What Jeremiah Bishop does on his summer vacation

Jeremiah Bishop in action at Mt St Anne

Jeremiah Bishop in action at Mt St Anne (Image credit: Marek Lazarski)

By Steve Medcroft

Many of the top mountain bike pros took the week between World Cups in Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec (June 24-25) and Angel Fire, New Mexico (July 9-10) to get some quality recovery and training time. That means workouts at altitude, leisurely recovery rides, road work, massage and maybe some downtime to mentally prepare for the next event.

One American cross-country racer is taking a more active approach to his preparation, though. During his break, Trek's Jeremiah Bishop entered the six-day, 300-mile Tour de Burg stage race; a Harrisonburg, Virginia grass-roots event now in its tenth year.

Bishop describes the event as "hard core, back-country mountain biking and road riding" and "no way to spend the week off" but says his trainer put him up to it. "My coach (Hunter Allen) is a maniac. He wanted me to have a really hard week. But this race is tough."

Tough because you're racing on unfamiliar terrain? "Well," he says "this is my stomping ground. I know all the local trails; although we have done some I've never seen before. And the guys who put on the race has a habit of adding trails that I know would make some of my competitors whine." Like? "An absurd, hair-raising, never-seen-it-before three miles, 2,500-foot descent. Something right out of Lord of the Rings."

Tough because of the competition? "It does attract a bunch of tough yahoos that love nothing more than to ride really hard trails," he says, laughing.

Tough because your coach is asking you to pull such a long week? "Well, it's not so bad being asked to do a 30-hour week when the guy asking has done it himself." (Allen is an elite-level USA Cycling coach and a former roadie with the Navigators Pro Cycling team)

Okay, so maybe tough is not the right word, Bishop concedes and instead says the event is "hard, but it's the most fun I've had racing my bike all year."

Has the race, which Bishop currently leads, been good training? "It has. I'm building towards marathon worlds - which is my goal for the year - and this is the perfect training at the perfect time."

The Harrisonburg-based Tour de Burg (shenandoahmountainbikeclub.com/tdb2005.html) ends today.

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