by Harlan Price
The 10th annual Shenandoah Mountain 100 fires off this weekend with a field of gunners looking to bring down another 100 miler course record. 2008 has been the year of course record deaths with the fastest times ever for many events including the Wilderness 101 last month and the Fools Gold 100 and Leadville 100 this month. Shenandoah 100 race promoter Chris Scott has a record size field of 500 riders coming to his Shenandoah Valley venue outside of Harrisonburg, VA this Saturday for a weekend of camping eating and racing at the private Stokesville Campground.
A strong favorite in the men's field is NUE series leader and last years winner and course record holder, Jeff Schalk (Trek VW East Coast Regional). His 2007 race against Floyd Landis pushed him to new heights and it will be doubtful that he will be able to break his own time of 7:05:25. The men looking to take Schalk and his time down are deep with the determination of racers such as Chris Eatough (Trek VW Factory), Sam Koerber (Gary Fisher 29) and Chris Beck (Gary Fisher 29er) on the short list, while past pros such as Paul Brushetta and Charlie Storm will be looking to replay some glory days. Look for some roadies to fill in the gaps, while trying to figure out what all the hollering is about over these 100 mile sufferfests. Not in attendance will be series contenders Christian Tanguy (American Cycling and Fitness) and Harlan Price (IFracing.org) who is still recovering from a fractured wrist. Jeremiah Bishop (Trek VW) will be in Utah racing the NMBS series final, escaping a much anticipated rematch with Schalk after Schalk DNF'd at the Fools Gold.
As is traditionally the case for a Chris Scott production, the women's race will see one of the biggest fields due to his policy of equal payouts for top riders in the men's and women's fields. Fresh to form like a new sports car off the lot, Trish Stevenson (IFracing.org) is looking to back up her Fools Gold 100 win last week. Though she was looking strong while taking down two of the leading ladies in the series at that race, it's a new day for everyone and she'll have to work hard to defend against the NUE series leader Cheryl Sornson (Trek VW East Coast), Betsy Shogren (Sobe Cannondale) and recent TransRockies finisher Michelle Stopper (Visit PA).
Last year Sue Haywood (Trek VW) blazed the course with a new women's record time and set the challenge high. Due to an injury at the national championships in Vermont, the local Haywood will be on the sidelines yelling words of encouragement to the 30 plus women duking it out.
Gunner Shogren (Sobe Cannondale) doesn't seem satisfied with a couple of decades of racing success and now has his eyes set on a NUE series single speed championship. He'll have to contend with a West Virginia posse of skilled riders like, Chris McGill and Benji Klimas in the run to the finish and for the beer pint glasses given to each finisher.
For the 50+ men this will be another chance for the locomotives Greg Turner and Scott Root to collide. Though Turner has consistently churned the engines for dominant winning times, the day for Root might be this weekend. Perhaps paving the way for these stately elders of speed is John Majors, 2006 and 2007 series winner, who will be dicing it up as well.
Up next is the series final in Tahoe CA, at the Tahoe-Sierra 100 on Sept 6th.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews.com for full results, photos and race report from the Shenandoah Mountain 100 or go to www.usmtb100.com for more information.