2012 hasn't been a year of much racing for me but the few events I have entered were monsters to say the least.
Leading up to my recent completion and 10th place finish at Trans North Georgia (TNGA) I attempted a personal record at the ArrowHead 135 this past January only to have a mechanical DNF just over half way. I can't wait to tackle that race again but it may have to wait until 2014 as I'll be in Alaska this coming winter to take on the Iditarod!
This spring I took on Trans Iowa Version 8 with good friend Joe Partridge both successfully completing the 330mile gravel grinder in a non stop 34 hour effort. Bike of choice was a Salsa Fargo which made for a comfy ride. During TIV8 I spent some time riding with Scott McConnell who mentioned a crazy sounding self supported off road bike-pack race in Georgia that was 350 miles with 56,000 feet of climbing...in August! The seed was planted and I signed up as soon as I could. Now TNGA is in the history books.
TNGA was a grinder for sure. Time limit for official completion of the race is set at 9 days. Rules are simple and force you to be self reliant, prepared logistically,mentally and physically. You choose your own gear list and are not allowed any outside support unless you pedal to it and pay for the service. So having someone along the course to provide food resupply,a place to sleep or change of dry clothing is not allowed. It is encouraged and ok to stop in the couple of small towns just off route to buy food,camp,make repairs,etc.
I wasn't very familiar with the area and started off the first day with a basic amount of equipment to camp if needed and plenty of food & water so I would't have to depend on a random gas station being open. Bike of choice was again the Salsa Fargo. 9,000 calories of food and 2 gallons of water carried me through the first 220 miles no problem. I used a combination of chemical water treatment tablets and a small filter as needed for water resupply as I was easily drinking 20-30 ounces per hour. Food intake was at my magical 300 calories/hr of mostly solid real food and carrying powdered supplements only as back up calories.
The route was a good combination of rough forest service roads,Pinhoti single track and a touch of pavement rolling up and down across Northern Georgia from the start on the South Carolina border to Alabama at the finish some 69 hours later.
I basically knocked out a 15 hour effort day one with a nice 9 hour break in a campground where I spent a wonderful evening sleeping on top of a picnic table using my extra set of dry clothing as a sleep system along with a small blanket. Day two lasted about 16 hours on the bike before grabbing an 8hour break jut off course at Mulberry Gap before finishing the course just short of 3 days by making a final 21 hour push to the finish!
That final 21 hour effort was the hardest part of the race for me as I originally thought the hardest parts were behind me and I'd be done in 13 hours. As that day dragged on and I encountered many miles of nearly unrideable single track I realized it was going to be an all night struggle or sleeping on the trail. Not really sure why but I continued forward finishing just before the sun came up 8 hours later than expected.
It was good to be done and my incredible amount of chaffing,bruising and bug bites are still healing a week later. I would do it again but there are so many cool races and events to choose from I can't say for sure if I will be back or not?
Sorry for no pictures but thanks for reading and if anyone ever plans on doing one of these events feel free to get ahold of me with any questions.
Time to start thinking of cooler weather and riding the fat bike!