Shenandoah 100: Brian takes 7th overall at his 1st 100 miler!

Day 1: gettting to the airport. Booked a red eye for wed night at 11:07pm. Leaving out of san fran is always a little more of a pain for me than oakland, just because of where I live. Gualala is a pretty good drive and it usually takes about 3 hrs to get there. Nicole and I headed down stopped at Marin bikes where I recieve a brand new cxr 29er frame. what  beauty. We chatted will all the rad dudes who run the joint. Gravy helped me pack up my rig pro style for the flight and gave me some good last min advice. From there Nicole and I headed in san fran where we paid the ever increasing toll to get across the bridge to hit up mission chinese(tasty chinese restaurant), which happened to be a failed mission because they were closed.
 After finally finding something that was some what comparable to eat we headed down to an appointment  I had set up to sell my old team hard tail. That was a success so now I have some travel money. I’m glad that worked out otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to treat myself to such a lavish night’s stay at motel 6 the next night. Nicole and I had a little time to kill before the flight so we tried to hit up the indoor go karting track one or two exits down from the airport.(We could see it from the 101 but getting there was harder than I thought in the dark) That was a bust as well. Getting there  35min before my flight check in didn’t quite work.  After watching the safety video till about half way through we decided it was taking to long and we were going to have to bail. We took the go karting credit and left. We’ll be back. Headed to the airport and checked in grabbed a seat on the plane and fell asleep till my connection in washington. Changed planes and fell asleep until charlottesville VA. It was a pretty uneventful flight. The days are kind of running together but this is where I have to make the cut off for the story of day 1. 


Day 2
Shenandoah mountain 100 adventure
Landed in Charlottesville (like I said in part one day one) rented a car one way which happened to be a shiny white ford focus. Not such a bad car, smooth and pretty gas efficient pulled my bike out of the cardboard bike box to fit in the car and drove off into VA. For those of you that know me, you’ll know I didn’t have directions to the race course and won’t spend money for one of them thar smart phones to tell me how either, but it was early in the day and I had an idea as to what direction the course was in and asked people if I was getting warm along the way. After about 2 1/2 hrs of “exploring” I found where I was suppose to drop off the car the next day and where the race course campground was. At the trail head (not the race course trail head) I built up my bike and did a little leg spinning. After a about a dozen creek crossings I was happily finished with my messy spin. 

I changed up and headed up to Harrisonburg to look for food and a bike shop. At this small local co-op I went into I was recommended to hit up the Shenandoah Bicycle Company. I’m so glad I ran into that guy because his recommendation was right on. The folks at the bike shop were and are rad! Super nice, helpful and without the slightest bit of “we’re to good for you vibe”. Not once did I get the feeling that someone was going to whip out there dick and a tape measure. They helped me out and gave me some directions to spots in the area that I may need to go. They also told me about an event they have every friday during the fall, which is called six pack downhill. I’ll get to that later. I headed over to my motel, which happened to be the nicest motel 6 eva and got cleaned up. This 6 was not only clean it had hardwood-like laminate flooring and an 8 year old boy’s style bed spread to add to it’s class, I really felt like I might have stumbled into a motel 8 at a motel 6 value. I had to pinch myself pull back the comforter and find a red pubic hair to bring myself back to reality… nope it’s a motel 6. At least there was no blood on the wall like some value motels I’ve stayed in before and who knows, maybe it was my hair, I’m not really keeping very good track of em.  After getting cleaned up I went grabbed a few groceries and headed back to the room, made myself two huge turkey sandwiches and passed out. What a day!


Day 3 Friday 
 I dropped the car off, changed up in the airport restroom and headed back towards the hotel. Now I was a little worried about how the locals treated cyclists, there wasn’t a big shoulder and I’ve been hit before so that’s always a thought. I was pleasantly surprised when everyone that drove passed was really friendly and gave me plenty of room. Every time anyone would pass and give me room I would nicely wave to say thanks. It got to the point where I started to feel like a celebrity or maybe a beauty queen I had my hand up waving so much. I got to the bike shop got permission to crash there while waiting for a ride over to the six pack downhill and headed back to my motel. I packed up all my crap which for some reason weighed a ton now and rode over. I met some one to take my bags over to the trail head and I rode over to the food lion grocery store meeting spot where I grabbed some beer and caught a ride myself to the trail head.  

The six pack downhill deal: Riders of all abilities meet at the food lion parking lot (grocery store) at 3pm, pick up a six pack of beer which is the entry fee into the race and drive to the trail head from there. They do a group ride to the top of one of the sick local decents and send people off in 30 second increments and the winner of the dh hosts the after party with all the beer from entries. http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/249703-Shenandoah-Mountain-100/video/654845-Six-Pack-Downhill-Harrisonburg. After the downhill I chatted for a few and found a ride over to the camp ground where I would finally be at my destination. My cousin and two of his friends were there waiting in a sweet camper with all the amenities. I got cleaned up and called it a day.

Day 4 Saturday  

Saturday was the day before the race and I was pretty tired from all the travel and it seemed like so was everyone else so I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible. I slept in as late as possible and ate as much as humanly possible. After doing that I took about a 2 hr nap. I was really tired. Woke up and did some last min maintenance on my bike changed out my old tires for some new wtb vulpines and did a light spin with the guys I was staying with. The day was just about done when we got back. I ate showered and went back to bed for an early morning start. 

Day 5 Sunday 
Shenandoah mountain adventure 
Sunday morning up at 4am ish, we ate a breakfast of eggs and toast. got my camelback filled and nutrition ready, I was so glad that I wasn’t in a tent like so many people around us. It had been raining off and on and it looked pretty unmotivating the day before out in the rain. Luckily the start of the race was dry, we went off at six and the long day was under way. I started off as close to the leaders as possible without pushing to hard. I knew right off the bat that I wasn’t going to be able to go hard and that I was just going to have to pace myself. My legs were a bit tired but I kind of knew that was going to be the case. I had to let the leaders go and I was happy that I had my SRM power meter because it allowed me to pace myself without blowing up early on. It was my first 100 miler and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I rode with a small group of guys up till about 50 miles when we hit a long fast decent and I managed to get ahead of them. I opened up a gap and kept telling myself to not look back and just ride my own race. It had started pouring around mile 40 and it got a bit slick on the roots and rocks, I was wishing I had just a little more tread and air volume while bombing down some of these ripping descents. I wasn’t going to let anyone catch me and so I let it all hang out on the downs. Maybe a little too much, I ended up head butting a tree and going over the bar into a pile of boulders, I was able to jump up bend my brake lever back and continue on. There is an 18 mile climb that starts about 3/4 of the way through and towards the beginning  I happened to look down and over and I could see there were a group of racers closing the gap. I had some gu and a couple big gulps of water and started pouring it on, I didn’t want to get caught. I kept reassuring myself I could maintain this pace and I hammered on. I was only slowed down a bit by not being able to get into the big ring because of all the mud, this had been the case shortly after about mile 60 or so. At one point it was faster to stop put the chain on the big ring by hand and continue. I finally hit the end decent and was relieved no one had caught me, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining, I came through the finish in 7th place at 7 hrs and 54min. I’m pretty pleased with such a strong result for my first 100 miler, and plan to do more and know how to prepare a bit better. 
http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/249703-Shenandoah-Mountain-100/video/654840-Brian-Astell-Known-to-be-pretty-quick
 I am super happy how well my Marin cxr 29er performed for the race, the thing has been bullet proof for the entire season, and was definitely the right weapon of choice for this hilly sloppy course along with pretty much any other terrain I’ve thrown at it. Thanks Marin, Lost Coast Brewery and all my other sponsors for getting me up and down the mountains countless times. That raps it up for my shennendoah mountain bike adventure. We packed up the camper/pimp mobile and headed up to New England for as much rocky rooty knarly riding as possible!
-Brian