Snake Creek Gap Time Trial Unveils Major Changes for 2016

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Registration for the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial opens this Saturday, October 3, and there are some major changes to this year’s race series. The Snake is one of the largest endurance races in the southeast, drawing more than 500 racers to the three-part series outside Dalton, GA last year.

The first big change is that this year’s race series is going to just two events instead of three. Organizers found that the third race was the least attended and resulted in a lot of waste, as preparations were made for riders who never showed up. The first race is also being moved back a week so that it’s the second week in January instead of the first, to avoid any conflict with the New Year holiday. (This year’s dates are January 9 and February 13.)

The 34-mile and 17-mile options for the 2016 Snake are still available, but new this year is a 50-miler for those who really want to punish themselves. The start for the 34-mile race will remain the same (the Dry Creek trailhead) and the 50-mile race will start here as well. Riders completing the 50-mile race will complete 16 miles within the Dry Creek trail system before heading onto the traditional 34-mile route to the finish.

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The last big change to this year’s race is the elimination of the race shuttle to the start. Logistically this was a huge hassle and expense for organizers, so this year riders will be encouraged to park at the Dry Creek trailhead and if necessary, catch a passenger van (no bikes) to retrieve their vehicles at the end of the day. The Forest Service requires a $5 parking fee at the Dry Creek trailhead, so be sure to bring cash or check.

What DOES stay the same…

…is the excellent post race hot chili and cobbler in the Snake Pit. There will also be belt buckles for the 2×34 and 2×50 finishers, and yes, the 2×50 belt buckles will be larger than the 2x34s.

The Snake Creek Gap Time Trial has been around for 11 years now, and organizers hope these changes will keep the race fresh for another 11 and beyond. As a 2011 3×34 finisher, I have to admit I haven’t raced the Snake since 2011 since I’ve sorta “been there, done that, got the belt buckle.” Perhaps the new format will bring some veterans back to Dalton this winter.

Registration is $100 for the two race series, which is still a great value among mountain bike races.

Your Turn: If you’ve raced the Snake before, what do you think of the new changes? If you haven’t, are you considering this year’s race now that it’s 2 races instead of 3?

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