The Bootlegger 100 Race Bible
The genesis of the Appalachian Vision Quest known as The Bootlegger 100 happened like so many horrible cycling ideas: two guys working in a bike shop on a snowy day. With no customers, nothing to work on, and a not so small amount of alcohol, a question arose, “I wonder if we could put together a hundred mile dirt road ride?” From this simple question and a liberal amount of uninterrupted time on the Luna Cycles shop computer, Jeff Welch and I mapped out the first iteration of The Bootlegger 100.
A small band of intrepid souls set out in April of 2015 to ride this course and provide feedback. The week of rain that our area had seen and the incorrect forecast that showed more rain for the day of the ride meant that the number of people that had signed on from no less than 10 states, begged off and it was just a dozen of us that headed out to recon the route. Between the interest shown for our proposed event and the information gathered from the recon ride, two things happened. First, we immediately began talking to Blue Mountain Revival about making this a real, live race and second, we wanted to tweak the course to include Roseboro Rd. and Pineola Rd. (more on those two later). Thus was created the version of The Bootlegger 100 that looms large on the horizon.
The numbers are tricky. Different mapping programs see it differently, but the gist is a total of 113.4 miles and 10,585 feet of total elevation gain. RideWithGPS.com sees it slightly differently at 107.9 miles and 9,965 feet of total elevation gain. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
We can quibble about numbers, but the fact remains that this will be an epic sufferfest of remarkable proportions. To counter any charge of that statement being hyperbole, I offer the following guide to key features of The Bootlegger 100.
At 4.5 miles in, Setzer’s Gap is a dirt section of approximately 0.9 miles in total length and climbs for 0.6 miles of that at an average grade of 4.9%.
Setzer’s Gap will serve as an amuse bouche to the whole shebang. The current KOM (as of April 12, 2015) is 2 minutes and 30 seconds with an average speed of 14.5 miles per hour set on March 25, 2016 by William Harrison. Setzer’s Gap is a smooth dirt climb that tops out at a junkyard with a few dogs that tend to be louder than they are aggressive. A quick descent with a right hand curve turns to pavement and intersects Setzer’s Creek Rd. A left turn onto Setzer’s Creek Rd. is followed by a quick right onto the dirt road descent of Shallow Creek Rd. (Dirt Sector 2). Heads up on the tight, descending radius, 180 degree right hand turn at the bottom of the descent on Shallow Creek Rd.
Dog Alert - heads up for dogs at the corner of Setzer’s Gap Rd. and Setzer’s Creek Rd. (coming and going) AND along Shallow Creek Rd. (coming and going)
At approximately the 15 mile mark, you begin the dirt road climb up Globe Mountain. It is 0.9 miles long and has an average grade of 7.4%. There is a remarkable view to the left at the top, provided that you feel like enjoying the scenery. The descent features some fast, tight switchbacks with small, loose gravel. Use your wits in this descent. Current KOM is 5:39 set by William Harrison on March 25, 2016 and the QOM is 7:22 set by Nina Laughlin on February 3, 2013.
At the intersection of the dirt Globe Mountain Rd. and paved Hwy. 90 will be the first of four rest stops (it also serves as the fourth rest stop). You may designate drop bags for distribution at any and all rest stops.
After some amusing elevation increase on the pavement section on Highway 90 and the opening section of Anthony’s Creek Rd., Anthony’s Creek Rd. turns to dirt (look for the waterfall on the left hand side at the beginning of the climb).
With an average grade of 4% over 5.6 miles, the Anthony’s Creek Rd. climb saves its best punches for the end. The start is mild and offers a beautiful, tumbling creek along the right side of the road, but 2 miles in on the climb the grade steepens and save a brief respite at the 3.4 mile point, it never relents. Expect punches of 9% to 11% towards the top of the climb and enjoy the gut punch of 20.4% at the 3.6 mile mark of the climb. The KOM of 26:59 was set on September 11, 2015 by Noah Niwinski and the QOM of 34:06 was set on January 1, 2014 by Nina Laughlin.
Once you reach the top at Cary’s Flat, the road points down for a fast gravel descent with lots of sweeping switchbacks and some super fast straightaways all the way into the community of Edgemont. At this point the 60 mile and 100 mile courses diverge as the 100 mile course turns right onto Roseboro Rd and the 60 mile course stays straight and headed for Highway 90.
You must make the turn onto Roseboro Rd. from Edgemont Rd. by noon in order to be allowed to continue on the 100 mile route. If you do not make the time cut, a race official at this location will mark your number plate and you will continue on the 60 mile route and will be scored as a participant of that race. This is to ensure that no one is caught on course after dark.
After approximately 3 miles of descending the -6% descent from Carey’s Flat to Edgemont, the Bootlegger 100 course turns right onto the 7.1 mile climb of Roseboro Rd. With an average grade of 6.2%, this category 1 climb gains 2,329 feet of total elevation gain. But the devil lies in the details with this one. This climb has two distinct parts. The first segment of 1.1 miles has an average grade of 10.7% and the second segment of 4.4 miles has an average grade of 7.6%. This climb is humbling and the last time I rode it I came to the conclusion that it would never end and that my life was doomed to the sisyphean task of climbing to, but never reaching, the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The current KOM for the entire climb is 57:41 by David Clark and the QOM is 1:13:51 by Sonya Kiziah.
A second rest stop will be located at the top of the Roseboro Rd. dirt climb at the intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway. You may designate drop bags for this rest stop and any other rest stop. Please be extremely vigilant with not dropping any wrappers or other trash on or near the Parkway as this will be very detrimental to our permitting of future editions of this race with the Parkway. Also, be very vigilant in staying single file (as single file as possible) while on the Parkway section as this is a particular sore point for Parkway law enforcement. The section of the Parkway used for the course is only three miles in length.
After the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the screaming fast dirt descent of Pineola Rd. (seriously, it’s a 20+ minute descent), you roll from Edgemont, NC to Mortimer, NC before taking the right turn for the Brown Mountain Beach Rd. descent along the banks of Wilson’s Creek. Mortimer will be host to a major rest stop for both routes at Ole Betsey’s Country Store. Be sure to say “hi” to Bruce Grey, the proprietor of this oasis, and pet Lucy the dog that hangs out on the porch. 100 mile racers must make it to this point in the course by 2:00 in order to continue the 100 mile race. Race Officials will be on hand to mark number plates of those not making the time cut and those racers will continue on the 60 mile route and be scored with the 60 milers. Drop bags may be designated for this and any other rest stop.
Brown Mountain Beach Rd. will be a welcomed descent after the first half of the course. Watch for beautiful views of the Wilson’s Creek River on the right side of the road and see if you can catch the one spot where the road runs almost exactly perpendicular to the river and you get a spectacular view down the length of the Wilson’s Creek Gorge. Current KOM is 22:03 by Bryan Miller and QOM is 23:29 by Sonya Kiziah.
Once you exit Brown Mountain Beach Rd., you hit a short section of pavement on Adako Rd. before turning a sharp left turn onto Murphy Place. Thus begins the insult that we call Maple Sally. By the way, there are some spectacular views on the right of the road if you’re up to peering outside of your tunnel of pain.
“But it’s only a 1% average grade,” you say. Keep thinking that to yourself as you start the 17.9 miles of fiendish, shark tooth filled jaws of Maple Sally with 70+ miles in your legs. This pitchy, roller coaster of ups and downs cheats you out of most of your elevation gain with each trip down, but ultimately you’re climbing 1,380 feet. The beginning greets you with a long, steep pitch before the alternating ups and downs take over in the middle. Beginning at the 14ish mile point, you will encounter 3 identical left hand turns that become wooded straightaways. Experienced Maple Sally riders still get suckered by them, thinking each time, “oh yeah, this section is near the end…” and you will find yourself wondering if you got turned around somehow and are doing the same section of road over and over and over again. As of now, Alex Modestou has the KOM for Maple Sally at 1:17:35 and Sonya Kiziah has the QOM at 1:45:02. Having just done this as part of a full Bootlegger 100 course recon, I can tell you that this is not the place you want to begin unraveling.
After another screaming dirt descent on the Staircase Mountain section of Highway 90 (yep, a dirt highway), pavement appears again for a brief mile before you turn back onto Globe Mountain Rd. If you experience deja vu, it’s because you are now retracing your route backwards to the finish. You’ll be pleased to know that the climb of Globe Mountain heading to the finish is easier than when you climbed it on the way out of town.
Once you go up and over Globe Mountain for the final time, you will turn right onto Mulberry Creek Rd. (Dirt Sector 13) which rolls up and down a bit and then becomes paved. A right turn onto Roby Martin Rd. gives you a bit more rolling pavement to stretch your legs on before the sharp right turn back onto Shallow Creek Rd. (Dirt Sector 13). Shallow Creek Rd. is flat until you take the sharp, uphill left turn that will feel like a Category 1 climb, but isn’t. You’ll top out just in time for a quick left onto the Setzer’s Creek Rd. pavement followed by an almost immediate right turn onto Setzer’s Gap Rd.(Dirt Sector 14) - the final dirt sector of the course. A slight up, a fast down and you turn left onto the pavement of Highway 90; just 3 miles from the finish, relief, a hearty sense of accomplishment, the accolades of tens of people, and food!
Bootlegger 100 course on Strava - https://www.strava.com/routes/1611212
on Garmin Connect - https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/12096163 (note: the finish in town is not quite right as Garmin mapping software doesn’t do well with out and back courses that aren’t 100% identical, but the important parts are right. Pay attention to event day signage and course marking)
At the stop sign on Hwy 90, turn right onto Valway Rd.
At the next stop sign, turn right onto N. Main St.
After ¼ of a mile approximately, you will turn left onto Old North Rd. There is a car repair place on the corner of this turn. It is not at a stop sign or stoplight.
Go across the small bridge and bear right.
You will go up a slight hill and come to a stop sign at the intersection with Main St where you will turn left.
Stay straight through the stoplight at the intersection with Finley Ave.
Turn right at the next light onto Ashe Ave.
Turn left at the next intersection onto Church St.
This is the finishing straight away! Continue straight through the light at the intersection with West Ave.
Pass under the finish banner and bathe in the adulation and accolades of the assembled throngs!