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Chain Buster Racing Green Gobbler Mountain Bike Race Course Recon & Nutrition by TORQ
Fueling, Nutrition, Mountain Biking, Race Nutrition, Planning
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12hrs of Iron Maiden – Recon & Planning for the Distance…

12Hours of Iron Maiden at Tannehill State Park: (warning: a lengthy, but very insightful planning read…)

Photo 25

Out of the gate you hit a nice, steady, long climb. Keep your legs spinning and your cadence high…no time to ‘mash’ yet…

  • Course: Just under 9 miles of fast, flowy single track and wide trail, with only moderate bouts of climbing at distanced intervals
  • Bike: 29ner hard tails will rule the day. Less aggressive gearing.
  • Lap Times: 40 – 70 mins
  • Elevation: ~630ft
  • Weather: Well, it is spring in the south. Bring gear, and lots of it. Rain forecasted late. Time to slog it out…

Fueling/Nutrition Considerations for Long Enduro’s:

The Iron Maiden race is a big one. It presents different challenges from the other races throughout the year simply due to the total duration of the event. The ‘Team’ is often the medium for which to take-on and endure a 12hr event, where a diversity of lap and team member strategies can be leveraged.

There will of course be solo riders conquering the 12hr battle through a true test of muscle and aerobic endurance, as well as mental fortitude.  As the team member count decreases, pace modulation and nutrition play an even more critical role towards the aim of not just racing the event, but finishing strong all together.

The below are some general notes to consider based on team composition:

Teams >2Persons:

  • This is still no small feat. 2 – 4 hours of solid riding will play a definite toll on the body where even your body’s fully ‘topped up’ glycogen tank (~500g) will quickly deplete and will not endure the total duration of your stint.
  • Racers in this category will most likely be pushing pace a bit more than the lower man-power teams. This means elevated glycogen/CHO burn and the need to keep consistent fueling throughout the day. As with the past Chain Buster races, it is recommended to plan for ingestion of 60g of carbohydrate per hour (60g CHO/hr). Based on upper 60F to 70F weather, we would recommend 1x 500ml bottle of hydration per lap as well. Combining hydration and fueling from one source, e.g. TORQ Energy, will simplify fueling where 1 bottle and 1 gel/bar for each lap will keep you near fully fueled for your duration.
  • This is simple – 2 TORQ UNITS per hour, by the guidelines of our Fueling System

Example on how to reach 60g per hour - mix and match from across the TORQ portfolio

Teams <= 2Persons:

  • Some call you crazy. We call you crazy as well. But so are we. We’re all nuts out here, but that’s the thrill of riding.
  • No matter how you approach your lap strategies, you will need to pre-plan an adequate race nutrition plan. As you will most likely be enduring 6+ laps per rider, there are some general fueling principals to always adhere to, as well as some special practices for these longer scenarios:
    • Plan to consume between 60-90g CHO/hr (2-3 TORQ UNITS). Note this is ONLY achievable with a multiple transportable carbohydrate (e.g. 2:1 Maltodextrin:Fructose). The research behind this can be read here: TORQ SCIENCE 
    • Consuming >90g CHO/hr, or greater than 60gCHO/hr with a single form carbohydrate (e.g. glucose, maltodextrine), will overload your gut from moving nutrients and fluid through the gut wall  (gastric emptying) leading to gut-rot and discomfort and dehydration.
    • Very prolonged exercise will exhaust your cellular ‘charge’ – in simple terms, your body will be fighting a losing battle of manufacturing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body’s cellular energy currency. Providing your body with Ribose supplementation will increase ATP ‘re-charge’ up to 400% faster than the very slow and lengthy process of creating ribose from glucose. TORQ Bars include D-Ribose just as with our TORQ Recovery products. It is recommended to consume a bar every couple of hours in order to gain this D-Ribose supplementation.

TORQ bars are equipped with 30g of multiple transportable CHO, as well as D-Ribose for rapid ATP recharging (critical for endurance sessions)

General Tips for any team size:

  • Between Laps: While resting between laps, or waiting for your tag into the race, be careful on what you consume. Avoid gels and energy drinks until you are on the course. Instead, consume products which leverage slower GI ingredients (like fruits and oats). TORQ Bars are perfect ‘snacks’ between laps or during breaks. These will not ‘spike’ insulin levels, leading to hypoglycemia at the onset of your lap; in addition, near zero levels of fat and fiber, both which should be avoided, will keep you feeling light and your gut clear, ready to RACE. 
  • Reduce your weight. Many racers go equipped with camel packs. While holding high amounts of liquid, this moves your center of gravity up on the bike (bad) as well as significantly increases weight. If you can, leverage your cages for 1-2 bottles; reload your bottles as needed.
  • When you’re done, go search for that treat. Whether it’s a sandwich, cold beer, or protein shake, your body needs the fuel and the nutrients ASAP. We can’t stress that enough. Be sure to visit the TORQ tent after your stint to sample our high protein, low fat, vitamin rich, and extremely tasty TORQ Recovery shakes (made to order!)
  • Please be cautious on how you plan to use electrolyte tablet products, especially in a race of this duration and caliber. For more information regarding this, please read our earlier post about what’s really in your tablets and how they should be really used, if at all.


Course Recon:

Strava phone elevation

Now, for what you’re all waiting for, the following course recon was done by Hallie Blunck. Hallie is part of the Chain Buster team and one hell of a mtb’er and all around athlete. Don’t be surprised if she kindly asks for a ‘pass left’ this Saturday…

[Hallie] I highly recommend going online and looking at and printing off the Tannehill Historical State Park Trail System Map (screen shot below) and checking out the BUMP interactive trail map with descriptions of each loop. 

Tannehill Map

The course starts in open format from a dirt road leading from the north trail head of Tannehill State Park. It’s a slight incline, but it’s hammer time from the gun to try to get the hole shot into the single track which will lead you to the top of the first mountain.  

Photo 1

Racers will ride along the outside edge of the field, clockwise before veering left onto a wide gravel road.

Photo 2

Above: first mile will have elevation to it, but it will offer good clearance for passing and good form for steady pace and climbing

Get the burn going in this first half mile as this road kicks up at an average 9% grade for ~1/4mile steep climb before the course takes a sharp turn onto the first single track of the loop (pink IMBA trail).

In the Pink IMBA trail, there is one rocky feature… stay high and left for some fun and a small drop, or go right to cut around.  Features like this present opportune times to make a pass…or showcase a little flair for the cameras if you’re feeling it.  Continue climbing to the ridge and racers will then connect with the Red Pig Iron trail.

Photo 6

Above: Rocky feature on IMBA trail (view of the feature looking back)


Photo 7

Above – Ridge of Shades Mtn on red trail

Riders will hit the top of the ridge of Shades Mountain around 0.7 miles into the lap, where a quarter mile of flat, smooth, wide trail will be a gift to riders along the top ridge.

As you can see from the photo, this top ridge of Shades Mtn offers the first good place to control your heart rate (HR), or to make a few passes, as well as take on some hydration and fuel before turning onto the FAST and flowy Cannon Ball trail.  

Cannon Ball Trail is appropriately named offering ~1.5 miles of some excellent riding.  This roller coaster feels a lot like a pump track at times with good smooth swoopy turns, very few technical features, and plenty of room for passing in places.  

Photo 10

Above– Cannon Ball sweeping, banked turn common to this section. Ride high and keep pace.


Racers will stay straight at the next intersection to continue onto the green Iron Runner trail.  Iron Runner is a 3.77 mile moderate trail, not quite as flowy as Cannon Ball, but it has the same smooth well groomed hard packed dirt trails with very few (if any) technical features.  There are a few small creek crossings (photo) with rock bridges and a few other potentially wet spots if it has rained recently (we are forecasted to have some spotty showers during race day).  But the trails at Tannehill typically drain well, and these features shouldn’t pose any issues for racers. 

Photo 14

Above – Stream crossing on Iron Runner (looking back)


From Iron Runner you then pick up the red Pig Iron trail around 5 miles into the loop. The last 4 miles of flowy single track should have your HR and legs set for a bit of moderate climbing, where a fairly tight right handed switch back will take you back to the ridge of Shades Mountain.  

Photo 15

Above – Switch back (looking back), where there is some elevation to this coming up from the right side.


Once again, hitting the top of the ridge offers up a solid opportunity to control HR and grab your hydration/fuel source.  For endurance bouts, such as this race, it is both efficient on the body and easy to plan your nutrition utilizing a product which provides both hydration AND fueling at optimal levels. Check out TORQ Energy products, which will also be offered at the race.

Photo 17

Above – Ridge section of red Pig Iron trail


Pig Iron section provides some fun rocky features to grab some added fun during your laps… 

Photo 21

Above – Pig Iron trail, technical/rocky feature 2


At around 6.5 miles into the lap (Yellow trail) you will notice the Tri-County marker. Fun fact… this marks the intersection of Jefferson, Bib, and Tuscaloosa Counties…consider yourself officially in three places at once, for a brief moment (or not so brief if you partake of the bench).

At around 6.5 miles into the lap (Yellow trail) you will notice the Tri-County marker. Fun fact… this marks the intersection of Jefferson, Bib, and Tuscaloosa Counties…consider yourself officially in three places at once, for a brief moment (or not so brief if you partake of the bench).


As you make your way past the Tri County market, you will shortly find yourself out on the Iron Works Loop Iron Road – a gloriously wide, scenic path with plenty of potential for passing and fueling.

Photo 25

Above – Iron Works Loop Rd


Racers will ride along with the river to the left and end up back down by the Slave Quarters Road, continuing the lap with wide, open gravel sections perfect for recovering or really driving it hard to make some passes. 

Photo 26

Above – Slave Quarter’s Rd continues to provide smooth riding and ample ground to hydrate, pass, or chill


Around mile 8 of the lap, a left turn will mark your entry onto the new Campground Connector trail.  This is the most technical terrain you will find on the race loop, with a sneaky little rock garden that will getcha if you aren’t careful…

Photo 29

Above – Campground connector trail, rocky section (looking back). It’s temping to try to go right and go around (but those roots are slick if they are wet … I know from experience). Second time I took the line straight over and it went much better.


This trail is the least conducive to passing. Consider making any passing before or after this section. Use etiquette and offer some room around riders. Be aware of speeds and half-wheeling.   

Your reward is being spit back out onto the road which then turns back into a gravel road and gives you about a half a mile of flat, fast, open road to again address fueling or hydration or attempts at passing before bringing you straight back into the field to finish your lap under the Maxxis arches and turn again to head out for another lap …

Photo 30

Above – Road back to infield area. Mark this as the end of the lap and a good spot to start your hydration/fueling with some easy pedaling, posture, and time to get stuff down and ready for next lap.


Above – coming across the infield to finish

Above – coming across the infield to finish

The full loop is around 9 miles (my Garmin Edge says 8.5, but Strava says 8.8 miles). Finish loop heading across the field passing under Maxxis arch before turning right and starting all over.

Done and done. Sleep well. 

Hallie Blunck

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