2014 3 State 3 Mountain: 100 Miles of SunshineJust for Fun
If you haven’t noticed, we’re an active bunch here at Papercut. From CrossFit to swimming to cyclocross, we pretty much do it all. Cycling is one of my favorite hobbies, and now that the weather has finally warmed up and the sun is shining, biking events are getting into full gear. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in one of my favorite events here in Chattanooga, the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge.
What is 3 State 3 Mountain?
Every year on the first weekend of May, thousands of cyclists gather at Finley Stadium in downtown Chattanooga to participate in one of the hardest 100-mile (a.k.a. “century”) rides in the Southeast. The full challenge takes riders up and down three mountains - Raccoon, Sand and Lookout, and through three states - Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, hence its name.
When I walked into a bike shop to purchase my first road bike in March 2007, I had already decided that I would complete 3 State 3 Mountain that year. Granted, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. It was March, after all, and that meant I only had three months to prepare, so I hit the pavement hard racking up the miles as quickly as possible. With the event rapidly approaching, I had only ridden as much as 50 miles at a time, but that didn’t lessen my determination to complete the ride no matter how long it might take me.
The night before that first event, I remember getting that nervous feeling you get the night before the first day of school. I didn’t sleep much, especially when I woke to thunder, lightning and the steady falling of raindrops. You see, 3 State 3 Mountain has been plagued by bad weather. It is almost an ongoing joke among Chattanooga cyclists. One of my favorite memories of this event is from five or six years ago. While climbing Suck Creek Mountain, a local cyclist named Jim Farmer passed me wearing a snorkel and a kiddie-style inner tube while riding his bike.
This Year’s Event
Although I’ve ridden countless centuries since, I still can’t seem to shake that nervous energy I get the night before the big day. This past Friday was no different, but this time I did not wake to those all-too-familiar raindrops. Instead, I woke up to wonderful sunshine. The day turned out to be truly spectacular—golden sunshine on tap, the sound of dozens of chains whirring in tandem, the scent of sunscreen and the lilac trees in bloom, and the feel of my heart rate increasing to insane levels on those last few steep pedal turns up Burkhalter Gap. It’s like pure pleasure and agony wrapped up in a pretty package begging me to open it each year.
3S3M won’t be my only century this season. I plan to compete in several more while training for Ironman Chattanooga. If you’re looking for a challenge why not join me? Check out these upcoming rides in the area:
July 5, 2014: Tour de Rocky Top (Knoxville, TN)
August 2, 2014: The Covington Century Ride (Covington, GA)
August 16, 2014: Blue Ridge Breakaway (Lake Junaluska, NC)
August 30, 2014: Clarksville Sunrise Century (Clarksville, TN)
September 7, 2014: Aiken To Ride Century (Aiken, SC)