Additions to the Pinhoti Trail in Floyd County have been included for the first time in a 357-mile mountain bike trek, called the Trans North Georgia Adventure, which is bringing riders to the end of an arduous journey across the mountains and valleys between South Carolina and Alabama.
Not billed as a race, but truly an adventure, the Floyd County portion of the event brings riders down Ga. 100 from Summerville, using portions of the Pinhoti and Simms Mountain Trail, then taking portions of Black’s Bluff Road and Spout Springs Road before they come into Cave Spring.
Riders then move on to sections of the Pinhoti Trail south of Cave Spring across Santa Claus Mountain to connect with the Silver Comet and the finish at the Alabama state line west of Esom Hill.
Jeff Williams, a volunteer from Rocky Face, said the TNGA used to end at the state line on Ga. 20, but his goal for the event was for it to use to the Pinhoti Trail as much as possible.
Williams helped devise the new route through Cave Spring and the new finish line under a beautiful arch that marks the meeting of the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga trails.
“Everybody has been raving about the finish,” Williams said.
Bikers carry a SPOT tracker so that friends, family and anyone with access to the web can follow them on their journey. Finishing times are recorded for posterity’s sake, but there is no podium at the end of each day’s ride, or at the end of the event.
The event started Saturday with 78 bikepackers who came from Florida to California for the event. The first rider — Sean Mailen — completed the grueling course in just over 51 hours around 11:30 a.m. Monday. By mid-afternoon Tuesday 15 riders had finished the course, but another 26 had withdrawn for various reasons.
Eric DeJong of Ontario, Canada, said he trained for the event for about 12 weeks.
“People hear about it and it sounds crazy,” DeJong said. “For me personally, I like having a goal out there, something I’m afraid of that keeps me training. I don’t think you have to get really serious about formal training plans, but I don’t think you want to get off the couch and try to do it either.”
The heat was probably the most punishing part of the event for him, DeJong said.
Ethan Frey from York, Pennsylvania, said the constant climbing was the toughest part of the course.
“It’s always coming, it’s always behind you,” Frey said. He’s been mountain biking in a serious mode since 2006. He said the best thing about the Trans North Georgia was the challenge of the elevation gains with the single-track trail experience for much of the race.
“The challenge of all the climbing combined with the entire gnarly real East Coast single track, and you do that for three days straight,” Frey said.
Callie Fricks has been in charge of opening up the Hearn Inn in Rolater Park in Cave Spring for the riders to get a shower and take a break on rocking chairs on the front porch.
“They can lounge, they can park their bikes and take a nap,” Fricks said. “We’ve had an outpouring of cookies, brownies, pasta salads, water donated, it has been an outpouring of support from the entire community.”