Tuesday, October 26

'21 Pisgah 55.5K

If nothing unfortunate happens at a bike race, did it even happen?  I haven't been this "ready" for an event since... I can't remember.

A trick I learned from Wirun at Shenandoah Mountain 100 this year.  Make coffee the night before, not stumbling around in the dark and staring in anticipation on the morning of.  I had hot coffee in my hands about a minute after my alarm went off.

While not ideal, I still say it's better than having to mess around with a wet tent.  Just enough room to get everything where it needs to be and that's that.

Race gear ready in the front seat.  I was up at 6:15AM and dressed to go by 6:48AM... which meant I crawled back into my cot and stayed warm until the start.

Sweet race write up so far, emmaright?

I line up at the front and the only other single speeder I see up there with me is Jarz. 

I can't see back too far into the field, but if you wanna chance to stay on a single speed as much as possible going up Black Mountain, you best be up here.  Once the race got underway, Jarz was off the front with four or so other riders, the "haves" if you will.  I was leading the group of "have nots."

Up Black and "down" Turkey Pen and I'm not feeling so alone anymore.  I'm in good company with Pat and Eric going after the 50+ class, Stephen whom I get to ride with occasionally in the Pisgah, and unfortunately, along came Gordong and Nick doing the 111K which shared parts of the course... and I hoped they wouldn't go by until much later.  They all left me behind in good order, and while I was regretting having the squish fork going up Black, I was relieved once we started leaf surfing down the not-so-ridden Turkey Pen.  Still... they all dropped me.

Down to the Turkey Pen aid station, top off my short bottle with whatever Greg put in it, and stash as many tater tots in my maw that would fit before rolling away.  I managed to make up some ground at the bottom of Bradley Creek (thanks to my pro level stomping across the creeks), and once I got on Bradley Creek Road, I started to finally feel like I could give 'er.

Pass Pat, Eric, and Stephen, up to Yellow Gap, eat some trail magic cookies, head up Laurel...

If I made a "mistake," it was here.  I was having such a good time going up, but I kinda got lost in my head with happiness.  I saw the LEDs lighting up on my Wahoo data acquisition device with greens and orange... but whatever instinct I should have to "try" wasn't lizard braining itself into action.  It wasn't until I got to the Thousand Dollar Climb towards the end of Laurel when I looked back and saw that Stephen and Pat were both catching me while I was daydreaming.  They passed me and left me for ded going down Pilot Rock.  Oh well.

Get to the final aid station where I see Pat messing with something or eating something else, but Stephen is long gone.  Pound two cups of Coke and make chase up the Wheelchair Ramp.  I finally see Stephen about three pitches away from the top of the climb and decide to get at the business of getting this over.  Pass him, keep moving, make the left onto the climb (mostly hike-a-bike) to the top of Black Mountain.  

I pass by like a gazillion randos looking to get (what they think is ) a run on "full" Black.  A few of them said I was the first number plate they saw go by... which means either a bunch of people took a wrong turn... or the riders in front of me came through a long, long time ago.

I'd bet on the latter.

The whole trip down Black was all about keeping Stephen behind me... if only so I could take King of the Queen City honors.

Which I managed to do.


Buenos and also strange.

2nd place SS and 7th in the overall.  That's the buenos.

The strange?

Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever had this race sold out.  Over 220 people signed up for the 111K/55.5K (MTB and running) only to have over a hundred no-shows.  Can you blame Covid, or the delay to fall meaning lodging would be scarce thanks to leaf peepers, or folks who were gung ho many months ago losing motivation late in the year, or cyclocross, or... dunno.

Either way, when I crossed the line, Jarz and I asked how many single speeders were out there still because each class kinda has to get their own podium assembled so Eric doesn't have to spend his time in the parking lot herding cats....

"Five... mebbe six."


"Oh, there are no more single speeders out on course.  You're it."

So, second place but also last place single speeder... and once again, I coulda/shoulda/woulda picked another class if I wanted a top step.  Coulda been first place 40+, and I didn't even realize that Eric had added a 50+ class... oh, way back in 2016?  Duh.  Also dammit.  Even Pat beat the dicks off the forty year olds.  Woulda been a lot more interesting going head-to-head with Pat all day in the same class.  Coulda felt like a "real" bike race full of excite.  A nail biter win versus being chased by nothing more than ghosts of single speed past all day long.

Still, it was a great way to finish out the "season."  Eighteen minutes slower than in 2019 but with a three mile increase in distance with the reroute of Black Mountain (which probably made things faster but slower but still faster).  So nice to do a bike race in the Pisgah that doesn't take almost twelve hours...

I guess 2021 is over?

Now what?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about a PA raceless road trip with a fun van pun?