Wednesday, May 05, 2010

PMBAR, Cohutta and other Racing

Its been a long time since we've updated the blog. I just know our devoted readers have been sitting on the edges of their seats waiting for the next update...

The Dode has tied himself up in 8 hour exams and now that he is finished is probably poking his brain with a Q-tip. I've been focused on road bike racing. The season has gone well I'll spare you the reports on all the rides and racing that has gone on while on the pavement. The past two weekends are two of the biggest events I do each year and with the focus being on the road I did not specifically train on the mountain bike this year, but I did finally get all the mechanical problems worked out in time to put about 45 miles on it before the Cohutta 100.

We stayed up at Turner's house again this year before the race. We finally got Turner to commit to the 100 mile event as well! We woke up to a slight pre race drizzle and headed over to the start. We rolled up to the line just as the gun went off and the rain stopped. We had pretty good conditions on the trails, the rain made them tacky for the most part with the exception of a few spots of slime over clay. The bridges on Old Copper Road were another story and one was the site of my second wreak of the day. Everyone rallied out to the back of the course and at about mile 50 or so the weather moved in; rain, cold winds, and fog were the order for the day. I believe it was soon after this point Todd G's derailler hanger broke and he jumped in a car to ride around the course with some Brits and Euros. I caught back up with Bell and we descended through the ghostly fog as shapes would suddenly appear and then quickly fade out of sight as we rallied down the mountain.

By the time we got to the last section of trails they were a pig wallerin' mud hole. I went down hard on Quartz Loop landing on my rib on a log and rode the rest of the trails like a bitch, probably loosing up to 30 minutes of time as daintily descended and walked around the technical stuff. The final pavement section was made horrible by 20-30 mph gusts but it was good to be done at near my 10 hr goal: 10:00:54 I easily spent that 54 seconds laying in the mud on quartz loop. It was one of those wrecks were you get up while the adrenaline is still flowing, move your bike and carcass off the trail and then lay back down. Alex killed it with a time of 8:50:16, Nate and Blake came in a bit under an hour and twenty after me after dealing with some mechanical issues in the mud.

Once back at Blake's Alex regaled us with stories of his run in with Michigan Jack who's fuck it all attitude helped Alex along and inspired us all when Alex told of how he had dropped Jack only to have Jack ride up to him later and tell Alex of how when he fell back he had crashed and broke his collar bone (showing Alex his swollen shoulder and collar bone) but he caught back up and rode strong to the finish.

One week of easy spinning on the bike took us into PMBAR, Pisgah Mountainbike Adventure Race, this race is the reason I do Cohutta because you have to do some long easy miles on the mountain bike before tackling the hills and mountains of NC.
Pisgah is tough. This year Alex and I were determined to ride well. We were already committed to all 5 check points having done it the previous year and just barely making it in before the time cut off, Alex picked the worst route imaginable so this year I held the map.

Nate, Bell, Chris Young and Daniel W, Alex and I headed up early on Friday, set up camp and headed to Dupont for a warm up ride. We told Daniel, " This place is awesome huh?, Pisgah... nothing like it!" I got some new chainrings and some Mexican food and we headed off to camp. The next morning we woke up and got ready, going a bit slow and just making it to check in before the cut off. Checked our gear, got our map, bought some raffle tickets and then we were off up Black Mountain. Alex and I checked the map and decided to go for the westernmost check point first then traveling the route to the other 4 counter-clockwise. The other teams with us followed suite. We lost the other guys as Alex stopped to change a flat on the first descent and I took the opportunity to but in some new brake pads as my pads were metal on metal already, I was hoping to get at least one more ride out of them. Alex and I caught and passed the other guys we were with and began our quest knowing that we were riding stronger than last year by far and determined to keep up the pace. We felt great through our third check point in part fueled by our positive attitudes inspired by Michigan Jack. The climb up 5000 to our third check point flew by and we hollered and encouraged everyone on our way back down.
We caught a group we had been seeing all day on the climb up Yellow Gap and felt like we were racing again. When we got back into the trails to pick up the final two check points the pain and fatigue set in. I battled cramps and went into tunnel vision mode trying to keep the pace going that we had maintained all day. Alex channeled the Michigan Jack attitude and kept us moving along. There were some dark times once we reached Squirrel Gap and our positive banter ceased and we rode on in silence. We saw Chris and Daniel at a creek crossing and just grunted at them as we rode by.

We both dug deep knowing that we were "doing something special" ,as Alex said, and I think I pushed myself to near the brink. We knew we were on the way home but had a long way to go. The final descent of Black felt good but I focused on not crashing and making it in safely. We got back with all 5 check points putting us in 7th place. I forced down as much of the burrito as I could but really felt like puking might make me fell better. I sat there and drank a beer and watched my leg muscles squirm as I was sitting still knowing that any wrong movement would produce leg locking cramps. I won a shock rebuild which was hugely needed as I was almost forced to ride single speed due to shock issues between Cohutta and PMBAR. We headed to the Sagebrush for dinner and then I laid in my tent to tired to sleep but happy all the same.

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