Hellhole Gravel Grind Stage Race

Race Notes and Information

Final 2016 Hellhole Gravel Grind Stage Race General Classification

The Hellhole Gravel Grind Prologue, 2-Day Stage Race and 1-Day Race/Ride will take place on the gravel roads in and around Hellhole Swamp in the Francis Marion National Forest just outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The forest is named for the revolutionary war hero Francis Marion, who was known to the British as the Swamp Fox. He used these swamps, creeks and forest areas to ambush and hide from the British and was depicted in the movie “The Patriot”.




Event Schedule
Friday, September 23, 2016        Saturday, September 24, 2016           Sunday, September 25, 2016

Start Time: 6:30 pm                        Start Time: 9:00am                                    Start Time: 9:00am
6-Mile Prologue* (optional**)           Day 1 of 2-Day stage race start                  Day 2 of 2-Day stage race start
Time Trial style start @ 30sec.          1-Day, 75 mile race start                             
intervals.  Front & Rear Lights           1-Day, 45 mile ride start
will be required to compete.             (start groups will be staggered)
 * The Prologue event is open to all. Time bonuses will be awarded based on finishing time and will be subtracted from the racers total time for the event entered.
** The prologue event is optional to all racers. 

The Friday evening Prologue will be an optional, time bonus event on an all gravel 6 mile loop near the Witherbee Ranger Station. The time trial style event will begin just before sunset.  Headlights and tail lights will be required. Riders will go start at 30 second intervals.

  • Each participant in the 1-Day 45 mile ride will receive a minimum of a 30 second time bonus over non-prologue participants.
  • Each participant in the 1-Day 75 mile race will receive a minimum of a 1 minute time bonus over non-prologue participants.
  • Each participant in the 2-Day Stage race will receive a minimum of a 2 minutes time bonus over non-prologue participants.

Your prologue time bonus will be based on your result relative to other prologue participants in your race up to a predetermined maximum.

For example:

You’re racing the 1-Day 75 mile race. You finish the prologue 3:34 faster than the slowest prologue rider in your race.  Your minimum time bonus applied toward the General Classification is (3:34 + 1:00) or 4:34

2-Day Stage Race
The 2-Day Stage Race will be approximately 75 miles each day and will feature a different course each day. The courses will be 90%+ of unpaved roads and trails. This is a true stage race with the lowest cumulative time over the two days determining the overall winner.

1-Day Race

For those less ambitious (or those with more sanity), there will be a 1-Day, 75 mile, long course and 42 mile, short course race on the first day of the Stage Race Saturday, September 24th). The 75 mile course will follow the same route as stage one of the stage race. The 45 mile ride will follow the 75 mile course before splitting off and returning to the start/finish area.

Detailed Racer Cue sheets with maps for each race/stage!! 

A minimum of one stocked aid station will be available on each day’s course and limited support will be available along the courses.  The course will return to the Witherbee Ranger Station approximately halfway through each stage where course/self-support aid will be available.

The area in and around the Hellhole Swamp is a wilderness area.  Bring with you what you think you may need for before, during, and after the race.

Cutoff Times
Stage Race  – Riders must reach the mid-point aid station within 4 hours and must complete each day’s stage within 7 hours.
75 Mile Race - Riders must reach the mid-point aid station within 4 hours and must complete the course within 7 hours.
45 Mile Ride  - Riders must complete the 45 miles within 5 hours from the start of the race.

Start Location
All races start and finish near the Witherbee Ranger Station.

2421 Witherbee Rd.
Cordesville, SC, 29434-9604
Latitude 33.16209, Longitude -79.82983

Categories (for all events)
Men Open                     Men Open 40+               Women Open              Singlespeed

Registration and number pick-up

Online Registration is available at: Bikereg.com .   Online Registration ends Friday, September 23, 2016 at 8:30pm.

Number pick-up/racer check-in will be available at the starting area beginning 5:00 PM Friday, September 23rd (FOR PROLOGUE PARTICIPANTS ONLY) and at the starting area beginning at 7:00AM on Saturday, September 24th (ALL RACERS).

You must pick up your own number or make arrangements with us to designate a delegate.
There will be a $10.00 day of registration late fee for the 2-day stage race and the 1-day races.
Registration for the Prologue will be online, pre-registration ONLY!  NO DAY OF REGISTRATION FOR THE PROLOGUE!

Wyndham Garden Charleston/Mt/ Pleasant
1330 Stuart Engals Blvd
Mount Pleasant, SC 29466
PH: 843.352-5100

KOA Kampground
3157 Highway 17 North
Mount Pleasant, SC 29466
PH: 843.849.5177

Awards/prizes will be given to the top 3 finishers in each category of each race. Additionally, awards/prizes will be given to the top 3 finishers of each day’s stage of each category for the Stage Race racers. Cash payout for the top 3 in each category for the stage race general classification with a $1,125 cash purse (promoter reserves the right to adjust the cash purse based on the number of racers in each category of the stage race).  Podiums will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday. There will be no podiums for the Prologue.

Schedule of events
Friday, September 23rd
5:00 PM–Number pick-up (FOR PROLOGUE RACERS ONLY) and Prologue Race check-in begins
6:30 PM–Prologue start. (Note:race packet pickup will close at the start of the Prologue)

Saturday, September 24th
7:00 AM–Number pick-up, day-of registration, and all racer check-in
8:30 AM–Day-of registration closes.
8:45 AM–Mandatory all-racer meeting followed by race start staging (located at start/finish line at Witherbee Ranger Station)
9:00 AM–”Wave” start
11:30 AM – 4:00 PM–Backdraft BBQ will be selling Pulled Pork and two sides!! ($8/plate–CASH ONLY)
12:00 PM–1-day, 42 mile race podium and awards
2:00 PM–2-day, 75 mile and stage race podiums and awards
4:30 PM–Mandatory cut-off times and end of stage 1/day 1 (all racers).  Drawing for a set of Boyd Cycling Altamount wheels immediately following!!

Sunday, September 25th
8:30 AM–Racer check-in (if necessary)
8:45 AM–Mandatory all-racer meeting followed by race start staging (located at start/finish line at Witherbee Ranger Station)
9:00 AM–Mass start
12:30 PM – 4:00 PM–Backdraft BBQ will be selling Burgers/Dogs and chips!($5/plate–CASH ONLY)
2:00 PM–Stage race and General Classification podiums and awards
4:30 PM–Mandatory cut-off times and end of the Hellhole Gravel Grind

Rules and General Information

  • Helmets MUST be worn and fastened at all times while on the bike.
  • Parking will be available at the Witherbee Ranger Station (limited) and adjacent National Forest properties.  Please park only in designated areas and as directed by course volunteers.
  • The course and all roads are open to traffic. ALL racers MUST obey all rules of the road along the course, at intersections and road crossings. Racers should yield to all traffic, horses, and should stop at all road crossings where traffic is present. There will be several highway and road crossings with heavy car and truck traffic. There may be an area of the course where the racers will share the road with car and truck traffic. Please keep to the right and ride single file except where passing. Following the rules of the road is for your own safety.  The forest roads also may contain numerous potholes and riding in a paceline is not advisable.
  • Traffic in the National Forest includes horses and hikers. Horseback riders have the right of way on trails. Please ask the rider what to do if you encounter a horse on the trail.
  • Though there will be a stocked aid station (water, cytomax, pretzels, bananas, chips, etc) and limited support on the course, racers should carry with them what they need including tools, parts, bug spray, and nutrition.  Backdraft BBQ will have food available after the race.  Racers should plan on bringing cash/card for food for after the race.  Do not underestimate the unforgiving nature of the forest.  This area is remote and you are likely to encounter bugs, snakes, deer, alligator, dogs, and other wildlife.  Cell phone overage is extremely limited.
  • Course cue sheets will be available to all riders at registration and the course download for navigation systems can be found here (requires Google). Additional cue sheets will be available at the start-finish area and at the mid-point aid station. The courses will be marked with signage.
  • Cyclocross, Gravel Grind, Mountain and Road bikes will be allowed and can be used. The best choice would be a cyclocross or gravel grind bike. A minimum of 28c wide tires with tread is recommended. Gravel can be very hard on tires and pot holes are numerous. Don’t ruin your race by cutting an expensive tubular in the first mile.
  • Riders of must use the same bike for all events. Riders will not be allowed to change bikes following the prologue or each days race. You must finish of the same bike you started on. Exception may be granted but must be approved by the promoter.
  • No tri-bars or aero bars (they are just weird anyway…).
  • Support crews are not permitted to help racers on the course except for the aid station. No motor pacing, no pacing from a rider not in the race, no external support. Limited SAG will be available and a sweep will be made of the course according to the appropriate cutoff time.
  • Please let the race officials or staff (wearing HHGG Volunteer shirts) know if you leave the race. We want to ensure everyone is safe and accounted for at the end of the day.
  • Absolutely no littering on the course. Littering on course will result in disqualification. It is vital we leave the forest as we found it.  Alcohol/open containers are prohibited in the National Forest premises.

Questions:        E-mail:  racedirector@mtpleasantvelo.org
Facebook:        Hellhole Gravel Grind Stage Race

The Hellhole Gravel Grind is being held under a special use permit issued by the Francis Marion National Forest.