Snake Creek Gap 2017: a recap

January 7th rolled around bringing with it ice. I was ready for the race and ready to beat last year’s time. I knew by those registered that I needed to focus on ME and my time and not trying to win or get on the podium. Sometimes I get wrapped up in who is racing rather than just going faster myself. One thing I am learning this year and this past fall: I am my own competitor. I am racing myself. 44-years old is no joke, and every year I have to do more and more before it comes down to age where I cannot really compete. Because of that, I tend to work harder and harder because I am running out of time to see what I can do physically. It wouldn’t be so if more women raced, but seems like the older women get, they lose interest or have too much going on.


I attempted to make it to SCG the morning of the 7th. I talked myself out of it somewhere along East Brainerd Road and turned around to go home and walk home because of the ice. I settled on almond pancakes, coffee, and playing in the ice with my son. My daughter wasn’t interested in it.

So, I lost the chance of the belt buckle this year.

February 11th arrived for the 2nd SCG and the finale.

And the weather was perfect.

Ron shuttled me to the start which really helped the race nerves more than anything. Last year I was a ball of nerves. This year, I was just ready to get it over with. I have not had time to get down there to ride the course prior to the race, but I figured that was ok. It is a bit remote and a bit of a drive, and it takes a whole day to make the trip, ride it, and get home. Pretty much.

The first hour of the race, I went out pretty hot running about 90% effort. The weather was warm. I didn’t really get cold in the mid to upper 40-degree weather. I didn’t burn it on the climbs, and I certainly didn’t handle the gravel descent well and saw Jen fly past me like a bystander watching a race. I love watching other women handle fear on a descent so much. It’s an area that seems to grip me at times and at other times I am ok. need more mental training I stopped maybe 2-3 times for seconds to let someone pass or because I didn’t plan my line right, but no stupid mistakes with too much clothing or freezing drive train.

I crossed the road to SCG at 1:52. I was ahead of my time a little bit. I felt pretty energized because of it. I mean we are talking 4 minutes faster than last year, but I will take it. I am such an endurance steady rider. Kind of like the turtle that is chugging along at a pace, and if you aren’t careful, I will sneak up – kind of rider. I really want to be the rabbit, but rabbits bonk, too.

What I remember most about this race is that I had some fabulous tunes. I trusted my nutrition which I didn’t nearly consume as much as I should have which leads me to a later issue I encountered the next week after this race… fatigue, both physical and mental. I enjoyed my Trek Top Fuel so much. Doug, at Scott’s Bikes, was right when he told me how great this bike would be for me. It handles well. The tires were handling every rock well, and I cleaned some sections I have never done before. It is light and really made the ride great. I remember bombing (my version of bombing is not really bombing) down the descent before the creek crossings, and I LOVED it. Hey, I hit 22.2 mph downhill. This is PROGRESS.

Every single section after SCG seemed to pass so quickly. There was not the usual mental questions I had with where is this landmark and that landmark with the race seemingly going on forever. Places CLICKED by and mentally I was fine trucking along. I always had someone to chase, and I liked that aspect. Seems like last year I rode alone more.

The wall was a pain, but not nearly as long as last time. I wasn’t behind anyone so it was ok. Walkie walk.

After that, it was fun. I was really trying to beat a 4-hour mark, but realized soon I was on pace to do what I had said out loud, “I want to finish in 4:15 or less.”

So I had to at LEAST do that.

And soon I was out in the open and was ready for the last descent that used to be the part I dreaded… and I flew like the WIND!

Just went almost 40 mph down Dug Gap. He was drafting earlier ūüėČ
I passed some dude on a bike who looked pretty fit, and afterward, he told me he drafted off of me and had to pedal to hang on. Who knew this fearful downhill girl could hit almost 40 mph on a mountain bike paved downhill descent?

I did!!

Need to tackle the mountain switchback downhill on a road bike next.

Snake Creek Gap Finale:

1 154 2 04:54:54 Hamlin Katie 34 Women 29 and Under -34 Mile Sorella Cycling
2 294 2 04:58:32 Russell Molly 34 Women 29 and Under -34 Mile Spindle
3 187 2 05:15:32 Mohn Megan 34 Women 29 and Under -34 Mile
4 123 2 DNF Cornett Kayse 34 Women 29 and Under -34 Mile Union College
1 198 2 03:37:39 Nielson Jen 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile SouthPaw Cycles / Liv
2 245 2 04:14:26 Childre Angie 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Childre Nissan
3 279 2 04:15:52 Lofgren Beth 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Scott’s Bicycle Centre
4 222 2 04:21:23 Snyder Amy 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Motion Makers Bike Shop
5 300 2 04:31:15 Simpson Loretta 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Traxxion Dynamics
6 276 2 04:38:04 Braddock Jennifer 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile
7 261 2 04:40:53 Cross Kim 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear
8 190 2 04:51:46 Morrow Mary 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Steel City She
9 278 2 05:22:34 Isaac Mary 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile SCO/BIKE ZO
10 257 2 05:22:38 Barry Beth 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Taco Mamacita
11 164 2 05:38:08 Jackson Eden 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile
1 220 2 03:59:14 Sickler Mary 34 Women SingleSpeed – 34 Mile GearONE
2 272 2 05:22:29 Ragland Grace 34 Women SingleSpeed – 34 Mile Teva Neuroscience

4th overall female in the 34 mile

3rd place in women 30 and over


The Snake Creek Gap Time Trial Finale

All week I had focused on the impending cold weather that was to peak just in time for the Snake finale. I haven’t been doing a lot of rides outdoors like last year and so I knew I wasn’t really used to riding in the 20 degree weather. I know I drive my biking friends crazy with constant questions about what to wear and what to drink. Forgive me. I am just not wanting to finish knowing I made a huge error, but this is how I learn… making mistakes and taking notes. This time with Zack’s help and the Taco Mamacita Hincapie lecture earlier, I may have a handle on it.

I screwed up some of the timing of my training leading up to the race because I have started running and maybe it played into the day as well. Can I please have a time machine to take me back to when the Chattanooga Half Ironman opened and NOT sign up? I still haven’t started swimming again since May last year and have no desire right now. Even with the TT bike Jeff had built up for me, I am just ambivalent. Maybe it’s the fatigue from the Snake. I don’t know. I don’t want to train to run or swim right now. I only have 3 months to go for that pain. I digress.

I arrived at Dry Creek cold as I knew I’d be and was thankful I had spent the time the day before preparing everything. All I had to do was put my shoes on, put my helmet on and go to the bathroom a couple of times. Oh, and pay the $5 fee to park.

I checked out what others were wearing. I looked comparable. Maybe. There were a few tough guys wearing shorts. I wonder if they are actually human.

I keep checking the time and things are going well.

Finally, it’s time to take off and had a few last minute adjustments with my layering and hand warmers in my gloves. The Hincapie balaclava was a superb choice I could tell.¬†I opted to carry 2 L Infinit mix plus 1 bottle on the bike of the same. I also carried 3 oz of pickle juice, a Honey Stinger Waffle and a couple of gels.

I was off.

I did not feel strong but lethargic. The cold was real, and I had been out there the week before with Christine and knew the pain ahead. I wanted that feeling of January where I felt fresh, but the cold was interfering with my breathing. My legs felt the sting past the portable bridge and I set my mind on concentrating on my playlist and making time to beat my January time. Then, well, I learned that iPod shuffle means just that. My music wasn’t in order. It made me laugh. Shuffle, after all. I made it to the top of the first real climb (John’s Mountain) and did my version of bombing down which is slower than I would like and continued on to Snake Creek Gap. Here is a write-up of the first part along with a map. I made it to Snake Creek Gap around the 1:56 mark and knew I was behind. My plan was to not stop and so I continued into the climb out of Snake Creek Gap feeling the burn.

I descended down into the valley prior to Stover’s Gap and crossed the three creeks and noticed my derailleur started acting weird and I couldn’t pedal. I was almost to Stover’s Gap and had to stop and try to unfreeze my drivetrain. Mine was more about the design of my power meter with leaves and debris mixed with freezing water.

The Wall was brutal this time.

Once I got it going, I could tell my legs were not in it like before. I ate a frozen Honey Stinger waffle. I kept spinning and moving but ended up finishing 7 minutes slower which gave me a 3rd place finish in the Women 30 and older category. I’m glad I was able to get a Scott’s jersey up on the podium! Noel finished 2nd in the 17 miler and Christine ended up 1st in the 17 miler. There are some strong ladies racing, but I would love to see more women entering races!

The Snake is the hardest thing I have ever done in mountain biking and I can’t wait for next year. One of these days, I hope to do a sub-4 hour 34-miler for this race. I have a lot of work to do to get there. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to ride for Scott’s and that we had no precipitation on either race this year.




My First Snake TT 2016 (34 miler)

Last year, I wanted to ride in the Snake, but had surgery and was still in recovery mode. I had heard it was one of the toughest races around the area, and I like a challenge. For me, it wouldn’t be about winning but about FINISHING.

Fast forward to 2016, and it was more about placing in the top 5. I wanted to run a sub 4-hour 30-minute race. That was my ultimate goal, but I had my backup I will settle for a sub 5 hour because “I have no idea what I’m getting into”¬†backup plan.

I hired a coach (Steve C. from Echelon Рcoaches many others and the Taco Mamacita Road Racing team in Chattanooga) in October, and I have been adjusting the past three months to a whole different mentality of riding. Used to, I would just go mountain bike as hard as I could if I could, most days. Now things were changing with prescribed workouts and analyzing data and figuring out what my body can handle and measuring results.

I got my 2014 Trek Superfly FS8 (it may not be carbon, but she handles well with over 3,500 miles) ready at Scott’s Bike Centre in Cleveland, TN. I feel it’s a huge blessing to be added to the Scott’s Bike Racing Team along with some other great riders. I really am not at their level, but working hard on it!¬†trekaftersnake

I spent every single day for a week leading up to the race checking the weather. 100%, 80%, 70% chance of rain. A friend of mine was bailing out. I was making my plan on attire and nutrition. And, I did not sleep very well the three nights leading up. I bet I was more nervous than when I took the boards for pharmacy!

Base layer and pants and shorts. What was I thinking? I was not. Also waterproof gloves that were too big. My cap was in the back of my jersey. Overdressed for snow or something.

The day called for 47 to 53-degree temps with rain likely. I settled for shorts with chamois, a¬†base¬†layer and pants over that. Mistake. My legs were hot. I had a cap on my head under the helmet. Mistake. At least, I didn’t finish out the multiple errors with the jacket I brought. I had on my new Scott’s Bikes jersey since I ride for them #trek!

I arrived around 7:15 am at Dry Creek and parked the van. I had only had a protein shake and a banana for breakfast because I didn’t get out of the house faster. I also had some Osmo Preload stuff too. It tastes terrible, by the way. I can’t get used to the flavor. It is the women’s specific formula. I had hydrated a little bit during the week but not as much as I should have. Everyone was lining up around 8 am, and I was off. Everyone goes one at a time a minute apart, and I settled into my prescribed wattage in power. My heart rate was nutty immediately, but I started settling down once the climb started. I had moments of deep breathing and a time while climbing where I channeled some Lamaze breathing techniques pretending like my legs were the only thing working and relax everything else I could. The mind does funny things while working hard physically. There are games I play mentally like:

  • Breathe out more than breathing in – ridding myself of CO2.
  • Inhale more air and sort of holding it allowing O2 to really get in the body. This is all in my head as far as what it actually does.
  • Music. I have a particular playlist that is awesome. Sometimes the right song comes on and I forget the pain.
  • Talk to myself out loud. “Come on Beth.” “Relax.” “Stop braking.”
  • And the mental section by section and noticing the time.

The bridge was out over the big creek, and it was fun flying over it without sliding off.

I thought I handled the climbs well.snake502

Mistakes (and I learn as I go!):

  • The temperature was 47-53 degrees. Basically, I wore too much. My head and legs were roasting. The torso was perfect. My gloves look good (ha!) but, they were purchased with liners in mind. Because the temps weren’t that cold, I ditched the liners, but they were bulky and waterproof. I love these gloves, but next time will keep that in mind.
  • I carry way too much stuff. This has been a common theme with me because I do not want to stop, but I ended up wasting 9 minutes stopping anyway. I had an osprey with 2 L and one bottle. At Snake Creek Gap I swapped out bottles. Not worth it. This will take practice though.
  • I took on way too many carbs on the ride. I calculated 80 carbs per hour!!! The recommended that I keep finding is about 30-60 grams of carbs per hour. I am not sure why I felt I needed so much gel. Perhaps I was just hungry? I’m thinking about ditching Infinit¬†for awhile and ruling out the added protein causing GI issues. I took in 1,489 calories during the ride. I may try something totally different in the next 5 weeks to dial in some issues. The thing is I may be confusing what I am experiencing as fatigue more than cramps/needing carbohydrates. I should have ordered my Infinit without protein. May ask for that. May try another brand. I carried 2 L of Infinit on my back. I don’t mind the weight, but if I’m going to carry three hours worth, the bottle I had should have been enough to finish it without stopping.
  • Need to hammer it more. Period. It looks like to me I didn’t give it my all in power though my heart rate says otherwise.

As far as the course goes, I love this terrain. It is HARD. Hardest stuff around. Lots of rocks and lots of climbing. Over 5,000 feet of climbing in 34 miles. The new 50 mile option added almost 2,000 feet of climbing to the course.

The Snake 34 mile

The Snake 34 elevation profile

The Snake 34 elevation profile

I heard it was much better when they had shuttle involved. The finish line this year seemed a bit lonely since most people had to go retrieve their vehicles at Brush Creek and then return for their bikes.

Best expression ever for the Snake Creek Gap TT!
323 1 04:02:46 Nielson Jen 30 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile SouthPaw Cycles, Liv
327 1 04:20:50 Lofgren Beth 43 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Scott’s Bikes/Trek Racing
306 1 04:53:43 Whitaker Julie 49 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile
339 1 05:05:38 Richards Lara 34 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Sorella Cycling p/b Hincapie Sportswear, Inc.
320 1 05:44:08 James Deidra 46 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile
277 1 06:18:06 Hutchens Tiffany 37 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Dans Comp
314 1 06:57:33 Witt Erin Trin 46 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile Traxxion Dynamics
200 1 07:17:35 Kocarek Corianne 32 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile
204 1 07:17:42 Costello Lisa 46 34 Women 30 and Over -34 Mile FMBR

The results after the first race. Second race in a few weeks.