Wednesday, May 8


Compared to the previous night's chaos, my morning could not have been smoother.  Up before my alarm, coffee, snacky cakes, constitutional, dressed, and at the front of the starting line when it was time to grab the passports.  

This is how I look when things are going "smoothly."  Imagine how I looked the night before.

Pretty sure I was the first one to get my grubby mitts on the details.  I quickly scan the rules looking for funny business.  Nothing more than a few roads that are (unfortunately) off limits.  I flip through the checkpoint pages.  I've gotten better at knowing where "so-and-so gap" and "such-and-such" intersection is, so I put the passport in my top pipe purse, and Nick and I are the first ones heading up Black Mountain.

Sure, shortly after our departure, the first team to pass us is Chris Joice and his partner Eric on single speeds.  Then came the usual suspect fast guys.  I'm very okay with all of these things.  The route is pretty plain and simple to me (although as always, tales told later that night always prove me wrong), but I'm very comfortable with every bit of it.

Up Black and bang a right on Turkey Pen.  It's a bit leafier than expected, but it's running pretty good.  South Mills out-and-back and run into most of the fast guys coming the other way.  Reassuring to say the least.  Same when he head into the out-and-back on Squirrel, although the oncoming traffic is getting old, as I Nick and I always respect the climbing riders' right of way while not always feeling the same love when it was our turn.  Laurel Creek was in the best condition I've ever seen it, like ever.

Then the first wheel fell off the bus.

Nick and I stop at Bradley Creek to filter water.  We both had filters to speed things up, but that was before my Sawyer bag started leaking profusely and his filter started squirting out the side.  At least we were left with one fully functional system, so okay, but I did think about all the brand new bags I have at home and also the treatment tablets that I keep in a short Bic pen that I coulda grabbed... you know, just in case.

Then the next wheel fell off the bus.

I don't remember after which of the dozens of creek crossings or hundreds of downed logs we straddled or ducked under when Nick shared with my how he feels about the "adventure" aspect of the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race.  Apparently, not a fan.  I always think about Bradley Creek as the great equalizer, as no one can get through it in much of a hurry, and you just take your time and enjoy a slightly lower heart rate for a spell.  He found absolutely no solace or meaning in the endeavor.  

It's kinda like a friend asking you to move.  They tell you there will be beer and pizza, and it will be over pretty quick and lots of "fun."  Then you show up and find out they've acquired a bunch of stuff since the last time you hung out... like that expensive rich people furniture that's made of real wood... and a juke box... and a pool table... and a 3/4-scale reproduction of Michelangelo's David.  You stick it out because you're frands, but you're not really "into it."  Nick was never going to leave me hanging, but I could tell he didn't really wanna lift anymore furniture into the truck.

So there we are, about four hours into our eight or nine or ten hour "adventure," and I find out my friend that I dragged into this is "not that into it."  When you head to the Butthole of Pisgah first, and then start going to the dark places, it's never a good sign.  It's very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel from deep inside a butthole.

Fortunately, at the bottom of the out-and-back up Laurel, there's a benevolent human with grilled cheese, tiny Cokes, and Coors.  We partake in all his wares and head up the trail.

The out-and-backs.  They're taking a bit of a toll on me, having to stop every few minutes to make room for one another.  I can tell that Nick and his good manners are taking a real hit.  He's never gonna be the asshole to his fellow humans, but his tolerance for the constant interruption is waning.

Leaving the check point on Laurel  Mountain after stuffing homemade cookies in our maws.

I give into all my feelings of guilt.  I offer up to Nick that if he wants to skip the short out-and-back up to Pilot Cove, it's up to him.  Then it starts to rain.  Then we run into like a million more riders coming up Laurel Mountain on our way down.

"I'm not doing any more  fucking out-and-backs."   

So there you have it.

Back down at the grilled cheese stop and the benevolent human had just finished packing up and was ready to leave.

"Can I still grab a beer?"


Frown turned upside down with the news that we made last call at the Laurel Mountain Bar and Grill.

So all we have to do is a bunch more hours of riding in the rain to get the last mandatory check point.  Although I'm glad Nick will not bail on me when we get to a place where I know he knows he can just coast down (mostly) back to camp, I'm bummed he's not having a "good time."  What's not to like?  Dropping temps, steady rain, greasy trails, fading brakes, mud in the eyes, sopping wet chamois, a certain lack of desire to exercise self-care...

At the end of Gauging Station Roads, two magical sirens call us to the tent where they had pickles and chips and quesadillas and tequila.  Bless and thank.  Nick and I hadn't refilled bottles since Bradley Creek, and somehow we've both decided beer and tequila and rain and tire spray (with horse poop) is hydration enough to get by.

We come up on Colin on the Wheelchair Ramp.. and he's pushing two bikes.

Da fuq?

"Yuri's up ahead.  He's feeling pretty bad?"

"Anything we can do?"

"If you see a guy wrapped up in an orange emergency blanket, mebbe give him some encouragement or a hug?"

We find Yuri and spend some time with him.  We're not sure what to make of the situation, but when he laid down in the mud, I'd say we are more than concerned.  We offer him a rain poncho and another blanket, but he got back up and said he just needed to keep moving.  Nick and I ride off, stop at the top of Clawhammer (the nearest/best point he could be extracted from), and leave our "extra" stuff for he and Colin to use or not.  I send Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever a text... but I'll be honest and say that I have no idea what he can actually do.*

The rest of our day is pretty much either spent discussing really disgusting ways to aid a hypothermic person or spent in silence as we negotiated the slippery, worsening conditions, both of us doing so without the aid of our prescription glasses that were more hindrance than help at this point.  Nick didn't have to tell me, but I knew his brakes were becoming less "brake-like" and more just a finger exercise... mostly because I was in the same boat.

We finally end our day after nine hours and forty-four minutes in the woods.  With only four check points, it was only a matter of time as we slid down the results page as other teams finished with the two hour bonus given with the fifth, but I'm mostly okay with that.  My friend didn't disappoint me, coming in at the last minute to be my partner, getting through the previous evening when he coulda threw in the towel when his brake shit the bed at ten o'clock, and then all day long keeping his head down and doing the lorb's work of getting me yet another PMBAR finish. 

Bless and thank.

Glad I was able to do Nick's "last PMBAR" with him as my partner.  Also his last single speed ride in Pisgah.  Also his last (space being left open for any future "last" statements).

4 check points
9 hours 45 minutes
63 miles
9,300 feet elevation
7,450 calories burned
3.5 bottles of CarboRocket Half Evil
5-6 handfuls of Trader Joe's Sour Swimmers
1 Zinger
2 chocolate chip cookies
1.5 Coors Banquet Beers
1 Mini-Coke
.5 grilled cheese
1 shot of tequila
4/4 quesadilla
2 handfuls of potato chips
1 innocuous but annoying crash
2 pairs of brake pads worn down to the springs

*Yuri lived and is okay BTW.

1 comment:

I'm not a robot said...

I hope to read about your last Pisgah ride here in 25yrs... keep up the good work and thanks for bringing us along in the blog