This thing called PMBAR has a way of bringing most hard core MTB folk to their knees. Crying and aching for dear mercy. Some as a cramping ball of muscle & mass and most are just mentally broken. Sign me up and let me bring a friend into the fire.
The goal was to finish in a time of 6-8 hours for the minimum 4 CP. A possible 5th CP if we were up to it at Club Gap. Now all we had to do was navigate the PNF with little problems and keep our spirits in tact. Plan from the start was to check out the passport before hitting any trails. This would give one plenty of time to think about a possible route on the hike up Black Mtn. Early plans to hit Turkey Pen TH first were set and off we went.
CP1 - Turkey Pen > This hike up Black Mtn. was a hard way to warm up. All was going well. I knew were I was and were I was going. Lots of traffic on Turkey Pen with riders unsure of the skills to rip the hills of Pisgah. On the way to CP1 we managed up with a group of riders. This type of race is every team for themselves. So it's hard to just follow someone. Map check. Missed the left and went right up Mullinax before hearing people talking down by the river. We double back all to be passed by the Mater & Cola Joe.
A bit frustrated because you spend energy passing some slower riders all to be passed up by them while you are back tracking. Made the CP and the good fellings were back on our side.
CP2- Bradley Creek > Pulling out of CP1 with a plan to go to Bradley Creek . Fine but I've never been there before. Navigation would be the achilles' heel of the event. Map Check. Opted to pass on a well used trail for a trail I thought would be better choice. Strike 2. Map Check. Back tracked again but only for a few minutes. Back with the masses on Squirrel Gap. A long train of riders we had passed before, now stuck to wait it out. Slow goings being passed again by M&J 15 minutes out from CP2. Double that for an out and back route to the CP and we are now 30 minutes behind.
CP3- Squirrel Gap & Cantrell Creek > Probably the best trail of the day. A real MTB trail. If you're looking for an example of a real East Coast trail Squirrel Gap is it - Rideable. Plan was to go along to the Buckhorn Shelter area an skip the hike-a-bike up to Club Gap and check out FS 5033 down below the trail junction.
CP4- Club Gap > A good plan turned bad when we (I) missed FS 5033 just down from the Buckhorn/Black Mtn shelter. This would be the mistake of the day. Every trail I pasted on the way down Clawhammer road I would stop and check the map, wasting buckets of time. Somehow it just never clicked, that we had past the trail. Once we stopped at the intersection of Clawhammer and Maxwell Cove, I knew I had screwed up bad. Ten minutes went by. My internal flame was slowly going out. The look on Kenny's face when the realization hit that we would have to climb back up to Club Gap from the Horse Stables, was not good. To finish without a DQ, we had two chooses on the accent. Up Clawhammer fire road or Avery Creek.
Let me just say - It's been a while since my last visit to PNF especially in this area. Anyone in there right mind would not have climbed Avery Creek. Not in my right mind and Kenny didn't know were he was. A peace offering of a delicious brownie was broken. Hoping this would inspire Kenny to continue being my friend, even after Avery Creek.
Some hour & 15 minutes to complete the 3 mile hike-a-bike. All was well till a local Bio-Wheels rider made some comment of our route choice. This set me off - just keep your damn yapper shut if you don't have any encouraging words to say, damn local. So now pissed off and hallucinating a touch. I convinced Kenny that we should catch them before the end. Bombed Avery Creek and back tracked FS 5033. Map check. I wanted to see were I missed the turn 2 hours prior. Hammered Clawhammer road to Maxwell Cove road. Climbing with fury, I've seemed to not realize I was putting my own teammate in jeopardy of bonking. I had a renewed spirit of completing this son-of-a-bitch. Sharing encouraging words with Kenny to keep climbing it wouldn't be long till we would be done.
Around the corner look who is taking up the whole trail eating M&M's and looking like death, our local yapper smart ass. I slow down to share a comment on how bad they looked and slowed for Kenny to catch up. Apparently he could see my blue eyes turn red. Knowing this why we've been riding so hard up Maxwell Cove. Offering more encouragement, a push, more water & whatever it took to push ahead. A promised decent down Black Mtn. would be the reward. Beer never sounded soooooo good. Finished up with almost 10 hours of adventure in Pisgah Wilderness.
29" of Fury rolling 32x20
16oz Sustained Energy
3- Clif Bars
2 - Flasks of Hammer Gel (~10)
1/2- Brownie (Shared other 1/2 w/ Kenny - Peace offering for third navigational screw up)
12- Endurolyte Caps
0 - Mechanicals
36 - Map Checks
1 - Compass
2 - Small Navigational Errors
1 - Major Navigational Error
= 10 hours of Pisgah & probably somewhere around 70 miles