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Birmingham's Cycling Team: A Journey of Epic Climbs and Triumphs

Join Mersey Craft Spirits as we follow Steven DeVries from Birmingham-based Eleven Productions Racing team on his remarkable cycling journey—a journey culminating in a trip to the picturesque mountains of North Georgia for the renowned Six Gap Century ride in September. Mersey is proud to sponsor our hometown cycling team and fuel their spirit of adventure and pursuit of excellence.

Eleven Productions Racing team in North Georgia for the Six Gap Century ride sponsored by Mersey Craft Spirits award-winning whiskey.

For the past 3 years I’ve closed out my race season with a trip to the mountains of North Georgia for the infamous Six Gap Century ride.

Not being the strongest climber - I approached the first year with a healthy fear of the ride filling my chest. As we begin that chilly September morning, the question “Can I even finish this?” clouded my thoughts, but as we rolled out from Lumpkin County High School with 1500 other riders all with a mix of fear/excitement and awe on their faces, I pushed the ‘demons of doubt’ away (a phrase Will from our team uses that’s caught on here at 11pro!).

Birmingham-based Eleven Productions Racing Team at the Six Gap Century Ride in Georgia, sponsored by Mersey Craft Spirits award-winning whiskey.

I not only finished, but with a respectable time (somewhere in the top 400 out of 1000 doing the full century) and had a blast that first year and have never looked back. Now I race towards September each year with eager anticipation as my race season nears its end and the beautiful and truly epic ride comes ever closer.

This year was no different - as I lined up with my teammates (Ben, Hank and Clinton) on yet another truly beautiful crisp Fall morning in Dahlonega that same sense of excited eagerness and awe settled in. I had the goal (as I do every year) of beating my last year’s time and this year I had a plan. Knowing my limits and pushing them through coaching, racing and consistent training the past few years helped me come in with a much more scientific approach to the ride.

For those of you who care about the nerdy cycling details, I targeted 240—250w for my climbs and was able to hold that almost perfectly. With my power dialed in, I have also been working hard on race/ride nutrition. I’ve (VERY) loosely followed the 60-90g of carbs per/hour rule along with roughly a bidon of fluids (I use SiS mix) but after some emailing back-and-forth with a nutrition specialist at the Feed (one of Eleven Productions new 2024 race season sponsors!) I dialed in a very detailed approach to my nutrition that involved eating smaller portions more regularly to help the blood-sugar spikes as well as very specific types of nutrition for the beginning/middle and end of the ride.

Birmingham-based Eleven Productions Racing Team at the Six Gap Century Ride in Georgia, sponsored by Mersey Craft Spirits award-winning whiskey.

The power plan + nutrition plan both worked wonders, and combined they allowed me to PR every climb (and almost every single segment of the ride) this year, shaving off 30 minutes from my best time on the course!

As always it was one of the most beautiful courses around and truly a privilege and a pleasure to ride it with my teammates to cap off what was a very abnormal year of riding and racing for me. The sense of completion and accomplishment that you feel crossing the line back into the high school at the end of 6 hours of climbing is hard to explain - but it certainly served as the perfect punctuation point at the end of my season once again.

One of my favorites things in cycling is the ability to challenge, push and compete with yourself and wrapping 2023 with a huge win against my best ever effort on one of my favorite rides is exactly how I love to end the year - leaving it all out there on the road and ready to come back next year for more!

Thank you for joining Steven on this incredible journey, and we all look forward to many more exciting rides in the future. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social for more adventures and tales of triumph powered by Mersey Craft Spirits and our award-winning whiskey!

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