Market Forces Could Shutter 60 Percent of Coal Generation in Texas by 2020 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享By Jim Malewitz in the Texas Tribune:Texans are on pace to rely more heavily on natural gas, wind and solar energy to power their lives in the coming decades — and much less on coal. That’s regardless of how judges rule in battles over federal regulations meant to speed the shift toward cleaner-burning electricity sources, according to a study being released Tuesday.Market forces alone could drive the trend, which would barely nudge electricity prices, said the Brattle Group analysis commissioned by the Texas Clean Energy Coalition, which supports natural gas and renewable energy sources.But a pro-coal group that viewed a summary of the study said it may provide an overly simplistic view of the electricity market that discounts the value of an energy mix that includes coal.The Brattle Group is a global research firm that often crunches numbers for regulators, like the Texas Public Utility Commission and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) — the operator for the grid covering most of the state.The firm’s study offers a glimpse of what Texas’ energy portfolio — and its carbon dioxide footprint — might be if natural gas prices stayed relatively low, as some expect, and solar energy technology keeps getting cheaper. That scenario could shutter 60 percent of coal generation on the ERCOT grid by 2020. And by 2035, natural gas, wind and solar power would combine for roughly 85 percent of generation — 65 percent coming from natural gas plants. Coal-fired power would chip in just 6 percent of ERCOT generation by 2035, down from 28 percent in 2015. Full article:https://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/17/texas-market-forces-driving-shift-coal-study-says/?utm_source=texastribune.org&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=Tribune%20Feed:%20Main%20Feed
Industry and Consumer Groups Line Up Against U.S. Coal Bailout FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Wall Street Journal:A Trump administration proposal aimed at shoring up coal-fired and nuclear power plants across the nation has generated opposition from an array of energy and consumer interests, including some who are often at odds on energy policy.Oil and gas companies, wind and solar power producers, some public utilities, electricity consumers and environmentalists—rarely natural allies—are all publicly opposing the Energy Department’s proposal. The plan would effectively guarantee profits for some nuclear and coal-fired power plants, prompting critics that also include former federal regulators to call it a bailout for struggling plants that undermines competitive markets.The Trump administration, in its proposal late last month, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to implement market reforms to better reward power plants that can continue running in extreme weather, during attacks or other crises. The effort, led by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, is rooted in the argument that if nuclear and coal-fired plants keep going out of business, there is an increased national security risk and chance of power shortages.The unusual battle lines that have ensued put coal miners and a small group of power companies that stand to benefit up against nearly the entire rest of the energy industry—both fossil and renewable fuels—plus consumers and environmentalists. It has also flipped some traditional economic orthodoxies, with Democrats saying they are arguing for free markets while Mr. Perry and some Republicans are justifying subsidies to help nuclear and coal compete.Executives at NRG Energy Inc. and even Exelon Corp. , which has lobbied for some state-level subsidies, have publicly expressed concerns about how far the proposal goes. FirstEnergy Corp. appears to be one notable supporter among power companies, with its chief executive commending the effort in a news release. The controlling owner of coal miner Murray Energy Corp. also said the proposal could save thousands of jobs and called it the best action taken in decades for low-cost power.Industry groups have organized much of the opposition. The American Petroleum Institute, the Washington, D.C., lobbying powerhouse for U.S. oil and gas producers, has already released one joint statement against the proposal with the American Wind Energy Association, the Electricity Consumers Resource Council, the Solar Energy Industries Association and others.“Competition in power generation over the past 25 years has brought enormous benefits to consumers,” said Marty Durbin, executive vice president of the petroleum group. “We’ve got to let the markets continue to be the driver.”More: ($) Trump Plan for Coal, Nuclear Power Draws Fire From Environmental, Oil Groups
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Washington Examiner:Credit ratings giant Moody’s is warning that a big chunk of the nation’s electric utilities are at risk…because of the transition toward renewable energy, which is occurring despite President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement.The report, issued Tuesday, says not-for-profit public power and cooperative utilities, which generate and transmit electricity, are facing “rising risks” from the transition to less carbon dioxide-emitting power plants, because they own most of the coal plants across rural America.The company has begun examining the effects of climate policy on the utility sector through the lens of the Paris Agreement. Moody’s found that Trump’s withdrawal from the accord a year ago will be limited because of “customer preferences and technology trends.”In addition, utilities “have consciously transitioned towards cleaner generation, even in states politically opposed to carbon regulations, because of low natural gas prices and the declining cost of renewables,” the report found.Nevertheless, the biggest risk to publicly owned utilities comes if they shut down their coal plants but still have to pay for them.The report says the public utilities and co-ops are facing the same challenges that their for-profit counterparts are facing, driven by a combination of state and local policies and customer preferences. But public power and co-ops don’t have the resources to move as quickly to build more low-carbon renewable energy resources and are much more dependent on coal because of their locations.More: Electric Utilities At Risk From Climate Goals Despite Paris Exit, Moody’s Says Moody’s: Munis, Co-Ops Face Major Risks From Coal Plant Closures
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CNN:The boom in solar and wind power in the United States will deal a fresh blow to coal country in the next few years.Renewable energy, led by solar and wind, is projected to be the fastest-growing source of US electricity generation for at least the next two years, according to a report published Friday by the US Energy Department.Boosted by swiftly falling prices, utility-scale solar power is expected to increase by 10% in 2019 and 17% in 2020, the Energy Information Administration said. Wind power should grow 12% and 14% in those years, vaulting it ahead of hydropower for the first time.Coal, long the king of the power industry, continues to rapidly decline. The share of total power generation from coal-fired power plants tumbled to 28% last year, compared with 45% in 2010, according to the EIA. Coal’s market share is expected to decline to 24% by 2020. US coal consumption declined by an estimated 4% in 2018 to the lowest level since 1979.“Coal is just an expensive technology that can no longer compete,” said Kingsmill Bond, new energy strategist at Carbon Tracker, a think tank that examines the relationship between energy and financial markets.Natural gas’ share of the US power market is expected to increase from 35% in 2018 to 37% by 2020, according to the EIA. Renewables other than hydropower are projected to grow from 10% in 2018 to 13% in 2020.More: Solar and wind are booming, while coal keeps shrinking EIA: Renewable energy capacity to climb sharply in next two years, while coal declines continue
I run alongside an abandoned firing range and across a flat field that ends against the rise of a steep hill. A trail leads up the slope. There is no sign warning DANGER: NO ENTRY! as in so many places on Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.I long to run past the fence and along the peaceful coastline that stretches to the far-eastern tip of Cuba. But I am an attorney confined to the base. My colleagues and I represent a prisoner who is detained here. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, at the start of the war in Afghanistan, thousands of men were rounded up—often for bounty—and interrogated. Many were subjected to torture and harsh conditions, and more than 700 were shackled, blindfolded, hooded, and flown here to this prison. One hundred sixty-six remain. Some are guilty, and some are innocent. But the rule of law has been suspended for most of the Guantánamo detainees. For these men there are no charges, no indictments, no arraignments, and no trials. There is only indefinite incarceration, possibly until death.The entire naval base, bay and all, is a near rectangle about nine miles by five miles, almost the size of Washington, D.C., where I live. From my position atop the hill I can see a guard tower along the fence, and I wonder if a pair of binoculars there are fixed on me right now.I resume my afternoon jog on trails that are as perfect as one can find for running: firm soil with bits of shell. I pass an old ranch-style house with broken windows and a rusty swing set in the yard. This could be the set of a post-apocalyptic TV show. I get the feeling that I am not supposed to be here. Everywhere there are Humvee tracks, old trailers, and unidentifiable objects in various stages of decay.I jog as far into this uncharted area as I can, toward the mouth of the river. A soldier emerges from some reeds, and then a dozen more. Guns are pointing at me. I have accidentally run into a squad on patrol in full gear. An officer waves me through. I lock eyes with the soldiers as I pass, wanting to salute to show my respect, but as a lawyer representing a detainee, I am not a welcome presence. I look down and quicken my pace.In 2008 our U.S. Supreme Court found that the detainees at Guantánamo cannot be held indefinitely without a trial. At that time, hundreds were released, including two of my firm’s three clients. One was guilty of nothing but charity and let go after five years of confinement under horrendous conditions. The other had been a case of mistaken identity—military authorities had simply rounded up the wrong man, and he’d spent seven years in prison for nothing.Our remaining detainee is a Muslim from Russia, a ballet dancer by profession. “A ballet-dancing terrorist,” he jokes. He is now in his eleventh year of imprisonment. He discovered Islam as an adult while in the Russian Army, which is rife with discrimination against Muslims. When the authorities would not even permit him to name his son Yusef instead of Josef, his family decided to leave. He emigrated ahead of his wife and son and made it as far as Pakistan, where in early 2002 he was arrested by Pakistani police, turned over to U.S. forces, and then shipped to Guantánamo on a military-transport plane in conditions worse than those for animals.In 2010, there was a hearing for our ballet dancer to determine if the detainee met the legal definition of an “enemy combatant,” a definition the courts have made both broad and vague. The most satisfying moment in the case was the day the hearing ended, before the decision was released. Our achievement? There had been a process. This is what elevates a nation that follows the rule of law above those that don’t: we do not round up prisoners and mistreat them and detain them indefinitely without due process.We won the weeklong hearing. But the government has appealed, and during the appeal, our client’s release has been put on hold for three years. Eleven years into our client’s detention, we are still waiting to find out if our victory will be allowed to stand. If it is, he will be the only one freed out of the dozens who won their hearings in 2010.We try to explain to our client that, although he won his hearing three years ago, there may yet be another hearing, but he barely listens. Is it any wonder he has lost interest in his legal case? It just goes on and on, like his imprisonment. His son, Yusef, now twelve, long ago fled Russia with his mother to Syria, then to a refugee camp in Jordan, and then back full circle to Russia. The boy longs to meet his father.The final leg of my run is a two-mile downhill slope to the ferry landing, with a full view of the bay and, in the distance, a mountain topped by white wind turbines. The dusk light turns everything golden. These are the running moments that allow me briefly to forget all else.Our client remains in prison, along with 165 other detainees. A few of them are guilty, to be sure, but others are innocents stuck in the Kafkaesque labyrinth of Guantánamo. Even if he is someday released, our client will always be a leper in the West. Yet somehow he remains cheerful and makes jokes. We converse on many topics: history, philosophy, sports. He has maintained his dancer’s build and enthusiasm for physical fitness, and he knows that I am a marathoner. Chained to the floor, he asks me about my running. • –Author Gary Thompson is an attorney who represents detainees imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. He lives with his wife and children in Washington, D.C.
I never realized how similar my mother and I are until I forced her onto a raft for a three-day, two-night float trip on the Upper New this past Fourth of July weekend.My mom never shies away from a challenge. Never mind that she hasn’t slept in a backpacking tent, or that she’d only been rafting a handful of times, or that she’d never pooped in the woods or made a meal on a camp stove or went multiple days without a shower and a mirror. Never mind that I was asking her to step completely outside of her comfort zone, away from text messages and Facebook and even a means of telling time. She wanted it, and more importantly, she wanted to learn. She wanted me to teach her how to set up a tent, how to pack a raft and seal a dry bag. Although I insisted on j-stroking the raft myself for 20 miles (from our put-in near Prince to our takeout at Cunard) and letting her lounge like a princess, she always asked questions, demanded to help unload gear, and stubbornly insisted that she had enough energy to help with dinner even as her eyes fluttered with fatigue from the past week’s non-stop action.Mom learning the art of Coleman cooking.Our first backcountry meal together: spinach, butternut squash, black beans, and quinoa.“How do you do it?” she asked me after the trip as we loaded up the Go, piled our wet clothes into the Jeep, and began our five-hour journey back to the office in Charlottesville.“Coffee,” I said. “Lots of coffee.”While that may be true to a certain extent (FYI, my new favorite brew comes from Bald Guy Brew out of Valle Crucis – stay tuned for his story in the September issue of the magazine), I didn’t have much in the way of an answer for her. My schedule is always jam-packed, down to the very last second of every day. For better or for worse, that’s how I like it. I inherently bite off more than I can chew, dismiss sleep for sunrise shoots, and say ‘yes’ to any and every opportunity to explore new places, meet new people, and have a good time.My best friend once told me that I have a fear of missing out. At first, I was offended, quick to put up the defensive front and deny her accusation. But as I was driving last Sunday, eyeballing my mom with envy as she slept in the passenger seat, I realized that my friend was right. I am afraid of missing out. Yes, I was exhausted from the summer heat, from j-stroking a 16-foot raft loaded with gear by myself, from organizing the use of that raft and the gear my mom needed, from endless hours on the road, from the wheels in my brain already churning with the coming week’s responsibilities … but in the week that I’d spent with my mom, we’d done so many things, accomplished so many firsts for her! We’d toured the foodie scene in Asheville, cooled off at the base of Harper Creek Falls, watched the clouds pass lazily over the Linville Gorge, met some inspirational folks in Valle Crucis, and spent three full days on the river with some of my favorite people. And the best part? We were only one week into our two-week travels!Nuts don’t fall far from the tree. Fun day at Harper Creek Falls.Cooling off at the base of the lower falls.Checking out the overlook at Wiseman’s View, Linville Gorge.#selfieMeeting Don Cox, aka Bald Guy, in Valle Crucis. Best almond espresso EVER.But the fact that my mom was able to sleep soundly in a car (I was even cranking The Notorious B.I.G. and she didn’t seem to notice) was enough to finally put into perspective what my friend was trying to tell me: I can do anything, but I can’t do everything. While that’s easy for me to sum up in a neat little phrase, it’s a lot harder for my restless being to admit, accept, obey. Here I’d gone and worn my mother into the dirt, so much so that she, who rarely sleeps in the car, was now passed out, mouth open, unaware of my blasting old school hip hop and windows-rolled-down-despite-having-a.c. white noise.Yet, as I sat there drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, fretting about how I’d taken my mother from the comforts of her home to the passenger seat of my too-crammed car, another thought came to me: she’s an adult. She chose to tag along. She knew I wasn’t living in the lap of luxury. She knew I was living out of a camper. What’s more, I hadn’t heard her complain once. Despite having undergone spinal surgery in the past year (something with herniated discs and fusions and hardware), she never so much as uttered a grunt during the seven days I’d been dragging her through trails and up mountains and down rivers. She’s a tough cookie and, like me, she’s afraid of missing out on life.And so, Mom, in response to your question on how I do it, I think I have a more appropriate answer. You.When your Astral shoes match your boat, you know you’re killin’ it.Greg lounging on the Upper New float.Mom riding princess-style.First morning on the New.Nighttime on the New.Campfires soothe the soul.The New crew, throwing up the T.O.T.Did I mention we came across a private collection of VW vanagons? Organized by color? Yeah.
I had the chance to spend a day ripping fresh singletrack at Massanutten, just outside of Harrisonburg recently. And by “ripping,” I mean squeezing the shit out of my brakes until I left a trail of smoke. I can’t remember the names of the trails I rode, because I was being led by a local who was like, “oh, yeah, let’s turn here…this should be cool, let’s go here…you’re gonna love this…” but the singletrack on the mountain was a beautiful mix of fast, bermy descents intermixed with methodical, rocky juggernaut-like stretches. Fun, challenging and gorgeous—occasionally, we’d pop out of the woods to pedal through an expansive meadow with thigh-high grass and sweeping views.Naturally, after the ride we needed food and beer. Not necessarily in that order. My local “guide” started rattling off the breweries we could hit—Harrisonburg now has three legit beer-makers. Instead of choosing favorites, we decided to go to Bella Luna Pizza, where we could sample the wares of all three. This wood-fired pizza joint prides itself on stocking a large selection of beer from Harrisonburg and Virginia. About the only beer they bring in from outside of the region is Bell’s Two Hearted, and you can’t really blame them for that, now can you?It was hot, and I just pedaled a dozen miles, so naturally, I wanted a pale ale—the underappreciated work horse of the craft beer world. Pale Fire is the newest brewery in Harrisonburg (they just opened their taproom in April), and they’re coming out of the gate strong with their doozey of a pale called Deadly Rhythm. It comes in at a super sessionable 4.8% ABV, but packs a vibrant, hoppy punch. The beer is crisp, but fruity with plenty of citrus hop character and just enough malt to give it a little backbone.The world is going gaga for “session IPAs” right now, but I’ll take a proper pale ale any day of the week—something like Pisgah Pale or this new standout from Pale Fire. Pales have a balance that the new breed of session IPAs don’t typically have. They’re not just hoppy, they have body and a legit malt bill. Seems like Pale Fire understands this as well as any long-standing brewery in our region. If Deadly Rhythm is any indication, I’m pretty stoked to have these guys on the scene.
Man, after all the months of preparation it’s good to be finally out here doing it, actually underway. It’s a lovely morning and I’ve got 24 miles under my belt since the 4:00 A.M. predawn start. All systems seem to be humming along smoothly; my mental state could be described as –perhaps unrealistically– buoyed optimism. This section of the course traverses country lanes through farmsteads nestled in narrow Fort Valley, Virginia. Fog shrouds the pastures and ponds. I hope it lingers long enough for me to get out of the open and into the shade of the trails again; I can do without an overdose of summer sun beating down on me. It’s warm and humid already.I’m approaching the St. David’s Church aid station. Hmmm what do I need? I think I’ll take on some more fruit like strawberries and orange slices, watermelon if they have it.I’m running the thirty-eighth edition of the Old Dominion 100-Miler. Held on what’s usually “the first truly hot and humid day of the season,” the OD100 is the oldest race of its kind in the United States. I’ve wanted to do it from the first time I heard about it. Besides featuring a beautiful and varied course, the race has a down-home feel to it. It’s still run by the family that organized it in 1978.So I’ve been running for four hours now. Out of the gate at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock I loped with the 57 other race starters. Headlamps bobbing through the town and into the night, the excitement hanging in the air with the humidity. I chatted with folks on the long climb up Woodstock Tower Road; I realized, as the field stretched inexorably apart, that soon I’d be solo and chatting would be something I’d mainly be doing with myself. I felt good, looking forward to the day’s challenges.I’m alone now; it’s quiet and peaceful, my footfalls and birdsong the primary noises. I’ve seen some lovely stretches of trail such as the lavender trail where I was passed from one Whipporwill to the next. I’ve visited several aid stations by now, including the first crew-accessible one where my Marybeth gave me the most important aid of all: a smile and encouragement. And, oh yeah by the way, at mile 22 I had to “squat behind a tree,” something that I’d rather not fool with but when you’ve gotta go…As always I did feel better afterwards, but the chafing that would result from it would come back to haunt me.I’m bib number 77. I grinned when the race headquarters check-in girl gave it to me, ’cause 77 is one of my all time favorite numbers. And I’m always looking for good omens, especially when it comes to running 100 (!) miles.I’m trotting up to the deserted farmhouse that serves as backdrop to the St. David’s Church aid station. A woman greets me and I offer exclamations of the beauty of the setting. She smiles, tells me she’s worked this spot for 18 years, and introduces me to her helper, a teenage girl who turns out to be the race founder’s granddaughter. After checking me in –bib number and time arrived– and ensuring that my hands are full of fruit they send me off.Time flows on. I’m almost at a landmark aid station, Four Points, at mile 32.5. As it comes into view I hear the hustle and bustle of the place, and some clapping and cheers when they see me. (Do ya think I love that?) My crew Marybeth jumps into action, pouring cold water from a gallon jug over my head as I stoop over, mouth full of apple. Ahhh, so helpful.A few hours of demanding work, not to mention some anguish, brings me back to Four Points again; the course circles back through at mile 48. In the meantime I had transited, among other places, the steep and technical climb through Duncan Hollow and up over Scotchorne Gap. Among the rocks of Duncan Hollow a strikingly gorgeous Timber rattlesnake lay across the trail –in greeting, I optimistically mused. I had also paused briefly at Crisman Road aid station, where not only did I nab a grape FreeziePop, but luckily passed the medical check performed there.At my second pass through Four Points Marybeth announces with a smile, “almost halfway!” I smile too but inside I whine, “Don’t remind me! I feel like I’ve put out monumental effort already! And you mean to tell me I’m not even halfway?” But I don’t say that, just think it.On the long Moreland Gap climb I cross a line painted on the fire road that’s labeled, “50 Miles.” Yeah, that’s good news but, like I said… I’m running with Erik at this point, and we end up running about four hours together. On the lengthy crank to Edinburg Gap we come across another rattler, this one a big Eastern Diamondback. He’s coiled in a substantial pile, rattling loudly enough to almost shake the leaves off the trees. We give him a wide berth and excitedly move on, enjoying the bonus energy boost that reptile provided us.The OD 100 course is intricate. One could get lost. I had spent weeks studying maps, plotting the course and memorizing aid station locations. On the day before the race Marybeth and I drove the sections of the route that we could get to. Having those images in my mind would turn out to be a big help; upping my confidence level and peace of mind –things you just can’t get enough of in a long race.The OD 100 has a testy little time limit I’m thinking about. In order to cop one of the coveted sterling silver race belt buckles one has to finish in under 24 hours. On one long, drawn-out climb I determine that it took me 11.5 hours to reach the halfway point, therefore making it almost impossible to finish the race in under 24 hours, given the assumption that it would take me considerably longer to complete the second half. Rats. A while later I realize that actually I had reached the halfway point in 9.5 hours. I still have a good chance at sub 24…just gotta keep it all together and not fade too much as the race progresses. I’m still in the game.“What can I get you!?” the kind volunteer at Edinburg Gap asks. “Chocolate Milk!” I blurt out, certainly not expecting them to really have it. “Sorry,” he says, as I gratefully palm a half turkey cheese sub instead. Just as I’m departing a guy shoves a small bottle of chocolate milk into my other hand. “From my private stock!” He grins.My right shoulder is bothering me considerably now, and my hydration pack really aggravates it, so while I can I trade Marybeth my pack for a handheld 20-ounce bottle instead. The change is good; I just can’t carry as much water as with my pack. I’ll drink more at the aid stations.The section of race course from mile 54 to 60 follows a rugged off-road-vehicle trail. I’m thinking that it isn’t so great that such vehicles are tearing through the national forest like that until three big knobby-tired Jeeps crawl past and I change my tune. Now it’s hey that looks like fun!Ok, so I’m getting weary, I hesitate to admit. There is an abundance of discomfort on many fronts. My mind is busy managing the load, keeping things light and positive. “I feel great, and I feel grateful!” “Light, easy, glide…strong.” A good thing, among many actually, is that my new shorts seem to be working very well, in reference to the below-the-belt chafing I’m used to. My old CWX compression shorts/Nike shorts combo worked well for a couple of years but recently started to chafe me bad during races and even long training runs. I won a pair of Patagonia shorts at the Promise Land 50k two months ago and they seemed, well, promising. After getting chafed to pieces in the Massanutten Mountain 100-miler three weeks ago, I decided to make the switch. So far so good.I mentioned running the MMT100 three weeks ago. That’s right, bucking conventional thinking that says it’s impossible to run two 100-milers only three weeks apart I decided to go for it. Actually, I have been planning this for months, and I knew intuitively and practically that I could do it, barring any disaster incurred in the MMT. I just really wanted to do both races. And I’ve learned that you don’t just try to run a big ultra, you plan and train and work hard to do it. On this the burly Old Dominion 100 I know it’s crucial to ignore that annoying small voice inside me that wants to say, “You can’t run another 100 now, and certainly not without at least taking a major hit in your performance.” Hmmm…Don’t worry, I’m not listening to that.Along the OD 100 course, in the more remote sections, are several self-serve, unattended aid stations, such as at Peach Orchard and Peter’s Mill Pond. These consist of welcoming little caches of water jugs and a cooler or two full of food, along with some written info on the location and which and how far to the next aid station. A pleasant sight for weary eyes and hungry stomachs.I’m rolling into Little Fort aid station, one I’ve been particularly looking forward to since friends are staffing it. And wow, a big bonus is that son Ian is here grinning in greeting alongside Marybeth. I load up on food including an over-the-top hot dog on bun drenched in mustard, ketchup, and relish. Yum, what a morale booster. I can make it to Elizabeth Furnace now, I’m thinking as I head out after the requisite send off of cold-water-over-my-head treatment.It’s raining lightly now. Warm, humid, and raining. It feels ok; it’s a nice change. Between Mudhole Gap and Elizabeth Furnace there are a half dozen significant creek crossings to slog through, and if you think this is the first point in the race that my feet have gotten wet and muddy you’re wrong. They’ve remained that way since early on; it’s unavoidable but no big deal thankfully. I knew and accepted long before the race began the fact that my feet would be devastated.I’ve been at it for almost 16 hours as I come into the vicinity of the EF aid station. A quick medical check –I pass, rats I guess I have to keep going– and my crew is taking care of me. They give me food, (grilled cheese and strawberries), and my headlamp, but best of all they give me… Ian! The OD 100 staff encourages racers to use a “safety runner” on the grueling 12-mile Sherman’s Climb and Veach Gap portion, commencing from Elizabeth Furnace, mile 74.9. That is, have a fresh, companion runner along. Ian is willing and able, and laces up his shoes and takes off with me into the gathering darkness. As we get established on the climb Ian, as hoped for, distracts me with crazy stories and helps keep me moving. In those hours of pitch black, on rough trail, we move steadily, time suspended, just the two of us. Anybody else in this race? I wonder. Anyway, at last check I was in fifth or sixth place overall, but anything can happen now. The trail at the base of the mountain spits us out at Veach West, mile 86.6. Ian bids me adieu and I continue on as best as I can, solo once again.I’ve observed that although long hours of running difficult terrain results in physical fatigue and other obvious physical effects, mental acuity actually does not seem degraded. It’s as if the body ensures that optimal –indeed elevated– brain function is maintained for just as long as possible, since survival of the organism –me in this case!– may well depend upon it. Tactical decisions are being made, precise musculoskeletal movement must be preserved. So…even though I’m tired as I continue to endure after twenty plus hours, I’m not sleepy. For my mind it’s still “game on.”At mile 90.9, after getting uncomfortably up close and personal with myself for another hour or so, I arrive at the race’s last crew-accessible aid station, and my steadfast Marybeth and the outpost’s lone volunteer dispense, besides warm chicken noodle soup, good cheer and smiles. But other than that it’s a grim place. Into the pouring rain I push on.Waves of doubt have washed over me before on this run, and I’m feeling it again now. And again I struggle to keep my head above it, to keep from sputtering and drowning in the despair. The rain is falling steadily; it’s coursing down my face, down my body, mixing with sweat, blood, mud. The darkness enshrouds me. It’s profound, and my headlamp casts but a feeble glow. But it comforts me to see the occasional chemlight hanging in a tree to help mark the race course, and seeing the dim light of one of those “glow sticks” up ahead on the relentless climb up Woodstock Tower Road fans an ember within me. It’s going to take a lot more than a few scattered, pitiful feelings to shut me down, I declare for the umpteenth time.I’m headed down down the mountain towards the town of Woodstock and the finish. I pass the sign indicating that I’m leaving the George Washington National Forest. As late race bonus fun I have to squat and do my business again. That’s right, and it ain’t pretty. Ugg. Oh yes, there is considerable rawness throughout my nether regions, but I can ignore that for now.I’m jogging across the Shenandoah River at Burnshire Dam. I’m passing wheat fields host to silent, pulsating lightning bugs. I’m entering lanes lined with houses. I’m descending a hill that brings me to the edge of town. I’m trotting through sleeping Woodstock. Time to stop this foolishness.As I enter the fairgrounds and head to the finish I can’t really believe it’s happening. I run under the FINISH banner, and the lonely timekeeper and Marybeth welcome me. There’s no one else around. It’s quiet; no bells, no cheering crowd. Just the drizzle and the end of a very long day. I’ve finished the Old Dominion 100-Miler in 22:35:17, in fifth place overall. Out of the 58 starters 31 would finish, 13 of us under 24 hours.Marybeth and I crawl to our tent. I’m wracked with stiffness, cramps, blisters and more, but I’m happy. I finished the Old Dominion 100 and I see life as very wide and very deep and very good.
“North Georgia Mountains are great because it’s a super condensed area of the Appalachian mountain chain. You really finish with a bang. You can bike backcountry and find big ridges and push your limits and that keeps me coming back.” said Gordon Wadsworth, BRO athlete and avid mountain biker, as I spoke with him about trails, “There’s so much condensed riding in North Georgia that it’s kind of impossible to ever want to leave.”Northern Georgia has been a big draw for mountain bikers for years, and we at BRO want to make sure you know the top 7 trails not to miss while traveling through the area.Jackrabbit MountainJackrabbit Mountain is a beginner to intermediate trail located near Hiawassee. It is a total of 11.3 miles with 693’ of ascent. It is a singletrack with a maximum of 12% gradient. The trail is well maintained and open year-round, with beautiful views of the Chatuge Lake.Moss CreekA three-mile intermediate trail, Moss Creek is home to some great singletrack. Smooth and flowy, this trail features more than 400 feet of elevation gain. Moss Creek continuously mixes things up, as there are climbs and descents, tight turns and switchbacks, and varied scenery.Bear Creek This intermediate trail is a 10-mile singletrack loop, with a 4,700’ elevation gain. This loop is part of the Pinhoti trail and is primarily ridden downhill. There are a few creek crossings and the trail overall is fast and flowy. The highlight of this loop is the Gannet Poplar, a giant poplar with a girth as wide as 6 adult wingspans. Jake MountainJake Mountain has improved greatly over the years. Formerly washed out, it has recently been revamped and is now a favorite among bikers of all skill levels. This 7-mile singletrack network that gains 600’. While much of the trail is flowy, it is considered intermediate because it enters a deep creek crossing, Jones Creek, and the climb back out is famously steep.Pinhoti Trail: Armuchee to Snake Creek GapThe Pinhoti trail is one of Georgia’s epics. Starting around Ellijay and finishing in Alabama, the trail is fast and flowy, but the actual technicality depends on the section you’re riding. This section is 15 miles long and rated an intermediate ride. The singletrack gains 2,800’ and is an out and back trail.Stanley GapThis advanced trail includes 10-miles of out and back singletrack with 2,100’ of gain. It is extremely difficult and and includes some bombing descents. Be prepared for some chunky downhill, and tricky ascents that require a significant amount of lung power.Pinhoti Trail: Mountaintown CreekTransformed from an old logging road, this advanced singletrack trail is 5 miles long with 3,000’ gain. An out and back trail, Mountaintown Creek features a lot of backcountry riding. Bikers should be prepared to get wet and and a tad torn up. But one of the best descents in North Georgia makes it all worth while. Note: The trail has several great views of waterfalls along the way, so be sure to keep an eye out as you zoom along. Special thanks to Gordon Wadsworth, Cartecay Bikes in Ellijay, and Mulberry Gap in Ellijay for contributing beta to this piece.Related:
Take The Journey Molly Tuttle Having only arrived in Nashville in 2015, the 26 year old singer/songwriter has already picked up Instrumentalist of the Year honors from the Americana Music Association and a Song of the Year award from Folk Alliance International. Tuttle’s stunning guitar work and song writing prowess have given her the uncanny ability to appeal to listeners across the acoustic world; bluegrass, country, and folk fans flock to her. What You Do To Me Hamish Anderson 2:34 4:36 Force Of Nature Unspoken Tradition Get out there and grab a couple of these records. Share a favorite or two with a friend. The time and money will be well spent. Each month, tremendous artists allow Trail Mix to share their music. Give a little back and show them we are paying attention. 4:46 Summer Candy Ona 2:41 Talk to Myself Lucette Audio PlayerMolly TuttleTake The JourneyUse Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.00:000:00 / 2:43 3:57 5:21 3:44 Backroads Chain Station Baby, Please Come Home Jimmie Vaughan The Long Way Home WC Beck Scars We Keep Ordinary Elephant 3:51 3:52 4:38 I Want It Back The Get Ahead 2:43 Chosin Abigail Dowd 2:51 This month, Trail Mix is happy to include “Take The Journey,” from Tuttle’s new record, When You’re Ready, which dropped late last month. Savior Southern Avenue Between The Country Ian Noe Shotgun Rider Rj Cowdery 3:35 Also check out new tunes from April Verch, Lowland Hum, Ordinary Elephant, Chain Station, Unspoken Tradition, RJ Cowdery, WC Beck, Hamish Anderson, Silver Lake 66, The Get Ahead, Lauren Crosby, Southern Avenue, and The Shootouts. Faded Tattoo Silver Lake 66 4:09 2:54 2:56 Molly Tuttle is taking the acoustic world by storm. Copy and paste this code to your site to embed. Embed Cleaning House The Shootouts 2:39 And stay tuned to the Trail Mix blog. Ticket giveaways to Papadosio at Pisgah Brewing Company and the Cold Mountain Music Festival are on tap, as are chats with Abigail Dowd and the whitewater rafting guys in Groundhog Gravy. Blessed and Cursed Casey Kristofferson Band 4:54 Lots of new tracks this month that have Trail Mix pretty excited. Check out new stuff from up and coming Ona and Ian Noe, along with Casey Kristofferson, daughter of the legendary Kris, Lucette, whose new record was produced by Sturgill Simpson, and the return of blues icon Jimmie Vaughan. 1:55 You Don’t Need A Rose Lauren Crosby 4:05 Laurel Lee April Verch Eye In The Sky Lowland Hum