Hard Miles and Trench Foot on the 2021 TNGA
The first three days on the Trans North Georgia Adventure (TNGA) have been tough as the relentless route and August weather in the Southern Appalachians play hell on riders braving the elements. Find a recap from the first few days, plus a brilliant photo gallery here…
Words by Logan Watts and Kate Gates; Photos by TJ Kearns (@timothyjamesphoto)
The 12th annual Trans North Georgia Adventure kicked off this past weekend outside of Clayton, Georgia at the usual nondescript bridge on Warwoman Rd that sits over the Chattooga River. Following Covid protocol from 2020, this year’s event also had multiple start days and time to help spread out the field. Riders had the option of departing between Friday and Sunday morning. Riders have until Sunday at midnight the weekend after the grand depart to finish, so technically nearly nine days to complete approximately 350 miles with 56,000 feet of climbing. Photographer TJ Kearns and Kate Gates from Mulberry Gap have been rushing around to help with the event and capture the carnage. Additional thanks to Brett Davidson for guiding them through the first 100 miles of the course.
The Ride, So Far
Spirits and anxiety were high as riders rolled westward from the bridge at the South Carolina border. The weather on Friday and early Saturday was near perfect and helped them get off to a good start, but the threat of rain lingered as the sound of thunder echoed throughout the mountains on Saturday. Humidity levels were already high from Tropical Storms Fred and Henri earlier in the week, and by early-afternoon on Saturday an onslaught of rain pummeled the lead riders from the Friday morning departure as they headed into the Cohutta Wilderness about 40 miles north of Mulberry Gap. Heavy rains and pop-up storms didn’t let up for nearly 30 hours, leaving dozens of strong contenders with raw bottoms and trench foot.
Chafing and trench foot aren’t strangers to this race. During almost every TNGA there are issues that arise due to the humidity and rains that are common this time of year. So far, of the 120 riders who started, there have been about 30 who have officially scratched. Others have simply endured foot and/or undercarriage issues, as reported by Mulberry Gap volunteers, who are scrambling to help wash kits and dry folks out. Another common issue is hunger. As reported, several restaurants and shops have their doors shuttered during off hours due to staff shortages, and riders showed up at Mulberry Gap famished.
As mentioned in our “how to follow the TNGA” article, there were several different start times over Friday and Saturday, so it’s a little tricky to follow the fast riders. As of this writing, there have been just two people who’ve finished at the Alabama border. The first rider to cross the finish line was 33-year-old Corey Kronser from Platteville, WI (shown above). Corey was riding a Salsa Fargo and had a finish time of 2d:15h:33m. Apparently, Corey slept for about one hour the first night at Cooper’s Creek Store, then stopped at Mulberry Gap for about three hours. Shortly after Corey finished, 28-year-old Alex Butler came in at 2d19h21m. Both Corey and Alex started at 8AM on Friday.
Jason Foster, Jon Brown, and Steven Mchone all started on Saturday, a day later than Corey or Alex. All three appear on track to finish today, which will likely make one of them the overall winner.
Another one to watch is 16-year-old PJ Terry (shown above). PJ also started on Friday morning and came out of the gate in a lead spot. PJ fell behind the top riders a bit, but is still doing well. And, 47-year-old Chad Brandon from Huntsville, Alabama is getting ready to finish third from the first group. Chad is on a singlespeed! In the women’s category, 46-year-old Kate Ouellette from Wilton, NH is leading the group. Kate left on Saturday at 8AM and just rolled out of Mulberry Gap a few minutes ago. Stay tuned for photos and more reportage on Kate’s ride.
And, last but not least, 74-year-young Linda Sledge is currently rounding the corner at Hurricane Mountain on the Pinhoti Trail. Linda is a former ultra-runner from Gaston, Alabama and is taking on the TNGA as an ITT with the goal of finishing the challenge by tomorrow. Linda is legally blind in one eye and requires a riding partner to accompany her on the route. Watch for Linda’s dot to finish soon. Go Linda!
Stay tuned for more updates and more photos of bikes and carnage from the mountains of North Georgia. In the meantime, follow along on the Tracker:
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