Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Double Dare - Day 1

What constitutes a good race? Is the atmosphere, the venue, the promoter, the prizes?

As I sit here this morning I’m trying to stay awake. The clouded visions of the Double Dare keep trying to free themselves from my mind. My body is reminded of the event with every move I make this morning. All the pains associated with an epic ride. What constitutes as a good race I ask – the aches and pain that follow. A true stamp of approval that you felt good enough on the bike to throw down every hammer you could. The Double Dare for me has lived up to the expectation of a great race.

It’s kinda like jumping into murky water, not really aware of what’s below. The Double Dare Adventure Race has a cult like following. Mostly local and some regional riders come together for the challenge. Eric’s recipe for pain - two 12 hour days of Pisgah. Check points littering the forest with various route options. Overall goal was to navigate to the CP snap a picture and move on. Snag as many of the 10 CP, and make it back to camp in the allotted time frame.

The race would start with a time trial to the Gauging Station. Checked over the passport and planned a route conducive to riding a SS all day. Off to CP2, a short jaunt down S. Mills River Trail. Then the first of many off the wall calls to run the hiking only trail back out to the road. So the ¾ mile jog took us right out onto FS1206 for a while. Next was the daunting hike of Pilot Rock Trail. Well over an hour of hike-a-bike to CP3. The views were awesome. At hike-a-bike speed it’s much easier to take in these views.

As the sounds of traffic grew the anticipation of the hike being over was great. Our route would take us right up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This put us at the foot of Mt. Pisgah, which would be the next CP. The twist it’s hiking only. So we locked up the bikes and stashed the packs. Setting off on another jog until the trail pitch up and the rock steps started. The temps had dropped with the wind howling. Moving was the key to staying warm. A :40 round trip to snag CP4 on the day were back on the bikes and headed down the BRP. Clay set us up with a killer route for the day. The call to hit the BRP when we did put us on a 10 mile decent. Yeah it was cold but we were not hiking or riding up. Quickly snagging another CP at Bent Creek Tunnel.

With a bag of CP before night fall, I was feeling confident of our decision on the day. From here I believe we head toward Trace Ridge to snag another CP at the Hendersonville Reservoir. Then another convenient CP was close, I believe the out and back trail was to Middle Fork. This was yet another new trail for me. Rejoined by some other fellas we all made it back out and down to N. Mills River Campground to refill and mount up the lights. This preceded the haul up Yellow Gap Road. One I was fairly familiar with from past experiences. We climbed this road in the dark for fear of the burn time on our lights. Not long had pasted before the blinky tail light of other racers would appear at the top of Yellow Gap Road. A gathering of weary riders fiddling with a map and plotting their course for the night to come. Felling the chill of the night I asked Clay if we move on. So off on another decent down another double track road to the mandatory CP.

Bradley Creek CP was the mandatory of day 1. The fire was the key for me. Since the temps had been falling all night and my feet were wet from the multiple creek crossings. I really needed to warm up a touch. This CP held the special test of day. Your choice to shotgun 3 beers between the teammates or to shoot a bb gun at a target from 25 paces. It’s dark and I’m tired on the verge of cramping Shit hit the beers. After a lesson on how to properly shotgun beers we passed the test. Believe most folks learn to shotgun beers in high school not at 32 and not on an adventure race.

The night had just begun for us. Squirrel Gap Trail was next on the agenda. With fatigue and PBR working against us the challenges would be great. This was a difficult trail from memories of PMBAR in the rain. I recalled the off camber sections and tight rooty switchbacks. Plus the fact that most of the trail is up, then followed by a sketchy rocky downhill. This would drop us at another CP on Upper Cantrell Creek. Surprisingly I was feeling good but could tell Clay was on the other side of the fence. The PBR was giving him hell.

It wasn’t long till my lights would burn out. Now for some f’ed reason I did not bring my backup to my backup light. Feeling very stupid for the total lack in intelligence, I asked Clay to lead us out and I would just follow his wheel in the dark on what would turn into a technical decent down to Buckhorn Gap. If his wheel would jump out I would brace myself for the unexpected. This did not last long before Clay offered up his backup petzl light. Thanks Clay. Onward we went, but not long before Clay’s main light dies – oh shit now what. The going gets real slow from here. Luckily were very close to Buckhorn Gap TH. This would spit us out onto Clawhammer road. Clawhammer is usually a very fun and fast gravel road descent, but not tonight. It was freezing out and we were getting very close on time. The horse stable were a welcome smell. The day was now close to being in the books.

Arriving back at the campsite to see people drinking and having a good time by the fire was a welcoming experience. Now shaking uncontrollable I had to warm up by the fire. How close can I get my frozen hand to the fire? Luckily Clay’s friend Terry was a camp heating up some food for us. Without this I probably would curled up my tent and died. The grub hit the spot. I was feeling better with the warm cloths and a fire. Soon off to my tent to crash out and nap for about 4 hour till day 2.

If my memory serves me correctly, Clay & I ended Day 1 with 11:49 ~ many miles and 9.5 CP. Not too shabby for Rigid SS in Pisgah.

(Pic nabbed for Ohio Rob)

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