MTB Atlanta Board Member Pete Edmondson takes on the “Chatt Hills Challenge”
If you are a regular follower of MTB Atlanta, you know we are always talking about the trails at Cochran Mill Park and riding the Dirty Sheets gravel route. But, unless you are a closet roadie you might not have realized one of the most popular road routes in Atlanta also starts from Cochran Mill Park. The road route is known as Silk Sheets. Before you get all upset about the name Silk Sheets copying the name Dirty Sheets, just take a step back, the Silk Sheets route was popular before the Dirty Sheets route even had a name. I admit it, we copied their name, sorry.
So being that the three best routes, IMO, in Atlanta are all in the same place it is only logical that someone should try to complete all on the same ride. Sure, there are probably lots of you that have done the Cochran Mill trails and Dirty Sheets on the same day but I have never seen anyone do all three. So I thought to myself, I’m up for a challenge I will go for it-the “Chatt Hills Challenge.”
So what exactly is the Chatt Hills Challenge? In reality it can be any ride you want it to be but here is what I did. I started bright and early and met MTB Atlanta board member Kurt Dorshimer at Cochran Mill for a 7am roll on the Strava Segment known as the Two Hour Club, https://www.strava.com/segments/20436616 . To get credit on strava you must complete every mountain bike trail at the park, the horse only trails and some of the Orange loop hiking trails are not included. That is 20 miles of trail, and if you are only used to riding the flowy Yellow trails, the Orange and Green trails can crush your soul, you might want to ride them first on a separate trip to get an idea of how technical they are.
Kurt and I have literally ridden thousands of miles at Cochran Mill Park together with no problems, but on this ride we both flatted. Normally this would be no big deal but we were on a time schedule, more on that below, and we had to rush to get the flats fixed. In all honesty this was a training ride for the Maah Daah Hey 100 race coming up the first of August, so I took the adversity of the flats as training for that race and didn’t really mind having to make the fix under time pressure. However, the flats did delay us enough that we were not able to officially complete the Two Hour Club route and I had to go back after the gravel route and complete the missing section.
So what was the deal about the time cutoff? Every couple of weeks there is a secret road ride known only to a select group of road riders, known as the, “Handshake Ride”. The Handshake ride leaves the nature stop at about 9:35 and waits for no man, so you must be there or you will miss the ride. Why is this ride known by only an invited group of roadies, to be honest it is because the ride is fast, think 25+ mph fast. Not only is the ride fast, the meat of the route follows the rolling hills of Chatt Hills best roads. In addition to having to be able to maintain a 25mph pace, you have to do it on a hilly course with 40 to 70 other guys that want nothing more than to drop you. My strategy was to sit in on the ride and take it easy with a goal of just completing the ride but that only lasted about one minute before I was on the front of the peloton taking pulls. I honestly think there is something wrong with me, why can’t I just take it easy?
Two hours later and 50 miles of Atlanta’s fastest group ride I was back at Cochran Mill Park ready to tackle the Dirty Sheets. My first thought was to ride my gravel bike, but considering the Maah Daah Hey race will be all single track, I stuck with the mountain bike. My last glance at strava showed I had completed the Dirty Sheets route over 500 times, yes I’m a local, but starting the route after 70 hard miles was something else completely. After spending 4+ hours with other riders I now found myself riding solo in the heat of the day. Yes, I was a little fatigued but it wasn’t too bad, the worst part was trying to stay focused on keeping my speed up so I could finish the loop. The Dirty Sheets is always great even on my 501st loop of it. So with a smile on my face rolled back into the park with a total of 92 miles in 6:31 minutes, 5:53 to total moving time. The stopped time was mostly due to fixing flats, the nature brake on the road section and stopping to switch bikes.
You can view my ride at https://www.strava.com/activities/5580149051/overview.
What challenges have done this summer? Share your adventures to sorbaatlanta@gmail. com and we may post your ride to inspire others to get out on their bike!