Our intrepid racers David and Chris (as you’ll recall, David works in Marketing, while Chris is in our Bikes division) are safely back in the office after their adventure at the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race, and they’ve picked up where they left off last week with recaps of their long days in the saddle. Today Chris offers up his take on Stage 3, which included the famed Farlow Gap descent:
Stage 3 of the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race had us up early to catch a shuttle to the start at a campground a few miles away from our normal departure point at the base of the Black Mountain descent. As you can see by the map below, our return route to the finish line wasn’t exactly a straight line (things in Pisgah never are!):
But everything was well-organized and there were plenty of trailers on-hand that were specifically designed to carry bicycles. This way none of our fancy-pants bikes would end up with more scratches on them than we would later inflict upon them as we descended down the infamous Farlow Gap (last year we missed out on this bit of trail because it was covered in ice–what a difference a year and about 40 degrees makes!)
Once all of the bikes were safely stowed, we piled into waiting passenger vans and headed out!
As tom-foolery and pre-race banter filled the back of the vans, our loyal volunteers drove us to our remote starting location where Todd (the race organizer) had another surprise in store for us: somersaults. Not content to simply start us on a grueling mountain bike stage with a stream crossing about 100 yards in, we had to first perform a somersault (or cart-wheel) in a designated area, then run and find our bikes. Despite virtually no training in this area of mountain biking, we succeeded and were on our way (with surprisingly no injuries sustained).
The trail eventually took us to the dreaded Farlow Gap where we found a rocky descent the likes of which we had never seen before. It all culminated in a series of stream crossings like the one below. We saddled up and jumped the streams of course.
But what’s the fun of telling you about the riding, when I can show you a sampling of the sweet trails we got to ride this day (shot with our GoPro HD HERO camera). So while there was a lot of fire road to slog through on this stage, plus quite a few sections of singletrack that we had to walk in order to avoid something catastrophic, we were usually amply rewarded with miles of some of the best trails that you can find anywhere in the world:
The one constant through all of the varied and difficult terrain was the high spirits of the volunteers. At each aid station (there were 3 per stage) we were treated like kings. As we rolled up to the tent, they would rush towards us asking if there was anything we needed while retrieving our aid station bags (which we packed to send ahead) and filling our Camelbaks for us. It was sweet luxury after hours in the saddle to have food waiting for us and more than a little positive attitude to raise our spirits.
While this was a long day, we had no idea that the next day would be even longer and that we would appreciate the aid stations more than ever. Still, with an elevation profile like this one it’s no wonder we slept like babies that night.
Totals for the day: 43.34 miles, 8,823 ft of elevation gained, and 6 hours 40 minutes on the bike (I think the pro winner, Jeremiah Bishop, finished up in around 4 hours or so).