Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 3 - 2011 Pisgah Stage Race

Stage 3 - Carl Schenck Loop
25 miles, 3,200+ ft of elevation gain - MAP

Todays stage was a welcome reprieve from the typical 4+ hour battles against the Pisgah forest trail. We started the day from a campground that was about a 30 minute drive from the house where we are all staying. It was nice to have a start time of 11:00am instead of 9:00am.

The race began with a fast paced fire road ascent to the trail head. I was able to hang with the lead group for most of the fireroad and regained some positions after the climb turned into single track. The pace was fast and the riding was close quarters!

I was really stoked when the 1st descent started. It reminded me alot of the Hoo Ha course and I got on the gas and hauled the mail. For me it was really nice to catch many folks from the lead group on the 1st descent and flowing single track.

Next, the single track started to climb and gave way to rolling fire road. 25 miles does not sound like much more than a typical XC race. However, but with 3200ft of ascending, some of it very steep and rocky, it was a tough race!

Finally, the gravel ended and the trail turned into a fast pump track like series downhills. This section was really flowing and almost made the pain in my legs disolve.

After the 1st aid stop the trail got steep again and the rocks got bigger. I was railing down a sweet sectin when I came accross the gully, I rode a bit and got off my bike just shy of a face plant. That section was really crazy!

More flowing goodness and I arrived at the road we drove in on to get to the camp ground. A good bit of climbing brought me back to the aid station and I kept going thinking the trail would drop down again. I was wrong, very wrong. The next series of climbs were brutal and I pushed a fair bit. My mantra was "please just let this be the top".

A rider was catching me on the hike section and I pushed as hard as I could to keep him behind me. With this much hike a bike, I need to add trail hiking/running to my training program.... Then, at last the summit and down another great trail. My right calf ached from all the out of the saddle riding.

A few more miles of gravel and one descent and I could see the cars through the trees at the finish. It felt great to roll in to the finish of the most fun stage so far.

2:27 4th place Open Men

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