This was the race director's write up about the event.
The Heart of the South 500 was delayed a week this year due to Easter, luckily, as it was snowing on all three mountains Easter weekend! A storm came through just before Easter that laid many trees down on Fort Mountain and Cheaha, this would have been a difficult time to race! This year our weather was ideal, cool mornings-45, 75 during the day.
The event had 5 solos and 2 teams.
Mike Wilson, 40, living in San Diego, from Alabama, registered for RAAM 2013, #477, http://www.sdlongrider.com/
Valerio Zamboni, 49, Monaco, registered for RAAM 2103, #399.
Manfred Gottringer, 47, Austria
Maria Parker, 50, Lumberton, NC, registered for RAAM 2013, #462, raising money for brain cancer research, http://raisinhope.ning.com/forum/topics/3000-miles-to-a-cure-please-help... http://www.3000milestoacure.com/home.
Jim Delvecchio, 57, Saint Agustine, FL
Garrisons’ Gorrillas, two person male team, with Ed Garrison, 52, Cordova, Tn.; and Dylan Vance, 16, Lakeland, Tn
Power, Pedals and Ponytails, two person female team, with Kacie Darden, 29, Atlanta, Ga.; and Dani Grabol, 31, Atlanta, Ga.; registered for RAAM 2013, #T205, raising money for Camp Twin Lakes,
After a short meeting for both groups on Friday, inspections were performed and all made last minute preparations. At 8PM the solos started two minutes apart (the time difference subtracted at finish) with a sliver of a moon and 45 degrees. The teams started at midnight just before the solos hit TS1.
Zamboni led through the first TS at 1201, DelVecchio and Wilson following at 1220, followed by Gattringer at 1244 and Parker at 1248. The teams came through with Power at 0416 and the Gorillas at 0421. Five minutes apart after 74 miles, this could be interesting.
At Centre the first mountain appeared through the dark, the 1.5 mile climb to the top of the ridge hinting at the next 50 miles of rolling stream crossings, the roller coaster ride through the Little River Canyon (the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi) and DeSoto State Park where the road is cut through a 15 foot tall rock outcropping.
TS 2 on top of Lookout Mountain Zamboni came through at 0522, Wilson at 0638, Gattringer at 0657, DelVecchio at 0707 and Parker at 0841. Sunrise brought expectation of some warmer weather, 12 hours at 45 or below is getting old. The teams came through 2 with Power opening up a lead on Gorillas, 0915 to their 1010.
On the way to TS 3 the sun rose and thoughts of suntan lotion, hydration and shedding clothes became the order of the day. TS 3 Zamboni led the way at 0922, Wilson 1034, Gattringer 1044, Parker passed DelVecchio coming through at 1215 to his 1225. Right on their heels was Power who came through at 1233 with the Gorillas at 1354.
TS 3 to 4 is a loop back to the same place with the climb over Fort Mountain and then back over the foothills. The first is a seven mile, 6% grade climb, a long descent into Ellijay then coming back to Resaca a series of ups and downs that are not quite long enough to get into a rhythm. The riders know what is coming but until Chatsworth really can’t see it, coming into the town the long climb pops into view, here we go! The big climb was used for the Tour of Georgia and in the past the paint on the road was still visible.
TS 4 Zamboni came through at 1515 (6+02 split), Wilson at 1705 (6+31 split), Power Pedals 1737 (5+02 split), Gattringer 1900 (8+16 split), Gorillas 1948 (5+54 split), Delvecchio 2105(8+40 split) and Parker two minutes later at 2107(8+52 split). On this loop a motorcycle accident held up traffic for 15 minutes and Power was stopped by a Georgia State trooper telling them to turn off their amber roof lights, only use the emergency flashers, so all the teams were told to do the same until they came back into Alabama at TS5.
Following TS 4 both DelVecchio and Gattringer decided to call it a day and head home. The roads in this section are in valleys, along streams, small country towns, a respite from the previous section but after TS 5 the climbing starts again.
I was at TS 5 when Zamboni came through at 2043 asking if the hills were still there, Power at 2222, Wilson at 2314 the Gorillas at 0303 Sunday and Parker at 0535.
TS 5 to 6 starts with climbs on low use country roads that avoid major highways, then the series of climbs culminating with the 3.5 mile climb to Cheaha, the highest point in Alabama, mostly in the dark. Leading up to the last climb are 4 hills that on average measure in the high single digits but have 10-15 degree short sections, John Schlitter named them the “Walls of Cheaha”. Not quite walls but at night when you can’t see the pitch changes combined with no flat spots on the bottoms-just down and then up, they can seem like that.
At TS 6 Zamboni was still in the lead at 0441 (8+01 split) but the two ladies had eaten up over an hour and were only 17 minutes behind at 0458 (6+30 split). They passed Zamboni on the road to the finish at 0742 for a time of 31+42. Zamboni then finished at 0956 for a time of 37+56. Wilson came through TS 6 at 0832 (9+18 split) and finished at 1221 for a time of 40+21. The Gorrillas came through 6 at 1038 (7+35 split) and finished at 1406 for a time 38+06. Parker hung in there coming through 6 at 1326 (8+28 split) and finished at 1646 for a time of 45+46. She did however set a record for a female in her age category. AND to correct an error I made last year, she set a record for the 200 mile event and I neglected to enter her name, she now holds TWO HOS records!
We had a smaller crowed than usual for the race which made for good friend making time, Easter the weekend before tends to do that for this event. A rider suggested a theme song for the 500, “Who let the dogs out”, there a bunch as we are off major highways. Suggestions then came out for the best tactic to keep them off riders.
The rider needs to signal the crew, usually with a point.
A long horn sometimes works
Aiming the car at the dogs helps
Using USPO approved spray give the rider something to do other than riding, it works well
And my favorite, a paint ball marker!
I want to thank all whom travelled to come to Alabama for the event and especially the other team members of the race organization, Johnny Boswell and Flo Bradley who the other officials, and Janet and Emma for the race headquarters work.
Ya’ll come on back now, ya hear!