Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snake Creek Gap Reflection...

I've been meaning to update the blog earlier this week.  Between playing in the fresh snow and making gallons of snow cream, I just haven't found the time to do so.  Since I'll be going back to school tomorrow, I figured I might as well give everyone an update.

On Saturday, I raced in the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial in Dalton, Georgia.  The wife and I packed up the car on Friday and drove to my in-law's house for the night.  Saturday morning, I woke up earlier than necessary and made the 45 minute drive to Dalton.  Once in Dalton, made a much needed pit stop at the local Race Trac gas station and met up my buddies from the Macon Crew for some breakfast.  It was definitely nice to catch up with all these guys since I haven't seen most of them since moving from Georgia back in the Summer. 

Not too much later, we were at the registration for the race.  I shot the shit with several other familiar faces and loaded my bike onto the trailer to be taken to the start line of the race.  Around 9am, we all loaded the bus and made the trek to the start line.  The bus ride was somewhat nerve wrecking as there were 40 guys on each bus probably average 175 pounds each.  Each time the bus would go down a hill, the bus driver would apply the brakes which would cause the bus to shudder really bad.  Anyhow, we made it to the start line.  Luckily, I got my bike and made it in the first 1/4 of folks for the start.  The race officials allowed about 4-5 people to start at a time in about 2 minute waves.  At the start line, the race official asked my last name.  I informed here, "Deane."  She responded, "Like James Dean."  I responded back, "Well yes, that is actually my name."  I felt really proud at that moment!  So proud, I knew I had to blog about it.

I started in the same wave as my buddy Mike Brown.  Mike gave me some advice to avoid starting to hard from the line.  Well, I didn't listen.  Pretty soon, Mike B was no longer to be seen in my vision.  I came to the first stream crossing which has been notorious for being flooded.  Luckily, the stream was low enough to ride across.  After crossing the stream, the race course continued to climb the ridge on an old fire road.  For the most part, everything was in great condition.  There were a few slick muddy turns here and there but nothing too bad.  Since I was riding a single speed, I had to watch myself on the climbs in an effort to make sure I didn't blow up too soon.  One of the APB riders came around me and I decided to catch his wheel for a little drafting assistance up the mountain.  We began to average a pretty good pace up the double track and soon came to where the actual singletrack trail starts.  During the first 17 miles, everything went pretty well.  I felt great and was very surprised when we made it to the halfway point so quickly. 

At the halfway point, volunteers had our sag bags laid out for us.  I scanned 20-30 bags looking for my bag.  It was a target shopping bag with my name drawn on it with a neon sharpie.  I had no luck finding my bag.  I then asked one of the volunteers and he replied that they are all right there.  I was bummed as I really wanted my Oreos and I had a bottle of diluted Gatorade that I was in need of.  Instead, I settled with refilling my water bottles with water and stuffed a few Fig Newtons in my jersey pocket from the aid station.  Luckily I didn't waste much time at the sag station and got back on the trail pretty quickly.

I had been warned about the second half of the course.  Many of my friends who have previously raced the Snake had advised to be on the lookout for the last 8-9 miles.  I was told that the last section of the trail had a lot of rocks that would jar the hell out of you.  With this knowledge, I decided to conserve some of my energy before that section.  At this point in the race, I was wheel to wheel with Jonathan Woody of Harpeth Bicycles.  He and I yo-yo'd back and forth a bit for several miles.  Woody was riding really strong and I enjoyed keeping pace with him.  After peaking over a ridge and making my descent, I pulled away from Woody just a bit made my break.  I was feeling great!  One concern that hit me was my water level.  I had been drinking a lot of fluids throughout the race as to not start cramping.  With my water bottles getting low, I was slightly concerned.  Luckily we came up on a water truck at the top of the last double track climb.  I filled up one bottle and hit the trail for the last section, the rocky section. 

At this point, I had caught up with good friends Monty and Charlie (Macon Crew).  Monte was having some mechanical issues and Charlie and I passed him for a moment.  All three of us yo-yo'd back and forth on our positions but soon enough I was in the front.  I was a bit concerned with leading through the rocky section as I had to take it a bit slower than others.  You see, I don't have suspension on my bike.  The rocks wer

I knew the race was close to being over.  I did feel a bit tired on some of the brief inclines but I still had a little bit of energy left.  About 1.5 miles from the finish, my buddy Mike Brown caught back up to me.  I was shocked as hell!  I just couldn't believe in my head that I had stayed in front of him the entire race and at the last moment, he catches up to me.  He could tell that I was wearing down a little bit and took the chance to get around me.  He made the pass and I tried to stay on his wheel but couldn't hold on enough.  We made it to the paved road that descends about a mile to the finish line.  I had Mike in my sights the entire descent but being on a single speed, there was no chance of me being able to catch him while doing 35mph down the road. 

I finally crossed the finish line with a time of 3:58:12.  I was super stoked to find out that I broke a 4 hour finish.  Mike had crossed the finish line in 3:57:36.  He finished 36 seconds ahead of me!  Regardless, I felt great with my finish.  The course wasn't as bad as I had thought it would be.  I definitely look forward to the next race in February.  I can't be any happier with the race conditions of this race.  The temps stayed in the low to mid 40's for most of the race.  We'll see how things play out for the next two races.

Tomorrow, I'll probably blog about the fun in the snow that I've had this week.  I think you all have read enough about my uneventful life for one day.

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