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Sunday, September 2, 2001 -- Harrisonburg, VA
Shenandoah Mountain 100 (iPO Event Id#: 4388)
Photos by Dana Harshberger

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
[Pic Group 1] [Pic Group 2] [Pic Group 3] [2000 Coverage]

Race Pic
The start of a long, long MTB ride
Race Report from Meghan Ryan
(see also the article by Dana Harshberger)

As I was weaving back and forth pedaling slowly up (did I mention that it was UP..?) the last section of the Shenandoah Mountain 100, only one thought kept me going- "Let me at those cruel and unusual bastards...Just wait until I get my hands around that race promoter's neck.... torturous, sick and twisted, never going to end... finish the race just so I can flog him Hell with the women behind me, I just want to get to the finish line and kill whoever put that climb looming in the- oh my GOD- Great Scott- ANOTHER CLIMB- distance. Now he's going to get it... torturous bastards, whoever thought this up.... cruel and unusual..." Of course, as I crossed the finish line, suddenly this self same "bastard" seemed the very angel and genius of bike racing for devising such a brilliant way to spend 10 hours of pain and adrenaline on a bike, and I found myself spewing forth to the man my profuse gratitude and solemn oath to come back next year and every subsequent year for more pain and suffering.

Earlier that morning, at 6:50 am to be precise, we, the approximately 235 riders participating in the S&M 100, as I have now dubbed it, took off at a pace to rival many criteriums down the gravel road leading to what was later rumored to be the next 113 miles of racing and between 8 and 15 hours of our day. After riding the surprisingly non-painful Wild 100 a few weeks before, I set out with confidence at somewhere near a normal racing pace with the attitude that 100 miles had nothing on me. When Tiffany Mann, the Independent Fabrications rider who won the women's race, took off up the road my only thought was, "I have 10 hours to catch her - why worry?" The rest of the women dropped soundly out of sight behind as I did the same behind Tiffany. My friend Paul Tower of the Lateral Stress/Trek team, who I had intended to ride the whole race with, was feeling strong, so I told him to go ahead without me. The rest of my friends were either disappearing up the road with the pros or chilling out far behind, so I settled in with me, myself and whatever poor schmucks got stuck behind me for a long day in the saddle.

The first four hours and fifty miles were happy days of fast single track, scoffing at the thought of stopping at an aid station, and grinding up climbs like fatigue was only a word describing army uniforms (so naive about the suffering to come...). Noreen Smith and Iggy's Friend Jason caught up to me at one point during this time on a long single track climb, allowing us to ride neck in neck for the next five miles or so. The three of us went back and forth until Jason blew by both Noreen and I on a loose, rocky descent. I blew by Noreen at the same time, and Jason broke his chain, yelling with competitive spirit, "Don't worry, I'll catch you again in a few minutes!" as I rode past laughing at his earlier bravado and current predicament. After that, I didn't see another woman for the rest of the race, nor did I ever see Jason again, who broke his rear derailleur in a subsequent accident and had to ride a three speed for sixty miles. From that point on my only contact with the competition was when officials at each aid station would call out that Tiffany was, "Only five minutes ahead of you," egging me on for another 10 miles at an optimistic pace.

Race Pic
Chris Eatough on the way to victory
From there on out the road to the Holy Land of beer, burgers, and the promoters' neck grew increasingly hard. I finally started to feel beaten up somewhere between the forty and sixty mile marks after being violently assaulted by three trees, a hillside, a vicious pack of wild rocks, a rare knee-eating stump, and the renowned "Fizik Butt Cutter" saddle. My first encounter with these carnivores of the plant and mineral kingdoms came on a long, fast, narrow, off-camber descent. Three guys, including John Calgiano's mad-man friend from Harrisonburg, were flying along behind me. We came around a corner to find a large evergreen leaning across the trail, matched by another large tree on the other side with about two feet in between. I leaned hard left to dodge the diagonal tree, missing my line by a foot. The bars slammed into the tree, my shoulders slammed into the tree, my hip slammed into the tree, and I was tossed across the trail into the second tree, narrowly missing hurtling down the embankment, but slowed by the impact with the second tree, just falling with a thud onto the ground and down the hill. I got up, grabbed the bike, wondered vaguely if I still had a hip bone and clavicle, responded to the frantic calls of "Are you SURE you're O.K.?" with "Yeah. I'm O.K. I'm always O.K. I'll check later." And kept going. A mile or so later I was once again trying to make up time on the off-camber descent when suddenly the up-side of the hill came up out of nowhere, attacking my bike from two sides. It grabbed hold of my leg and pedal for a moment, but let go after getting a few well placed kicks and once again, I kept going. As for the pack of wild rocks and knee-eating stump, lets just say I eventually out ran them anly to be done in by the slower and more insidious Butt Cutter- official saddle of the S&M 100 and a great tool of torture.

The Fizik "Butt Cutter" is an innovative product in the S&M market employing a hard plastic rim around the back of an otherwise comfortable saddle to slowly wear deep grooved cuts in the shape of the saddle on the user's buttocks. As a bonus it generally adds at least two quarter sized round lacerations just large enough not to be easily accommodated by Band-Aids. I highly recommend the Butt Cutter to anyone who enjoys measuring their own riding prowess in terms of the magnitude of pain they are able to endure in any given ride, remembering long after it's over the exact number of days and weeks it took to recover from their battle wounds- trophies of a sort. These Butt Cutter lacerations are of a high quality, yielding at least a full week of suffering (cracking, oozing, bleeding, and other phenomena that DEFINITELY make you feel hard core).

Between the tree and the Butt Cutter, the last forty miles took a turn for the worse. With every back muscle screaming (I never did check out that shoulder at the aid station, although I did stop for food and water briefly), and my saddle doing its work, I began to justify riding the road sections at a moderate pace and began to look forward to each aid station, counting off the miles to the three I ended up a patron of (although only stopping for 3-5 minutes for fear that "the women" were closing in). By the time the infamous 19 mile climb was halfway over, I had started a fairly good conversation with myself out loud consisting, in some sort of pigeon English, of various curses and threats. At this point a man I'd seen throughout the race by the name of "Peter" took it upon himself to tow me along in his wake for many miles of the 19 on the road, saying he was out of contention for anything, so he might as well help me out. His presence got me going again at a reasonable time trial pace in the big ring, then, at some point, like passing a baton, Pat came along and took over. And you can only hammer with Pat - it's what he does, and wouldn't be right any other way. Each mile he assured me there were "only two miles of climbing left" until we had gone at least 10 miles up, then his chain broke for the tenth time and I trudged on alone, hoping his last two mile statement had been true.

Race Pic
Still standing after 100+ miles of pain
The last twenty miles went by slowly and unremarkably other than the muttering and delusions, coupled with occasional peripheral hallucinations. Although men I passed said I looked fresh and was climbing fast, I felt like the road was creeping along and had begun the mantra of bloody murder mentioned earlier in the narrative concerning the promoter's neck.

Finally, at long last, the fire road dumped out into the Stokesville Campground and the finish line. Suddenly there was power left in my legs and the day was bright. I crossed the line. Somewhere far off in the distance, down a tunnel I didn't remember existing between the finish line and the food tent, I saw Sami Fournier coming toward me, and thought, "Oh. Sami down a tunnel... WHY is Sami down a tunnel? Oh. It's some kind of sound coming from Sami-down-the-tunnel. I wonder what it is she's saying? Is she talking to me? Where did my bike go... and why does it look like Sami-down-the-tunnel has it..? Oh look... FOOD TENT through the tunnel..!!" And at this point, I proceeded to wobble off into a world of veggie burgers and beer... a Utopia you never would believe existed if you hadn't been there... Naturally Iggy, Paul, and Jason Troxell were all there and cleaned up already. Iggy came in a remarkable 24th after virtually not having been on his bike for half the season- he is a sick and twisted animal, Paul came in 20th, as a self proclaimed roadie, and Jason came in 38th, beating many an expert rider (I'm wondering when he's going to pull the sand bags out of his jersey pockets and realize he's an expert). I believe these guys are such monsters that when they put the hammer down, they still have one left. Oh, and I ended up 45th over all, about 17 minutes behind Tiffany, and something like 30-40 minutes ahead of the next women- very close competition over a 10 hour race.

It was a "fun" weekend for all who enjoy self inflicted pain and suffering. Along with the saddle, I give it five stars. The tree only gets three, as it failed to draw blood. The only thing I would do is maybe add some high quality shock collars next year and a whip for each participant.

[Note: This is a highly dramatized account that far over emphasizes the difficulty of the course. In reality it was hard because of the ratio of climbing to descending, by time spent at each, and because the descending was often technical enough that it didn't provide any rest, but not hard enough to warrant scaring anyone off. It was just a race. In my estimation, no matter how easily you look like you're riding a course on the outside, if you aren't suffering at least a little internally you aren't racing. Thus, take this account with a grain of salt, remembering that "Mayhem Meghan is always at least a little full of s---."]