Tour de Georgia teams warm up in Augusta

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The Tour de Georgia starts April 18, and the teams spent some time on April 17 warming up to ride hundreds of miles.

I rode along with one of the teams and talked to the cyclists on the Colavita Olive Oil and Sutter Home Team about the challenges ahead of them.

We rode about ten miles around Augusta...and that was a pretty tough half hour.

These teams have a six day race ahead of them...and we found out what it takes to make it to the finish line.

"Part of cycling is suffering," says racing veteran Todd Herriott.

Steep hills, heat, and hundreds of miles...Herriott loves the challenge.

"It's not hard all the time...but when it's hard, it's really hard," he says.

The Tour de Georgia is one of the hard ones, according to team leader and champion Mark McCormack.

"The saving grace is we're all doing it together," McCormack says.

They've been together for years, a brotherhood that will help McCormack take on more than 600 miles in the next few days. They're dealing with the late April heat...and another challenge unique to the tour.

"I had some difficulty with allergies," McCormack says.

"Last year I had some bad allergies," Herriott agrees.

The spring pollen count is usually high in our area. This year is no exception, but Todd Herriott says there are no excuses once it starts.

"You have to ignore it cause you gotta do what you gotta do. If the race is up the road, it doesn't really matter," he says.

Herriott got us ready for today's practice and explained how to use the racing bike's 20 gears. Then it was off.

The ten miles were challenging for us.

But it was just a warm-up for Tyler Wren. "It was fun...just a short little ride," he says.

Using the extra gears on that professional bike was difficult. The cyclists were going slower than usual, and even then keeping up was a challenge.

Wren filled us in on the team's plans for the day: "We're just gonna try to relax."

By "relax", he meant a 20-mile ride through the city.

The cyclists' challenge is fighting about 200 riders for the win, through days of rain, heat, and steep north Georgia hills.

Here's what you need to know about Tuesday's local route.

The first leg starts at 11:30 Tuesday morning at Broad and 11th Street. They'll circle downtown three times before heading up Walton Way to Highland Avenue, then to Wrightsboro Road and out of town.

It all ends in Alpharetta around 6:00 Sunday evening.