Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cohutta 100

More photos can be viewed here
My Bad - its tough to read with the photos, I'll try something different next time!

Off to the Tour de Georgia

All bets where on Wednesday night! Will all the gear for 3 adults, a 2 year old and the supplies for a 100 mile race fit in the new Jeep? Connie was giving me the crossed arms attitude “NO way your getting all the stuff in the Jeep”. Game on! I don’t play to lose, so I packed super light and took no extra bike parts, just an extra bike to strip parts from if needed. ½ hour later I was plugg’n the geo codes in the GPS and the Jeep was on the way. No maps, just relying on good ole technology for the first time. Thursday morning we arrived on the top of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga Tenn. for stage 5 of the Tour de Georgia. For those of ya that don’t know, this is one of America’s premier professional road races. Teams from Spain, Belgium and wherever in Europe come over to battle the 7 day, 600+ mile stage race. The 18 mile time trail ended on the top of the mountain. It was cool to see the pros go at it and have all access to them. Afterwards we hung out around the Team Discovery Vehicles. Landon scored big when he saw the van filled with after race recovery food and decided to join the team. He did not hesitate to go up and ask the riders for a banana but they did not understand what he wanted so they gave him a water bottle. He shook his head & told them NO, and pointed to the Bananas. They quickly got the hint and promptly grabbed a banana and Landon jumped up with joy, everyone watching applauded and clapped. Afterwards Levi, George, Tom and the team signed the water bottle they just gave Landon.

Soon after we started to head back to the car and Landon began screaming “BITE, BITE, BITE and grabbing at his knee. I was carrying him and glanced down, I was covered with nearly 100 red ants…they were scaling and climbing up my lower body, getting ready to battle the big bad giant that mistakenly stepped on their nest. Then the attack began…sting after sting, after f-ing bite. Connie was freaking about getting Landon stripped down, I was swatting, jumping, swerving and dancing knocking the little battle drones down one by one. Craig jumped in and started flicking the little bastards off. Once I had my shirt off we thought we’d won the battle. No more ants could be seen, just the fresh battle wounds. Then I was hit by the last of the Mohicans…must have been the leader of the special forces of the red army…he infiltrated my shorts and took a couple bites in my crotch! M-F’r! Nothing like grabbing yourself in public with everyone looking and laughing their ass off…very funny! HA! After the battle of Lookout Mountain we packed up and headed to our Cabin on the border of Tenn and GA in McCaysville. That night, after the kids went to bed Bruce showed up with 2 growlers from a local Ashville brewery, Craig had the SoCo and we drowned ourselves in the hot tub.
Friday we headed off to Stage 6, the famous Brass Town Bald hill climb, the end of a 104 mile race day capped off with a visit to the wall, a 5 mile climb to the finish. It was cool stage to watch in person! On the walk up the final mile to the top, Landon was given a piece of caulk by one of the spectators and he wrote on every piece of lettering & artwork as we assaulted the hill. Everyone was laughing and cheering as Landon left his mark on Brass Town Bald!

So…..we were forced to park at the bottom of the mountain and take the shuttle up, but after the race was over the shuttle line was super long, so we put the 2 kids in the Burley stroller and headed down, down, down. 5 miles. Ross, Jason, Craig and I each took turns ripping and tearing up our race ready legs. The decent was brutal trying to hold the stroller from freefalling down the hill. The front brake was useless due to the angle of the slope. Perfect pre-race conditioning…absolutely not! We limped back to the cars and headed over to the Cohutta 100 race registration which was at the site of the 1996 Olympic White Water Center! A beautiful location nessled in the valley near Ducktown, TN. We deposited our drop bags and went back to the cabin.


Cohutta 100
Results are up for the Cohutta
check em out.
Cycling News Article about the Cohutta
check it out

The alarm went off at 5:00am and we packed up and shipped out the race start. It was 40degrees. Ross and I lined up next to former Olympian; Tinker Juarez, down the line was the World 24 hour solo Champion Chris Eatough, last years series endurance series champion; Harlan Price and other notable endurance racers such as Mark Hendershot and Ernesto Marenchin. The race started with a 3 mile climb up the highway; I watched as the top riders jockeyed for positioned right before the single track. We went from 5 wide to 2 wide on the double track downhill. Then a small bottle neck as we entered the single track. I had no idea where Ross was until he upped next to me and said go ahead. I was behind another Ohioan Ernesto. We were cruising the single track at a decent pace for 7 miles, then my first issue of the day struck. I say issues because I’m not throwing out excuses. A big ole 1 inch stick of Tennessee lumber snapped up and lodged in my derailleur. I stopped and pulled the dang thing out, did not even look to see if there was any damage, I was more concerned about getting behind slower riders, we had another couple miles of tight trail to go. I caught back up to Ross and we entered more single track. When we hit the first hill I backed the gears down a bit and they started skipping, jumping, popping and cracking. F-me! 10 mile into a 100 mile race and I lose my 4 climbing gears, it was either the last cog (slow) or 4 up (hard). I could not get it to engage in any of the comfy climbing gears. Whatcha gonna do? The extra derailleur hangers where in my gear bag in the Jeep. As we dumped onto the 70 miles of fire road I was getting passed by three riders on each hill. I was climbing in the slow gear, saving my legs for later was my think’n. I tried not to get pissed off. Then Garth pulled up we started chating, and commenting on how Ross does it, he’s up front, lives in shit for weather N.E. Ohio and has two small kids! “He’s on fire!” We caught several riders and paced together until we hit some more climbing. I could not keep with my gear selection so I backed off. I was alone. The first 40 miles were rough; I was

feeling below average and just had absolutely no funk. A small part was frustration, but a majority of me wasn't feel'n it. I was simply not in the groove. Somewhere along the trail a single speeder caught me and we paced for 10-15 miles together. It passed the time! I lost him at the next aid station when I left before he did. But something leading up to the aid station perked me up. The mojo dropped from the heavens through the canopy of trees and the strength crept back into my legs. It must have been the 10 mile blazing down hill. I was on a flat section and I began picking racers off. I attacked hill after hill and soaked up the clean air and sweet views. When I hit the last aid station I looked at my watch at thought, dang…I was aiming for a sub nine hour finish time but I was more inline with a sub 8. That gave me some renewed inspiration. With the hurt gone I pushed on. I saw Jason, Bruce, Connie, Landon & Craig with only 10 miles to go, sittn on the side of the road cheering me on! (I hope they know how much that little bit of cheering helps!) The last 10 miles was some sweet single track. I dumped out on the road with 1 minute left til 8 hours…I got it! Until I realized where I was! A mile or so down from the finish line…I hammered on and saw 8 hours hit my watch…if I only would have known I would have not stopped at every aid station, I even grabbed two handfuls of Jelly Belly’s at aid station 3. (new favorite race food, guess the flavor as you ride up a long hill) Oh well…lesson learned…never hold back! I crossed the finish line at 8:03:04 in 27th place. My teammate Ross finished 40 minutes ahead of me for 8th place (great job). The Ohio boys did well. Shawn Adams finished 5th, Ross 8th, Ernesto 16th, Garth 20th any yours truly 27th. It was all good!

35 Mile Race
Shortly after our race started, a cross country race went off. The typical 35 mile suffer fest. Once again Ohio looked strong. Good old fast boy Gary Snodgrass took first place, Bruce took 5th place and Jason hung in there for 20ish..not bad considering Jason has not moved up to the expert class yet, but this shows he’s on the way.

All in all it was a very cool trip and race. Unfortunately, according to my wife Connie, it will be my last. On Friday’s hike up Brass Town Bald, Connie decided to sacrifice herself and was carrying Landon up the final mile. She was letting me rest for race day, (God I love this woman) but then she let me and hundreds of spectators sitting on the climb know it. “I carried Landon for 9 months and now I’m carrying him up the largest mountain in GA! This SUCKS! We’re never going on a vacation like this again!” She YELLED! I tried to do the right thing and hold back my laughter, but I was scared, I thought she was going to hyperventilate, her heart was pounding out her chest and she was sweeting & shaking!

So…. what’s my next move? 1) annulment 2) hang the bikes up 3) stick it out – she still loves me-right? Anyone have any good advice, need a little help here!
Needless to say…on the way home Connie admitted she has a new respect for cycling. How do you ride up that when we can’t even walk it! She has a new view on the pain and suffering she witnessed on the Wall!


Here’s a few other blogs of the Cohutta 100 if your interested.

http://www.sologoat.blogspot.com/

http://www.jeffkerkove.net/

http://www.stevekinley.blogspot.com/

http://chrisploch.blogspot.com/

http://www.eddieodea.com/

http://andysanidas.blogspot.com/

http://partridgeracing.blogspot.com/

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