Tuesday, May 8

PMBAR '18: Part 1

Due to my shit eyesight, I can no longer read the 8 point font in the passport while riding up Lower Black, so we definitely burned some time at the start of the day trying to get enough information in my head part to make gooder decisions.  That delay and starting the prelude lap in the wrong direction meant that Watts and I were riding up Black Mountain in some serious traffic.  The last couple of years, we'd been going up the mountain in first through mebbe fifth position.  Now, were amongst the masses, spinning up in their tiny gears.

So lets burn some matches getting around other riders in the first hour of the day, shall we?

That moment when you ask photographer Steve Barker if he's taking a picture of you going the right or the wrong way on Black Mountain.

While we're still on the way around the prelude loop, I can feel that I treated myself so poorly last night that I have a cold sore in the corner of my mouth.   At least I'll have that distraction for the rest of the day.

We go up to Pressley Gap, and I decide against what might be the most logical route for the day right there.  I don't want to go up (or down really) Bradley Creek.  Four years in a row (I think) is enough.  I mean, if I cared that much about going fast, I woulda lost weight, trained, not drank last night... etc.  I just wanna play the game and ride bikes in the woods with my little friend.

So "we" make the decision to head up Black a bit more to Turkey Pen.  Figure the rest of this terrible route out when we get there with a quick map check.

Get to Turkey Pen.  A couple riders come up on us and head over Black Mountain for the full pull all the way over.  I want to tell them that whatever they're doing, it's wrong.  I'd know because that's a mistake that I've made many times in the past.  Whatever.  Let them have it.  Pull out the map, I point out some options to Watts.

"Whatever, man.  I don't care."

Down (mostly) Turkey Pen we go.

Roll into the parking lot on the other side after the minimal amount of effort required to get there is expended.  The person that is manning the Vineyard check point is there with the USNF ranger.  He tells us that the CP is unmanned and across the creek at the bottom of the trail.  He also tells us that one team has already been out there AND back... ok.  Jeebus.  At least we're following one fast/smart(?) team.

I haven't ridden Vineyard since I owned my Moots mebbe a decade ago.  I quickly remember why.  Up, up, up... stopping at two points of vagueness to assure ourselves that we're (probably) going the right way.  Eventually, the trail turns stupid steep down, and I realize this out-and-back just got wicked bad.  Watts gets to the bottom shortly after I do.  He lost air in his front tire on the way down, wrecked, stopped to inspect his things, found a wet spot, assumed it was tubeless goo and dirt, brushed it aside to inspect... and it was dog shit.  Doh. 

Down to the river, stomp across, we're now two hours fifty minutes into our day.

Pull out the map.  Look at the passport.  It's just now that I realize we hit one of the two mandatory check points.  I never really care what's "mandatory" ever since I've decided I'd just hit them all anyways.  I notice that the other mandatory is all the way at the end of our day, so we've kinda sealed our fate.

I debate taking Riverside to get over towards Squirrel, but I'm pretty sure there's a bunch of creek crossings AND, as much as I like to ride Squirrel in its entirety for fun, I don't like doing it in a hurry.  Back from whence we came on Vineyard, talk to Shanna and her partner in the parking lot at Turkey Pen (they're also debating the out-and-back route), head down South Mills.

Understand, I picked this route because I thought it would be nice to tool along on South Mills at a leisurely pace.  Once it flattens out, we could talk, eat and relax.  Once again, not a great "performance-based" decision, but it takes at least eight wrongs to make a right.  Based on that math, we should make about two and a half total rights by the end of the day.

South Mills to the climb up Cantrell Creek.  I know it's stupid, but I just don't care.  Ride when we can towards the bottom, hike a lot more when it gets steep at the top.  Hit the checkpoint at Squirrel Gap at four and a half hours after the start.  I'd decided earlier that this is where we'd get water, so yeah... we rode that long on a 70°+ day on two bottles.  Whatever.

Take our time filling up, head out Squirrel over to the Wheelchair ramp.  We run into some people that are just standing on the narrow hanging bridge we need to cross at the bottom of Squirrel.

"Excuse us."

I don't understand what happens next, but Watts and I find out what purgatory must be like while we wait for them to stop taking pictures and let us by.  I mean, deep down I think both of us wanted to say "hey, we're racing here," but deeper down, we knew that was a lie.

After answering many of the random questions lobbed at us by the bridge blockers, we head up the Wheelchair Ramp, out Gauging Station Rd to the bottom of Pilot... and up.  Going up Pilot is probably (okay, just is) dumb.  It's puts you at a much higher elevation than the check point AND that's after forty five to fifty minutes of mostly hike-a-bike.  Whatever.  I don't wanna ride all that 1206 gravel to the base of Laurel to do an out-and-back that if I'd planned on doing that, I woulda just walked up Bradley Creek when I had the chance.

Some of you won't be familiar with the rules, but it takes four check points to finish (two of them mandatory), and the fifth one will just get you a two hour time bonus.  So, of course, if you're going after that fifth one, you better not be burning close to two hours to get it.

So, guess what we did?


We probably spent 1:45-1:50 going up Pilot, down Laurel, and back on the gravel road to get that check point.  The check point volunteer said that we were the first team to come from that direction all day.  Meh.  Assume how much fatigue we experienced over that time, estimate how much slower we're gonna go over the rest of the day (4-5 hours or so), and know that it was a terrible decision to go after it.  Whatever.  I'd thought it might be worthless, but I just get all the check points because that's what I do (unless my partner is sick and suffering borderline hypothermia).

The out-and-back to Pilot Cove is a no-brainer. It takes very little time to get up and (should) probably take a fifth as long to get down.  We get up to the top, check in at the vista overlook, and leave... going the wrong way.

"I don't remember coming down this trail."

"Neither do I."

A team behind us insists we're going the right way.


I pull out the map.  Duder whips out his phone. I take a quick peak... shit.  We are going the wrong way even though all we needed to do was leave from whence we came thirty seconds after getting to the check point.  Back down, back up, and back down.  Watts is low on water, and we stop at the bottom to get him sorted out.  Me?  I haven't been drinking much... because... self-care is not my thing.

One check point to go, and the distance we have between us and still finishing would be a great ride on its own... but not after already being out for eight and a half hours.


Anonymous said...

So far this is my favorite race

cutamerc said...

Can't wait for part two!

Anonymous said...

Give that brake finger a break when climbing. Also because aero.