Pisgah Stage Race Report by Evan Lang - Stage 1
Pisgah Stage Race Stage One - Clif Looking Glass Route (25 miles, 4130 ft elevation)
This year's PSR field is over a hundred more racers than last year, so staging position is even more important. This is my second attempt at this race and the field is even more stacked than last year. With the top racers being professional or nearly professional I recognize I'm not here to win, but I'm also not going to mess around. That said, I put a Cane Creek DB Coil IL on my bike. Why? It's heavier, for sure, but it's much more plush, has more adjustability than the air shock I was using, plus it looks damn nice on my Kona Process 111 (now a 126 with the shock). Those benefits and the knowledge that it's a finer piece of equipment boost the confidence, especially when the trails point down... and here in Pisgah the gnar is no joke. How the likes of Gordon and Elliott race on hardtails is beyond me, but they're super fast so I don't ask questions. Recognizing that the top spots are taken is a good place to be: I can really focus on racing my race and not attempt to chase those dudes. My goals are to improve on last year's time and to finish as well as possible. Let me go back to my equipment for a minute. I'm riding a Process 111. Is it an xc bike? Not really. Is it an enduro bike? Not really. It's somewhere in between. Kona also makes the Hei Hei and that's for sure more xc than the Process. I've got a Fox 34 up front, super nice, and the Coil IL on the back, super nice. For wheels I have up front a Velocity Blunt SS and rear a Blunt 35, both laced to DT Swiss 350s. For tires I'm using to the WTB Trail Boss 2.4 with the light, fast rolling casing. Easton carbon bars with a 35mm clamp diameter, and Shimano XT 11sp. "Boy, Evan, that bike sounds mighty enduro, what are you doing on that at an xc stage race?" Well to be frank, I intend to shred it. It's not the lightest bike in the field, nor the fastest, but my bike is my bike and I love it. I'm comfortable on it, I know it's quirks, and how it'll handle any feature the trail presents. And importantly, the Pro+ Summer weight jerseys that Starlight prepared for us this year are incredible. Mesh sleeves and side panels, tech waffle in the center, big pockets and a nice and tight race fit. Stayed cool all day as the jersey wicked away sweat and water and mud. So, Stage One... pretty sick stage. As I mentioned before, staging is of utmost importance, and especially on Stage One since it is straight out the gate and just a few minutes later you're thrown into a singletrack climb up Daniel Ridge. Roots, rocks, repeat. I settled into a good rhythm pretty quickly and before I knew it I was nearing the top. Looking ahead I saw Charlie in the woods calling for a chain link. His chain had snapped while he was in good position with the front guys. Fortunately I had one and didn't lose too much time handing it off to him. I didn't see him till the bottom of the last climb of the day, and not again till the finish where he had consolidated on his mechanical, reeling back in as much time as possible. Throughout the day I had good fortune. No crashes, no mechanical issues save a dropped chain, quickly remedied, and a minor cramp in the left calf, but came into the finish besting last year's time by nearly two minutes. The week is looking good, the weather looks nice each day, for now. Stay tuned for reports from the remaining stages.