Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I suppose Enduros are the new hot trend in fat tire racing, and perhaps rightfully so. Two weeks ago I jumped on the bandwagon and toed the line at the Madcap Enduro of Michaux organized by none other than Harlan Price. If there is any place to string together some ribbons of singletrack descending it's Michaux. Three timed descents totaling approx. 30 min of race time left everyone smiling at the bottom. Some mild fire road climbing connected the dots. Each stage suited a different set of skills. Stage 1 was super flowy, but a lack of finesse would leave you over-powering the constant switch backs and rock crawls. Those who could put the power down had the advantage in Stage 2, and the final Queen Stage 3 was one for the big bikes. Stage 1 & 2 treated me well, with a 2nd and 1st place finish, putting me in 2nd overall starting the final descent behind Ryan Leech, but that was were my luck ended for the day as I lost enough time in the chunky stuff to shove me back to 3rd.

To handle the punishment I hooked up my SCOTT Scale 29 with a fresh set of Stan's Arch EX wheels wrapped with Schwalbe's new Hans Dampf 2.35 Snakeskin tires and bumped up the travel on the Slide to 120mm. It totally worked! No mechanicals, no dropped chains, and no flats. Riding the hardtail had me second guessing during the final 30 second countdown but I knew the rocks were big enough that I wouldn't miss it too much and there was just enough pedaling in each run to turn it into a pretty big advantage. 

Monday morning was back to the bike work, changing wheel/tire setups for the this weekends Shenandoah Mtn 100 miler. Every time I pop the Stan's Gold 29 wheels on the Scale it blows my mind. I can only compare it riding a road bike with knobby tires. It is so fast! 

I piled into the Stan's NoTubes van along with Richie Rich and Vikki on Firday afternoon and rolled down to Chris Scott's new Stokesville Lodge, adjacent to the Start/Finish area for Sunday's event. My plan was to ride the day relaxed somewhere well behind the lead group and let them pound each other into the ground in the opening miles. I wasn't really there to race, or at least race anyone other than myself. My mantra for the day- 'The less I try to do well, the better I'll do'. I rode with people I hadn't seen for while, Les Leech and I talked about our houses and getting older. I gave Garth a hard time for rolling the first descent so slow (he can smash the flats though!), and my teammate Jeff Dickey and I chatted about how hard the lead group was already hammering.

Through Aid 2 I rolled with a group of 7 or 8 guys, Garth included, before the slog up Hankey Mtn. By the top of that climb I had left the big group behind and rallied down Dowells Draft to Aid 3, with just one close call with a tree, where I got word that I was in 8th place. What?!  That was the first time all day I had any idea where I was as I closed in on the halfway point. The next climb a few miles down the road I caught and passed Rob Spreng and Mike Simonson (see below) moving me up to 6th on the run-in to the monster 17 mile climb up towards Reddish Knob. I floated around in no-mans land for next 35ish miles and two Aid stations. Cramps were everywhere and I felt like I was crawling up everything but at Aid 5 I got word that the next 3 guys had all come through separated by about 3 minutes each. 'Cool, I guess I'll see them at the finish'. I was totally not in any position to start chasing them down. The descent down Chestnut Trail was tough too. Foggy, rainy, muddy, and cold. The 15 minute descent was no less painful as the hour long climb we had just crested.

The biggest surprise of the day came halfway up the final climb when I caught Brandon and Sam Keorber. I could instantly smell a podium spot! I got around both pretty quickly but Sam clearly had one more effort than I did and let it rip. I just held off Brandon to land myself on the bottom step of the podium in 5th spot. 

Congrats to everyone that finished the day out despite two rainstorms. Not Easy!

Looking out the front window of the new Stokesville Lodge. The campground and Start/Finish is just beyond the trees.

The NoTubes crew post SM100 recovery sesh

Was I an underdog?

1 comment:

Harlan Price said...

Nice couple weekends of racing!