May 6th, 2017
The Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race, an experience for only the bravest, daring to fight the elements of #thepisgah. Racers in teams of two, arrive at the start line with no idea of the day’s route. At ‘go-time’, they’re given a passport with 5 checkpoints listed. 4 are mandatory, and by getting 5, the team receives a 2 hour time bonus. Your overall time for the day is calculated by subtracting any time bonuses and adding any penalties to the teams elapsed time.
Erik and I decided last minute to team up and tackle the challenge. The week prior to the race, I gathered all required gear (to forgo any penalties) and mentally prepped for an adventurous day in the forest.
I started the weekend early by heading to NC on Friday to get a warm-up in and live van-life for a few days. Saturday morning we arrived for the start. A chilly mid 40s morning had myself contemplating the correct number of layers to pile on. To add to the challenge, rain was expected by mid afternoon. We suit up and head to the starting line amongst nearly 100 other teams.
We receive our checkpoints and everyone is off!
With strict rules about off-limit roads, the corral of participants were all forced to funnel up the technical Black Mountain trail. For nearly all, this included a 50/50 mix of riding and hiking.
Atop this first climb, teams were forced to choose their route, and essentially, decide whether riding a clockwise or counterclockwise loop was best. Erik and I choose clockwise.
The next few hours took us riding/hiking routes that one would never imagine on a typical bro-weekend Pisgah trip.
As mentioned, Up Black Mountain, followed by, Up Bennett Gap
We cruised along many fire roads receiving the first 2 checkpoints without much deterrence from our original planned route.
A few additional hours in, we were getting into less familiar territory for the both of us. Erik, overall, knew the forest better than myself. His knowledge got us much further than I ever would have. We arrived at a few Y’s in the road that forced us to choose routes ‘A’ or ‘B’.
On a few occasions, our ‘B’ route took us onto some quite challenging trail. Forcing us to cross a countless number of creeks, hike up the gnarliest descents, and trudge through backcountry streams and muck. The mid-day struggles for us put our overall time back a few hours.
After about hour 8, we were on a familiar route back home. The slight challenge still was that this was a few hour trek. I definitely give it up to Erik for dragging my ass up some of those final climbs. A long day in the saddle, for sure, and my legs were screaming for a hammock next to the river and a cold beer.
We finish the race just before dark and almost 12 hours after the start. We place 22nd among many other teams that also received all 5 checkpoints.
I think what I like most about the Pisgah races is the community..the racers, the event organizers, the after-party, trail conversations.
PMBAR was nothing short of an adventure. One to check off the list and possibly contemplate revenge in 2018.