Mountain Bikers Navigate 'Black Out' Ride
Twenty-mile adventure completed in the middle of exams
Advanced Placement exams were in full swing May 11 when Christ School's Outdoor Program put four Greenies and their coaches through a different kind of test.
For the record, Christian Blanks '19, Patrick Shea '20, Sawyer Duhaime '18, and Will DuBose '19 aced it.
One of the most sought-out destinations for mountain-bike riding in the Southeastern United States is only about a half-hour from Christ School. The Pisgah National Forest's trails are both scenic, and unforgiving at times. History teacher Matt Chisholm said that was certainly the case in "a ride for the ages" across Black Mountain Trail.
The "Black Out" Ride pushed Christian, Patrick, Sawyer, and Will for 20 miles over the course of four hours and 3,300 feet of ascent. Mother Nature made her presence felt early, dumping rain on the group in the first hour of its ride. Engineering teacher Marcel Duhaime took a nasty spill during the final descent, landing in a patch of rhododendron.
The Greenies were covered in mud and sweat throughout. Besides the physical toll, there were moments of improvisation that made the ride a success. For instance, Christian's expertise with bike repair came in handy when Sawyer's brakes temporarily stopped working.
"What enables these guys to accomplish these types of rides is just hard work and training and being willing to learn how to take risks and trust their coaches," Chisholm said. "Will DuBose and coach Dr. Brent Harris had never really ridden mountain bikes at all before this season, and in a short 2.5 months time were able to complete a grueling (ride) on one of the hardest trails in the eastern United States. This ride captures the essence of our Outdoor Program that seeks to teach kids to sustain themselves in difficult environments and trust their teammates and training with only the supplies on their backs and a desire to move forward. It was an amazing season."
The "Black Out" Ride was the spring season sport for Christ School's Adventure Sports Team or "Frogmen." They also did the Pisgah 10-Hour Adventure Race in the fall, and the Bearwallow Challenge running series in the winter.