Sunday, October 28, 2012

2012 Double Dare Race Report

 I tried to count how many Double Dare's have I done over the years and couldn't. I know I missed the first one and have done all the others since then but aren't completely sure what that number is. Six? That sounds right, maybe.  This year's race was as much fun as ever and was highlighted by the large number of teams present. The race has really grown since the days of just a dozen teams camped out at White Pines. I'm convinced this is the most fun you can have with (and without) a bicycle in Pisgah! 

For this race report I'm going to do something different and what follows is the race report as recounted by my partner Yuri Theodore Elisomething. The words that follow are his. The pictures are mine. The story is ours. At times I'll interject in an editorial role, for the sake of clarity and perspective - my contributions will be in italics. For all my faithful followers (hi Yuri!) who are left wondering what happened to this blog I have to say that I think Yuri missed the trout fishing post and likely has not read Brautigan but I have a copy of  In Watermelon Sugar set aside for him. This post is also an anomaly so check back tomorrow and you might find a typical Adventures in Pisgah story about how I rode Dupont Saturday and ran the Art Loeb to The North Slope today with my faithful pero. 

I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for just about my whole life.  For certain, at least the last three years.  I am honored to be an associate/ guest contributor for and here’s my take on Pisgah Production’s 2012 Double Dare.

It started simply enough. 

Clay- “Yuri, would you be interested in riding in two weekends if Zak bails on Double Dare?  But don’t commit yet.  Just think about it.  Because he might actually do it.  I’ll have to confirm with him.  But I’ll get back to you in the next two days.” 

Me- “So, what are you asking?  Yes, I’ll consider doing it.  But Zak still might do it?  You know I had a baby and am retired right?  Hope you don’t have big expectations…”

Clay- “I don’t.  That’s kind of why I called you.”


I actually was honored by Clay’s call as I think it’s pretty cool to be on someone’s short list to do a BIG event with no advance preparation.  Preparation H?  Yes, maybe.  I might need some of that.  But in tip-top shape, I don’t think so.  So one weekend out I entered another wild-ass event, the so-called, “Wilson’s Revenge” mega-cross event in the Wilson's Creek area which falls below beautiful Grandfather Mountain.  I entered Wilson’s Revenge for several reasons.  Reasons that were too good not to enter it.  #1) The totally bad-ass event poster already hanging in my bike shop was created by the custom frame builder who fashioned my 44.  #2) I now am friends with the event’s promoter, Cam Fraser, having met several years ago training for PMBAR.  #3) The weather.  #4, 5, &6) The location, location, location.  And #7) And for some Preparation H.  Driftwood style. 

Sometimes Clay and I make things even more challenging for us while we’re out.  Typically this involves as much hiking as riding and going the opposite from good direction on all of the favorite Pisgah trails.  So, in style typical of his, I handicapped myself all of my gears except one, which in turn proved to be the wrong gear.  I entered the single-speed category on my 44 as made possible by the generous use of duct tape to limit my derailleur and shifter.  I shook on it with Cam and pedaled my ass off all day and finished fourth SS.  This was day two of training for Double Dare.  Not bad.  Day one involved a run.  Day three involved another run.  And day four involved Double Dare.  Amen. 

I arrived last to Cove Creek campground with my partner chasing me by bike informing me that if we checked in late we, at the start, would be awarded a four-hour penalty.  He was not joking.  He rode through a creek to get my attention and his feet were wet.  The gun hadn’t even gone off.

He was serious.  This however followed his also delivered seriously statement that he was going to work the morning of Double Dare and too would be arriving late.  So I thought, “Why rush?”  However… going back to typical style, Clay, in his dead-pan humor, had at that time, just been messing with me.  Great.  Day’s off to a terrific start.  But it did get better.  I was greeted with fans of mine who swarmed my car before the engine was cut off.  Before the car was in park even.  That was cool.  It never grows old you know.  As I got out to sign autographs I was a little confused as they were at the other side of my car staring at my bike…  These guys were ready to pull it down let me tell you.  I kindly suggested that if they brought back a pen I could sign autographs on their chests, but they were all but mesmerized by my bike.  In contrast to my good looks.  I know, tell me about it.  Weird. 

So the FortyFour was off-loaded and we moved rapidly to check in when the same thing happened.  The guy supposedly going through our mandatory gear kept staring at my bike.  Even if I tried I couldn’t make this stuff up.  I joked with Clay because his bike looked left out and took comfort that this guy, that this guy also had a custom built bike but was commenting on the sexiness of mine.  I got to say that I eat it up.  He was “looking for my blinky.”  Yea, right.

And then the start thing happened.  Reality struck confidently.  What Clay and I have in our favor besides my good looks is a commanding knowledge base of all of the trails in Pisgah.  No joke.  We’re good.  We’re so good it’s like we can communicate without words.  Like dolphins.  Our itinerary was set about in the blink of an eye and we did not veer from our awesome route choice through the entire day.  Route choice = good.  Despite me not wanting to share all of our magic I know Clay’s going to post it right about here________  For everyone to gleam…


475 > 276 > 477 > Clawhammer > Maxwell Cove > Black Mtn. > Turkey Pen Gap > South Mills River > Mullinax > Squirrel Gap > Laurel Creek > 5015 > 1206 > Laurel Mtn. > MST > Mt. Pisgah > MST > Laurel Mtn. > Pilot Rock > 1206 > 276 > 477 > Bennett Gap > Coontree Gap > 276 > 475 > Davidson River > 475

Thanks for nothing.  Now everyone knows where to go next year and we just lost about ten spaces on day one.  Thanks Mr. Adventures in Pisgah. 

Disaster struck about six miles in.  I couldn’t drink from my Camelbak.  The tube was pinched or so I thought.  I pulled over and investigated.  Whew!  That was a close one.  Tube wasn’t pinched at all, it was just frozen.  “Frozen?” -You might ask.  Yes, frozen by two of my birthday surprises to myself and Clay. 

“Clay, I have a problem.  Do you like coconut or strawberry?” 


“Okay, good.” 

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Never mind.”

Insert picture of us arriving to Turkey Pen Gap Trail first and celebrating with frozen margaritas here ->


Wait.  Charlie Roberts may have beat us.  But that was only because my tubes were tied.  I mean, frozen.  It was totally worth it. 

So we crossed %$N1-+ P$9 @1! Trail and got our second checkpoint about midway though quickly.  One other team passed us but they might have been using performance enhancing equipment.  Said team, not mentioning any names here because honestly I have no idea who they are, wanted to hump past us on an uphill hike-a-bike section.  Have at it.  Run if you want.  Because you still have like, fifty miles.  Be my guest.  Yea, we swapped leads with them throughout the day.  Usually it was one of them far ahead of the other, sandwiching Clay and I in-between and really messing up our game.  We could never hide.  Or talk in private.  Or use “fake out moves” because one of them was always there.  And I’m not talking about you Patrick.  You’re okay in my books even if you let me roll out ahead of you all the time and just follow my routes.  Think for yourself now and again buddy!  Insert picture of Patrick giving me the “You’re Number 1!” salute in Mexican right here à

He's confused here. Checkpoint #2 was Wagon Rd. Gap:


Who I am referring to is the bandito riding on 276 with his headphones in and his helmet off on day two.  Dumb move.  You’re making us look bad. 

So checkpoints tres and cuatro came quickly and were pretty uneventful.  Patrick and Allison were ahead of us at both of those but lost time eating.  We caught them again at the bottom of Laurel Creek where there is now a log down that equals a dry-foot creek crossing.  Cool!  What’s not cool is being told about it after you have your shoes and socks off and in your pack and then having to walk back up trail to find it.  They get an “A” for perfect, race timing and strategy.  Good one guys.  Good one. 





I'll also interject that I started my usual Day One Bonk on Squirrel. An attempt at eating at Laurel Gap was met with half of it coming right back up. This was followed by a very spectacular crash on Laurel Creek attempting a move I had no business attempting on such a day. No serious damage but a very close call. One glove got wet and the rest of the day I rode with only a left glove. This continued with me literally puking and cramping all the way up Laurel Mtn.

We hustled up 5015 and proceeded to head toward Mount Pisgah.  (Again, I’m not telling you folks how we got to Pisgah, but we did.)  I cleaned a pretty cool move on the first go around and that got me amped.  Having Clay see it really got me stoked as he could verify it for future campfire story-telling.  But he won’t.  I know.  Sucks to be me.  But I cleaned a certain “cave” move, completely riding out of it and not bending anything that has a spring or pulleys involved in its inner workings.  Style points big time.  I failed/faltered on the slack-line.  Not walking it as I would have loved to show off.  But Clay got it.  My ego was now back in check. 

I manned this checkpoint last year and to say that it was during artic-like conditions would be an understatement.  This year, it was like the tropics up there.  There was a small fire.  People were laughing.  People were slack-lining.  People were going the wrong direction.  Often.  It was funny to watch.  I guess that’s where being a local is advantageous.  I bet I would fail miserably in other states, at other races if indeed I was a racer.  I am a very slow rider who enters events that others have no interest in partaking because, in most instances, they’re miserable.  Until at least a month later.  Then they’re not so miserable.  And that’s only when the knee pain returns to being only achy some of the time.  

Special Test #1:


In a moment of pre-planned brilliance, Clay and I opted to tote our minimalist barefoot running shoes.  These were pulled out of the rucks and slipped on and we made good time up to Mt. Pisgah.  As we ran up we passed Matt Fusco and maybe another party coming down and some hikers who had gone up to watch the sunset and were now headed back to their cars.  Maybe I am prideful and this is something that I have to work on, but it is pretty cool to be like forty miles in or something like that and still have enough gas in the tank to do a five-mile trail run.  Catch the remnants of a sunset and then return back to your bike by headlamp to resume racing.  




Needless to say, I did not “clean” Pilot Rock.  I pushed the uphill.  And… I did not clean the rock garden.  But I rode the $h!t out of the gravel to our next checkpoint, let me tell you.  

I had another spectacular crash on Pilot Rock. This one took out the light on my helmet. At the bottom of the trail I was able to get it running again - a little too late.

There was very little debate as to what our next choices would look like.  Neither of us had “trained” for this event.  Clay had ridden his bike six times since Trans-Georgia.  He had been running with his dog it seemed a bunch but I don’t know if that counts.  But I did accompany him that one time.  I have been maintaining a hike on Fridays with my son that you could sort of label weight-training I suppose.  Him on my back and laps down to the horses near our house.  My company must be as good as Clay’s as he usually falls asleep before we even reach the horses.  I ran the Art Loeb trail about a month or so ago and had pretty much started hibernating early this year.  So our training was not real Double Dare specific to say the least.  In hindsight I should have worked on being sleep-deprived.  If only I could nurse my son back to sleep like my wife.  Instead I just wake up and tell her that he’s crying and go back to sleep.  I know, lame.  But if I knew that I would be racing a crit at 12:30 at night maybe I would have kept her company on a few occasions around midnight.  Back to Double Dare, Clay and I agreed to skip Club Gap and play it safe on time.  We made short work of Saddle Gap and Coontree and hit 276 and maintained a good pace along this stretch and Davidson River Trail.  Besides being a lousy downhiller, Clay can’t draft worth a darn and typically exerts extra effort on these sections.  We made it back to camp on time with plenty of time with about eight or nine, or ten checkpoints.  Somewhere in that range.  We reluctantly took part in the crit not to win but in a manner that would conserve our energy reserves and ensure that we would not miss any points.  

Saddle Gap: 


5:15AM comes quickly when you go to sleep at one.  

Sleep at One? I was up drinking way past one and then laid in my tent reading Schenck's book Mark S. loaned me until 3:30!

I opened the car door and yelled to Clay to get up.  I then applied butt-ass cold chamois cream to my knickers and got a really, really, jarring wake-up.  But I’ve heard that jalapeno ass butter’s warming effect is actually also, not so pleasant.  And while we’re on the subject, never apply Mad Alchemy’s leg embrocation on your chamois…  You’ve been warned.

Day two:
Equally if not more sucky. 
It started great.  Clay and I had great choice in route as verified by very fast riders and top contenders also choosing the same direction.  And passing us.

Day 2 Route:
475 > 5097 > Longbranch > Butter Gap > 471D > 5003 > 140A > 140 > Kissee Creek > 140A > Farlow Gap > Daniel Ridge > 475 > Davidson River > 475 > Cat Gap > John Rock > Cat Gap > 475 > 276 > 477 > Clawhammer > Maxwell Cove > Clawhammer > 477 > Bennett Gap > Coontree Gap > 276 > 475


We got Long Branch I’d say first.  But there were several others that got Butter Gap before us or were there as we arrived.  We were also passed by a couple of riders doing an out and back on Farlow but that’s just crazy.  I would like to use another word in place of crazy, but it is not politically correct so I will refrain. 

Longbranch at Butter:

Butter at Art Loeb:

An additional definition of crazy would be riding down that other FSR, number escapes me, but ends in the general vicinity of Sumney Cove and Courthouse Falls.  Clay, if you’re doing any editing and have a map nearby please enter route choice at this junction here: see above. Thank you if you added it.  If not, you might want to proofread your guest contributors’ material.  Just saying…

It is at this junction that I must say that I bonked.  Guess pre-packaged bacon and Nutt-n-Butters and M&M’s and Little Debbie muffins were not great choices in power foods at five AM.  Mental note on that one.  There was a lot of soft-pedaling going on and this particular road is seeming to be my nemesis.  I’m not on it much but darn it if I didn’t push relatively easy grades.  It was hard during past experiences coming the opposite direction.  It’s like a road that’s not really uphill but apparently uphill from either direction.  Regardless it sucked and Clay was ahead and waiting on me often.  I felt the need to eat not because I was hungry but because I should.  I ate a Honey Stinger waffle and within one minute, no lie, I wanted another desperately.  I had a vanilla one this time, not chocolate like the first, and it was like I had opened Pandora’s box.  I now wanted a Nutt-n-Butter and had one of those.  And at this rate I started worrying whether or not I had brought enough food to last the day.  I got my groove on going downhill, catching and passing Clay but becoming cold in the process as it was, or had to be, about 30 degrees in that area of the forest.  During the AM I was in and out of jackets and arm-warmers often and with each change we lost time.  But maintaining a comfortable temperature was quite challenging and of great importance.  We got a quick posed picture at Sumney Cove, a promotional shot for BLUE SKY, MD.  Hopefully I was looking at the camera when it was taken.  But hey, even if I was looking away or it comes out blurry, we can all see how good-looking I am.  For what it’s worth, we tried to keep Clay out of the pictures.  


From there, up to Farlow.  I did not “clean” the uphill nor the downhill.  I did however find motivation in my partner looking back at me all of the time headed up to Farlow and on a switchback saying, “Good job Yuri!”  I also took it to mean that I am faster than him when he said, “I’m going to go ahead of you because you’re going to catch me.”  This occurred after he pointed the gun at me and after we ate four pickle eggs.  Which weren’t that bad…

What I meant to say is, that the pickled eggs tasted horrible.  Teams, shoot the BB gun instead.


Farlow rode well.  Daniel Ridge was cakewalk.  As evidenced by this action shot:


Clay told me he was going to take it.  I might have let him ride past me and get the camera ready in advance.  But my memory is a little foggy…

475B or C or A was quick and Davidson River Trail was uneventful.  We arrived to the fish hatcheries and were greeted with a lot of bikes.  And two other riders borrowing our running shoes brilliant idea from the day before.  Today however we elected to travel lighter and left the shoes at camp.  We walked/ hobbled up to John’s Rock talking about the women in our lives mainly.  We talked about some other masculine stuff as well although it has escaped my memory.  What I remember most about my time with Clay at this point about thirty hours in is getting to the top of John’s Rock, taking a picture, and immediately turning around.  He said something about not having a picnic.

John’s Rock by the way is very beautiful.  So is the view of Looking Glass Rock.  The view of my bald spot, not so much.  


Back on the bike and saddle sores we went and off to Pressley Gap.  That was a grunt.  We not as quickly took our mandatory pictures.  We vetoed Buckhorn Gap shelter for good reason.   (See picture of steps leading up Black Mountain Trail à)


Surprisingly I rode/ showed off how awesome I am, by riding up a large part of Bennett Gap Trail.  I would have ridden more but a certain partner was lagging behind and a certain friend met us coming blazing saddles downhill hooting and a hollering saying he had brought us good spirits.  


Thank you Jon.

In Clay’s defense regarding his demonstration of poor uphill and downhill riding he was carrying all of my mandatory gear at this time so that we could be faster overall.  My duty was to break the wind for him, which I am good at.  I did this a lot on 276.  I also carried the pump and used my saved energy reserves to pump up his front tire for him.  If you studied some of the above pictures you can see why I do this, as my biceps are unusually large for my frame.  I don’t even work out.


We chose instead of riding Davidson River Trail back with Clay having a slow leak to play it safe on the paved road as we headed toward Cove Creek Campground.  What neither of us realized is that fancy-pants third place winner and six out of seven times Double Dare podium placer, Adam Pisgah Bad-Ass Penny, had marked our backs with laser-like precision and chased us down.  There is nothing like riding 100(ish) miles and having a sprint and photo finish to cap off the day.  Now, I won the sprint, initially believing that my partner and I were just picking up the pace a little bit so that we could look good rolling in, but nooo….  It was Adam sandwiched in between us.  And I won the sprint.  As verified by Adam’s public Facebook post.  Thanks Adam.  People have already ready it so no use taking it down now.  But he did beat us in checkpoints so I take my hat off to him and his partner.  Good job guys. 

And that’s that.  That’s a wrap.  Clay and I finished in sixth place overall with twenty checkpoints.  Nineteen hours and twenty-four minutes not counting the after midnight crit.  We’re still talking so that’s good.  He covered five dollars of my entry fee and I’ve spent two hours writing his blog.  Ha!  I got him.

I’d like to thank the HUB for their half sponsorship.  I know you guys gave Clay the sleeveless jersey as a joke but he let me wear it so we could match.  Despite being 40 degrees out and having six percent body fat, I didn’t look too out of place when I pulled my arm-warmers up…  Besides, look at my guns.  Now that is a great marketing strategy if I’ve ever seen one.  In other news, I wore a sleeved Blue Sky, MD jersey on day two.  They’d rather me not mention them on-line as I did not podium.  No.  They do not love me unconditionally like my mother.  Yes.  It is like that.  No podium = nobody talking to me at work on Monday.  Booo.

*Side note
Presently I am a nutrition counselor at Blue Sky, MD and I hope that my patients find as much amazement in what the human body is capable of doing and recovering from as I have.  If you eat the right foods at the right time and practice a healthy, active lifestyle, and find something that motivates you, your life becomes, or at least mine is, enriched.  It is awesome.  And I hope, that someone out there finds a little motivation within this post to go out there and do things regardless of discipline, finding as much happiness as I do when I am out in the wild places close to home.
Sincerely, Yuri Eliashevsky, BS, QMHP 

No comments:

Post a Comment