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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not sure why I can't just go out and ride and be happy, but I like to challenge myself occasionally. Last year I went from barely being able to do 10 miles to doing a century (road bike). This year I guess the mountain bike gets the nod. I'm about 99% committed to signing up for the Fool's Gold 50 mile mountain bike race held in the N. GA mountains each year in September. There's also a 100 mile version (2 laps of the route) but that's just crazy.

20 years ago I used to do a lot of local mountain bike races, but nothing of this caliber. The official length is 54 miles and covers roughly 7000 feet of vertical climb. 50 miles doesn't scare me too much. I know dirt miles are harder that road miles, but what really scares the 'buh-geez-us' out of me is all the climbing. To date my rides are usually in the 2000, 2500 feet range on nice smooth pavement, so a challenge this will be.

In the next week or so I'm going to make the 2 hr ride north and pre-ride a portion of the trail to see if it's something I want to commit to. And did I mention that just finishing isn't good enough... gotta do it in under 6 hours.

At least I'm thinking about this in advance instead of a last minute knee jerk decision. I've got 3 months to prep if I decide to go it.

Updates to follow...
 

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Two skinny J's
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Not sure why I can't just go out and ride and be happy, but I like to challenge myself occasionally. Last year I went from barely being able to do 10 miles to doing a century (road bike). This year I guess the mountain bike gets the nod. I'm about 99% committed to signing up for the Fool's Gold 50 mile mountain bike race held in the N. GA mountains each year in September. There's also a 100 mile version (2 laps of the route) but that's just crazy.

20 years ago I used to do a lot of local mountain bike races, but nothing of this caliber. The official length is 54 miles and covers roughly 7000 feet of vertical climb. 50 miles doesn't scare me too much. I know dirt miles are harder that road miles, but what really scares the 'buh-geez-us' out of me is all the climbing. To date my rides are usually in the 2000, 2500 feet range on nice smooth pavement, so a challenge this will be.

In the next week or so I'm going to make the 2 hr ride north and pre-ride a portion of the trail to see if it's something I want to commit to. And did I mention that just finishing isn't good enough... gotta do it in under 6 hours.

At least I'm thinking about this in advance instead of a last minute knee jerk decision. I've got 3 months to prep if I decide to go it.

Updates to follow...
Just like Nike

JUST DO IT !!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You sound like the guys in my SORBA group. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oh great... I'm trying to decide what part of the course I want to pre-ride, mostly to see if I even want to do it before plunking down $90 and I see this little tidbit of information. "10,467ft of climbing in the 50 mile loop'. Someone mentioned 7k to me.

I think the plan of attack is to go see if I can get up and over the 3500 ft high Sassafras Mountain. The elevation profile shows that to be the biggest obstacle of the course. Unless it rains next weekend, that's my plan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Last night while watching some of tropical depression Beryl pass through I finalized my plans for this coming Saturday's mountain bike ride. I have a wedding to go to later Saturday so am not going to have time to go drive to the Fool's Gold trails and ride a portion of them, but a little closer to home there's a mountain bike... uuuhhh, camp I guess, called Mulberry Gap that has access to a lot of really good mountain (climbing) trails. There's a 18-20 mile loop that covers Bear Creek and the first two sections of the Pinhoti trail that I'm going to ride. I think it's about 4700 feet of climbing, but from what I'm read is worth every pedal stroke because the descent is supposed to be awesome. I also read that Bear Creek is aptly named because the likeliness of bumping into a bear is better than average. Nothing like being chased through the woods by a black bear to drum up some motivation :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
No turning back now, I've signed up for the race. I didn't get to go up and do a pre-ride but the open slots are starting to fill so it was now or never. The only thing that will stop me (probably) is if it's raining race day. Let the training begin.
 

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Two skinny J's
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Good luck Poolie! I don't think I could do that, no check that- I would need a sh%^ ton more training to make 50 and 10k+ of elevation change!

I may just need to go back to bed just thinking about that one :D
 

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...stop me (probably) is if it's raining...
;)

I hope your training includes some chamois time! I noticed your cranks haven't turned this week and I was starting to to worry. :D

I raced the Canaan 40K a couple of times back in the eighties. At 24 miles it's a pretty long MTB race. Not even half of what you're going to do though, rain or shine :thumbsup:, and without the epic vert...

So why do they call it Fool's Gold? :rolleyes: :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So why do they call it Fool's Gold?
The 'gold' part is in reference to the discovery of gold in that area in the late 1800's. The 'fool' part, well, after reading many blog posts from people that have ridden the race in past years, I think I understand where that part comes from too. It should probably be renamed to the 'You must be f^$#'ing crazy mountain bike race'. I dream of doing the Tour Divide race but the reality is it will probably remain a dream. Even if I could endure the 2700 miles I can't put my life on hold for 4-5 weeks to go do it. However, North Georgia has it's own version of the Tour Divide, albeit a bit shorter. The Trans North GA Mountain Bike Adventure is a 350 mile race that starts in South Carolina, twists thru the northern GA mountains and end in Alabama and takes you for 56,000 ft of roller coaster adventure. Before I can even consider doing the TNGA I have to survive the FG50. It'll be fun. My initial goal is to finish in 6 hours. The actual route is 54 miles so that's a 9mph avg. On paper that sounds easy enough, but I know better.
 

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T It should probably be renamed to the 'You must be f^$#'ing crazy mountain bike race'.
Picking myself up off of the floor from laughing
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Tomorrow morning will be the first pre-ride for a portion of the FG race course. I don't look forward to the two hour truck ride to get there, but am pumped to ride a couple hours in the mountains. The route tomorrow will be 20 mile forest service loop. Since I'll be alone in a no cell coverage area I'm staying away from the technical single track. This portion has about a 3000 ft climb so even though it's fire road it won't be a walk in the park. Shooting for 2 1/2 hours to complete. Anything longer means lots on hill intervals are in my future.

With the summer foliage I doubt the scenery will be very spectacular but I will take pictures of anything interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Shiny new carbon handlebar installed, chain cleaned, oiled and I'm ready to go!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Well today's pre-ride was pretty much a total FAIL. It all started with me forgetting to re-install the GPS mount when I switched to the carbon handlebar last night.

So I get the start of the forest service road which is just next to a local church, and I notice that several other mountain bikers have parked at the church. I figured I'd park there too and just extend my ride a couple miles instead of parking on the side of the dirt road at the trail head.

The general route for the day was to go down the FS road a couple miles to the trail head and the road would 'Y' off and make a 21 mile loop. I've been told to not go clockwise because there's a 5 mile climb with many 25 % grade sections. Everyone loves to bomb down it after a slightly more sane climb in the other direction, but no one climbs it.

So with no GPS mount I have no choice but to put it in my jersey pocket and check it occasionally. I had looked at the maps enough that I figured I knew where I was going. I take off and about a mile down the road I come to a 'Y' so I go right and then I'll take all lefts from there, so I should make the loop counter clockwise. I climbed for a couple miles and it just got steeper and steeper. I got to the corner of a switchback and stopped for a rest. Looking up the trail it looked like it was climbing into the clouds. I thinking, 'this is insane... there's no way I'm going to be able to climb that'.

Suddenly I hear the crunching of gravel and coming down the road is a Ranger truck. The ranger stops and tells me that I need to turn around. He told me that up the road there was a momma bear with two cubs and she is acting very aggressive due to a male bear being in her territory. I saw that as a sign from above. Then the ranger says, "You must have some kind of death wish or something, no one on bikes climbs this section of road".... OH S#%^$!!! I whip out the GPS, zoomed out a little so I can see the bigger picture and sure enough I screwed up. The first 'Y' I came to was not the right one. I should have taken a right at the second 'Y'. With an angry bear up the road and an epic climb facing me, turning around was my only choice. The trip back down was a blast!

On the way back to the truck I came across this guy below crossing the road and not the least bit interested in yielding his portion of the road. About a mile before I got back to the truck I saw a large black dog jump out of the bushes along the road in front of me, stop and look at me for a second.... wait, that's not a dog! It's a young black bear. It looked at me for a couple seconds and took off across the road back into the woods. As tired as I was I managed to get back to the truck in record time.

As it was I had managed to climb 1500 ft, but was only half way to the top. A second trip will be needed, but I did discover that I'm ill prepared for the race.

 

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Two skinny J's
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We should all be so lucky have that much fun in one day :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well it's now less than 30 days out till the big (for me anyway) endurance race and I'm starting to get a little nervous. This past weekend four of us from my local mtb club were supposed to drive the two hours north and pre-ride the two nasty climbs that make up the majority of the race. One is a 16 mile climb, the other is 10. Heavy rains Friday caused myself and one other to bail out of the ride.

Yesteday at the trail head I bumped into our only female (in our group) doing the race . She was one of the ones that braved the weather Saturday and rode the course. She said it's been so dry up there that the rain just soaked in and wasn't bad at all. I asked her how Bull Mountain was, the second major climb and the one that I've never been on and am rather worried about. She said with a grin on her face, "oh it was sweet!'. This girl climbs like a mountain goat, so her endorsement of it being 'sweet' provides me with little comfort.

We're tentatively going back up this coming Saturday to do it again. This time rain or shine I'm going.
 

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Nerves are a good sign Poolie :) This tells me you are excited by the prospect of an unfamiliar challenge. The nervousness is excitement bottled up, the thought of a new challenge and all the what if's.
Go ride this Saturday and enjoy the ride, check out the climb and save your legs, you do not want to go hammer and tongs 4 weeks from your event.

The only event I wasn't nervous before, well I had a very disappointing day :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have to share this line from someone's review of last years race... made me chuckle...

"Anyway, let's just say that the Bull Mountain climbing section hurt more than the Coopers Gap climb. At least I could maintain circles on the CG climb. Honestly, I can't even remember what happened during the bull mountain climb other than thinking about the ad I was going to put on Craigslist for my mountain bike."

I am excited about the race, no doubt. I just want it over with.
 

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The best way to train for something like this is double centuries on the road bike. If you can hammer 200 miles on pavement, you can race 50 offroad.

You do want to go hammer and tongs. It's too early to start resting up. You've waited 'til the last minute to do your homework, now you gotta cram!
 

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The best way to train for something like this is double centuries on the road bike. If you can hammer 200 miles on pavement, you can race 50 offroad.

You do want to go hammer and tongs. It's too early to start resting up. You've waited 'til the last minute to do your homework, now you gotta cram!
Feel sorry for Poolie, ain't no way in hell I could do a double....now that I think of it I wouldn't want to either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
It's a little late in the game, but a buddy mentioned to me the other day that a local civil war park, (Kennesaw Mountain) allows cycles into the park on weekdays. It's a 12% grade 1.8 mi climb to the top. People go do repeats till they can't. I've taken the next three Wednesdays off work and plan to spend a day or two doing that.
 
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