But it’s still pretty fun.
What bike did you ride?
Slightly too large Breezer Thunder Comp 26″ hardtail with 36/26 chainrings and a 11-30 9 speed cassette. Tires were Michelin Wild Race’R 2.25. I was happy with how my bike rode – everything worked and the gearing was about perfect.
I need to ride more intelligently in the future. Use the 36 for the flats and mild climbs, the 26 for steeper climbs and all singletrack. The 36 is just too much with such a closely spaced cassette for singletrack – it really wore my back out pushing bigger gears on that terrain.
Impressive! The Michelins felt great on both the dirt and pavement. Solid connection with the ground, a lot of grip and they handled bumps and oblique impacts really well. Felt fast on pavement, which was especially helpful as the last 5 miles was on pavement into a stiff headwind! I did notice the aggressive corner knobs had some serious flex on the downhill into Lake Russell, more an issue with cornering a mountain bike tire down a winding descent at 30 mph than anything else I suppose.
Breakfast was a Mocha starbucks double shot and 5 sourdough pretzels at about 8am. I lounged until around 9:15 then ate a clif bar and rode around until right before the start. Lined up at the back and just rolled out – seems to help to stay active, even if slowly until it’s time to start riding. On the ride I ate a pack of shot bloks, a power bar and a clif bar. I never felt hungry, fatigued or irritated. All signs I ate well. I only drank about a bottle and half of water even though it was pretty warm. I think this is a combination of being well hydrated before the start and creatine loading the day before. It seems to make my body retain some additional water which keeps me hydrated better.
What was the course like?
Fast, loose and dry. I’ve climbed currahee when it’s been a cold muddy mess, when it’s damp and tacky and now when it’s loose and dry. There was a lot of newer gravel on the course and overall everything was pretty dry and dusty. The two main climbs are very different.
- Currahee Mountain is in your face from the start and just kicks your ass the whole time, you switchback up these steep climbs and then there is just this wall in the last 400 yards that destroys your motivation but if you keep spinning you’ll make it. Lots of walkers but lots of positive vibes from all the riders. There was a section of chunky loose gravel right about halfway that required some finesse but overall I was ok with my 26/30 gear.
- Pumping Station Road is the real killer. It’s late in the race, no one is around to tell you good job and smile at you. The road goes up and down, the gravel is large and chunky and it comes after a creek crossing. I was a little bit more on edge here but still managed to get all the way up without walking. This is the climb where bigger tires and smaller gears really shine. You can brute force up Currahee with 700x40mm cross tires but that won’t fly on the 600. I made some serious late race gains here against the rigid cross/gravel bikes.
How’d you do overall?
My race was a wash, a racer crashed and smashed his face into the ground directly in front of me about 40 minutes in so I stopped to help. After about 25 minutes I was able to get back underway but I knew it was just for fun (I guess it always is?) from then on. Still it was fun to pass a bunch of people, attack the climbs and take pics when I felt like it. I certainly wouldn’t do anything differently. I had a lot of fun. The weather was great, my bike worked awesome and the post race meal was delicious.