Thursday, September 20, 2012

PMBSR Stage two: Enough's Enough

Stage two started 12 miles up the road from the Black Mountain trail head at the Cradle of Forestry.  The sun was out and warming the trails by the time we rolled out at 11:00am.  Against all stage race precedence we actually started out rolling downhill.  On open road.  For several miles.  Of course it was a lollipop loop, meaning this would all be climbing back to the finish.

A shorter stage was planned today.  But a tough day, including famed Farlow Gap.  After yesterdays disaster I was looking for better things today.  My legs didn't really like the start.  The climb went OK, but I was struggling from yesterdays bike toting stage.  After the first major fire road climb, the terrain trended toward punchy rollers.  My specialty.  The legs come around.  It's going to be a good day.

Cove Creek is the first single track we get too.  I note that it's labeled on the trail marking post with a green circle indicating it's an "easy" trail.  There are no "easy" trails in a race, however.  It just means that it's "easy"-er to go fast.  So we hammer through most of it.  It's kinda muddy in sections and there are some "bridges" to cross.  A bridge in Pisgah is 2 logs (really wide ones have 3 logs) cut with a flat-ish top and a rail on one side.  Ride at your peril.  I hike.

After Cove we enter grassy over-grown gravel double track.  At the top of a hill there is an option to the right.  No markings.  I go straight.  Still no markings.  Other riders are yelling to other riders about which direction to take.  The consensus is that I missed a turn.  So I go back up the hill and take the turn and begin climbing.  Still no markings.  I do eventually meet someone walking carrying some marking tape who indicates I'm headed the right direction and to turn left onto Daniels Ridge.

When I get to the Daniels Ridge sign post there are no markings, but I head down the trail as told.  Still no markings, but the trail is a blast.  I continue on to the bottom of the trail which dumps back out onto some more grassy gravel double track.  I did not see any markings, but I head in the direction the trail seems to have pointed me.  There is a rider alongside the trail fixing a flat - an indication I'm on course.  I meet a rider with no race number coming down where I am going up.  He says I'm good, which I take as another indication I'm headed the right way.  Then I meet a rider headed towards me who isn't really sure which way is right either.  From here things get kinda fuzzy.  Every direction I attempt to go I meet someone telling me I'm headed the wrong direction. 

Finally, I make the decision to head down a single track trail.  It eventually leads me onto Cove Creek where a course marshal is standing.  He asks where I came from, which was a question I was unable to answer but told him I had already ridden Daniel's Ridge.  Apparently I pretty much had to start over and climb back up to Daniel's Ridge.  Which I was not about to do, especially since all the riders had already gone thru this checkpoint.  I had worked too hard to start all over, at the back, with the very real possibility that I'd make more wrong turns.  I had enough.  This was no longer fun.  I rode back the way I came in on Cove Creek.

It was a beautiful day for a ride.  As I rode back to the finish, I wished it had been under better circumstances.

Later that evening I decided to pull the plug on the race.  I was no longer eligible for any kind of GC award, and it was going to be pretty hard to get motivated to hammer getting beat up day after day on Pisgah's rugged trails.  And if I was just going to ride around, I may as well do that at home.  The wife's vacation had been cancelled at the last minute and she was unable to come to the race.  Staying up here to ride around seemed a bit selfish, so I headed for home.  There will be more races.

Best wishes to all the racers, promoters, and sponsors!

See you on the trails!

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