I had an absolute blast on this ride! Just like last weekend, watching the weather forecast was a no-no! They had it completely wrong! Supposedly there was a 70% chance of all day thunderstorms. I needed the rain riding/descending experience so I decided to go ahead and do the ride anyway. Well, it did not rain one drop and it never threatened. It was very humid and I was as wet with sweat as I would have been had it rained, but it never rained. I am not looking at any more weather reports before rides!
I was impressed that there were several recumbents on this ride. Not sure how many did the whole 100, but there were at least 6 bents all of which would have had to go up and over Suck Creek Mtn which is a 6 mile climb. One of the bents was Shannon from South Louisiana. He and I met on the bacchetta web site. Additionally Chattanooga goes all out for the cyclist on this ride. They have police at all lights and major intersections the entire ride. They even covered a section of diagonal railroad with a thick rubber mat to keep the cyclist from wrecking on the tracks!
I was very pleased that I was able to get up and over Suck Creek without stopping. I was worried about making the time cut-off for the 100 miles so I did not stop at the rest stops except to fill my water bottles. There are a lot of easy rollers between Suck Creek and the cut off, so I made it to the split without a problem. I was definitely in the back of the pack, but comfortably at the front of the back!
Sand Mtn was a bit more challenging than Suck Creek. It is only 2.8 miles but it is nothing but switch backs. A couple of the switchbacks were really difficult to maneuver as you had to make a really sharp turn at a much steeper incline. The first sharp left hand turn, I just could not muscle up and ended up almost falling over. The next really sharp right hand turn I would have made it up except that a car decided to pass me ON THE TURN WHILE I WAS TURNING! I realized that if I kept going I was going to get hit as there was not 3 inches much less 3 ft between us. As the car began to pass and I came off the bike I hollered in frustration apparently loud enough for the driver to hear me as it was only then he stopped to make sure he had not hit me! Jerk! After that incident I was able to finish the mtn without a problem.
The next 20 miles are my favorite. Nice rollers, nice pavement. And then you get to the foot of Burkhalter Gap. There is no roll into this mountain. There is no roll into any of the mountains, but you have to come to a complete stop at a stop sign before heading up this bad boy. I was able to climb part of it and I walked part of it. I am pleased that I have gotten pretty good at starting back on a steep incline. I don't know if I will ever be able to ride over the top of the darned thing, but I will definitely try again next year! The final 15 or so miles is also just rollers ending with a scary fast downhill with lots of traffic. I have gotten better and more comfortable at descending - thank goodness for x-eyed brakes too!
So which ride is harder? Cheaha or 3 State? I am not really sure, they are both really challenging. Cheaha has steeper climbs more along the likes of Burkhalter, but you can roll into most of the climbs. The really long sustained climbs at 3 State were very tiring. Cheha's climbing is concentrated in the middle 50 or 60 miles whereas the worst climb of 3 state is at mile 80. So, I think I need to try them both again next year before I make my decision!