Even though PMBAR lasted 11hrs 14 mins this year I think I can keep this report pretty short.
The night before the race I stopped over at the venue with The Boy and we helped Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever put up the monster tent and E-Z Ups before I retired back to the campsite with the Pisgah regulars and the Pisgah irregulars, Mandy and Thad. That night as I laid my head down for an uncomfortable night of Thermarest aided sleep the first thing I thought about was the fact that the Koerbers would be sleeping in their own beds in their respective houses while I spent the night shivering and waking up in positions that stopped 95% of my regular blood flow to my extremities.
The morning of the race was less than hectic. I rode around playing with the GoPro HD camera, talked it up with some folks I haven't seen in awhile, and slowly but steadily prepared for the race. Thad and I agreed that when Eric said "GO!" I would check the map, figure out the locations of all the check points, and then we would head up the trail where I could formulate a plan on the roll. By the time we reached the first intersection I settled on my third plan, and by the time we reached the second intersection I screwed it up.
It wasn't really that big of a deal. We coulda just ran my plan in reverse from that point and not lost any ground, but I decided we'd still go for the checkpoints in the same order as I had planned. My heart said "Maybe, just maybe our route selection will totally rock." My head told me "Probably not."
On the way out to the gate at the end of 225B it was apparent we (I) had chose unwisely. Teams that had went the way I had originally intended were blazing towards us on the way back from the checkpoint, and it was obvious they had gone the way I had wanted to go. I screwed up and we probably rode an extra 3-5 miles for absolutely no reason. Meh. Well at least it will be a long day with plenty of time to play catch-up.
From there we just stuck to the plan. Out and back to the gate, back to the base of Pilot Rock, push up that annoyingly steep bastard, turn around at the check point, head back down, and make our way to the other side of the forest to hit the check point at the top of Wash Creek Road.
The climb to the top of Wash Creek Rd was annoying as could be. Wishing that it would be over around every corner because some douche at the bottom said "It's not that far up"... asshole. We were pretty spent at the top, but exhilarated to be at the turn-around point. All we had to do was nab the last two checkpoints on the way back and we'd be done. Easy.
The gravel road climb back up to Yellow Gap was taxing. When we hit the bottom of the descent on 5015 we reached our fourth checkpoint, and I was fully recovered, but Thad was starting to feel something... a not so good something. His stomach was beginning to go afoul on him, and the timing was not so good (not that there's a good time for that kinda thing in Pisgah). We still had to push up the steep section Laurel Creek trail and then hit about five miles of the most demanding part of Squirrel Gap (one of the hardest trails in Pisgah). Thad self diagnosed himself with hyponatremia, and was doing what he could to get out of it. Pisgah didn't care. It threw it's worst in his face and was getting the better part of him.
When we finished up on Squirrel we still had a two decent climbs ahead of us, with a forgiving descent in between, but with a hike-a-bike before we'd see the finish line. Thad gutted out the first climb, we hurried down the descent, and then we started the long'ish climb up Maxwell Cove Rd. I have to mention that at this point Thad was less than ten minutes from his car and a happier place (his tent) if he was willing to DNF, but he decided he wanted to finish even if it meant another possible hour plus of riding. Needless to say I was feeling quite proud of my friend.
Here it became apparent that Thad was spent but giving it everything he had. He would stand up to keep the pedals turning, lose traction, about collapse under his own weight, and then keep going. It truly was something to see. When we hit the hike-a-bike over the last section of Black Mountain I pushed both our bikes to the top... not because Thad asked but because I felt like I owed it to him. I knew he was only finishing for my sake, and he was feeling terrible about slowing us down. I was just thrilled that we were going to make it.
On the way down Black Mountain Thad's stomach was now punching him in itself every time he hit a bump, and there were like 39,752 bumps on the way down. I would slow down every few hundred yards and wait until I heard "Unnnh, doh, owww, unnhhh, ooohhh" coming down the trail. Eventually we popped outta the woods and crossed the line in eleventh place with all five check points under our belts.
After we crossed the line Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever came up to us, Thad started to smile, and Eric said "Look over there." As I turned around Thad smiled and I saw Ashton Kutcher coming towards me saying "Team Dicky, you just got punk'd!"
All right, I made that part up. Thad spent the rest of the night dry heaving and puking all over the place which made me even prouder of him than I was out on the trail. Obviously he had a tough time out there, which happens to all of us, but he managed to lay it out there for the team. You can't ask for more from a PMBAR partner.
Sure, we didn't quite repeat last year's second place performance. I have to say it honestly doesn't matter that much to me. PMBAR is about going on a ridiculously long ride in Pisgah with a good friend... the kinda ride you would never imagine going on unless someone gave you a good reason to try it. Eric gives us that reason, and I'm glad he does so every year. Thanks pal.
When I woke up Sunday morning Thad was already packed up and on his way home. I called him once I got rolling, and he said he was feeling much better. That was before he drove through a flooded off-ramp in a torrential downpour, was washed off the road, saved his MOOTS from the brink of destruction, valiantly retrieved his PMBAR booty, and then watched his submerged car float downstream. Seriously. That's an ending to the story right there.
Tomorrow come back for more PMBAR and some news of something so big it deserves its own post, but it won't get it because I still have to talk PMBAR to death.