Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pisgah Stage Race 2011: Stage 2

There's a little kid with a frog backpack crawling around next to the podiums. Bishop picks him up. That must be Jeremiah's kid. Jeremiah's bullfrog.

"Hey Birdman, look, it's Jeremiah's bullfrog," I say. The Birdman starts laughing. Then he stops. A chipmunk freezes next to his foot and looks up pleadingly. He lashes out with his talon, spears the chipmunk, and snaps it's neck with his beak. Then he continues laughing. I stare at him.

The next morning is foggy. We ride over to the start and load our bikes on to a truck. There are two trolleys parked in the gravel. That's our ride to the start line.

We load up on the trolley. The lady on the speaker system is giving us a tour of Brevard. Five minutes into the ride I feel like my bladder is going to explode. The woman is talking about white squirrels and paper mills, and I really want to listen, but I can't think of anything other than peeing on the floor.

30 minutes later we stop in the forest. I sprint off the trolley and hide behind a tree. We wait a while for the second truck load of bikes, then ride up to a field to start the stage.

We pile our bikes in the grass and line up for a LeMan's start. The Pflug starts sneaking forward. I yell at him. Todd raises the starter gun and starts counting down. Somebody moves, then we all start sprinting. Todd points the gun at the guy who started running and fires. We're half way to the bikes by the time he gets the shot off.

I jump on my bike and get behind Garth. We shoot down the gravel road and ford a wide stream. There's a short section of pace-lining, and I get dropped. I start the nine mile climb. I can see the groups splitting up ahead. The pro men are gone and the elite elderly men aren't far behind.

The road keeps winding and winding around the ridge. Up higher and higher. I'm sitting and spinning up the mountain. It's not a bad grade. Steep enough to be interesting, but not too hard to ride. I fill a bottle at the first aid.

Almost an hour into the stage I hit the top of the climb. I start ripping down Farlow Gap. It's fast at first, lots of roots, a couple sharp corners. I think they said we would have to walk this, but it doesn't seem too bad.

Then I see the man in the white squirrel suit. He yells some squirrelly cheer and shakes his nut staff.

The trail drops straight down. This is bad. There are huge sharp rocks everywhere, and they're shifting around under my wheels. There's one chick walking her bike on the left and a dude walking down the right. I've gotta plow right through the middle of this thing or I'm gonna die.

I get my ass as far back as I can and drop over rock after rock. This is terrifying. I'm going too fast to pick out any sort of line. Then the rock garden ends. I made it. My leg starts twitching.

Then there's a huge root drop. A slab with a big drop off the end. More root chutes. Both legs are twitching now. This is the sketchiest thing I've ever ridden. If I think about it, I'm going to drop right over that hill side and break myself. I start singing a Kesha song out loud. I hope nobody can hear me over all the noise my bike is making.

I come to the top of a huge steep staircase thing. That's my limit. I'm walking this part. I scramble down it and hike over a stream. Thom Parsons heckles me from a rock. The single track turns back up hill. That was the coolest and most horrifying descent I've ever ridden. Goddamn that was rad. I love this place.

I ride down a super fast root covered hill that goes forever, then into Aid 2. Grab some bottles and head back out. I start another gravel climb. This is probably going to be long.

There's a white land cruiser at the bottom of a little gap in the trees. There are no skid-marks on the road, and the car doesn't look crushed. That's weird. How'd such a nice Land Cruiser get way down below this road?

I finish the climb. That was excessively long. My legs are feeling a little beat. Down some gravel, up some pavement, up some more gravel, and into Aid 3.

Turn onto some single track. I ride it for a while, then it pitches straight up. Looks like I'm taking my bike for another walk. I push up through the rocks. My freewheel clicks loudly. Left onto Black Mountain trail. I know we finish on Black Mountain, but I'm sure there's going to be a lot of walking between here and there.

The trail drops down and I can ride again. Another sweet downhill. Roots and big ruts all over the place. This is great. I plop down a stair case at the end and rip down some smooth single track. Back onto gravel, more fast descending, then I turn onto a climb. I recognize this from our pre-ride on Monday. Sweet. This is it. Last climb before the descent to the finish.

It takes forever. I really want this thing to end. Finally it does, and stop to lower my non-dropper post. I shred the grar all the way down Black Mountain and cross the finish line. That was a really long stage.

There's only a few guys back so far. So that probably put me in the top ten. Nice. And tomorrow we get to sleep in, then do a short 25 mile stage. Extra nice.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pisgah Stage Race 2011: Stage 1

"You  nervous Birdman?" I say. We're rolling in a big group on a road behind the pace car.

"No. I'm just going for a ride," says the Birdman.

"Oh fine, gonna play it cool are you? What a cool guy," I say.

We turn onto some gravel and the pace car speeds up. The Pflug shoots out of the pack and goes after the car.  "Oh shit, we gotta try to catch Ger-Bear," I say to Garth Prosser.

"No way I'm doing that man," says Garth. Then he drills it and goes after the Pflug. I say with him for a few seconds, then I need to slow down.

Garth and the Pflug stay ahead for a few minutes, but then they're re-absorbed into the main group. The gravel pitches up a little more, and Jeramiah "Tough as Coffee Nails" Bishop, Sam Korber, and Adam Craig's little posse spins away.

I ride with Pflug and the Birdman most of the way up the hill. The climb is super long, but not too steep. We top out after 45 minutes and swing onto a flat smooth trail. Everybody with gears rips past me. I'm alone, spinning, getting a little lackadaisical.

The meandering descent ends and I cross a bridge. I pop over a little log and make a hard right onto the trail. It shoots straight up the hill. Shit. That was abrupt. I went from comfortable spinning to ripping my back and leg muscles off trying to get up this hill.

The dirt is wet and slick. It's slow. A light fog hangs over the trail. I make a few delicate turns through the mud. The trail narrows down and I start the section that was supposed to be half-track. It's sweet, but there's nothing half about it. It's just some off-camber Appalachian singletrack. Wet roots, rocks trying to buck me off the hillside, and hard corners with streams running down the middle.

I sit down and my seatpost compresses. I didn't hit the drop button. That's not good. I grab the saddle and pull it up. It falls right back down.  Now I'm fucked. My dropper post is permanently dropped. A couple guys pass. I ask them how far it is to the aid.

45 minutes with a 30 minute gravel climb. I'm going to die without a saddle to sit on. Then I remember the duct tape I have wrapped around a CO2. Thank god I followed Pflug's advice to carry tape. I pull the post up and wrap the tape around the thing. It kind of works. I climb up towards the aid. By the time I hit the station the post has compressed a few inches.

We wrap it in more duct tape and zip ties and I set off with my crippled post.

There's some rolling gravel, a single track climb, then I hit Aid 3. I borrow a 5mm and put my seatpost up a few more inches.

"Seven more miles right?" I ask the long haired prospector looking dude that loaned me a tool.

"About that. But you've got a little hike. Nice view at the top though," he says.

Nice. The hike couldn't be that long. I feel like I'm already at the top of the ridge. I start running.

30 minutes later I'm still pushing my bike up the damn hill. I set it on top of a rock, scramble up, and repeat. But when the trees open up, the view is incredible. Blueish green hills and far off rocks. I keep walking.

I finally come to a spot where I can ride my bike again. Then the trail drops straight down the mountain. I pound over water bar after water bar after water bar. The orange dirt is washed out and there's huge holes in between roots. My hands are cramping but the hill keeps going. I slam over more water bars.

I pass a dude next to a dead campfire and the hill pitches back up. I hike up, lower my broken dropper post, and start descending again. More water bars and off-camber roots. I clip a rhododendron and roll forward into the dirt. I get up real quick and keep descending.

The trail smooths out and turns into a series of fast jumps and wall rides. I ride the rest of the hill and cross the finish line. 1st SS by about a half hour. Nice. Now I have to try to fix my stupid dropper post.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's time to slay some Pig Saws:

The race is from Tuesday to Saturday, and I'll have blog updates here after every stage. If I don't somebody might make me pay for my entry.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

pig saw

The new issue of XXC Mag is out, complete with the article about the week in Breck with Don Powers and Aaron. Get it here.

In one week from today, we're going to the Pisgah Stage Race. Or Pig Saw, as my dad reads it.


Anyway, after riding the Ohiopyle Super-D course with Dahn Pahrs on Saturday, Rob and I are heading down to Brad the Birdman of Charleston's nest.

We'll leave the Birdman's Sunday morning, and try to win some lunch money at the WVMBA Series Championship. After the race, (hopefully with lunch money in hand), we'll return to the Bird's Nest and eat all his food. I assume there will be worm smoothies.

Then Monday morning, we'll fly out of the Bird's Nest again, and begin the long journey to PIG SAAWWW. Garth Prosser, the Crazy Australian Chick, and the Guy I Don't Know, should all be arriving to Grandma's House in Brevard at the same time as us.

I haven't talked to the Blue Ridge adventure guys yet to see where my blog posts are going to be published. But they'll up after every stage. I'll try to figure out where this week.

And it looks like Cory Rimmer isn't on the blogger page anymore. I'm not sure what happened there. But it makes me the only blogger.

If he's not going to the race, I'm not sure why he went through all the trouble of winning the blog contest. Without him in that contest, Dicky and I would have probably been the ones with free entries. And I would have had the chance to beat up on a short, squeaky, older dude all week. But maybe something came up for the Rimmer that I don't know about.

I wanted to get my bike setup posted on the Blue Ridge Adventures facebook page a few weeks ago, but it still isn't set up. My new 15mm Reba has some play between the stanchions and the lowers already.

I called SRAM yesterday, and they're going to send me a new Reba RLT Ti 120 with a 20mm thru-axle. Score.

That's awesome customer service. They didn't even need to see the old fork to confirm it was broken. I'm pretty sure they would have sent me a new fork if I would have told them that the white wasn't an exact match for my grips.

So the fork will be in on Tuesday, I have to switch the tapered uppers on it to a set with a straight steerer, convert my front hub to 20mm, and then I should be ready to go.

XXC has a sweet preview of the race.

*all plans subject to approval by Brad the Birdman of Charleston

Friday, September 9, 2011

a photo of big trav bending over a hot caddy

Deep sigh. baahhh. Labor Day Weekend is over, and now things start to quiet down in Ohiopyle. Sadly, instead of racing the 24 hours of Seven Springs or Shenandoah 100, I was selling chips and Gatorade all weekend. 

And watching Big Trav try to fix an 85 Cadillac for a family of Dutch people. 

He was convinced that if he repaired their car, they would give him their daughter to be his eternal sex slave. Sounds reasonable. 

Unfortunately, we can't fix busted heater cores on Park View.
But Big Trav sure loved that red leather and coolant smell.

Now that that's out of the way, there are only a couple weeks left until the Great Pisgah Bicycle Extravaganza. There's been a flurry of facespace discussion, and it looks like Rob, Brad the Birdman of Charleston and I are going to be splitting a place called "Grandma's House" with Garth Prosser and his band of misfits. It should make for an epic article for the Dirt Rag

I still need to get a headset that doesn't wobble, but other than that I think I've finalized my bike setup.

Fast knobby tire:

15mm thru axle and 120mm of travel:
Sweeet. I'll test it all out tomorrow at the 9 Circles of Hill, which at the request of Prof. Shelmire has become the 9 Cirlces of Gnarlyness.