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Brasstown Bald Buster Century - CycleCentury

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Helen, Georgia
United States
Total Time = 6h 45m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
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  • 00m
  • 100 miles
  • 0.00 mile/hr
Post race
Event comments:

One word sums it up: Brutal.

I love climbing mountains on the bike, even though I'm not built to be a climber. I've done the 6 Gap Century up in this area before, and that was the hardest ride I'd ever done at the time. I watched the Tour de Georgia coverage, with the pros suffering (and walking, at times) up Brasstown Bald.

Want to suffer yourself? The Brasstown Bald Buster century starts in Helen, meanders around the countryside while accumulating 6,000+ feet of climbing, and then at 77 miles, the real fun starts: you climb 7 miles up Hogpen Gap, then descend, then several miles up Jack's Gap, to be greeted with the final indignity at mile 97 or so: 3 miles of ridiculous climbing up Brasstown Bald, including a 20%+ section known as "The Wall". Total climbing: almost 14,000 feet (see elevation profile below).

My friend Mike (Mike45) did this last year, and I signed up this year to ride it with him. Unfortunately, he had a crash last week, and got to stay home in the recliner instead. I probably should've done the same.

I've been doing a lot of mountain riding in the past year, including multiple trips to Spain and recently to the French Pyrenees where I rode some of the famous climbs from the Tour. Let me tell you, Georgia may not be the Pyrenees, but the climbs, especially Brasstown, are as difficult or more so!

I took my Giant TCR Team, outfitted with the lightest carbon tubular wheelset I own, and changed the rear cassette and derailleur over to mountain bike XT gear (11-32 cassette). You could do the first 80 miles or so of the century with much less gearing, but I was very, very grateful for that 32 cog at Brasstown!

I had a great day and beautiful weather. We had some difficulty finding the start, but eventually found the **correct** La Cabana restaurant (there were two). The course was well marked, even if there were turns about every mile! The first 77 miles were just a nice medium hard ride, but I kept wondering if I'd gone easy enough for what was to come. I was averaging about 20 mph at this point, including stops. About halfway up Hogpen, I figured that there couldn't have been any such thing as "easy enough" was still going to hurt from there on in.

I forgot to mention, I saw a couple of crazy people people on tri bikes. I saw one P2 and a P2C starting, never saw the P2C guy again. Can't imagine riding a tri bike up Brasstown. At the top of Hogpen I asked the P2 guy, "How do you feel about bringing the tri bike?" and got something like "uuhhhh", in response. :) I had carried a camera with me all day, but the only pictures I got were atop Hogpen, where I got one of the volunteers to snap a couple of me, doubtless looking frazzled and used up. I'll try to put a picture up later. Descending Hogpen was awesome, 50+ mph. I passed a truck and trailer on the way down.

I got to the bottom of Brasstown feeling OK, all things considered, but had some cramping in my left leg. Sat down for 3 minutes and massaged it; I think that was wise. Brasstown was nuts. I wasn't sure where "the wall" was (the 20%+ section) and when I got to it, I stood up, cramped, and had to dismount before I fell over. I watched another guy ride past, only to lose speed and fall over just in front of me. We both walked up the Wall, remounted, and finished up. The photographer took my picture as I walked the bike up that section, even though I begged him not to. Bastard. :) Total time: 6:40something, more than an hour behind the guy who came in first.

Before the ride, I was bemoaning the fact that we didn't get to ride back down Brasstown; I love descending at high speed. After climbing the thing, I was happy to go down in a van. I don't think you could go down that thing safely on a bike; it's ridiculous. I happily took my ride back to Helen and wolfed down some very good Mexican food and a couple of beers.

All in all, it was a day to remember. I've done 6 Gap before, and think this might be worse, just because there's so much climbing tacked on the last 20 miles. The finisher's shirt is remarkably ugly but I'll wear it with pride.

Last updated: 2008-05-19 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 100 miles | 0.00 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
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Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
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2008-05-19 11:56 AM

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: Brasstown Bald Buster Century

Edited by KendallF 2008-05-19 12:00 PM

2008-05-19 12:18 PM
in reply to: #1411002

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2008-05-19 2:05 PM
in reply to: #1411002

Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century

Most excellent climbing race. 

Hey if you like climbing that much, come do the Mt. Washington.  But it probably is too short of a distance for you. 

2008-05-19 2:14 PM
in reply to: #1411002

Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Having ridden up there many times I have to say that Hogpen was perfectly described by a friend of mine as "the most awful thing you can do on a bike". I would agree with that 100% although I haven't gotten up the courage to ride up Brasstown (walking up and down was enough). To echo your comments about descending Brasstown...2 people have gotten killed the past two years after the BTB Tour De Georgia stage trying to come down.
2008-05-19 2:47 PM
in reply to: #1411002

Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century

Whoa Kendall! Awesome job!!!

I've driven that area in a car - beautiful scenery and LOTS o' hills.

Way to bust your brass!

2008-05-19 3:27 PM
in reply to: #1411601

Orange Park Florida
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Nice ride!  I wish I could have been with you instead of hopped up on pain meds.

2008-05-19 10:13 PM
in reply to: #1411002

Extreme Veteran
Jacksonville, FL
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Hogpen and the same day?  It hurts me to think about it!
2008-05-20 6:18 AM
in reply to: #1411002

Nashville, TN
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Great job.  I love riding up in the Gaps but I refuse to even entertain the idea of BTB.  After climbing Hogpen, I am usually spent enough.  Congrats on the epic ride. 
2010-06-13 7:40 PM
in reply to: #1411002


Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
I did Brasstown this year (2010) which excluded Hogpen and got the medal. It was ridiculous steep... The wall even with 180mm cranks on a compact was just not doable. I had a 28 on the cassette but it was not enough. My friend and I are going to convert out MTN bikes over to road tires and will attempt the climb starting from the bottom with a fresh pair of legs. I'm determined to go to the top without stopping!
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