Wednesday, June 7

Mountain Cat 100 '23: Part One

So glad to finally be started on this glorious day.

As to be expected, this tale will not adhere to a strict chronological order, as it was a blur.

We manage to attach ourselves to the back of the "tryers" as we crossed the Nickel Bridge over the James River.  We're stuck behind a slower rider when we dive into the trails, and when they finally let us come around, we'd lost sight of the group ahead... so I made my first of our many wrong turns of the day.  Get back in the congo line and it's nut to butt as we work our way along real trails to rutted moto tracks to...

I don't remember when or exactly where, but we come to a fork in the trail and a line up waiting to continue forward.  To the left is "Roll the Dice" and to the right "Over/Under... something or something."  The former seemed like a gamble, and the latter seemed to be the choice most were making, so we line up for our turn.

It's a massive hump shaped log crossing a deep ravine.  I oochy scooch my way out until I start to panic due to my unreasonable fear of heights.  I can see the folks who "rolled the dice" on the opposite bank below me with their much safer option.  I turn back and run into Watts five feet behind me.

"I can't do it."

"What are you going to do then?"

I see nothing but a line of people behind Watts with nowhere to go.  There is no going back.  There is no jumping down into the uncertain brush below.  Dammit.

I hate the world at this moment, but I just remind myself this isn't quite as insane as the shambled train trestles at La Ruta, so whatever.  

I got over it, but I still hated it.

First Aid Station and Watts and I split an Egg McMuffin.  Our navigation has been "okay," but highly reliant on just following wheels.  We continue on the long road slog out to Pocahontas State Park with a group all the way to Aid Two.  Along the way, I notice that my Wahoo (our only data acquisition and best navigational device) is down to 64% battery after only thirty miles.  I start thinking about how to conserve power, and I turn my phone to airplane mode and remove my hear rate strap because... Bluetooth?  Dunno.  Watts decides to destroy a bathroom in a gas station across the road from the Aid Station, and after giving it some thought, I concur this feel. 

An amount of time goes by.  We reenter the course.

These trails are a pile of spaghetti.  Some start and stop all in the same areas.  Others, we end up doing twice.  You can follow other riders, but you won't know what they've done already or if they even know where to go.  We followed a group for a short bit on a trail we weren't supposed to do yet only to have to turn around.  Eventually, we found ourselves on a trail that everyone around us agreed was the right way only to have my route disappear from my Wahoo.  


I ask the gravel bike guy that I'm near about all that, and he assures me that the course was loaded on one of the days when the trail is ridden in the other direction, so the GPS track isn't going to jive.


I drop him at some point, can't see Watts behind me, and I sit up and wait.  Gravel bike guy starts to catch up to me and...

"Have you seen my little friend?"

"The other guy with the pink wheels?  Yeah, he's back there throwing up."


Watts eventually comes riding up, and he confirms that yes, his 1/2 McMuffin, donut, Gatorade and whatever else he'd consumed in the last couple hours were now on the side of the trail.  Oof.  Catch back up to gravel bike guy, and he assures me that we're essentially on our way out of the park... such and such trail to some other trail and... should be back at the Aid Station soon.  We ride off and...

My GPS track is just gone.  It's the third or fourth time today, but there was usually someone local there to reassure us that we're going the correct way.  Now, we have nothing.  We end up back here:

The absolute nexus of a billionty trails... many of which we'd already ridden.  My track is 100% not showing up, there's scads of people up here either just out riding or Mountain Catting but are they at mile 34, 35, 39, 45... ?

Watts is lying down on a park bench.  He says we'll figure it out... but hold on.  I'm looking at the track on Ride with GPS, but it's a strobing, not-so-interactive mess.  I don't know where to go and/or why we're here.  I try to pull up Trail Forks... and it tells me I haven't downloaded Massachusetts?  Whuh?

Watts vomits some more.  The children in the area find us fascinating.

So here's what we're dealing with:

* Watts's stomach is revolting.
* We know where we are on planet Earth, but not where we are on the course.
* My Wahoo is at 20% forty something miles into a hundred and eight mile day.
* We're not going to have a legit file to prove that we finished no matter what we do.
* We don't know who to ask how to continue from here.

What we do know is that we're sixteen miles from our Airbnb.  If we quit now, we can shower, nap... make it to whatever official/unofficial after party might occur.  We can figure that much out, but no matter what, we're not going to finish.

The best  plan we can come with is that we can get back to Aid Two (which is Aid Three when you're leaving the park) in our own particular idiom, refuel, and then follow the route back to Richmond using the remainder of my battery power... assuming it puts us back on the route.


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