Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Snake

The Snake Creek Gap TT Race Report:

We had a really great trip. We left Asheville around 5 pm and got to Dalton around 9 pm. It was a very long drive that seemed to go on forever. We took 40 to Knoxville then 75 south. Coming home we took 64 east from Cleveland, passing the Ocoee and Nantahala rivers. This way seemed to go by quicker, I'll have to Google maps it and see.

We stayed at a Days Inn that is being remodeled and was already looking very nice. Apparently they have not replaced the doors yet, as ours had draft all the way around the edges. Fortunately I had some electrical tape and I taped it. We didn't want to switch rooms because we didn't realise the problem until we were on our way to bed. The heater almost caught up to the cold but not quite.

After the obligatory night of restless sleep, we got up and headed to the free breakfast. A bagel from the bar and some french press Starbucks coffee that I brought.

This race is cool because registration goes until 10 am. So we didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn. We ate, packed, I pumped the tires up , and we loaded up and headed to the mayhem of registration.

There were people everywhere, bikes everywhere. I make my way to registration, sign the waiver, get my goody bag, and get out of there. We then beat the crowd and head to the start, about 30 minutes drive into the country. We are the first to arrive and I take my time getting ready while Jubal and Rhonda go pet some horses.

The shuttles and trailer arrive with the racers and bikes. By 10:30am the organizers yell that we can begin the start process, and please come to the start line. We line up four across, and they send us off in waves of 4 racers, about 1 minute apart.

We tell the starter our last name, which she writes beside our number, she counts down," 5-4-3-2-1". And I'm off like a tightly wound spring being let loose. Hopefully the spring will stay springy.

The first couple of miles is dirt road. Around mile 4 we come to some single track and some uphill. After that, I don't remember details. The trail was a great combination of smooth single track, dirt road, steep, and very technical single track. The route winds up and over 4 (?) major ridges before reaching the end. Some of the time is spent climbing to the ridge top, then riding along the ridge, then dropping down the other side into the valley. 4 times.

The first 17 was fast and flowy, some steeps sections but nothing very technical. Halfway down the trail to the bottom of the valley that holds the mid-point SAG stop, I let out a whoop to let my SAG ( Supply And Gear) Team know to be ready.

He looks ready...

She looks ready...

After a quick stop, some energy shake, and fresh water bottles, I'm off. This section is supposed to get harder and more technical. It starts off with a long, fairly steep uphill climb. It was definitely worth stopping to refuel, because, no there is not time. At some point, we cross a creek and come out onto a dirt road for a mile or two. Next time, I'll remember to spend a lot of time eating and drinking here. We come to a spot where people are directing us into the woods. My average the first ten miles was 10mph, it is now around 9.5 mph, in the next 8 miles to the finish it will drop to 8.6 mph.
I ask the people what the mileage is, and they say 8 miles to go. This is the toughest 8 miles of trail I have ever ridden. The trail consists of short steep ups and downs and rocks of all sizes strewn everywhere. It is difficult to describe. Picture a dump truck with large rocks the size of a truck tire, rocks the size of soccer balls, rocks the size of softball, baseballs, goat heads, chicken heads. All distorted in different shapes with the sharp edges sticking up. The dump truck drives along the trail and covers the trail with these rocks. That's the last eight miles. I saw everyone walking sections. My arms hurt in places that I didn't know they could hurt. A guy passed me and said at the 4 mile mark, it is all down hill. Don't ever listen to anyone who says it is all downhill. It never is. I pass, I get passed. I pass a guy with a bloody face, I pass people with flats, I get passed by several fast riders, one chic. We finally come to the water tower on top of the ridge. The lady tells me it is 2 miles of downhill from here. I believe her because I can see the road drop. The dirt road dumps onto the paved road. 39mph down the paved road to the convention center and the finish.

My SAG team is there ringing bells and yelling.

I'm not sure what my total time is I'll let you know when the results are posted. My riding time is 3h55m, but then I have to add in the short stops and the hike-a-bikes. I'm thinking 4.5 hours.

Great race, great people,

Have a great day

1 comment:

Frank O said...

Sweet SAG team! Those are hard to fine.