Written by J.R. Mendez Thursday, 09 November 2017 00:00
A couple buddies asked if I wanted to go do the Fried Green 50, a homegrown, small time, and FREE event this weekend. It all seemed harmless enough I thought. Why not? The FG50 is a gravel ride/race which starts in the minuscule town of Juliette which, for those of you movie buffs (or tomato lovers), is the town where the Fried Green Tomatoes movie was partly filmed. That’s about all the relation this event has to the movie though.
The day was lining up to be amazing weather. Arriving barely 20mins before the start - a little too close for my comfort - we kitted up and lined up toward the front of the crowd. A crowd that I guess surprised the organizers. This tiny event suddenly appears to be popular! But no worries, they send us off right on time.
Looks good. Very much a nice endurance pace, until mile 5. Suddenly, we are max’d out and quickly creating gaps. Didn’t take long before we had a 5-man breakaway and at a roaring pace! We kept pushing to assure the gap was big enough they would never see us again. Pushed my threshold in several spots for sure.
A few miles later the pace was still high but we were starting to feel like we had done the job. Then, the dreaded chain jam. A little chain suck, a little dropped chain, chain flopping everywhere. I desperately tried every trick in the book to get the chain back on before my bike could come to a complete stop in the speed sucking loose dirt. But, no luck. I quickly dismounted and got to work on the chain as I watched my breakaway group disappear into the distance at only mile 15. It only took me 30-45 secs to get back on the bike, but they were hammering. All I could do was climb back on and chase, hoping they would eventually slow the pace down and I’d catch a break, and them.
I rode pegged for miles hoping , just hoping, I’d get a glimpse of them again. And I did, at about mile 20 on a long road section. I clocked it and found myself running 1.5mins behind them. Bad but not insurmountable. So I kept the chase on.
Chasing the front and running away from the back! And that’s about how the rest of the race played out. I solo’d for 35 miles to hold on to fifth place. Not bad at all. I thought for sure I’d get caught, but the catch never came.
Super hard race deserved a super reward. What better than some famous Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe. And I have to tell you, those were some damn amazing tomatoes too. I will be going there again - even if it’s in the middle of nowhere - to get myself another taste of heaven. I never would have thought that little dive of a town could have such a gem of a cafe. And with Hollywood cred.
Get there if you can. You won’t regret it. Just make sure to line up a solid ride (like the Fried Green 50) to burn off all that southern cookin’ goodness!
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