World Tour: Shenandoah Mountain 100

As many of you know, Harrisonburg, VA is home to a serious mountain bike scene, both in terms of riders and trails.  The eastern half of this country has some amazing riding, and the Harrisonburg area stands with the best. Over the Labor Day weekend, Eric and I loaded the Dirt Rag gas-hog and headed down to the tenth running of the Shenandoah Mountain 100.   The plan was simple: hang out Saturday as racers filtered in to spread the Dirt Rag love, and ride bikes all day on Sunday. Survive and finish, I kept telling myself…


I had heard many good things about race promoter Chris Scott’s events in the past, and this year certainly didn’t disappoint. Chris was forced to cap entries at around 530 for this year’s event, and had no problems coming up with well over 100 volunteers. No doubt the incredible participation a result of the organization and supportive atmosphere at this race.  Meals were provided for all participants the evening before the race, coffee and bagels lured sleepy riders out of their tents in the morning, and a huge spread was served post-race.  Not to mention the 16 kegs of beer rumored to be on site.  Though, the organization goes further than just food.  How many promoters have their race machine so well oiled that they’re still able to participate in a race of this scale?  To date, I’ve met only one:

After some midnight fireworks, errant megaphone operation, and rumors of keg stands, almost everyone settled down for a few winks before the morning’s 5:00am gong wake-up.  The sun was just starting to make visibility adequate when we rolled from the starting line at 6:30am.

From this:

To this:

If you’ve never ridden in this area, you owe it to yourself.  This course is amazing.  Big climbs, most of which can be ridden, followed by big, fast downhills with incredible flow.  Climbs were a mix of tarmac and dirt roads, fire roads, and singletrack, while nearly all of the descending happened on singletrack.  In fact, the downhill trails were so fast that I was counting my good blessings having kept the rubber on the trail.  Our friend Mike wasn’t so lucky, as he took a spill pre-riding and dislocated his elbow, which meant his game was over.  It was obvious early on that Chris and his crew take their events seriously by the attention paid to the trails prior to the race.  There wasn’t even one speck of trail that I felt was anything but superb in terms of design, condition, and flow.  You really could trust the flow of these trails, and just let it rip.

This speaks volumes:

The most surprising portion of the whole weekend was the support from volunteers at the aid stations.  These folks made every Tom, Dick, and Harry feel like a sponsored pro athlete, it was simply amazing.  Each station was a marvel of efficiency.  You would pull into an aid station, have your bike whisked away for a chain lubing, while someone else filled your water bottles and Hammer Gel Flask, allowing you to graze your way down the well stocked food table only to find a freshly lubed bike ready and waiting.  Big thanks to all of the volunteers who made this such a pleasant event for all.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering how the DR crew fared.  Well, Eric laid down a stellar performance on his Black Cat singlespeed from issue #137, coming in just 27 seconds after the 10-hour mark.  I was relieved to simply to roll my Pivot Mach 429 test bike (look for the full review in issue #139) across the finish of my first 100 miler in 11 hours and 50 minutes.  The bike certainly wanted to go fast, but I wouldn’t let it.


Thanks to Chris Scott and his entire crew for facilitating such a wonderful event.  If you’re interested in checking out the Harrisonburg area, Chris also runs Shenandoah Mountain Touring  offering tours, support, and local knowledge for your adventuring pleasure.  Additionally, he puts on the Stoopid 50 and Wilderness 101 races in the State College area.

Check out our Gallery for more photographs.