Shenandoah Mtn 100 2014
Granddaddy of them all. The last of the Mohicans, wait Mohican was in May, in Ohio, and it was number 2…. Digressing from the start. 4th of my 4 NUE’s for the year. There was going to be 5 until the walls started closing in around me after the Still House Hollow Rd climb at the Wilderness 101. The toll of the year weighed heavy and I made the decision NOT to race Hampshire 100. It promptly turned into a slog fest, affirming I, for once, made a good decision.
We left Thursday, heading to stay the night in Harrisonburg. Along the way we stopped for supplies at Cabela’s in Hamburg PA…who do we run into? Clan Carlson! The girls were already excited about the weekend camping and playing with Jack and Lily, and now they were just out of their minds… Wake up Friday, hit up The Little Grill Collective for some super tasty grub, drop some coin at Shenandoah Bicycle Company and head to the campsite.
We scored our preferred campsite, Carlsons not far behind. Plenty of space in this camp as Wayne Kim and Peri would be joining the 4 adults 4 kids and 3 dogs. Jeff and I went out to preride Hankey and some singletrack we don’t see in the race. Approximately, 10 minutes into the ride I broke a pedal. Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before… a Crank Brothers Egg Beater got cooked, spring broken, no pedal strike to blame. Better to have it happen on Fri than Sun, for sure. Irony…not 5 minutes before we left camp I told Jeff I was ordering Time ATACs. I’m calm, throughout the 2+ hr preride. First knowing I could buy some, and then remembering I have friends in the area. Megan and James come to the rescue via text and call willing to loan me Shimano’s and new cleats…then Wayne one ups them and hands me NIB EggBeaters. (Evidently he’s good at this sort of thing). So I’m happy that I don’t have to switch cleats, adjust to a new pedal interface etc… Happy as a clam, we all head to downtown Harrisonburg to a pub and enjoy a nice dinner good beers and visit with Megan and James.
Sat was relaxing and filled with a chill ride with the kiddos, the swimming hole, puppies, Peri’s arrival, massages for all by Buck and a couple of beers.
Race day- I slept pretty well in my hammock, it was a little warmer than be previous night so it didn’t fall asleep as easily and clearly should’ve answered the bell when Thom told me I should be at the PAVILLION!! I had hopes of a decent finish, was actually tired, and pretty comfy in my hammock. I hope that wasn’t me growing up, I’ll be really really bummed if that was the tipping point. I made it this far…
It was a nice easy morning, timed well… very unlike my foray in 2011 where I found myself abruptly doing a 180* for the facilities, moments before the start. On this occasion I was calm, chatting with Peri, who left just enough spac e in front of him for me to squeeze in…thanks Big P! Prerace instructions once again, and we were off on the neutral start… we were cruising along and I wanted to keep chill. I’d gone off hot-ish at the W101 and didn’t feel like that was the best option for the day. I’ve felt the season building in my legs for the last good while, so Charlie took it easy on me, letting me ease into this one. While I felt fairly good on the preride, but decided to use discretion knowing how fricking big this bad boy is. I felt myself relaxing into the first climbs of the day. Dan Rapp told me the beginning of the race was so fun he and Ramponi did it twice and once you were at the top it was about 1k of climbing. Looking back, somewhere in this climb I heard a ping, this is called foreshadowing. On this climb I went back and forth with Jeff and Peri, up the climb. It eventually led to the singletrack, congo line. There had to be this little spot of tech and with this many riders, the first dab causes a backup. Not sure how much time I spent here, but I wasn’t overly concerned…made sure I was drinking, had some nice time chatting with Jeff and noticed a spoke had broken. Eventually, I led down Jeff the super fun beginning of the race. I wanted to go faster, Jeff suggesting I leave some space and let it run, I did that several times and made a mental note to make this part of my next preride. I was launching some of the rollers Jeff ‘was the voice of reason’ as he sure as hell didn’t want me wrecking my wheel. Once we were on the road, I found wheels to draft and saw another familiar face, a girl I raced with down at Monster CX at the beginning of the year. She recognized the bunny… FOLLOW ME! Jeff and I hit the Lynn trail together, a notorious hike a bike section this far back in the pack. We rode some sections, until I walked some sections and walked some more and more… I was feeling the flow on Wolf Ridge, I passed a couple of riders, but governed my speed a touch trying to be easy on the rear wheel. When it dumped out on the road I found some people to cruise along with until we got to aid 2.
It had taken me 3:15 to get to 2, some 33 miles in. I was Ok with my pace and was happy to have the first big climb over with. Hankey was up next, and it was the full pull. You climb half the bastard twice, and if you don’t know that ahead of time, it’s a mindfuck. I was fair to middling, not good, not awful. Somewhere along the second portion of Hankey a few things happened 1- on a walking bit i noticed another drive side spoke popped, swell. 2- Wayne passed me with some encouraging words, he was looking strong, and I told him to keep the pace. 3- I heard KIM call out while I was walking a steep bit, we exchanged hello’s. She was climbing well, as always. A short time after I lost sight of Kim I came upon the super tech part of the decent, perhaps the techiest bit of the race. I saw Kim working her way down, choose discretion again (I’m not grown up, right?!) found a smoother part, said goodbye, hopped on I unclipped and sailed on. I was conscious of my rear wheel while still blasting what I felt I could. I came up quickly upon a rider, I called out ‘whenever it’s safe’ —crickets. At this point he’s not riding well, not answering I’m slamming on brakes as he over corrects nearly every turn…frustrated beyond belief I notice the cord. SOB is wearing headphones! Pleasantries are over, now I yell, and he proceeds to nearly pinball his way down Dowells draft (one of the best sections). He’s not conceding the spot, I’m voicing displeasure and I notice Wayne, being Wayne. He’s running up hill, I ask, he speaks about a downed rider. The lame dude moves over and I blast down…I see downed rider is sitting up, coherent and take note of the mileage and continue down. I pull into aid station 3 and told the appropriate people the downed rider was .9 miles up.
One of the volunteers asked if they could help, I mentioned snipping spokes…handed him my bike to fill bottles and nosh… He found me a second later and asked if I would stick around so they could pull my cassette to remove the spokes. Ok I’ll sit a spell. I saw them clip three spokes and adjust some others to keep it inline, JOY! Kim came in; she had stopped with the dude, and left moment before I did. Happy to work with someone on the road section, I caught up and we traded pulls with another dude. The ass end of the bike was no longer just a little soft; I was shimmying at 12, shaking at 15, holding on for dear life at 17. It was decidedly, unfun. Kim and I shelled the other dude out the back with our ‘blistering’ pace of 14-15. A train came roaring along, I felt like I had been holding Kim, so I yelled to her to hop on, and off she went. One of us should benefit. This road section I had been in a bad place in my head. head while leaving 3. Before the train came roaring by and scooped up Kim, my mood was going downhill. Now it was dropping like a lead balloon…thoughts of selling parts, racing enduro only, ‘I can never have nice things’ maybe I’ll just race CX etc… I was trying to pull myself out of it, chatting up some people…to no avail. I was joking to people about cutting another spoke so I could go back to the campground. The road section gives way to a rocky stream bed crossing and some stairs and for me a lot of walking. I walked a ton. That bench cut singletrack would be challenging fun if fresh, and in good spirits. I was neither. Wayne passed me going up or was it while I was limping down Brayley’s… it’s all fuzzy.
We left four together and chatted about the downed rider, saying it took some of the bite out of him….or something like that. I was happy for the company and we were cruising along trading pulls. This is the rolling road leading to the death climb…60 to 85 almost all of it up. It was now all about getting to five and not getting pulled. I can’t do math on the bike, Wayne can, he’s a gem that one… smart and a good human. He reassured me we were well within pace. He was leading me up a small incline and we were in sync climbing at the same speed in a similar cadence, stood at the same time and I suddenly realized I wasn’t in my funk and felt strong. The road tipped down and I got aero and flew past. I looked back and Wayne was sitting upright and was shrinking. I was taking what the mountain gave me, keeping my pace up and moving right along. I felt good and passed a good number of people on this section. A right turn started the death climb. Less steep than I remembered, I was moving pretty well when Wayne caught and passed. Wayne and I had exchanged plate numbers JIC I needed his lights. I actually did pretty well on the death climb, felt strong. I was pumped to get to Five with plenty of time. Wayne had been there so long he’d already had a proper tea and biscuits or something like that…tells me Kim just left, and asked me if I needed his lights – ‘thanks, no. WAIT, you weren’t waiting here for me were you?’ He says no, I don’t believe him then and still don’t.
We left 5 together and had two hours to pay dirt, and I could still hit my fall back goal of sub 11. With all my calamities, I took solace knowing it was still in my hands. There were several miles of punchy climbs before the down, 85 miles is where the fun begins. I was riding the fast whoops section at about 75% and having fun. Jesse from Marty’s and I with our cheater gears lost Wayne. I was soon found myself attacking the punchy climbs enjoying the quick recoveries, and spurned by thoughts finishing strong I was feeling fresher than I’d had for quite some time. Towards the end of the punchy stuff I came upon Kim who was encouraging two guys riding up a steep but loose climb…I attacked the hill, let out a roar and passed them both. A mile or so later, I hit 85 and decided for better or worse except on the bermed out turns…I’d let it roll. I was invigorated passing people left and right.
I sailed into 6 to dead silence, I heckled them a bit, they livened up and I looked for the familiar faces that had left long before, sorry Megan and James. I didn’t NEED anything, I drank a cup of coke, ate a couple of fries and off I went. I ended up climbing the section before the split minute faster than the first time. I was digging for my goal, and felt it was still a possibility…when I saw the campsites I was relieved. Kissed the ring, turned onto the grass, and caught some air… raced under the banner and POWERSLIDE. It was, perhaps, one of my best. I goaded the crowd into cheering for me, because it’s not like they were going cheer me otherwise.
136/333 open men. 10:54:19
NUE- Ryan, thanks for another kick ass year of the NUE series.
SMT – I’ve done 3 Chris Scott events this year, need to figure out a way to do more…always top notch.
Dirtwire -Thom your edits continue to get better and better and are an assett to any event.