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

Friday 1000

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.

Number attached, ready to race!

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.

Starting line | PC: Dustin White

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.

PC: Older gentleman who I explain to, ‘this button takes the photo’
3hr Expert 20-29 Podium

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.

Dustin White | #nohandsonstacy

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.

Ft. Yargo, 3 hour

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