In strange, yet appropriate fashion, my 13th career NUE victory arrived in biblically dooming fashion at the Fool’s Gold 100 in Georgia last weekend. One would normally expect high humidity and sweltering conditions in the South in August. Instead, the skies opened up the night before and rain dumped continuously throughout the race. There were floods and rising waters. The trails turned into rivers of blood red clay. There may have even been frogs and locusts at one time. I’m not really sure. I’m just glad it is done.
The seventh stop of the U.S. National Ultra Endurance series was a two lap format. The lap began with a 1500’ climb and the first to the top on the first lap was awarded a prize for King of the Mountain (KOM). I felt good and decided to ride hard while my bike was still in good condition, so I topped out ahead of the pack, blowing up the race from the beginning. Once the trail leveled out, I sat up a bit and let Christian Tanguy bridge up to me.
“What was that?” he asked, clearly referring to a somewhat idiotic attack to get the KOM. All I could think to reply was: “I figured we’re in for a miserable day, so why not embrace some suffering from the start?”
From there, the blood red clay took over the race. I lost all rear brake function by mile 30. Christian began to fade out of sight just before that with other mud-related issues. No one else ever bridged up, so I continued to ride alone in the Biblical flood to the end of the lap, watching in terror as my front brake pads slowly disappeared to nothingness. I had to drag my feet or jump off the bike on a few of the remaining descents just to avoid killing myself.
And that was technically only the first lap of two – fifty miles to go. However, the race director made a wise decision and called the race at one lap: everyone was losing their brakes, and the “riding” was getting dangerous. Ironically, it was all the Mica (Fool’s Gold) in the soil that eats away so quickly at the pads when the mud runs fluidly through the brakes.
I won the “100” in just 50 miles… strange.