Put the names Eric Weaver, bike event and Pisgah National Forest together and you will have something evil. Eric comes up with some pretty wicked events and the Monster Cross, although probably the easiest of Pisgah Productions events, filled the bill. 70 miles, 10K feet of elevation gain, gravel roads, a long section of the Blue Ridge Parkway... Yummy.
I lined up with Megan, Anet Lamberson (sans Bob) and Michael Ritter (a good friend and former Dr Skip's Medicine Show teammate) and a hundred or two other assorted crazies and soon enough we were off.
After a short section of road we turned into the first section of FS road and I immediately jam my chain into my spokes. Crap! Maybe in addition to training, I should have also looked at the bike closer. Once I got that fixed, I found myself in DFL and chasing the main group down. Uh.... what am I doing that for? Didn't I just mention that I haven't trained much lately? I need to back off and just ride. Unfortunately it took me until I caught a good portion of the pack before coming to that conclusion...
The race becomes a ride now.
That would soon change. I was riding a climb about 4 miles from CP1 with Michael and when I stood up, my seat just felt funny. Well it should have felt funny because a bolt in the seatpost broke and it flopped around like a dead fish. I failed to see anything philosophical or funny about that. I was beyond screwed. I managed to get it set to where it was at least somewhat stable as long as I sat on it and I rode onto the CP. Descending on gravel roads while staying firmly seated is kind like trying to walk while holding a roll of quarters in your buttcheeks.. It ain't easy. I got passed by tons of people: little old ladies with walkers, a pack of Girl Scouts on bikes, a herd of turtles and two kids on strider bikes (would have been three but I shoved the third one into the weeds - don't judge). I made it to the check and a guy from Liberty Cycles zip-tied my seat and got it at least rideable.
I decided to try it, what did I have to lose?
The ride now becomes about survival.
I had 26 miles on the BRP and then mostly down to the finish. Sweet right? Yes, but I (along with others) missed a crucial turn that was poorly marked and after climbing about an hour after the turn I missed, I found myself atop a ridge looking dead ahead at the Smokies..... I was pretty sure I was waaay beyond screwed now. Turning back, I wanted to quit. I had no idea really where the turn was and I was sick of climbing and out of food and almost no water. Time to "nut up" and finish this thing. I found the turn and was greeted with several glorious miles of paved DOWWWWN. Yes!" The best thing was there were still people on the "70 mile route coming to the turn and I was now assured of not finishing LAST! Yay me!
The final 16 miles were part gravel, partly paved and had a couple of short, steep climbs and was pure joy -not. I got to the final 5 mile section of pavement and put my bike in the big ring and pushed as hard as I could. My suitcase of courage was empty so I tore the bottom out of it.
I finished. I don't know how long, I don't care. I finished and that's enough. Megan finished the 70 mile ride (hahahahaha, I'm gonna call it that now) a little ahead of me and that made me happy. Michael and Anet did well too. None of us crashed and it was a good day!
Thank God for zip ties.