This past Sunday was the 16th Annual, Shenandoah Mountain 100, held in Stokesville, VA. Every year, local biking and trail building legend, Chris Scott, outdoes himself with the course, volunteers, food, and atmosphere.
This year was my first year riding the SM100, but I've heard stories of the epic race for years. I was hesitant to sign up for the event this year, as I didn't think I'd have time to train properly with a newborn in the house, but around August first, I got the itch and signed up.
I was riding roughly 50 miles a week, then after signing up, I bumped that to 70-90 miles a week. Most of my long rides were on a road bike, and those were 20-30 mile rides, while the rest of my time was spent on my mountain bike on the Western Slope trails of Massanutten. So, I had some good miles under my belt, but no where near what the "serious" people where putting in - but I was OK with that.
My goal all along wasn't to go out and try to match Jeremiah Bishop's time (7:08), but it was to finish feeling like I did my best and to take everything I learned from this year's race and apply it to training for next year.
When the workday ended on Friday, I knew the weekend was going to be one for the record books - and it was...
After arriving in Stokesville and eating a huge pasta dinner with some great friends, I went to be early in order to be fully rested for the early start. I camped in my car and slept well, other than the fact that my battery powered fan died at about 1am.
I woke-up around 4am ready to go, I couldn't sleep any more as I started to feel a little anxious about the race; did I train enough, how would I manage the death climb, or what would I do if it rained all day? But a brisk walk around the Stokesville Campground quickly settled my nerves and I just focused on soaking in every second of the day.
I ate some cold oatmeal and fruit, prepped my bike (Cannondale Scalpel), asked for a few last minute tips from my buddies, and made my way to the stagging area.
The race started promptly at 6:30am and my adrenaline was pumping. It was go time and it was a great feeling. I felt strong until the off-camber climb after 250. However, I regained my strength on the Braley's downhill. Sadly, I hit my lowest point on the gravel road up to the death climb. I was shaken out of the mental lapse when I struck up a conversation with another rider who was also feeling mentaly frail at mile 60 or so. We encouraged each other and I got my real second wind at aid station 5. I felt strong rolling out of 5 and climbing to the entrance of Chestnut (there was even a light rain to cool my core temperature down). I rocked Chestnut and used that momentum to carry me through aid station 6 (the Scud fries were spot on). The last 12 miles or so took me a little less than an hour and I felt super confident crossing the finish line.
It was an amazing feeling, made even more amazing by a surprise visit from my wife, Melissa. I rang the gong, had a giant burger and sat down in a camp chair to relive the ride with my wife, dad, and some close friends - it was the perfect end to a great day. The enitre experience was so rewarding and I can't wait to do it again!