Monday, September 16, 2013

Pisgah Monster Cross

The Pisgah Monster Cross Challenge would be the third race in the Pisgah Productions King of Pisgah Series and the second race in the Blue Ridge Monster Cross Series. With only one race remaining in the KOP and two in the BRMC, I was hoping for a good result at the PMCC.

Last year, the PMCC course was ridden in the counter-clockwise direction which meant lots of climbing from the start. I prefer climbing over any other aspect of riding so naturally I prefer to get right to it. This year the race opened with a six mile section of flat pavement as the course was navigated clockwise.

Photo Cred: Blue Mountain Revival Productions
Photo Cred: Eric Wever
From the start, I found myself out front of our long neutral roll out. I decided to keep my spot instead of pulling out and risk getting dropped back into the mass of riders. Once we hit the first climb of the day leading to Glouchester Gap, Sam E., Sam K, Tristan and Devin skirted around me and gunned it. This was the group that I wanted to stick with but after two failed attempts to bridge the gap, I knew that I needed to settle into my own pace.

As we began the long climb up 215, a group of six formed with Garth leading the chase. Early on, I found myself getting dropped, putting out a big effort to close the gap and then getting dropped again. This was not a good sign and figured that I would pay for those efforts later in the race. This happened about four times and after bridging up for the final time, Garth and I proceeded to pull away from the rest of the group in full on chase mode.

At Aid #1, I took on two bottles as Garth blew by the aid requiring him to turn around. I wasn't sure if I should wait or set out solo so I just gunned it. I had a feeling that I might not see Garth again but he put in a huge effort as he was on my tail in no time. As I stood on the pedals to match Garth's pace, my right calf revolted and I knew that I had the back off for a bit. As I watched the gap grow, my thoughts shifted from chasing the lead group to holding off those behind me.

Photo Cred: Brad O Allen

Photo Cred: Brad O Allen 
With much of the course being pavement, I decided to run a 38c tire which is the narrowest tire I've ever been on. I put a couple of rides in on these tires prior to the race but could not test them in loose gravel which was encountered in the last third of the course. Once I hit the 5000 descent, I knew I was going to be slow but after almost washing out twice in the first couple minutes my pace had me looking over my shoulder often. As I turned onto 1206, I caught a glimpse of Garth at most a minute up the road.

I gave it all I had on the climb up to Yellow Gap knowing that this could be one of the last chances to make up time on anyone who may have fallen off the lead group. I wanted to stand and hammer but my tire choice and road conditions wouldn't allow it. I settled in with a grinding cadence and only managed to catch a couple of recreational riders on the way up. Not long after Yellow Gap, I caught a glimpse of another rider. I figured it was another non-racer but as I closed in, I realized it was Sam K.
I was hoping that the two of us might be able to close the gap on Garth but as I began the last chase of the day, it got quiet behind me and Sam was nowhere to be seen.

Photo Cred: Brad O Allen
I was unable to catch Garth on the 477 descent and came in a minute behind him at 4:11 and 5th overall. Sam Evans once again showed us what fast looks like with a time of 3:50.

Photo Cred: Mom!
I would like to thank Eric and Erinna once again for giving us the opportunity to come play in a place as beautiful as the PNF. As always, the course was seamless, the volunteers were on point and friendly and the experience was one of a kind.
What could be better than spending the weekend in the PNF? Spending it with your wife, dog, parents and capping it all off with a ride with my favorite riding partner!

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