This morning we headed up 276, further into the heart of Pisgah, for the stage start at the Cradle of Forestry, which is an iconic place in conservation forest history and provided the location for America’s first school of forestry. Wilderness areas throughout the nation wouldn’t be like they are today without the Cradle.
We took off in a balmy 45 degrees. but the weather warmed up and, once again, we lucked out with the weather!
Today was 31.5 miles and over 4,000 feet of climbing. Halfway through the course, there was a 10 mile climb, almost 7 of which are single track. Then the Enduro Segment down Pilot Rock followed and consisted of east coast rock garden DH for 10+min, which resulted in moto-ish arm pump.
The first 4.5 miles were all dirt road and the field pretty much stayed together. Then we headed up for 2 miles or so on Funnel Top, down Horse Cove, and left on Squirrel Gap. Tristan and I managed to distance ourselves from the other riders on Squirrel Gap and kept the tempo on through mile 18 when we hit the 7mile single track climb, Laurel Mtn, to the top of Pilot Rock. I tried to put some pressure on in the technical sections but Tristan would bring back any gap I managed by the un rideable section. He had his hiking boots on and gunned me down on the hike-a-bike, came around me at the top and put the pressure on me for the last 1/2 mile.
I managed to hang on and I am glad I did because Tristan was ripping down Pilot. I was glad to follow his lines, I am sure he has seen the descent a few more times than me and it paid off. I feel like we put a decent time in on DH, which, consequently, was the enduro section.
We ended up coming in together keeping my time gap at 3min flat.
After my race I was mentally egging Emmy on to get in and finish so we could go scope out the Velvet Cup (coffee truck) in the HUB’s (a bike shop) parking lot.
Em had a rough day. She suffered a flat due to a loose valve stem, but fixed it with some help from a friendly fellow trail user. Then she buried herself to get back some time, which depleted her for the descent. This descent was not a good one to come into blown. Even to ride it slow took some focus and quick/clever line choices. So she didn’t have the best day but not all is lost. She slipped to 3rd in GC but second is still insight. Especially, with the big climb and descent up Farlow Gap tomorrow, early in the race.
Back to donuts… Luckily, they were in the parking lot. Emmy and I b-lined it there for a dozen cinnamon sugar d’s made right in front of our eyes. Their life span was short and didn’t live to see the next 5min.
Back to the Rv park for daily bike maintenance, relaxation, duck feeding, prep for tomorrow, and trying to hold back the urge to eat everything in sight. BTW I don’t feed the ducks Honey Nut Cheerios. They just get Cherrios. I do not endorse or promote the development of diabetes even in water fowl.
Back to the music center for dinner, beer, awards and most importantly the “Land of Sky Media” video recap, which hasn’t been posted yet. But I will splatter it all over my socials when it goes up.
Stage 5 tomorrow. Pilot Mtn off the start line, Farlow gap, Daniels Ridge, and finish with Bracken Mtn as the enduro section. Can’t wait! The final battle royal.