Hunter Subaru Pisgah Stage Race - Day 2
Stage details - 43 miles, 7,300+ ft of elevation gain
Stage 2 left from the Kuykendall group camp and featured a LeMans running start to get to your bike followed by a stream crossing and 3-4 minutes of super fast riding to get down to FS road 471 and the 7 mile climb to the intersection of FS 229 then the really steep climb up to the Famous Farlow Gap downhill. I moved closer to the front of the pack just to be safe and not get caught up in any crashes. Once on the climb, settle in and keep heart rate under 165 and watch quite a few folks go up the road. I made the first climb in about 40 minutes and grabbed a bottle at the 1st aid station and kept riding. As I came in toward the Farlow Gap area there was a tight section between a tree and huge boulder. A momentary distraction saw my front wheel slide on some roots and I shoulder checked the boulder and ripped a chunk off my left hand, scream, curse and keep going. No way to approach Farlow being dazed but here I went straight down the boulder field, 6-9% grade down hill full of rocks that are constantly moved by each rider before and after you so the lines are always sketchy. About ½ way down was the “White Squirrel”, a local dressed in a giant white squirrel costume and his trademark “Woooooo” yell. Distracting enough in the middle of nowhere to cause most riders to dismount and walk some of the steepest gnarliest areas before getting back on the bike. Several more stream crossings and on to the Daniel Ridge/Cove Creek areas and aid station 2. I’m riding with some locals that knew the trails really well and flying through the woods, smiles all around as we railed the turns. As I came in to aid station 2 I realized I had not drank or eaten anything and suddenly I was feeling really tired. I immediately ate a honey stinger gel and ½ of a PB&J and kept moving. Knowing another 7 mile FS road climb was ahead as well as Club Gap, Black Mtn and Maxwell Cove, I was beginning to feel that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. I kept shoving gels, trail mix etc but I was behind the nourishment curve and now could do nothing but hold on and try to finish as I was only ½ way into the race. As I struggled up the climb, several racers I had passed earlier were now coming back and leaving me in their dust, very humiliating. I just kept going and I saw Tracey on FS 477 as I turned to climb up to Club Gap. I tried to look strong but after I was out of sight I fell back in to the slo mo pace to limp to the finish. Knowing that I had to repeat the lower part of Black Mountain to get to the finish was disheartening but once over the climb, I knew I had the finish in sight but probably had lost a place or two in the overall as I knew I finished 20-30 minutes slower than I had expected. I came in 6th for the stage and dropped to 5th overall. Still 3 more days of racing and a shorter stage on day 3. After the finish, Tracey force-fed me even though I had no appetite. Honestly, I don’t think I would have gotten on the bike for the third day had she not been there to “Fix me” after I screwed up by not eating. What a hard lesson, simple as it was and my pockets full of food, I didn’t eat.
Garmin data for stage 2:http://connect.garmin.com/activity/117769065