I've lost count of how many times I've ridden the Snake Creek Time Trial in Dalton, GA but every time feels like the first and worst time. This trail is infamous for it's steep climbs, relentless rock gardens, and, of course, the weather that strikes in January and February during the first 2 of 3 annual sessions. The time trial takes place over 34 miles of the Pinhotti trail but it's not a typical 34 mile stretch by any...stretch...of the imagination. It's a brutal 34 miles, demanding that you are prepared physically, mentally, and mechanically.
I was decently prepared in each of those three categories so I went in with some confidence, knowing I had not DNF'ed this MFer yet. Still, I had to reach deep to keep the pedals turning. Temps in the 20's and 30's made sure every extra bit of energy was expended to keep my body warm. I started just behind Aaron but passed him early on one of the first tough climbs. After a while I didn't even care if he caught me. I just wanted to keep going and find the finish line. After the halfway point I started to settle in a bit and sort of enjoy myself. I volunteered for this, right? No one made me do it. I was encouraged by some solid moves through the nastiest rock sections, turning my head around to see if anyone had seen me. The guys walking their bikes behind me didn't care. I pressed on.
I rode on big tires - a 2.25 Maxxis Ardent in the rear and a 2.40 Maxxis Ardent in the front. All that beef was a huge advantage especially given the fresh tubeless set up I had going thanks to Loosenuts and Chris Tavel, but somehow I burped some air out of the rear tire on a super gnarly rock. For the last 2 miles I had to "pussy foot" my way along the trail (quote credit: Aaron Chamberlain) and avoid any major impacts to the rear wheel that might send me searching for a tube. I made it out unscathed and hit the last paved descent to the finish with about 15 psi in the rear tire. I was more than happy to be finished and relieved that I have 4 weeks before I have to do this thing again. Everyone was in good spirits, complimenting the favorable weather and trail conditions. I tried to agree but it wasn't until I was home, showered, and warm that I could reminisce positively on yet another cold wet Snake Creek.