November 17th, 2016
I look forward to this race many months in advance. My buddy Chris and I reserved our spot early and were continuously making plans for this weekend.
Race morning: Waking up once again freezing our assess off, I quickly brewed some french press to get the morning buzz going. Tons of non-camping riders start filing in by 8 and 9 o’clock. I BS with people I haven’t seen for awhile, then deem it’s almost game time. Bike check, food, water, kit, warm-up.
1000: Over 100 riders file to the start.. 45 degrees now. I’m ready. Amped. Freezing. HR rising. 30 seconds, 15 seconds, GO! 20 yards off the start; Creek crossing #1.
Mile 1-4: Onto the first gravel road, 20th-ish place. Followed by a techy climb up Daniel’s Ridge. Some walking, some riding. Some probably wondering what they’ve gotten into..
Mile 4-12: Butter Gap; Long gravel climb up; fun, rooty descent. Found my place in between a few other guys
Mile 12 through Farlow: Ready for the 2000 ft gain and 45 minute climb up Farlow Gap? The climb up was long. I picked a few riders off on the climb. My XC legs may have had a slight advantage. Thanking my training plan right now, while I’m not completely suffering. Knowing that some of these dudes will probably get right back by me once we crest the ridge on the descent, I pull as much distance as I can. As we start the descent, two go by me as I pick my way through rocks and roots. Hike-a-bike followed by some fast single-track to finish that trail.
After Farlow; Cove Creek (final 8 miles): This is the last big climb. 30 minute (?) climb up the gravel road. I ride with Wes Dickson (Sycamore Cycles) for a minute, then know this is my last chance to put any sort of distance on him and another rider close behind. I get to the top, look back, no one. I’m relieved I only have a 10ish minute descent.
Finally, final gravel road section, then finish line in the campground.
Time: 3:30:48, 9th place
The Swank never disappoints. Every bit of it was a rush, enjoyed post race Oscar Blues hydration, followed by catered burgers and salad.
One thing is for sure, I’ll be back