Riding This Week


Chainbuster MTB Racing Series - Georgia's friendliest MTB racing. 6 & 9 Hour Endurance racing for solo or teams.

Dirty Spokes - Duathlon and Trail running series. Love these guys. First class events.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winter Riding in North Georgia

NEW YEARS DAY RIDE - Gainesville, Georgia

It's getting colder in North Georgia these days. October was pretty tame but now I fear old man winter will be striking a blow to our cycling adventures really soon. But I'm confident that we all shall persevere. I say this because I can recall countless times over the years when the elements only served to fuel my childish desire to go beyond acceptable norms. I also say this because if one of my friends decides to ride in the snow...I'll probably go with him. I have the gear, why not use it? And here's the thing...I'm not alone! There are more than a few crazy people here in N. GA. that only need a small window, a tiny push, a double dog dare to do something on a Saturday morning that defies logic. You know who you are.

How's this for a list of things we've all done in the dead of winter:
1. Shoved off from the garage at the house and already can't feel your fingers.
2. Riding across "crunchy" grass and frozen mud.
3. Can't drink because your camel bak is frozen solid.
4. Peeing on your rear derailleur. (Crude, but true)
5. Fine in the sun, then ride into a valley and it's like "The Day After Tomorrow"
6. It's so cold my eyes won't stop watering!
7. Two sets of gloves means I can't make a fist. Can't grip the bar. Don't really care.
8. Have to suck on a Clif Bar to loosen it up to chew.
9. Pinky toe is just...gone. Other toes are dropping like flies.
10. Eskimo jokes. Lots of Eskimo jokes.

Feel free to ad to this list.

Winter Riding - Lance Carpenter, Gary McCarthy, Stephen Sisk
One of my favorite stories happened one winter Saturday morning on a road ride with Trace Nabors. It had snowed on Friday but not enough to stick to the roads. There was snow on the ground though and that gave me an idea. How about a GAP's ride with snow? Trace was all about it. So we met at Lumpkin County High School at 7:00AM and started our 45 mile ride in the mountains. It was 22 degrees. I had everything I owned on my body. Baclava and a skull cap. 2 pair wool socks and booties. I was not going to be cold...boy was I wrong. I lost my fingers and my toes before we ever made the top of blood mountain. The decent nearly killed me. I couldn't tell if I was gripping or not so I just pushed the hooks of my thumbs into the bar. If you know anything about the turn onto Hwy 180/Wolf Pen Gap you'll understand how scared I was at not being able to grab my brakes because my hands were so cold. I almost decided to blow on past it and turn around.
Trace Nabors and Me - Frozen Lake Winfield Scott
On the climb up Wolf Pen I realized that my pain was not shared. My partner on this journey was actually enjoying the ride. I thought, "I must find out what magical garments he has on." "Can you feel you're hands?", I asked. "Yeah!, they're good.", Trace answered. "How about your toes? How many do you still have?" I said as the pain felt like spikes through my feet. "Toes are good too." "How is that possible?" I asked. Trace answered, "I have warming packets from Wal-Mart in my gloves and on top of my shoes."
If he had been a guy I just met I would've taken him down, robbed him of his toasty phalangie saving packets and left him for dead. As it was I just didn't speak to him for the rest of the ride. Especially after he told me he had extra's...back at the truck! I'm just kidding about not speaking. Trace can't help it if he's smarter than me. I was mad at myself.
We had to stop and get a picture with the frozen Lake Winfield Scott behind us. Proving once and for all that we...are...stupid.
That's a lesson I learned and have never forgotten. Now I keep some of those warming packets in my wallet. You know, just in case.

This weekend many of my friends participated in the Tour de Tugaloo in Toccoa, Georgia.  I missed it this year to my regret because the weather was great. My friend David Shabat and his wife and son enjoyed a great time together that morning so I asked him to tell me about it.

David and Ben Shabat
David writes...
We showed up at the Tour de Tugaloo start, at Yonah Dam, in full gear for the chilly, sub 50 degree weather.  Packet pickup was a breeze as the sun started burning the dew off the grass, Toccoa Spinner - Sharon Mahon, led some of the cyclists through some pre-ride stretching.  We got a little warmed up, hit the restrooms one last time, and hit the pavement right at 10 AM.  It was a swarm as cyclists took up both sides of Yonah Dam Road, perhaps thinking this was a closed road for the day.  So, I bumped my pace sky high and continually shouted out to keep to the right, as cars and trucks were coming right at us from the opposite lane of this narrow, windy road. 

After about 3 and a half miles, the crowds started to thin.  I waited on my party to join me.  We climbed the first hill of the day and made it over to Old Church (Riverdale) Road and took our first turn.  A few miles later, we were at the first SAG at Traveler’s Rest.  Then onto a very busy Rt 123 until we reached River Road, in the unincorporated area of Westminster SC.  We passed under the train tracks and were finally starting to warm up, as we climbed Jarrett Bridge Rd and made our way to Horseshoe Bridge Rd, Jenkins Bridge Rd, and onward through Westminster and Walhalla, South Carolina.  The hills were rolling and pleasant as we blew through the miles, but never took off much gear due to heat (since it remained cool).

We SAGged  at Jenkins Bridge Rd at 123 and carried on.  The hills weren’t bad at all and we enjoyed riding past many farms, not unlike rides we’ve taken in Habersham and Hall Counties in Georgia.  We made it back from Walhalla to Westminster, at about mile 40, my wife decided she’d had enough.  Our good friend and Toccoa Spinner, Kim Turpin, was right there with a vehicle to load Lenka’s bike while Ben and I pressed on.  Oh yah, did I mention my 12 year old son was riding this 100Km (62 mile) course?  So, we continued onto Cobb Bridge Rd, and that’s where the fun began…

Climbs, climbs, and more climbs.  People were groaning that the course was like some hidden away Three Gap.  Ben and I just smiled as we passed them and offered a cheerful “good afternoon”.  Some people smiled back.  When I told them they’ll make it fine because my 12 year old was doing fine, they got an extra burst of “shamergy”… yes, that’s the shame-energy you get when you can’t believe you’re complaining and get passed by someone who should be complaining…  So, a lot of shamergy on Cobb Bridge and then after we turned onto Unity Church Rd.

Unity is like a piece of Unicoi on the downhills.  Turn, turn, turn, turn, turn… Unfortunately, some vehicles took the turns wide and we played some last second shoulder hugging games, but I used good cycling hand signals for Ben to know when to slow down and when to move from one side of our lane to the other, to avoid potholes at high speeds.  Once we made it back to 184, we took Old Liberty to River, finished River Rd, and SAGged at the River Rd 184 corner.  There were about 25,000 bees on a few hollowed out decaying logs, RIGHT BEHIND THE SAG area!  Needless to say we were scared into leaving sooner than Ben wanted.  But, off we went, with just a few miles to go.

Ben was a total trooper, making it the 62 miles and screaming “Wooo Hooo!” as we crossed the finish line for what was a chilly, challenging, but very exciting and fun ride.  Ben can’t wait until next year, when he plans to make his poor old dad suffer…


Another edition of Chad's News is coming next week as I blow you guys away with news of our trip to the netherworld. Our foray into the abyss. Our incursion into the savage wasteland known as...Alabama.
David and I are joining forces once again to try and hold our podium position in the Chainbuster 6 Hr MTB Series Final. And then we plan to attack the trails the next day in a Dirty Spokes Duathlon. Stay tuned for the story of pain and agony. Woe...indeed.

Have a great weekend!


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