Pisgah MTB Stage Race – Stage 2

Another day down at the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race. Today was hailed as the “Queen Stage” and it certainly lived up to that moniker. We rode 38.24 miles and climbed 8,912 feet!  Here I (David) am trying to stay upright on a side-slope & rooty trail (most of the pictures are of me, since Chris was usually way ahead of me and had time to set up camera shots)!

The tree branches grabbed at our arms constantly as we battled our way across Squirrel Gap. The trail has been called “half-track” because it’s not wide enough to justify the name “single track”.  But at least the weather was perfect this year, instead of last year when this stage was cold, wet, and generally miserable (made especially so since I broke one of my pedals halfway through the stage).  Here I am battling through the foliage (I’m right in the middle, hiding Where’s Waldo-style):

Fire roads served to ferry us from one section of trail to another all day. This sounds like a pleasant break from the brutal single track, but in fact Todd (the race promoter) uses the technical ease of the fire roads to get away with making them 7+ mile climbs. Below you can see me suffering up climb number three (today).  You may also notice the odd protuberance from the top of my helmet–that’s our GoPro HD Helmet Hero camera, which we used to shoot some cool footage from the stage today (we’ll post a movie on our Youtube channel soon):

Our closest rivals (with whom we are engaged in a fierce competition for who gets to be last place in the team competition) Tom and Karen were celebrating a wedding anniversary today. Here Karen showcases her trademark good humor and optimism on top of Black Mountain, despite having just gone through a half hour of hike-a-bike (and calling it hike-a-bike really doesn’t do it justice):

We had to push our bikes a quite a bit today, but small consolation was the view from the top on the way to the Black Mountain descent.  Here we are posing with our GT Sensor 9rs, which we put through quite the workout today:

We finished the stage today in 5 hours 44 minutes, an improvement of an hour and half over last year!  Here’s a map of the stage, showing the out-and-back course:

And here’s the elevation profile (those last peaks are the hike-a-bike sections, leading to that final ripping descent off Black Mountain):

We’ll be up early tomorrow to catch the shuttle to the start of Stage 3, which includes the fearsome Farlow Gap (although Todd says it has an overblown reputation, as the hard part is only about 100 yards of rock ledge dropoffs… onto more rocks).

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