2007 Double Dare – A Synopsis
Team Rhymes with Bucket
Jen Rinderle/David J. Cook
This is a long and probably boring race review. I have lots of cool pics and will post it all on my blog as soon as i figure out how : http://beefcakesbikeblog.blogspot.com/
Without a doubt, the 2XDare is one of my favorite races. This year was no exception. Jen and I competed in the inaugural Double Dare in 2005 and placed 2nd, then she had to go off and get married during the 2nd running of the 2xdare so we showed up again in 2007 and gave it our all.
Jen was working in Hickory and drove into Asheville. Jennifer Drum picked her up at the airport where Jen was dropping of her rental car and they were both coming to my house for some chow. We prepared a good meal – chicken stir fry.
Jen, as usual, had all of her things prepared for the race. I on the other hand was having my pre-race anxiety attack. My repaired Steve Potts frame arrived earlier in the day and I started to build it up but realized there was no way my slow wrenching would allow for a proper build up. I took the frame to Sycamore Cycles and Wes & Crew slapped that beast together. As promised, Sycamore Cylces had the bike built by Friday at Noon, but Steve Potts had other plans.
The repaired seat tube required a 1 ½ seat post collar. Unknown to me, 1 ½ (38.1mm) is an extremely odd ball size and no local shops had one. We racked our brains and decided that a pipe fitting may be my only option, so we went to Grainger and bought a heavy solid steel 1 ½ pipe fitting to put on my re-finished, repaired Titanium Steve Potts frame. What a fiasco. Not being quitters, Jen & I scoured all Hendersonville and Asheville bike shops and were having little to no luck, when David at Youngblood bike shop on Merrimon, took the time to dig through an old parts bin and low and behold – there was the size I needed. It was old and used and he donated it to the cause! Props to Youngblood for not being greedy. There was another Asheville bike shop that found a close sized collar and charged me $10.00. The collar was super worn, scratched up and ragged. I have no problem paying for things, but the condition of this collar was questionable and the cashier/bike store guy was not overly kind. I inquired the price of a new collar and he quoted me “$16.95”…so the old ragged one with no bolt or no quick release was $10.00? Go figure.
The fellow who dug the part out of the parts bin and left it on his work bench was super helpful, but unlucky for me, he was with a customer when i came in and the guy who helped me was not too kind. Props for the wrencher who took the time to dig out the best thing they had to help me. I will go back to that shop, but i will only deal directly with the owner or the fellow who helped me that day.
Any way, Sycamore Cycles did a kick butt job building up my repaired ride, complete with a new Reba Race fork to replace the Huffy fork I had worn out. The bike was ready. Jen & I purchased our race food, laid out our gear, completed a gear check and started preparing for the weekend. Jen made sandwiches while I prepared the Tahoe (Ho) with our schtuff.
Our race food consisted of goos, various bars, salty chips, oatmeal pies, crackers, turkey/avocado/cheese wraps, pb&j on English muffins, oatmeal and egg & cheese sandwiches for breakfast and some starbucks frappachinos for the morning start. The best snack of each day was a diet Pepsi.
Valerie came over on Friday to pick up some parts she had delivered and helped out with the Friday night “pre-race” meal. We had spaghetti with some sauce, chicken and salad. It was a good meal and we all sat around and talked bikes & race stuff.
We woke up, packed the Ho (Tahoe that is) ate a good breakfast then drove to Pisgah. We arrived with plenty of time. Jen & I figured, “we’re here to race, so let’s go ahead and get our bike clothes on and get ready”. We geared up, did final checks on gear, food & mechanicals and rolled over to North White Pines Group Campground for the mandatory 11:00am racer meeting. Eric of Pisgah Productions explained the usual stuff about the race: dos & don’ts, rules, regulations, etc. Jen & I checked out the competition. I was nervous but thank God Jen was cool as a clam. She kept re-assuring me that the race would be fine and we’d do great. I’m such a pre-race basket case.
Eric announced a new race format for 2007: a time trial start to Farlow Gap. We would receive our race instructions at Farlow Gap. Teams left the start at 3 minute intervals. We left in the 4th spot and arrived at Farlow in 2nd.
TT – White Pines Camp to Farlow Gap
477>276>475>Gloucester Gap>Pilot Mtn Rd>Farlow Gap
We kept our pace smooth and easy. Team “super cool purple I9 spokes” beat us there. We chatted with Gabe/Thad/Brado then reviewed our race instructions. 10 cp’s all over the forest with mostly west side travel. I know the west side well thanks to recent recon missions with Valerie. Jen & I picked our route and dropped Farlow Gap to CP 1, Intersection of Farlow Gap trail and Daniel Ridge.
CP1 – Intersection Farlow Gap & Daniel Ridge
Farlow Gap>Daniel Ridge
We dropped down Daniel Ridge to 475 and climbed back up to Gloucester Gap to CP 2:
CP2 – Intersection FS 5003/FS 140A
Farlow Gap>475>Gloucester Gap>5003>140A
Our only wrong turn in the entire race was at the Southern most point of 5003. I thought we were to the intersection of 140A but things didn’t look right. We took our CP proof picture and rolled down a 4-wheeler double track south from the intersection. The trail immediately dropped significantly and I realized we were in the wrong spot. Jen & I back tracked and rode to the correct intersection. Along the western part of 5003, we encountered some fast gravel double track descents and Jen got very familiar with some of the local gravel in two of the turns. At the CP Jen quickly cleaned out her cuts. I snapped a pic or two and bolted for CP 3:
CP3 – Courthouse Falls
Our ride to Courthouse Falls only took a short while. We hit the Sumney Cove trail head on 140 with ease and proceeded south on Sumney Cove. This part of Sumney Cove reminded me of riding along some spots of the Ocoee river in TN. Suddenly the terrain to the left turned into a massive drop. We found the trail to the waterfall, locked our bikes and raced down. Both of us were amazed at the beauty of the falls. Neither of us had been there before and as I’ve done in thousands of spots, I vowed to return and absorb the beauty and serenity. By this time we had drank our water so we refilled and dropped some iodine in the camelbaks. As usual, we got some strange looks from some of the visitors. We politely exchanged greetings, hauled butt up the hill, un-roped our trusty ti steeds and focused on CP 4:
CP4 – Intersection of Sumney Cove and NC 215
Sumney Cove>140>215>Sumney Cove
The 2005 Double Dare also had a CP at the 215/Sumney Cove intersection. Jen & I had hit it then but opted to continue from 140 all the way down Sumney Cove to 215. Along that route in 2005, Jen fell off the side of the trail into a huge briar bramble and could not get out. I heard her yelling, rode back to her spot, and asked if she was ok, she said “yes” then I almost peed my pants because she was stuck in the briars 5 feet below the trail. I extended my hand to help her up - only after I snapped a few pictures of her in the bushes. There is also a big hike a bike on Sumney and we decided the gravel/pavement route would be quicker. We snapped our proof picture and headed to CP 5:
CP5 – Flat Laurel Creek@Concrete Bridge/Waterfall
215>Flat Laurel Creek
Wow. That’s all I gots to say. The ride up 215 is tough. I’ve climbed this section on my road bike, and it was tough but with a full pack on a mountain bike, it approached painful. Jen & I set a smooth pace up the mountains. The grade gets steeper as you approach the top, but the view also improves. The smooth road was a good place to take some extra pictures as we rode along. Jen always smiled for the camera, well Jen just always smiles anyway. I tried to steal a few shots while she was upset or in a bad mood or frowning, but those emotions, if there, never showed through. We finally crested under the BRP and said hi to team Yazoo (a brewery from Nashville, TN). I think they were taking a safety break. Nice fellows. I want a beer sponsor too! We dropped 215 to the Flat Laurel Creek parking lot, hit the CP and continued to CP 6:
CP6 – Ivestor Gap@Shining Rock Wilderness sign
Flat Laurel Creek>Ivestor Gap
We hit the parking lot for Ivestor Gap and hit the CP with little incidence except the sudden darkness that came upon us. Jen and I both agreed that the Ivestor Gap trail was somehow slightly similar to Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab. By the time we left the Ivestor Gap parking lot for CP 7, it was fully dark and there was a beautiful orange harvest moon coming up over the horizon. It made me think of Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin. The star view from this point of the parkway was delicious! We stopped twice to gaze briefly upon the stars. Enough of that we decided and headed to CP 7:
CP7 – Wagon Road Gap@BRP
Ivestor Gap>BRP>Wagon Road Gap
The ride down the Blue Ridge Parkway was incredible! I’ve ridden the parkway at night several times but this evening the sky was incredibly clear and the stars numbered in the brazillions (a number created by our current brilliant president). I snapped a few pictures while riding in the dark but quickly realized a wreck on pavement with full pack while taking pictures traveling at 30+mph would not be good. I stopped trying to be like Brado (photographic/designer connoisseur) and put my camera away. At the CP, Jen & I bundled up for the ride down 276. We ate some food and started to pull out when team Yazoo rolled up. I had dropped a zip lock of chips at the sign and the Yazoo fellows were elated about their find. I told them to finish them off which was probably just what was needed after the earlier safety break and 3 PBR’s each from Dave Blalock (mandatory CP man) at Ivestor. Dave also gave Jen a coca-cola and I bummed a sip off coffee and a PBR as well. That PBR was just what I needed 8 hours into a race! Hooooyaa!
CP8 – Club Gap
Jen and I hit 477 fast. Coming down 276 from the parkway is always a blast, even if you do freeze your butt off! We traveled up the gravel on 477 until I heard the familiar eerie buzz of the power station. I am usually good in the woods at night until something like that buzz takes my mind to the land of Steven King. Jen and I rode as much of Club Gap as possible then hiked it up to the intersection. We took our picture and hiked up the Black Mtn. Trail towards Buckhorn Shelter.
CP9 – Buckhorn Gap Shelter
Club Gap>Black Mountain Trail>Shelter
Our ride over this section of Black Mountain was uneventful. There were some good clear views of Brevard off of the overlooks but we were trying to keep our speed up because we were considering continuing to the Black Mountain CP after Buckhorn Gap – if we got to Buckhorn with enough time to spare. I pushed my bike over Black Mountain from Buckhorn Gap to Presley Gap one time. I believe it was my introductory ride in Pisgah in the early 1990’s. I remember it took a long, long, long, long time and it hurt. Granted, I am in much better shape now than then, but a DQ at this point in time would make me cry. Jen and I estimated that it may take an hour to hike a bike that section and if we got to Buckhorn by 10:30, we would go for it. We arrived at Buckhorn and 10:45 and stuck with our plan.
Day 1 Finish
Buckhorn Gap>Clawhammer>477>North White Pines
We arrived at race finish around 11:30pm. Did we have enough time to get the CP at Black Mountain? We won’t know – until I go check it out. Tired and sore, we said our hello’s, reviewed our CP’s with Eric, prepared the futon in the Hoe and went to sleep. A good day of racing. 9 check points/70 miles…one more day.
Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head, went downstairs and had a cup. Somebody spoke and I went in to a dream……..ARG!!! The alarm is going off at 4:30 am why why why why???? Then I realized I was not in my uncomfortable bed at home but laying on a futon in the back of my Hoe alongside FS 477, stinky, sticky from the previous day, but somehow rested and ready for round two. Jen’s alarm went off about the same time. “Down in the south Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican Girl ” was what my phone alarm was saying to me. How pleasant is waking to a Love Ballad from Marty Robbins? Agreed, it doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me. After 15 precious minutes of allowing my eyes to adjust to the total darkness of Pisgah, I slid into awaiting bike clothes I laid out in anticipation the night before. My Hoe looked like aftermath of a hurricane. Food, bike parts, water, camping items, more food, clean clothes, dirty clothes were everywhere but somehow Jen and I found organization in the first appearance of chaos and got ready for day two. Jen made some oatmeal and I took a few bites of the leftover Westfirst Goat cheese pizza we had for dinner the night before. I also ate an egg and cheese sandwich that we made Saturday morning. Our spirits were good. We weren’t exactly lively but there was a solid undercurrent emitting from both of us that we knew a huge task was eminent and we were ready to take it on full force.
We strolled over to the race venue about ¼ till 6. The race was to start promptly at 6 am so we wanted to be ready for Eric’s instructions. No surprise to us, Eric was starting the race with another time trial. Today’s TT was to Yellow Gap. Nice. Jen and I looked at the map and decided the best route was 276>1206, simple enough. Turkey Pen trail loomed on our map as if saying “you know you want me”, but Jen & I laughed and said “whoever cut’s across Turkey Pen to get to Yellow Gap is insane”. We were certain that Eric would make us travel Turkey Pen at some time in the race, as in all his prior races, but it looked like Turkey Pen would not harvest our tears this time! Yay! We realized later that some poor souls did cross Turkey Pen to get to Yellow Gap…more on that later.
Anyway, a gas station we passed, we got gas, and went on to get grub. Eric staggered the starts at three minute intervals. We left in about the 4th or 5th slot, I don’t recall, but it was still dark. “Go”, yelled Eric. We zoomed to South White Pines, hit 477 and started our quest for Yellow Gap.
Since it was still dark and cold, we were overdressed. As we approached Looking Glass Falls, I saw a red blinky round the corner above the falls and thought to myself “victim #1”. Few things are more satisfying then overcoming someone in a race, even if it is a great friend. Jen & I shed a layer or two at the parking lot then continued up the hill. We planned to set a slightly more than moderate pace. The time trial would suit us both as an excellent warm up for the rough and tumble riding that awaited us on Pisgah’s East side. We came upon Erinna and Valerie and exchanged 2nd day race pleasantries with them. We passed them, they passed us and again and again. Finally, Jen & I got our groove on and turned it on. We arrived at Yellow Gap and Thad greeted us with a smile. We were not sure how we did on the TT so we asked Thad how many people were there before us – he said we were the first to arrive! Jen & I were stoked. We grabbed our day 2 instructions and began to plot our course.
As I figured, Eric’s placement of CP’s didn’t elicit joy in my mind or my saddle sores, but we were on a mission and here to do the job. Initially, our plan was to go for as many CP’s as possible, because we knew it would be hard to win without getting them all. Mills River Trail/Mullinax was day two’s mandatory CP and everything else was scattered to the North. We decided that an out and back was in order for the mandatory CP. Jen & I ate a kicking turkey/avocado/cheese sandwich and dropped 5015 (always makes me think of 5150/Van Hagar – Helllllo Baaaybee!) towards our first CP of Day 2:
CP1 – Field on South Mills River near bottom of Mullinax
Yellow Gap>5015>Bradley Creek>Laurel Creek>Squirrel Gap>
Mullinax>South Mills River
The ride down 5015 is always longer than I remember. We hit the bottom, I changed a strange flat on my front wheel then we crossed Bradley Creek and started up Laurel Creek trail. We did some pushing but kept a good pace. We hit squirrel gap trail and zoomed on down to Mullinax without any problems. We hit the intersection with Mullinax quicker than I anticipated. That field at the Mullinax/Squirrel Gap intersection has an interesting energy to it, like it pre dates history – it’s not a bad energy, but it seems different than other parts of the forest. We passed through the field, hit the trail re-route then dropped to S. Mills River and the CP where Dave Blalock waited patiently for the teams to arrive. He checked our passport and set us up for the special test: shooting a small target with a BB gun. Dave set up the gun, I lined up the target and bam – one shot. Dave gave us a bag of kick butt chips for hitting the target on the first shot. We knew our speed had to beat yesterdays effort so off we went to CP 2.
CP2 – Bear Branch Trail head@FS 5001
South Mills River>Mullinax>Squirrel Gap>Laurel Creek>Bradley Creek>
FS5015>FS1206>FS5000>FS5001>Bear Branch Trail Head
Jen & I rolled down Laurel Creek and were crossing the creek when I noticed Extreme tomato’s bike! I was in a slight daze and before even looking up from his bike laying next to Bradley Creek, I said “Johnathan”. Team Tomato was taking an obviously necessary safety break. Jen & I exchanged our usual race pleasantries with Team Tomato and inquired about their route. THEY HAD CROSSED TURKEY PEN! I looked at Johnothan with dismay. “Wow” was all I could muster out. We refilled out bladders and hit 5015 right after Team Tomato. We caught up to Jonathan’s partner but never caught Jonathan. He hauled butt up 5015. When we arrived at Yellow Gap, Jonathan was a little bummed that they rode right by the only mandatory CP of the day and had to backtrack to where they just came from. Ouch.
The ride down off of Yellow Gap towards Mills River is always fun. We started off down the hill. About halfway down, I noticed my rear tire was rubbing my frame…another broken flat bladed fancy pants spoke. What a pain in the butt those expensive spokes have turned out to be. I pulled over, analyzed the situation and wrapped that sucker around the opposing spokes tight enough to pull the wheel back into “almost true” so the tire would quit rubbing my newly fixed frame. Jen checked if I was ok as she sped by. I caught back up to her and we headed up to Bear Branch. We hit Bear Branch with no problems and started off for CP 3.
CP3 – Trace Ridge Trail@Spencer Gap Trail
Bear Branch trail head>FS5001>FS5000 (Wash Creek Rd)>Spencer Gap
Up, up and away, more up, more gravel, my sore arse and eating a big plate of Mexican Food was all I could think about. My spirits suddenly dipped low, in conjunction with my blood sugar. We pedaled up Wash Creek Rd. for what seemed like an eternity. I thought I knew Spencer Gap Trail fairly well but realized it was longer to the Trace Ridge intersection than I thought. We finally arrived. I was brain dead and Jen suggested that we take 5 and eat. Times like that are where an experienced adventure racer/friend/smart woman/excellent endurance athlete as a partner come in handy. I took Jen’s advice. We sat quietly eating Whoppers, chips from Dave at the mandatory CP, a couple sips of diet Pepsi, an oatmeal crème pie and probably more chips. We shot our CP proof photos and pushed up to the parkway.
CP – 4 Laurel Mountain@ NF/BRP Boundary
Trace Ridge>BRP>Laurel Mtn.
I was glad to see the pavement but forgot the 5 miles ahead of us was almost all uphill. I don’t know why I expected to not climb for a while, but I think my mind was still off in Mexican Food dream land. Jen could tell and suggested I stop again for a minute or two. I did as instructed and felt better. Ten minutes later, I was returning to normal race mode. My mission to finish, and finish well re-centered in my main thoughts again. On we went. We eventually hit the Laurel Mountain trail head off of the BRP. The traffic was terrible. Idiots, obviously. You know they were thinking the same about us. We were passed by a mid-size SUV twice. It had a Litespeed road bike on the roof rack and I thought to myself that it would be so much easier to be on a road bike now. Oh well, no such luck. There was an overlook at the trailhead and Marvin, Karen & new baby Mason were there having a picnic. It was great to see them. Karen is a local riding hero of mine. She kicks everyone’s butt with grace, kindness and class. Marvin does the same. There child will probably be an endurance machine! Thanks to Marvin for giving us a water bottle full of H2O. We started pushing down the trail and looking for the boundary marker. Eventually, we hit the switchbacks that were definitely beyond the NF boundary. Jen & I turned around to search for the marker thinking that maybe it was on the upside of a tree and we just didn’t notice it as we traveled down the trail. Nope. Thirty minutes later, I decided we spent enough time scouring the trail and took about ten pictures of trail identifiers that would prove to Eric we were there. Those pictures included some downfall, an “X” carved into a tree, a metal tag, rock piles and a few other things. Frustrated and anxious, we sought CP 5:
CP5 – Pilot Rock@Thompson Creek Trail Intersection
Laurel Mountain>Laurel Mtn. Connector>Pilot rock
Jen took over navigating. I was mentally spent after searching to no avail for the NF boundary which was CP 4. Jen led us up the connector trail and in no time we hit the CP at the Pilot Rock/Thompson Creek intersection. I ate more food and was looking forward to the kicking descent down Pilot Rock.
CP6 – Buckhorn Gap Shelter
Pilot Rock>FS1206>FS476>South Mills River Trail>Buckhorn Gap Trail
Jen’s husband (Ed Rinderle) and I had told Jen stories of pushing up Pilot Rock in a PMBAR race. All she could do was laugh and comment on how bad it had to hurt. We challenged ourselves in the wicked switchbacks and array of oddly shaped and oddly placed rocks. Jen rode most of the trail but kept laughing at the thought of the expression on Ed’s face while we pushed up in the PMBAR so long ago. It was about 4:15 and I was starting to worry about finishing on time. At Trace Ridge I told Jen that we needed to be at the bottom of Pilot Rock Trail by 4:00 PM in order to hit the two more checkpoints that were along our chosen route. We hit FS 1206 (Yellow Gap) road at 4:25ish. I was nervous.
To win, I knew we would need at least two more CP’s. It was just something I felt inside, but on the other hand, if we were late that would mean disqualification – and that would suck worse than not winning. We had a long way to go and a short time to get there…and we were out of water with no time to spare. During the morning TT up to Yellow Gap, I noticed a jug of water sitting on the big rocks at the intersection of FS1206 and FS476. Hopefully it was still there and Jen & I could refill our bottles. Luckily it was and it was unopened! We filled our bottles and accepted our gift of water gracefully.
Time to get serious. I was uncertain of how long it would take us to ride up the Buckhorn Gap Trail. I’ve ridden it a few times but my only memory of that trail was a winter day two years prior with the Goat himself – Jeremy Arnold/Heddrick.
Jeremy had hosted a few fellows from St. Louis and invited me along. We did about thirty miles in the wet snow that day and ended the loop with a climb up buckhorn from the South Mills River Trail. Quickly into the ride, we knew the St. Louis guys were bored with our slow pace so Jeremy explained the route and sent them on their way. Jeremy and I were pooped. Our spirits slowly sank into the mud and snow replicating the action of our knobby tires as our conversation spiraled down to grunts, then snorts then nothing at all. We both hit rock bottom and when we finally crested the trail to Buckhorn Gap we laid in the sun for about 20 minutes before we could even move or speak. It’s funny to recall, but it hurt like hell at the time…
With that as my prominent memory of Buckhorn Gap Trail, I was scared Jen & I would be pressing our luck to even make it back by the 6PM cut off. I stopped Jen and told her that we would have to ride faster and harder than we have all weekend to finish the race on time. Jen acknowledged and confirmed what I already knew…she was here to race and race hard. We kicked it down 476 and South Mills River Trail. As South Mills River started to climb, I kept telling Jen that we had to keep pushing on and on she went. I let her lead and kept telling her that our race was boiling down to this single climb. We stopped to cross a log and I asked for her pack. She didn’t hesitate. She threw me her pack and was off before I could even throw it over my back! It was cool to see Jen step up to another level of riding. She was out of the saddle and cranking up the trail faster and smoother than I had seen her ride all weekend! I knew she had it in her, but more importantly, she now realized that she had it in her as well! We hit a familiar spot on Buckhorn and I knew we were close to the top. Jen kept cranking and I kept shouting out encouragement and necessity of haste. We hit Buckhorn Gap in record speed and were both elated. We shot our CP proof picture of the Shelter and discussed our options.
I had never been to the Twin Falls CP and was uncertain how long it would take to get there and back, then down Clawhammer to the finish line. It was now 5:15. Although the entire route was downhill and the additional CP was just a mile or so off of Clawhammer, we opted for the safety of going straight back to the finish. What if we had a flat or other mechanical and didn’t make the cut off? We chose well and headed to the finish line.
Finish Line – North White Pines Campground
We arrived to various cheers and Mike Brown madly ringing a cow bell. We had about thirty minutes to spare if you added time from the mornings staggered start. Our race was completed, the task accomplished.
Two days in Pisgah, 138 miles, 22 some odd hours, 24,000 + feet climbing, saddle sores, scrapes, bruises, broken bike parts, tired eyes and smiles from ear to ear. Nothing in the world beats the feeling of finishing a race like the Double Dare…nothing.
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