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Sunday, August 12, 2001 -- Massanutten, VA
Massanutten Hoo-Ha - XC Coverage (iPO Event Id#: 4575)
Story and photos by Dave McKain

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
[Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9] [Set 10] [Set 11] [Set 12]
[DH & DS Coverage] [2000 Coverage]

Bishop pushes to a win
Sunday morning presented great conditions for mid-August MTB racing at Massanutten. XXC racers headed out at 9:00 am for their greuling ride while the main event started at 11:00. Trail conditions were excellent in spite of the downpours the previous day. Speaking of the XXC race, Benji Klimas, fresh off his second place finish at the Wild 100 on Saturday was going for the "Ultra Stage Race" win by posting the best combined times between the two events. Before the race, Klimas explained how he had battled with TJ Platt in the 100 - taking a lead out of the last checkpoint before the finish only to have to stop for leg cramps and watch as TJ headed down the road to take the win. While Klimas wouldn't have to put in the same effort (only two riders took the "Ultra" challenge), that didn't stop him from going for the win anyway. Unfortunately, Benji would not finish at the top although 20 minutes back from the winning time of 3:44:03 posted by first place finisher Price Harlan wasn't a bad showing and was good enough to take the Ultra title. His prize for the accomplishment - free entry for the Shenandoah Mountain 100 - even more punishment. Taking second in the XXC was Travis Goldsmith (3:49:34) followed by Mike Kefer (3rd - 3:53:05) and Thomas Jenkins (4th - 3:58:35). Mandi Riddle (5:08:55) took top honors for the Womens XXC followed by Kristin Wilson (2nd - 5:24:19) and Louise Finger (3rd - 5:39:55).

Race Pic
Missy Showman on her way to victory
In the main event, Jeremiah Bishop (1:49:13) took the Mens Pro/Expert win, finishing 8 minutes ahead of second place finisher John MacInnis (1:57:13) while veteran racer Paul Bell (1:58:55) edged out local Paul Buschi (4th - 1:59:10) to take third place. In the Womens Pro/Expert, Missy Showman (2:30:40) kept away from Cassie Smith (2nd - 2:35:25) to take the win while Sue George (3rd - 2:45:12) rounded out the top three. In the Jr. Expert class, Chris Kohl (2:18:02) took the win while Brandon Tate (2:19:41) finished in the second spot. Mike Capraro (2:08:42) took top honors in the Mens Vet Expert class followed by Steve Hetherington. In a battle for third, Steve Thaxton (2:25:20) edged out Ed Dickenson (2:25:31) - a ten second margin in a 2 hours + race, that's racing.

As would be expected, George and his crew put on quite the event, with something to offer for everyone from hardcore masochists (XXC) to MTB racing rookies (Short Course). Paramedics were on hand to aid injured riders while registration went smoothly. With points couting towards both the Virginia and West Virginia series, there was plenty of competition in all classes.

Vet Expert racer Jamie Fitzgerald - back to Massanutten after a long layoff - decided to contribute a story from his experiences over the weekend. We hope you enjoy it and we thank Jamie for taking the time to put together the piece.

by Jamie Fitzgerald

Saturday 4 pm: I roll down to the staging area in the pouring rain. I see two guys standing up under the big tent. I run from my jeep to the where these guys are, "Whadda think? Think we will race or not?" I ask one of them. "We better" one guy says, " I drove 5 hours to get here". Right then I changed my attitude about the next days event. No matter what, I was going to give the Hoo-Ha my best shot, rain or shine. The last time I raced here was back in '95, my first sport race and my first real true MOUNTAIN bike race and my first real 'bonk'. The mountain defeated me soundly that day and I was determined to beat that demon this time.

Race Pic
Looking ahead on the trail
After setting up my camp compound in the rain, I ate dinner and went to sleep only to be awoken around 3 or 4 during a downpour. "Tomorrow is going to be painful" I thought, and went back to sleep although not exactly sound sleep. When I had arrived Saturday, only 4 or 5 people had set up camp, and I wanted a place out of the rain (?) so I drove around the fields until I found a spot. Some of you may have noticed a solitary green Cherokee near the first part of the prologue lap, well that was my little compound.

Come first light of Sunday, I sprang out of my tent, ate some Frosted Flakes and headed down to the staging area. I was amazed at how many people had shown up overnight. There was one guy moving to Colorado, but he wanted to do the Hoo-Ha before he left, so there he was in a Ryder truck with all his belongings and towing a car. Apparently he had shown up after dark and provided a little late night entertainment by getting stuck a few times and calling on Hoo-Ha revelers to help him out. What a night! I went through all the normal race preps, eating bike food, drinking water, riding the prologue lap. The conditions certainly were wet but not terribly muddy like I imagined it would be. There were some slick sections but overall not too, too bad. I lined up in my class, (vet expert) feeling a little sluggish but entirely excited to try and tackle this mountain.

Race Pic
Who says you can't have fun racing
Finally, off we go! The prologue lap was cake, I was feeling good. Typically a slow starter, most people got away from me early but I knew I would see them again. Pumping along to the first short section of climb I began to see some of the people I wanted to catch and picked it up just a tad. Then came the real climb. I said hello to 'granny gear' as I watched bunches of folks hop off and start the hike-a-bike. I was determined to stay on my bike as long as I could, which turned out to be quite a ways. I was catching more people and feeling okay, but that climb just kept going and going and going. I came up on a group of people hiking it and tried to get around but I miscalculated and could not get my foot out of the pedal in time and, over I went. Just a simple fall over, right? Well, the place turned out to be a ledge and down I went about 8 feet. Meanwhile, during the tumble, my right hamstring decides to cramp like never before. There I lay, crying like a baby looking up at the trail watching a steady progression of suffering cyclists look down at me, some would ask if I was ok, some would look at me in horror, and some would just laugh, "you'll be fine, just keep drinking water" they would shout.

Finally a guy comes down and helps me to my feet, I just could not do it by myself with my hamstring in a knot. I tried to remember his number and name but by the end of the race I didn't know who I was much less anyone else. Right then my race turned into 'survival mode'. Time to change strategy a bit. I wanted to finish decent but I could not push but so hard now. More climbing, not just climbing but technical, totally focused climbing, seemed to go on forever! Finally I reached a downhill section, here was my chance to make up a little time. I let it go, fast, too fast. I wound up going off and over the trail in a bend, a high speed crash where I did not get injured, gotta love those! My LEFT hamstring thought this would be a good time to mimic the right one, so once again I lay on the ground for a while trying to untie my muscle. During this second painful episode I did what I think a lot of us mountain bikers do, I questioned my existence. I thought about my girlfriend (Mireya) and how happy I was around her and mostly that she did not see me whimpering like a lost child.

Redman takes a well deserved rest
After I got back on the trail I had to stand there a bit, drink some water and gather my wits before heading off again. It seemed that the ridge line went on as long as the climb to get there. I heard one guy quip as we were trotting along "Don't we have to be ON our bikes for it to be a bike race?" I heard several people say "I'm never doing this race again" (ed - what most of us think about 20 minutes into every race but seem to forget by the next weekend). Yeah, and I will never take another shot of Cuervo..... I bet those people will be the first to register next year. Finally, I could tell I was nearing the end, the big fast downhill gave me plenty of time to recover and remember who I was and where I was and what I was doing. I was so happy to reach the prolog lap. With the finish line in sight I raised my hands like I was Lance Armstong, hopped off a few feet before the finish and walked it in. It seemed fitting since I had walked my bike a lot that day! Those two 'incidents' were the only ones that I had, but it was enough to set me way, way back. I wound up finishing 86th overall and 11th in my class. Disappointing, but I had a huge amount of fun (really). It is astounding to me to think that Jeremiah Bishop finished ONE HOUR AND TEN MINUTES ahead of me, that is truly impressive. Without question the Hoo-Ha is one of the toughest races around, in it's own peculiar way. I know I will be back next year to try again! HOO-HA!