Swank gave me over 6K ft of climbing. My Garmin showed 6K, Strava was 6,250/(6,146 elevation corrected). Garmin Connect registered 6304/(11,670? Elevation corrected). It was advertised as 8K. Any way you slice it, it was a lot of climbing in just 40 miles (65 km).
Without help from Heather and Todd from Blue Ridge Adventures, I would have had to sit this one out.
Very low key and relaxed, yet started on time, just like the Couch Potato. Most races I do have many classes and age groups, Swank and Couch Potato keep it simple with just mens and womens Open class. It was sort of a controlled start down the fire road crossing the creek on a narrow bridge or a cold shower to start the race with wet feet on a coldish day. Still, some took the creek to jockey for a better start position. I took the bridge. The race was on!
I decided to to use my usual strategy on longer races, go hard but not in the red zone. I passed a few after the official start and closed that gap. We had a nice conga line going into the first single track connecting to the Cove Creek climb. Passing was tough, but not impossible. I followed Paula Burk (Eventual Womens winner) while she picked off a few groups of riders. Then I passed Paula (only for her to pass me on Pilot MT later on). I put a good gap in, still well behind the leaders. Then as I made the end of Cove Creek onto 225 to Daniel Ridge. I saw another rider that was caught up in the pack and had made it through. I forget his name, I believe I did a night ride out of Sycamore with him a week or two back. I tried to stay on him and did so for a while, as he was reeling in another rider. Once things started going down, he pulled away, he rode it like he knew it and I just couldn't go as fast without suspension. I did catch a couple other guys on the way down. I thought I heard Wes Dickson of Sycamore Cycles at rest stop one, later I learned he broke his chain in 2 places on the start. I put in a good climb on the fireroad to Glouster. Joe did catch up just before 471D. We rode and talked a bit up towards Butter Gap. I asked him if he was a good descender and he said I caught him on Daniel Ridge and let me lead on the Butter Gap DH. We slinkied a bit on the rollercoaster climb that is Long Branch, emerging back on FS 475 almost together. Joe stopped at the rest stop. I still had juice in my camel back and bottle and did not want to carry any more. Joe complained a bit that I did not stop, but caught up quickly and we paced each other for the first mile, when I had to go to the granny and watch him slowly pull away. Paula and one other came by before Farlow Gap. I got close to someone a few times, riding more than I expected of the rugged DH hike a bike. By the time I was back on Daniel Ridge, I was alone all the way down to FS 475 and Davidson River Trail. I thought I saw a single speeder there, but he turned left on 475. Some folks were attending to a rider that took a header on Davidson River. I had only been down 475B, a fast DH. The climb was not as bad as I anticipated. I knew it would be about 4 miles up 475B then 4 miles down Cove Creek. What I had not noticed were the descents on the initial climb up Cove Creek, but they became apparent on the way "DOWN". I was happy to clean the final creek crossing. Finishing 21st of 97 starters. Almost an hour out out of 2nd and 3rd, which were 25 minutes off of 1st! Sam Koeber rode all of Farlow Gap on his Fuel EX.
Here is some awesome video from Land of Sky Media
2014 Couch Potato
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