Pflug second in single speed. Kelly rides to the race from Philly and finishes 14th.
August 31, 2014. The penultimate race of the 2014 National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series, the Shenandoah Mountain 100, has long been the best attended and most popular race of the series. With 12,500 feet of climbing and many long, loose, rocky descents, the SM100 demands a lot and only rewards riders who can present their climbing A-game for the entire day and who are comfortable pushing the limits of sliding tires on high-speed descents filled with marbles. While the course is epic, the festival-like atmosphere provided all weekend long by Chris Scott and the folks at Shenandoah Mountain Touring, provides the perfect backdrop for spending a bit of non-race time with friends and competitors reflecting on a great season and celebrating the sport that brings us together.
Rare Disease Cycling riders earned three podium positions, this with 500+ riders on the starting line and enormous competition in every category. Selene Yeager and Roger Masse each came away with victories in their respective Women’s and Masters categories as Gerry Pflug raced on single speed to a 2nd place finish.
Yeager, who competing in her first Shenandoah 100 this year had zero idea what to expect. “I’d heard it was a great course—the best of the series many said. I knew there were big climbs and equally big descents.” said Yeager. “I really didn’t know much else but that I was in for a long, challenging, and hopefully very rewarding, fun day.”
Yeager planned to stick with the leaders, women who had raced and done well there in the past, to feel things out. “I wanted to see how I felt and not burn too many matches early on in what I’d heard is a day that gets harder as it goes.” remembers Yeager about her planned strategy. On the first dirt climb, however, that strategy was tossed to the wind…
“One of the race favorites Laura Hamm (Moonstompers) came around pretty much immediately.” recalls Yeager. “I got on her wheel and started thinking. I’d heard she was fast on the descents. It was dry and sketchy—not my favorite descending conditions. And I was totally new to the place. If I stuck with her wheel I might end up chasing out of my element all day. I felt like I could probably climb a bit faster, so I made an early pass and didn’t look back, making a revised game plan to climb my heart out and let it rip on the descents where I felt comfortable, but be conservative when I didn’t.”
Selene Yeager’s revised plan worked. She ended up with her first NUE win at the 2014 Shenandoah Mountain 100. “I didn’t let myself believe it or celebrate until I saw the tents leading into camp and heard the cheers of the crowd.” recalled an excited Yeager about the finish. “I still really can’t believe it. It’s a very proud, happy way to wrap up the main season. Shenandoah is a special—very hard—race. It means a lot to me to now be part of its history.”
Read Selene’s full blog post about here experience here.
If Selene Yeager’s win was the result of a line-of-scrimmage audible, seven-time SM100 participant and 2012 SM100 Masters winner Roger Masse had some strategy revisions of his own. “I’ve never had a complete race here.” lamented Masse about past editions. “I always seem to loose my A-game during the Soul Crusher climb”. referring to the long 20 mile stretch of climbing between mile 60 and 80. “I know the course and never drink enough, so this year I left my GPS in the car and rode with a CamelBak for most of the day” said Masse on his strategy change for the 2014 edition.
“My main rivals, or so I thought, were Jim Matthews and Alex Watkins. I managed to get a gap on Jim and Alex going up the steep Lynn trail climb at about mile 20.” recalls Masse about the start. Jim Matthews was far from finished as he used his impressive descending skills off of Wolf Ridge to bridge back up to Masse. The two remained together till about half way up the first Hankey climb until Matthews got some separation. “He was attacking and has some impressive threshold power. Just like at the Wilderness 101, I didn’t want to go that hard to stay with him so he got a gap.”
But Matthews must have stopped for fluids after the Dowells Draft descent, as Masse was able to regain contact on the road section after aid3 (Rt 250). “We were working together well in a rotating pace line with about 8 guys going up 250” recalls Masse. “I knew what was next and was able to get into the single track first for the technical Bridge Hollow climb and this time I got the gap. I pushed my advantage and my lead stuck through the Braileys descent and aid4.” said Masse who thought he was finally the front runner.
But Masse was not in the lead. “I got in a good group of 6 out of aid4 to start the Soul Crusher section containing Jed Prentice, Kyle Lawrence and two strong climbers one of which was Chris Tries.” remembers Masse. “Once we turned off of North River onto Pitt Rd where the real climbing begins, the two climbers jumped ahead, but I could see that Chris had gapped the other guy and was riding away. Just before aid5 I caught the other guy, and after a short conversation, I realized he was Masters rider Henry Loving!” said Masse about the realization that his race was just beginning. “I made sure he knew I was racing Masters as well and that I thought we were in the lead… Oh yeah, It was on! I got out of aid 5 before him and with a big surge of adrenaline just drilled it to the top of Chestnut and really pulled out all of the stops on the long, loose rocky descent. I didn’t stop at aid6 and just gave it everything I had up Hankey 2 and held on for the win!”
RDC’s Gerry Pflug has made no secret that his goal for 2014 is to stand on BOTH the Open and Single Speed series podiums at the Fools Gold, the final race in the 2014 NUE series. Gerry inched his way closer to that goal by earning second place to Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery) at this year’s SM100. Gordon had an amazing day, setting a new course single speed record 7:45:57 earning 7th place overall.
“My goal going into the Shenandoah Mtn 100 was to take the singlespeed win and set-up a showdown between Gordon Wadsworth, AJ Linnell and myself for the overall SS series win at the Fool’s Gold 100.” explained Gerry about his plans, but Wadsworth was too strong for Pflug to challenge him for the win at this years SM100, so Pflug called his own line-of-scrimage audible. “Knowing a second place finish at Shenandoah would give me a lock on taking third place overall in the series, I began riding a steady and more conservative pace during the race to protect my lead over the other SS racers.” recalls Pflug about his revised strategy. “I had a blast doing the SM100 this past weekend and scored a big bonus towards the end of the race when I saw a black bear and her two cubs while descending down Chestnut Ridge. With a lock on third place in the SS division, I will now be racing Fool’s Gold in the open class for a chance to stand on both the SS and open class NUE Series podiums.”
The day was ruled by local Sho-Air Cannondale rider Jeremiah Bishop who rode to the event and re-rode several difficult sections of the difficult course as training for The Munga, a 1000K race across South Africa. Technical riding master Sam Koerber finished 2nd.
RDC’s Rob Spreng made it to Aid Station 4, where he was forced to withdraw due to illness.
RDC’s Jesse Kelly competed in this year’s SM100 after riding his bike to the venue in Stokesville, VA from his home in Philadelphia. His finishing time of 8:09 was good enough for 15th in the open men. “Thanks to being fed all day Saturday by everyone around the campground I was feeling pretty good considering the long ride down and 3 nights sleeping on the ground.” recalled Kelly about his adventure. “I went for a pre-ride with Mike Montabano and though I was sore at first within a few minutes I felt pretty good.”
“I felt pretty strong from the get-go but figured I’d eventually fall apart. Fortunately I didn’t and was able to ride strong from start to finish.” remembers Kelly about his ride. “There were moments of course, but thanks to being able to stock up at each aid station with the help of many incredible volunteers I just kept feeding and drinking. I ended up having the race of my life, riding single track as good as ever, and feeling like I was climbing really well. I also got lucky on many sections of road where I ended up with two more more riders to work together.”
“I especially enjoyed the company during the race of Garth Prosser, Dan Rapp, John Petrylak, teammate Gerry Pflug, and the most incredible downhill skilled riders, David Reid and Chad Davis. Considering the caliber it’s probably my best race to date.” reflected Kelly. “I don’t think the ride to Stokesville helped, but it didn’t hinder the race either.”