Like one of the many miners that flocked to Dahlonega, GA in search of gold during the early 1800s, I also traveled to the area this past weekend in search of gold at the Fool’s Gold NUE Series race. There were no big changes with how the race was run from previous years; however, the weather this year was beyond bad. Heavy rain fell the night before the race and then continued by falling heavily during the beginning of the race. This downpour of rain combined with the high mineral content of the soil in the area caused the brake pads of many racers to wear out before the completion of even the first 50 mile long loop.
I figured there would be a good chance of going through a set of brake pads during the race, so I had an extra set available at the halfway point just in case I did need to change them out. Unfortunately, the conditions were so bad that my pads completely wore out shortly after I passed checkpoint number two. At the time this occurred, I was riding in fourth place overall and was the second placed single speed rider. Needless to say, I was feeling really good and was prepared to complete a race that I knew was going to be very long and hard due to the horrible conditions.
When my pads had finally lost all braking power, between checkpoint #2 and #3, I had no choice but to walk all the downhills. I can’t explain how frustrated I was to be forced to end my race so early, especially since I had checked the condition of my brakes at the beginning of the day and had preparations in place for just such an incident at the midpoint of the race. Eventually, after doing some walking and some riding, I was safely able to make it to checkpoint #3. When I arrived, I was amazed to see the mass of riders there suffering from all sorts of mechanical issues and realized at this point that there would be few if any riders able to finish the complete 100 mile race.
By the time I made my way back to start/finish area, the leaders of the race had finished loop number one, but the race was stopped at this time by the race promoter for the overall safety of the riders. I do think that stopping the race was a wise one because it was certainly unsafe for riders to continue and in reality I doubt that few if any of the racers would have been able to continue anyway.
Out of all of the NUE Series Races that I have done, this is only my second DNF. The last one was last year when I cracked my bike frame at the Mohican 100. It is never fun to abandon a race, especially when it is due to a mechanical issue. The only positive things I can take from my race being cut short this weekend is that I did not get hurt at the race, I did get to talk to some really cool people while heading back to the start/ finish area and also did a ton of training for cyclocross by constantly dismounting/mounting my bike so many times while trying to make it safely out of the woods. I thought I had a good chance of winning gold this weekend for the NUE Series, but my quest for the treasure was only met with a huge pile of fool’s gold.
The next and last race of the NUE Series is the Shenandoah 100, which will be held over Labor Day Weekend in Harrisonburg, VA. This is the super bowl of the NUE Series and there will certainly be a lot of fireworks at the race and especially in the single speed race. Only Harlan Price and I have a shot at the overall series SS win, so the championship race will be very important for both of us. Hopefully, Mother Nature will cooperate a little more for this race and allow the race outcome to be determined by actual racing and not because of bike issues. I have had my fair share of fool’s gold this season and would really like to take home the real stuff the next time.
Happy Trails, Gerry