The team got in a late afternoon warm-up ride after picking up their registration before settling down for the traditional spaghetti dinner.
The trails were in great shape and the weather looked promising for Sunday as everyone readied their bikes and drop bags on Saturday night.
After a fitful night of sleep, the cacophony of the pots and pans always comes way to early for the 5am wakeup call on Sunday morning.
Everyone got kitted up and prepared for the 6:30am start as well as strategically trying to figure out in which time finishers corral that they wanted to start the race from.
After the mass chaos of the rolling start, the riders started to space out over the first couple miles of the road section before the inevitable conga lines would form at the early single track choke points.
The single track and trails of the SM100 are absolutely amazing. The vistas are breathtaking. The climbs are punishing, but manageable. The ridges and the following descents are the perfect combination of rocky and fast flowing single track.
During a 100 mile race, one has to manage the aches and pains, the exertion and suffering, and on a hot and humid day like Sunday, staying hydrated enough to stave off the dehydration. There is always a low point in a race like this too, where one has to battle their own personal demons as they fight to drag you to that deep dark place of which we choose not to speak.
The trails themselves were in phenomenal shape. They were bone dry and super fast. Almost too dry in spots as the loose rocks and the dry soil at the top of some of the descents made for the occasional moment of excitement/despair as your didn’t know if your tires were going to hold the line.
If the trails are the “Apple Pie” of this race, then the volunteers are the “à la Mode”. They make this race what it is. Their support, friendly faces, and good natured cheering are what encourage the racers to carry on. They are invaluable to the spirit of the racer creating an euphoric high for the rider when seeing the volunteers… especially if they are their friends and teammates.
Jen, Kat, Terri, Howard, Dale and Dorothy were all very supportive as their smiling faces and warm hugs welcomed our racers into the various aid stations throughout the day. Jen and Kat worked AS 2 and 6. Howard was on course between AS 3 and 4 cheering on our riders as they rode past before heading over to volunteer at AS 4. Dale and Dorothy worked AS 5. Finally, Terri worked AS 3, swept the course between AS 3 and 4, and then rode to AS 6 to finish out her day as a volunteer.
Even Mother Nature got in on the act and granted a slight reprieve to those who were still racing around 4pm with a nice refreshing, but short shower towards the top of the Death March climb and along Chestnut Ridge.
It was a great day of racing as everyone who finished, set new personal bests on the fast and dry course.
Chris Lane (Joe’s Bike Shop) finished 54th racing Men Open and 68th overall in 09:15:10. Chris would have broken 9 hours if not for a mechanical that was fixed at AS 2 by none other than Chris Scott himself.
Kathleen Sheehan (Joe’s Bike Shop) finished 15th racing Women Open and 228th overall in 11:15:33. Kathleen raced an amazing race and continues to get stronger and faster every time she lines up for an endurance race.
Noah Flaxman finished 238th racing Men Open and 343rd overall in 12:53:32. Noah raced a phenomenal race finishing sub 13 hours in his second attempt. Not too shabby for someone about to start their Senior year of High School!
Tom Neumann (VeloWorks-Spokes Etc) finished 241st racing Men Open and 351th overall in 13:03:29. Tom proved that a roadie can finish the SM100 with a solid effort in a great time in his first attempt!
Tom Howe finished 260th racing Men Open and 379th overall in 13:38:42. Tom’s day was all about redemption as he was cut the previous year by two minutes 88 miles in at AS 6. Tom managed his race well and stopped on the upper reaches of the Death March climb to help his friend, Ralph Pisle, overcome a mechanical that had foiled his rear mech.
Scott Person finished 270th racing Men Open and 395th overall in 14:10:51. Scott had a great race and throughly enjoyed escaping reality with his wife, Jen, for a great weekend of camping, camaraderie, and racing before they will welcome their second child this October.
Chris Dobroth, John Kromis, and Mary Dobroth all had to withdraw from the race. Chris and John both battled the heat and the humidity before eventually succumbing to its ill effects. Chris made it to AS 5 before having to call it a day. John made it to just past AS4 and turned around on the lower Death March climb. Mary was heartbroken as she missed the time cutoff by 3 minutes at AS 5 and was not allowed to continue.
Sunday night was a welcome reprieve from a long day on the bike and a long day of volunteering for the volunteers. Almost every rider on the team who raced spent the night trying to convince themselves that this was the last time that they were going to race the SM100.
Monday morning came as we broke down our base camp and headed into Harrisonburg for our traditional team breakfast at The Cracker Barrel.
While we were waiting for our a table, a young couple with their daughter who had ridden their bikes to the restaurant emerged to find that the mother’s bike had a flat tire.
Instantly the team sprang into action and grabbed a tube, some tire levers, and a floor pump in an attempt to get them rolling again. Unfortunately, two tubes later, after attempting to patch the torn rim strip and the ripped tubes, the team was unable to get them on their way. The team declined the couple’s attempt at repayment for our time and the tubes as we simply asked them to “pay it forward”.
After waiting what seemed like an eternity, we finally got our table for 11. During the course of breakfast, we befriended an older couple beside our table and had them take a team photo of us. Little did we know that they saw us trying to help the younger couple outside and decided to pick up our bill. We never got a chance to thank them as they left before we did. So, here’s a huge heartfelt Thank You to the older couple who paid for our breakfast!
By the time breakfast was over and everyone was saying their goodbyes to drive back home, the consensus of the team had changed from I’m never going to race this race again to I can’t wait to do it all over again next year!
Finally, a huge Thank You! to the Noah‘s parents, Howard and Peggy, for bringing the extra travel trailer and providing a spread of food and refreshments worthy of a King’s Court. We are privileged that you have entrusted us to take Noah under our collective wing and that we get to ride, race, and talk bikes with him!
Results: 2014 SM 100 (.xlsx)
The Shenandoah 100 became a pivotal race for several NUE Contenders as they headed out at 6:30 am into the George Washington National Forest of Virginia, now just two weeks away before the final race that breaks all ties at the Fool’s Gold 100 in Georgia. The oldest race in the NUE Series, Shenandoah is a highly anticipated showdown showcasing top level talent in a festive atmosphere with most racers choosing to camp out at the Stokesville Lodge and campground. A threat of thunderstorms had some racers wary but the storms moved eastward for this weekend, leaving blue skies, some cloud cover at times, and a gentle breeze.
– National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series: Shenandoah Mountain 100 2014 – Cycling News by Ryan O’Dell
This was my first SM100 and I can’t think of a better team to experience this race with. It was as brutal as promised and I learned quickly that my anxiety over the race was well placed. Thanks to months of training with my team and the supportive smiles and gestures during the race I was able to finish while it was still light out. I can’t wait for next year’s race!
Perfect Weather. Idyllic trail Conditions. Pushing the Tempo. Climbing. Fast Flowing Descents. Heat. Humidity. Pain. Suffering. Friendly Faces. Euphoria. Dark Places and Dark Voices. Pain. Suffering. Passing Shower. Cooler. Rejuvenation. Euphoria. Friendly Faces. Scud Fries. Pain. Suffering. Campground Descent. Finished. Ringing the Gong. Beer. Elation. Redemption.
– Tom Howe
The traditional “Grandaddy of them all” for the Wicked Wash Racing season was another memorable event over this year’s Labor Day weekend. The team set up camp on Saturday and with two campers, two tents, four coolers, a support team of seven folks and eight racers everyone’s expectations were high. Overall, it was a complete WWR effort with nearly everyone either racing or supporting. The weekend trip course pre-rides had been done in July and August. The logistics planning had been done. The training and racing season had prepared the team well for the event. Judging by the relative quiet of the campsite the evening before the start the anticipation and anxiety levels were high.
Race Sunday dawned with racers gathering at the start line in the large meadow on the side of the mountain at Stokesville Lodge. Upon setting off, the field headed down the road at speed toward the first singletrack of the day. As expected, everyone wanted to get a jump to avoid the inevitable back up at Narrowback trail and road speeds were in excess of 26 mph for the 500+ starters during the first few miles. Just as inevitably with 100 miles of racing ahead of us, this pace would diminish….significantly! Negotiating six major climbs (12,000+ feet of leg grinding ups) and their accompanying descents (12,000+ feet of rocky, forearm aching downs) challenged the field all day. From a comfortable, if humid, upper 70’s temperature at the start the late August heat began to wash in by mid-morning before settling in the mid-90’s Fahrenheit. Each of the six major climbs presented its own challenge. The adversity on Narrowback Trail was the usually crowded environment with riders negotiating rocks and flowy trail inches apart from one another. Lynn Hill and Braley’s Pond climb were steep and technical with numerous switchback turns that forced even the most skilled riders to occasionally dismount for hike-a-bike sessions. The infamous Death March climb was…well, the Death March climb…18 miles of uninterrupted upward pedaling from Aid Station 4 to Aid Station 5 between miles 57 and 75. This one claimed many cramping victims. Many riders did not manage to make this point under the designated cutoff time and were pulled from the race after superhuman efforts. Next came the 13 meadows on top of Chestnut Ridge before a long, rocky downhill that claimed its own share of victims with bruises & scrapes before reaching the final Aid Station (6). The course contained one final cruelty, that of a second climb up Hanky Mountain Trail before a “cruise” along the top of ridge and a descent into the meadow/campground to the finish.
Finishes by team riders reflected the tremendous effort on the day. Throughout the race, our WWR racers encountered and supported each other in the ultimate display of teamwork. With Kat and Jen volunteering to support the team at Aid Station 2 (also A/S 6), the WWR riders flowed through in quick succession with all of them looking strong. Rolling into Aid Station 3 at mile marker 45, I was stunned to count six Wicked Wash Racers together with Chris D, John, Tom, Noah, AJ and I all pitting in quick succession with Laurie close behind. Special thanks to Chris D‘s parents for working this Aid Station. Similarly, team members streamed Through Aid Station 4 enroute the Death March climb as strategies began to form based on the condition of the various riders. Howard Flaxman (aka Noah‘s Dad) supported the team at this station and was especially helpful as riders began to fatigue. As in previous editions of SM100, this was where early race strategies either paid off or took their toll. From here, some teamed up to pace line up the mountain. Some partnered up to drag/push each other. Others accepted the reality that simply continuing on might be too much at the heat and the course exacted a huge price. Noah was WWR‘s first rider to the top of Death March, having alternated pace duties with our associated VeloWorks rider, Tom Neuman. AJ and I rode together offering words of encouragement when could actually speak. AJ openly wished for rain and halfway up the monsterous climb a cooling drizzle began to fall that saved many of us. Tom and Laurie had brilliant individual rides up the mountain that saw the first six Wicked Wash Racing riders clear the checkpoint comfortably ahead of the required time limit. Following a consistent ride all day and an inspiring climb up the Death March, Mary missed the cut off time at the very top by a heart breaking ONE MINUTE and was pulled from the race by the officials. We know she will be back next year and will crush it!
As they had all day, team riders streamed in quick succession into the finish to cheers, smiles, a ring of the ceremonial gong and a finisher’s pint glass to be filled with a winning beverage of choice. Noah (12:59) took top honors for the team, cutting over an hour off his time from the previous year. AJ (13:07) also knocked nearly two hours off of last year’s “Lantern Rouge” finish and was the team’s most improved racer. I (13:14) improved by 1:15, won the award for biggest grin at the finish and re-established himself as an honorary “Jedi Knight” for finishing over age 50. Laurie finished strongly in 13:35 in her first SM100 and Tom (13:38) successfully completed his Redemption Race after last year’s “almost, but not quite” ride. Scott (14:10) completed our team finish in a terrific show of consistency for Wicked Wash Racing.
The support by teammates and family at all the Aid Stations was instrumental in the great finishes. Sometimes it was the food that got us through. Sometimes it was having somebody take charge to refill our Camelbacks and kick us back out on the trail. Sometimes it was just the muddy hug and riding alongside us for a mile or so while shouting encouragement (Thanks, Terri!). Overall, this was a terrific Wicked Wash Team effort!