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July 30, 2011 – Blairsville, GA

Ride Tour of Georgia Loop









Today was a very long day from the start. Tom and I had ridden a great loop in Georgia when we visited the 2007 Tour of Georgia and we decided that we wanted Bill and Paul to experience what a great ride it was since we were kind of close. To get there, we had to drive over three hours which wasn't too bad, except that we didn't start riding until pretty late in the morning even though we had left the house very early. This mixed with the fact that it was supposed to be pretty warm lead to an interesting day! Unfortunately, we didn't take many pictures on this ride.











When we arrived, we parked in a dirt lot in the shade at the base of Brasstown Bald, which was supposed to be our final climb of the day. Now Brasstown is a really difficult climb that has an extended stretch of 20+% gradient called the wall. I was personally looking forward to climbing this beast again when we finished the first part of the loop.

While we were getting ready, several cyclists also stopped at the lot to rest from where they had been riding. The initial part of our ride consisted of a 6 mile descent, where we were joined by three guys from Atlanta who decided to attack us on the descent. Since we were really riding pretty easily, it wasn't hard to attack us, but at one point I turned to Tom and asked if he was going to go after them. He said just keep a steady pace so I just kept riding until we reached the corner of RT180 and RT75.


The corner we reached is also the base of the first climb, the Unicoi Gap which is a couple miles long and not overly steep. Soon after turning the corner, Tom and I caught the first Atlanta rider and were closing on the second two when Tom went around me to wage his attack. He picked off the second quickly and the third tried to hang on for a few seconds. While Tom was taking care of the leader, I caught and passed the second rider from Atlanta. Soon Tom was gone and it took me a couple minutes to catch the lead rider from Atlanta, but eventually I did. Taking advice I learned form Paul about passing riders, I rested a bit in the lead Atlanta riders slipstream and then made my move to pass him. I was hurting but there was no way I was going to allow myself to be passed after doing the passing. The top was a bit further than I remembered, but I made it in second place, just a bit ahead of the Atlanta riders. Tom and I chatted with them for a bit while Paul and Bill caught up and then we all continued down the descent to get ready for the Hogpen Gap, a climb I remember as being difficult, but not impossible.








The descent off Unicoi Gap is really one of my favorites, with long sweeping turns that are banked for high speed traffic, so you can really fly! It is also pretty long. At the bottom, we regrouped at this River Tubing company and then headed toward Hogpen Gap.

The ride up Hogpen Gap really turned into a torture fest as it was steep, and very warm. I do remember there being difficult sections, but I have to admit, it was tougher than I remembered. By the time I reached the summit, I was pretty much out of water which wasn't good as there was still 10 or 11 miles left before we got back to the SUV where I could get some water.

Tom and I decided down thinking that Paul and Bill probably wouldn't be climbing Brasstown because of the heat and lack of water. When we met them back at the car, that was a good assumption as they were also out of water. Below are pictures of Bill and Paul at the summit of Hogpen Gap.

IMG_2998 IMG_2996


One of the things that can be misleading on this ride is that the road from the base of Hogpen Gap to the base of Brasstown Bald is most definitly not flat. It is a little rolling and then in reality, the last couple miles really are the start to the Brasstown climb. What this means is that the ride back to the SUV was very difficult particularly considering I had no water. Luckily Tom rode ahead and pulled for a lot of the ride back. Part way on the return ride, I decided that it was a stupid idea to try and climb Brasstown as I was getting very dehydrated and tired and we still had a lot of days of riding left.

When we reached the SUV, I took the keys from Tom and being the animal he is, he set off up Brasstown without refilling his water bottles. I got changed, talked to a couple other riders and eventually Bill and Paul came along and as expected, they joined me in the mere mortal category and said the hell with climbing Brasstown in this weather!


Here is Tom, looking fresh after his 90 degree ascent of Brasstown Bald. As a result of this feat, Paul got word from the infamous Vigo that Tom was actually a machine and not human, so we renamed him La Machine!

Now as it turns out, even La Machine isn't infallible. I was trying to video his return from he summit to the SUV, but only caught the chaos associated with La Machine having a failure, and crashing as he made his triumphant return!

On the way home, we stopped at the SLOWEST SUBWAY in the world, but the food hit the spot.


Brasstown Bald Loop 7-30-2011, Elevation - Distance Brasstown Bald Loop 7-30-2011