TNGA 2018 – Confessions from a backwoods Florida rider


TNGA 2018 TOUGH PROMISES
This years race turned out to be just as tough as every year. There is really no where to hide on this course. It slowly began to take it toll and even have an impact on multiple veteran racers. It rained every day (or at least heavy mist and 100% humidity) off and on for the first three days.

This increased the number of foot problems and butt rash and making several riders (some veteran racers) tap out.

Photo: With David Huggins (another north Florida rider) at Mulberry Gap.

BEST GEAR CHOICE
By far the best gear choice was dropping the traditional chamois shorts and going with Icebreaker merino wool briefs (no padding).  Why did I not know this 4 years ago when I started riding long distance?  I have done TNGA 3 times and my butt cheeks were raw… A quick switch to briefs and it was as if I had done an easy 30 mile ride.  I will not be going back to padded chamois – for sure.

FIRST DAY
I came out swinging for the fence and trying to get as many miles as possible. Made it to the Coopers Creek store and layed down for about an hour.

Mental Lessons Re-Learned
That you really are capable of pushing way past what you concieved as possible. I rode to Coopers Creek store by the end of day 1 and still had plenty left in the tank. I would have never thought I was able to ride 135 miles with 10k of elevation in 24 hours but was able to do it and smile.

NEW BIKE:
Switched from a Carver Gnarvester medium (may have been pushing the outer limits of size) to a custom Stalwerx steel frame by Bryan Sweeney of Ft. Mill, South Carolina.


I had only put a few miles on it before the race due to time constraints but I knew that it would be good to go as I trust the frame builder and trust my mechanic.

The bike felt amazing out on course running both a new steel frame and lighter rims (WTB scraper) and tires (Maxxis rekon 2.6).

BIGGEST MISTAKE
This is hard to admit but I got in a rush while racing and did not change my socks as much as I would like. I did change socks but they were wet within the hour from the next stream crossing or sweat and misting rain. But in the next TNGA race I will carry at least 3 or maybe 4 pairs of merino wool socks.

Photo: At mile 325 Coosa convenience store. My feet were like wood blocks and really needed to dry out. Layers of white skin covered my feet especially my heels.

I did know that I could have pushed my feet further but there was no need to at the time so I slept at the Coosa convenience store for a few hours and dried them out.

SPONSORS

Many thanks to Trixie Tartasky at Giro for the helmet and shoes. Thanks to Petzl headlamps (John Dorough) for the extra lights. Thanks to JasonFackler at Sockguy socks for keeping my feet dry.

IN THE END
Was really psyched to finish in 4 days 6 hours 12 minutes. Last year 2017 was 4 days 13 hours. In 2016 my time was 4 days 13 hours 51 minutes.

We raised over $5000 for the Navy SEAL Foundation. You can view my fundraiser at Crowdrise here.

You can check out my trackleaders split times and view other racers time here: http://trackleaders.com/tnga18  

EXTRA NOTES
When I first toured the route in 2016 (in reverse from Alabama to South Carolina) I did it in 7 days despite an extra day in a hotel room for an inflamed IT band. My goal has been to slowly make improvements and reduce my errors – but also enjoy the route. During the race in 2016 my time was 4 days 15 hours. I have slowly improved that time in 2018 to 4 days

Relevant Articles:
TNGA 2017 Confessions of a backwoods Florida rider
TNGA 2016 Confessions of a backwoods Florida rider