Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Shenandoah Mountain 100

Get Pumped!

I was stoked to be on a single gear for this years Shenandoah 100. More out of curiosity and to try something new. The opportunity came last week when vicious cycles finished up the paint job on my Igleheart 29 Single Speed..."send it overnight!" Which they did and my frame arrived Wednesday morning and was built Wednesday evening at the Shop.
I woke early the following morning and threw my leg over the top tube for the first time and tore around my local trails for an hour. Instantly noticed the improved traction of the over sized 29x2.25 tires and the gear felt right at 32x18...but what the hell did I know about that.. having never been stuck in one gear. I looked forward to riding all day on this new ride with no ambition of a podium finish, it just kinda happened :)

Go Hard in the front yard Ramponi!
Jeff and I were camped with some fellow Bostonians, Karen Potter, Jeff Gilman, IF's Lloyd Graves, and Mike Ramponi. Here's Ramponi and his vintage 1988 "top banana" jersey. Quite a statement about cycling as the fountain of youth, the jersey still fits after all these years. This long time ss'er has been "hard in the front yard!" for the better part of 20 years and still rockin. Mike turned in a 6th place in SS this year at SM100. Floyd was a class act, hanging around for hours post race, enjoying conversation with fellow mtb'ers and drinking his share of old dominion Sunday night. Swamper and Buck tried to feed him some good'ol West Virginia whiskey after we kicked many kegs. Landis sipped from the shot glass but turned down his rock star opportunity.
There's a great story on Cycling news of how the race unfolded and how Harlan Price and Jeff Schalk took on Floyd Landis, and about Sue Haywood totally destroyed her course record.

This is a picture from last years Shenandoah Mountain 100 but the weather was identical this time around. Early morning start and the sun rose just in time to don my shades for an all day spin. I stood on the line with Jeff Whittingham but as soon as Chris Scott bid 475 riders farewell that was the last I saw of Jeff. The pack swallowed me like a whale shark swallows a million plankton. Perfectly ok tho. I was there to ride all day and forget about the race as I spun 180 rpm for the first five or six miles. Geared riders were off the front and I was now surrounded by some SS guys I'd yo-yo with for the next eight and a half hours. Topher Valenti, Rich Dillon, Tim Dougherty , Jason Morgan, and Benji Klimas.
I was constantly looking around for Ramponi and Buck Keich hoping to ride a portion of the race with those dudes. Buck later told me that he was slowed with a flat while negotiating a large puddle on the first fire road. As for Mike and I actually heard him from high above on the Lynn Trail switchback shouting "I get to ride my bike all day".
The climb to Brailey's I remembered all too well from last year. I was fairly comfortable on the ascent, and sat aboard eating oatmeal cookies that my wife Lesli had made. I stuffed my jersey pockets full of these tasty cookies, no wrappers to drop or fidget with and no chocolate in the cookies to melt. My fueling plan now in full effect and I was hoping it would last till aid 4 where I could refuel.
The single track descent off Braily's was my favorite part again this year. Fast was not a problem, let go of the brakes, pick a good line and don't take too many risks on the tight off-chamber single track. Throw down a turbo pedal blast every now and then. The fat tires and plush Reba fork were soaking it all in. I loved how silent the SS was. No chain slap or gears to crunch or mis-shift.(photo courtesy of Jonathan Bruck)
Aid 4 I asked the attending mechanic to tighten my pedals two clicks each as I rapidly ate 11 orange slices machine gun style. I changed up bottles and had a cpl Advil and was back aboard for the long road stretch which would have totally sucked without help.
The road stretch ends with a right turn, over the river and up to a mile & 1/2 hike-a-bike that I mostly walked. I heard someone riding behind and got out of the way...Topher laying down the power. Good ride man! as he passed. This was my low point last year but this year I seemed to be hanging tough...must be the oatmeal cookies.
About twenty minutes before hitting the climb to Shenandoah Mountain I was alone on a false flat gravel road spinning my brains out and looking up the road at a group of 5 or 6 riders. As I closed in I could identify the unmistakable turbo pedaling traits of four SS guys. At this point I still didn't realize that Tim Dougherty had mechanical trouble with his rig and was forced out of the race..but instead thought he was tearing up the race and had escaped all of us. I could see from my vantage Topher was being reeled in by Rich, Benji and Jason and I was closing in just as fast. We soon grouped along with two geared riders and rolled together in a pod three across on the gravel road that seemed to mostly dip down to Shenandoah.
This was the coolest part of the race. Everybody was resting, conserving for what was coming. Friendly conversation in the air. It was clearly the calm before the storm and we all knew it.
The right turn up Shen, Jason took off, me next. Not looking back till getting to aid 5 near the top. Dicky came by and matched Jason's level of intensity. I was still in conservation mode, pedaling while seated, laying down power but remembering the length of this cigar shaped mountain must be in the neighborhood of ten miles and figured I'd reel Rich in somewhere in between. Simply not the case. Those guys held in there for the next hour placing 1st and second. I was stoked to grab third in the single speed race. Maybe the most fun I've ever had in a race. Later I'd realize that I beat my last year's time by 21 minutes placing 27th over all. sweet. Now that 12 hour drive from New England was worth it.
craziest guy out there (on a fixed gear) Tomi McMillar
turned in a 9th in SS
Eatough and Price #1 and #2 respectively in the NUE Series
Fast women of Shenandoah

Fast men of Shenandoah


IF Chicks said...

not bad for your 2nd ride on the new bike ! where's your podium shot ??

rick is! said...

nice job man, way to kill it!

Jason said...

Great finish! That's freaking sweet!

Andy said...

We got jaked out of the SS podium shot..Chris had a problem with a few ss'er classified as geared guys and by the time they figured it out it was dark.. oh well

namrita o'dea said...

that's awesome!! congrats!

gwadzilla said...

I can see why Landis would turn down the Whiskey

it was that Whiskey and Beer combination that got him into that ugly mess at the tour!

Andy said...

yeah, that OR might have been the sight of Swamper handing home made whiskey in a mason jar that turned Floyd off.

IF Chicks said...

I just noticed that pix of you during the race.. NICE.. you look like the Singletrack Terminator !

u definitely scored the right bike color..