You know you just did something rad when your own brother admits “I didn’t really think you would finish.” To be honest, I was pretty certain I wouldn’t either. I signed up for this race to see what my body was capable of, figuring I’d die or at the very least, get pulled due to time limits. It is very apparent from the bodily pain I am in at this moment…that I finished.
We gathered at the starting line and chatted with some friends. I saw my old college classmate from App and we caught up for a bit. Always nice to see familiar faces at out of town events. I glanced at the “competition” and sized up who I thought I could potentially beat. I for sure knew the guy with the baby pink Specialized with purple bar tape was gonna smoke my ass. You don’t mess around with a bike like that. The girl wearing butterfly wings, a tutu and pink socks wasn’t going down without a fight either. You’re either going to A) Drink beer in the lot once the race starts or B) Chick every dude there.
Cowbells a blazin’…here we go. I must say, the first section of fire roads sucked big hairy you-know-whats. At one point I was “climbing” a 14% grade. I walked a few sections just because I knew I had an entire day in the saddle…what’s a few yards? The downs were just as hard as the ups. Pisgah climbs bring Pisgah descents. Cross bikes…not made for rutty, rocky, fast downhill. Sketchy to say the least. I did the best I could, but those roads beat me up. I never crashed, but my hands felt like they had been smashed with an anvil. Super. Epic. Sketchiness.
After suffering like a dog for 20 miles of fire roads, I saw the first aid station. Hell yes…
I ate pb&j, filled my bottles and continued on my way. I still had 50 miles to go and I had made the first cut off by 2 hours. Double hell yes…
Second aid station was only 8 miles away. I was ready to rumble. I could feel my “dark place” creeping up and was starting to feel some anxiety about finishing. I pedaled and ate and drank and pedaled and drank…and walked a few 9% graded areas. Caught up to a couple of guys riding Surlys. They passed me around mile 10. I decided to go up ahead of them because I just knew they’d pass me on the climb. I needed a head start. I just wanted to see the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Be very careful what you wish for…
I know why the second aid station was only 8 miles from the first. It took me FOREVER to get there. The Blue Ridge Parkway in Pisgah is much more gnarly than anything I remember riding when I lived in Boone. 8%, 9% and the gut busting 16%…filled in with some “false flats” at 4%. With the exception of a few very SHORT downs, I spent 27 miles climbing from the first aid station to the turn off onto 215 from the Parkway. My sit bones were screaming two hours into the ride and now I was dying. At this point I was having very dark thoughts and wondering if I could catch the sag wagon. Please, please God just let me finish. That’s all I want. I looked behind me…those two guys were gone. I had dropped them. Freaking amazing.
215 was BITCHIN’ and just what I needed to boost my confidence and moral. 8 miles of FAST, curvy DESCENT!!! I was freezing my happy ass off by this time, but really enjoying myself. Cross tires bring an element of sketchiness though…not as sticky on the big turns. Gotta watch yourself. I came up on another chick. Finally, another rider!! I spent most of the day alone and never thought I’d see another person till the end. She was locked up on her brakes the whole way down and I had to pass her. I worked hard for this and YOU WILL NOT MAKE ME RIDE MY BRAKES!
Aid station number 3…BOOOYAAAH! The fine fellas at Sycamore Cycles hooked me up with GU Brew and a few more pb&js. Amazingly, I ate like a cow during the ride and had hunger pains at this point. Seriously? Hunger pains? I did my thang and got back on the bike. 14 miles to go. I had this biatch in the bag.
The girl I passed on the big downhill passed me back on the last section of gravel. I gave the 11% grade the middle finger and got off my bike. HIKE-A-BIKE in full effect!! My little friend decided that was a great idea and we had a nice little chat about how miserable we’d been all day. 🙂
We decided to keep each other company for the last 12 miles, most of which were downhill or flat. I was getting excited at this point. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was gonna finish this race.
As we came around the corner, I saw blue lights. Was that it? Were we at the campground? I saw the Pisgah Ranger Station and almost started crying. I looked back and shared the good news with my little friend. She was stoked too. Made the turn into the parking lot and thought I was just going to rip through the finish…ooooooh no. Not in the Pisgah. I was shocked to see 3 CX barriers between me and the finish. Everyone was yelling and cowbells were banging…I had to dismount after 70 miles of hell and run my bike through 3 barriers.
So I did.
I saw Anet and Mike at the finish and broke down in tears. I looked at my watch and I had done the race in roughly 7.5 hours. I beat my goal by 2.5 hours. I honestly thought it would take me closer to 10 hours to finish…I surprised myself. I was so happy…so proud…and felt pretty badass.
Speaking of ass, can someone pass me the donut pillow? I’m in agony over here. 🙂
Next up? Interbike!
What did I eat today? Glad you asked…
2 honey stinger waffles
1 bonk breaker
1 pack of honey stinger chomps
3 chocolate #9 gels
1 hammer gel
3 small pb&js
5 bottles of water and electrolyte mix
1 Budweiser (best one and last one ever!)