Saturday, May 11, 2024

PMBAR '24 Preface, Prologue, and Foreword

One by one, the rest of the Yinzers arrived. Well, actually, it wasn't that dramatic. Rob got there, and then a bit later, Montana and Colleen pulled up in their yellow Scrumbler (a Jeep). It was just those three, but I've always wanted to use that "one by one" bit.

The first order of business was getting tents set up, and then we sat around for a while delaying the inevitable 1,000 foot climb up to Black Mountain on our afternoon ride.

For our afternoon ride, we left right from the campsite and started up Avery Creek Road, before turning onto Clawhammer, a closed road that leads up to Black Mountain Trail. I'll be honest, I know Pisgah pretty decent now, but the whole Clawhammer climb confuses me. I never know what turns are what, and they all seem to the same but different locations. Either way, we took a turn or two and ended up at the top of Lower Black. The last time Montana rode in Pisgah was about 10 years ago, and since then, Black Mountain had completely changed, so for him, it was like riding a new trail. From what I heard, Black used to be a lot gnarlier and more of a "fall-line" type trail, whereas now, it's more of a switchback and berms type of trail.

The post ride refreshments and food were at Ecusta, a little brewery right near the forest. It was pretty good, not the best ever, but certainly above average. Of course, in celebration of it being almost Cinco de Mayo, I elected to have Mexican-inspired drinks and not beer.

After dinner, we decided we wanted to have a fire but realized we had no wood, and the wood at the campground gets locked up at 8pm. It was after 8pm.

We drove to a gas station that had wood outside for sale, and the manager was still inside, but when we knocked on the door, he said he was closed. How sad. And he missed out on a sale.

Off to Walmart we went. Rob and I hurriedly walked through the store in search of wood, and after an initial fruitless search, we found a few bundles of firewood. Success.

In anticipation of some rainy nights to come, we decided to have a fire Thursday night. Our premonitions with rain ended up being partially right.

On Friday we set-off to do another ride. I dislike the term "pre-ride" because that makes it seem like some super serious racer dude going out to scout the course. Yuck. We just went out to ride our bikes.

I made the route, and I assured them it would not be too hard. I was mostly right, although it did end up being just north of 30 miles.

The bridge was out at Wolf Ford, so we had a little extra adventure crossing the creek. Of course, if you're familiar with Pisgah at all, you'd know that water crossings are par for the course.

After the water crossing, we started on Squirel Gap Trail. It's easily one of my favorite trails, and it's a long one, too. It starts with a not-so-friendly climb up from the creek, followed by miles of undulating rocky and Rooty terrain. Well, maybe undulating is too mellow of a descriptor, but it really seems to flow nicely even though it's the furthest thing from a "flow trail".

After Squirrel Gap, we took Mullinax toward the Turkeypen Trailhead. Mullinax is a really fun descent that has some deep ruts, plenty of roots, and some fun little kickers. Some would say it's getting "washed out", but I prefer to say it adds just the right amount of spice to life.

It was health-food night after the ride, which for me meant ordering the most unhealthy food possible from an otherwise healthy-food establishment. Fried tomato, fried jalapeño, and a burger with a bunch of fries. Despite being only 23, the jalapeño gave me quite the indigestion. 0 out of 10 would not recommend. Other than the spicy pepper, though, it was a pretty good place.

That night we hung out at the other Ohiopyle crew campsite for a bit and talked "strategy" (massive air-quotes) for the following day. 

We went back to our campsite and were pleasantly surprised by it still not raining, so we got another fire going. Chris J. stopped by a bit later with his friend Eric and we chatted about the race and what trails to avoid.

After we went to bed, apparently Dicky's friend Nick had some serious brake trouble, in the form of his olive popping out of his caliper and spewing oil everywhere. At 10pm the night before the race. Dicky texted everyone at our campsite, but we were all in bed already. Luckily, he was able to find someone who had some brake tools, and they got it fixed up. I've heard of race-night issues, but popping an olive out of a caliper is something new to me. Either way, I was sound asleep when this was all happening.

Next up is the actual race. Or brake-pad destroying ride. Or rain-fest. Or whatever you want to call it.

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