The epic and deciding stage of the Tour de Georgia is always Brasstown Bald Mountain with its 14% average grade and a few sections reaching 25%.
We parked the car about a 1/4 mile from the entrance to the mountain. From there we walked to grab a shuttle to the “top”, or as far as the shuttle goes. From there you cannot drive to the summit, you have to walk.
There were so many people with bikes, all dressed in their respective club or team kits, preparing to try their legs on the ascent. Some had done it before, others might not have. Some handled the climb really well, others struggled to hang on. I wonder how many abandoned the climb part of the way through.
I had a great seat on the shuttle – the middle of the first row, so I had the best view of riders on the road. Some had great form and cadence. One in particular looked like he was about to fall over – he was pedaling very slowly and weaving from side to side. I wonder how I would have done myself. I think I might have been like the weaver.
After walking the booths, yet again, in the parking lot, I set up a chair in view of the jumbo traun to watch coverage of the race in the sun while Don and Joel ventured off to see the sites of the mountain and take some photos.
When they returned we ate a little lunch and then it was time to walk up to find where we wanted to be. Joel found a good area in the shade of a tree. We thought we’d continue to walk up to see if we could find a better spot and we chose an area near the last turn and in a position where we could also hear the announcers and see the finish.
On the walk to the summit Don said he had left his mark on the mountain. As it turns out there was a couple asking people where they were from. If you state hadn’t been written on the road then they wrote it there in chalk. They ended up counting fans from 26 states and two countries during their poll. That’s pretty cool!
And there were more drawings on the road. As we walked we were able to see them and some were really great:
Hopefully this gives you a good sense of the grade the riders faced:
And after approximately two hours we finally saw our race leaders:
Siutsou of High Road was able to attack with a 10 second gap on Trent Lowe to take the overall lead. Lowe put up a valiant effort despite Levi doing everything he could to shake the young Slipstream rider. But Lowe shouldn’t be too disappointed, he wore yellow and went home with the best young rider’s jersey.
We saw many faces in anguish as the riders approached the finish line. This was Rory Sutherland who finished 4. Very impressive!
Interestingly, our friend Joel, who stayed in the shade of the tree on a straight away before the turn that we were above said he heard a rider ask for a push, though it was a quiet request and he didn’t know how to react and not sure really what he said until he was by him. I had no idea that they made such requests. Though I suppose they do when you see this photo from Ken Conley:
|Photo by Ken Conley|
We didn’t take the shuttle down from the parking lot after the race. The line was exceptionally long and didn’t seem to be moving. So we joined many others and walked the entire way, a little over 3 miles to the bottom. It was a good thing we did because we didn’t see any shuttles for 1/3 of the walk and found out there had been an accident at the bottom involving a cyclist and a vehicle to prevent traffic from going back up the mountain. We know we made it to the bottom faster by walking than waiting for a spot on a shuttle.
During the walk we saw many people on their bikes flying down the road. They didn’t seem to be going too terribly fast but I know if I was on my bike going the speeds they were I would have been a bit nervous – I’m not a good descender and really need to work on that aspect of my cycling.