with the kinds of races they want to do in order to obtain sponsors.

“It’s just like minor and major league teams,” says Brent. “You can race in some competitions unattached (without a sponsor), but when you get to a certain level you have to have a sponsor. Some meets are by invitation only; you have to belong to a team to even be invited.”

Brent is part of the BMC racing team that just completed the Tour de France. When asked how the Tour was, he responded by saying, “It is the most amazing experience physically, mentally, emotionally. It drains you, but you know the more life experience you have the better your chances of making it through are. It makes you realize what your mind, body and heart can push through to.”

Next time you see a sleek racer’s bicycle passing you like a blur in the bike lane, wave a friendly hello. You just might be waving to Athens’ own Brent Bookwalter as he trains for his next world-class bicycling event.

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