Stage two started as the sun was just coming up and I knew one thing, I had to get the hell out of the campground. Cove Creek had its own micro climate and it was freezing in that camp, a great motivator for going back out to ride.
As you can see in the post below for stage two, the mandatory was Cantrell and S. Mills River. That’s a pretty hefty task from Cove Creek.
Clay and I had decided to ride together for this stage so we discussed routes after Eric told us that there were still some closures due to the “whatever it is that is in the forest that might harm us but a prescribed burn will save us” thing in the woods. Sorry if you don’t know that story but it is a fiasco.
Our ultimate route for the day:
475 -> Davidson River -> 276 -> Pink Beds (Hike) -> Gauging Station -> S. Mills River -> Squirrel -> Horse Cove Gap -> from here we broke up. . .
All the crap before the mandatory is suffering that we worked through together. We had discussed the idea of going back via S. Mills River as Joe and I had done during the Double Dare this past October. I was up for it until I saw it. . .
I said “No way.” Clay said “Come on I will take your picture.” I said “no way, you first.”
TMHTE 2009 Clay Faine Crossing S. Mills River from pisgahproductions on Vimeo.
Clay gets the official “He is crazier than the Tomato award for 2009 on this one”. He steps into the water that is almost completely frozen over with four inch thick melting ice covering the fast moving river. Steps gingerly up onto the ice and gets about ¾ of the way across when he broke through, now he had huge 15 foot chunks of ice moving around him in the water so he had to break through it to get across. Now imagine having to do this 10 times. . .OH GOD I THOUGHT. (Picture by Clay: Me "testing the waters")
I tried to negotiate the water but it was obvious that I was not going to make it and the thought of falling in water colder than the Colorado made me realize I wanted to stay warm no matter how much climbing was involved.
Clay and I proceeded to do the, “You come over here, NO, you come over here” for a few minutes and then we bid adieu.
After that it was a hike-a-bike back up Horse Cove to Squirrel -> S. Mills -> Buckhorn -> Clawhammer -> 477 -> 276 -> 475 -> Davidson River Trail.
I made it back to camp and I was feeling pretty good. I hung around waiting for Kristin to show up and when she did I took off on Stage 3. Mandatory check point being the top of Farlow, sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet, Clay had called it earlier in the day.
I left at 6:00 with no idea how long it would take me. I found out pretty quickly that most of the teams were hitting the checkpoint and coming straight back down the road. That’s not my style.
The climb up Pilot Mountain Road was exactly what I had expected. A slog fest and I rode much more than I figured I could. It was quickly approaching 20 hours into the race and I felt good but the legs were losing power on the SS.
As I got closer to the top of the road, the moon came up and the Coyotes went wild. I was semi-hallucinating from sleep deprivation but the Coyotes were real and making wicked sounds that I hadn’t heard in a very long time since riding Dupont at night by myself.
When I made it to the checkpoint, I gathered my wits and went crazy riding down Farlow. I made it to the tree where 20 hours previously I had made the harrowing pass going up the beast that I was now descending. I rode a lot more than I would have expected including the log ride that starts flat and turns round. After coming off the log I realized I better pull it in a notch. I nabbed my second checkpoint for stage 3 and then had a blast coming down Daniel knowing all I had to do was climb the road back to camp and I could call it a night.
Back at camp, Eric informed me that I would take the “lead” if I were to head out on Stage 4. Even though I felt good I knew Stage 4 would take a long time and it was now 9:00 pm on the second night. I called it a night knowing my race was over. A great excuse being no vacation time left at work and a heavy Monday workload.
Great Race Eric and thanks so much to all the volunteers that helped!! I will finish this beast someday and then I might never do it again or. . .
Just as a side note, I was able to get in a hike and a ride on Sunday after freezing in my bag all night at camp.
Ride on Sunday with David George, Valerie and myself:
475 -> ????? -> Butter Gap -> Cat Gap -> Davidson River