Mark Sackett had planned to lead us through the starter of the race to get us a good position at the first climb. Unfortunately, I knew his pace was very strong and a bit higher than my current threshold would maintain, so I told him I was going to lay back and pace cruise up until the first official climb. It was good strategy and I am starting to really understand the importance behind it. Race start was LeMans with a forward roll which was hilarious: if someone did catch that on their camera, I beg you to delete it.
Cove Creek was a bit logjammed, so there were 2 choices to make, charge ahead and pass aplenty, or cruise along and pass when necessary...I simply cruised along. My legs felt great, body was feeling good, but my head was foggy, so a slow pace really was for me at the moment.
I continued on this pace, averaging 8.5-9 mph until the first climb up 475. I stopped for a very short moment at RS#1 to remove a thermal layer and continue forward. The climb was smooth short and fast. I storm through RS#2 no need for any refills. 13 miles in, legs feeling great! Did I mention the reststops? They were great! Maybe a little too nice...made me wanna stop and relax at each and every one...but I digress as this is a race recap and forward momentum must be maintained...Downhill to Butter Gap...smooth sailing, loving this high speed descent! Butter Gap flows along and I clean almost everything I challenge my legs with. It's looking like a great day for riding. 475 comes along much too quickly and I excitedly realize I am climbing again with a good constant speed. Oops, I am out of water. By skipping RS#2 earlier I had depleted all of my reserves inbetween Buter Gap and Long Branch. 8.6 m,ph avg here...No worries, I am almost back up to RS#2. I arrive parched and worried about the lapse inbetween water. I guzzle down fluid from my reststop supplies only to find out I guzzled some Heed which just does not agree with my system at times. I eat, drink some clear water, jump back on the bike and start climbing Pilot Mtn Rd up towards Farlow....Well, well now...20 miles out and here comes a fast onset of the most serious cramps I have felt in quite some time. Both legs involuntarily seize within seconds of each other leaving me standing straight legged, staring out at the beautiful views that come with this climb listening to other racers pass me by, some quietly mumbling something about insanity and singlespeed in the same sentence...I wait patiently for the return of my legs and calmly drink water and start the death march up to the top of Farlow....I switch back and forth from walking to riding for a large portion of this climb realizing that I am totally bonked and my legs may never come back. At this point, I almost turn around and coast down the climb to quit at RS#2....But like the stubborn goat that I am, I march on, determined to find my legs again. I cruise up to the point of no return at Farlow and lean back, set my sights on the prize and take the plunge. I clean the upper section only to find myself sliding sideways on newly fallen leaves which change the personality of this descent entirely. I find a safe stopping point(meaning, jamming on the brakes and almost crash) whereupon I decide to hike the rest of the way. Lots of other hikers were present and some commented positively on my futile attempt to try and traverse the leaf laden mountain side...I actually pass a few people hiking since I am actually familiar with the creek crossings and the overall distance remaining as well as having rubber soles to grip on stuff (Mavic Contagrips rock!). I once again run out of water and dip into the highest creek stream I can find and drink aplenty. My legs return after a few short minutes with newfound energy ready to take on Daniel Ridge. Man, what is in that Pisgah mountain water?! I start really moving along, trying to make up for lost time. RS#3 comes along with a fresh water refill and nothing else. I eat some honey chews on the way and get another burst of energy, which powers me up until the end of the very last climb up 475b/225. I once again find my legs screaming in misery upon entering the Cove Creek trail within the last few miles, wishing I had more magic Pisgah water... Lots of people strewn up in here with cramps and pain. I zigzag through it all, managing my own pain, focusing on finishing ...time no longer an issue, I finish! Ahh yes, and what is the first thing I see, Wifey's worried look wondering where I have been, Mark and Mike holding beers, already changed, asking what took me so long...sigh, good friends....A few hamburgers, recovery beers and warm fireside conversation, and back to sealevel I went, Wifey leading the way...Thanks Marsha for being there to support and worry about me, you rock!
Total time: 5:46:06
Total miles: 37.81miles
Elevation Gain: 5641ft.
Cheers to Mark Sackett for his outstanding 30th place result!
Cheers to Mike Pierce for his outstanding results even with his wardrobe malfunction!
Todd, Heather; it gets better every year! Thank you for once again organizing this event and giving everyone a chance to goof off in the mountains.
Looking forward to next year guys!