'16 stage two profileToday’s stage promised to be harder than yesterday as we would ride some Pisgah favorites like Squirrel Gap, Mulinex, Buckhorn Gap and Black Mountain. First we had to get to the Turkey Pen entrance to the forest via the Ashville highway. This is my fifth PMBSR and every year we’ve used this entrance for a stage so I hardly gave it a second thought.

This year the six miles of pavement would prove brutalizing to many, decisive to some, and a downright game changer for others.

I’m pretty sure I fall into the final group–I’m just not sure whether it will be in a positive way or not!

As we rolled out of the Black Mountain trailhead, the police escort accelerated like they were chasing the Duke boys toward the county line. Of course, some of the folks with gears followed suit and I went from zero to 150rpm in a red hot second! Things moderated for a moment as we turned onto the highway but instantly I was redlined again.

Within minutes my body was in near total lactic acidosis and I was going out the back like someone had hooked an anchor on my rear axle! I fought back on up the single climb on the road only to be whip-sawed off what had become the third group. There were at least 30-40 riders ahead and what appeared to be very few behind me and I was convinced the second place single speed rider was in one of the groups ahead.

They slowly pulled away and had gained about 40 seconds on me when they made the left turn off the highway. I plodded on and moved into the turn lane only to realize that the cops stopping traffic in the other direction had just reopened the highway. The line up was large and it was 110 seconds since the last rider had made the turn when I finally started up Turkey Pen.

I was so far back in no man’s land that not a single rider had caught up to me while I waited for traffic. Alone in my tired mind the race was slipping away. My legs felt numb and my back and hips were seizing from the ridiculous high cadence effort to minimize my losses. Slowly I started to pick off riders but I was so shattered it seemed like I was crawling by them like a snail.

Finally we crested and dropped into Mills River Trail. Of course I was immediately stuck in traffic, but at least I was standing and coasting which gave me pause to get some oxygen back in my legs. Over the river we started the long, technical stretch of single track that would almost become my figurative trail of tears. It felt like I was creeping along and seemed even difficult to pass slower riders because my legs were so fried from the frenetic chase.

The miles ticked painfully by and I occasionally passed a rider but no sight of my single speed adversary. Finally near the top of the ridge, I asked a rider I caught up to if he’d seen him and he claimed that there were only a few riders ahead and none of them with riding single. I didn’t believe it and chased onward over the top down the aid station and back up again seeing no one except for one fella with a flat and the 40+ leader who was glued to my rear wheel until the climb steepened and he too was left behind.

Finally, I plunged down the Enduro section on Black Mountain hardly even able to enjoy it due to fatigue and weariness of the endless chase. As I crossed the finish line, I only saw the open category leaders and it was only then that I realized I had been chasing a ghost all day. The second place single speed rider was actually now over five minutes BEHIND me as he had dropped off even earlier at the start!

While it was a nice surprise, I wish I would have known sooner. It may have been wise to ease up and save some energy for later in the week and enjoy the sweet trails and beautiful weather here a little more. Tomorrow is even harder so I hope I can continue to pad my lead. There is never enough time in hand to be comfortable in a stage race!

Comments are closed.


  • Xpedo Logo Neu
  • Kali Protect
  • Squirt Lube
  • RIDGE Logo Final
  • Squirt Rotate
  • Rotor Systems Rotate
  • Ritchey Rotate
  • Ridgeline Rotate
  • Ridge Rotate
  • Magura Rotate
  • Kmc Rotate
  • Kali Rotate
  • Ibis Rotate
  • Garmin Rotate
  • ESI Rotate
  • Diadora Rotate
  • Brl Rotate

Recent Posts


Follow Me