If you’re a mountain biker in the Southeast, chances are you’ve at least heard of the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial. The race has been held every winter since 2005 on the iconic Pinhoti Trail near Dalton, GA. There are two races in the series for 2017, the first is on January 7th and the finale will be held on February 11th.
Three distance options are available to competitors: 17 miles, 34 miles, and 50 miles. Finishing the 34- or 50-mile distances both months will earn you a sweet belt buckle along with the satisfaction of making it through one of the most demanding trails in the state. The riding along this section of the Pinhoti is unique in Georgia. Steep climbs take riders to rocky, technical ridge riding. Since the race is held in the winter, you’ll even get some beautiful views of the farms in the valleys below. Riders that take on the longer distances will cross over six different mountains, while the 17-milers will cross over three.
Below is my GPS from the 50 mile race in January 2016.
Should you decide to take on the Snake, be prepared. The weather during this time of year is unpredictable – it could be freezing, snowing, rainy, or warm and sunny. It’s best to bring a bunch of clothing options with you so you can make a gametime decision at the start. You’ll also need to bring the usual: a good multitool, at least one tube, and CO2 or a pump. However, as I’ve found out firsthand, you never know what the Snake will throw at you. I like to bring these items as well: a patch kit, spare brake pads, a quick link, zip ties, and a derailleur hanger for my frame. Since this is a point-to-point race, the checkpoints are few and far between. If things go sideways and you can’t fix your bike trailside, be prepared for a long hike out.
If that doesn’t scare you away, head over to BikeReg.com to sign up for the 2017 edition of the Snake! Currently, registration for all categories is $100, but it will go up to $120 on December 19th. Registration will close on Friday, January 6th at 5 PM, and there is no onsite registration this year.