Report by: Tony Hergert
After nearly a year off from racing, I decided to sign up for the Snake Creek MTB TT
Technorati Tags: MTB
only 8 days before the first of 3 mountain bike time trials. I had been riding a good bit and working out in the gym trying hard to get some power and endurance back after my sabbatical from the bike. It rained the entire 2-hour drive to Dalton when the skies cleared up and the temperatures started to rise. 59 and overcast in January for a mountain bike race with 5 deep creek crossings was very welcome. Bikes were loaded up onto trucks and contestants filled the shuttles quickly for this point-to-point race on the Pinhoti Trail. Arriving on a later shuttle, I went off near the back of the race with no warm-up, which would prove not to matter at all!
1 mile in and I'd already passed 3 riders heading to the first creek crossing, Dry Creek, which, ironically, is anything but dry. Rideable but over the hubs, the feet were soaked and I now understood how this race could be miserable in cold conditions...33 miles to go. After the creek, the trail started up over 700 feet over the next 3 miles. I had a few days off prior to the race so, I was fully recovered and the HR spiked up to 194 before settling in in the mid-170's. At 7 miles the trail finally turned downhill and speeds hit ~35 mph on the closed forest service road.
Section 2 started and the trail rolled up and down for ~4 miles until the next 2-mile climb with another 700' of elevation gain. A friend told me that to break 4 hours would be a good time objective and to do so I'd need to be at the half-way point at about 1:45 because the second half is a lot more technical. I hit the half-way at about 1:36...on schedule.
Section 3 started with another climb of 700' over several miles followed by extremely technical, boulder-littered rolling singletrack. My buddy was right about the technical nature of this latter section! I hooked up with a couple riders from Toyota Forklifts and, since we were riding the same pace, we stayed together for much of the next 8-10 miles. I hadn't ridden the course before, but one of the riders was giving me some intel about what was to come...the hardest climb of the day, which includes a section called the wall that for 99% of the riders in the field is a 1000 meter long section of 34% grade hike-a-bike. I rode approximately 1/3 of the wall and lost it on some large rocks, hopped off, and started the dirge. When your HR is 181 and you're pushing your bike, it's pretty steep.
After more rolling, boulder-laden difficult singletrack, I got to the final gravel road descent to the pavement before the finish line. Next time I'll know why they spray painted S-L-O-W in red across the road. I grabbed a handful of brakes but it was too late. I hit the deck at 40 mph but luckily went down on the 'cheap side' of the bike. I picked myself up, assessed the damage--none--shot through the singletrack chute, hit the pavement and threw it into the big ring to the finish.
My race by the numbers:
- AHR: 172
- MHR: 195
- Miles: 34
- Elevation Gain: 5,800 feet
- Time: 3:46:28
- Placing: 16th of 77 riders in my class
- Winning Time: 3:05:39...I have some work to do