Nestled in the Bavarian Alpine village of Helen, GA the ride starts in the heart of the North Georgia Mountains. After rolling out of Helen the route hits the first timed segment at mile 2.5, where any riders with intentions of an overall podium finish and cash payout will need to put their cards on the table from the start. The first time section immediately enters the mountainous area made famous by the 2003-2008 Tour de Georgia. In 2008, Unicoi Gap was the second to last climb on the approach to the race-deciding ascent up Brasstown Bald where Kanstantin Suitsou got the jump on Trent Lowe and Levi Leipheimer to win the event. As riders tackle this timed section they cover over 7 miles and climb 1500ft to the top of Unicoi Gap. The climb is very gradual for several miles, before turning into a real alpine ascent. Enjoy the vistas of the Chattahoochee National Forest on the descent before turning left and climbing up and over Jack's Gap.
A left turn on Richard Russell Scenic Hwy will put riders face to face with the 2nd timed section, Hogpen gap. Within 6.5 miles and another 1500ft, riders will reach the highest point on the course at 3469ft with ramps of 12%. The views at the top of the surrounding peaks are breathtaking. Check your speed and be careful on the descent as there are many sharp turns. Enjoy the ride through the forest knowing that the hardest riding is behind you.
After tackling the two biggest climbs of the day riders will head east from Helen through Unicoi State Park. The route then hits the 3rd timed section at mile 46, comprised of rolling terrain for a 4 mile section. Riders then get to enjoy a non-timed section of the route for the next 30 miles as the route explore the area round Lake Burton and Seed Lake. Be sure to save a bit of energy for the final time section, it only last just over 2 miles but at over 80 miles in to the day you'll need to find some go go power.
The route finishes back into the landmark town of Helen where, in 1969, local business owners collaborated to create what is now called &Bavaria in the Appalachians. Just outside of Helen on the route is the Nacoochee Indian Mound, the center of the ancient Cherokee town of Gauxule, visited by Desoto in his search for gold. Be sure to plan to stick around for beers, food and music served up at the finish line.
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