Fools Gold 50 - Miserable. - 8000 ft. Ascent.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I don't even know where to begin with this post; possibly the horrendous conditions that led to the 100 mile race being cut short and the pro's asking the race director to cut it short, or maybe the average speed one can push a bike up a mud pie hill, oh about the fact that of the record 300 starters for this weekends Fools Gold mountain bike race 120 DNF'd, over 1/3 of the field!

As my first mountain bike race I must admit I had higher hopes then what occurred on Saturday. I mean I wasn't expecting to podium or anything but I believe everyone will agree that nothing could have prepared me for what I endured.

Race weekend routine, laying out all of the gear.

We arrived in Dahlonega, GA the site of the race around 5PM EST, since we lose an hour coming from central time in Fort Payne, AL. We picked up our race bags with free samples of stuff (nothing special) and without race T-shirts, that is a separate post all together. We checked into our hotel and then began the search for dinner, I mean for a 100 mtb. race we need proper race fuel after all. Moe's Southwest seemed like a logical choice, where else do you get nearly 2000 calories of southwest deliciousness for only $5.69 (+25 cents apparently now for ranch dressing).

On a side note this was Shane and Tim's first time to Moe's; Greg and I were both familiar with Moe's and the menu. A Moe's custom is to welcome all of its customers with a warm "Welcome to Moe's" (which we didn't get) but I informed the guys about and mentioned now tomorrow during the race when this burrito hits you and you have to go...WELCOME TO MOE'S!!!

We returned to the hotel and got a proper nights sleep. After a sleepless night of wicked thunderstorms and possibly the loudest thunder I've ever head we rose at 4:30 to get ready for the race. A breakfast including a banana, PB&N sandwich (peanut butter and Nutella), and some coffee and we got on the road. When we arrived at the race it was still dark and remained that way until about 10 minutes before the 100 milers went off at 7AM sharp. I fastened my number and got ready and mentally prepared myself that I could handle a 50 mtb. race no problem!

The morning began by flashlight including numbers and checking tire pressure.

Filled with butterflies and Nutella I snagged one picture of the guys before we were off and began the long 10 mile sustained climb from the start.

The field at the start.

The guys. Tim, Greg, and Shane from left to right.

I was feeling really good, talking and chatting with other riders including a VT alumni and another guy from my future home Florida. It began to rain and then poured but all the time I still had a smile on my face. After nearly dying on the descent down (don't want to elaborate but basically ate it off the side of the road barely grabbing onto a tree, with about a 30 foot drop below a 60 degree inclined slope, seriously if you looked off the side of the road you saw tree tops....IT WAS BAD! Thanks to the two guys who slammed on their brakes and came back up the hill to make sure I was alive, they were shocked to say the least).

When the volunteer indicating the first left onto the single track said "watch out it's muddy down there" it was the biggest understatement of her life. What followed in the ensuing hours was a lot of pushing my bike up slopes and aiming my front wheel downhill on death defying downhill with little to no brakes by mile 30.

Mud at the 2/3 SAG stop.
Photo courtesy of Russell Sandidge via cycling news.

Literally the toughest day of my life on a bike...and one that I will never forget. I finished and that all I want to say.....cough cough...pathetic (9:39:22 - 0:16:00 from the 100 start = 9:23:22) Ouch! Over 8000 ft. of climbing!

"Look Ma, I made" Only 4:49:34 behind the leader.

This really downplays the amount of mud during the race. This was right after the finish where we crossed a foot and half deep creek cleaning most of the gunk from our bikes.

Throughout the day trying to make be positive about the day the phrase was coined "Making Memories" and as I was told by the end of the day "I'm tired of making memories, and just made 50 I want to forget!"

My battered and bruised legs after the race.

Below are links to numerous articles discussing the horrendous conditions and lack of brakes!


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