May 13th, 2017
It was the first 3hr race of the year this weekend – Knowing I didn’t have any other races planned, I signed up a few weeks back. I’d never been to the Ft. Yargo State Park, so it was an opportunity to see some new trails and race a Dirty Spokes Productions race for the first time. The race was scheduled for Saturday and the weatherman forecasted rain and thunderstorms from the days prior to the race. I planned for a miserable day playing in the rain and mud.
I took off towards the town of Winder, GA on Friday night with the van. Not really knowing where I was going to stay, I pulled into the parking lot, hoping I could blend in for a night’s rest and wake up not far from the start-line. Lucky enough, about 10 others had the same idea and I pulled in to see several RVs, vans, and a tent setup in the parking lot. Time for bed
Throughout the night on several occasions I heard rain pounding on the vans roof.. Mentally prepping for the worst. When I awake, the rain has stopped and riders are starting to pile in. Riders could sign up for two different flavors of torture today; the 6hr or 3hr race. I chose the less torture-ous 3hr that left the starting line 15 minutes after the 6hr.
0900: 6hr racers are off! The 3hr guys shuffle to the starting line; I shimmy my was as close to the front as I can. The start began with nearly a 1 mile paved road leadout. This gave the pack plenty of time to spread out, so I wasn’t worried about getting stuck too far back. A first turn crash would be awful in this situation, though.
0915: We’re off! Fast start for us all. We narrow into the trail about a mile later, after some juggling positions on the road, I sit in the lead pack of 4. We navigate the sandy, fast, non-technical singletrack together. Laps were bound to be around 40 minutes; this gave us 4 laps to figure out who was coming across the line first. After the first lap our group dwindled down to 3 and I’m sitting on the back trying to pick out a game plan to lose these guys.
We set into a steady pace, talking about randoms that go through a racer’s mind at 170bpm. We find out that we’re all in different age groups, so essentially not competing against each other for any podium spots. I wasn’t trying to settle in for an easy ride; rather would like to come out in front of both of these guys.
Lap 2 concludes and on an open double-track section I jump out into the lead and pick up the pace a bit. Cruising through the, now tacky, single-track. Sunny skies and no rain in sight. Second place rider, Pete, jumps back on and we ride together for a good bit. Losing him then on a climb, I find myself riding alone for awhile. Each lap I would fight through the back of the 6hr group, and some of the 3hr, passing 20-30 racers each lap. We were lucky to have plenty of places to pass throughout each lap.
Lap 4 starts and I’m still cruising solo. I go through the start-finish and see local buddy, Dustin White. Dustin rode with a friend (Chris) in the duo-6hr race. They alternate laps,trying to complete as many as possible. The duo team races are super-fun and offer a challenging: ride hard, eat sandwich, warm-up, repeat aspect.
I finished lap 4 where I started it, crossing the line as the 1st place 3hr racer. This race served as a big confidence boost for me. Everything seemed on-point from nutrition to not crashing.
I hang out for the remaining time watching the conclusion of the 6hr race. I chat with Dustin and Chris between laps and enjoy a little down-time. They also come out 1st among the other teams and Chris also sets the fastest lap overall of the day.
The day ended with us trying to replenish our depleted calories at the closest Chick-fil-A then the long journey home. Until next time 3-hr-style-race, I think I like you.