The plan: Ride comfortably but focused. Carry two bottles, limit time losses on stops to refill at 3 water points. Finally, have fun and take in the scenery as there is so much of it to enjoy. Living in Florida I don't get the opportunity often to be in the mountains or ride the type of gravel found on these courses.
The gear: 3T Exploro with Sram 1x Force. 40t up front with 10/42 in the rear. Tires were Continental Terra Speed 40's tubeless. Started with 2 bottles and all of the nutrition on me. Gametime decision to start with undershirt that came off at third water stop.
The ride: First let me start by saying this May (First!) have been the perfect day. A crisp cool morning followed by mild temperatures with low humidity, little to no wind, and beautiful sunny skies. The start out of the Oosterneck Overlook gave a nice, brief warmup to the first climb of the day. I've done 60+ miles of this course three times so I'm pretty familiar with the majority of it. Imagine my surprise to find that the Waucheesi climb has been graveled since the last time I visited. Loose would be the best description. Realization that I was running too much pressure in the tires came quick. The second climb to the Skyway was uneventful, but in hindsight I was behind on nutrition. What a great climb, very picturesque! The ride up the Cherohala and to the bottom of it was the worst I felt all day. I packed in the nutrition and somehow began to feel like I would be able to finish. The loop around the lake is fantastic. There is so much to take in on this ride. The Citico section was new to me, and much like the rest of the course, it did not disappoint in terms of scenery. Coming into the section going back towards Indian Boundary was the best I felt all day, and I'm grateful for that, as this was what I considered the hardest part of the day. Rollers with an elevation gain for what seemed to be an eternity. A nice descent and from there and I was back on familiar ground and put out everything I had left in the tank to the falls and back to the Overlook.
I can't say enough about the course, I loved it!