The Shenandoah Mountain 100 is an insanely tough endurance mountain bike race held in Stokesville, VA, just 30 minutes south of Harrisonburg.
This year Bluestone had the pleasure of running Aid Station 2 & 6 with the Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club. Hosting an Aid Station means we were there to help encourage, feed, and fix bicycles for the 600+ race participants. And we did just that!
The race started at 6:30 am. My dad, Connor, and I watched as David, Erik, and Travis left the campground, and then we headed to the volunteer tent to wrangle the volunteers and all the gear needed for the day.
Dave Stackhouse, from CAMBC, and his team of volunteers met us at the tent ready to go. Many hands make light work and once the vehicles were loaded we were off.
We quickly arrived at our spot, which was located 31 miles in as Aid 2 and 88 miles in as Aid 6. We needed our station to be up and running ASAP as we expected the leaders to be in around 8:15 am.
Our team pumped out PB&J's, set-up pop-up tents, organized the drop bags and food items, and put together a mobile repair station. We had a group of 'chain lubing specialists' that we trained to be fast and efficient. Our main goal with the station was to keep the chaos at a minimum and be ready to help the riders with whatever they needed. And at the end of the day, I'd say we met that goal pretty well!
Chris Scott, was right, the leaders came in close to 8:15 am, I believe the leader, Jeremiah Bishop, was the first through the station at 8:30 am. The leaders barely touched their brakes, they grabbed fresh bottles and were off in a blink of an eye.
The rest of the riders came through in what seemed like never ending waves. Conner and I had our hands full with tire issues, suspension, gear and brake adjustments, broken spokes, loose seats... you name it, we probably saw it.
It was stressful at times, but so rewarding as everyone was truly grateful for our help. Even though the riders were suffering, they were in great spirits...for now!
The day went on and we saw Jeremiah Bishop again at mile 88 around 12:40pm. He was flying! Again, he didn't even stop. He grabbed another bottle and took off.
As the rest of the pack followed him it was fun to cheer them on and celebrate that they only had 12 miles left. Twelve miles is more than some mountain bikers put in on an average ride. Nonetheless, many people were very happy to hear that only 12 miles remained. On the other hand, some riders were already at the point of exhaustion and 12 miles seemed like an eternity. For these particular folks we made sure to give them the freshest SCUD fries we had and a tall glass of Coke. We gave them our best pep talk and sent them on their way.
At the end of the day, the last rider was through the station before it was completely dark. We were impressed. Everyone did so well. The remaining volunteers packed up the station and headed back to the Stokesville Campground.
The burgers and excitement at the Campground was fun to return to, but there was also a sadness in the air, as news that a rider had experienced a traumatic accident during the race and had passed. This was hard for me to hear and I struggled with wrapping my head around weight of the situation. A fellow cycling enthusiast was no longer with us and it happened on our home trails. Whoa.
Our community is still struggling with the loss and we all wish the best to his friends and family.
The Shenandoah Mountain 100 is hard, it is a struggle of body and mind. However, with that challenge comes strength in body, mind, and community. Maybe this year, more than any other years, our community will become even stronger. Death is hard, but we can make it uniting and that is the stance we will take on this year's sad news. All 600 of riders and 100 or more volunteers are all a stronger community because we grieved together and will push on together. Next year's SM100 will undoubtedly be the best one ever.