Wednesday, May 10

2023 PMBAR: Part One

Standing around in the minutes before the racer meeting, the scuttlebutt is being bandied about.  Sneaky surprises, Daniel Ridge mebbe making a comeback, fear of another "Wooden Nickle" year...I notice I don't see any boxes with passports in the hands of the volunteers.  Hmmm...

Racer meeting.  Running late.  Almost no doubt we're going off on time regardless, so I suspect that Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever is going to keep this tight.  Rules.  Have fun.  Don't cheat.  Off limits roads...

"276 between blah blah blah and yadda yadda yadda..."

I've finally done enough PMBARs to know my blahs and yaddas pretty well.  Certainly sounds like were heading over to Daniel Ridge with that information.

"Your passports are at Buckhorn Gap and you must take Black Mountain the whole way to get there.  The race starts in nine seconds."


I'd told Eric many, many times in the past how funny it would be if we didn't get our passports until we got to Hot Dog Gap, four miles and fourteen hundred feet of climbing away from the start.  I guess he thought if that sounds funny, eight miles and twenty two hundred feet of climbing would be almost twice as funny.

Note to self: Eric has twice the amount of sense of humor that I do.

Fortunately, Watts and I are near the start line and get out with the first wave of tryers.  It takes us darn near an hour and ten minutes to get to the top and roll into the gap to see what's in store for the day.

Dismounting or tripodding?  You decide.

Prolly tripodding.

I grab the passport and tell (ask firmly?) Watts to follow me just a hair down Wheelchair Ramp and outta sight from everyone who's gonna just plop down in the dirt to figure out a route. 

I don't need opportunistic lookieloos or pathetic tag-alongs wheezing my juice.

Club Gap mandatory, two in the Pisgah Butthole, two on top of the world.  Four necessary to finish, five to get a two hour time bonus.  I've already decided we're going straight to the Butthole, but in the back of my head, I'm trying to figure out if any of the open parts of 276 should come into play on the return trip from Club Gap or if it's just another one of Eric's red herrings.  

Down the Wheelchair Ramp, up Squirrel, and just about like any other year, I'm thinking, "How could anyone do anything unlike what I've decided we're doing?  This "optimal route" is too obvious."

Because I'm dumb like that.  

Riding in the presence of now local Jen Toops and her Ohio partner, Jeff, I feel like mebbe we're doing something right?  I'm bummed as we ride past the entrance to the reworked Cantrell Creek Trail because I've been wishing it would come into play at PMBAR someday.  Some rando rider without a number plate coming the other way says, "you're in fourth place."  This is not good news.  There are more than four teams that got their passports "ahead" of us, so that means they took another route... which my brain can't comprehend.  My Pisgah blind spot showing up right on schedule.

We get to the checkpoint and shortly thereafter, here comes Nick Brag and his teammate from the other direction.  Then another fast team of tryers.  Then another. I can't even figure it out, but I know that Watts knows what I wish he didn't know. 

There was a better way.  We run into a whole slew of teams coming into what will now be our first out-and-back checkpoint, and I'm able to piece their start together... including two single speed teams that now have a shorter route... at least for the first few CPs.

But the thing is...

I've learned one thing about racing PMBAR with Watts.  We're better off not choosing a route to play to our strengths, but to avoid our weaknesses as much as possible.  Sure, we can hike-a-bike like maniacs, but super chunky descents and steep but still rideable sections take their toll.  Our route has less of the bad and more of the good so mebbe the greater distance that keeps us on the bike more is better?  We'll find out in six or so hours, I guess. 

We see Cinderbloch and Hamburgers (strong single speed contenders) coming at us on our way outta the Butthole, so mebbe we got a lead on them... that we can lose later when our weaknesses will show themselves like a blue baboon's ass?

Down at Bradley Creek, stop to filter water because we decided to get off the pill, only spill two bottles whilst filling with trembling hands and looking back down the trail to see if we're getting caught.

1 comment:

The Hoo said...

ah PMBAR, prolly my favorite series of posts every year