Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fool's Gold

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The Fool's Gold; 50 miles of prime North Georgia mountain bike racing in the Bull/Jake and greater Blue Ridge WMA trail systems. If you really want to, you can even do 2 laps.

I drove up to Dahlonega Wheelworks to check in after work on Friday. My brother met me, we grabbed a bite at The Piazza and made our way west to Camp Wahsega.


Wahsega was a rejected suitor of the Cherokee princess Trahlyta. He wasn't hearing all that rejection and just kidnapped her. Apparently in those days kidnapping was an acceptable way to acquire a wife because they lived together for the rest of their lives. Seems like an odd guy to name a 4H camp after, but hey, there's a theme park named after "Happy" Hernando De Soto in Alabama. I guess all historical figures are fair game, independent of their bad deeds.

We scored some beds in a sweet cabin...


...and hung out for a while before packing it in. The highlight of the evening was this moth:

 The Moth

It landed on her leg and just stayed there. It was still there when I went to bed an hour later. "I blend in, you can't see me."

Last year I was in a cabin with the volunteers who came in at 2 am, milled around all night and snored. Worst pre-race sleep ever. This year it was just me, John and Nam and we all slept deeply and undisturbed, all night.

At 5 AM the breakfast bell rang.


Eggs, a biscuit, a peach, a banana, some cranberry juice. Ahhhh.

Everybody was arrving, or getting up and getting ready.



It would take the dissertation of an art scholar to do justice to Rich's kits. I can only describe what they looked like and leave the rest to the reader's imagination. Last year's kit was teal and pink. This year's was pink and grey, with a decapitated unicorn on the back and a rainbow bridging the body and decapitated head. I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture, but by the time I saw it I'd already put away my camera and post-race I was too tired to think of it. At least I won't have any trouble recognizing him.

Baldwin and Nam.

 Baldwin and Namrita

In this pic, Nam sports the brightest smile of all time.

The Frere.

 The Frere

Conspicuously absent: Jason Milliron. Heal up man. Can't wait to ride with you again.


Immediately I could tell it would be a good day. The stars aligned, there was a planetary conjunction, pigs flew and the devil had to go digging around in his closet for a parka. I felt strong all day. I had energy all day. I passed people all day. I only got passed once and I reeled him back in. At the end of the day, I finished about 15 minutes behind my brother. Unbelievable. I think I beat last years time by over an hour and a half.

I skipped sag 1, rode with Charlie Rome from Baton Rouge, who at first thought I was my brother because he knows my brother's wife's brother, passed a guy on Jones Creek who'd crashed and broke some ribs, skipped sag 2, absolutely flew up Bull Mountain, grabbed a bunch of beef jerky at Sag 3, and did have to walk about 50 feet on Black Branch. A moment of weakness came at the end of Black Branch and a rider got past me. My knees hurt a little but I actually spoke these words to myself: "It doesn't matter if your knees hurt. It only matters if you have energy, and you have energy, so f***ing go." And go I did. I must have passed more than 20 riders on Montgomery Creek. Patrick Jones, Peter Joski (sp?) and a buddy of theirs who I don't know met me on the approach to the Black Falls trail. They were shepherding riders to the trail because some jerks had torn down the signs. Unfortunately, one rider even got DQ'ed for missing the turn. I passed 2 riders on the downhill behind Wahsega and even edged out a rider on the line by inches.

My brother's reaction: "I didn't expect to see you so soon." Which is probably the best compliment anyone could have given me. I came in either just over or just under 5 hours.

I was all happy about my 50 miles, but soon enough, Russell, Nam, and 70 other riders arrived and presented hard evidence, ie. evidence of their hardness, by just grabbing a snack and leaving for another 50, directly.


Apparently a soap company was one of the sponsors and they handed out soap at the finish line. It was like "you're done, you're dirty, here's some soap, go get clean". The soap kind of smelled like dirt at first though, kind of how it smells when you're really dirty and the water first hits it and releases the aroma. It was like "Whoa, I'm dirtier than I thought, no wait, it's the soap!"

While waiting for the results, I milled around camp. There's a cool waterfall on Ward Creek.

 Top of Falls

Our cabin.


Steve Hougton, arguably the man most directly responsible for the existence of the Bull Mountain trails. For this, he is owed so many beers and high fives that I can't even think of a clever way to describe how many.


No top 10 for me. No top 20 even. But with 180 riders in my class, I'm not to upset with that. Baldwin came in either 10th or 11th, I don't remember.

The 100 mile leader finished in 7 hours and 30 or 40 minutes. Inconceivable.

When Nam and Russell finished, I was already at home, taking a nap.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, hate that I missed Fool's Gold this year! Congrats on the strong ride and thanks for the report.