Saturday, May 11, 2019

2019 PMBAR Race Report

Sleep came late Saturday night. My body was tired but my mind was still racing with thoughts and memories of the bike race that had occupied my day. It was after midnight when I finally drifted off and I woke shortly thereafter to the sound of rain. Just a few sprinkles at first and then a steady driving rain that made for a fitful sleep as I recalled the events of the day and wondered what the morning might bring.

The first half of my 14th PMBAR  had gone as expected, or maybe even better than expected. For the first time in years, Yuri and I had actually been smart and picked the shortest and most logical route with all the key trails in the 'right' direction. Instead of being silly and climbing Turkey Pen Gap trail to end the day we started with it and made good time across it and to the river for our first checkpoint. We knew it was going to rain and our hope was to be out of Turkey Pen and off Slate Rock before it came down. It was hot as we pushed up Horse Cove but the heat would quickly subside as the rain came as soon as we reached the Slate Rock checkpoint. We took our one break of the day under the volunteer's tarp as I ate a burrito and mentally prepared for the second half of the race which was going to be in the rain.

Back out on the gravel the rain came and went. Sometimes it was pounding and we could hardly see in front of us and then it would just stop. By the time we reached Bennett Gap the trail was somehow dry. That didn't last and on the road out and back to Daniel Ridge it was once again quite heavy and drenching. That final mandatory checkpoint was a slog like no other with the trail a treacherous slip and slide of wet rocks and roots just begging to slap you down. Yuri added a layer in the tent while I sat in the mud on the side of the trail eating what was left of my burrito as we prepared for the home stretch.

All that was left was Maxwell > Black and at the base of the climb the rain stopped and we took off our rain jackets. I wanted to just walk up the steep pitches but I found myself still able to turn my cranks so I couldn't get what I wanted and stayed on the bike. We were passing other teams the whole way up and it felt good to be riding however haggard I was. There was another team stopped at the top of Hickory Knob and we just rolled through. I am not a fast technical descender by any means and was fully expecting several teams to catch and pass us as I dismounted for the most challenging moves but nobody ever did.

After ten and half hours of Pisgah, we rolled across the finish line with all the checkpoints and managed to snag the last spot on the whiteboard. Not bad for two old guys who were taking it easy with hopes of surviving the running race the next day!


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