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.

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Mayan Last Ride on Earth

These are the days when a cyclist gets desperate. The time change makes riding after work impossible. The cold weather doesn't help. The holiday happenings fill any open time slots you thought you had to train. Holiday food plays a mean spirited roll in your calorie intake and your choice of premium fuel. And spinning on the trainer? Well. That is not as motivational as spinning through the forest or down a long country road now is it?

So when rides are organized that happen to fall perfectly into cracks of opportunity I am granted in life I figure I have a manly man obligation to ride them. No matter how insane or absurd the ride may be. At this time of the year... I must go! I need it!

And so comes the "Last Ride on Earth" organized by the good folks in UC3 SORBA and Taylor Graham. Drawing from the impending doom forecast by our Mayan friends down in Mexico (back when there were Mayans, which should tell you something about their predictions) my friends created a reason to ride that won't ever occur again. At least not this month. An apocalyptic night ride with lights. My children like to call them "Stealth Missions". They graciously opened it up to all riders and not just SORBA/IMBA members of which I am. But I do believe that non-members could be subject to woeful scorn in the highest degree because unlike most Unions we operate in the woods, and on trails... where there's no collective bargaining. Just scorn. And I personally believe that if you can't help with the trails physically because of your schedule or something then you should help monetarily by donating to SORBA/IMBA.

When the day of the ride came the weather turned mean. Georgia's own wintry apocalypse blew in on us and brought temps in the 20's and 40 MPH winds that made it feel like 10 degrees. The epic nature of this ride was escalating. I truly didn't think too many people would show up. Many lesser men chose to ride earlier in the day when the temperature was better and they could actually see the trees blown down over the trail before they ran into them. Obviously this flies in the face of our mindless, edge of reason plan to ride when no sane person would. I have to admit, the worse the weather got during the day the more excited I became. And I wasn't alone.

When I got off work at 7:30pm I grabbed a Chic-fil-a sandwich and headed over to the Nancytown parking lot in Cornelia, Georgia. I got there at 8pm and there was only one truck. It was Science Mega-Man Trent Smith and a friend. They had been out there since 4pm and were hungry. I bid them farwell and began changing into my battle gear.

The Last Day on Earth Ride, 9PM, Dec. 21st, 2012

Soon my truck was surrounded by others just as crazy and excited as I was. I didn't get everyone's name but I did manage to get everyone in a picture or two. Taylor Graham ran around thanking guys for showing up. We had 13 riders and one mascot named Roxy. I filmed the prayer before we started.

And off we went. On a trail I'd never been on. With hills I couldn't see to gauge my effort. My eyes watered and blurred my vision. But I wasn't alone.
When I looked back on occasion I was treated to the sight of all the guys snaking through the trails with their lights. We dismounted several times for trees and stopped after being redirected completely by a fallen tree. At this point there were only 5 of us off the front and rather than get cold again we decided to press on.

Sammy Arial stayed behind to guide the rest of the group around the tree. We rode and talked and climbed for another 20 minutes. After a long downhill we popped out onto a road. I was completely lost. But everyone seemed to be content with our location so I wasn't worried. Little by little everyone started popping out of the woods.

Everyone accept Ben. I counted 12 riders. We were missing Ben. He was with our leading group when we left Sammy but evidently he got dropped on a climb and took a wrong turn. I felt terrible. Taylor quickly rode back up the trail and I instinctively followed him. We climbed all the way back up to the first cross road and as we did I began regretting my choice to come. It wasn't very smart for me to be there. I didn't know the trails. If Taylor and I split up to search I'd be just as lost as Ben is.

We climbed and yelled Ben's name for what seemed like an hour. Taylor mentioned that there was no way Ben could hear us with the way the wind was blowing. But I kept thinking about how it would suck to be lost out here in the National Forest with one head light and no meat on my bones (Ben is really skinny). We kept yelling anyway.
I told Taylor that I could at least ride back the way we came and sweep the course. It was the easiest choice by far. Taylor had to ride up Tower Mountain. If Ben wasn't there he'd have to get on Dicks Hill Pkwy and ride back down to Nancytown. Turns out that's exactly what he did.
Craig Tinsley

I made my way back to the parking lot and found our wayward Ben there with several of the other guys. They had looped their way back around and were laughing about the adventure.

Taylor showed up and checked on everyone then headed out to join the few remaining riders who wanted more. From what I gather he and Bill Mashburn stayed out there until 12 midnight. Very nice.
In hindsight I should have gone with Taylor since he knew the trails so well. But everyone else was done and I had an hour drive ahead of me so I chickened out. But I got 2 hours of intense riding in on the last day of earth and felt really great. Everyone was smiling and happy as we packed up to go thaw out.
Bill Mashburn

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Road to Nowhere - Bryson City, NC

The past few years my family and other loved ones have traveled to Cherokee, North Carolina for some post Thanksgiving relaxation. Each and every person there...relaxes. Accept, I'm told, for me. I tend to want to use the getaway to get away on my bike. Everyone heads up on Friday but I have to work (Car Business) so I drive up that evening in the dark.

Usually I come prepared to ride the great trails at Tsali. I've written about it in a past blog post HERE.
This year I wanted to try something new. At first I planned to take the Ritchey Breakaway bike and ride a 30 mile loop I worked out on the Blue Ridge Parkway. But I've recently converted it to a cross bike. So I searched for some new trails that connect to fire roads or something. That's when I stumbled onto the "Road to Nowhere". It's an unfinished road that leads out of Bryson City. At the end of the pavement there's a long tunnel and multiple trails.
A plan was born. This was my plan: Ride out of Bryson City (near a coffee shop) and climb to the tunnel. Then run the trails because it says you're not supposed to ride them. And I would never advocate riding a trail when the Forest Service doesn't allow it. No sir, not me. Not even if I'm the only one up there and I have a perfectly capable cyclo-cross bike to ride.
I arrived in Bryson City at 7:30AM. It was 26 degrees. My eyes watered just thinking about it. I ended up parking in front of Bryson City Bicycles. I didn't know it was there but figured there can't be a better place to start a ride than a bike shop. The folks in the restaurant beside it were gracious enough to let me use the restroom. The smell of bacon and coffee and pancakes was almost too much to bear. But I stayed focused and went back out to the freezing car.

As I rode out of town the lady that owns Mountain Perks stepped out to stare at me. After all, I was wintered up in cold weather armor and riding down the road to nowhere. It seemed as though she and I were the only ones in the whole town. As I slowly rode by I put my hand up and said the first thing that came to mind... "I'll be right back!"

The climb begins right away. You climb an average gradient of around 5% with pitches to 12% but they don't last that long. You can see the top when it gets that steep. It only took me about a mile to figure out I was riding toward the local high school. They were the Swain County Maroon Devils. I new this because I rode past at least 20 signs obviously painted by cheerleaders who were demanding the Devils squash, smash, and otherwise incinerate their opponent. If I were trying to accomplish something great with my time these signs would have provided me some motivation. Otherwise they were just funny.

I rode past mountain side cabins and driveways that probably lead to plush mountain homes with warm fireplaces. I thought about that as I pushed the gears. When I reached the entrance to the National Park I stopped to take a picture of the Road to Nowhere sign. It didn't turn out very well because of the sun light so you'll have to trust me.
Two little old men in a Chevy S10 came puttering up the mountain as I took the photo. We both wondered where the other was going. I never saw them again...

The ride up got better every minute. It was just me and the sun until I realized I had another partner... my shadow. I rode along looking out over the valley and then noticed how much rock had been blasted to create the road. I watched my shadow for 10 minutes before it occurred to me to take a picture. It's a real artsy thing to do, which isn't me. When I reviewed my photos with Lisa back at the cabin we agreed it didn't meet the definition of "artsy fartsy" so I could use it in a cycling blog.

The climb itself was a lot like riding in the Gaps back in Georgia. You climb for a while and then descend and then climb some more. The view was great the whole time mostly because all the leaves were off the trees. There were several cleared viewing areas along the way. The climbing kept me warm and the descents took my breath. Just like the Gaps. Only I have to admit that the views were better. It's around 7 miles of this until you reach the tunnel.

I'll tell you what's funny about riding knobby cross tires on the pavement. They don't go down hill very fast. I never even used my brakes. It was kind of nice. I felt very safe on the decents. The road drops down one final time and crosses a concrete bridge. Then you climb up to the tunnel. There's a place to park and some cars were already there. I listened for the occupants but couldn't here any. Just to be sure I looked to see if any of the cars looked like they had been there all night. Nope, no frost on the windows. Those people are here somewhere.?

The tunnel was... spooky. I stopped short of it because I wanted to make a video of my very first time through it... not a pre-scouted reality TV type of video. When you watch it there's some things you should know. First, it really was pitch black. The only way I kept my bearings was to keep looking at the light at the end. Second, I was actually worried. Really. But not until the lights went out. Then all the worst horror movie thoughts ran through my head. Were there holes in the tunnel? Were there bears in the tunnel? Were there banjo pickers in the tunnel? It's probably why I kept talking. So everything in the tunnel would know I was videoing. Here... watch for yourself.

After making it through the tunnel I felt great. Invincible even!
When the road ended abruptly there was only one choice. The trails. So I headed on in to see what else the mountain had in store for me. After only a mile or so I wanted some food. I parked the Ritchey and sat down for a Cliff Bar. Peanut Butter Cliff Bar. Oh yeah.
It was nice and quiet. I listened for signs of life but it was just me and my bike hanging out in the Smokey Mountains. The weather was still in the 20's so I didn't shed any clothes but the sunlight made me feel good about my solitary situation.
After my meal I headed around what is known as the Gold Mine Loop Trail. I kept a sharp eye out for hikers and made my way around and back to the tunnel. The trail was smooth and fast but covered with leaves so I took my time.

That was fun. I'll bet it's not nearly as much fun if the trails are full of people but on a cold winter day this ride was perfect.
I made my way back down the mountain which by the way is just as hard as getting up there. You all know that in cycling... what goes down, must go back up. All the decents that froze my toes were now climbs that kept me warm. But just like a mountain bike trail is totally different when you ride it backward... the ride back to Bryson City was a new reward. It's times like that I love my hobby so much by comparison.

When I rolled back into town the bike shop was open. They had placed bikes outside and the place looked busy. I put my stuff up and fixed a recovery bottle and moseyed over to see what they had in there.
At first glance is looks pretty typical for a local bike shop. I expected a "beach" bike shop full of rentals and "laymen" bike wears. But what I got was specifically sought out items by the owners who are real bike enthusiasts.
Diane and Andy showed me a number of cool things they carried and explained why they carry them. As a small business owner myself I loved their passion for doing good business. Two things peaked my interest: Diane showed me a trunk strap that sticks out from your closed liftgate so you can loop your locking cable through it. Andy showed me the helmets they carry which have a built in light/camera mount on the top. Only $80 bucks if I remember right. These folks were great and really rounded out my adventure. Thanks guys!

I did manage to get a cup of coffee before I headed back to the cabin for a shower and some warm breakfast. The town was starting to wake up.

I think next time I'll head over to Deep Creek and try some roads over there. But the views better be really good to beat what happened on The Road to Nowhere.

Thanks for reading! Remember to wave, be friendly, and single up when you can!

Chad Hayes

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chad's State of the Union


I feel like I should apologize to you guys. I went from weekly emails and blog posts to nothing at all. I haven’t organized any rides in a while and don’t get to ride with you guys much these days. The main reason is because I’ve been put in charge of running two dealerships in Baldwin with my cousin Matt. It’s a blessing and I’m glad for it. But my time on the bike has suffered tremendously. Some of you will no doubt be glad I’m sucking wind at the next ride. I can feel the fitness creeping out of my body. For the time being though I need to focus on the great responsibility I’ve been given at work.

I say all that to say this… I’ll be back… soon. But my time right now is limited and so my blog posts will be fewer. The walls of my basement may be the only scenery I see for a while. Which is even worse than riding in the snow. And other than the New Years Ride I won’t be organizing any. I’ll simply be joining them when I can.

Rest assured I will be back to loading my legs with lactic acid as soon as possible once I’m comfortable in my new shoes at the dealerships. I already miss riding terribly. Wait. I terribly miss riding. Well, anyway. I also miss having time to sit and write tales of woe to the cycling world. But give me a few months and I’ll return with a vengeance for all things cycling.

I talked to a guy last week who found my blog and read every story I’ve ever written. Like it was a book. He made me feel really good about it.

If any of you have a good story about some biking adventure you had, please take time to type out the details and send it to me. I will even edit it if you like. The more stuff we get out there about biking in North Georgia the better biking in North Georgia will be. Trust me I’ve attending about 400 seminars and webinars on Digital Marketing and I know how the internet works. Fresh, relevant content is what makes an impression when it comes to search results. An optimized biking community is a plus for our local economy and our advocacy of healthy, bike friendly policies. Heck, we might even earn ourselves some government spending. Not to mention it puts cycling in a positive light to combat the negative rants that may come up first in a search. Example: Google; Kia or Hyundai Gas Mileage.

So what’s coming up that I know about in North Georgia biking?

THE Winter Bike League in Athens will be starting up on December 1st. From then on they will traverse the globe from Sunshine Cycles every Saturday morning at 10AM. I plan to attend as many as my wife will let me do. I need the miles.

Our annual NEW YEARS GAP ride will take place on either Saturday Dec 29th or Tuesday Jan 1st. I’ll be taking requests to determine the exact date so get yours in early. This years ride will feature goodie bag left overs from the Lt. Gov's ride and vehicle support. Plus whatever else I can come up with. A KOM prize perhaps. A Newest Newbie prize. Hmmm.

I’m hoping to do a Cyclo Cross race before I die. The StateChampionship is in Macon on December 9th (Sunday). That sounds like a good time to race cross for the first time.

It's a long way off but in February I'll be attending at least one Hincapie Training Series race and this year I want to do the Southern Cross.

So that’s my schpeel for this post. I hope to have more and more time as the winter rolls on. You can visit my blog for the latest links to all that I am aware of in North Georgia.

Oh and please consider buying your next vehicle from me. I don’t care what brand. You won’t find a better deal. I’ve already gotten my heart right. Send me a new customer (New or Pre-Owned) and I’ll give you $100.00.

Not kidding. $ 100 dollars.

Thanks for reading! I’ll see you guys soon!

Chad Hayes

Friday, November 9, 2012

2012 Tour de Tugaloo

This ride takes place in Toccoa, Georgia, a very historical town where the people are quiet and friendly and very patriotic. I love visiting Toccoa and have spent miles and miles on the roads around there. Even on the dirt roads. Especially the ones leading up Currahee Mountain. The history rich area center's around the fact that it was once the home of the 101st Airborn who training at Camp Toccoa in preparation for their defense of our country in World War II. Their story was featured in the movie series Band of Brothers. I've blogged about the Currahee Adventure Race in the past and how cool it is to run up that mountain. But now I'll tell you about a great cold weather road ride that takes place each year from nearby Yonah Dam Park. Visit their Facebook page for some great photos!

I arrived early at the park and found the hustle of setting up was still in full swing. Joe and Penny Elam from Habersham Bicycles were there selling stuff and helping riders. Pearl Izumi Outlet was there selling winter stuff. Some really nice folks from North Georgia Canopy Tours were showing off their zip line rides. Some guy was warming hot chocolate and later baked cookies!
At registration, DeLisa Christ was way too happy... as usual. Ride Director Duane Mahon was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. And it was the typical temperature in the 30's to start the day.
Clint and Brent Sanders

My plan for the ride was the best I could come up with and still take my beloved wife to watch Georgia play football later that afternoon in Athens. The 100 mile riders would be leaving at 9AM while the rest would leave at 10AM. I needed the early start and a shorter route. Fortunately I was in Sander's Drugs earlier in the week and learned that owner Clint Sander's would be riding the 42 mile route at 9AM with his brother Brent. That was perfect for me! A ride with some good folks instead of all by myself.
Photo by Robin Lindsay Dake

My chosen armor was less than sufficient for the first hour of the ride. I stood around shivering at the start and quickly lost some fingers and toes on the way out. The road leading out is along the river... and the river is COLD in November! I do admit I'm a real girl in the cold. I thought about getting some good banter going about how cold it was but there were people with less than I had on riding and smiling like homesick polar bears. Brent was one of them. So I only complained to Clint.

We made our way with some of the 100 milers for about 7 miles until we had to turn left. Then we were on our own. We rode along talking about the people who lived here and there. Clint and Brent grew up there so they could tell a million stories about small town "stuff". Of course we talked bikes and racing and food and a little business. It wasn't long before the sun was warming us and I had the perfect clothes on.

We rolled over hill and dale, through old concrete tunnels and across lovely wooden bridges. It was a great day to be on a bike.

After turned off River Road I was in uncharted territory. My phone had no signal. I had no food and one bottle. As we rode zigged and zagged from one turn to another I was very grateful for my company. Clint split a chocolate Stinger waffle with me as my bottle went dry. Then we rolled up on the sweetest rest stop this side of the Georgia/South Carolina line.
A very nice lady refilled my bottle and another one offered me the first cranberry filled brownie I've ever had. So I had two. And some graham crackers with peanut butter in them.

I don't know what Clint and Brent had. They didn't exist during this very important time in my life.

I wanted to stay and properly taste everything on the table but I know how bad it feels to stay too long at a SAG stop and then re-mount the bike. We bid farewell to the baked goodness and headed on.
The road then went wild. A roller coaster of asphalt leading out to a final climb up where the air was clean. Then we turned around and headed back.

I looked at my watch and started doing some math. At this pace I wouldn't make good on my commitment to Lisa.
This cannot be.
So I left my companions and began a time trial back to the finish... and the hot chocolate... cookies... classic rock... a massage? Nope. No time for a massage. Crap!
I flew past the brownie SAG again and saw my friend Alex Sloan with a hand full of them. He was leaned back laughing like a big Viking drunk on wine. Only he's like 90 pounds with nary a whisker on his face. Alex doesn't deserve them. He's a Tech grad. I let my dis pare turn to anger and blasted back to home base.

Music back at the finish was awesome!
As I rolled up to the car the air was filled with Bob Dylan. These guys were really good and I wish I could have hung around for the festivities. I quickly changed and headed to out to my next big adventure.

Some notable things happened that I missed because of the way I decided to ride the Tour de Tugaloo. Young rider Dylan Cantrell got to ride with newly signed BMC/Hincapie Development rider Will Richter. What a cool thing! I've often said I wish I would have found cycling at an earlier age. It's great to watch Dylan enjoying the great youth cycling movement going on today. How cool would it be to play football in the yard and have Matt Ryan walk up and play? That's the equivalent of what happens at some of these rides when pro guys show up. Makes me wish I'd gone to the Hincapie Gran Fondo the weekend before and met Cadel and TJ. Blah, Blah, Blah! No use crying over spilt milk.

There were undoubtedly many more memories made at this ride. My own experience has to have been the least of them. You can begin to understand if you'll visit the TdT Facebook page and look at all the photos. I ended up having the best time with Lisa at the ballgame. We have so much fun no matter where we go. Man I love that woman!

Well that about wraps it up for this edition of Chad's News. The remainder of the year will be a smattering of group rides with maybe a CycloCross race mixed in there. Be on the lookout for our annual New Years Ride in the GAPS!

Chad Hayes

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Hills of Habersham Ride

On a beautiful fall day I joined some great friends for a cool ride in the Hills of Habersham, Georgia. This ride raises money for the Habersham Chamber of Commerce. The ladies who run the Chamber are super fun and worked very hard to take care of the riders. It started from the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center in Clarkesville, GA.

I planned to spend this ride with my friend Joe Elam, Owner of Habersham Bicycles. He's a good Christian man who runs a great business right on Hwy 365 at Anderson Village where Mickey Piggs BBQ is. I buy all my bikes from Joe. He's always been fair and honest. Like most people I'm lured by the online world with offers to save $10 dollars on a tire or something. But unlike most people I understand the absolute need to spend my money locally with a business I trust. There's also the benefit of not having to hassle with warranty issues. Joe and I and others have collaborated on a club team for years and it's been fun. So this ride I wanted to hang out with Joe and support his efforts there.

The usual suspects arrived shortly after I did and declared their intentions to stay together and ride as a group for fun. In our group were Stephen Sisk, Benny Bohanon, David Latty, David Shabat, Scott Wheeler, David Park, Brian Horton and others. I noticed Sean Philyaw at the start but he's too fast for us. He even beat us to the shower at the end.

Brian Horton
Stephen Sisk and I were especially excited about our ride because we had some new hottness on our bikes. Stephen was sporting some new shifters, bar and stem, brakes, rear derailleur, and even some flashy new decals on his titanium steed. Oh and a new ceramic bottom bracket too.
He smiled a lot now that I think about it.
I had my new American Classic Tubeless Road Wheels on my Ritchey Breakaway Ti for their first ride. So pretty. It is my understanding that the two white spokes on each wheel made them look "wobbly" as I rode. But trust me... they were smooth and fast!

Ritchey Breakaway w/ AC Tubeless
We headed toward Cornelia and the Big Red Apple Festival. We never actually saw the festival because the route detoured around it but I here there were thousands of funnel cakes sold.
We enjoyed a cool morning of riding and talking. The SAG stations provided great snacks like Nutter Butters, Oreos, PB&J, and for some reason I was especially excited about the zip-lock bags of M&M's. Nobody noticed they were there until I pulled them out during the ride. Then it became an "awe shucks" moment for the guys. It was surprisingly difficult to eat M&M's out of a zip-lock bag while riding.

There were 3 moments I remember from the ride. The Breakfast Club, a hunter in the woods, and the mustard theory. First there was a moment early on in the ride that I noticed a lot of 4x4 trucks passing us along what seemed like deserted roads. Then we road up on a shack. A breakfast serving shack built on the side of the river we were riding by. I could smell the biscuits, the gravy, the eggs, THE BACON! I stuck my nose up to get as much of that beautiful southern smell as I could. Then I noticed all the 4x4 trucks parked out front. Lucky dogs.

The second thing I remember was climbing past a small truck backed into the woods and thinking "there must be a hunter in there". I didn't think hunting season opened for another week and so if there was a hunter in there he probably wasn't prepared to shoot anything. For that reason I felt safe in yelling out "Don't Shoot Me!!" at the top of my lungs. I was shocked when a voice screamed something back at me from deep in the woods. We all looked at each other and laughed. It was really funny. Glad he didn't shoot me though.

The final bit of fun came at Joe's expense. He went a little too hard in the beginning and just before we reached to major climb for the day, Raper Mountain, Joe began to slow. He fell off the pace in the miles before the climb. I stopped on the way up to wait for him. While I was there I took some cool video.

Joe Elam climbs Raper Mountain, Clarkesville, GA
When I finally saw Joe I took some video of him on the climb. He looked to be moving around .005 MPH. I stopped recording after it looked like he would make it to the flatter section I was on and when I did... he locked up solid with cramps. His legs were twitching so badly I could see the cramps rolling through the muscle fibers in his legs. I told him I wasn't recording anymore and he said he knew it. He purposely kept mashing up that climb until I put the camera down. Once he eased off... the cramps hit him.
We stood together on the side of the road for a few minutes and a rider came up. He offered Joe two packets of mustard. You read correctly, yellow mustard. Like the kind you put on a hot dog. I'd heard of this before. People say that when you're cramping, mustard gets rid of them. Well... it worked. Joe ate two packs of mustard and got back on the bike. We made our way on up to the top of the climb and for the most part he said the cramps were gone.
I...was amazed. I'd never seen it work in real life. I will have two packs of mustard in my saddle bag from now on.

I also need to mention my friend David Shabat's ride for the day. His wife and son were riding the two best bikes in the house and David didn't want to miss out on this ride. So he brought the first bike he ever bought... for his wife. To clarify, he rode a 30 pound aluminum mountain bike he converted to a road bike for this ride. It had a kick stand. We found that to be very handy at the SAG stations for reasons you can see in the picture. And a flat bar. The only thing David had going for him was the mountain bike gearing...which he really couldn't use if he wanted to keep up with us. So, hats off to my friend for making it happen against all odds.

We made our way to the town of Batesville where I found some more M&M's and some tasty pretzels. Leaving Batesville we traveled down a fun decent beside the river on Hwy 197 back to one of my favorite towns, Clarkesville. It was a great ride. A memorable ride. I can't wait to do this one next year. With mustard.

Here's some more photo's!!!

Thanks for reading!

Chad Hayes