Tuesday, May 7

PMBAR '19: Part One

The worst part of mountain bike endurance racing is getting up at a stupid time in the morning, especially when you spent the night in a tent or a car or worse.  That's what I always think until I'm about four hours into the day, and then that's the worst part and it just gets worser from there.

Wake up to the sound of Watts opening the sliding door of van life.  He makes us coffee whilst I shove two of my intended four chocolate Pop Tarts into my eating hole.  I can't put more than that in me.  Chewing is hard.

Head to the port-a-potty.  At least my diarrhea is gone.

Second trip to the port-a-potty.  Mebbe not.  Grab a few fwop-fwop-fwops of toilet paper, fold it neatly, shove it into my pocket.  Meh.

Back with Watts and it's a discussion as to whether or not to bring real rain jackets or super-packable disposable ponchos (I've had the same one for almost a decade to cover the required gear aspect) and a vest that we'd probably actually wear if it's 57°+ and raining.  We opt for the real jackets.  I also go with a right knee warmer... because... panic?

We head over to the start, and as it always seems to happen, my teammate decides that he left something back at the van... and we're separated minutes before the start.  This time tho, he actually finds me just before the passports are handed out.

I read the rules.  Another year of doing a stupid prologue lap at the bottom of Black Mountain, reverse direction from last year.

I know this, because it's the only thing I studied last week.  I assess where the check points are, come up with a rough plan, and we're off and up the mountain, down the mountain, back up again... more than thirty minutes to get to a place twice before actually starting the race.

For some reason, and I'll never know why, I decided to tweak my original route a bit.  Instead of hitting the eastern check points first, we'd get the western ones.  I'd love to know why I did that, but I'll assume it's early onset dementia.  At my age, mebbe just full-on dementia.

Up Black to Hot Dog Gap, left on Maxwell, right on 477... and something dawns on me.

"I wonder if the flat section of 276 that runs east/west or west/east is open and useful?"

We stop, Watts fiddles with something... I look at the rules.  It's always confusing to a non-local, this being open between that and there and closed between here and somewhere else...

I read it several times before determining that it is indeed open.  Now, how to use that bit logically?

Up and over the top of Bennett, check point one.  We're the second ones there... meaning the fast people think what I'm doing is trbl.  Grab a cold, homemade Snickers bar, shove it down the front of my bib shorts, back over the top of Bennett to 477.

I've already had a thousand internal debates about how to get the mandatory check point at the bottom of Farlow Gap.  I can think of a dozen ways... none of them using the flat portion of 276, at least in a logical manner.  I decide that we'll go out the long, winding shitty way, finish out Daniel's Ridge, and then go over to Cove Creek to get water from a pump at the campgrounds.  On the way over, I remember my Snickers bar... that was cold when it was handed to me but was now a gooey mess in my bibs. 

Doh.   Stop, unwrap, lick it off the wax paper... go on.

Down to the checkpoint, get the water where we intended... I fill Watts's bottles while he tightens the crank on the bike the bike he built oh so recently.  Up Cove Creek and out over to the Slate Rock Overlook.  Pound a full bottle down so we can do a quick refill at the Cradle of Forestry... the last time we'll take on water for the rest of the day... and we won't even drink it.

I'm still rethinking the whole 276 thing, but when I see Nick Bragg coming at us on 1206, I know how badly I screwed up.  It would be brilliant to finish on the west side and use the flat road to make it all the way back east.  Absolutely brilliant, thus the reason I did not do that.  Even worse, I realize that had I went east first, I woulda had hours to figure out my escape route.


Then we see all the other fast riders coming at us.  Sam and Thomas Turner, Wes Dickson, Jacob McGahee, Kaysee... and then the single speeders Andy and Matt... Dahn and Jarmz.

I had to tell Watts how bad this truly was.  It was then and there I decided that sixteen PMBARs might have been one too many.  I'm tired of screwing up, putting my partners through all this, and all the stress and sads that comes with it.

This will be my last PMBAR.


Anonymous said...

Why not (in the future) throw ideas at and strategize with said fast guys leading up to said event? The fact that they all seem to be on the same page makes me think they may have already maybe been doing a little of that.(?)

dicky said...

There really is no way to know where the checkpoints will be. They're often in the same 10-15 spots, but a tweak here or there can change everything. I was surprised that as I'm finding out the '19 routes taken by the fast guys, they weren't even all on the same page.

It's pretty much game on when you get your passport. You can try to hold the wheel of a faster team, but sometimes that bites you in the butt.

There were years similar to this where some of the faster teams actually went west first.

Live, learn (hopefully).