It seems like I’ve heard a lot of writers brag in their ramblings about how they type on typewriters because real writers don’t need the backspace button, just the trash can. I need a backspace and a spellchecker because I can’t keep events straight at this point. I’ve been busy, but I’ve been fitting in rides, and a few races, and with three weeks until the Transylvania Epic, which I’ve been thinking about for 4 months, its time to really focus. I’ve honed a system of getting in shape that seems to work consistently for me and it seems to be coming together again as far as I can tell. I felt my fibers ticking in Pisgah this weekend for the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race, they were honed, there for that extra kick on the slick moves and snapping back after a few seconds rest. I can feel fitness on the downhill’s as well as the ups, when I’m on form I have confidence and a reserve of strength for the surprise around the corner, the downed log, or the washed out drop. “That’s why I love this,” I thought, riding squirrel in the wet, and feeling good.
There is no race that more accurately captures the spirit of Pisgah then PMBAR. In PMBAR you make your own course. The riding is raw, steep, sometimes primitive, and sometimes wet. This time it was really wet, and cold, 36 F on the top of Laurel Mountain on May 4th. We love Pisgah but we almost hate it. It’s rugged and it’s almost too hard. When it’s wet the difficulty goes to the point where a lot of hotshot sponsored pros will be throwing their bikes. Pisgah is too hard to be cool. We don’t ride Pisgah to be cool, we just ride it because we can, and because when we’re done, and the aches subside, nostalgia takes hold and you only remember the goods.
This year was the third year racing PMBAR with my longtime friend and riding partner Jacob McGayhey. Most mountain bikers understand some mechanics, those that don’t end up running. For those so inclined, it is possible to take your understanding of bicycle mechanics to the highest of levels. To those folks we should all be grateful because these are the ones that are developing the gear that has been steadily advancing our sport. I get a bit of special enjoyment out of riding the latest redesign of the Industry Nine wheels. The trail 24 is a Jacob McGayhey brainchild with detailed refinements achieved through an absolute commitment to perfection and an attention to detail that is almost unmatched. I love to see Jacob’s talents being channeled in such a fitting way and also love the fact that an Asheville company is making the best wheels on the planet. Racing has a way of rewarding obsessive-compulsive behavior, and PMBAR fits the bill. All options need to be analyzed, evaluated, and perpetually reprocessed. You don’t have to do all that but it just may be what wins the race. Eric Weaver did a masterful job of shuffling the deck this year and throwing out an array of checkpoints that left no clear path. The options were numerous and the cost/benefits ultra close. We nailed a route and skipped the bonus checkpoints of slate rock and Daniel Ridge. It almost didn’t seem right to be able to win without riding the most miles.
So two weeks to ride hard and a week to rest then seven days of heated competition. Nothing is more fun then a race when you are feeling really good. While I’m here let me not forget to give a big shout out on the megaphone to Bruce Dickman and Progold for helping get me to the TSE. Thanks!