From Cory Rimmer – The 2015 edition of the Pisgah Stage Race saw a change of date and a change of conditions for previous years. With the early spring date of April 14-18, came early spring rainstorms. This, with some of the most technical trails in the Southeast, gave way to awesome, challenging and wild racing!
Stage 1 was a slow start for myself. I wasn’t able to get a ride in the day before and I believe that contributed to the stale legs I was experiencing. Lucky the wet conditions helped me from losing too much time, as I was feeling pretty comfortable on the downhills. To my surprise I was third overall on the day for the enduro category, this was a nice pick-me-up after my disappointing fifth place finish in the overall.Day two was no different weather wise. It had rained all night and into the day’s racing. There was a long road section before we entered the single track and before we dropped in, my friend Gordon Wodsworth gave me a quick reminder to stay positive and have fun! I took that advice to heart and looked forward to the stages technical singletrack. When I entered Squirrel Gap I was sitting in third, with fourth on my wheel. I was riding great, cleaning all my lines as if they were dry! I could hear fourth clipping and unclipping, so I kept the pressure on and soon he was out of sight. I continued to push to all the way to the finish, I thought fourth and fifth were right on my heels but it turned out I had have plenty of time! I even had enough time to move into third overall and I held third in the enduro as well! I was really happy, as this was my goal for the race, top three and on the podium!
Day three saw the most climbing of the week. I knew if I could come out third here I would have a good chance at holding third overall by the end of the week. There was a good size group until we reached the first major climb. As we climbed it was only fourth place and myself. I did some quick refueling and settled into a high tempo pace. There were no hard attacks, just a good effort that I felt I could hold for the rest of the day. I glanced back and noticed fourth place start to drop off, so I continued the effort, trying not to get to excited because there was still a lot of racing left on the day. I had little over a minute gap at the top of the downhill. I played it safe and rode a conservative pace on the timed enduro. I was more concerned about protecting my tires for the overall than I was trying to hold on to third in the endruro. This move allowed me to finish third again and increase my lead over fourth.
Coming into stage 4 I decided to hangout with the fourth place rider. With nearly a seven-minute lead over fourth I felt like this was a safe move, if there were an easy way to gain more time I would take advantage of it. Fortunately the fourth place rider was in no mood to attack and try to gain time back. We settled into a steady tempo for the day. This was good as it allowed me to recover from the past two days trying to play catch up and adding time. We reached the final downhill, Pilot Rock, and to continue the theme of the week it began to pour down. I saw as a opportunity to squeak out a little more time. I was riding clean and smooth, minimizing my chances to flat or wreck, but still putting time on fourth. I reached the final gravel road to the finish with a small gap, just out of sight. I pushed on the road to gain 40 more secondds on my lead (with minimal effort).
The last stage saw a big climb up to Farlow Gap. My plan for the day was going to be based off how my legs felt. If I felt anything but bad, I was going to push the pace. We started up the climb and everyone was pushing pretty hard. I settled in and raced my own race. I was looking forward to the famous Farlow Gap downhill. I knew I could make some good time on the downhill and still ride safely just by cleaning as much of the trail as I could. The plan worked out great as I came out the bottom in third and out of sight! The rest of the stage was a long climb to the top of Bracken Mountain downhill and the enduro descent off Braken to the finish. I saved a bit of my legs on the climb as there was a bit of climbing on the enduro section. I knew I could do well with my balance of skills and climbing ability. My plan worked out great! I came out to the finish third overall and I also took the win on the final enduro stage! This effort in the enduro gave me enough time to move back into third overall in the enduro!
Overall it was a great week of riding and racing. I’m proud of what I was able to do, however I’m also looking forward to using the knowledge I gained from this week and using it to help myself to become a better rider. I think that’s what I like about racing the most. There is never an end to it, there is always that next step, and no matter what ability you are. It is something that all of racers can relate to and it is why stage racing is so much fun. It’s awesome to see a group of different individuals come together for a week and support one another as we face our own challenges.
Photos: Icon Media Ashville