Monday, May 07, 2007

PMBAR 2007

Sometimes I find it tough to figure out where to start when writing a race report. So I will give you the skinny first:

Short Story:

Team Tripping on Lactic Acid completed PMBAR for the second year in a row.
We were middle of the pack due to my illogical choice in routes.
It was a FANTASTIC time as always.

Long Story:

Now due to the fact that I think all the events leading up to the race, actually end up influencing the race, here you go.


I took a half day off so that I could enjoy the PMBAR for what it actually is, a good time. Jody, Jason and I all met up at the primitive campgrounds by the Horse Stables around noon on Friday. Thanks to D-Kuntz we had these first come first serve spots reserved. I was there first and set up my tent and started messing around with my bike when Jody and Jason drove up.

We had decided that a nice day riding through Dupont would be much more fun than pondering if we should drink beers around camp before the race. So we all packed up in Jody’s car and made a beeline for Fawn Lake access. Jason had never seen the sights at Dupont before so we took a typical route around Reasonover, Airstrip, Bridal Veil Falls, Laurel Mountain and Mine Mountain. For the most part we just took in the sights and reveled in the fact that it wasn’t raining. All the pictures in this report are from Friday and not the race on Saturday.

Friday Night:

We all chatted about the race and tried to decide if we were ready for the grueling day ahead. As the night closed in, we all headed off to our perspective tents to hopefully sleep the dreadful PMBAR thoughts away. As I was headed to bed, I took a detour to pass away nature’s activities when I noticed that the forest was filled with fire flies. They were blinking their song all around me as I headed to sleepy town.

Saturday Morning:

I awoke to the sound of rain and huge drops of moisture saying “WHAP” against the tent’s rain fly. I wasn’t sure what time it was but I knew the race was approaching as I pondered how to stay dry. I heard BradO start his car and I knew it was time to start preparing for the day. It was 5:15 am and getting ready in the rain sounded warm and wonderful.

Joe and I were the last to leave camp but the only fools to ride our bikes from the campground to the start of the race in the rain. We arrived early enough to check in quickly and get a good look at the “off limits map.” Once we were confident that our map was marked properly, we just awaited the start.

Eric had worked hard in purchasing a camera to use with the helmet camera that Emergen-C had sent. So I set out trying to set up the camera all while trying to get myself psyched for the race. After a bunch of reading, a thousand touch screen buttons pushed and a little aggravation, I realized that the camera just wasn’t going to work. It was time to worry about other things.

Next thing I knew, we had our passports in hand (our lifeline for knowing where the checkpoints are) and Eric had started the pre-race meeting. We were told that this year there would be seven checkpoints with one mandatory checkpoint, either Farlow or Turkey Pen. Four checkpoints were required to finish the race and every checkpoint after 4 was a five hour time bonus. Therefore, if a team were to get all 7 checkpoints they would receive a 15 hour time bonus. They only stipulation was that 10:00 pm was the time cutoff. If you came in after 10:00, your team was disqualified.

GO! We stared at the passport reading all the rules and checkpoint locations while trying to figure out what route we would choose for the day. Since we were allowed to either hit up Turkey Pen or Farlow as our required checkpoint, I chose Farlow. It was the warrior’s choice but probably not the “thinker’s” choice.

Off we went, with a route in mind headed up Black mountain. Our ultimate route would be:

Black Mountain, Maxwell Cove, Clawhammer road, Black Mountain, Club gap, (checkpoint 1) 276, 475, 225, Cove Creek, 475, Daniel Ridge, (checkpoint 2) Farlow Gap, ???, ???, 140A, 475, Cove Creek, 276, Club Gap, Avery Creek, 50??, Clawhammer road, Maxwell Cove, Black Mountain.

My leg’s just cramped up typing that route.

Hiking up Black Mountain was as eventful as it could be. I watched the Team Dicky’s Wonderboy fall off his bike, I heard excuses, questions and complaints.

After Joe and I cruised down Maxwell Cove, we stopped for a quick feed when another team showed up. They asked us what road we were on. I did not relay any information as the race is supposed to be an “adventure.” I mean come on, they had only made two turns since the start of the race.

I felt great going up Clawhammer and things were un-eventful until I had my only fall of the day. I was climbing up Black Mountain headed to Club Gap when my chain slipped off the front ring just as I was leaning forward HARD to grunt the bike over a root. Since all my weight was forward when my chain slipped, I did the stomach against the bar forward toe bend over the bars and landed gently on the ground. WHOOPS. A quick release adjustment and we were on our way.

Down the last little pitch on Black and we came to the Avery Creek/Black Mountain/Buckwheat Knob/Club Gap intersection. This was our first checkpoint. The volunteer at the checkpoint was asking all those around how our “condition” looked. This was obviously a safety standard Eric had set in place. When I was asked how our condition was, I growled as loud as I could to let everyone around know we were ready. Unbeknownst to me, there was a little girl in the checkpoint tent. She said “What was that? Was that a bear?” It was precious.

I saw Mike R. and his partner at the Club Gap checkpoint and I figured we were headed on the same route. We flew down club gap and popped out on the road when I made a left turn. About ¼ of a mile up the road, I realized that we had turned the wrong way and we headed back down toward 276.

We met up with Mike R. and his partner again at the intersection of 475B and 225, they had the map out contemplating which route to make. I made the right turn onto 225 and Mike said “You know the connector trail is off limits right?” I said “Yup, but we gotta hit single track as much as possible.” Mike responded with “I am going to inspect the connector for tire tracks.” The “connector trail” is a trail that would have saved us a lot of time but it is not on the map and therefore off limits. Instead, we flew down Cove Creek (Paint Shaker) and as I came across the first set of twenty or so little wet logs that were put down to lift you above the mud, my back tire went all over the place. Luckily I pulled it out and made a mental note to drop some PSI.

After a quick ride up Daniel, we were at the second checkpoint (Daniel and 225) talking with the volunteer. He had three PBR’s sitting on a table, I think it was a trick but I didn’t fall to the siren’s call. We got our stamp and continued on to Farlow OhmyfreakinggodIcan’tbelievewearegoingtohikeupyou Gap.

When we got to the intersection of Farlow and Daniel, we refueled because the next hour and a half was going to hurt. Going up Farlow cannot be compared to anything but when it is sleepy hollow foggy outside and occasionally raining hard and often cold, it becomes “El Guapo” in the traditional sense. Farlow is a curvy seductress that says “You can ride me, if you dare.” The first two miles we were able to ride a bit but the next couple miles were like being on a foggy, rainy, rocky stairmaster from hell. Only, you had to carry your bike during your workout.

Eventually, through Eric’s time and space continuum we were at the top and we had made it to our third checkpoint. Nobody was in the tent so I crawled inside and wrote down our team number and where we were headed next, Kissee.

This is a section of the forest that I am not familiar with. Up to this point, I had looked at the map only briefly. Now I would have to rely on the map to get me to the next checkpoint. I found the road that parallel’s the Art Loeb trail and off we went. Since it was so rainy and muddy it wasn’t hard to find tire tracks in the mud. However, I quickly realized that there were tracks everywhere. I looked at the map again at our next intersection and off we went.

We bagged our fourth and final checkpoint at Kissee when I had a brain fart Joe had to pull me out of. I said “Let’s go back down Farlow.” Joe exclaimed that he had seen enough of Farlow for one day, so we followed the “SWANK” route back out to Gloucester Gap.

I was feeling especially strong and was still leading coming out to Gloucester gap when I decided I needed solid food. I went on a nut bar search through my bag when I happened onto two bags of white chunk tuna I had packed. HALLELUJA, fish in the woods. I ate the bag of tuna, Joe came rolling out of the woods and we made the drop down down down from Gloucester Gap headed back to Cove Creek.

Again I felt good climbing Cove Creek and lead the climb. Once we were back on 225 headed up the steep pitch, I started to feel tired and walked the bike a little.
Back going up Club Gap now, we stopped and filtered water and I was starting to bonk. I took out my other bag of tuna and it was gone in a matter of seconds. I was slower than slow hiking up Club Gap.

I stopped to look at the map and decided down Avery would be our choice. Then I took a chance on the first fireroad left that we could take back to Club Gap. I didn’t realize this road was there and it is much faster than Black Mountain but I was still walking in spots and Joe was now leading the climbs.

Out onto Clawhammer and I felt slightly elated, I knew it was a couple miles down, a couple miles up and one more singletrack downhill to the finish. We were going to make it before dark this year.

Again I was walking up some of the pitches on Maxwell as my legs weren’t cramping but did not have much power left. Coming down the last two sections on Black Mountain I tried my best to just use my back brake as my front had been rendered useless from the bad conditions. I had a spare set of pads with me and in hindsight I should have replaced them because I ruined my front rotor with some metal on metal action in the end.

Down Black and we were at the finish. Coming down Black it was obvious that I had chosen poorly for our route. There were many finisher’s ahead of us even though we had been the third team to reach Farlow Gap’s checkpoint. Even now, I am ok with that as we had an awesome day in the woods and were able finish in the middle of the pack respectively. I would have been hard pressed to think that we could do that route on any given day and come in before dark. As warriors on a mission, we conquered it.

I can’t say enough about this race, people involved, supporting cause (Asheville Humane Society, race promoter, VOLUNTEERS and PISGAH NATIONAL FOREST!

So thanks to everyone that helped make this possible and a special thanks to Eric for continuing to push our limits and do it in a very respectable and inhumane manner.

I will again stick to my race slogan for PMBAR, “An Inhumane race, for a humane cause.”

Enjoy this report as I am on the road this week and may not be posting much.


allan said...

Sounds like an awesome day in the woods. You avoid the assault by burrito?

Anonymous said...

Good stuff jonathon...But you forgot to mention how I tried to foil you on the way to your last checkpoint. Also, we decided to follow your lead and go down Cove Creek. That's where i found the blinking blinky, so I figured it belonged to one of you guys. I'll pass it off to you next time out.
-mike r

jpelton said...

Yeah that's my blinking blinky.
Thanks for grabbing it.