Race Report by Rick Nudd-I had sworn I would never do the SCG TT simply because it was during the coldest months of the year. I have ridden the route several times, and find it to be somewhat enjoyable at a brisk, yet relaxed pace. So, why did I do it? I am still not sure. For those of you who have not heard of the race, it is a TT on the Pinhoti trail in Northwest Georgia. It has about 5,000 feet of climb and the most rocks you will ever see in our great state. The words “flow” and “groomed” will never be used to describe the Pinhoti. It is tough on the bike and even more demanding on the rider.
So, why did I do it? I don’t know, but I registered online the night before the first race. The trip to the starting point in Dalton, GA was uneventful; with the exception that my car thermometer was claiming it was 16 degrees outside. What a huge mistake I had made. The race course requires that you make five pretty substantial creek crossings. The thought of wet feet was terrifying at that temperature. I started reluctantly and I rode slowly through them all and my feet ended up only getting a bit wet. The cold was nothing I couldn’t bear. I stopped during the race to help a friend with a flat tire and still finished with a respectable time. My total time was 4:18, but my ride time was 4:01.
One out of three races down.
Before the second race I purchased a pair of Shimano winter riding shoes. It was the best 160 dollars I have ever spent. My feet stayed dry, but I caught a stick and broke my rear derailleur hanger and the derailleur. Luckily, I carry a spare hanger in my pack. Fifteen minutes or so later I was back on the trail. I was slow, but able to finish the race. The weather was somewhat warmer, but it only reached about 40 on top of the mountains. Time was 4:31, but my ride time 4:01….again.
Two races down.
I had an actual ride time on the first two races of four hours and one minute. It was my goal to break the four hour mark on the last race. After all, I had been working hard during the ridiculous snow and cold and the weather was going to be favorable. Serendipitously, they had a makeshift bridge for the first creek crossing and it was full speed ahead. I was feeling good, but trying to save some for the last hour of the race. In this instance, that comes down to the last 7 miles of single track. I was tired, but well ahead of pace. I was about 5 miles into the last of the brutal singletrack, when I came across a guy with a mess in hand. I asked if he had everything and his answer was less than satisfying. Reluctantly, I pulled over and took a look. He had some serious chain suck and had no idea how his bike actually worked. I broke the chain, pulled out the suck and put a quick link in it for him. We had him back on the trail in between ten and fifteen minutes. I knew I could still make the goal. I hammered the last mile of singletrack and flew down the last 3 miles of gravel and paved road to the finish.
Three races down and I was handed the belt buckle at the finish line!!
Unfortunately, the reminiscent time of 4:01 was my finish time. Regardless, the race is well run and a ton of fun. There is a piece of swag with every race. The first race we received a t-shirt. The second race we were given a moonshine jug. The third race resulted in a great license plate. It is a grueling test of stamina, luck, and determination, but that makes it worth doing. -Rick Nudd