Sunday, April 15, 2018

Pisgah Stage Race #10

 After a long cold winter, the sun finally came out and dried out the forest, warming our skin and changing our attitudes.   People from all over the nation and the world were stoked to sample Pisgah's finest trails, and we were all elated to see the forecast clearing and the temps warming.

This was my 10th time in this race.  And I am the only one to have completed all 10 editions.  Todd of Blue Ridge Adventures has done an amazing job of improving the race and fine tuning the details.  Participants are treated to a great race environment, or if they choose, a fully supported tour on some of the best trails in Pisgah.  
 I was able to train fairly consistently until the beginning of February.  Then I was able to train sporadically, but with some longer rides, which kept me hopeful of being competitive.  Then I was off the bike for 2 weeks, except for 2 rides with the kid totaling about 9 miles.  I did play lots of soccer and basketball though.....  I don't regret trading training time with spending time with the kid. 

So race day rolled around and I knew I wasn't ready, but was pretty sure I could finish.  I was on a 32x21 gearing which had been working for me. 
 Stage 1 and 2 were fun routes, and I was having a blast.  But,  my legs were dead.  Already.  Not good.  I put our an APB on Facebook, looking for a 22 tooth single speed cog.  I could have gone with the 2 hr round trip to my house in Asheville to get the one I already had, but figured I would try to save some time and money. 

 Randy Collette responded and got me set up.  Sycamore Cycles helped me out and let me use the tools to make the change.  My chain was pretty tight but I figured it would loosen up as I rode Stage 3.   That didn't work out so well.  The chain stayed super tight, and I'm pretty sure I lost some energy due to that.  Oh well. 
 I finished Stage 3 and went back to Sycamore to purchase a new chain.  Of course then I had to purchase a new chainring to mesh with the new chain.  That's the way it goes,  still better than the 2 hr round trip to the house.  The upside of changing my gear?  I finished 17 minutes faster than previously on this stage.  That's huge!
 Stage 4 is my favorite.  A big long loop including Squirrel, Laurel and Pilot, with the start/finish at the Cradle of Forestry.   I rode my own pace, intent on having fun, finishing, and not imploding.  Success, and I was 11 minutes faster than previous years!! 

Wow,  I'm getting faster, and my skills are improving!

Stage 5 came and went with no issues.  I rode, chatted with friends, and finished,  a little slower, but only about 5 minutes.  10 years of fun racing and riding.  10 years of new friends.  10 years of hard training and focus.  

Am I going to do it again?  Yes.  Next year?  No.   I'm taking a break.  It's been a good run, and I've got some bragging rights that no one else can claim!   There are other trails and events out there that I'd like to take a look at.  And of course,  Todd claims that he is going to pay my way to another stage race in another country!  I'm looking forward to that.

Thanks to Todd and the entire Blue Ridge Adventures crew for providing an event that challenged me and helped be grow into the person I am today!  

Maybe I'll be one of the hecklers on Pilot next year!

Monday, April 09, 2018

Pisgah Stage Race 2018- Day 0

All shined up and ready to go.  Not the best picture, but kind of how I feel.  A little bit of congestion and feeling sluggish this morning.  Took some natural decongestant,  hoping it will clear up as the day goes on. 

This is it,  Pisgah Stage Race #10.   So much has happened over the past 10 years.  So, wild to think how many times I have done this race.  Some years better than others,  each year different than the last. 

Some have suggested that this is my year.  I don't disagree, its a race and you never know.  But, that's not my goal.  I've done the chase,  trying to close the gap, the difference in seconds or minutes.  The minutes that mean the difference between 1st, 2nd, 4th.....  I've looked nervously over my should, looking for that jersey, looking for the rabbit chasing me, the carrot. 

Not this year.   I'm going to make this my victory lap.  I'm going to enjoy the ride and give the volunteers a high five. (not gonna eat the bacon though).  I'm going to take in the sights and sounds and celebrate a decade of racing fun.  I'm gonna finish with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.  And I'm looking forward to it.

Here's to a fun ride.... (unless of course I wind up near the top after the first day,  then, well,  the race is on!)