|Sort of like what we got glimpses of during the Winding Stair Gap climb.|
|Maria, Laura, and me getting coffeeeee! |
Actually this is after the race but the drive home was just as much fun as the drive there.
|Me, Maria, Laura before the start!|
The start is a car-controlled neutral roll-out from Montaluce on paved roads. I'm sure the top contenders thought the pace was relaxed but I'm already a little gassed off the back. I'm not sure if this is lack of warm-up, or lack of fitness (either overall or from the knee injury), but I just do my best to manage my effort and not ruin my day in the opening miles. I also know that the field at Fool's Gold is small but extremely talented, with most of these riders having completed multiple NUE races already this year, so it doesn't even make sense for me to try and stick with them. I just do my thing, keep the pedals turning and focus on the big picture. A few miles up the start of the climb, a pick-up truck flies past me and a racer behind me yells at it "HEY!". The pick-up abruptly stops and a total Georgia hillbilly gets out and starts screaming mean things at the racer behind me. I'm caught totally unawares and unprepared - we have some nasty drivers in Missouri but I've never heard a confrontation like this. They exchange some words as I keep pedaling and soon enough the hillbilly gets back in his truck and continues flying up the hill. I really, really hope he doesn't hurt anyone!
I finally crest the first false summit and the ProGold guy gives me a huge dose of encouragement. I continue pedaling in my happy place until a speedy downhill section Ts into an intersection. Course markings indicate a right turn and I make it without hesitation. But only a few hundred meters later, I see Maria and a group of 4-5 people riding back at me. Whaaaa....? Somehow they figured out that the course markings were wrong (vandalized) so I turn around after only about a minute or so. Other riders were not so lucky. So I vow to pay more attention to the pink marking tape and continue on my way.
|Turner Creek Singletrack. Photo from 2012.|
Much to my delight, I make it through the first piece of singletrack in one piece and with a little more course knowledge - nothing seems especially slimy/slippery and in fact my tires are getting good traction. Also, these Georgia trails have significantly less sharp nasty rocks than ours in Missouri so I tell myself to suck it up and get brave. We have a short 2-mile gravel connector and then jump onto more singletrack. This is in a burned-out section of forest and it seems recently cut - the trail is still pretty rough (later I learned that this is the Jones Creek Trail). But the climb is gradual and rideable and I love riding through burned forest because it makes me feel like I'm in The Hunger Games. I meet up with another woman rider, Elsa, and we tackle the switchbacks together. Then we catch up with Maria, and Julie from Michigan, while riding across the Lake 32 dam which is weird because there is no lake in sight, just a big earthen berm. Julie tells me it's only about 1 mile to SAG #2 and I'm stoked!
|This might not be exactly one of the trails we rode, but it's similar. |
Red clay, open forest, minimal rocks.
The next section is where the race starts to get lonely for me, but not in a bad way. I do a lot of riding by myself and don't mind it at all. Before the race, Maria and I discussed riding together but I was hesitant to commit to a plan since I know my all-day pace and didn't really want to alter it for my first mtb hundo. So I just cruise through the Jake Mtn Trail singletrack and think all-day thoughts. I revel in the fact that my knee isn't bothering me, that I'm in freaking GEORGIA riding my mountain bike, that I'm so thankful for the support of Team Noah, that I like eating turkey sandwiches. Things just cruise along until SAG#4, which I sort of forgot about but I don't need anything anyway. I don't even stop, just keep the SegSlayer crushing!
There are a few riders around me as I leave SAG#4 and I try to let them by in the short distance we have until the singletrack. The trail entrance is a slight left turn off of the gravel and it's hard to see - I don't catch it at first because there is someone passing me. But I see it at the last second and yell to the rider who missed it. He doesn't hear me. I try yelling again, same response, another rider shows up, he yells, nothing. Then I tell him to go ahead of me on the singletrack. He refuses, saying he's a rigid SS and my fork and gears will surely be faster. Umm....do you know me, the world's most tentative descender? I give him an out but he insists so I just dive in and start riding. He is able to keep up on a 32/21 which should tell you something about how I take unfamiliar downhills. But I drop him once the trail flattens out and I pop out on some gravel. Not a few seconds later, I see two other 100-milers riding towards me...what? One of them is a girl (in hindsight, I think it's Vicki Barclay since her kit was pink) and I give her the most confused "Am I going the right way?" ever. She assures me that I am, THANKS VICKI!!!, so I keep pedaling despite being unsure. Then there's a volunteer at an intersection who tells me to turn left to get to the cooler drop. So I have hope that I'm still on course. The cooler drop is farther down the road than I thought but I use the extra time to drain my bottles and camelbak. I re-stock out of my cooler and get ready to tackle a new part of the course! End of Lap 1!
OK, wow, that was a lot of words to describe 52 miles of mountain biking. Lap 2 wasn't nearly that exciting. I rode mostly by myself (again, not a bad thing). I was rejuvenated with a camelbak full of CR333 and some Peachie-Os (thanks, Erl!). I didn't have any crashes. My hands, arms, and ass started hurting but my legs felt pretty good all day. I stayed on course. I didn't have any mechanicals. I stopped quite a few times to get off the bike and stretch out my lower back. Once I hit the pavement, I spotted a rider up ahead and I knew I had to chase him down. I passed him quickly, but I'm not even sure if he was a 100- or 50-mile rider. I was dreading the paved entrance back into Montaluce but it turns out there is a cool shortcut for the end of the race that made me really happy. Even that creek and the hike-a-bike made me happy!! I could hear the podiums being announced as I neared the finish line and that freaked me out a little bit. I didn't know what the finish line set-up looked like and I didn't want to cause a scene, finishing in the middle of the podium presentations. But as I neared the Kenda arch, I could see that the podium area was aways a bit and I could sneak by without screwing up anyone's moment of glory. So I crossed under the arch, heard my timing chip beep, and then heard Laura cheering for me down the hill so I just rode down there and got off my bike for one last time! I had to lay in the grass for several minutes in my sweaty kit just to get my back to relax a little bit. But no sooner than I had changed clothes and grabbed a cold Yuengling, than Maria finished with Elsa!! Laura and I were walking near the finish line anyway so I handed Maria my beer and got to hear about her day. She hung tough and finished her first mtb hundo really strong! Go Maria! Dwayne and Peat and Jim came over to chat too, and I hear that they absolutely crushed it. These guys are so awesome and I'm so stoked to be a part of Team Noah. Whoop!
|Women's podium. I am not on it because dang these girls are fast!! |
1st Cheryl Sornson. 2nd Vicki Barclay. 3rd Brenda Simril.
Here's my Strava file if you care. If you export the .gpx file to use, please note the wrong turn around mile 13.5 (you need to go L on Rock Creek Road instead of R). My detour was so short that I didn't even count it in my mileages below. But you've been warned. Also, the stuff in blue below means that it's a repeat of Loop 1. Mileages are estimates off of my .gpx file. They're probably not exact, but close enough for a 100-mile route. Also there are a number of creek crossings, all but 1 were rideable.
START to SAG #1 (17.4 miles)
4-17.4 gravel, Winding Stair Gap climb aka Cooper Gap climb
SAG #1 to SAG #2 (9.8 miles)
17.4-20.2 steep downhill but not terrible
20.2-22.1 singletrack, Turner Creek Trail
22.1-24.0 gravel with a short .25mi singletrack connector
24.0-27.2 burned out singletrack (Jones Creek), over the Etowah Lake 32 dam, then up to SAG
SAG #2 to SAG #3 (BULL MTN LOOP, 11.3 miles)
27.2-33.2 mostly climbing, starts as doubletrack then into singletrack
33.2-38.5 mostly descending, especially at end! wheeeeee
SAG #3 to SAG #4 (8.2 miles)
38.5-39.3 gravel out of SAG
40.5-40.6 short gravel connector
40.6-46.3 singletrack, Jake Mtn Trail
46.3-46.4 gravel into SAG
SAG #4 to SAG #5 (20.5 miles, includes SAG #4.5 cooler drop)
46.4-46.7 gravel out of SAG
46.7-49.7 singletrack, Black Branch Trail
49.4-50.2 gravel, L turn onto Hightower Church Road (50s make a R and return to Montaluce)
52.2 SAG #4.5 cooler drop just outside Army Ranger Base, then turn L into Base
52.2-57.9 gravel through Ranger Base, I can't remember any singletrack but there might have been some
57.9-58.1 gravel connector
58.1-59.7 singletrack, No Tell Trail
59.7-60.2 gravel connector
60.2-62.1 singletrack, Turner Creek Trail
62.1-64 gravel with a short .25mi singletrack connector
64.0-67.2 burned out singletrack (Jones Creek), over the Etowah Lake 32 dam, then up to SAG
SAG #5 to SAG #6 (BULL MTN LOOP, 11.3 miles)
67.2-73.2 mostly climbing, starts as doubletrack then into singletrack
73.2-78.5 mostly descending, especially at end! wheeeeee
SAG #6 to SAG #7 (8.2 miles)
78.5-79.5 gravel out of SAG
80.6-80.7 short gravel connector
80.7-86.5 singletrack, Jake Mtn Trail
86.5-86.6 gravel into SAG
SAG #7 to FINISH (8.3 miles)
86.6-86.7 gravel out of SAG
86.7-89.4 singletrack, Black Branch Trail
89.4-90.2 gravel, R turn onto Hightower Church Road for return to Montaluce
93.8-95.0 shortcut through Montaluce to finishline. includes grassy doubletrack, pavement, and a hike-a-bike creek crossing!
overall winner Mike Danish http://mikedanishracing.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/fools-gold-100/
Gerry Pflug http://pfunwithpflug.blogspot.com/2013/09/fools-without-apostrophe.html
Eric Coomer http://www.otcadventure.com/adventures/2013/09/10/searching-for-louis-friend/
Cycling News http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/national-ultra-endurance-nue-series-fools-gold-100-2013/results
SS winner AJ Linnell http://ajplayingwithgravity.blogspot.com/2013/09/fools-on-wheels.html
Maria Esswein http://teamnoahfoundation.com/4/post/2013/09/honey-badger-patronus.html Pin It