Thursday, October 14

PMBAR 2021: Part Three

As much as I tell myself, "it's just some garvel on 1206 to some pavement on 276 to some more garvel on 477," I know I'm selling this segment short.  The first part seems unnecessarily long, the coast down the pavement is too short, and the climb back up 477 brings back a lot of bad memories.  

Add to all that, both Watts and I are tiring of the of the thousands of calories of Haribo Sour Gold Bears I was carrying in my top tube purse.  I had forgotten that I used to eat Trader Joe's Gummy Tummies, which are super soft.  The Haribos take a lot of chewing... while trying to breathe... and not choke.  It's exhausting.  We were hoping for some trail fairy magic, some Pringles, a homemade Snickers bar... a cookie?

But there is nothing at the checkpoints... well, Jay did offer us some tequila or whiskey or something... but I didn't think our Pilot Rock experience needed to be any worse than it would be already. 

So neither one of us really wanted to eat.  Watts is down to less than half a water bottle since we filled up three and a half hours ago. I still have one full one because I'm dumb.  The plan was to fill up at the spring on Clawhammer... fifteen miles away?

I still have some bounce in me, but when we turn on to 477 Watts suddenly members this climb from Monster Cross years ago.  I could see the wind go out of his sails.  

"Don't worry.  It's never as hard as it seems, and then we just pop over to Saddle Gap, and then we're pretty much home."

Pretty much.

We slog over to Bennett Gap Trail, make the hump up and over and descend into our final checkpoint... and a strange surprise.

There was Haddock and Jarz coming up from below to the checkpoint... a mistake I made years ago, decimating our chances at a top three in the overall.  But they were behind us? Or were they ahead of us?  As they continued up as we went to check in, I asked if they were headed home (obvs).


We turned around in short order and were probably only a minute behind them... assuming they had five checkpoints.  Assuming... gets you nowhere in PMBAR.

Regardless, I looked back at Watts and said, "Don't worry.  I'm not chasing anyone.  I think I'm ded."

Coast down 477 at a billionty miles an hour, turn left on Clawhammer... and I'd say we now have nine outta ten wheels off the bus.  We get past the steepest point, stop at the spring for water, and now it's "just" the "short" climb up to Hot Dog Gap.

Problem being, I've officially lost it. The will to keep moving forward is all but gone.  I'm obviously behind on calories and pretty much overcome with the sad fact that I'll have my first PMBAR finish after dark.

The other problem being that even though I have a 700 lumen light, I made some bad decisions over the last week.  I was going to just store the light on my bars, and then move it over to a helmet mount if I needed it.  Then I decided I was never going to need it, so I took the helmet mount off this past Thursday...

and I wish that was it.

But I also just had the light mounted with a stretchy strap thing instead of the more solid thumbscrew mount.  I'm sure I'll be fine tho... right?

I just went to darker and darker places on Maxwell.  I had to get off once and push.  I never have to do that.  Now Watts is taking on the role of "there there, little bear.  you okay."  

I'm struggling now.

We finally get to Black Mountain and start going downhill with our lights on... and a few bumpy bounces later, I remember why I had bought that thumbscrew mount... when my light flipped around and shone directly in my face.  


And so went Watts's and mine own trip down Lower Black with both of our strapped on lights occasional deciding to take a trip around (or along) our bars, making it take even longer to get the fuck off this gawdforsaken mountain and into the finish.

I've never finished after dark before.  I had no idea what to expect.  I assumed (did I say something already about assuming things at PMBAR) that being that we were out there so long, we musta done something wrong and landed poorly.  There weren't too many people hanging out at the finish line.

Eric asked, "Did you get all five?"

"Yeth.  We kinda had to."

"Ummmm... fourth place."

Dammit.  Fourth place single speed.

"No, fourth overall.  Second single speed."

Da and also fuq?

It's been eleven hours and forty one minutes and only three other teams have finished?  I'm dumbfounded but also immediately stoked.  No wonder I was in a such a sad, dark place.  This was a difficult year, for sure.  I've always been around to witness the podiums, but they've never been IN THE DARK.

So there you have it.  My 17th PMBAR and my 15th finish with 2 unofficial solo completions.  

Was this year the hardest? Mebbe.  In 2008 when Eric threw out seven total checkpoints with all kinds of bonuses, Elk and I were out there for twelve hours fourteen minutes, but fifty four teams managed to finish with the minimum four checkpoints back then.  This year?  Only seventeen teams (25% of the total field) were able to have an official finish (minimum four checkpoints in less than fourteen hours).

Will I be back to play again?  

There were moments this past Saturday where I thought mebbe I'd had enough PMBAR for a lifetime, but when we came across the line and found out we did just fine, I was a changed man.


So, yeth...

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