By Eddie Clark
(September 22, 2012) BREVARD, NC—With 39 miles of dirt roads and tight singletrack on offer, the only guarantee about stage four was that it wouldn't be easy. Named after the Promised Land that Moses saw from the top of Mt Pisgah, this stage took racers over a selection of the best Pisgah riding on tap.
Another 9am start was key for everyone to complete the long day and over 8,000 feet of climbing. The first big climb was up the side of Black Mountain that was followed by plenty of short punchy singletrack climbs and descents before hitting the stairs down to the Turkey Pen feed station.
Jeremiah Bishop would be first to taste dirt on this section after an endo sent him to the ground and left him with a bloody nose. The crash was minor, and he was able to still lead Sam Koerber across the suspension bridge that took racers over the South Mills River. After crossing the bridge, the two continued to build on their several minute lead over 40+ elite leader Morgan Olsson and 3rd placed open elite racer Wes Richards.
Next up for the lead duo was the ripping Squirrel Gap singletrack where Bishop put his full suspension Cannondale to work. It was the first stage of the race that Bishop opted for dual suspension over his fly weight hardtail. By the end of the race, Bishop would succeed in putting minutes on Koerber for the stage win and some extra padding for the race lead going into the last day of racing.
Women's racing saw Kelly Ault setting a solid pace to work her way to the front and lead most of the race from start to finish. Anna Healy of BC Canada also had a good day until she suffered from a rear derailler mechanical over half way into the race, which saw her lose 1.5 hours and her second place in the overall race competition. The race leader, Kym Schifini stuck to her guns and rode her own pace, which brought her a second place finish, but with a loss of several minutes in her overall race lead.
"I saw Kym about half way through the race behind me, and I was always thinking she was right on my tail so that was incentive to go faster. I've never raced here, but have heard a lot about this race and this area, so my husband and I decided to come here this year since it was within driving distance. It's definitely a rugged mountain wilderness course, and certainly challenging and fun", said Ault afer completing the long stage.