Tuesday, October 21

2014 Double Dare: Day 1

On the 2.5 hour drive to Double Dare, Zac and I discuss many things, one of which being the silly people that choose "fun" routes over practical ones whilst doing PMBAR and Double Dare.  We decide to not be those guys.  We shoulda pinky swore on it.

Getting ready before the race.  Zac realizes that he left all his jerseys at home.  I have brought four sleeveless jerseys, all part of a layering plan to avoid wearing a pack on a potential 12 hour ride.  We work out a plan that involves some sharing and the wearing of soiled jerseys on day two.  We are an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

I'll do my best to not lose those that are not familiar with the layout of the Pisgah National Forest from this point on in the interest of making great bike story.

Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever sends us out time trial style starting at noon... to the other side of the forest (South Mills at Bradley), where will will get our passports with ten possible checkpoints.  The team with the most checkpoints wins, one checkpoint will be mandatory.  I'm not gonna move up in the King of Pisgah series no matter how hard I try unless someone above me makes a mistake.  The minimum will do fine for me.

We head out in the same general direction as the other teams.  Zac and I have our route planned, but once I realize how boring it will be to grind mostly gravel and pavement to get there, I ask him if we can take a more "fun" route... more trail.  More gnar.  He's in.  We're stupid.

Pink Beds, Gauging Station Road, South Mills, Squirrel,  Cantrell, South Mills... we run into other riders who are on similar but still different routes.  There's just no easy way to get there and people are making better and worse decisions than ours.  Three hours after we start, we finally get our passports.

The looks on people's faces as they pore over their passports and maps is incredible.  Eric has decided to make this the hardest Double Dare ever.  It is immediately apparent that all ten will be within reach of only the super humans.  I think seven, maybe eight could be attained by the strong teams.  Piles of poison carrots all over the forest.  Untidy bunches.  No logical routes whatsoever.  Temptations aplenty for the greedy checkpoint collectors.  Eric pushing buttons in a dark room.

The mandatory CP is a punishing push up Turkey Pen.  It doesn't loop in very well with anything, but most of the checkpoints don't hook up seamlessly anyways.  Four hours in and we finally get there.  FOUR HOURS TO JUST GET TO THE MANDATORY CHECKPOINT.  Write a haiku or nail a beer can with a slingshot for a half CP bonus.  We do both for no better reason than killing time.  A beer is drank by each of us and we move on.

We select a route with the possibility of hitting four total checkpoints.  I tell Zac that trying to get up into the North Mills area or high up on Laurel Mountain will easily lump more than three hours onto our day... if everything went well.  We decide to stay in the hole that is the South Mills River area, turning our backs on the poison carrot bunches.

We get to the bottom of Cantrell, a place we'd already been to today without knowing it was a checkpoint.  Take the photo.  Move on. 

On the way up the trail that is hardly a trail... more of a stream bed, I can see that Zac still has his punch but is carrying fatigue.  We'd already discussed our lack of a good night's sleep on Friday for our own various reasons.  It was now taking its toll.

While walking gracefully up the stream/trail, Zac asks what it would take to really make a run at this whole race.  I tell him that without decent sleep the night before, we'd have a huge hole to dig out of at 5:00AM on Sunday.  We'd have to start the race with the mindset that we were going for twelve hours, two days in a row.  We'd have to really stay on top of our nutrition and hydration.  At that point, we were 5.5 hours in.  Zac had consumed two water bottles and a beer.  Me?  One water bottle and a beer.  You don't stay on top of your game for twelve hours that way.

At the top of Cantrell, we fill our bottles at the creek.  A decision has to be made.  Go right for maybe a 45 minute (or more) out and back to a checkpoint or skip it and go left.  I know I want to hit the one on Bennett on our way back, so I tell Zac I'd rather save our chips for that hand.  He concurs.  We go left.

We ride Squirrel, South Mills, Buckhorn Gap... finishing up in the dark.  Lights on, an amazing leaf-covered ride down Clawhammer Road.  We blow past the out and back on Bennett.  I know it, Zac doesn't.  When he mentions it, I tell him we shouldn't bother.  There's not much difference in the pride of nailing two or three checkpoints.  We take paved 276 back towards camp... and then we almost die.

Darkness.  An occasional car goes by.  We talk about tomorrow...  and then there's the heart-stopping sound of screeching tires from behind.  Headlights right behind us.  Zac yells.  A quick glance over my shoulder and I see him going into a ditch and the lights are still coming for me.

No one was hit. Zac and I are both in the ditch.  Tire smoke everywhere.  The guy rolls down his window as he drives by... says he never saw us.  Our blinkies blazing, our hundreds of lumens of LED light casting off in the distance illuminating the surrounding trees.  He slurred all his words.  I think I know why he "never saw us."

Bummer, but very exciting.  Hate to have to drop out of yet another Double Dare, but dead would have been a better excuse than a torn sidewall.  Zac is happy that there is no trip to the hospital that would delay his access to his macaroni and cheese (and avocado and tuna and chicken juice)  Adrenaline helps keep you warm for sure.  I know that now.  We roll into camp eight and a half hours after starting, 2.5 checkpoints in hand.  Plenty of time to take care of ourselves, drink a couple beers, and get six or so hours of sleep for day two.


Anonymous said...

Hopefully, you chucked the idiot's keys into the woods to keep him from running over other cyclists or drivers. Pretty scary.

dicky said...

It wasn't until Zac and I had some reflection time before we were able to properly build a scenario in which this could happen.

We were a little jacked on adrenalin.

EndlessBikeCo. said...

I had no idea! I should have hugged you both harder.