after several attempts to be clever and cute I have decided to just spit it out
there is no real drama
no aliens attacking from above
no snakes attacking from bellow
no grandious descriptions of screaming down the downhills
nor do I drag on about how the climbs dragged on for me... well maybe a little
I will just try to give a synopsis of the race and the events that surround the SM100

Race Report: The Shenandoah Mountain 100 (2005)

An early season injury caused a bit of a set back
crashing on the first rock in my first race of the season lead to surgery to correct a broken and dislocated index finger
at the point of the injury I estimated my return date... there was big hope for the 24 Hours of Big Bear
that was a big let down as I was no where near ready for the fun
then there was the notion of returning to Michaux for another try
although I was riding by that time... my had did not offer the control or confidence to duke it out with the tombstone size rocks of Gettysburg PA
so my riding and racing moved along slowly
while I was still trying to get into a groove other riders and racers were starting to peak
as the summer started to close I looked at my base miles and realized that I had not done any distance to speak of
a little more than two months off the bike left me feeling less than confident
the last time I had ridden a hundred miles was the SM100 the year prior
then again the time before that SM100 where I rode a hundred miles was the SM100 two years prior to that
so, it is not vital for someone to do hundred mile training rides to do a hundred mile race
but... a few 40 or 60 mile days would certainly help
there had been no 40 or 60 mile rides in my recent memory
nothing but my post work rides... most of which never go longer than 60 minutes

as the race sign up came closer and closer to closing I was still on the fence
my deciding factor was the knowledge that it would a painful day if I were away from the race
how could I be elsewhere wondering..... how would I have done? would I have finished?
there is a pigheadedness in me that had me.... I did not want to chicken out
I knew that I would have a sickness in my stomach if it were Labor Day weekend and I was not racing my bike in Stokesville VA
so... I signed up... making me fully commited... making me an actual chicken if I did not race... feathers and all

so.... signed up for the race with no time for training I developed a plan
braced myself for the dreaded DNF
offered myself an exit
having raced this event twice before I felt that there was no need to hurt myself trying to prove anything
on race day I would go out hard and see where things took me
knowing there would be misery, but accepting that if things got to be absurd I could cash in my chips at the nearest check point... adopt the role of volunteer... and eat my race entry fee worth of Swedish Fish

when I spoke of this race to people there was always an asterick telling them my doubts

with a blink of an eye the week had ended and so had the summer
Labor Day weekend had arrive and so did the SM100 race weekend

on Saturday morning after some Ashtanga Yoga I loaded up my car and put my geared Karate Monkey on the new Thule roof rack
then drove cross town to pick up my brother
we spent the three hour drive to Stokesville trying to resolve the world's problems
that and retelling the same set of stories about high school that we tell each other every time we go on a road trip
once at the race my anxiety did not settle any
it was good to see so many familiar faces
many of these faces I had seen heading out on training rides or returning from training rides as I was putting my kids in the car or taking my dogs for a walk

my confidence as a cyclist was weak
my confidence in completion of this event was also low
I tried to instill a positive attitude
mantras moved through my head.... "I am a mountainbiker... I am a mountainbiker... I am a mountainbiker"

the night before the race has a wonderful flurry of activity
people running around throwing up their tents and trying to tune up their bikes
my wife came up with our older son Dean to try and join in on some of the fun
four year old Dean was fueled by the energy of the moment
Lisa seemed to enjoy the festival atmosphere and did not seem to mind watching Dean
as her husband ending up running around like a chicken with its head cut off
odd... thought I arrived in an effort not to be a chicken
ending up being a chicken just the same

the pasta feast was a flavorful gathering
like one big family getting together for dinner
familiar faces were coming out of the woodwork
races carbo loaded both pasta and beer
anxiety continued to build

I could not sleep nor could Dean... we each tossed and turned in the tent
only to wake with the sound of "the gong"
somehow I woke well rested

knowing that the coffee was brewed in limited quantities I wasted no time getting to the pavillian
trying to steal an extra wink was not an option

in no time breakfast moved to suiting up.... suiting up for a team picture moved to grabbing the bike... which then became the line up for the start

I lined up with a great number of Orange and Red City Bikes jerseys
as we slowly started the race I rolled past Lisa and Dean
it was a joy to see part of my family there to support me
Dean looked at me with such pride
he had a wide smile and a gleam in his eye
an image I kept with me the whole race
an image that carried me through some long climbs
an image I can see now.... his blue fleece pjs.... his hipster hat with fire and flames.... and that face
the happy healthy smile with a sparkle in his eyes

the race is all a blur now
never knowing the names of the climbs or the names of the descents I can not tell you how I felt where
was pleased that I did not crash
felt like I may have been a tad over cautious at points to avoid any repeats of crashes from last year
tried to race smart
fast and steady on the downhills... fast but not furious
smart not screaming

on the long stretches of flat between the climbs and on the climbs themselves I worked hard to get in some good breathing
worked on smiling
worked on positive thoughts
spend a good deal of time thinking of my 19 month old son Grant and the things he does
those cute little things that make him unique
those cute little things that make me brag about him in the work place
then I fixated on that image of Dean's wide closed smile and sparkling blue eyes at the start
the check points and the miles rolled by

there were two points in the race that really damaged me.... the distance between check point 4 and check point 5.... and another place I can not describe as I do not know the name
points where some used their "granny gear"
while I found it more efficient to work other muscles and march along side my bike

durning the race I tried not to watch the clock
tried to spend more time listening to my body
never did my body say... "lets quit"
there were a few times where my body said.... "I Hate Climbing"
then at Check Point 5 I got great pleasure from looking at the cute volunteer with the shirt that said, "Pavement Sucks!"
the words on the shirt were funny too....
after check point five things did not get any easier
climbing at two hundred and thirty pound is not easy
knowing that I was in fact going to finish this race after all my doubts gave me great energy
throughout the race I was able to ride with an assortment of friends

sections were shared with Pat Riggins and his IF Single Speed... chased City Bikes Team Captain Brian Pooche down the first downhill.... there was a point early in the race where I followed what appeared to be a City Bikes Pace line.... but such roadie tactics confuse me so I monitored from a tad behind.... there was some serious cat and mouse/yo-yo about with Larry Camp.... a repeat of the year prior... it was a great day

the weather was an amazing contributing factor to me being able to do this race with such pleasure
the cool breeze may have been the wind in my face at points
it beats over heating and passing out

in the end I rolled through the Finishline to be greeted by Chris Scott with the scale in hand
shockingly I was the first Clydesdale to cross the line (the next two Clydesdales were just minutes behind me)

it was a great feeling coming across the line
a feeling that gave me a feeling as if I could still ride my bike for a few miles
I did not test that feeling

to my shock I finished 101 out of 350 racers
beyond that I managed to finish this year 20 minutes faster than the year prior
it was a pleasant surprize
a great feeling considering I had considered not racing and had braced myself for the dreaded DNF

I was beyond satisfied with my performance
there was relief along with the satisfaction
but there was elation
there was pride
I felt proud
my mantra was true... "I am a mountainbiker"

the thing about this event...
it is not all about the race
it is about the whole weekend
there is something great about the early start that has people come the day before
there is the meal that is provided
the pre-race meeting at the pavillion
the camping and the comaradirie
then after the race there is more of the same
with the kegs flowing and the sore legs many people opt to stay the night of the race
continueing the family feeling as racers gather for another meal together and yes... MORE BEER
the whole experience is amazing
a pinicle mountainbike experience for all who are involved
a memory created that people will hold for years to come

this race becomes part of the people who participate
and not just for the racers
there are mountainbikers who volunteer year after year
some racers race one year.... volunteer the next... then swap back
others volunteer year after year
there is more to this event then going around a set course
it is about people coming together

thanks again to Chris Scott, his staff, and all the volunteers

some pics
some old pics
some pics to come

jack looney photography
(some great shots that can be purchased through SHUTTERFLY)

1 comment:

van den kombs said...

Reading thru some 2005 SM100 recaps for inspriationan and came across yours. You captured the feeling of the weekend and race. Good luck if you're racing there this weekend.