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, February 14, 2012

Ride to Helen 'n Back

Was there snow on top of Hog Pen Gap this Saturday? Yep. And what was the temperature you ask? That would be 28 degrees. And was the wind blowing hard up there? Not really. Just 35 MPH!

So why did we do it? Why, knowing that a winter blast was going to blow in on top of us, did we go ahead and meet in Helen, Georgia at 8:30AM for a 40 mile ride over the toughest climbs North Georgia? Well there's only one reason...because I wouldn't cancel the it. That and the fact that the riders who showed up are as crazy as I am.

The Gaps, Saturday February 11th, 2012 - Snowing!
When we left out it was 38 degrees. The wind was blowing but not too bad. David Latty left about 10 mins early because he said he needed a head start. Something about being slow. The remaining riders with me were Stephen Sisk, Joe Elam, and David Shabat. Our lovely driver Mrs. Latty kept an eye on us and so we began to climb the 7 mile monster that is Hog Pen Gap.

As we climbed I made comments to justify our journey. "The mountains will block the wind." "It will stay 38 degrees all day because of the front coming in." "This is great training." Things like that.

The first curve ball God decided to send our way was the wind. I've climbed Hog Pen many times. It's really hard. But it's even harder with a HEAD WIND! I couldn't believe I was climbing against a head wind. And neither could Joe Elam who, after reaching the top, decided to let me know that when he calls the day before to say the weather looks bad for the ride I should consider his wisdom. Bah...wisdom, common sense, caution... these words don't make sense to guys with unrelenting enthusiasm for riding. Bad weather is easily ignored when you have the right apparel. Right?

So we left Helen without a care in the world and without the knowledge that mother nature doesn't care about our world.

It took us the entire climb to catch David Latty. He was giving a fantastic effort.

Then it began to snow. Nothing sticky. Just flakes of snow blowing all around us. It was really great! Unfortunatly it was just about the only thing great about the climb. We pushed through the wind until we could finally see David in the distance. We caught him just as he made the top. As we gathered around the van there was a look on everyone's face that seemed to say...What the crap are we doing up here?

The temperature was now 26 degrees. I was wearing shoe covers, winter wind front tights, a Gortex mid layer, a Habersham jersey and matching vest, a baclava, and some LG thermal gloves. Oh and for the first time in my life I tried out a helmet cover. Before decending the scariest mountain in North Georgia I pulled on my Hincapie coat and switched gloves. It was the best decision I made. The guys were long gone. I left the van and headed down against the wind and with snow pelting my glasses.

David Shabat tries everything to stay warm.
David Shabat is usually a bit kamakazi. I remember him flying past me during the Six Gap Century on this very mountain. But on this day the wind and possible frozen water turned David into a big fat wimp. He could hear his wife's voice whispering on the wind. It said something like, "Why do you listen to that fool Chad Hayes!" "If he told you to jump off a building would you do it?"...Answer: Probably.

We pushed on through the wind and made the top of Jack's Gap. It was harder to get across the flat sections in the wind than to climb Jack's. Almost as hard as peeing once I got there. I don't want to be gross but it's the first time I've ever had to turn into a Cirque du Soleil performer to keep my pee off of me. The wind was violently swirling through the trees. I'll leave it at that.

We made our way to the final climb of the day, Unicoi Gap. It's a nice slow winding climb of about 4 miles. I settled into a rythum with David and Stephen. The wind wasn't blowing on that side of the mountain so we took our time and used the effort to keep warm. We made the top and once more David started listening to the voices. "Don't be a fool." "It's really warm in the van." This time...he got in the van...with Joe Elam.

Stephen Sisk and I braced for the unknown and headed down the mountain toward Helen, GA. David Latty hadn't made the top yet but we considered his massive decending prowess would catch him up in no time. We sliced through the corners and cut through the cold knowing that a warm house and warm spouse were waiting. The van arrived soon after we dismounted and the "fish stories" began to formulate. This ride was another great one. Epic in its physical demands as well as it's struggle over natures frosty blast.

To celebrate, David Shabat suggested we stop at Common Grounds coffee shop in Helen and have the most common cycling recovery drink... JAVA! Oh...it was good. Walking back to the car I couldn't help but feel a connection with Helen. The fresh mountain air, the warm inviting buildings, even the signs seemed to reflect the way I was feeling there with my friends...

Nuts: Stephen Sisk and David Shabat
The ride back was the usual banter between survivors. I took Stephen back to his truck in Lula and headed home for more fun. Our Bible Fellowship Class was having a social at our house. So my goals = build a fire, eat some food, RELAX. And that's just what I did.

Next weekend it's the first race in the Chainbuster 6/9 Hour MTB Series at Tribble Mill Park in Lawrenceville. I'm racing with Trace Nabors. Then on March 17th at the Ga. Intl. Horse Park I'll be racing with David Shabat and an as yet un-named 3rd team mate. Anyone interested? 3 Person "Just Having Fun" Category. On the granite. Anyone?

February 25th-26th I'll be in Greenville for the Hincapie Training Series with David and Stephen. Anyone want to room with us?

Happy Valentine's Day!
"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) 

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend everyone!


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