Pisgah Stage Race Report by Evan Lang - Stage 2
Pisgah Stage Race Stage Two - Promised Land Route (29 miles, 3878 ft elevation)
Stage two starts off with a nice six-ish mile road section heading North on 280 out of the Pisgah National Forest. It then transfers into a one and a half mile gravel climb before entering singletrack, and it stays that way for twenty-four miles. The race stayed mostly together on the road with Charlie attacking early to make up from his mechanical in Stage One. Once on the gravel the race blew up, separating into the main groups. Much of the riding is up on the gentle grade to Squirrel Gap with numerous stream crossings and few bridges. Among the trail features are massive roots, wet rocks, and leaf covered turns. Once up on Squirrel Gap the course is about ten miles of up and down and never losing or gaining much. Here I found myself leapfrogging a rider on a hardtail. When the trail was rough and technical I had the advantage, when it was smooth or steep the tides turned in his favor. We rode within ten seconds of each other all day until the extended climb into Buckhorn Gap and it was here that he accelerated to a pace I could not match. Cresting the gap opened up into a gravel descent with multiple lose turns snaking back and forth until hitting the rest stop. Having brought all the food and drink I would need I chose to keep on riding, beginning the climb to Pressley Gap. A majority of this climb was gravel with the last three-quarters mile being very steep, rooty singletrack. For me it was a mandatory dismount and hike-a-bike. The summit of Pressley Gap left no time to recover. It was enduro time. Black Mountain: if you have never ridden in Pisgah before put this trail near the top of your list. High up its tight, rough, technical, and filled with roots beyond belief. In the middle it begins to open up to smoother flow trail, and by the bottom it is buff with berms galore. By the end of the day I'd managed to move up several positions, from 17th to 12th overall, and looking to pick up more time in the coming stages!