Originally Posted by neked chicken
once i found out that usps is riding i decided to go. never been to a big race. any tips on finding a good spot, parking, arrival time etc.. i'm planning to watch stage six on saturday
That depends on how much time you have on your hands. The final climb up Brasstown Bald will be epic - there's a 23% grade near the top; however, bear in mind that it's a mountain top finish and there's only one road leading up to it. Therefore, you can expect the parking lots to fill-up early. However, also bear in mind that the road up the mountain will be probably be closed to traffic 30 minutes ahead of the racers arrival and that traffic leading back down the mountain will be snarled for at least an hour (or more) after the finish. Therefore, you'd want to probably pay a visit to or talk with someone from the District Ranger's office to figure out where you'll be able to park as I suspect the race organizers, media, and support caravan will consume much of the available parking at the mountain top.
There is a parking lot at the top of Hogpen and it too would be a good vantage point. Again, you'd need to plan ahead to ensure you will arrive early enough to get a parking spot. Assuming you can get out of the parking lot, you should be able to escape down the mountain towards Helen where you'll no doubt encounter some congestion from the motorists who were held up behind the peloton on 138.
Best Bet: Come early, pack chairs and a cooler, and make a party out of it.
We watched the Tour come through Woody's Gap last year and tied the event in with a 3 Gap ride that started and ended at the top of Woody's Gap. Thus, we got the best of everything from the day, e.g., a great parking spot, a good ride, and front row seats at the summit. However, unless the major players are attacking, you may find the climbs to be anti-climatic vs. what you've seen on OLN. Personally, I think the Hogpen & Brasstown Bald climbs will be epic; perhaps more so if the lead riders are still close on time coming out of Stage 5 with climbs in Ellijay, at Neels & then Wolfpen Gaps. Personally, I think the climbs up Neels and Wolfpen will be fantastic visuals since there are places where you can look down through the esses near key points on both climbs. We also watched the Crit in Atlanta on the final day of the tour and while it was more of a party atmosphere, it was a flat crit where mechanicals and crashes determined your fate. Not sure what they have in mind at the Northpoint Mall.
Oh yea. And if for some reason Lance doesn't make an appearance, holds back, or drops out, you still owe it to yourself to watch the tour. IMHO, with perhaps the exception of the Redlands Classic and the USPRO Championship in Philadelphia, there's no other classic road race in the US that can compare to this event.