Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Pisgah Stage Race: The Prologue
I arrived in Brevard Wednesday afternoon to pouring rain and temps in the 50's. After checking in to Adventure Village's cute little "camping cabin," Zeke and I headed over to the college to check out the prologue course.
I had envisioned a 6 mile loop traversing through the campus. Upon arriving and seeing no course markings, I wondered what Todd, the race director, had up his sleeve. The campus was pretty flat, save for one small hill off in the distance.
After putting on my bike shoes, which were to be my hiking shoes for the day, I wandered over to said hill. Ah! Fresh cut trail zig-zagged up the hill. We walked up this trail, shoes squishing in the mud, careful not to wipe out on the slick, polished roots. I was having a hard enough time maintaining my balance walking; I could only imagine what it was going to be like racing over this same terrain.
Seeing no other trails and having no clue what the prologue would be, we headed back to our cabin to eat and sleep.
Awaking Thursday morning to the sound of rain, I struggled to put a smile on my face. Glued to the weather channel, I prayed for a break in the weather. After a semi-lazy day drinking, fueling, checking out the bike, Zeke and I headed over to the venue.
Miraculously, the clouds broke apart and rays of beautiful sunshine washed down upon the campus. Upon receiving my race plate, number 13, I found out that today's stage would be a short, short-track event. 4 laps, 1 mile each, with us climbing up the trail I had discovered yesterday.
Initially, I was bummed about my 6:15pm race start, but with all the other categories going before me, it would give the trail a chance to dry out. The first couple waves had it the worst with a lot of them running up the slick singletrack.
By the time I got around to pre-riding, it was all rideable save for one right-hand, off-camber, rooty switchback. We got to start with the elite men. My two goals were to: 1. not get lapped by the men, and 2. conserve my energy for the real stages.
When the gun went off, it felt like an XC race. Ouch! Even though I had warmed up for 45 minutes, the first 1/2 mile still hurt. Sue and Cheryl passed me on the gradual gravel climb up the backside of the hill. I was content to stay in third.
Cheryl led the first lap. Sue then passed on an open stretch and never looked back, slowly gaining a 50 second advantage over Cheryl and I. I just stayed on Cheryl's wheel and maintained her pace. Janel was with us for 2 laps and then slowly fell off our pace. And Brenda was somewhere behind her.
I crossed the finish line in :28:26, 1 second behind Cheryl. Pleased with how my legs felt, I then started the post-race race. You know, recovery drink, bike maintenance, body maintenance, refueling, resting, etc. This can be as hard as racing, but with Zeke supporting me, it afforded me a bit more time to recover for the successive stages.
Excited about tomorrow's stage, I drifted off to sleep, pre-riding the Squirrel Gap Trail in my mind's eye...