It’s been about 48 hours now since I finished the 2007 Shannock Valley Mountain Bike Race, and finally I’m feeling normal again. This race must be the hardest 10 mile race I know of! For a race that only takes about 55 minutes to finish, it’s a real kick in the chamois!

Yep, the course is brutal. It’s full of steep climbs and fast descents, and if there is ever a flat part, it’s all bumpy field – and bumpy grass fields are not easy to ride!

shane leading on the first hill

But at the same, the course is relatively safe and non-technical, making it great for first timers. It’s one of those “fun for the beginner, expert racer, and whole family” type of races. Besides the great course and spectator spots, the Shannock Valley Community Festival offers good times and good food. Did I mention the door prizes? You can’t beat it.

And you certainly couldn’t beat the 2007 race. On top of the typical goodness, the course was altered slightly this year; it included more fun singletrack and less boring fire road. I think they had more course marshalls out this year, too!

If you’ve never raced there, the increase in marshalls might not seem like a big deal. But the course has so many turns in every direction, even race veterans can get confused – especially after the steep climbs when you can’t possibly think clearly!

Speaking of steep climbs, let’s get into the race…

After a quick ride through town, we hit the huge climb that eventually drops us into the woods. As usual, Shane Gouldthread led the way, setting a blistering pace that no one could match. I followed in second place, keeping Shane in my sights, and hoping to put some time on a few other guys that looked like podium contenders.

Everything was going as planned when we entered a new section of trail, and I shifted to my big ring to go after Shane. I saw an arrow up ahead that looked like it pointed down some nice doubletrack… but I wasn’t looking far enough around the corner! It turns out we had another short, steep uphill before we headed down.

levi and the other racers

That mistake allowed a guy to pass me on the climb. No worries, though – I followed right behind him. I realized he was on a rigid singlespeed, and after seeing him climb one hill, I figured he’d be worn out soon enough…

He wasn’t. He put some time on me, and I only saw him a couple more times over the rolling hills. Then he was gone!

Let that be a lesson: Never underestimate the crazies on rigid singlespeeds!!

Once he was out of sight, I realized I had more problems – a couple guys who couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds behind me!

So I upped my pace a little bit, hoping that they wouldn’t see me and chase harder. Every so often I would look back to keep checking, and I still had a good gap. I really wanted that gap, because in a race like this with complicated turns, they’d have it easy following me. While they wouldn’t get a draft, they wouldn’t have to worry about making the right turn. At the same time, I would be expending a lot of mental energy by scanning the trail for the markers. I wanted them to work just as hard!

I kept a steady pace for a while, planning to keep my 3rd place position till the end. After I hit the roller coaster kind of section, I scanned the long hill up ahead – no one in sight. But as I climbed it myself, I realized there were two guys closer to me than before!

That’s when I knew I had to pick up the pace. So I did. I blasted through all the singletrack and tried to stay off the brakes as much as possible. I felt a bit weak at certain points, but it wasn’t too long until the last big fire road climb. Once I got there, I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that I could really turn on the jets.

And I did. I flew up the final climbs as fast as ever and bombed the descents. I slowed a bit for the last tricky descent, but I was left with a big enough gap to get me to the finish line safely in third place. (By “big enough gap” I mean about five seconds!)

The seven of us hung out at the finish and exchanged tales of our personal turmoils over the last hour. A good time was had by all, and we set out for our recovery spins.

Maybe next year I’ll break past the third place barrier…

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For more information on the race, visit:

SVC Festival MTB Race Page | 2007 Results

Or read my Shannock Valley race reports from 2005 and 2006.

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