Wednesday, October 13

PMBAR 2021: Part Two

I'm relieved when we get to the bottom of Laurel Creek Trail, because that would be the last of the major creek crossings.  Once we splashed through Bradley Creek, we'd be climbing out of the Pisgah Butthole and getting high the rest of the day.  That sense of relief dies as soon as we get on the freshly re-graded Bradley Creek road that was soft and super-saturated.  Up to 1206 and dive into the out-and-back to Trace Ridge.

And while we're bombing the garvel, we see Nick Bragg and his partner coming up the road.

"What's that mean?" 

"That means we're already about an hour and a half slower than the fastest team with only one checkpoint under our belts... assuming they're on the same route... which is probably not a safe assumption... ?"


We get to the bathroom, fill one bottle, and head up Wash Creek Road to Spencer Branch... where we finally see a fast looking team coming the other way.  I'm assuming we'll see the single speed favorites of Haddock and Jarz coming at us any moment.  

But we don't.  We get to the checkpoint, the volunteer tells us that we're the fourth team here, one only had one checkpoint(?), and not everyone did it as an out-and-back, choosing instead to climb up Spencer and then descend down Trace Ridge instead of the road.



We turn back and descend down and run into Haddock and Jarz on their way up?

"What's that mean?" 

"It means I no longer know what anything means."

On the way down Wash Creek Road, Watts takes a hand off the bars to eat and food behind me.  I would not have known that he had done this had I not heard him sliding across the gravel on his left hand side and into a ditch.  


"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, yeah... I'm fine.  Dammit."

Back to the bathrooms for more water and then the long slog up 1206 to the longer slog up Laurel Mountain.  I can sense Watts is starting to turn inward and go to his dark place.  We're more than six hours and fifty miles into the day with only two outta five checkpoints, so despite him not really knowing where we're going or where we've been, it's more than obvious this will not be the typical sub-ten hour day.  Not even close.

"Why do you have so much energy?"

In my mind, we're almost in the barn.  I can hear the cows mooing from here.  Just up Laurel, down Pilot, up Slate Rock, down Slate Rock... some garvel to pave to garvel traversing, up and over something knob down to something gap, back over... coast down 477 at Mach Chicken speeds, and then the climb up to Hot Dog Gap... and the glory hole of a descent down Black to the finish.

Doesn't sound like much, no?

We finally get to the check point after coming headlong into numerous teams.  The fast guys that we ran into getting to Trace.  Dr Mike and Nick... who somehow only have one checkpoint at the highest point on the course, five and a half hours into their day?  Dammit, PMBAR.  All around good guy Jay is manning the checkpoint, and when I tell him that we're going down Pilot instead of back down Laurel... because... reasons, he just gives my a blank stare. 


As we hike up the Thousand Dollar Climb on our way over to Pilot, I start second guessing this decision to add elevation instead of going aback from whence we came.  I'm pretty sure my fond memories of what Pilot Rock was two decades ago muddled my decision, and not taking into account that Watts has said something something about "I just don't get... Pisgah."

It took us twenty eight minutes to descend two miles.  Doh.

But at least we were really, really close to the 1.2 mile/620 feet of climbing mostly hiking up and sliding back down out-and-back to the Slate Rock Overlook.

Sixty four miles, nine hours into the day, four outta five checkpoints acquired... and seven outta ten wheels just came off the bus.

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