For 2017, the main gravel road configuration of the course will remain the same. We are eliminating the cyclocross elements at the start of the race, in favor of a neutral rollout on the roads due to the bottleneck that typically forms at the first turn off the pavement. To keep it interesting, we are adding (given dry weather) approximately 5 miles to the course, including the Jones Creek Dam Trail. This section is very rideable on cross bikes, though possibly challenging due to some steeper grades, and riders should be spaced out before encountering this section to minimize congestion. The return route to the Winery will be on Hightower Church Road (same road you came in on) and not Wahsega Road as in the past. Upon returning to the Montaluce Winery, riders will be greeted with some traditional Cyclocross obstacles, however, expect a more direct return to the finish from previous years, so that you can start the post-race celebration a little bit quicker.
Total course distance is just under 55 miles and total elevation gain is approximately 6400'.
If the weather is rainy on race day or we have had a lot of rain leading up to the race, the alternate Rain Route will be used. The rain route does not include the Jones Creek Dam singletrack and is approximately 50 miles. Don't worry, it is still hard...just ask the folks who raced in 2015 and 2016.
Should I ride a cyclocross bike or mountain bike?
Excellent question and the answer depends on your goals for the race. If you are looking to have an enjoyable experience but not worried so much about your placing in your category, then ride a mountain bike. The easier gearing on a mountain bike will make life better on the Jones Creek Dam and Winding Stair climbs, and you will probably enjoy the descents more. If you are a good bike handler and want to finish in the top 5 in your category, I would recommend riding a cyclocross bike. I have ridden both types of bikes in past editions of this event, and a cyclcross bike will produce a faster finish time but with a much rougher ride. A mountain bike is not as efficient, but in my opinion, is more enjoyable. If you are just looking to finish the event, my recommendation is to ride a mountain bike.