I got up before dawn to get things ready for stage one. The air was cool, but the temps were supposed to get close to 80. I was excited about my first race of the year, and anxious to get to the start line. But first, I had to wake the kid up, get him fed and dressed and off to school on time.
After dropping him off, I headed out to Brevard and the Black Mountain Trail Head. It was good to see some old friends riding around. I didn't have a lot of time so I got changed and ready to roll. I was feeling ok, but having a little bit of GI issues to start the day. I'm thinking that last night's trout was still swimming around in there.
We lined up. Todd announced 2 minutes and about 8 of us darted for the woods to take one last natural break. Then the gun sounded and we were off. It was good for the neutral start, but when we hit the gravel, the pace picked up, several groups quickly formed with a one man breakaway. I slowly drifted back, knowing that I should not hold that pace. Once I hit Clawhammer, I pushed my pace, passed and got passed. After about 20 minutes, I started to overheat. While it was not hot out, it was very humid, and I simply don't function well in those conditions, coupled with heat....well, then I'm just out for a ride.
I made it up to the gap, refilled, and cruised down to the river taking the time to recover. Across the river and over the swinging bridge, then up squirrel. I had moments of feeling great and moments of feeling not so great. I tried to focus on riding smoothly and within my limits. Then something strange happened. I started catching people. We would yo yo back and forth for a while, but then they would fade. From this point on, only one of the people would ride away from me, and this was coming down Black Mtn, a steep, techy trail.
Up the gravel to Yellow Gap, stopping for water and lube. David Wood did an stellar job of lubing my chain. I rolled down 1206, remembering quickly how much climbing I had yet to do. I didn't see anyone for a while, but then on N Mills River trail, I started passing people again. Not a lot, but enough to encourage me to keep doing what I was doing.
Typically at this point in a race, I am the one getting passed by everyone. It was good to be passing.
At Buckhorn Gap, I again got lubed, grabbed a pb and j and a Coke, and started up Black Mtn. Up and up, then down then up, techy, rooty rocky, passing the marshall with the airhorn, then up, then it was the last down hill. I kept it in control and kept listening for someone to come up behind me. They never did and I finished in 5 hrs and 10 minutes. 25 minutes faster than last year!
A good day in the saddle.
Wednesday: Stage 2 Land of Waterfalls
43 miles, 7,300+ ft of elevation gain... its gonna be fun!