Stage 5

The Deathstar. Doesn't that sound inviting, a descent called the DeathStar? Should be interesting. Start of the final stage is from Hone Quarry, a new host venue for the final TdB stage. Didn't put much thought into this stage, had trouble looking past that big road stage. How big are these climbs gonna be? Trail or road? oh, first it's the paved climb to the Reddish Saddle, then later we climb from WV on CR25 back to the same spot, that makes two 2000ish foot ascents, neatto. Rolled out in the parade, not sure of how those pedals will turn. Legs were empty, mind was numb, wasn't sure how the day would unfold. Sluggish start to the KOM spot from previous years, then I found my quiet place off the front and slummed up the long paved climb, taking another pointless parade KOM and gaining hours of TV time for the sponsers. I came soooo close to walking up that paved climb, just didn't have the motivation, other than not walking.

Sue, all smiles as usual.

Recollect in the saddle and we roll up to the timed start. I don't fool around at the front this time & happily start from the back of the pack, survival is the name of the game. Do make up some spots on the false climb and then drift further back thru ferntown on the SMT before plunging down the DeathStar. The mid-stage fireroad approach was pure suck. Body went hollow, barely able to climb the falseish flat, all signs pointing to doom. Thoughts of walking for 1.5hours up from Sugar Grove cross my mind, not happy thoughts. This is the meltdown, this is the miserble lowpoint, surprised it took so long to get there. Begin to curse the heavens and despise the route, the blind left bends one after another, too many mini false summits, soul sucking slow track tackinees zapping me. Not in a good mood, where is the turn into the dh????? Then finally, I see familiar faces at the right turn and damn......
What a sweet freakin' descent! If only I had a sensible bike. Get to have some fun with a few techy moves off the top, then the front brake shits the bed yet again on the steeps...then again...and again...and I'm laughing at myself. At least there's only one more climb, not counting the final ridge. Just another hour's worth of fireroad up to the saddle.

Fueled by Mtn Dew and PB&J's, I climb the long fireroad to the saddle with a sizable gap. Once on top I sit down, crack the beer I've carried all day and relax while the peleton lingers in. Reality sets in that I might actually finish this thing and my mood lightens. The final timed section begins shortly, I take a final leading rollout and have one last chance to chat and heckle as I drift back thru the group. Good times soon turn to excellent as I find that sweet fixy flow down the Hone Quarry spine, perfect ninja pedal spinning rock n roll flow, back n forth, back n forth. Just me, my bike and the trail, everything else melts a way. Man, was it ever good. The gnarly techiness along the lower benching was sweet icing on the cake, and I really want to hit that up again. But with a coasty bike. Damn damn damn, that was fine stuff.

The Awards mingled with the burgers and dogs and the ingestion of various bottled liquids was as fun as ever. Congrats to the big winners, Churtle and JB for the GC, Fawley for being the uber-specialist with both the KOM & Sprint and Delany keeping me honest and out of the DFL. Followed all that up with a late evening caffieine fueled, fireworks watching drive home for a late night arrival and unpacking. hooo doggy.

What a trip.

Thanks everybody.

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