By Eddie Clark.
(September 22, 2012) BREVARD, NC—The last day of the Pisgah Stage Race wrapped up with perfect weather and even better racing through numerous streams and Pisgah Forest singletrack. The day started with a 6 mile police escort from the main start area down highway 280 to Turkey Pen Gap, which quickly sent the singlespeed racers off the back. Once the race turned off the highway and onto dirt, the singlespeeders had the terrain in their favor again with a long climb and numerous creek crossings.
The stage was feared by many as being one of the hardest days with its 42 miles that climbed 6,200 feet. To keep it fun, racers were treated to 20 plus miles of prime Pisgah singletrack that covered the Laurel Mountain Trail with a high speed railing session to the finish down the Black Mountain Trail.
For the men's and women's elite race, it was a stage that could easily provide a shake up for the overall race win. Just like every day of the race, Sam Koerber and Jeremiah Bishop were off the front and making a race of it between their selves with Koerber gaining time in the technical areas by using his honed local knowledge. "Going up Laurel Mountain, Sam was using some ninja skills to ride lines I've never even seen on that trail", said Bishop. "This race rocked my world, it was an apocalyptic smack down, and the Pisgah Lion kicked my butt."
For Bishop, it was a matter of racing smartly and utilizing his climbing prowess to pull Koerber back after his potent attacks. For his last attack, Koerber ditched all of his water, tools, and even his jersey to lighten the load for his hail marry attack up the last climb of the race. "I didn't think I'd get the four minutes back on him, but thought at least I'd give it a try, and we made a race out of it", said Koerber. It almost worked for winning the stage, but Bishop once again pulled him back on the climb and was able to finish just 9 seconds ahead of Koerber for the stage win and the overall race win.
In the open women's race, Kelly Ault continued with more solid riding to win the stage and almost take the overall win. Canadian Anna Healy also rebounded with a new rear derailler to put in a solid ride for second place. However, it was Kym Schifini who dug the deepest to hold onto her overall lead by finishing in third place in enough time to secure the overall race victory.
Notable mention also goes to Wes Richards for sealing up another third place stage finish and third overall in the open men's race while 40+ Morgan Olsson had another solid win to take the overall for his age group. On the last day, Chad Melis rode his belt driven REEB to secure the team relay overall with the help of Sycamore Cycles' Wes Dickson who also raced on a belt drive REEB.