April 29th, 2018
Mostly resembling the complete opposite of my Tsali weekend, the race at Ft Yargo was a dry, high speed trek around the park in Winder, GA.
In the 3rd installment of the GSC and 4th of the SERC series, the Gone Riding folks took us to Winder, GA. My first and previous encounter with this trail was about a year ago, where I won the 3 hour race at this park. Notable memories from that race was the sheer speed we carried for three hours and the amount of fun I had on the trails. Coming to the park the day prior, I planned to preride and enjoy the nearby town of Athens for the day.
Saturday, the same promoters put on an Xterra (lake swim, 10 mile mountain bike, 5 mile run). I arrived early enough to catch fellow training partner, Dustin 🦄, partaking in this event. Switching away from solely racing mountain bikes, Dustin has been killing it with the multi-sport events so far this year. Setting the fastest time on the bike by over 2 minutes and very respectable times in the swim and run, he won his age group.
Preriding the course on Saturday, I would become aware the XC race would traverse the trail backwards compared to the 3 hour race the previous year. This made the trail look completely new to me. It was still equally fast and fun, though.
Sunday I got to wear the SERC leader’s jersey for the first time. I knew the competition would make it for a tough race with some of the normal racers showing up. This would also be a little longer than a normal XC race; we would go almost 30 miles, ending up around 2 hours. The course in Winder is set around the large lake, making 1 loop around about 10 miles. There were a handful of multiple-minute sustained climbs followed by fun, rooty, downhills. A staple of the lap was a section coined the Monster Mile. It was most technical and kept the rider on their toes. With a constant barrage of climbs then descents, this tight section was one of my favs.
As the race started, the pace was fast from the beginning! Brad Perley quickly left everyone else and began with a good gap. The second group consisted of myself, Michael, Mose, Zack, and Blake. The first lap kept our group entirely in tact. As lap #2 started, Zack attacked the group on one of the larger climbs. As he started a gap, Mose and myself brought the group back into one. Zack led us around to complete lap 2, where our group was now 4. Blake pulled the group through the first half of the final lap. As we approached halfway I was 3rd wheel in our group and saw an opportunity to separate. I pushed hard and went by Zack and Blake for a consistent hard effort. A few minutes up the trail, not hearing as many i9s, I look back and it’s just Mose behind me. The second half of that lap felt so fast. Mose and I rode together until he got the better of me on one of the final hills. I finished the lap about a minute back.
The Ft Yargo trails proved to be just as fun as I remembered. We averaged nearly 15mph! I finished an overall 3rd, and 2nd in the 19-39 age group.