The fifth race of the Greenville Spring Training Series is the one farthest from the city of Greenville. It is located in a beautiful area near scenic highway 11. Though I’m sure that by the end of each race the riders won’t be paying much attention to the scenery! They’ll have their heads down as they attempt to be the first to climb Gap Creek Road to the finish.
The course almost forms a rectangle. You start at the top of the hill on Gap Creek Road. Right out of the gate you are descending with a near right angle turn onto Devils Fork Road. The section doesn’t have much climbing. After some initial rollers, things level out a bit as the road follows a creek that connects two lakes near the course. There is a sharp turn again at the end of this section as the riders turn onto River Falls Road. This road also follows a creek and there isn’t much elevation to contend with.
However, soon after turning back onto Gap Creek Road, that begins to change. Things start out seeming about the same until you turn a corner and cross a small bridge. At that point, you will see the climb begin. It starts off pretty shallow with some false flats and even some straightaways. You’re climbing though and about halfway to the top you’re going to be feeling it!
Then you will enter a winding section and the pitch kicks up a bit at that point. Suddenly you come around a right hand curve and “crest” the hill. In front of you is a straight shot of 100 meters or so to the finish line. The unfortunate thing for you is that you have to do multiple laps of this 5 mile course.
That climb is the deal maker — or breaker. The rest of the course is pretty manageable. The field is able to stay pretty much intact through the majority of the route. If you are going to make separation, it almost has to be on the climb. It is there the race is decided — both by attrition during the race as riders must climb it multiple times and then by selection as the strongest remaining riders race to the top for the final time.
I have seen pros and masters racers use this climb to build a gap early and then increase it as the race goes on. For the most part the categories 3, 4, and 5 do more of a group race. Racers from those categories attempting to build that kind of break might blow themselves up on the multiple climbs.