This year's PMBAR was trickier than most. Now living in CA, I flew into Raleigh late Wed., did a preride with a great group of guys (and gals) Thurs. and then off to the Blue Ridge Mtns. on Friday. The forecast for this PMBAR was rain and pain. both came, but luckily more rain, than pain.
Eric, the brains and director of this event usually has some twist to each PMBAR and this year was no different. For the first time in several years, this year had 7 checkpoints to choose from. Five must be reached (including 3 mandatory) and back to the finish within 14 hours. Last year Jay and I had issues choosing a route then making wrong turns costing us at least an hour or more. This year we were determined to get a good route from the get go and stick with it. WRONG! Rather than bore with details, I will just let it be known that our route changed on the fly at least 3 times during the event. Our route ended up being 1. Avery (out and back) 2. Up Pilot and down to Laurel. ** Grilled Cheese and Coke--thanks Stephen Janes and Trips For Kids WNC** 3. All the river crossings to Bradley Creek/Turkey Pen. (Thanks Chris for directions, whoduthunkit?) 4. Cantrell Creek up to Squirrel Gap. 5. Up and over Black then off to the finish.
Things started out slow. The hike-a-bike came early and often. Still, the pace was decent and we were on our way to our best finish...then it started to rain, hard, and things got even slower. We still could have had a best finish but Jay was hurtin' a bit and I have never seen him look so miserable. The walking increased and the slow riding increased. The last checkpoint up and over black was entirely walked. I rode most of the decent, but we had to finish together and I had forgotten from previous years that Jay is not a great descender of Black Mtn. when he is tired. Add cold, wet and muddy conditions...fuhgetaboutit! We eventually rolled in about 8:30 p.m.. Jay made a line straight back to the campground feeling a bit hypothermia'ish (shaking uncontrollably). I felt fine other than I could not feel my left foot and wished I could not feel my right (toes were numb and stinging at the same time), hands were cold...but hey, it was cold and wet so whatchaexpect. A hot shower and some pizza helped. Unfortunately the feeling started coming back in my left foot and the toes, and ball of both feet started to really hurt. I was seriously missing the numbness now. Sleeping in a leaky tent that night with wet feet (even more wet as I stood in ankle deep water to take a wiz at 2 a.m.) Did not matter as the tent was leaking on my feet all night. Then breaking down camp in the pooring rain...the feet did not get dry until Sunday night. Good Times!
SO, Jay insisted this was his last PMBAR, but maybe he will come around. He thought maybe I should do it with someone else to see how fast I can get in. We will see. So this could be our 4th and final PMBAR together, but hopefully not the last PMBAR for each of us. One thing I can say is that Jay has been a grrreat partner over the years. Both in training rides together and during PMBAR. He did not complain when I DNF'd us out for falling on my bike while walking across a river so I cannot complain for his playing it safe with all the hike-a-bike. Still, it is clear that riding out here in the Sierra Foothills has made me more prepared for this event than ever and I honestly felt as if I did not even have a decent ride when it was over...more like a really long hike in really bad shoes. Of course if the pace was pushed I would feel destroyed, but then that is what you expect after a PMBAR, so maybe next time.
Click Here for the Strava Link(~52 miles ~10,000 ft.)
Great to see old friends at PMBAR, though in the rain there was not the usual big gathering at the finish like in years past. Sorry to my friends Steve and Chris who's teams both achieved the 5 checkpoints but the cold was getting to them and the time was running out so they likely did the smart thing taking a DNF. Nothin' to be down about considering the conditions. Hoping for better conditions next year.
Here are a few pics from this year.
|The bike survived the flight, yeah!|
|Jay and I made the Podium! Well, before the race anyway.|
|Careful, it's slippery.|
|No privacy on the top of Pilot.|
|It was friggin' cold up there on Pilot Rock.|
|One of many, many river crossings.|
|The final river crossing (on Bradley Creek)...it was a deep one.|