Its hard to go out to a Pisgah Production race and not come back with a good story. This year was no exception.
For Joe and me, it was our fourth year competing in PMBAR as a team. We have now completed four PMBAR’s with two 17th place standings as our best.
Earlier in the week Clay and I had talked about how we would need to dedicate our full attention to the racer meeting this year as things were going back to “Old Style PMBAR.” This meant we would be racing for 4 out of 5 checkpoints instead of 7 like the last couple years with the fifth checkpoint counting as a 2 hour time bonus.
I had good intentions of listening to the race meeting but I was having a hard time because I thought I might be going blind in the left eye. I had inadvertently grabbed my eye-dropper full of bleach instead of my eye drops about 10 minutes before the start of the racer meeting. Luckily the sting was so bad on the first drop I didn’t add anymore and instead just sat there hoping that putting the “real” eye drops in would help flush the bleach and I wouldn’t go blind. I do know for a fact that your eye can survive minimal contact with bleach. Remember kids, moderation is key.
I had heard the most important rule though, all the rules are on the map and we start/finish on Black Mountain just like previous years.
So we decided to take off up the mountain and look at the map later. I figured I would be walking soon enough and I would pull out the map and look at the checkpoints while we were walking.
Joe took off ahead of me and just as I was ready to start jockeying for position a bunch of gearies jumped in front of me going into the single track and dropped it into the granny gear. This frustrated me so I decided to just huff it by them without a call out. Its important to try and win PMBAR on the first turn.
After making the turn past Thrift and up the steep switchback I had Joe grab the map out of my pack and I read the checkpoints off in my head twice. By the time we made it to the descent headed to Pressley Gap, I had chosen our route for the day and had already waved 5 checkpoints off as ridiculous for my current fitness level.
It was fun flying through Pressley with everyone sitting there staring at the maps because I knew we were headed to Turkey Pen.
Our route for the day:
Black -> Turkey Pen -> S. Mills River -> Mullinax -> Squirrel -> Horse Cove -> 5018 -> 476 -> 1206 –> Pilot Rock (out and back) -> 1206 -> 276 - > 475 -> 225 (out and back) -> 475 -> 276 -> 477 -> Clawhammer -> Maxwell -> Black
I made most of the route decisions pretty quickly in my mind but for awhile I thought we would descend Laurel and hit 5000 instead of 225 but then Joe told me he had never ridden Pilot. So today would be his first hike up Pilot and his first descent on Pilot and therefore I changed the fourth checkpoint to 225.
I had a blast on all the single track. Turkey was fast and fun as usual as well as squirrel. The hike up Horse Cove is short. The views from 5018 always blow my mind. I struggled hiking up Pilot but kept eating and felt better and better. I cleaned Pilot coming down (stopping to shake my hands out twice) where Joe had an OTB experience in the rock garden.
As we were headed up Pilot, I saw Wes and Bennett coming down. Then we saw them again as they passed us going down 1206 headed to the West side. That meant they had ridden to 5000 and back in the time that it took us to hike up and descend Pilot. I figured they were flying and in the lead. I started to feel pretty good about my own route choice as I had picked it as a “fun” route.
The ride over to the end of 225 was pretty uneventful. Coming back was a different story.
Back when I would make the drive from Columbia SC to Pisgah, I almost had a brush with a hospital trip while riding on FS 225. I was flying down the hill headed to Cove Creek when I rounded a corner and met a small red car flying up the hill. I pulled a nice hippitty hip hop and narrowly missed the side view mirror by a few inches. This was back in 2003 or 2004.
Now back in 2009, I was off in “peaches N cream” land thinking about everything but riding my bike as we headed from our fourth checkpoint to the finish. I was riding down the hill from the checkpoint and riding smack dab in the center of the road. (Key South Park music DUMB DUMB DUM DADADADUM DUMB DUMMMMMMMB.)
I came around a corner just as a Jeep Grand Cherokee came around the corner the opposite way. I can’t really tell you how but somehow I managed to grab two fistfuls of brake, lay the bike down on its side, plow the front end of the bike into the Jeep and then roll off to the side of the Jeep in one fail swoop. I rolled over a few times on the road and jumped up saying “ohhhh man I am sorry I was not paying attention.” The look on this guy’s face was enough to know that I had just avoided a serious trip to the Hospital and the first true test of my healthcare plan at work. I continued to apologize as the guy put his jeep in reverse and pulled back away from my bike. Luckily he had quick reflexes and had stopped before actually running over the entire bike. I surveyed for damange, the only thing missing was my front carbon brake lever (why do they make those out of carbon again?) I found the lever lying on the ground, stuck it in my pack and we were on our way. No harm no foul.
From there it was an easy adrenalin filled cruise back to the start finish. The only time I missed the front brake was coming down Black but it didn’t slow me up nearly as bad as missing ¼ of my handle bar like last year.
That was one of the best ones yet Eric and volunteers!!!! Thanks so much for allowing me to live an event filled life.