Since there will be no "unofficial FireWater 50 ride/race" this year, Zeke and I decided to tackle the course yesterday. I had ridden every trail on the course save for Mountaintown. From the stories I had heard, it wasn't going to be pretty.
From the get-go, it was straight up for a mile or so on the lower section on Windy Gap. This immediately brought back memories of the "3 Bitches" from Day 6 of TransRockies. You know, the kind of climbing where you really have to lean over the front of your bike to keep the tire in contact with the ground.
Milma was no biggie. Tibbs, on the other hand, was an uphill rocky grunt of two miles. I had ridden this once last year and walked several areas. But this time I was determined to clean it all ... and I did. With the heat and humidity soaring, I had a steady drip of sweat from my nose. I even had to take my glasses off as the flow of sweat overran my eyebrows and started running down my lenses. Nice!
From there we took the fireroads over to Mountaintown. Now, from what people have told me, it was a slick, gnarly, rocky, multiple creek crossing kind of trail. At least it was mostly downhill. I enjoyed the hell out of it! I think most people tended to blow this way out of proportion. Or maybe it was due to the fact that the creek was low, but most (80% for me) of it was rideable. I did have some dabs, falls, and walked the "slicker than snot" algae covered rocky creek crossings of which I do believe there were two.
What I do believe has happened is that my perspective for riding in Tennesse and Georgia has changed since TransRockies. After riding, slip-sliding, and hike-a-biking Canada's singletrack, the trails here are a lot more doable.
After Mountaintown, it was then on to Bear Creek and Pinhoti, relatively smooth and flowy. Then the grunt back up Potato Patch. Definitely hurting here; probably due to the fluid outflow exceeding the fluid intake.
Finishing off the ride was the descent down Windy Gap. Whoo Hoo with a pucker factor of 9.5! I was able to clean all of this save for one dab and one short walk through two large boulders. I just could not find a line that would spare my derailleur and tibia. The pucker factor occurred where the trail started moving underneath you on a pitch of about 15%. Lots of loose cat-head rocks that were trying to slowly push you off into the ravine.
We ended up with 50 miles and 7500ft of climbing. Now that's TransRockies style of riding!