Monday, June 10, 2013

HooHa 2013

The Massanutten HooHa celebrated its 25th anniversary this past weekend.  It's incredible to think that for every year since 1989 this race has happened.  I wonder how many people, if any, have been to all 25?  I've been to less than ten, I think.  I don't think its been the same course twice ever.  And the trails just keep getting better and better. 

 I  pulled a double win this weekend!   I won the inaugural enduro and then the 19 mile xc event at the HooHa.   Its funny because enduro is the latest trendy, fun event to do, but in a way it is something that Harrisonburg has been more or less doing for a while.  The six-pack downhill race series in the fall has elements of enduro, as does the annual(15 years running) Tour de Burg.  But Shenandoah Mountain Touring and Massanutten Resort did a great job this first year of making  challenging courses over four stages and having accurate, transparent timing.  I've been to a few enduros now and I was pleased that there were no timing snafus.  Maybe a bettter shuttle to the top...but can I really complain about a shuttle?  Don't worry, we did have to ride to the top of Kaylor's once that day and then twice the next day to the overlook.

Enduro is fun, but I also think its really tough in a lot of ways.  Some of that depends on your expectations.  Do you just want to ride all day in the woods with your friends and make new friends and pay for someone to time you doing that?  Or do you want to ride as fast as your potential? Do you want it to be all downhill?   Will you only be happy with courses that play to your strengths?

Practice makes you ride better normally.  Seeing and practicing lines is usually a benefit.  Also, knowing where the hills are( yes, enduro usually has uphills in it!) and what tires to run.  Even things like what color lens to run in your glasses or do you want googles?  Some people think that no practice, no shuttles and sight unseen runs are the purest form of enduro.  I'm not sure.  You have to do what your schedule, budget and mountain allow for. 

One thing I have noticed is that every enduro is going to be a little different.  I like to think of it as an artist's interpretation of a mountain or area.  Chris Scott's interpretation of the western slope of Massanuttten has a healthy mix of gnar, gnar with Stage 2 rocks of Kaylor's Knob, the pedaling across the ridge of stage 3 and then the beautiful descending of SVBC built with love trail, 2000 hours in stage 4.  And even though the men's podium was half hardtails and lycra and people will complain about that...the fact is you need both fitness and skills to do well in enduro.  And you need to give all you got because every second counts.  But if there are any videographers (Scott Wooten) or photographers (Ian McAlexander) around and they catch you doing a section fast or with style then that is what counts!  Thanks to Ian for taking these pics of me on the course and podium.

I rode my new Cannondale Jekyll for the enduro, which is a trail bike with adjustable suspension that goes between 4 and 6 inches front and rear, on the fly.  I had a Rock Shox Reverb dropper post and Kenda tubeless Nevegal tires and baggy shorts.  Then for the cross country I rode my Scalpel 29er with Kenda Kommandos and lyrca!

The xc course was run in reverse this year than year's past.  It was a fun course that had fast climbing up the Ravine trail and a rocky prologue loop and the highlight was coming down 2000 hours!  My legs were a little stiff to start from the enduro the day before, but about 4 miles in, I started to loosen up and get a gap on the other girls. On days like this I think its really important to use electrolytes.  I use Elete in my bottles and Gu gels. It is so hot and humid always at the HooHa. And those poor XXC riders have it the toughest! 

 I found the climbing easier than the descending!  Which is weird after doing well in the enduro the day before.  I guess that is the way it goes, you never know how it is going to go! I was psyched to win some good cash for the weekend and not have any wrecks. It was a great, but small group of girls at both races.  I was very impressed with our youngest enduro girl, Scout!  She has got some skills and drive.  Hopefully, more women will find enduro and the HooHa as fun as I do and come out and race.

Its fun to be a part of the history of mountain biking in this area.  Big kudos go out to Kenny Hess, George Willets, Mark Nissely, Tom Proctor, Eric Bickert, SVBC, Thomas Jenkins, Chris Scott, employees of Massanutten Resort and so many more people who have given their time and energy over the years to this great event.  I think for next year, they need to bring back the pond jump!

Consider donating to Scott Wooten's kickstarter about this gem of a race in Virginia.

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