Cycling time trials and fighting the heat...

Still 30 minutes to go before the final flight of men begin taking off in 90-second intervals in the men's cycling time trial. Saw my first actual U.S. medal-winner today when Dede Demet-Barry took a silver medal in the women's race. Something good for USA Cycling.

Today it felt like there were more armed military men around than normal. On my early morning walk, I ended up behind the parliament building, and there seemed to be several platoons stationed all around along with non-uniformed men wearing earpiece and talking into tiny microphones.

I remembered a valuable lesson I learned way back when I took my hunter safety course. Never walk on the same side of the barrel of a gun. These guards walk with their rifles pointed both up, and down. I would smile and make a facial gesture I hope signified "uh-oh" as I continually shifted to the stock-side of their automatic weapons as we passed on the streets.

There are quite a few such armed troops here as well, more so than at the road race, which was held in the center of Athens, where the streets were lined with people. This time trial is being contested about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the city center, but it took us more than two hours to get here. There is no direct transport, so we took a cab to Helliniko, where the fencing, softball, baseball, field hockey and early basketball rounds are being held. We waited 20 minutes for a shuttle to circle around the Helliniko facility for about another 20 minutes before dumping us off at our exchange point. It took more than an hour for us to get picked up, and quite a few media members were angry about the lengthy wait. What a day for me to forget placing a bottle of water in my backpack.

The ride here along the Aegean provided a spectacular setting and made me long to jump in the water. If the media center was a kilometer closer to the sea, I'd do it right now, just strip down to my shorts and jump right into the blue Saronic Gulf, but I'd never make it back in time to see what I'm here to do. Somebody (see blog from two days ago) thinks I'm crazy for wanting to take a dip in the Aegean, but I may never pass this way again. It's like the Siren that called Odysseus. I need water, and before I leave, I will be partaking of the Grecian seas, not swimming the strait like (was it Byron or Shelly) did, but at least immersing myself in the inviting ocean.

The heat isn't really getting to me right now, it's more the irregular eating pattern, doing it catch-as-as-catch-can and eating dinner between 10-11:30 every night. Breakfast at the hotel was great the first two days, but now it's the same thing, although the yogurt is excellent and I mix it with fresh-cut peaches, a little whole grain cereal and a chocolate-icing type of topping. The Greek salads are plentiful, and right now I'd really like one. Must find food and water.

Today is the last day that should be a problem, though. After today, we head to regular venues like OAKA with the velodrome and Ano Liossia Olympic Hall for wrestling. Haven't quite settled for what to cover tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 19), but I'd like to get to women's gymnastics at night to see how the silver-medal winning U.S. women perform individually.

Almost time for the final time trial guys. Gotta go……Me

Morning Call Sports Reporter Gary Blockus is on assignment in Athens, Greece for the 2004 Summer Olympics. Gary's Athens will be providing updated reports from the Games as well as the various sights and sounds from Athens in his daily blog.

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