Friday, May 9, 2014

Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race 2014

For Yuri and I Saturday's Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race was beside the point. Our only concern was Sunday which meant that for the first time in many years I was riding in pmbar not to race and win, or even get all the checkpoints, but instead to simply finish and survive so that we could live to run strong on
Sunday. Normally we would get all the checkpoints and ride as hard as we could but this year there would be none of that. Slow, steady and efficient would get us through the day.

At the start we took a few minutes to study the passport which put us in the middle of a hundred racers on their way up Black. We took a quick look, confirmed that just six out of seven checkpoints would be enough, and picked the route that had the shortest mileage and least amount of climbing. Our normal strategy would have been to run past everyone we could, but that would mean redlining it and that wasn't allowed this day. We had no choice but to settle in with the long, slow conga line working its way up the mountain. We walked long stretches of Black and I used it as an opportunity to chat with friends I hadn't seen in a while and Yuri used it as an opportunity to observe a few artifacts.



Straight through Pressley Gap and then more hike a bike on up the mountain. We were still stuck in traffic and lots of racers were getting antsy to get moving while I was content to stroll along. On the stretch of technical trail across the top of the ridge Dave A. was riding fast right in front of me and when he got to the big 3' rock drop that most riders dismount for he kept going. He was moving fast and endoed hard, landing head first down the bank from the trail in a rhodo bush. I was right on him and jumped down into the bush to help get him turned upright . His face was full of blood, but he is tough and urged us all to keep going. Yuri pushed his bike to the overlook and we left him and his partner to fully assess the damage on their own.


On down the trail, through the first checkpoint on Clawhammer Mountain and then  down to Wolf Ford before heading up Squirrel Gap trail to checkpoint #2 at Cantrell Creek.We had the cruise control on slow and steady across Squirrel Gap but oddly enough were not getting passed. On down to the river and through checkpoint #3 before starting up Bradley Creek trail. At the start of Bradley Creek we got behind a few teams that were moving rather slow and apparently struggling with the creek crossings. Even though we were taking it easy we couldn't take it that easy so at the next crossing we went ahead and got around them by running past as they slowly picked their way across the water.



Up at Yellow Gap Rd. we went left and headed for the Slate Rock checkpoint. As part of our survival strategy I had packed a huge sandwich that I was really looking forward to eating and had decided Slate Rock would be the perfect place to enjoy a nice, big lunch. Barnabas was manning the checkpoint with some others and after a long morning of waiting for racers to trickle in with little more than a big bottle of tequila to keep them company they were having fun. Yuri was informed that if he shot me in the ass with a bb gun and then did a shot of tequila we would get half a checkpoint bonus. He immediately grabbed the gun and told me to turn around. A bit of hilarity ensued as I had to convince him that he wasn't shooting me with anything. Dicky came and went while I enjoyed my sandwich. Drinks were had and we urged the checkpoint volunteers to stay far away from the edge before we rolled on down the trail.


From there we headed out and back on Pilot Rock to get the Laurel Mtn. checkpoint. It was a nice day for a hike and I took my time and tried to get a few pictures as other riders came down. Shane was manning the cp again and even though it is always good to see him our cruise control had us turning right back around. Cook and Cissy were headed the same way and we chatted a bit with our fellow WNDCers before dropping down Pilot Rock.


Down the road, then up the trail to Buckhorn Gap, then down the road and down the trail to our final checkpoint on Avery Creek trail. Nothing to see here, and with the race almost over we cruised on up Maxwell Cove Rd. Normally with gas left in the tank we would have given it everything on the final climb but we needed that fuel for the next day so we just puttered on up. Down Black without getting passed and across the finish line right around ten hours after starting.

I was focused on recovery and refreshments and didn't even look at the results until someone mentioned that we were currently in third place singlespeed. Only getting six checkpoints meant we had a two hour wait of shame to see if our standing would hold. We hadn't even remotely been trying to win anything so it really didn't matter but I'll admit that anytime I saw a team finish I looked to see if they were on singlespeeds. I kept expecting singlespeed teams to come in, say they got all the checkpoints, and watch as we fell to eighth place or so where we belonged. But they didn't and at the end of the day I found myself standing on my first podium ever. Not bad for taking it easy!

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