Shenandoah this past weekend is beyond words at this point. Not sure if it is because exhaustion level is still high or if the good times were at an all time high and now I’m speechless. Either way it was another good weekend on the mountain bike and hanging with some rad people. I’m one lucky gal!
Shenandoah 100 has a piece of heart that no other race will ever have. Around five years ago I picked up a mountain bike and rode it down a green way and thought yeah this seems cool let’s get into it. $700 dollars later I had myself a Gary Fisher Waa Hoo and I was determined to become a mountain biker. Whatever that meant.
I came into the sport virtually with a blind fold on and no skills. Luckily I had some fitness and some great people that were willing to spend time watching me ping pong around in the woods, cry some, question why I spent all my savings on this heavy two wheeled object, spend more money on bikes, and convince me to sign up for the Shenandoah100. Yet another rash decision I made. I ended up spending my whole summer putting all my energy into bike riding and then going to race a 100 miles in VA! It was a suffer fest to say the least, but every year I keep going back for more and getting a little bit faster.
This year started as good as any other 6am start would go! We hit some gravel roads and I stayed strong and I was able to have a great position in the single track and not get bogged down too much. When we got to the first descent a smile crept up on my face and I tried to rail it as much as the people in front of me would allow. Then my parachute went off and my body was in “abort” mode. My legs had no power on the climb and everything just felt like it was falling apart. The downhill couldn’t come soon enough, and when I finally hit the downhill I dropped my chain and some how got it in an actual knot. It took a while and a lot of deep breaths to get it figured out while I watched everyone blow past me. At this point I saw Brenda go by. It certainly didn’t surprise me but it definitely wasn’t the most exciting part of my day. I eventually got the chain back on, and finished out the descent to aid station 2. I blew through it and tried to get with some people on the road section. I felt like I was surviving and trying to suck every wheel possible to prevent from complete break down. I passed the Simrils again and thought nah I should probably just stick with them, but my wheels were rolling and I wasn’t willing to back off. We hit the gravel climb and it was everything I could do to keep the cranks turning!
In every 100 mile race you’re going to question your sanity and how this was ever a good idea. This began on that climb and I went deep into the pain cave questioning all endurance events, and even thought over and over I’m done! No more! Enduro racing here I come! I enjoy the descents too much to suffer on the up hills like I am right now. I even questioned why I thought a 34 in the front was a good idea. Who am I!? I’m not strong enough to spin this! The thoughts were getting deep and dark, then Missy and Shaggy showed up! To see familiar faces I was briefly able to not focus on my achy legs and horrible choices! Brenda and Lee passed me on the climb and we exchanged some smiles and they were off. I knew I had to settle in and survive at this point to even complete the race. So that’s what I did!
For the next thirty miles I ended up being able to make up a lot of time and pass people on the descents and would go back and forth with Chris and Gary from Knoxville. Having these two with me on the climbs was the key to being able to snap out of my funk! At one point Chris was in front of me and Gary was behind me on a rocky single track climb (which is usually my favorite) and the two of them would not let me stop! Gary would force me forward and at one point when I started hiking I told him to go by me and leave me! He wouldn’t! He said he was my body guard! My mood started to lift! I started to actually laugh with Gary (which if you have met Gary you know it’s impossible to not smile and giggle around him)! We reached the top of the climb and Chris was there! I took off in front of them with better spirits and ripped down the single track to aid 4 with a huge grin and thought you know at least I’m having fun on the descents who cares if I have no power today!
At Aid 4 I refueled with the help of all the wonderful volunteers and their encouraging smiles. Took off with a group on the road towards the death climb. I was able to pace line with these dudes all the way there and when it pitched up I was able to put the hammer down! Finally I was feeling normal again! Legs were there and somehow I packed the parachute back up! Going into aid station 5 I was excited for Coke and gummies! I took a handful of every candy possible and packed it in my gas tank! I was quickly informed that Laura was just ahead of me. The motivation was high, spirit was high, and now my blood sugar was high. It was on and I put the throttle down and didn’t lay off till the finish line. I caught Laura on the big descent. Once I caught her I knew it was time to take it up a notch and climbed up the single track with no mercy and when I hit the descents I brought out my ninja skills and loved myself for always running a seat post dropper because it definitely helped to drop people!
Finally, Aid 6 is within site! I bomb through the creek crossing at Mach 50 and than waved to the lovely volunteers as they cheered me on! At this point there is no stopping these wheels from rolling! Laura is probably going to attack as much as possible and the last thing I want is her to pass me back after passing her like a crazy woman on the descent! Plus after such a rough day and rallying at the end all I wanted to do was stand on a box!
The last climb went well I was surrounded by single speeders so I just tried to stay with them. Standing and mashing, sitting and spinning, over and over! Finally the top. A single speeder asked me if I was going to shred or if he needed to pass me? Excuse me!? Kaysee shred? I had no comment I just let the brakes go and got some air off the first roller and within moments he wasn’t on my wheel! We laughed about this later on the next climb and he said he would never question that again!
I rolled into the finish around 9:09 in third place all smiles and beat up! I’ve never been so excited to stand on a box in my life! There are so many strong women that show up to Shenandoah every year and to battle for 100 miles it is physically and mentally deteriorating. Luckily Chris Scott knows how to put a party on for us. Endless beer, tons of friends, good food, and free camping what could be better? Not much! Therefore, I’ll probably be back again next year! Cheers!
And as always a big humongous shout out to Kona for making the most rad rig out there for every race the Kona Hei Hei Supreme! Then of course Nox Composites for outfitting my bike with the strongest:lightest ratio wheels out there! Last but not least Tennessee Valley Bikes for keeping everything in working order!