BWR North Carolina, for me, for my race day, actually started when we left Kansas after Unbound. It was a pretty crazy set of travel days with Whitney getting Giardia and massive lightning storms each night we stopped with the camper, causing a lack of recovery/body work going into North Carolina.
Thank goodness for our wonderful hosts in Tryon, NC, Tracy and Jeff, for opening there wonderful home. Still pretty blown out from Unbound, the couple days before BWR North Carolina consisted of pre-riding the course and cleaning/repairing our bikes. Hitting the start line.....not tip top for all the above reasons for a 130 mile BWR course with 13k feet of climbing was not ideal but it is hard to complain when you are counting waterfalls under a beautiful green canopy around Dupont National Forest.
The race started out pretty quickly with a 10 minute climb. I went a bit into the red, but not too far to stick with the lead group. The next few climbs started to take their toll. At about mile 40, on a longer climb through a town called Saluda, I started to feel my back muscles getting angry and dialed it back a bit. The next sector of note is a one mile 20% jeep trail followed by a one mile hike-a-bike. I take pride in being able to ride challenging terrain so when I say hike-a-bike it means it is not ridable. With a cascade of sarcasm I will say I love hiking with my bike, I love running, my body is built for it, I can run like a gazelle in gravel shoes hauling my bike up a muddy mountain side, it's like my favorite thing. The descent on the other side, which I think we should have ridden up, was just a mowed grass trail. As I'm wallowing and feeling my day start to get lame, I get a text on my Wahoo head unit (yes, I should turn those off) that read "Whitney has succumbed to Giradia and has abandoned BWR NC". I was about 60 miles in, there was a long climb that starts a 40 mile loop we did TWICE and I was in decision mode: do I: 1. Abandon and blame all the things, or 2. Finish, gain some Marital Kombat points ($1k prize purse) even though I feel like I'm crawling along feeling like it's going to take me forever. I chose option 2.
Overall, I'm happy with that decision now, but it was about 50 miles of regret and 30 fun-ish miles. After knocking out the longer dirt climb to the top of the course you descend for a similar amount of time. Then you hit a 600 foot 1 mile death KOM, which stuns your deoxygenated brain, right before hitting a 3 mile single track sector. This is a real mtb single track, descent into a barn where there's a marching band banging on drums, leading into an aid station, which you climb out of onto a 600 foot paved climb with an ice cream and beer store at the top that you can't stop at or you'll never start again. I know I sound delirious but this is literally how it happened. Then, THEN, you do that loop all over again. About 1/3rd of the way through the loop back to said long dirt climb I was caught by Sarah Max's group. I asked her if she knew any splits, she did not, I told her she was winning and that Whit was done and asked if she needed anything, which she did not. I grabbed a coke at the next aid station and rolled with her group which was in good spirits overall. As we finish up the second loop, the BWR crew threw in some extra single track and, I can't even call them B roads, C roads, maybe even D roads, so not roads, which this group tackles with dignity and grace. Sarah was smashing it and we were all just rotating along, happy to have company. As we pass Wafer riders and obliterated Waffle riders, I notice Sarah, the lead lady, is not utilizing the right bestowed upon her by the Spirit of Gravel, to tell people to kindly move out of her way, especially on single track sectors. So, with her blessing, I make it known to every rider we're passing that they should, make haste and get out of Sarah's way. This announcement was generally received with cheers for Sarah, which was rad.
After the whole second loop I just recapped, the second time up the death KOM, I'm not sure what BWR calls it, probably Bullshitenkoppendeathclimbenbe