The final stage had a bit different kind of layout. Instead of starting at a start line and finishing there two we did a point to point.
Blue Ridge Adventures, with the help of other local bike shops and shuttles transported all 80 racers and their bikes to the top of Gloucester Gap. We then rode up Butter Gap and started just below the Outward Bound School.
I couldn’t have asked for better weather for the last day, or all week. From the start we headed up Pilot Mtn a 20min climb off the line. I knew that if Tristan or I were going to throw some moves down this is where it was going to be. Sure enough about 5 min in Tristan got to the front and put some pressure on. With almost 3min gap I just grabbed his wheel and clung to it like a fat kid on cake.
We came over the top together over the top and then picked our way down Farlow Gap, which was riding really well, still chunky and loose but better than the other time I did it. Here is one of the technical bits that I managed to ride that I didn’t ride last time I rode Farlow. I will say that someone kicked a few rocks away and made this stair case easier.
From Farlow it was up the 475C forest service rd. Tristan and I rode tempo to the top of Bracken and then went for the Enduro. I started in the front because Tristan said he was running on E at the top. However, about 1/4 of the way down he took over. I guess he had watched me botched too many corners by that point that it didn’t matter if he was depleted. Sure enough the pace quickened and we rallied to the bottom for my fastest time down bracken. This put me in 2nd in the Eunduro over overall, Tristan 3rd, and local working man hero/fast guy Burk Saundes taking the win. He was the guy that stood Tristan and I up on the podium most nights because after every stage he had to get back to I9 and put more time in! And he still kicked our butts.
After the race everyone was just hanging out at the music center. I grabbed the first beer I could find, which was a Dale’s, and waited for Emmy to come in. She was having a great day. Winning the stage and putting her back in 2nd in the overall.
Stage 5 video recap!
After taking advantage of the shower in the RV we hung out until 3 for the awards and more beer and food from Hob Nob.
By this point the entire field knew each other, at least by sight, and it felt like just a big party with all your friends. It was awesome. I have to say a huge thanks to Blue Ridge Adventures for putting on such a great event. The courses were marked so well and the other aspects of the weekend were extremely well organized. Thanks to all the employees and volunteers that made the week possible too. Everything came together and gelled to make the week one never to forget. I can’t wait until next year!
And how about these awesome awards?! So cool. A local artist from Georgia, who made the award I won 2.5 years ago, made all the podium awards again and they are sweet. I am excited to hang it up some where to remind me daily of how great the week was.
Emily and I had to bail on the after party at REEB Ranch. Oskar Blues put on a big food truck competition at REEB Ranch, just outside of Dupont State Park. 20 food trucks, lots of Oskar Blues beer, and a few bands with head liner “Shovels & Rope”. I was bummed to miss it but also happy to head back to Winston. My dad came down from PA on Thursday so it was nice to finally set down and not have to worry about getting up at the crack of dawn the next morning.
Again, such a good week with awesome people and I couldn’t be happier that I ended up winning, Emily ended up 2nd, and there were no mechanicals.