Sunday, September 22, 2013
I'm not a big fan of shuttling to the start, but I was looking forward to a shorter stage today. 25 miles that included Farlow, Daniel Ridge and Bracken Mountain, ending at the Brevard Music Center.
We lined up and Todd counted down sending us ripping down a 1 mile downhill to the gap then the gravel climb up to Farlow. I push for 10 minutes then settled into my pace. The climb as usual was relentless. It was a relief to get to the single track climb and have something other than gravel to focus on.
The morning had started out cloudy, turning into heavy mist. When the wind blew, the water drops fell off the trees making it seem like rain. The temps were warm though, and I was comfortable. I couldn't push the pace too high though, because it was humid and I knew that overheating on a day like today was a real threat.
Down Farlow, I started riding, then watched Dick come flying by, bobble, go airborne and land on his side. He got up quickly and was ok, but I was spooked so I started hiking down the trail.
The hike a bike sections on the other side seemed to go quickly and I soon found myself having fun, pushing my pace on lower Farlow. I didn't get caught on this section, but Melissa came within sight. She had passed me at some point each stage and I was never able to catch up to her. Today, I was determined not to let that happen. She would be my motivation to keep pushing. I didn't really care if that person was male or female, I just knew that I needed motivation. I had also passed Hans on the Farlow downhill, hike a bike, and was looking over my shoulder for him to catch me as he usually did. It turns out that he crashed, breaking his nose. He still finished the stage about 30 minutes behind me.
I flew down Daniel Ridge and stopped at the rest stop to get my fresh bottles and headed out. Melissa passed me and disappeared. I headed out in pursuit, knowing there was an 8 mile gravel climb coming up. I'm happy to say that no one caught me after that point. I reeled Melissa in and rode with her for a mile to recover, before picking up the pace just enough to pull ahead and out of sight. Thom Parsons and I rode together. We chatted a bit, but mainly just put our heads down and climbed. Thom dropped off at some point and I rolled on. Finally reaching the top with noone in sight behind me. A few minutes later, I spotted Melissa on a switchback above me. I refused to let he catch me, so I punched it. The last 6 miles is newer, less than 1 yr old single track and with the rain it was slimy. There was no way to rail all of the turns so I decided to punch it up every single climb, and not stop pedaling unless the trail tilted down, even then taking a few good pedal strokes.
I glimpsed her less as the trail went on and finally made the last down hill. Glancing back I didn't see her, but kept the pressure on until the finish.
Crossing the line felt great. A big hug for Todd and Heather and I was finished.
I wound up 10th in the 40 plus cat and considering the back injury on the first day, I am satisfied with being able to ride through the pain and stiffness and hang onto my position.
Can't wait until next year!
Posted by Stephen at 8:52 AM