Race Report: 2018 Middle Georgia Epic, Irwinton, Georgia – By K-Dogg

2018 middle georgia epic ride report

After last year’s freezing slime fest at the first Middle Georgia Epic Gravel race I wasn’t very enthusiastic about returning… but that didn’t last long because the course is fun enough to challenge daredevils but non-technical enough for the rest of us if the rain holds off.

We watched the weather for days and the news kept getting better and better. The rain held off and the roads dried out nicely! A cheery sun and beautiful blue skies lasted all day long. There were still shockingly deep red ruts and sketchy mud berms that required careful tiptoeing. I did notice a few involuntary dismounts but no serious injuries beyond bruised egos (I have video proof of this).
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
At race start, about 120 cyclists and their bikes gathered in the front yard of the Blue Goose Inn Hostel where many had bunked the night before.
Donna and staff were truly wonderful and welcoming hoteliers who kept the conversation friendly and the coffee hot. The start line was just off the front porch! You can literally roll out of bed and hop on your bike. Being in the middle of beautiful national forests, it’s also a great place to begin any outdoor adventure you can think of.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Just before we rolled out, ride promoter Dustin Gaddis of Southern Wheelworks of Macon discussed the usual safety tips like, “Obey all traffic laws. Cars are bigger than you. Locals don’t give a rats ass if you are in race mode. Don’t be that guy. We want to stay welcome here.”
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Rusty of Gravel Cyclist with his handy, handycam.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Anne Moore at right, smiling all the way!
The race began with a long 2-mile paved coast. The pack stayed mostly together. Then suddenly it didn’t. The first “weed out” hill arrived. It was groomed dirt and less than 1/2 mile long but only 10 crested together. I was number 10 but my eyes were crossed and my ears were booming as we surfed down the other side of Mount Hypoxic.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
K-Dogg Cam.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
K-Dogg lets a little gap open. D’oh!
There was a new kid from Atlanta everybody was afraid of, said last year’s 2nd placegetter, Jeff Clayton. He had a gap already when dirt turned to tar. I had run out of gears but managed to caboose the next few miles panting like a Dogg. My teammate Rusty aka “Headmaster”, who is ever so much stronger, was nowhere in sight. “This ain’t right!” I thought.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Two miles later we turned onto a long zone of hilly, rutted, bright red hills. People started coming off – leaving about 8 ahead. I soon joined the people coming off.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
K-Dogg Cam, now off the back. Ruh roh!
A few miles later, Headmaster and two others came alongside. “You OK?”, he asked, concerned. “Oh yeah! Just peachy” I said, trying to be funny.
Peaches? Georgia? Ha ha? He kinda grinned. Headmaster raced in Belgium for a few years back in the day. I don’t think Belgians smile much while racing. That’s a gravel thing.
Pretty soon others trickled into our little grupetto from ahead and behind. We now had eight or so taking roughly equal turns on the front. Although podium spots were mostly gone, many were still pushing the pace. To me, the terrain was the competition. The terrain was kicking my arse.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
This rider was on walk-about (caption by JOM).
The miles rolled on. One or two more latched on to the rear. The hills began to level out a bit but the sand was still heavy beneath our tires. At some point, I remember a young guy asked me if we could organize a group pee stop. I didn’t have to go (unusual for me) but being a gentleman I always defer to ladies. Jen, a young lady, who impressively rode her share on the front, said no. “But there is a convenience store soon,” she said.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
K-Dogg slumming it at the back.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Jen, the lady in question and a friend of the Gravel Cyclist crew.
An hour later – no store – no pee stop. The young guy looked tense. “What’s the story?” he said. “Jen says there is a store soon,” I said. “A store? The line will take forever!” He said more tensely.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
This isn’t Mars. This the red clay of Middle Georgia.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Rusty gives the thumbs up.

2018 middle georgia epic ride report

An hour later – no store – no pee stop.  I rolled to the front. “Group pee stop?” I suggested. “What about the store”? said the tense guy.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Early into a long day at the Middle Georgia Epic.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
I looked back… Jen had vanished. “Jen is gone… pee where you like!” I announced gleefully. It appears everybody had to go badly. The sound of relief was exactly like a herd of happy cows mooing at the sky. The sight of relief? The GoPro was turned off.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Scenes from the rest stop.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
K-Dogg at the rest stop.
Eventually, we pulled into the rest stop. We all checked in to prove we weren’t dead yet, grabbed cookies and water then hit the road again. We had picked up Jeff Clayton, who somehow lost the lead group while searching for the rest stop. Race pace cranked up and a few punchy hills began to thin the herd again. After an hour or so Jeff Clayton upped the pace and soloed away. The chase was painful for me. No matter how hard I sat on we couldn’t close the gap.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Rusty, dragging K-Dogg’s arse along the course. He’s an amazing teammate.
Two hours later, the chase pace was painful. I became a human Yo-Yo in the hills trying to hang on to the back. A few other Yo-Yo’s vanished OTB (Off the back).
“Rusty”, I whined, “my Garmin stopped working and I am cracking. How are you feeling?”
“I’m not feeling it either K-Dogg”, said Rusty.
“If we get dropped, want to ride in together?” I asked.
“Sure”, he said.
Thirty minutes later… “OK, Rusty… I’m pulling the plug.”  We both eased up a little. The remaining pack rolled out of sight. I began sitting on his wheel. With twenty miles remaining, the big hills began again and I couldn’t hold his draft. He was feeling better.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
His idea of a draft became him riding 100 feet up the road then coasting until I caught up again. Not a good situation.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Rusty on the tear, crushing the hills of Middle Georgia.
My Garmin started to behave again and Rusty said he was feeling better. I cut him loose with just a few miles left.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
More of that dark red Georgia soil.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
This stuff gets a wee bit sticky when wet… as in Peanut Butter.
In hindsight, I felt bad because he would probably have caught the 2nd place rider who was a little further ahead. But Rusty did snag 3rd place behind the winner, Jeff Clayton in the 50+ category. That is an impressive feat considering he is still recovering from being hit by cars, three different times in the last two years.
The day ended nicely with some really great after race food (cooked by a real chef). High fives and great stories circulated as more finishers rolled across the line mostly solo.
2018 middle georgia epic ride report
Jeff Clayton takes the top spot in 50+, Rusty was good for 3rd.
All in all, it was one of the most fun and enjoyable race / rides in years.
I’m unsure how the race went down at the front. Perhaps one of the stud riders reading this repot could illuminate the drama for the rest of us.
Special thanks to Dustin Gaddis of Southern Wheelworks of Macon Georgia and all the friendly folks at the Blue Goose Inn.
I’m sure the Gravel Cyclist crew will return next year!
P.S. JOM says the video will be coming soon… remember, the lad has a real job in addition to GC!
Photos by K-Dogg, Rusty and Dustin of Southern Wheelworks (podium photo).

8 comments on “Race Report: 2018 Middle Georgia Epic, Irwinton, Georgia – By K-Dogg

  1. Sounds like an Epic ride KD….any advice/comments on how you pull up next day? Does being nearly 68 mean you manage your recovery differently?
    And I especially like how you are able to transition from ‘I became a human yo-yo in the hills’ to
    ‘All in all it was one of the most of the most fun/enjoyable race/rides in years!’
    Reminds me of the Iraqi Propaganda Minister during Desert Storm ????.
    Don’t get me wrong, I wish we had more of those style events here in SEQ, Oz.
    Pls keep up the stories – such an enjoyable read ????????????.
    Ps: Does JOM & the rest of the GC have constant arguements on how to say Aluminium?
    Gold Coast

    1. Hey Jason… JOM here. As founder of Gravel Cyclist and an Aussie, spelling and pronouncing Aluminium is definitely done the proper way 🙂 Those other guys have it so so wrong.

    2. Jason there are two things that help me transition from human yo-yo to enjoying the ride…U-Haul trucks and caffeine titration. Remember in the 70’s oil crisis when U-Haul trucks had governors set to do 55mph maximum? When I crack badly I tell myself “screw racing, I just need to get home now!” I ease up a little then take a 100 mg Gu. Within 25 minutes the sun shines into my brain and everything is great! Downing 3 lbuprophen and a chug of Hot Shot also helps.

  2. Immigration services are revoking JOM’s US Passport, since he can’t figure out how to spell in the USA.

    1. GCWannabee, wherever JOM walks, the immediate territory surrounding him is a territory of Oz, spelling included.

  3. Hahahahahaha- you guys are Great. Tx K-Dogg, JOM & GCW. Ack G&T (Governors & Titration) for self preservation. One final question….how do you say Oregano ?????
    Ps – cheap board available if you need a Comm Games berth ????. K-Dogg – you are aware of the Commonwealth yeah? ????????

    1. Commonwealth..oh yeah…my parents were Canadian…or “America Light” as my Canadian cousins say.
      Any country with the queen on the money.

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