2019 Dirty Pecan Review
Every year on the first Saturday in March, we shake our tail down to Montecello, FL for the Dirty Pecan. Enjoying the bright sun and miles of eroded sandy clay roads that meander the GA/FL border with visually stunning landscapes the entire way. Its always nice to take a reprise from Atlantas gloomy wintery weather to remember spring is around the corner.
This year was different, way different.
After 4+ hour drive, the crew from Atlanta sat around camp the night before pondering whether the 80/ 100 mile options would be a suitable endeavor for this motley crew of adventures. Regardless of weather warnings and threats of heavy rains, wiith vigor, we chose the 100 mile route. We all uploaded both routes to our Wahoo Elements and slept with content.
That next morning we woke up to a light drizzle that quickly escalated to thunders strikes mere minutes from the open field where we set up camp. A rimshot filled with tools and tubes, packed up frame bags, Kofta and 40oz crushers pack with snacks, got in warm, dry clothes only to be sopping wet in mere minutes. Warmth was short lived as well due to an unexpected drop in temperatures. We all uploaded the 80 mi route on the fly, started moving and the warmth slowly came.
Usually when we do this ride, weather is spot on perfect. The roads are hardened and dry with few patches of the infamous, “peanut butter.” An even mixture of clay and sand with just enough water to swallow your tires whole. But again, this year was different. These roads had flooded, swallowing tires and rims making for great resistance training or just a cold rainy sufferfest. Countless knobby tires dug deep trenches into the once glossy smooth roads, pedal strokes were lost to slight variations of shifting balance. Hills became almost impossible, almost!
This gritty, peanut buttery substance made all the bikes scream. The sounds of passerbys drivetrains dreaming and crunching and grit made its way into the minuscule crevasses of bike chains after being ground down between the chain and chainrings. Small chainrings, might I add. Questions arose through the concerto of drivetrain deterioration: “ do you hear that? Is that me? Do you have brakes? Do I have brakes?’
The sandy gak had its way with disc brakes. Eating them up within the first 20 mi. After half our crew were left brakeless and freewheeling a lesson in the Art of BMX braking was given and we chose the 20 mi bailout route. We hosed down all the brakes with our bottles, made all the adjustments, tightened up all the barrels, set our computers to return to start. The front was led out by the bike with V-brake that were still stopping and me, in the rear, fixed with no brakes but full control. Enough control to slow down two people, if such a situation arose...
Several miles from the finish, the rain dissipates for moments as we brake at a local convenience store. After snacking and watching locals pull up in their various consumer-sized lawnmowers, industrial tractors and vehicles with questionable outdoor-raised seating, the drizzle started and we set off to the campgrounds.
The large road sign flashed “ CAUTION: DIRTY PECAN EVENT AHEAD” and, shortly, the whiskey hit our lips. The victory of adventure and returning safely washed away any regret of not finishing the ride. Some folks were smart and didn’t even start the ride. We are not those people.
After whiskey we washed ourselves, hosed down our bikes and enjoy the nourishment of the local large chain restaurant pasta dish, clamored over stories of what broke first on whose bike and reminiscing on old rides with similar conditions with other participates, from near and far, that were also not smart enough to bail on such a ride.
Lessons learned: Rim brakes are king in muddy conditions and the off-road track bike may be the best vehicle for such conditions if gearing is chosen wisely and you’re dumb enough to ride fixed, off road.
A special thanks to Mack & Betsy Barfield for the beers and post-ride Carrabbas!