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Brasstown Bald Buster Century - CycleCentury

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Helen, Georgia
United States
Total Time = 00m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
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  • 8h 44m 42s
  • 100.27 miles
  • 11.47 mile/hr

Brasstown Baldbuster Century

April 28th, 2007

The adventure started Thursday night when the Suburban developed a radiator leak. My plan was to get up early Friday to get the 8 hour drive to Helen Georgia out of the way. That didn’t happen. It was 1pm and four hundred seventy-five dollars and 50 cents later before we got on the road.

The trip was uneventful but it was 9:30pm when we got to the campsite. We set up the trailer and fed the kids and got settled. I set out my clothes and tried to get to sleep.

Saturday morning I woke up to a cool 50 degrees. I got dressed in the van so I wouldn’t wake up the family and drove down to Helen.

I had troubles finding the starting point but I had left early enough that I wasn’t too worried about it. When I got to the parking lot there were quite a few folks getting ready. I checked in finished getting dressed and hung out waiting for the start. I am pretty sure there were more carbon bikes than anything else.

After a short riders meeting, we were off. The route was beautiful. The group stayed together for a couple miles and then started to spread out. I had been warned not to try to keep up with fast group so I tried to avoid that. I was riding a bit faster than I had planned but a lot of that had to do with the down hills. I took each hill in turn and cruised along. All of these early hills were larger than any I had ridden in Florida.

I met a bunch of folks along the way. I can only remember a couple names. One was Nick. Nick rode Brasstown last year and helped up find our way in a couple spots. Nick is ~65 years old and lives in Chicago. The other name I remember is Harry. Harry is 67 and was wearing a “Ride the Rockies” jersey. I kept running into them at the SAG stops.

The first SAG stop came up pretty quickly. I stopped long enough to eat a couple cookies, fill my water bottles, and use the port-a-potty. The volunteers were very supportive. I spent about seven minutes at SS#1.

The second SAG stop seemed to come up quickly as well. They had peanut butter sandwiches so I had a couple of those. I ran into Harry and Nick again and we talked about a rider who had crashed a few miles before.

Off I went again. The third SAG stop didn’t seem to come up as fast as the first two. When I finally got to it I realized that time was beginning to be an issue. It was 11:30am and I needed to get to the 76 mile marker before 1pm or I would have to turn back to Helen. I spent a little more time than I intended there due to a Georgia Public TV crew doing interviews. I answered a few questions but I have no idea if I was coherent.

This next stretch was pretty lonely. The hills seemed to be getting bigger and there weren’t many riders around. I was concerned that I might not make the cut off. Part of my brain was thinking “Getting pulled off the course would be honorable. That is not like quitting.” The other part of my brain was thinking, “You spent all this money to come up here. Do the ride!” Plus I had ordered the jersey so I didn’t want to have a jersey for a ride that I didn’t complete.

I cruised through Unicoi State Park around 12:15pm. I was only two minutes from my camper, food, showers, and COLD BEER. That was a tough turn not to make but I pressed on.

I made it to the cut off point at ~12:30pm, with thirty minutes to spare. A couple more miles down the rode the course turned on to 75 South Alt. This is the bas of Hogpen Gap. This is where Sag stop #4 was. I stopped, fueled up, stretched, used the facilities, and talked with some of the other crazy riders. There was this great big dude with a beard who had done an Iron Man in France. He had a chest like Arnold Schwartenegger.

I spent more time at this SAG stop than I had at the others because I had already made the cutoff. It took some effort but I got back on my bike and started up Hogpen. The grade was steep immediately.

I had never ridden in north Georgia before so I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew that Hogpen was probably the worst but…. Oh MY GOD!

That freaking rode just went up and up and up. I passed one guy that had gotten off to walk for a bit. A little while after I went past him there was a pull off with a port-a-potty. I stopped there for a few minutes to collect my wits and eat a Gu.

Back on the bike and right back into the steep grade. There were times during this portion that I really didn’t think I was going to be able to make it all the way to Brasstown much less get up it.

I alternated sitting and standing. I really needed more gears. I didn’t stand because I needed a break from my saddle. I stood because it was the only way I could make forward progress.

There were a couple downhill segments in the climb up Hogpen. That seems like it would be nice until you realize that you just gave up hard earned elevation and you were going to have to regain it again to get over the top.

The top of Hogpen was finally in site. SAG stop #5 was up there. There were only a couple riders up there when I got there. I ate some more peanut butter sandwiches and topped off my bottles again. I talked to one guy from Pennsylvania who was busy hacking up a lung. He had been training for this ride for awhile and managed to catch a cold the week before. He was talking about riding back down Hogpen and calling it a day.
It started to rain a bit while I was on top of Hogpen and I was getting chilled so I put my jacket and long fingered gloves back on. I pointed my bike towards Brasstown and released my brakes.

The scenery was amazing but I was busy trying to keep from crashing. The decent could have been screaming fast but I kept my speed in check with my brakes. I thought I might have gotten a little rest from the decent but it was work too. Squeezing the brakes and trying not to crash makes for a not so relaxing bike ride.

Once I got to the bottom, the rode leveled off some and it was back to the big old rollers for awhile. It was during these rollers that I realized that I just might be able to make it to Brasstown. That is when Jack’s gap kicked in.

Jack’s Gap isn’t anything like Hogpen but it dragged on and on. I had another rider in my sights for awhile and I actually caught up with him at one point. He assured me that we were getting close to Brasstown then he disappeared up the hill.

Doubt crept back into my mind during the climb up Jack’s Gap. My stubbornness was kicking in and giving my self doubt a run for its money. I finally decided that there was no way that I was going to get to the base of Brasstown Bald and call it quits. They were going to have to pull me off the mountain.

Just as I rolled ever so slowly to the top of Jack’s Gap where I could see a nice downhill I was greeted by the volunteers at SAG stop #6 at the base of Brasstown Bald.

So here I was, ~97 miles into the day and I was at the base of Brasstown Bald. I was tired! My legs were aching and my mind was exhausted from the effort. I got off my bike and stretched and ate and all of that. I talked with a couple riders before they took off. Harry showed up a little bit later too. He took off after only a brief stop. I took that as my cue and got back on my bike shortly thereafter.

A volunteer logged my start time for the accent and off I went. I was immediately out of my saddle because it was just too steep to ride any other way.

I knew I only had three miles to go so that was helpful mentally. I just kept grinding away in and out of my saddle. I caught site of Harry and pressed on. It seemed like I was gaining on him but it was hard to tell.

I rounded a corner and saw Harry dismount. A little bit later I got up beside him and realized why. The rode was so steep that I couldn’t pedal up. I just didn’t have a small enough gear to ride up (even standing). I asked Harry if he minded if I walked with him for a bit. He laughed. I unclipped and started to walk.

It was everything I could do to push my bike up the road at this point. We walked for about 150yds. The grade seemed to slack enough to be able to ride again so off I rode. We were only a couple kilometers from the top but that seemed to take forever.
When I got a little closer I could hear voices. The volunteers at the top had seen me coming and were ringing the cowbells. They cheered for me as I crossed the finish line. Somebody helped me with my bike and somebody else put a medal around my neck. I was DONE!

A little bit later Harry came across and we all cheered. We hung out and took pictures and all of that. One of the other guys was talking about when he hit the wall he had actually started to roll backwards. He put on his brakes then fell over because he didn’t get unclipped in time.

The volunteers were asking each other how many riders were left. As it turned out, the only rider left on the course was Nick (the 65 year old dude). They were busy cleaning up the finish line area getting ready to leave. A couple of us hung out so that Nick would have someone to cheer for him when he finished.

When he came around the corner we whooped and hollered and rang the cowbells for him. That was it, no more riders.

We had a nice ride in a van back down to Helen where we were treated to Mexican food. I had a couple tacos, rice and beans, and a 32oz mug of Dos XX dark.

Once I finished, I had to get the minivan jump started so I could get back to the campground. The rest of the night was dinner with the family and several more recovery beers.

Sunday the family and I drove up Hogpen and Brasstown Bald. We all walked up to the top except for my 2.5 year old, she rode up on my shoulders. I felt great!

Oh here are my numbers:
semi official time was 8:44:42, 100.27 miles, 11.5mph average.
riding only time was 7:10:37, 13.9mph average.
Avg cadence 72
Max speed 44.2mph
13,739 ft of climbing (from a borrowed Garmin)

Post race

Last updated: 2007-02-26 12:00 AM
08:44:42 | 100.27 miles | 11.47 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
7:10:37 was my on bike time (13.9mph average)
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2007-05-01 9:48 AM

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Orange Park Florida
Subject: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
I'll put pictures in my album when I get them developed and uploaded.

Edited by Mike 45 2007-05-01 9:49 AM


DSC09120s.jpg (84KB - 24 downloads)

2007-05-01 10:16 AM
in reply to: #783197

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Nashville, TN
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Great RR!  Congrats on finishing...that is quite the feat
2007-05-01 10:23 AM
in reply to: #783197

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Alpharetta, GA
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century

Way to go, tackled some serious, serious vertical.  Congrats.

The Gaps are a great place to ride and Brasstown is simply a ball-buster.  We were up there for Stage 5 of the Tour de Georgia and when you see pros grimacing, even zig-zagging back and forth, during their ascent, you know it's serious steep.

Nice looking family too - hope "y'all" had a great time and a safe (repair-free) journey home!

2007-05-01 10:51 AM
in reply to: #783197

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Extreme Veteran
Crossville, TN
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
A friend of mine road this and he's a strong rider. He said he was shaking for 3 hours after he got finished. He said he thought he had ridden mountains before but this humbled him. Great job on persevering because the reward is greater.
2007-05-01 11:07 AM
in reply to: #783197

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2007-05-01 11:18 AM
in reply to: #783197

Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Great job Mike! I was up there last week and only did 36 miles and that was hard. Can't imagine doing the entire 100.

2007-05-01 12:03 PM
in reply to: #783197

Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Great ride!  I knew that was going to be a good one, and I'm sorry that I missed it.  You know you should've taken the tandem along and gotten a shot on Brasstown. 
2007-05-01 12:19 PM
in reply to: #783394

Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Epic ride! I will have to try that one next year. Congrats on such a great accomplishment!
2007-05-01 12:30 PM
in reply to: #783197

Smyrna, GA
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Wow - what an accomplishment!  You must feel very proud.  Great job.
2007-05-01 9:34 PM
in reply to: #783197

Orange Park Florida
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century

Thank you all for your comments.  I had a great time and hope to get up there again to test myself again.

I have uploaded some photos in my album if you care to view them.

2007-05-01 10:39 PM
in reply to: #783197

Northern California
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
what a ride. it even looks painfull on tv for the tour. well done man

2007-05-02 12:25 AM
in reply to: #783197

Littleton, CO
Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
HS!!!!!!!! And I think you know what that means..I'm just not allowed to type it here! I am seriously impressed, you flat-lander Floridian! You did nearly 14k of climbing in 100 miles and that's after training in Florida!  You have my utmost respect! You deserve a great deal of congratulations! 
2007-05-04 7:06 PM
in reply to: #783197

Subject: RE: Brasstown Bald Buster Century
Great ride, Mike! That is some serious climbing effort you had to do. I've been to Brasstown; those roads are hilly and steep. Awesome effort. Congratulations!
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