July 10, Sunday: Hospitality Hwy Century (100mi) / Social Event / COMPLETE: Gonna do this one on MTB, all 100, as a build for Fool’s Gold. Should be intersting 🙂 Done, on full-suspension 26″ MTB. It was tough for sure pushing that beast around, and hot. Maintained a decent pace (17+) but it’s definitely work to do that kinda ride on MTB
Every ride seems to have one, some a couple. I think of them as the ride “freaks”. Those people who have to do something unusual, something to make it a little weird, a little harder. Six Gap is notorious for this for some reason, not like it isn’t already hard enough as-is. For a couple years, there was a guy that rode a giant wheeled unicycle in the thing. I’d always see him in the flats or on the rollers. I never got to see him actually climbing or descending any of the big mountains. That, right there, that’s circus freak kinda stuff. Last year, or maybe it was year before, at the summit of Wolfpen, there was a person on some big wheeled version of a Razor scooter. Freak-a-zoid. What the heck was he (or she) thinking. The big wheeled Razor sounds kinda fun around the neighborhood or something, but up in the mountains? Two things I’m thinking here: all of the ass-work required to kick that think up the hill (a pure ass cramp has gotta hurt, not hamstrings, I mean a cramp in the actual cheek, holy crap) and how in the heck do you descend on that thing. Let’s assume it has some sort of disc brakes. The center of gravity is still way above the wheels. I’ve gotta believe you’d go over the bars, or handle, or whatever you call it, on some of those descents. Then there’s the guy on Six Gap I’ve always heard about but never personally seen, the one who is protesting and rides without a seat on his bike (nor does it have the seatpost, it has nothing). I’m not exactly sure what he’s protesting that requires him to remove the seat. That’s just weird. Anyway, I was gonna be the freak on this ride. Much more tame of a freak though. All I was doing was riding my 26 inch mountain bike in the Georgia 400 century. Not too far off the edge, but enough that I got a lot of “what the –“ stares, particularly later in the ride when it was obvious I was going the full 100.
I decided to ride the MTB to get conditioned for Fool’s Gold. Diesel and I were planning on doing the full 100 miler at Fool’s Gold (FG100) which would be off-road, so I knew I’d better be able to handily knock out a 100 miler on-road with no problems if I was to have any chance of making it through the FG100. So off to the ride I went. We rolled out of PTC around 4am in order to be early for the 6:30 rollout. This is a ride for which you absolutely cannot be late for the start. We ride down Georgia 400 (the interstate) for a couple miles. There’s a rolling police roadblock for the riders and timing is everything to be in front of the troopers, not behind. If you’re late, you have to ride a different route to the first aid station (or get a ride in a car there) and you miss the key feature of the event. Diesel wasn’t able to make this ride with me, but I was there with a handful of folks from PTC.
So we rolled down the entrance ramp onto Georgia 400 at roughly 6:30am. It was a nice morning, at least to start. Sun was coming up, clear skies ahead, and some awesome company from the southside. I was riding with a couple of ladies, A-Hill (not “A-hole”, although she calls me one when I chide her about riding the mountains on her bike, she hates mountains, hills and even mere rises in the road) and Sweet Pickles (I’m still struggling with a name here for Christi, it will take some time to develop, but I’ll know it when it hits me. I don’t think a female, or probably anyone for that matter, wants to be called “pickles”). Anyway, Sweet P (for short) is learning to go long on the bike and I introduced her to pickles as a great way to fight cramping, in fact, I carried a whole water bottle full of them on a later ride as we broke the 112 mile barrier of IronMan together. Sweet P was a little nervous about the mass start, the sheer number of riders attending, and the possibility of the ever-present “clip-in, fall-over”. She was riding a tri bike after all and the probability of such catastrophe was higher. I reassured her to just tuck in behind me and all would be okay as we got out into open road. I was driving the equivalent of a Humvee amongst a field of little Porsche (not sure about the plural for Porsche here, maybe it’s one of those weird words that the singular and plural is the same, like moose, fish or deer). So we got down onto 400 and rolled South, towards Atlanta. We caught up to a bunch of PTC peeps: Chad and Sarah, Brandon and Mike and the Notorious K.e.l.v.i.n., riding his single speed J
We exited 400, still in Roswell, and took a series of surface streets until we found ourselves in surprisingly rural parts of Cherokee and I think Forsyth counties. I was having fun. It was a lot of work pushing the MTB around, trying to keep up with the roadie crowd, but I managed to hang on well enough. It was actually kind of funny to catch folks by surprise, especially on sections when I’d be hammering pretty hard and pass them. The bike is noisy. I was running slicks, so folks didn’t hear the usual telltale whine of knobbies on pavement, kind of like a jacked up pickup with mud tires. It was all of the other random sounds: the chirp and scrape of the hydraulic disc rotors, the occasional squeak of the front forks and rear shock, or possibly the huge plume of air that was be pushed ahead of me as I was sitting much more upright than on a road bike. All was fun and glorious, that is until we started getting into the more significant hills. The ride has nearly 5000 feet of climbing over the ~101 miles. This is where the MTB is at a disadvantage compared to a roadie. With nearly double the weight, it’s much harder to hold pace as we began climbing. I still managed, but day-umm, it cost me an awful lot of energy.
Later in the ride, a local fellow I was riding with, Doug A (not to be confused with Diesel Dougie) and I stopped for fluids and came unhitched from our female counterparts, who now consisted of Sweet Pickles, Alexis, and Andree. Once she realized that this was a “more than just hilly” ride, A-Hill pulled the plug and cut it short. I briefly thought about “motivating” her to hang in there, to tough it out, but knew better. With her ‘tude, A-Hill was likely to give me the middle finger, and shove it in one of my eyes. So Doug A and I were rolling back in through the rurality. We came upon a downhill into which the turning radius rapidly decreased as the pitch steepened (think about going down a corkscrew, sort of). Without knowing that sort of “feature” is ahead, especially at speed, it can be downright hairy to navigate. We entered that turn going pretty fast. I saw Doug A sit up real quick and heard a commotion up ahead. Luckily, being on big tires and disc brakes, I was able to stop on a dime and hauled it down just as a female rider’s body came to rest in a ditch on the outside of the turn. She was immediately groaning in pain. Doug A had overshot her, unable to stop quickly enough. I hopped off the bike as she was trying to sit up and pushed her back into the ground, telling her to relax and sit still. She was in an awkward position and groaning in pain, and I feared something in her neck or spine may not be right. She instinctively fought me a little but I moved in close to her face and reassured her that I had her and we’d get help as quickly as possible. I had no idea where the heck we were but luckily someone in the mass of folks that eventually gathered upon the scene knew the area, and that there was a fire station not far away. He took off on bike to get there while others called 911. Within maybe 10 minutes, paramedics were on the scene. I had backed out of the situation and signaled to our riders to move on. There’s really no point in hanging around once the appropriate folks are there, you can only get in the way. I never knew how that situation came out and can only hope for the best for her. She was a younger rider, likely not experienced enough to recognize what was happening and how to deal with it until it was way too late.
So after all that excitement, and still a little shaken, we took off again. By now it was blazing hot, as one would suspect in mid-July in Georgia. I was having a hard time making it from one rest stop to the next without running out of water. My bike would only accommodate one water bottle so I was wearing the 70oz CamelBak too. I was going through both of those, sweating so profusely that Doug A, when riding behind me, noted that water (or really sweat I guess) was squirting out of my shoes with each pedal stroke. I couldn’t keep hydrated and it was catching up to me. I hung on with Doug A until we got back into Roswell. There are a series of 3 or 4 rollers right at the end of the ride as we approach Home Depot on Holcomb Bridge from the backside. I fell off pace there and slowed to a crawl. Never dismounted, but it was a grind to get back in those last couple miles. I rolled into the parking lot to see Doug A, Alexis and Sweet Pickles off. It had been a good training day but I now started worrying about Fool’s Gold a little more. This was pretty tough. I knew FG100 was gonna be much, much tougher.