9.09.2004

a few days have passed
and before the topic has lost its timliness I will Publish this Post
it is too long to merit an edit or a reread
I may just have to make another post about more specific details of the event

Race Report: The Shenandoah Mountain 100

This weekend past I participated in the Shenandoah Mountain 100, an off road mountainbike race that offers more climbing than I have ridden cumulatively in the year 2004. Needless to say anxiety and apprehension surrounded this event. In the weeks leading up to this dirt century I had the best intentions to pick up the pace and try to log some long training miles on my road bike, it did not happen. Once I went for an evening spin and another night I broke a sweat on the trainer, but as a whole my training continued to be nothing more than my 45 minute to an hour post work commute normally followed by a quick walking of the dogs. Two weeks prior to the Shenandoah Mountain 100 I entered the Fairhill Classic as a confidence booster.; twelve miles into a twenty-two mile race I was wishing that it was a 13 mile course. Confidence was not gained.....confidence was shattered; it ended up being a good race, but more humbling of an experience than I was seeking; my anxiety levels increased. Then weekend before the race I got a stomach virus from some bad sea food that had my meals racing right through me, exiting out the back in a brown liquid form. The excuses compounded on top of my fears, my mental approach was not positive. As Lisa prepped for a long weekend trek to Pittsburgh with the kids I waited and prayed that she forbade me from racing at the SM100. No such luck! Lisa supported my initial desire to race and did not offer me such a bullet proof excuse. I was committed. Finally, lacking a ride to the race was the Ace up my sleeve. To my sorrow and frustration, Joe Foley, fellow City Bikes Team member and neighbor just one block away offered to give me a ride. All of my excuses crumbled away and I started to plot my race strategy for this 100 mile endurance off road race. Had I not preregistered I would not have felt committed and I would not even considered heading to Harrisonburg for the Shenandoah Mountain 100.

My fears were not without merit. The last time I had ridden 100 miles in one sitting was the last time I had raced the the Shenandoah Mountain 110 (akaSM100) two years ago. In the year 2004 the longest ride I had ridden may have been in the upwards of 30 miles. When there was mention of this event and all of its climbs I braced myself for failure. Quitting is not part of my nature, but I had to maintain a rational approach. It was decided. My plan was to go out and ride hard and strong, listening to my body and accepting that I may have to drop out. Part of this plan was to not leave lights at Check Point 5. I decided that if I could not finish the race before sunset...that I was not in proper condition to be on the course and risked hurting myself. Duration is as much of a painful factor as distance. I could not see myself riding for 14 hours. It was settled. No lights were being left. Instead I packed a full change of clothes for Check Point 3 and Check Point 5. That was fresh socks, fresh shorts, fresh jersey, and fresh gloves. To some it seemed a tad over the top, but to me it seemed like one way to make this long ride a tad more comfortable. No need to pack food.....the support stations seemed to have that part covered two years ago and I would assume that they will be doing the same this year in 2004.

Going into the race I did not have a strong recollection of my time from two years prior. There was no notion of my desired finishing time. My Surley Karate Monkey is not outfitted with a computer so I would not be able to monitor miles or average speed. Knowing such things would not aid my efforts. To me there is a start and a finishline, goals such as finish under a certain time were arbitrary to me. Heart rate monitors would only tell me what my heart is doing not what I should be doing on the bike...if I can not tell on my own that my heart is about to explode and I best slow and rest for a minute, well, maybe, just maybe, I can ride through it. My body is certain to tell me when it is time to stop, rest, or give up. Upon arrival I learned that this year Chris Scott, our friendly Harrisonburg neighborhood promoter, would be adding a CLYDESDALE CLASS to this event. Easily qualifying as a racer over 200 pounds I was only more anxious as I was less ambiguous than when I faded into the Open Class. This was more pressure to perform. Yet, I made no effort to access the competition. In an event like this it is more important to run your own race and to listen to your own body. Had at any point in a race a larger rider passed me.....well I would have just let them roll by. I thought to myself....if the other Clydesdales race slower than me...than I will win the Clydesdale Class....otherwise...there is nothing I can do.

on with the actual race report.....

The Shenandoah Mountain 100 had its 6th annual Labor Day Weekend Event. After all sorts of bitching and complaining Saturday morning arrived and I was pretty much packed and ready to head down to the race. At 12:10 on Saturday I rolled into the alley behind my house right behind Joe Foley in his hip little blue SUV. Joe was expected at my place around 12:15....apparently Joe likes to be prompt. Lucky for me Joe is not only prompt, but Joe is real mellow. I was still all over the place. Rather than spend the morning double checking my bags I spent that morning in the woods hiking with the dogs, Roscoe and Brutus on the Melvin Hazel trail in Rock Creek Park, then off to my Ashtanga Yoga class at Tenleytown....a short journey that steered my rigid Karate Monkey down some of the Glover Archebald and then onto a patch of the Melvin Hazen and then home....home right behind Joe. After a few more things that slowed our momentum down a few more minutes and on the road. In no time at all we were at the City Bikes Chevy Chase store loading up Jason and his Cannondale Scalpel. Joe, Joel, and Jason were all road tripping down to Harrisonburg VA for the same 100 mile race where each individual would have a similar yet very different experiences. Jason was also mellow and made no mention as to whether we were on time or if he had time for my wild goose chase for a bottle of Jim Beam on our drive down to the race. Without any stress, strain, or trauma we were in Harrisonburg, actually Stokesville VA setting up our tents and then getting served a tastee pasta dinner with a three meatball minimum. I had mine with some red wine. Red Wine before the race and Red Bull during the race. Not too much wine, just enough to take away some of the awkwardness and displeasure with sleeping in a tent, well, it is not the sleeping in the tent that is so awkward, but rather trying to sleep comfortably on a thin and skinny thermarest pad which is oddly slick especially against a nylon sleeping bag (not to self invent a one sided Velcro sleeping bag with a one sided Velcro sleeping pad.) At least if I had brought the dogs I would the warmth of Roscoe and Brutus and the cushion of their dog bed. The cold morning came fast. There was no pillow to hug so I got up and meandered over to get a bagel and some coffee. People were pumped. All sorts of lycra clad freaks were po-going around trying to warm up and trying to stay warm. I worked my way back to the tent and suited up. My drop bags had been taken the night before and my camelback and been loaded and filled the day prior as well. My mind had to do nothing but get me to the start line fully dressed with a bike. I slammed a Red Bull and rolled down the grass hill feeling I did not need to spin around for a warm up as I would have a hundred miles to do such.

At the line up I gathered near my brother. I approached cautiously and was careful not to talk too much. I recall two years prior he was not so fond of my caffeine induced chatty chatty-ness so early in the morning. Soon there was a mass of City Bikes jerseys around me....Pooche.....then Susan...then Erza... even Welp and the list goes on. (This is not an episode of Romper Room so if your name was not called.....write your own race report.) Prerace exchanges were made and prerace jitters were shared. Then the gun went off....it was madness...wheels and pedals spinning everywhere. Some sort of fleshy mass riding a metal and rubber amoeboid monster that snaked off the grassy green field, down a dirt road, and off onto a paved state road to take the riders to the first of many many miles of climbing.

No worries.....

I too do not want to here a "play-by-play" account of each inch of climb and every centimeter of descent. It was a glorious ride......it started at sundown for all of us and ended before sundown for most of us. The journey was long and hard, my body and mind were better prepared for the event than I had anticipated. Somehow I managed to go off on a rock solid pace and keep it up for the first 50+ miles. It was a hoot and a holler and a scream (screams of joy on the downhills and screams of pain and anguish on some of the climbs.) The climbs were each rewarded with a sweet descent. It as an awesome trade off. The check points did a great job of breaking up the race. Each check point was like an Indy Pit Stop that refueled the body and the soul. Rolling into each Check Point to hear the sound of strangers clapping and cheering for you can only be beat by having someone take your camelback and water bottle to be filled with one of various vital fluids; gatorade, water, or something...then to have someone lube your chain and more if you need it...with a buffet table of SWEDISH FISH (a box of red and a box of variety, I ate red), PRINGLES, BANANAS, PB&J, more PB&J, SLIM JIMS, ORANGES,COCA COLA, MORE VARIOUS CANDY (and that is just what I ate.) Shamefully I not only pigged out at these check points, but I stripped out of my sweat soaked gear and slipped into that fresh pair of socks, shorts, jersey, and gloves...at both Check Point 3 and Check Point 5.....the fresh clothes were worth it and I needed to take a chair.....but perhaps I did not need to stay as long as I did. Perhaps some yoga inversions would have been more useful then yapping it up with the resting rider beside me and flirting with some of the volunteers.

During the race I rode with and made conversation with a wide variety of people from a wide variety of places....at times I even had the pleasure of sharing a painful foot march with some. Clearly fast draft lines on the hard pack were more pleasure than the mountianbiker in me would like to admit, but I would like to say that I lead more pace lines than I used them and I even got payment in the form of some E-Caps of which I am now a firm believer, as cramping was part of the game and the E-Caps and E-tablets seemed to have a profound effect in battling this pain.

The climbs were long. Did I mention, the climbs were long. The descents were awesome, yet brutal on the body. My hands are arms are what suffered the most. There were times on the descents that my hands were so arthritic that I could not use my thumbs to change gears. Once off the technical descents I did various exercises and positions to try and aid in the fastest recovery of my hands as I could as I knew that I would be needing them again before the day was over. I can not recall the names of the climbs or the names of the descents. Nor could I tell you which was my favorite or which one I dreaded the most. The climbing path to Check Point 5 may have been the worst climb as it came so late in the game and my climbing legs had long since retired by this point in the race. There were moments of great pain and moments of self fulfilling glory on and off throughout the whole event. The downhills made me smile widely even with the pain and left me smiling wider when I got up from a few crashes only to find my body and my bike each in one piece.

With about two thirds of the race behind me I began to grin with glee. It was at this point I was confident that I was in fact going to complete this event. Then I started to think about my placing as a Clydesdale. The thought process was short. I had no idea was behind me and less idea who was in front of me, with no idea who the Clydesdale competition was. I accepted my pace and my placing and pushed on. Late in the race as a few riders went by me as I proceeded slowly up the climbs. On each pass I made a feeble effort to have pleasant conversation. Once pleasantries were exchanged I asked if I could ask a personal question, "how much do you weigh?" There were no riders passing me over 200 pounds....my weak body was relieved as there was no place to did deep, no fuel in the tank, and no reservoir of energy.....all I could do was move forward.

The final miles of the course had changed since I had raced the SM100 two years ago. The last descent into the finish was a rush. My body and mind were running on empty. I had a feeling that I had a slow leak in the rear, but opted to ride forward and further to the finish, thinking I could get to the finish without having to stop and replace the tube. Once across the finish I was greeted by Chris Scott and the finishline volunteers. When I asked to be weighed as a Clydesdale I was ecstatic to discover that I was the first 200 plus pound racer to cross the line. I weighed myself in at 225, not a pound lighter than the day prior. Then checked my rear tire for its pressure. The tire was still maxed out at 65 PSI. The slow leak was in my brain.

I gathered with some fellow City Bikers. Susan had finished just in front of me, and Ezra just in front of her...my brother had been back for some time and looked clean, well rested, and fed. I was pleased with my results and felt no bother or frustration by anyone finishing in front of me. I had raced hard and was very pleased with my performance. My body was sore, but no so sore that I made any grand proclamation that I was not going to race this race again, but rather I finished and thought to myself, I can not wait till next year when I can take a few minutes off my time.

In the end I finished strong in under 11 hours. I place first in the Clydesdale Class which not only gave me bragging rights buy also scored me some awesome 26 inch Bontrager Wheels!
It feels good!
A great race that is a great addition to the mountainbike culture and community.
This events makes us more well rounded athletes as well as better people


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