Thursday, September 07, 2006

Shenandoah Mountain 100

I roll up to the starting line which is in a wide open field, 200 meters across. 400 mountain bike racers ready to get their pain on. Chris Scott stands above the long stretched out ribbon of riders to tell us a few last tid bits of advice on his killer creation, which is this race coarse. A dirt bike kicks to life and the two stroke winds away switching gears. The wave of riders shout and holler, the Clicking sound of clipless pedals engaging, cat-calls, hoots and whistles. Wer're off!
Down a dirt road we snake. Hundreds of riders shoulder to shoulder, bike racers surround me. Concentrating on keeping upright and out of the wheel in front of me. I look in the distance to see the lead group pulling away already, their red shirts popping above the rolling double track every couple minutes. I see a few familiar faces in the B group around me. A little voice in my head can't wait till this race breaks up a little and I can relax and get into a groove.
The start of this race is perfect. Long stretch of dirt and gravel before we hit a rocky, technical singletrack named Cookie trail. My rear tire pops out of the drop out and I stop to see why it feels like the rear stay is broken. Skip comes by me while I'm sidelined. He's got major concentration as he pushes his 34x16. The rocky single track leads into a technical climb named Lynn that is a total ass kicker. Held my concentration up the switchback granny climb and it soon spilled out to a gravel road for a few miles of recovery.
There, I rolled with some more familiar faces and the leaders of the ss race. The road turned to dirt with a left turn and we went up on some rolling climbs. This is the road we would finish the race on in a few hours I'd later realize.
At Aid 3 I stopped for a minute to refuel. When I rolled around the gate and stopped in front of the aid table I felt like a nascar driver pitting. Straddling my bike I was asked if I'd like lube? Sure, I hoped off, a guy took my bike and cleaned the chain and rings with a rag and placed a fresh thin coat of oil on the chain. I watched and drank two bottles and refilled my camel back. Left Aid 3 with a huge smile having felt the love of the support crew from SM100.
Heading up to a section called Braley Pond. This would be some of the best rolling trail that I'd ever ridden, but riders had to earn the privilege first by peddling (what felt like an hour and a half up) to the summit. I wish I had a helmet camera to share this section of Braley's. I don't have a computer on my bike, so no idea as to the speed obtained on this ripping singletrack, but felt close to 40 mph. Momentum and gravity pulling you along and the only thing slowing you down is the pain in your fingers as you try to hold your line in the corners.
Shortly before Aid 4 I was passed by Rich Labombard as I careened into a tree. I managed to slow just before making contact with the small pine. Luckily that would be my only crash of the day.
Entered Aid 4 with Rich. We both received first class treatment once again. I caught a glimpse of Thom P rolling in as we rolled away, I knew it wouldn't be long before that guy would be passing me. Now on the section that Kerry and Harlan warned was brutal...the 17 mile climb up to aid 5 and the summit of Shenandoah Mountain.
Perfect timing meeting with Rich. We spun on the false flat gravel roads big ring'in it. Staying away from Thom p for as long as we could. Done with the miles of false flats, we turn hard right up the mountain. No more big ring, I stand while mashing the middle. Trying to use the biggest gear I could push.
Aid 5 was again what I now expected..."can I lube your bike sir?" "Sure, I'll be over here relaxing for a minute." They had pizza at aid 5 for those who could stomach it. Was a great idea for those that were going to be hitting this spot hungry at supper time. I settled for pb+j and a half a banana and 4 dixey's of coke. Man, that coke hit the spot! The sugar and caffeine had my legs pumping like pistons over the long ridge summit of Shenandoah.
The trail finally pitched down and the single track was gnarly. I had to pull over for a minute as my head was swimming...wish I had more coke...or was this the after effects of the sugar and caffeine cocktail? Took a sec. to regroup and unwrapped a pb+j I had stowed in my jersey pocket. Ate it in one bite and screwed chewing.
Wham! Flat front tire! Damn! Adrenaline pumped through my brain as I repaired the puncture on the side of the mountain trail. Harvey Minton sped by and we spoke for the first time in the race. Shortly after Thom appeared on the down hill. He stopped and helped with my flat front as I handed him a spare C02 cartrige. He was gone after the brief encounter and I inflated my repaired wheel and set out to catch the now second place SS'er Thom Parsons.
The backside of Shenandoah lasted for miles and was awesome. I'd go back tomorrow just to ride this mountain again.
The remainder of the race was rolling double track and then it was over! 9 hours and 11 minutes for 32nd place. One bad-ass race with some bad-ass racers. Thanks Chris Scott and everyone involved. See you next year.


Jason said...

Great race and write up. Putting this one on my "to do list" for next year. Congrats on the finish.

Any word on JW's birthin' yet?

Take care.


John Hurley said...

Sounds like a great race.

I'll be training hard for next season and plan to join you for at least a couple of days of pain!

Doug said...

I second what Jason said above. Wicked Great race! Look forward to gettin together again. Ridin tonight in Wompy if interested...


Andy said...

Thanks guys,
JW is a dad. I'll let him give details when he has a free minute. Everyone is well.

John - you'll dig it! Hell you'll probably win a few.

Doug - wompy this Sunday!

JB said...

Great job, nice writeup. Really beautiful country up there. They grow some bad a$$ MTBers up there. I think I live at the wrong end of this State.

rick said...

put me down for next year too probably. I'm on the fence on whether to do the wilderness 101 or this but it sounds like the trails are better for this one.