Mountain bike racing, the essence of man and machine working in perfect harmony to tackle the terrain placed in front of it. The skill, the grit and the determination to overcome obstacles and manoeuvre this race craft down or around the natural landscape in a battle against the clock. It is a truly noble pursuit…
Or in our case, a chance to talk shit to one another for three years, until the next time we all decide to throw down some money to a race organisation and hurl ourselves down a mountain.
Which brings us neatly to the 2019 Pisgah Enduro.
As founding members of the Singletrack Project, Brent Stallo, Wes Williams and I have all signed up to compete in this two-day event nestled in the forest near Asheville, NC. And as good friends and work colleagues, that has meant the shit talk has been ramped up to dial 11 in recent times as this will be our first race together since the 2016 BC Bike Race. While the event isn’t quite so gnarly in terms of fitness, it will still be a real test for us and our very-much amateur status as MTB competitors and although we definitely go into the event wanting to have fun, we also want to enjoy it as well… and that means training.
For the BC Bike Race we all signed up for specific training programs, in the hope that it would help us survive the seven day ordeal in Canada (and thankfully it did). This time around however, we are taking a rather more slapdash approach and basically just winging it.
Now hopefully anyone reading this article will know that Pisgah is an awesome area to ride a mountain bike. At least I assume it is, because I haven’t actually ridden there, I’m just going off of all the reviews and trail GoPro’s and comments from Brent who rides there all the time. But yes, by all accounts Pisgah is awesome and apparently the trails in involved in the Pisgah Enduro are awesome too. So normally, two days of riding wouldn’t truly concern me, it’s tough, but at approximately 60 miles total, it’s not out of the realms of possibility. However having plugged the routes into Strava I am noticing a 3000ft climb bright and early on Sunday morning and this is causing me concern.
The route is called Heartbreaker and it is meant to be one of the best trails in the whole of the Pisgah area. It is also extremely long going both down and up, as judging from the GPX file, it is a two-way trail most of the way. This means that in order to be able to enjoy the down, you have to climb all the way up… and you have to be up there by midday, or you’ll be met by all the riders coming down who did make it to the top.
As I write this, I feel like it is sounding easy (and I’m sure to a lot of you hardcore MTB’ers, it is) but I come from a country where 3000ft climbs literally don’t exist. Seriously, the highest mountain in England is Scafell Pike at 3209ft. And guess what, it isn’t right next to the sea. In fact I even went back through my Strava history and tried to find a 3000ft climb that I’d done. And I didn’t find one!
So yea, this definitely won’t be easy for me, and it definitely ruined my plans of rocking up to this without too much training. Which meant that since the start of 2019, I have always had this event in the back of my mind every time I swing my leg over the bike because I know that every foot climbed before June, will help me get up that 3000ft Heartbreaker climb… and more importantly, crush Wes and Brent on the downhill that follows!