Monday, September 13, 2010

things i am not

Saturday was the Badass Race. The route was 40 miles with 10k of climbing so I figured why not take Zach's bike out there to see how I could do with a whole lot of extra gears weighing me down. The website said meet at Black at 9am so that is what I did. There were 8 or so guys gathered around with some familiar faces. Sam from the Hub, Charlie Roberts, Adam Penny and several others were all in attendance. I popped the top on a Natty Light (BTS protocol #1) and chatted with Adam for a minute. He said they were going after Kee and Fusco at the Double Dare and I let him know he wasn't the only one. 9am rolls around and we are ready to go but no Pisgah Works and no Brew Crew. But we were ready and thought they could just catch up but something was secretly telling us all inside that the night before had been too much fun at White Pines and 9am was too early to be starting anything.

So, at 9:02 we all rolled out of Smoker's Cove together. As soon as we hit the trail I jumped hard and then used Zach's fancy gears to go click, click, click and jumped again, this time even harder. I wanted to leave no doubt that it was going to be that kind of day. I used the gears to my advantage and tried to open up as big of a lead as possible. When I hit the switch back no one was in sight below me but instead of letting up I went even harder. Downhills are my weakness so after crossing Pressley Gap I wasn't surprised when I heard a rider behind me. It was Adam so I used the gears again to go clickety, click and pulled ahead. I ran up the hike a bike and when I looked back Adam was running too so I ran harder. I was able to get him out of sight and hit the intersection with Turkey Pen in record time - 54 minutes flat, two minutes faster than I've managed to do it on foot - and then smoked over the top in record time as well, another 16 minutes and I was at Buckhorn Gap. No time for a photo shoot.

Adam was able to catch me in his big ring on South Mills River but I was able to hold him to Wolf Ford. As we crossed the bridge it started raining and Adam remarked that we probably shouldn't be starting Squirrel in the rain. I hopped a log wrong and flatted a hundred yards up Squirrel. I had it changed in minutes and there wasn't another rider in sight but that was my only tube and I still had a long way to go. Squirrel was nice but the rain just kept up and I knew if it was still raining by the time I got to Turkey Pen I would have to bail. I was on a borrowed bike with no spare brake pads and two trips around Squirrel in the mud would be a bad idea. Shortly after Cantrell I pretty much called the dnf in my head and let up for the first time of the day. I was sort of hoping another rider would catch up so we could chat and stuff and one did, Mark, Adam's DD partner, but he just blew past me. So much for chatting. Oh, well. I saw Adam at the intersection of Bradley and South Mills and told him I was bailing and urged him to keep going. So I bailed the rest of the ride and rode straight down 280 in the rain. When I got back to the parking lot only Adam and Mark's cars remained. I'm no bad ass.

Here I am at the bridge just before heading up to the parking lot and down 280. I was quitting, might as well stop long enough to take a picture.


On the final climb I paused to look at this water bar that is working properly. I'm a big fan of old school trail work, rolling grade reversals are fun and all but nothing beats an old log placed across the trail except for maybe some rocks. Here's the thing about water bars: they only work when they are maintained. But I wonder if the same thing can be said for rolling grade dips? It seems like over time they are bound to fill with sediment unless they are periodically cleaned out and debermed.


Going up Black was so much fun on Saturday that when I found myself sitting in the Turkey Pen parking lot just after sun rise I couldn't help but go up there once again. This time I had the running shoes and the dog so we headed straight up Turkey Pen Gap. If I want to be remotely prepared for Shut In I need to get some climbing in and Turkey Pen Gap has some climbing. By my count we traversed Sharpy and McCall mountains two times each, climbed Black mountain once and crossed 12 gaps over course of the out and back. It was a gorgeous morning and nothing could have been finer. The running started with the crushing climb up Sharpy Mtn. and from there went to teeth rattling descents with some nice sections of high ridge cruising. On the way up we headed down Wagon Rd. Gap trail to get some water. We hit the stream bed right away but it was dry and had to continue further down until we got a decent flow. From there it was just more up and up and up. The stretch across the final ridge out of Muleshoe Gap was especially memorable. Just a ribbon of single track perched high on the ridge, blue skies all around. I was depending on the spring at the intersection of Black to have water and it did so we took a five minute break for Duma to cool down before running back down. Even though the return trip was mostly down it still felt like it was mostly up. On the trip out I had managed to actually run all of the trail but on the way back the steep climbs up the two mountains broke me and I walked. 4000' of climbing over twelve miles isn't bad. My legs are saying ouch today.


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