Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pisgah Stage Race: Stage 5

Distance:  43 miles
Elevation:  9500 feet
Temperature:  62-84 degrees
Conditions:  dry
Time:  4:57:45

Anybody know which trail this one is?
I awoke this morning with mixed feelings.  I was tired so a part of me was glad that today was the last day.  On the other hand, the little bicycle demon inside of me was sad that this would be my last Pisgah adrenalin fix ... for a while. Today I was ready to empty the tank; there was more than just fumes, as opposed to last year.

The first 7 miles, which was pavement, was brutal, because I pretty much suck at it.  Or perhaps I am at a disadvantage with the little wheels.  I managed to hang on to the second group until the last mile and then popped.  On the Turkey Pen fireroad climb, I regrouped and weaved my way through several racers. 

Vineyard Gap was rippin' fast.  I would compare this trail to a roller coaster ride.  I thought I heard the "tick-tick-ticking" as I was approaching the top of the climb.  Then, the trail just dropped away from the bike and I.  And whoosh! down I went. 

I had gotten ahead of David on the final climb, so when the trail turned downward, I shot down it faster than I had intended because I did not want him to catch me and spoil his ride.  I got a bit to pogo'ey on one section and was just about jettisoned from the bike.  Somehow I managed to save it and reached the river unscathed.  The 7 river crossings somehow seemed quite tame as compared to last year when temps were in the 40's and the water was chamois deep.

After taking a beating from FS 5015, I descended down FS 1206 to Laurel Mountain.  Ah, what a beautiful trail and an awesome ride.  No freezing winds, no sleet to contend with, just a glorious blue bird day.  On the hike-a-bike section, I met several Army officers coming down the trail.  I asked them ever so politely if they could just form a line and shuttle my bike to the top.  No takers.

Pilot Rock was gnarly and ready to eat your tires and bones if you chose the wrong line.  I acquiesced on several of the switchback; really do need to work on swinging my ass end around on those tight ones.  One of my mini goals I wanted to accomplish was to ride the boulder section towards the bottome ... mission accomplised, other than the huge downed tree I had to crawl over.

The remainder of FS 1206 seemed like an eternity but my legs were happy.  One more time up Club Gap and then on to Avery Creek, another one of my favorites.  Everything was rideable for me, save for the downed trees that hovered off the ground.  Once back out on FS 477, I had to stop and wait as a caravan of horses passed by.  I was just happy that none of them spooked as their passengers were children.

I grabbed a PB&J at the last aid station, had my picture taken while stuffing my mouth with said PB&J, and pedaled up FS 5058 and FS 5022 for the final time.  Once again I set a blistering pace down Black Mountain, scrubbing off another minute.  My fastest time on that final section of it, including the climb, was 16 minutes.

I rolled through the Start/Finish, happy that the stage was over, but sorry that it was the end of such a wonderful week of riding.  Todd and Company really listened to the racers' feedback from last year and put on a great race this year.  The post-race festivities were awesome:  a never-ending supply of Poppies-catered food, a fun and well-attended kid's race, a pie-eating contest, and cash for all divisions.  Indeed, I think everyone went home with some money.

Watch out!  Those ladies next to me can hammer!
I know Todd had to have taken a big hit this year, what with the low attendance, but kudos to him for not canceling.  I must say that has been my favorite race of 2010.  I am not sure how to attract a bigger field for next year, but we MUST.  Todd has plans for 2011; I just hope they can come to fruition.

As for me, I increased my knowledge of Pisgah ... to a point that I am going to tackle this man's events next year!


Jen said...

Enjoyed reading your accounts of the stages. You're a brave woman! Sounds like a lot of places where I'd be hike-a-bikin'. Congrats on finishing and thanks for the read!

ExtrmTao said...

You will never regret doing Pisgah Pro's races. Just remember to sign up early as they sell out fast.

David J. Cook said...

It was fun swaping places for 5 days. Nice write ups.