Pisgah 1, Riders 0

Pisgah 1, Riders 0

A re-introduction to rocks, roots, and Pisgah gnarly-ness!

We began the day under mostly clear skies and temps in the low 50s. Surprisingly I wasn’t shivering too badly despite a fast highway transfer to Turkey Pen. There we began a gravel road climb but it is important to note the most of the “roads” accessing the Forest are primitive and rough. The “gravel could be sand or 3″ minus or a lot of both. There are ruts and larger in-bedded rocks too just to make it impossible to ride a smooth rhythm. 

Shaver, Turner, Plews!

Shaver, Turner, Plews!

After a mile and a half on this we plunged into the woods and a series of rocks and water bars. Water bars in Pisgah also need description: the usually consist of a large wood cross-tie buried at an angle across the trail bed. Of course these ties are usually eroded around if not under and seem intent on taking down mountain bikers–especially when wet.

The downhill was short lived and Mullinax turned uphill and led to the (in)famous Squirrel Gap trail. This is a bench cut trail with more roots than all the trails of the NW combined (maybe). It knocks most mortals off their bikes repeatedly and generally results plenty of cursing. Today it wasn’t so bad because despite riding like a real greenhorn, I had a little surprise earlier in the morning…

As I arrived at the start I set about aligning my rear disc brake caliper when I heard a familiar voice. I looked around to see my old buddy little James Ceccorulli from Portland. We had raced together many times over the years and not only is he a super rider, he is an all around cool guy so when we reconnected on Squirrel gap it made the ride that much better!

Somewhere along the way another fella caught up to us and seemed to have things dialed so James and I followed him. There were four riders up the trail so that put me in about 7th. As we rolled over Horse Cove and Funnel Top, we began a slight descent on another unimproved “road” to the aid station. James faded off the back as he fueled up and I pedaled through the feed zone without stopping leaving the other rider. Soon I caught up two of the guys ahead who were paired up racing the Duo category.

I passed them only to get a big stick lodged in between my derailleur and wheel. Miraculously it didn’t damage anything but took a good while to dislodge. Soon, I was back on them and we rode/pushed our bikes together to the top of Buckhorn Gap. I had blacked-out my memories of this slog and hope to again soon! After substantial “softening up”, I fell into the latest variant of Black Mountain which is more heinous than other. Some of the chasms I tried out I almost couldn’t see out of–yeah, it is that rugged!

This was also the first “#enduro” section of the week and I must confess, I was so shell-shocked I just hung on. In the end I finished a couple minutes out of second place on the day and fourth in the Mostly Downhill race. Stoked with that, I hope to maximize my recovery and stay in the hunt. My sweet Ibis Ripley was in its element but pushed hard all the same. I hope it and all its Rotor, Ritchey, and Magura accouterments fair well the rest of the week!


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