Wednesday, May 9

PMBAR '18: Part 2

So, where did we leave off?

Oh, yeth.  Eight and a half hours in, four checkpoints bagged (one very pointless and possibly time-penalizing) and one mandatory to go before we can call it a day.

On the plus side, this was our last check point from 2017... the one that saw us blow (more than likely) first place single speed AND a possible overall podium.  I know how to NOT make that mistake again.  On the downside, the smart way to get there (1206 gravel to 276 paved to 477 gravel) was off the table.  276 was off limits... so another way it had to be.

But at least it still wouldn't be as bad as the way I got there last year so ok.

Up the Wheelchair Ramp from the other side, get up to Buckhorn Gap.  A few riders are there pondering just how the hell to approach Saddle Gap from here.  There are three possible options.  All are daunting.

We're going up and over Buckwheat Knob because:

1. I know the worst possible way (see 2017)

2. I can't fathom the amount of gravel climbing I'd have to do if we went down Clawhammer to climb up 477 to Bennett (I don't even like doing it with fresh legs).

So, over the knob.  Lotsa hike-a-bike, but whatever.  We pass a few riders and talk to them.  They ain't from around here, so I kinda let them know where to go and what they're in for soon enough.  Down the backside, over to Bennett, down to Saddle Gap... and back.

That's mebbe the one smart thing I did, because it was one of the keys to our not getting first place last year.  So much easier than what we did.  Although it's not usually in my best interest to help others plan their route, ten and a half hours into the day is not the time to be a competitive dick.  As riders come the other way asking why we're going back up, I let them know that out-and-back works better... at least for me (and Andy and Matt when they beat us last year).

Back on 477 for the million mile an hour descent down to the horse stables.  Watts is outta water, so he fills his bottle precariously close to the smells of horse poop.  Doh.

Up Clawhammer, over to Maxwell, thirsty Watts drinks outta my bottle because neither one of us is stoked about the idea of him drinking horse poop, and I'd given up on drinking water... because... why?

Slog Maxwell, short hike-a-bike up the back of lower Black, and down to the finish in what was not the sexiest run to the bottom by a long shot.

Crossing the line twenty minutes shy of twelve hours.  Eric tells us that we might be in third place single speed.  This does not compute.  My brain stopped working awhile ago.  Chalk that up to drinking mebbe four bottles all day, eating a bag and a half of Tummy Gummies, a homemade Snickers chunk, four gels, and a cashew bar I found on the trail.

I really am shelled, but third place it is.


What's there to say?

My best guess on a good route for the day?

Around Black VIA Clawhammer, Buckhorn, South Mills,  Squirrel... stay down in the hole to get Riverside, out (and up, unnnnnngggh) Bradley (and its seven thousand creek crossings), out and back Laurel and Slate, over the Wheelchair ramp and finish like we did.  Sadly, this is not a Monday morning quarterback plan.  It's what I decided I didn't feel like doing about twenty minutes into the day.

Myself (and Watts) paid for my apathetic and somewhat selfish approach to PMBAR this year.  I dug my heels in and made bad decisions because I just didn't wanna do certain "smart" things because I couldn't find it in myself to give a shit.  I got what I wanted outta PMBAR to some degree.  I like riding bikes in the woods with Watts, I love the strange uncertainty of people riding randomly all over the woods chasing their goals, and I love love love drinking beer with friends when it's all said and done, swapping war stories until all the cows have come home.

Watts and I talked a lot throughout the day as we rode at a very tranquil pace (when we could).  There was a lot of questioning "why" we do this to ourselves.  Not "why," like "what are our goals?"  It was more of a rhetorical question that neither one of us had the rhetorical answer to.  If you're not proving something to yourself or racing for a podium, you're just riding your bike... which can be done in a much shorter (and more pleasurable) amount of time.  You can also still drink beer when you're done.  I came into this PMBAR a jaded, contemptuous asshole who assumed his old man legs would just get me where I needed to go, and that was about as much thought as I put into it.  No "why."  Just "do."

Yet somehow, I know next year that I will be drawn back to PMBAR like a winged insect to a bug zapper... except that I'm cognizant enough to realize that I'm flying towards something that will kill me...

but that light is so pretty.  Must get near.  Must touch it.  Must.


hellbelly said...

Terrific write up. I have never gotten into endurance racing, but the camaraderie y'all have is great. Meanwhile, while I've been riding all of those trails since '99 and I likely could get my shiz together enough to do a race like that. I engaged in plenty of single speed/CX/XC/Alley Cat/DH/Enduro races mostly for comic relief (mine and my competitors). However, I am more about just riding to seek the edge of my seat lines, laughing at myself and my other jerk friends without making it a formal competition any longer. Never say never though, right?

Anonymous said...


Jay said...

Did my first PMBAR this year and had a blast. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs regarding the race and read it several times in the excitement leading up to it!