Bee free in the trees - Off Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell race rept- Mtbr.com
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    Bee free in the trees - Off Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell race rept

    (x-post from passion. ok, before anyone gets the wacky idea that i pulled out La Belle Dame en Rose for this epic let me disabuse you of that notion. i took my fully with 27 gears and pretty much used every single one of them. BUT, there were more than a handful of ss'ers there including both One Gear Guy and Teamdicky so i thought you guys might be interested...)

    11,000+ vertical feet climbed
    ~4000 calories burned
    1400 calories of Gu consumed (~14 packets)
    64 miles ridden
    more sore muscles than I care to count
    8 hrs 50 minutes total ride time (8h 06m rolling time)
    2 creeks forded...about 9 times
    a handful of bumps, scrapes, and bruises
    1 gi-normous saddle sore
    0 major mechanicals or flats
    0 major crashes

    and best of all...

    ZERO evil bees encountered!!

    Sunday was the 6th annual Off-Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell - an opportunity to race every trail and every fireroad in Pisgah Nat'l forest in a single day. Well, maybe not every trail & fireroad but by hour 6 it sure feels like you?ve been on every single one.

    This was my 3rd appearance at the ORAMM. My first appearance qualified as the hardest thing I'd ever done (sorry, link to old race report died). My second attempt ended after 1.5 hrs due to a close encounter between my gluteus maximus and an angry yellow jacket (linkey here). So, I was back this year to extract vengence on all bees. Or, more likely, because I don't know any better than to continue torturing myself over and over again...but in a good way, of course.

    My goal was to finish in between 7 and 8 hours (my 1st year it took me 9h 18min) but a "minor" course change that took the 55 mile course up to 64 miles required an reassessed estimate of completion time. Reassessed estimate: finish sometime before dark. Ok, not really. I adjusted my goal time to an ideal of 8.5 hrs and a maximum of anything less than 9 hours. I couldn?t bear the thought of not beating my time from my first year - I didn?t care if the race was now 100 miles longer. I still wanted to finish in less time than 2 years ago!


    AN the "helpful" cat aiding my packing.

    While loading the car the night before the race I found one of these...


    Which I carefully placed into the zip pocket of my camelbak. With such a good omen I had high hopes of reaching my finishing goal and staying away from all stinging insects.

    Race day dawned cool and misty.


    On the way to the race.

    At the starting area it was impressive to see how this race has grown over the past few years. My first year there were maybe 75 like-minded lunatics willing to kill a Sunday riding every trail in western NC. Last year that number had jumped to 175, and this year the group had grown to 260 maschocists on bikes of all kinds and colors - singlespeeds (go Teamdicky!!), 29ers (wooo hoo, One Gear Guy!), FS race bikes (um, that'd be me), rigid steel frames, HTs (Chad, Marc, Z, too many to list), there was probably even an old school cruiser out there somewhere (I didn't see one but that doesn?t mean it wasn?t there). Kudos to Todd for running an awesome event that looks like it will keep growing and growing.

    In past years the course looked a bit like a lollypop: the group headed out of Old Fort, NC along paved road and then immediately onto singletrack that took you up and over Kitsuma Peak. From there you headed out onto a long loop that hurt you with a series of brutal switchbacks going up Heartbreak Ridge to Star Gap and then broke your spirit with an even more brutal 9 mile climb from h#ll up Curtis Creek Rd - the longest, most god-awful fireroad climb ever ridden on a mtb. At the top of Curtis Creek you hopped over the Blue Ridge Parkway, decended, climbed, crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway again, hit a nasty little hike-a-bike and finally, when you are almost too tired to really appreciate it, the best singletrack descent in Pisgah: Heartbreak Ridge. Feeling somewhat rejuvenated you embark on a fireroad climb that will take you back to the stick of the lollypop: the base of Kitsuma Peak which you now climb in reverse (relative to what you did in the morning). The last 4 miles are pavement back to finish where a soak in a cool creek, beer & burritos await.



    However, because the logistics of simultaneously cramming the ever-growing number of racers onto one small bit of singletrack at the base of Kitsuma to start had proved in years past to be nothing short of a complete and utter clusterf*** the course was altered slightly this year and the group began the race by riding up an ancient and no longer used paved (aka, cracked, broken, weeds growing up through it paved) "highway" that also takes you up to the top of Kitsuma Peak albeit adding 9 miles to the overall race distance.



    This initial road-ish climb would, in theory, spread out the group and hopefully resolve some of the log-jam encountered at the trailhead in previous years.

    My plan was to start slow and stay steady, eat every 30 minutes, drink sufficiently, avoid all insects that even remotely resembled a bee/wasp/yellow jacket/yellow & black striped thing, and, most importantly have fun.

    We rolled out from the start in into the mist and the race was on. At the end of the first mile the lead car pulled off and the race officially began. The hammer heads began to hammer and the group started to split. Suddenly there was sound of tires skidding, a lot of yelling and I am quickly approaching the riders in front of me. BRAKE CHECK!!!!! WTF?! Yup, my brakes definitely work. Fortunately no one went down and I learned later that a dog ran across the road in front of the lead group causing everyone to slam on their brakes.

    I am happily cruising along in what feels like somewhere mid to back of the pack warming up. At times I feel like I must be standing still as people rush past me trying to get toward the front. Am I dead last? I ask my friend Marc as he catches me. He says that the group has also split behind us and there is a huge group further back. We ride along and chat for a bit before he moves forward.

    The climb up the old highway is uneventful and does the trick to spread the group out so that by the time I hit the singletrack climb up Kitsuma I am in little danger of being run down by some adrenaline fuled knuckle-dragger who is pissed that he couldn?t hang with the lead group and is going to take it out on everyone else on the first bit of singletrack.

    My legs feel good and I am pleased with how I'm riding. I know the course well enough from here to know what to expect and I am prepared when the climb up Kitsuma turns into a 3-step climb with 2 false summits before the real top. I hum "Be my Vest" from the Simpsons. I begin the descent and as I hit the sketchiest part I can hear brakes and skidding on the loose dirt/mud/rocks behind me. "Please don?t run me over!" I call out as I clean the top of the section. I wisely decide to walk the drop and am back on my bike heading down toward the first SAG stop about an hour and 40 minutes after I start. This is a bit slower than I anticipate but it is 16 miles to the first SAG instead of 10 as it was in past years and I am feeling warmed up and ready for what lies ahead.

    At the 1st SAG I quickly throw out my empty gel wrappers, grab 2 new gels and am off. Over the train tracks (apparently the lead group got split earlier when a train came through and only 1/2 the group made it across the tracks while the other half had to stand and wait for 10 min for the train to pass), and onto the hike-a-bike switchbacks of lower Heartbreak Ridge.

    The weather, misty and in the upper 70s, is perfect. The mist and cloud cover keep things relatively cool but the moisture makes the regularly slick switchbacks even more precarious. I must be stronger than last year as I am able to ride far more than I recall. I ride past the spot of last years attack of the killer bee and celebrate as I continue on.


    Pfffth!

    The mist hanging over the mountains obscures the gorgeous views. I have settled into a pace and am now seeing many of the same people over and over. I chat with a girl who is taking a break from racing road ? she?s strong on the climbs and fireroads but I keep catching her on the descents and technical sections. I ride with a guy on a very pretty steel IF with a very cool paint job. We all cruise along Star Gap as the mist continues.


    View no one saw

    I roll into the 2nd SAG ready for a quick stop. A bottle of 1/2 strength endurox to fortify me for the climb up Curtis Creek Rd that starts just after the SAG and a refill on gels. I hand off the empty packets to one of the girls I remember from last year, grab my bag from the pile, find my bottle and ask for water. "Sorry, we're out of water right now. More should be coming soon." HUH?! How can they be out of water?! There is a lot of grumbling from riders who are forced to wait. I consider skipping my endurox but realize that this would be far more detrimental on the long climb to come than waiting an extra few minutes. Besides, it's not like I?m in contention for first!! I?m doing this as a level 2 training ride for fun. I can wait.

    About 2 minutes later more water arrives. I fill my endurox bottle, slam it down (I can't take it with since I have no bottle cage on my bike

    nope, no room for a bottle cage)
    and I'm off to conquer the 9 mile climb up Curtis Creek Rd. I remember this climb from my first year as being the most hellacious thing I had ever done and I was forced to stop 3 times on the way up just to get the pressure off my butt. Surprisingly, this time it wasn?t that bad. Don't get me wrong, it was long and torturous and seemed never to end. Not to mention, at one point I went to wipe something off my face and nearly fainted from the smell of my glove. But it really wasn't that bad. I started at the bottom chatting with a guy who had just moved to Raleigh, NC from Houston and both he & his wife are school teachers. We rode & chatted for a while and then at some point I looked over and he was no longer there.

    At just about the point where I thought the climb really would go on forever I saw the gate indicating that the top was near. I was riding with another guy (Tim, I think?) and we were right behind the roadie girl. We all gave a big "woooo hoooo!" as we emerged from the trees and crosssed over the Blue Ridge Parkway to the 3rd SAG stop. I had estimated that the climb would take me 1.5 hrs. Sure enough, when I looked at my stop watch on my HRM it said 1:31. Happily I grabbed another bottle of endurox, switched out my empty camelbak bladder for a full one, threw away more empty gel packets, and restocked my pockets. Best of all, I pulled on a pair of clean, dry gloves...just in time for the mist to turn to pouring rain. *sigh*. (Note to self: burn old gloves to remove stench).

    The descent after Curtis Creek Rd in no way makes the climb worthwhile, and doing it in the pouring rain did nothing to add positively to the experience. I shivered my way down the mtn and back up the other side, popping out an hour later, once again at the Blue Ridge Parkway. The rain had turned back to heavy mist and the parkway was eerie and foggy.


    mmmmmmmmist

    Many thanks to Jeremy for finding my baggie of goodies, including yet another pair of dry clean gloves (sometimes I'm sooo smart! ) and standing there while I stared into the bag like I'd never seen any of my stuff before.

    Back on my bike I headed off up the parkway. Only 20-ish more miles to go. Tim caught me as I crawled along and we rode together, wondering if we'd missed our turn in the murky weather. Our turn back into the woods soon appeared out of the mist, marked with about 80 safety-orange ribbons, a giant sign and a large truck. Into the woods, off the bike, and up a short hiking trail. This hike-a-bike sucks. It's steep, it's slippery, and it's 40+ miles into the ride when my formerly 23 lb bike had obviously become impregnated by the mist and suddenly weight about 230 lbs. My energy was starting to wane and I was hitting the point of just wanting to be done. I slogged up the trail, stopping occasionally to stretch my back.

    The top of this hiking trail dumps you out at the top of the Heartbreak Ridge descent. I love this descent but I am so tired that I just want to be done. I've hit my low point. My heart rate is down, and I find myself thinking, 'I could happily be done at the bottom of this trail. No need to go another 10+ miles. Really. I'd be perfectly satisfied.' I mark the spot where I endoed my first year doing this race and continue on. I know I am tired and I am descending slowly and probably more cautiously than necessary. The trail has now been subjected to 260 people going up it and at least 1/2 that number coming back down, plus a good rain soaking so the slick, muddy switchbacks from the morning more closely resemble slick, muddy death traps. I walked 75% of them and still nearly bust my @ss in each one.

    I pop out at the bottom of the trail suddenly invigorated. I'm almost done! Only the dreaded climb up Kitsuma, but after that it?s all down hill. I zoom (or at least I feel like I'm zooming) into the final SAG, jump off my bike and ask if they have any chain lube. A bottle is procured and one of the many kind volunteers wipes down my chain and slathers a new coat of grease over the remaining grit and grime. I hand off a few more empty gel packets and, feeling ready to conquer the next 10 miles, start the final leg of my jouney: the fire road climb back up to Kitsuma, the climb up, descent off of Kitsuma, and the final 3 paved miles back to Old Fort.

    Within minutes it is pouring. "Enough with this rain!!" I yell at the sky. The song Rain King by the Counting Crows jumps into my head - 'I-yi-yi ammmmm the raiiiiiinnnnn king, yeaaaaah!' - then another song off that same CD, Round Here. I know all the words to Round Here so I start at the beginning and sing off-key and out loud as I ride up the fire road in the rain. I blank on the words as I hear someone coming up from behind me. Good thing too, since with my singing voice he probably would have gone deaf if he'd heard me. He passes me and I keep him in my sight for the rest of the climb. By the time I reach the top of the road the rain has stopped.

    I catch up to a girl at the base of the trail and we hike/ride together up Kitsuma trading lead periodically. We begin the descent together but she is braver than I am. I ask if she is racing Masters and she says no. I let her go and keep my own pace. My arms are cramping from braking (even with disk brakes!!) and my legs feel enough like jelly that I have to stop once during my descent to prevent collapse.

    At the bottom of the trail one of the volunteers is directing people back towards town. I greet her with a whoop, throw it into the big ring and start my final 3 miles to the finish. I am thrilled to discover that it is mostly downhill and I hit my fastest speed of the day (30.5 mph) nearly overtaking a car in the process. I follow the signs back into Old Fort as the sun finally makes an appearance and come through the finishing straight 8 hrs and 50 minutes (8 hrs 6 min rolling time) after leaving the same spot earlier that day.

    In the end I achieved all my goals: I finished 30 minutes faster (for 9 miles more!) than the last time I did the race, I avoided all stinging insects, and I came across the finish line with a smile on my face!


    i'm not sure that's actually a smile but i was happy to be done

    Oh, and as an added bonus, I finished 3rd for Master Women. (not sure what my overall placing was since the results aren?t yet posted.)

    Congrats to Chad for an incredibly strong top 20 finish in Men?s Open, Marc for an equally strong finish in Masters, Eric for a strong finish right behind Chad, and Z for 2nd in Men?s Masters. None of these guys had ever done the race before. One Gear Guy and Teamdicky, it was awesome meeting both of you face to face finally.

    As always many thanks to all my kick @ss sponsors: Titus Cycles, Answer Manitou, Outback Bikes, Crankbros, and Team 180s.

    Maybe I should take up endurance racing?

    rt
    Last edited by *rt*; 08-04-2005 at 11:11 AM.
    "where are you not going so fast?" (question asked to cyclist on a trainer)

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  2. #2
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  3. #3
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Maybe I should take up endurance racing?

    rt
    Good job! Now come out and ride the Cream Puff next year!
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  4. #4
    i worship Mr T
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacman
    thanks. my bookmark no longer works. hmmm.

    rt
    "where are you not going so fast?" (question asked to cyclist on a trainer)

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    Good job! Now come out and ride the Cream Puff next year!
    as they say down here in the south, i might could do that.

    rt
    "where are you not going so fast?" (question asked to cyclist on a trainer)

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  6. #6
    the cool nerd
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    As If......

    Quote Originally Posted by *rt*
    (x-post from passion. ok, before anyone gets the wacky idea that i pulled out La Belle Dame en Rose for this epic let me disabuse you of that notion.


    any of us would get that whacky idea....

    Great report! looks like a blast, but I'm betting that it hurts more than you let on...
    "The search for a perfect pint should take lifetime." M.Jackson

    Ride bikes, not goats. Just good advice

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sportsman
    any of us would get that whacky idea....

    Great report! looks like a blast, but I'm betting that it hurts more than you let on...
    as if!

    it's a good painful time & it's calling your name. can't you hear it? ohhhhhh scott...come play in pisgah!

    rt
    "where are you not going so fast?" (question asked to cyclist on a trainer)

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  8. #8
    the cool nerd
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    Quote Originally Posted by *rt*
    ohhhhhh scott...come play


    rt

    Oh c'mon!! That's cheating!

    I'm only a man
    Last edited by sportsman; 08-04-2005 at 01:17 PM.
    "The search for a perfect pint should take lifetime." M.Jackson

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  9. #9
    paintbucket
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    Quote Originally Posted by sportsman
    Oh c'mon!! That's cheating!

    I'm only a man
    If you want to come play at Pisgah, you're going to need a bike with bigger wheels. Five of the seven SS's that I can think of were 29ers.
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  10. #10
    the cool nerd
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    Quote Originally Posted by wooglin
    If you want to come play at Pisgah, you're going to need a bike with bigger wheels. Five of the seven SS's that I can think of were 29ers.
    well, at the moment that is just a deal buster, I was about to buy my airline ticket, but that's before I knew that I had to buy a new bike.

    orrrr...maybe I'm just full of myself and I think that me and my little 26" wheels can keep up with anyone..little less weight to throw on the shoulder for the inevitable jog-a-bikes...
    "The search for a perfect pint should take lifetime." M.Jackson

    Ride bikes, not goats. Just good advice

  11. #11
    paintbucket
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    Quote Originally Posted by sportsman
    well, at the moment that is just a deal buster, I was about to buy my airline ticket, but that's before I knew that I had to buy a new bike.

    orrrr...maybe I'm just full of myself and I think that me and my little 26" wheels can keep up with anyone..little less weight to throw on the shoulder for the inevitable jog-a-bikes...
    Well now that I think about it some, both those little wheeled bikes finished in front of all those big wheeled bikes. So maybe you'll be ok after all.....
    When the going gets weird its bedtime.

  12. #12
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    LALALALALALALA *fingers in ears* Not gonna read the gearies race report....













    Muddy, heavy bikes suck all the strength out of you. Good job!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by screampint
    LALALALALALALA *fingers in ears* Not gonna read the gearies race report....













    Muddy, heavy bikes suck all the strength out of you. Good job!
    LOL
    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    thanks sar.

    rt
    "where are you not going so fast?" (question asked to cyclist on a trainer)

    *rt*'s fabulous blog
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