Jim Cunningham Coaching athlete Ed McAlister not only completed but top-20'd this past weekend's Brasstown Bald Century (that's miles baby, not kilometers!). This ride had over 10,000 feet of climbing and ended atop Brasstown Bald--one of the most difficult climbs in the country. Here is Ed's race report:
Wow, what a race. I had really good legs-your suggestions during the week were dead on. Started with the lead group-maybe 10 or so, but on the first long grade I realized that I could not hold the pace and dropped off. Rode by myself for about 5 miles—all the rest were behind me. Another guy dropped off the lead and we worked together for about 60 miles. He was stronger on the flats and I was on the hills and grades-imagine that. My weight loss has really made a difference. We picked up two more guys at about 70 mi and worked with them to about 85 miles-the bottom of Hogpen Gap. The 3 of them pulled off at an aid station, but I kept going-turned out to be the right move because I never saw them again.. I climbed Hogpen and pulled back 3 more riders –got to the top had the great down hill and started in the valley for Brasstown. Along the road I passed 2 guys, but one passed me back at the bottom of Brasstown. Up to this point I was in good shape getting tired but was really strong and climbing well, both in and out of the saddle. Out of water at the bottom of Brasstown-stopped filled up and started. That climb is amazing. I did well, but it was a struggle-mainly because it was at the end. I kept waiting on the wall and then I found it. I realized half way up I may be in trouble and then it hit me suddenly---I was in trouble. Going maybe 3 mph I swerved to the left then overcompensated and swerved right turned back to the left and just tipped over-man was I mad. Only 20 or so meters from the top of the wall. I jumped up and almost ran 20-30 meters jumped on the bike and took off. The rest of way was almost easy. Finished in 6:27. Not sure about how I placed, but no worse than top 15. The answer I got was the finishers would be posted later. Finishing was bitter sweet, but I was actually amazed I felt so strong and had the energy to do so well. The food drinks worked perfectly and the meal suggestions in preparation for the race were great.
The wall is very similar to Sassafras, but I have never rode 98 miles and tried Sassafras. Yesterday I was pulling on the bars so hard my front wheel came off the ground.