Photo by Brad Allen

MOUNTAIN BIKING

Snake Creek Gap Time Trial
dahlonega, georgia
January–March, 2013

Locals call it “The Snake,” and the name says it all. Beautiful, but deadly. The course is 32 miles of the Pinhoti Trail in North Georgia, ridden three times over three months in the dead of winter. Fastest time wins. “It’s the only trail I’ve ever cursed at,” says 2011’s singlespeed champ Eric Nicoletti. “The first 17 miles are pretty standard. A little uphill, a little downhill. Some rocks and roots. Then you’re going along the ridgeline and the rocks get bigger and bigger until eventually, you’re trying to get around home-appliance-sized rocks. Then you’ve got Bruce Dickman, the race announcer. He gets out there on the course with a bullhorn and heckles the racers.” snake.nwgasprba.org

Massanutten Hoo-Ha
massanutten resort, virginia
June 8-9, 2013

The Hoo-Ha is two days of racing on Massanutten’s Western Slope, a semi-private singletrack course lovingly maintained by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition. Racers choose from 12-mile XC course or the 32-mile XXC course. If you’re more gravity inclined, you’ve got a short track race or the Super D, a fast race over a 3.5-mile course that begins high on Massanutten Mountain and challenges your downhill endurance. The Hoo-Ha is the jewel in the Triple Crown East Series, a mountain bike event series that also includes the Bump n’ Grind in Alabama and the Fontana Dam Jam in North Carolina. massresort.com

Chomolungma Challenge
snowshoe mountain, west virginia
August, 2013

One of the South’s newest races, the Chomolungma may also be one of the region’s most unique. It’s an enduro downhill event, with riders bombing laps on Snowshoe’s bike park in the steep Western Territory. The fastest biker to drop the elevation of Mount Everest wins. Here’s a numbers breakdown to whet your appetite.

1,500 feet—Vertical drop per lap

20—Number of laps you’ll ride

29,035 feet—Total elevation you’ll drop, the reverse height of Everest.

Chomolungma—Traditional Tibetan name for Mount Everest.

ride.snowshoemtn.com

Shenandoah Mountain 100
stokesville, virginia
September, 2013

The SM100 is the original mountain bike sufferfest. It was the first 100-mile mountain bike race on the East Coast on singletrack, founded by   race director Chris Scott.

15 years ago, why put on a 100-miler? 

We needed a bigger, better adventure on the East Coast. It was kind of the heyday of 24 hour races, but we felt going around in circles was missing something. We wanted bigger terrain. When I came up with the 100-mile idea, my friends didn’t think it was possible. We hadn’t ridden 100 miles on trail before. This was the first trail-based 100 miler on the East Coast.

What makes the race so popular?

The trails. The trails here are just so good. The beer from Starr Hill helps too.

What’s your favorite part of the course?

We designed the course around the Chestnut Ridge downhill. It’s 10 miles of downhill that starts so high up, so far out there in the backcountry. We put it near the end of the race so everyone remembers it. Personally, my favorite trail on the course is Dowells Draft. You’re surfing sidehill for five miles.

Anything big planned for the 15th anniversary?

We’ll have brand new trail to ride. We just finished building two miles of trail that goes up Narrow Back Mountain, the first mountain you ride on the course. It’s rocky, with huge school-bus-sized boulders.

mtntouring.com

Pisgah Stage Race
brevard, north carolina
October, 2013

Make no mistake, signing up for the Pisgah Stage Race is a commitment. Five long days of riding infamous Pisgah singletrack is not to be taken lightly. “You’re racing the best cross-country bikers in the South,” says Kym Schifino, the overall women’s winner in 2012. “The climbs are brutal, but at the top, you have a world-class downhill. It’s impossible not to have fun on Black Mountain. That’s my absolute favorite trail on the course. Pure downhill fun, and a lot of the stages end with it. Yes, there’s some hike-a-bike. Farlow Gap is the toughest part of the race. It’s full of rocks that you have to carry your bike over, and you slip and turn an ankle. It’s just as easy to wreck walking Farlow as it is riding it.” blueridgeadventures.net

Best of the Rest

Fontana Icycle
Fontana Village, North Carolina
January, 2013icyclerace.com

Cohutta 100
Ocoee Whitewater Center, Tennessee
April 27, 2013trailheadoutdoors.com

Dragon’s Tale
New Castle, Virginia
April, 2013mtntouring.com

Middle Mountain Mama
Douthat State Park, Virginia
May 5, 2013mountainbikevirginia.com

Pisgah 111k
Brevard, North Carolina
May 18, 2013pisgahproductions.com

THULE Urban Assault
Richmond, Virginia
May 18, 2013dominionriverrock.com

Cole Subaru Crying Wolf Challenge
Bluefield, West Virginia
May 19, 2013 cryingwolfchallenge.com

Burn 24-Hour Challenge
Wilkesboro, North Carolina
May 25, 2013burn24hour.com

Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic
State College, Pennsylvania
May 26-June 1, 2013tsepic.com

Gran Fondo Alleghany Highlands
Covington, Virginia
July 12-14, 2013visitalleghanyhighlands.com

Georgia Singlespeed State Championship
Hartwell, Georgia
September, 2013gsschamp.com

Baker’s Dozen
Forks Area Trail System, South Carolina
October, 2013sorbacsra.org

Swank 65
Brevard, North Carolina
November, 2013blueridgeadventures.net

North Carolina Cyclocross Series
Various locations, North Carolina
October-January, 2013-14

Virginia Cyclocross Series
Various locations, Virginia
October-December, 2013

For more great Race Ahead information check out these sections:

Snowsports

Trail Running

Road Running

Mountain Biking

Road Cycling

Climbing

Paddling

Hiking

Multisport

Superlatives