The week after PMBAR, I was supposed to travel up to New York for the Wildcat Epic. With my experience at Cohutta the week prior to PMBAR, I decide to skip the Wildcat in favor of rest. In the week leading up to the 111k, I went on a few easy rides which left me a little uneasy about the upcoming events. Even with ample rest, my legs seemed to remain fatigued. I think that this may be because this year I am continuing to strength train while "in season".
I woke up the morning of the 111k to the familiar sound of rain. Being that this seems to be a theme this year, I knew exactly what I was in for. As we arrived at the venue, we were greeted by huge puddles as it continued to pour. The race hadn't even started and we were soaked to the bone. The start consisted of a short section of pavement followed by a long gravel climb. As we began the climb, I found myself in a group of three others which included Sam K., David W., and Sam E. We quickly put a gap on the rest of the field and it wasn't long until I watched the three climb out of sight.
|Photo Cred: Eric W.|
As I made my way up the 5015 climb to aid station #2, I found myself dealing with a significant amount of lower back pain which in turn was beating me down mentally. My mind was telling me to pull out of the race at aid #2 but in order to stay in the running for the King of Pisgah point series, I could not take a DNF. I was not in good shape pulling into aid #2 but as I pointed my bike down 1206, I knew that I was going to do what it took to push to the finish.
Nothing too exciting happened until I was descending Pilot. I have ridden this trail many times in all kinds of conditions. I have cleaned this trail most of the time and have never had much trouble with it. Well.. on this trip down, that all changed. I manged to clean all of the switchbacks down and was feeling good. Coming off the back side of a log that I had ridden without incident many times, I stuck my front tire into something. As my rear was coming off the ground, I tried to unclip but found myself stuck in the pedals. Sure enough, I hit the ground hard head first while remaining clipped in and tangled in my bike. I ended up in a pile of rocks which hit me hard on both sides of the spine just above the hips. I was hurting bad. As I got back on the bike I could not clip my right foot in. I was now in the infamous rock garden with one foot clipped and the other swinging freely when it happened again. I put my front tire in a hole and catapulted over the bars again landing hard in the rocks below. This time my bike came at me with a vengeance nailing me with a pedal? in the side of the head, putting a nice sized dent in my helmet and smashing my jaw into the rocks. At this point, I thought my race was over. I wasn't sure if I could even get up or gain enough composure to ride. All I remember thinking was that I was going to get passed by Garth on a technical downhill and give up a spot.
As I sat on the side of the trail to collect myself, I noticed that my right cleat was moving freely. No wonder why I couldn't clip or unclip. It took me a minute to figure out that I needed to take off my shoe and dig the dirt out of the allen holes in order to reset my cleat. Once back on the bike I crept down the remainder of the trail that I once had no fear of. Feeling lucky to not have been seriously injured and remaining in the fourth position, I made my way through aid #4 and grinded my way up South Mills and Buckhorn.
|Photo Cred: Brado|
|Can we do it again... please!|
Photo Cred: Eric W.