2017 Dirty Spokes 3 hours of Fort Yargo Race Report

How was the race?


Amazing. This is dumb but I’ve been watching MTB eliminator races on youtube and seeing expert riders and how they ride and race has really helped me internalize the body position and bike position for racing. Especially racing when it’s wet. I had a really good race, riding super fast with just enough water and food to make it to the end. It was also super helpful to just ride 2-3 minutes of the course as fast as possible to get my brain into racing mode. I came in a solid fourth, not sure I could have done much to improve. I didn’t crash and got a good starting position but I bet there I could have made up 2-3 minutes and moved to second with some more aggressive riding and a better nutrition strategy, I think clif bars take to long to get into my system.

How was the course?


It had rained the day/night before and the drive to the venue was foggy and cool so I was a little apprehensive as the slant six tires on my bike aren’t really cut-out for mud. Thank fully Fort Yargo is well developed so it was only slick in a few sports while the rest of the course was actually pretty firm and tacky. It got better over the course of the race as it dried out and the looser, wetter top sections were burned away by riders. I did have a pretty surprising two wheel drift in the first five minutes or so, kept it level but spiked my heartrate pretty good. But really Fort Yargo is a great course, just enough elevation to keep it interesting, lost of twisty-turnys with good traction and a nice flat speedway section.

What did you ride?

2016 Raleigh Tekoa Comp. The bike was perfect, no complaints. It’s so fast. I had only the most minor back pain. Otherwise the bike fit exactly how I wanted, reach, position just felt like everything was set exactly perfect for this race.


Stock gearing, 36/22 in the front and 11-36 in the rear. I never shifted out of the big ring.


Stock Kenda Slant Six 29×2.2 they handled the damp conditions really well.

What’d you eat?

Regular breakfast but 3 pretzels now instead of 4. Had the clif bar 30 minutes  before the start and then during the race I had one pack if shot blocks,  and one (two?) clif bar(s). This race is flatter with less roots and almost no rocks so there were a few eating sections. I do think I need a quicker digesting food for shorter races. Clif bars feel like they don’t start burning for 10-15 maybe 20 minutes and that’s too long in a race.


The cooler weather and lack of sun at the start saved me. I only took one big bottle and one baby bottle. 50 ounces or so of water. I had just enough to finish, like starting to panic and get dry mouth but still making good power.

How was the week leading up to the race?


Tired. The season was getting long so I didn’t do too much. Went for a few hikes and was walking every day but my riding was pretty hard. Just worn down from racing I think. The week after Big Frog I could only muster two rides for like 4 hours. But I rode my monstercross bike once and then just on the race bike. I’ve been really working on technique and I think it shows. My pace this year in the damp was significantly faster than last year on the same course in the dry.

Where’d you start?

Third row, I went right to the start once the 6 hour racers left. I had a good position but lost a few spots on the pavement sprint but once on the singletrack I was in a good spot and had fast, competent racers right ahead of me that were taking good lines and were easy to follow.

How’d you do?

4/13, 1 minute out of 3rd, 3 minutes out of 2nd and 9 minutes out of 1st. So I was pretty happy with that result.


Race Report – 2017 Big Frog 65


How was the race?

Oof. Cohutta is always so hard. This course destroyed me. Legs were done, cramps, foot pain and just crushed. My upper body was also beat up. I fell off a cliff on a huge rock slab but even without that the descents down Big Frog are so fast and rough it’s like being in a blender. My chain snapped in the first singletrack section and I lost 7-8 minutes fixing it, probably 3-4 getting back up the cliff. So in short, it was hot and hard and expensive. I’m really glad I went.


How was the course?

Ridiculous. You ever seen doubletrack that is 10-15 feet wide, flat and literally side-to-side roots? For several hundred yards? Some of the singletrack was amazing. Obviously there’s a lot of climbing a lot of descending and a lot of traffic. I got stuck behind two racers on the singletrack again but it didn’t matter really I guess. Still think with a little more smart racing I could have taken 15-20 minutes off my time. Following someone else on singletrack is always harder than just riding alone.

It was hot and the course is set-up so that you do the bulk of the climbing on the way back when it’s the hottest and hardest. I went out too hard on the gravel and paid later with blown legs. I think next year I’m just going to leave my big ring at home. Seriously it just kills your legs later. Better to sit in on the downhill. This course is also heavily favored for flat-bars. I lost a lot of time riding drop bars as the descents are technical and you need a lot of leverage to move laterally on the road at speed to avoid roots, rocks and ruts. Next year I’m just riding a mountain bike.

What did you ride?

Same bike but it really let me down with the broken chain and I think also the derailleur hanger is bent as I had chain skipping issues as well as shifting issues pretty much all day. It was also creaking up a storm on the singletrack, not sure if it was the saddle, seatpost clamp or BB but it was annoying and kinda embarrassing.


39/26 with 11-34 9 speed. It worked great. Never ran out of gears but really worked the 26/34. There weren’t any large/loose sections so I was worried for nothing.


Continental Race King 2.2 in the rear and Michelin Wild Race’r 2.25 in the front. I actually really liked the Wild Race’r on the single track. The instant grip worked well. I was had a lot of negative things to say earlier but I think the tire is a good MTB tire.

What’d you eat and what’d you drink?

Same breakfast as always. During the race I drank as much water as I could stomach, a bunch of Heed from the aid stations as well as probably 20 ounces of coke, a handful of pretzel bites and four cliff bars. I need to take some mustard packets as I had severe cramps during the last two hours. I was never hungry but if there were less aid stations or they were more spread out I would have been in trouble as I had to stop and get water at each one. I only had 46 ounces of water on my bike. I’m not sure if I’d be faster carrying an additional 3-4 pounds of water but I bet I would be. I peed once at 7:50am and then not again until 6:00pm – it was really hot.

How was the week leading up to the race?’


Lots of rest and walking/hiking. My legs felt great on Saturday. I hiked the hills everyday but Friday where I just walked the flat trails down by the Chattahoochee. I felt a lot better than at Shake ‘n’ Brake.

Where’d you start?


Like 3/4 of the way back. It didn’t matter but it would have been nice to plan better and hit the singletrack alone or behind some male racers.

How’d you do?

Suffered some setbacks but managed to finish. I’m not sure 6+ hour races are for me. I hated everything after about hour 4 but was happy to finish and am really happy now and feel like I should do another one.


2017 Blankets Creek Dirty 30 Race Report


How was the course?

You know Blankets Creek. It’s steep and bermy and sandy and rocky and rooty with creek crossings and drop-ins and technical rock barriers and twisty-turny with pine straw and logs and narrows and even some flats. I’d say this course doesn’t suit my strengths but no shit it doesn’t suit anyone’s strengths. It’s just hard and fast and usually hot and sunny. All in all it’s pretty great, I always leave a little bit of myself in those woods.




What did you ride?


2016 Raleigh Tekoa Comp 29er stock except for the Crankbros Cobalt 2 720mm bars and Crankbros Cobalt 70mm stem. I like the bike a lot and it really handled the rocks and roots and elevation changes much better than the bike I rode last year but really this was only my fourth ride on the bike and I just haven’t ridden it enough to be really fast. I’m also just not as comfortable riding berms so I would bet I gave up anywhere from 3-7 minutes a lap just not being familiar with the bike and the berms. Oh well that’s what I get for not pre-riding the course, like ever.


Stock gearing, 36/22 in the front and 11-36 in the rear.


Stock Kenda Slant Six. Worked ok but I just didn’t handle the berms very well as they are hard and packed and the tires want to self-steer at high speeds. This is obviously corrected by training and familiarity but I wasn’t ready for it so I lost a lot of speed on each berm fighting the unfamiliar sensation. The tires/rim combo did take some serious rim strikes with no issues. Last year I pinch flatted and this year I had similar strikes with no issue.

What’d you eat?

Regular breakfast but 4 pretzels now instead of 5. Had the clif bar 30 minutes (actually 45 due to delay) before the start and then during the race I had one clif bar, one gel and one clif bar. It was super hard to eat – I think liquid nutrition might be something to try next time.


Not enough. It was hard to drink from my bottles since there are only a few straight, flat sections without roots or rocks. I also spent an hour standing in the sun training for a new job from 9-10 so I kinda came in a little drier than I liked.

How was the week leading up to the race?

Good, I walked a lot and hiked the trails near my apartment. Stretched a bunch, tried to eat ok but mostly didn’t and played a lot of Metal Gear Solid 5. I feel like I’m getting stronger but worried about getting enough volume. The ride I did on Tuesday was an absolute soul crusher, I’ve rarely ridden so hard for so long at Sope. I was blown on Tuesday so just chilled and hiked the rest of the week. Warmed up for a bike on Saturday before the race and was fine. I think once I get my racing legs riding the day before a race is not strictly necessary.


Where’d you start?

Like near the middle end, I didn’t do very well in the parking lot sprint.

How’d you do?

8 out of 21, better than last year! What’s funny is that for all the working and passing and getting passed I was the same place for both laps based on time. I spent the first lap and a half with anywhere from 3-6 riders trading places and following lines as the race was pretty packed. I did re-learn that aero is important even in mountain bike racing. On the mild downhills I would drop over my bars, tuck in and it was like hitting one of those yellow arrows in F-Zero – instant speed boost right to the rider ahead of me.

I knocked myself into solo riding after I biffed one of the rocky, rooty sections and had to unclip. I was the lead rider so it was pretty embarrassing but that’s fine. The three riders behind me took off and I was mostly solo from then on. I crashed again a little later on some roots as I just lost my brain for a bit. My left calf cramped like crazy but it ended up ok. Sometime after the first lap it was like my skin caught on fire. I was super-hot and felt like I ran out of oxygen and was just riding like shit. I think I blew-up the first lap and just didn’t realize it. The second lap was hard and I spent a lot of time in my baby ring just spinning up the climbs.

My back complained a little but I managed to stretch and keep it ok the whole time. Really by the end of the race my hands and shoulders were in way worse shape. Riding the whole of Blankets Creek is an intense full body experience.


Race Report – 2017 Skyway Epic 60


How was the course?

Oh man. Amazing. This is the premiere gravel race for the southeast (I know it’s really at MTB race but whatever). The course has everything. The beginning single track section is smooth and flowy with just enough rocks, roots and elevation to make it interesting. After that it’s well groomed forest service roads – gravel with some nice elevation – very fast. Hit Husky Mt Road/607 and the elevation really starts. This section had some very loose fresh gravel so climbing standing was very difficult and generally a waste of energy as my rear wheel kept slipping. Some very nice views and then I’m at the aid station. From here the Skyway starts and it is mind-blowing. Rocky, rutted and with sections of huge lane-wide mud puddles at the top. And the rocks, rocks are everywhere. Loose rocks, embedded rocks, rocks flying around from my tires. Tiny pea sized rocks to rocks the size of a car tire. The worst are the softball sized ones that pop up at the bottom of a deep rut. I’ve never seen anything like this road  – it was really cool.

I guess if I was going to sum it up, fast single track, fast gravel roads, super technical climbing rocky dirt road, super technical descending rocky dirt road, fast gravel, fast single track. It was a little wet as the area had 2-3 inches of rain in the span of a few hours 3 days before the ride but overall it was dry.

What did you ride?

Charge Cooker Hi 29er converted to 9 speed and drop bars. The bike was great but my seatpost slipped at somepoint descending the Skyway and I came back almost 1.5cm lower – it didn’t cause any problems I guess.


I’m not happy with my current tire choice. Continental Race King 2.2 in the rear and Michelin Wild Race’r in the front. The rear is ok but a little too narrow for the rocks and the front is too aggressive under hard cornering. It’s a classic MTB tire in that it was designed for 17mm wide rims and when mounted on a wider rim and ridden aggressively tends to give moderate traction until the side knobs hit and then it’s instant grab that makes the front dive into a hard decreasing radius turn. Oh well the tires were fine, just not ideal. Next year I want to go tubeless with at least 2.3 width.


Worked so well I hardly thought about it. Ran the 26 ring exclusively on the single track and switched as needed on the gravel. 39/26 with 11-34 9 speed. Had more than enough gear for the climbing.

What’d you eat?

So much caffeine. In order:

  • chocolate brownie clif bar
  • 7.5 ounce coke at aid station
  • power bar
  • 2 fun size snickers at aid station
  • mint clif bar with caffeine
  • 7.5 ounce coke at aid station

I had a lot of caffeine but not enough food – could defnitely tell at the end as I was getting frustrated. I should have eaten another clif bar as I rode the entire singletrack (45 minutes) without eating. I didn’t have an appetite but I need to power through that and put something into my stomach.

How was the week leading up to the race?

Boring – but I’ve been having lower back issues so I’ve been aggressive resting, stretching and monitoring my back. It seemed to work ok. During the race whenever the course was clear and open I would stretch my calves, my shoulders and arms and move around a bit. My back was borderline hurting for the first half but after that it was fine. The last section of singletrack I had no pain. Part was probably the accidental lower saddle height and part was the stretching.


Where’d you start?

I was really nervous about getting stuck behind someone on the single track as well as being the slow one in front of fast people on the single track since I was the only person on a drop-bar MTB. So I equivocated and just kind of fell in at the start – at the middle-end. This was a dumb choice as I got stuck behind two riders wearing peachtree bikes kit that lacked the technical skills to ride the single track at a fast speed. Braking for every corner, no flow, won’t pass etc. It sucked but I guess it was a good 20-25 minute warm-up. I blasted by them at the first dam, passed another rider and then I’m ok. The other people I passed during the race I would have passed no matter when I started, the people ahead of me I would never have caught. So I guess my start position didn’t really matter. I’m like the fastest slow guy or the slowest fast guy – always.

How’d you do?

Uh…like 5th or 6th open male, 10th or 11th overall? I think this is one of those races where if you didn’t come in top 3 you don’t really get a result. My time was 6:01 something, I was pretty happy. 7/11 open men, so not bad I guess.


I did think this was interesting.


Skyway Epic Prep

Edit: Here’s the actual race report. I had a good time.

Just some links I’m looking at to prep for the Skyway Epic 60.




  • There’s about an hour of singletrack at the start
    • Looks fast and flowy but possible roots?
  • Skyway is jeep trail and forest road with potential for large puddles and/or mudpits
    • Some sections of easy gravel, some rocky/rooty tech
  • Talladega Alabama received almost 3.5 inches of rain on Wednesday 4/5/17
  • 20-25 minutes singletrack on the way back  An hour of singletrack on the way back.
  • Course goes rollers->big climb->rollers->medium climb->rollers->big descent->rollers
  • Take max water at the aid station

Race Report – 2017 SEC#2 – Paynes Creek


How was the course?

Fast. There is a small amount of climbing but it’s short maybe 0:45-1:00 per section at the most. The rest of the course is flowy single/doubletrack with some roots some gravel and some berms. There are a lot of places that aren’t designed to be jumps that just end up that way due to the speed that can be carried through the course. This year is was dry but not too dry as it had rained earlier in the week. Portions of the course flow along next to Lake Hartwell and the views are kind of nice if you can spare a glance. No tech, 3-4 wooden bridges.

What did you ride?

Completely stock Charge Cooker Hi 29er, size M.


Stock Maxxis Prowler SL Race 2.1 in the front and Continental Race King Pure Grip 2.2. Both tires were right around 25 psi but this was too low. I had some seriously scary self steer on a flat drop in and overall I was just too low for some of the roots. I slow-flatted the front in the last 3-4 minutes but rode it in to keep my placing. Only got passed by one rider even though I was riding at minimum speed.


Same stuff as the last 2 weeks. Starbucks double shot, 5 sourdough pretzels for breakfast. Clif bar before the start and then 1 pack of shotbloks after lap one and half a clif bar after lap 2. I only drank a bottle and a half and probably could have eaten a little more but I really felt ok. I wanted to put coke in my small bottle but forgot – maybe next time.

Where’d you start?

Like fourth row – the organizer said there were 300+ racers overall and the results sheet shows 177 placings for the 3 hour so about half were 6 hour I guess. Anyway, I camped the start off to the side and still only got fourth row. I was probably 50th place or so going into the singletrack and ended up passing maybe 15 people on the actual course and then another 10 or so on the uphill pavement section. Some dude crashed on the start but I avoided any issues there. It was kinda a drag standing for 20-25 minutes but totally worth it. Passing was difficult for much of the course and I didn’t have the legs to really do much more than I did. Had no problem maintaining my pace but that extra 10-15 seconds to pass and get separation can really blow me up.

How’d you do?

Second place by only 46 seconds! Nice! 23/177 overall! I only got three laps but only 12 people managed to pull of four laps.

Notes to future self?

  • Stretch all the time! I spent the entire week working my back, hamstrings and hips and it really helped. I had no back issues the entire race.
  • Preventative maintenance is important! I’ve been lazy since I got the bike back in May 2016 and ended up having to service the fork lowers and replace the seals on Thursday before the race as well as the front brake pads and fixing an issue with loose axle nuts. Any one of these could have caused a major delay so in the future I need to do anything to the bike at least two weeks before race day.