Instead of going up a little bit further to one of the PMBAR checkpoints, I decided that I’d rather just keep riding. I knew that if I saw someone I knew working at said checkpoint I’d waste most of the day shooting the shit with them. After that, I wouldn’t feel like riding anymore. So, I turned around and headed back down Black Mountain. I stopped when I saw this sign:
I’d never ridden Turkey Pen Gap before, but I’d heard about it. Also, there was a checkpoint out that way so I figured that I might run into some racers. I took off, enjoying some fun, fast downhill for a while. There were quite a few trees down blocking the trail, and a lot of the first part was a vegetable tunnel.
My GoPro (attached to the top of my helmet) kept getting stuck in the trees above me, nearly ripping my head off on quite a few occasions. I decided to remove it and put it in my pack, taking it out later to record some video when the trail was a little more open. After a long downhill I came to a big climb, and decided that I’d found a good place to hang out for a while.
I relaxed with a beer and watched for anyone (or anything) that came by.
I hung out there for a good bit but no racers came by. I heard a bear off in the distance, and I think the fact that I wasn’t making any noise made him a little curious. The clicking sounds and rustling in the bushes started getting closer, so I decided that I probably should move on. I mean, I set up a hammock in a bear’s living room so of course they wanted to check me out. I really didn’t want to doze off and wake up later with a bear snuggling with me. I’ve encountered them in the wild on camping trips before, so packing up and leaving was a little weird. I didn’t plan to stay out there all day anyway so I climbed back on my bike and took off.
Turns out I'd setup my hammock in his bathroom, and he just wanted to go pee.
Eventually I decided that I was done riding. I saw very few racers out there (and no one I knew), so when I ended up back at the intersection of Turkey Pen and Black I figured it was time to head back down to the Ranger station. I mounted up my GoPro, turned it on, and set out for some rad downhill.
Video will come later.
I rolled back to the finish line around four, and I saw that a few teams had come in. After getting myself cleaned up I grabbed the hammock again and decided to walk back up the trail to see if I could catch some of my people riding to the finish. I found a good spot a little bit from the end of Black, setup my hammock again, grabbed a beer, and relaxed.
It was so peaceful.
When someone would come by, I would grab the camera in case I knew them. I saw nothing but strangers. I fell asleep for a little bit, until some shit came crashing down from the trees.
It was a really windy day, and branches were falling all over the place. I gave myself fifteen more minutes to stay there to see if I could get a photo of anyone I knew. Just then, I saw a familiar face.
It was Dicky, hauling ass to get to the finish line. I yelled something encouraging (too late at this point), but I don’t think he knew it was me. Oh well, I knew who I was.
I hung out at the star/finish for a while, drank some beers, and heard some of the stories of those out there suffering. I had a great day in the hills all by myself, and I didn’t feel one bit guilty about it.
I was a little sad to see the mountains in the mirror on the way home though.
What an awesome day. Just what I needed.