A serving of the Extra Large Nasty.
From PMBAR start/finish->Thrift Cove->Black Mountain->Buckwheat Knob->Bennett Gap->477->Clawhammer->Maxwell->Black back to the PMBAR start/finish.
Droid stats: 19.25 miles, 5935' elevation gain, 20.3 max speed, 5.9 avg speed.
What an awesome day in the woods that was. After being off the bike for two weeks because of work, weather, and getting used to Erinna's new night shift schedule I decided that the way to shake the cobwebs out of my legs was by hitting Pisgah with a ride that would make most beginners and out-of-towners whimper.
I started at just about 7:30 at the PMBAR start/finish and decided to change things up a little bit. I had 4.5 hours to spend so why not start with Thrift Cove? I was surprised by 1. how steep Thrift is in places and 2. How quickly I was at the turn to Black Mountain. I also overshot a little here-to-there on the one descent and decided to take it easy rather than let it all hang out for the rest of the day. I gave the middle section of Black my all but was off the bike for just about everything past Pressley Gap to Turkey Pen. The entire way though my eyes were looking forward and I kept up a steady 1..2 1..2 1..2 pace. Over the top and through the serious switchbacks and even past the overlooks went by with resolve, I was on the bike headed downhill like a man on a mission. I even went right through Buckhorn Gap without a break. I did decide, however, to stop at the shelter for a breather and half a sandwich:
I thought to myself: 'I'm feeling good. No reason to stay any longer than necessary' and kept on keepin' on... The best part about that is I really started to feel good at that point. Not fast,mind you, but good. I cleaned everything but the steps all the way to Club Gap. No rest at the gap but I did have to get off the bike a couple of times before Buckwheat Knob. The descent to Bennett Gap was cautious but again I cleaned everything (and that's saying something since I haven't cleaned the top in the last few tries). Once on Bennett I realized my time was getting tight and Ikept moving forward without a break.... well, until the overlook. I had to stop this time:
The Bennett downhill went like most solo Bennett downhills: Q-bert rock? Nope. Thread the needle? Nope. Highspeed serious downhill pitch loghops and rootballs? Absolutely. I nailed them all. No stop at Coontree, just hammer through, then I took a nice rest on lower Bennett when I ran into Fusco, Curtis, and their two friends who's names I've forgotten already. At 477 it was 11:00 and I was to meet Erinna so she could go on her own ride at Noon at the PMBAR start/finish. 1 hour. I texted Erinna and told her my plan: at horse stables clawhammer maxwell black next one hour will be hard but ill try my hardest. Well, I tried my hardest but my legs were toast. When I got to the top I was surprised by how quickly Clawhammer/Maxwell had gone by since my legs were feeling so bad but that strange space/time/fatigue thing must have been in full force because when I looked at my timepiece at the top I only had 18 minutes to make it back... Fast? Slow? I wasn't sure. The climb from Pressley was the hardest of the day and by the time I was descending Black back to the Jeep my ears were whistling MUCH louder than usual, and I was starting to feel lightheaded, but my resolve was still clear. FINISH BY HIGH NOON. Well, here's a photo of what I came upon right at 12:07.
Erinna and Zoe, happy as can be, hanging out on a beautiful early Spring, 70 degree sunny day. About 20 minutes later Erinna was out on her own Pisgah ride and Zoe and I were headed back to Asheville. What a great way to spend the day.
Oh, a couple more things, along the way I conceptualized some hideous PMBAR special tests and saw a large bird of great significance. Yes, this was exactly what I needed.