DEATH MARCH REVIVAL
Chris Joice (3)
thanks Tennessee Gravel for putting this out there… updated route based on old Death March Revival, now starting IN Tennessee!
it’s been over 4yrs since the actual DMR race, and that time it was based out of Mulberry Gap and was held in December. the course is 98% gravel and nearly all of it is in national forest land. beautiful, remote, and rugged… exactly my speed.
today was sort of “on a lark”… i was feeling the itch for some big gravel after spending a fair amount of the last four weeks racing mtb. and with a solid window of no big races for 6 weeks, i saw the prime opportunity to take on the TN Gravel “triple crown” (DMR, dirty130, and Tellico Highlands routes). they are all ITTs, so anytime is a good time, but the yearly times start/finish july1!
as usual, i got a late start out of thunder rock CG… 9:55 i set out on course into a cool foggy morning. it had rained in the early morning and the gravel was a little soggy and rocks were slick. however, temps felt fantastic and it was far from dusty-sketchy!
i’ve done the first half to mulberry gap on several occasions, so it was familiar territory. with the new start, i got to hit all of this fresh and moved along pretty well. however, in my pre-ride haste i didn’t bother to change my gearing out of urban trail or short gravel… so it was a little stout and maybe i was working too hard? …oh well, “run whatchu brung!”
before too long i was at the pipe past jacks river fields CG… and i’d only drank 1.5 bottles in 3hr! chug a bottle and fill up two to go… and onward to potato patch. oh the memories… part of this climb is in TNGA and i’ve spent hours stumbling and cursing it before! today was much better and next thing i’m head off potato patch, zipping down to mulberry gap.
however, a little glitch on the route stifled me on the descent… take the trail?!?! surely not! i speed on downhill, but wahoo insists i’ve goofed up. so, after dropping for a couple minutes, i skid to a stop to check in detail… and damn-it if RWGPS doesn’t agree! i trudge back uphill to regain the “course”. but then i meet some local riders who assure
me i stay on gravel… gah, i’m unsure but i agree with them and get back to it.
my head is a flurry, but gotta make a call and stick with it. onto mulberry gap where i buy some eats and snacks (sadly “lunchtime” foods are done; note to self: order brown bag ahead of time). i ate the chicken biscuit i’d packed and enjoy a coke. unfortunately, didn’t get to catch up with my good friends there, but i got business to take care of!
climbing back up potato patch is a special kind of hard… i settle into a reasonable pace, but damn the sun has come out and this is anything but easy! and to boot, i was accompanied by a horsefly for most of the climb. but an hour later, i’m finally at the top.
my legs are telling me the harder gear is starting to wear on them, and my lackluster fueling is showing. i make it a point to eat all the junk i’ve been toting and climb just hard enough but no special effort (and no walking!).
eventually i feel a little better and i see just the big frog climbs ahead. just buckle down and keep trucking! it wasn’t a very special effort, but i managed not to cramp or walk… “win” in my book at this point.
eventually, i see the turn down to thunder rock… i’ve been out for nine hours and so stoked! i rail down the gravels with just enough caution to not lay it down, and finally i’m done… safe and [mostly] sound 😎
again, big thanks to TN Gravel for putting this out there. and also thanks to mulberry gap for being a gem of an oasis in the woods!