So, I got the "report" from Jeff Bauer and Jeff Sammons (no relation) for the lower 100 miles of the Cookeville 400K. (I'm thinking of calling this the "Pissing and Moaning 400K" -- how does that sound?)
Here's what they said, with additional stupid comments inserted by me. It's my blog, so I get the last word. Nyah-nyah-nyah.
Sammons: We encountered two road closures. At the intersection of Old Cookeville Road and Burgess Falls Road (166.3 miles), there was a short detour around the construction. Jeff elected to run the blockade and walk over the road construction, but I would recommend the guys just take the detour next weekend. The other closure was at TN-111 (186.9 miles) after climbing the mountain. The road on the other side of TN-111 was blocked with concrete barriers, but that didn't stop Jeff either. We just climbed over the barriers and kept going. I would suggest the guys just turn left on TN-111 and ride the short distance down to control #8 and the intersection of TN-111 and Spring Street. At that time of night, there is hardly any traffic on TN-111.
Bauer: Agreed. The concrete barrier wasn't difficult to portage over, but it might make more sense to follow TN-111 so it's easier to find the Shell station.
RandoBoy: They were working on the Old Cookeville Road/Burgess Falls Road intersection when I scouted this route in January from the car. I'm going to change the route sheet to include the detour, since faster riders might hit this spot during daylight, and local law enforcement may look askance at portaging cyclists.
For those who aren't sure where this is, it's just before you get to Sparta. I'm assuming that the traffic in and out of Sparta was not a problem for the Jeffs. Riders who like to eat regularly may want to get some food there, particularly if it is getting late.
As for the second road closure, I'm going to change the route to turn left on TN-111 and go straight to the control. The added mileage for the other detour will make up for the lost mileage here. It sounds like this will alleviate some of the potential confusion for riders coming in to and leaving Spencer.
Sammons: The climb up Yates Mountain is two miles, not the one mile climb indicated on the cue sheet. Jeff and I walked almost the entire way.
Bauer: Actually, the cue sheet says "steep climbing next mile", which is correct. The early part of Yates was much harder than the latter -- though we were probably too tired to notice.
RandoBoy: Yeah, the worst part is definitely the first mile. Once you get to the cemetery, it eases a bit. Of course, you may have to stop, dig up a corpse, and steal it's legs. They will be fresher than yours at this point.
Sammons: We got all turned around trying to find Control #8 (Spencer) and also leaving town. So you might caution the guys to pay attention coming and leaving town.
Bauer: Spencer was a bit confusing at night even though we both had GPS units.
RandoBoy: I got turned around in a car scouting the route, and I wasn't even sleepy then. Leaving town, pay attention to cue sheet. As Jeff says below, look for the Sheriff's station (and the post office, if you get to the control after midnight and need to mail a post card) as the cue that you are leaving town the right way.
Sammons: And finally, the sign for Laurel Creek Road (193.5 miles), actually says Laurel Cove Road.
Bauer: Actually it was the sign for the Creek that said "Laurel Cove". We didn't see the road sign.
RandoBoy: Again, follow your cue sheet. There aren't that many roads out there, so if you check your mileage at the top you should be okay. The turn for this road is not marked, but it is just before the bridge that goes over the creek.
Bauer: Leaving Spencer, we did not see the sign for TN-30, but once we located the Sheriff's Dept., we just descend down that road. (This was actually a climb on my first infamous TN fleche.)
RandoBoy: If you are on the route, the Sheriff's department will be on your right. Just past this, the road banks to the left and you begin what would be a really fun descent in daylight. Since most riders will get there in the dark -- and there's barely going to be any moon this weekend -- it will be less fun.
Bauer: I would recommend offering dual start times of 5 am and 6 am, with brevet cards printed for each. This will give the slower riders a better option to reach the Spencer control before it closes (Jeff and I arrived at 10pm with a 5am start). It will also make the ride easier to support, as this would cluster the riders closer together.
RandoBoy: I like this idea. The 5 am starters will need lights and reflective gear when they leave, while the 6 am starters won't. Since the route returns to the hotel, everybody would be able to grab their night-riding gear at that time for the southern 100-mile loop ... unless they think that they can do the entire ride in daylight. Riders who like to go "fast and light" will probably opt for the 6 am start.
Bauer: I spoke with the manager at the Spencer Shell and they always stay open until midnight, i.e. never close early. If a rider misses this control, there are some soft drink vending machines a little further down the road.
RandoBoy: When I scouted the route, I spoke to the clerk at the store, who said that they close early if nobody's coming in. From this, I think we can assume that the store will be open until midnight ... but only if the boss is still there.
Thanks, Jeff and Jeff, for this helpful information. Of course, more thanks go to Jeff than Jeff, since Jeff really helped out when he said that thing to me on Saturday, while Jeff just got on my nerves ... I'll leave Jeff and Jeff to fight over which Jeff is the good Jeff and which is the bad Jeff. Equal congratulations go to both Jeffs for being the first riders to successfully complete the Pissing and Moaning 400K. Hopefully, we can run this route again next year or the year after, and I can finish it myself with more pissing and less moaning.