I am always wanting to ride different places and experience different roads and trails. When I heard about the BWGA ride put on by the same promoter as the Union City Gran Fondo, I wanted to see what the course and terrain were like along this portion of the GA/AL border. Unfortunately, heart problems related to my porcine mitral valve sidelined me the last few months. Now that I am released to do anything I want except jump out of an airplane (medical reason why I can’t!), I can do more exploring and start riding harder. Why not start with a new event?
Sorellas came out in force for the event with many doing the 60, some doing the “build your own 50ish we missed a turn option,” and a bunch riding the 36. The routes were no joke; there was a lot of climbing considering we were far from the mountains. The 36 mile course had more than 3000 feet of elevation gain.
Ben and his sweet Pittie allowed the event to use their property for parking and the after party. After he was introduced, we were off. There was one person for each route that was taking it at a moderate pace that you could ride with. Groups formed quickly, and we were somewhere towards the back third. We kept our ride at a moderate pace, and we always stop for snacks! After we turned off onto the first gravel road, we came upon a wreck that happened towards the front of the group. Others had stopped to help, and it looked liked everyone got up and was ok. We continued on. The Georgia roads were well maintained, much like Dirty Sheets or Maysville. Mat (Saskia’s Fella) stopped at the top of a hill and announced that we were now in Alabama. The change was also declared by the lack of road maintenance and the number of wheel eating potholes. This was also the first snack stop—a vital component in our casual gravel rides. The roads between the border and the rest stop were rough-a lot of areas that were washed out, holes filled with water, and other random obstacles that had to be dodged. There was even a large mud pile that had a small tire track cut through it; some rode, some walked it. We were happy to see the rest stop. One of the first groups on the 60 mile ride stopped long enough to have an adult beverage, much to the amusement of some. I kept to the gels and energy blocks.
The next section was just as rough as the previous roads. By this time my shoulders were starting to hurt a little bit from all of the jarring. In Alabama, we were mostly on gravel with only brief paved sections. There are hundreds of miles of unexplored gravel roads over there. After some tarmac, we turned and saw a beautiful vista! We were at the top of a climb over a small valley. We could see several miles away-trees, rolling hills, houses, and cows.* We took photos and had more snacks! We were only about 12 miles from the finish, and we were ready to roll. We could tell when we hit Georgia. There was a long stretch of pavement until we turned again to gravel goodness—well maintained roads with no wondering what surprise lay for us around the next curve or on the fun downhill. When we hit the final road, I put my Specialized Turbo Creo on Turbo and pulled the group in! I love turboing the final section and feeling the wind through my helmet. I accidentally dropped a few people, who came rolling in a few seconds after I did.
The after ride food was wonderful with homemade jambalaya, burgers (veggie and cow), hot dogs, homemade pickles (!!), and other delights for hungry riders. I highly recommend BWGA as an adventurous ride and for going somewhere different! The organizers want to expand it in the future, so keep your eyes out for the event in Feb. 2023!