I went ahead an pulled the trigger on the Pisgah Productions Monstercross. I’m not really sure where my fitness is for a 5ish hour effort right now but I guess there’s only one real good way to find out. Last year when it was time for this race Chris, the youngest, was only about 2 1/2 weeks old, and yes I did show up and race. The day didn’t go as I’d hoped, last year’s race report, but potentially better than I deserved. This year I don’t really know what to expect and that’s ok.
Early Saturday Morning I did manage to get out and ride a big chunk of the course, the part that I don’t see very often. The new for last year course is really a great big lollipop loop that hits some really cool roads out in a part of the forest I don’t get too all that often. The rest of this post is going to be a run through of the course, so here is your chance to get out.
Perhaps my favorite water spot, waterfall water so good, kind of tricky in the dark though
The event starts at the Black Mountain parking makes a right onto 276 for a minute before making the right onto 477 and getting into the first legit climb (5.5 miles/1500 ft), after the climb up to Bennet Gap, you get a nice little descent down to 276 for just a minute before getting onto 475B and kind of rolling for a few minutes before you really head downhill to 475, this section is not easy but it’s pretty straightforward and an area that I ride all the time so I’m kind of glossing over it.
At the bottom there is a right onto 475 (the first aid station was here last year but has moved for this year). This starts the climb up to Gloucester Gap, it looks like they just ran the grader on 475 but mostly just scraping. Aside from a little looseness in places it isn’t too bad. From Gloucester there’s a short descent on 475 before turning right on Indian Creek road. Make sure to hold on to your water bottle here, there are a few little bumps that tend to hit you in the right way to knock your water bottle loose. Last year there were so many bottles, including mine, that ended up on the road here. The right on Indian Creek runs out to 215, where the first/third Aid station will be. This is the stick part of the lollipop. So this whole section is done in both directions.
At Gloucester Gap…Grader…
At 215 you start what I refer to as the westside loop. Which kicks off with the meat of the 215 climb, roughly 5 miles and somewhere around 1750 feet. It may be all pavement but it will eat your lunch if you’re not ready for it. For me it’s a nice chance to try and eat some and make sure nutrition is going in the right direction. For what it’s worth, once you see Explorer road come off to the left, you don’t have much further on pavement to try and grab some food/water. From 215 you’ll make a left on FS 4663, a nice gravel road that kind of winds around some rolling hills, at some point there is a left on 4663c but it almost doesn’t feel like a turn. Then it drops pretty quickly down to Charly’s Creek road. The descent down is a little chunkier than your typical gravel road. If you’re riding a cross/gravel bike this is on place you’ll want to be paying close attention. Speeds pick up quickly and the chunk is real.
Sometimes you just need some pizza
At the bottom there is a hard left onto Charly’s Creek rd. and a little bit of a pavement climb up to Wolf Mountain Rd. The beginning of Wolf Mountain road feels like you’re heading into the unknown, it’s a little overgrown and unmaintained. This hardly feels like it could be a real road, it kind of reminds me of some of the old partially forgotten roads of West Virginia. There is a lot of rock, some mud holes, and not much “gravel” this section isn’t very long but it’s got some teeth. Eventually Wolf Mountain turns into a more traditional gravel road. It’s a rolling section of the course with a couple pitchy climbs in it. The 2nd aid station was out this way last year right be the overlook I believe, which is near where the road levels out for a little bit. After that you start to drop off in a hurry. The upper part of the descent on the gravel is a little sketchy, super fast and loose with a few ruts, hold on loosely and let’er rip. This quickly turns into pavement and high speed.
At the bottom there is a left onto Tanasee Gap rd. which comes with a steep little exposed pavement climb out of the bottom. It’s not long but at the time of day if the sun’s out it can be cooking. Luckily it’s followed with a section of pavement that trends down for a while all the way back to 215. Where you pick up Indian Creek and follow the “stick” home. The climbing on the way home feels a little less steep than the climbing on the way out in my opinion. If we don’t get any rain between now and then the descent down 477 is going to be pretty loose. Once I’ve hit that point I’m usually ready to let it all hang out and get home as quickly as possible.
All and all the course is in great shape and I’m pretty excited to get out and push things again. Most likely I’ll be quickly humbled but we had a great labor day weekend with the Family so…