Wednesday, May 8

PMBAR '19: Part Two

Mentally, I'm checked out.  I've "quit" PMBAR, but there really is no quitting.  The shortest route back to the finish is probably two to three hours, so finishing in five or six hours officially?  What's the difference?

Photo from our first check point on Bennett but whatever.

On the hike-a-bike up to the overlook, things just got worse.  Coming directly back down having already been to the check point were the Crank Arm Christians, then Gary and Chris... two of the other strong single speed teams.  We did hike past Yuri and Clay (also SS), but they had the best part to go and we still had the shittiest (I assume).  Are we in virtual sixth place??

I talk to Watts about the possibility of us mebbe volunteering at the 2020 PMBAR?  It has to be better, right?

He gives me the same speech I've heard at this point in the race for years.

"Buck up, little buddy."

"Anything can happen."

"It's okay.  I still don't hate you."

That's when the sky started to rumble.

We get to the check point, and Blalock is there.  He's got Pringles... mebbe something special to drink.  My frown didn't turn upside down, but mebbe it straightened out a bit.  We make the turn around and start back down.  Then the sky opened up on our heads.  I stopped to put my GORE Shakedry on, still scarred from the Bootlegger hypothermia experience two weeks ago.

Doh...I accidentally brought the one that doesn't have a dual zipper when it's inverted into its own pocket.  I fumble with it for a quick minute before putting it away and just tossing a cap under my helmet.  Same thing, right?

Get to the bottom and the storm is at full bluster (or at least what we thought would be full bluster).  Lightning pops nearby, and this just doesn't seem like it could get any worse.

What a stupid thing to think.

We get to the top of Bradley Creek and Rich T and TP Hudson are there.

"There's a lot of trees down on Bradley."

"There's always a lot of trees down on Bradley."

"No, it's way worse than ever."


So, Watts and I don our rain jackets and find ourselves hiking across the thousands of stream crossings, lightning going off so close it's almost pants-shattening.  Then the hail, sideways winds... ummmm... this is dangerous?

Watts stops, looks at me through the downpour.

"What should we do?"

I don't understand the question.  I mean, I get it.  I also wondered if there's a good thing we should be doing to be safe.   It's beyond my realm of comprehension at this point how we could decrease or increase the level of danger we're in currently.

I answer him with a dumbfounded look on my face.

"Ummm... we keep going?"

So is it dangerous to be in a creek during lightning or amongst tall trees or carrying metal bikes around all the dead fall and detritus littering what someone once called a trail?

Beats me, but whatever.  My last PMBAR will be an adventure and either my last by decision or electrocution, hopefully the former and not the latter.

We get towards the bottom of Bradley Creek, and the rain dies down.  We come across some guys filtering water... and they're bone dry, not wearing anything but their kits.

"You guys didn't get dumped on?"


Well, at least mebbe we're headed towards dry trails, emmaright?

Over to the South Mills check point and Tom is there with cookies.  I eat as many as I can possibly stuff into my mouth part without choking.  I tell Watts it's just a pretty flat diddy-bop and then we'll be at the worst part of our whole day, the "ride" up Cantrell to Horse Cove and the hike to Squirrel Gap.  The trails are dry... until they aren't.  The rain kicks back up, jackets go back on (or do they, so much of the on-off I can't even remember), and we get to our final check point.  Then it's the long hike up Horse Cove.

I don't need to talk about how miserable this is.  Seven or eight hours in, hiking the worst thing we've done all day, rain dumping on our heads.

But then we run into Banjo and three other riders, and they're sliding their way down Horse Cove which means they're still on their way out and away from anything close to the finish.  I realize I'm a jaded piece of shit if I think what we've got ahead is a hard endeavor.  I'm blessed to be already on my way back to dry clothes and beer.

So mebbe this is my last PMBAR, but it's almost over, and I'll have an official finish, and I didn't die (yet), and then Watts can look at me and say...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Laugh out loud funny. Not because quasi near death experiences are funny, because the same thoughts were running through my head during the deluges and lightning shows... Except we were only starting the hike up Pilot Cove when it all broke loose. So. Much. River. Of. Mud. So much wondering if this was the PMBAR where multiple riders get struck by lightning. Especially, this rider!