Linking Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park with the pretty little college town of Montevallo, where mule-drawn wagons once hauled Tannehill pig iron for rail shipment, the Ironworks Century will take riders on a journey through history on seldom-cycled scenic back roads.
Historical note: 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the destruction of the original Tannehill blast furnaces, which helped supply iron to the Confederate foundries and gun works in Selma. Tannehill was targeted by Union cavalry during Wilson’s Raid in March 1865; the same brigade then pushed on to Tuscaloosa and burned the university, which was a military school at that time.
With the move to an August date, the Ironworks Century saw tremendous growth in 2014, so for 2015 we’re making a few changes to better accommodate the greater number of riders – and the summer heat. The start/finish location will move to the Farley Field area at the north end of the park, providing more parking room, more pavilion space and ready access to restrooms and showers, while the mass start time will move up an hour to 7:00 AM to get everyone out of the afternoon sun just that much sooner. Also, in the first route change since 2012, the course has been made flatter and faster by eliminating those infamous tough outbound climbs across Shades Mountain. Overall elevation gain for the full century will remain around 5000 ft, though, so it won’t exactly be pool-table flat. Distance options for 2015 will be 16, 42, 73 and 100 miles, while rest stop intervals have been reduced to 16 miles or less.
Expect smooth pavement, nice scenery and a good mix of flat stretches and rolling countryside. None of the climbs have any steep parts that stay that way for long, so for the first time in its history, the IWC can be certified fixie-friendly (well, fixie-tolerant, anyway). Only the 100 milers will tackle the biggest climb, Pea Ridge, but ALL riders will get to criss-cross Grey Hill at around Mile 7, which can seem a lot bigger in the afternoon than you might remember from the morning (especially if you have 93 miles in your legs by then).
At the Ironworks Century, we strive to be a learning organization. Last year we learned from the Tour de Blue that big ol’ dill pickle spears are a great electrolyte-replenishing snack, and from the Hot Hundred that ice-water soaked towels are wonderfully re-invigorating on a hot day, so we made sure to feature both at our 2014 rest stops. Then the BBC Century reminded us how tasty a mid-ride bacon ‘n’ ‘mater sandwich can be, so at the 2015 Ironworks Century expect all the usual stuff, plus MORE pickles, MORE iced towels – and at the rest stop in Montevallo we’ll have BACON!