By Kyle Lawrence
Chris Scott loves adventure and bicycles. Based in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Chris energetically promotes bicycle events, such as the popular Shenandoah 100, and leads bike tours through his company, Shenandoah Mountain Touring. His events showcase the endless backcountry riding opportunities that are waiting to be discovered, while his advocacy efforts continue to improve mountain biking for everyone. Just back from a two-week trip pioneering a bicycle route across the mountains of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Chris was already busy scouting out new rides for his next trip and finalizing details for upcoming events.
What brought you to the Shenandoah Valley?
The bicycling in the mountains of Virginia is amazingly scenic and challenging. The opportunities are endless; with hundreds of miles of trails there is always a new place to explore.
What was the first event you promoted and how did it go?
Massanutten Resort holds two popular mountain bike races, the Yee-Ha and Hoo-Ha. I helped Massanutten promote those races in the mid ‘90s. They already had a long-standing history of success, so I benefited by being a part of the continuation of that success.
Why did you start Shenandoah Mountain Touring?
Along with my original partners, Mike Carpenter and Jamie Keehner, we felt there was another level of promotion and interaction that was needed for the trails in the George Washington National forest, For both putting on events and for offering a guide service to get people out to all these amazing, scenic and wild places. From the beginning, we explored possibilities to develop overnight bikepacking routes in the mountains.
Most people know you and Shenandoah Mountain Touring for your marquee event, the Shenandoah Mountain 100—what makes the event successful?
The quality of the trails—Wolf Ridge, Dowell’s Draft, Braley Pond, Chestnut Ridge—to be able to link together so many fun, flowy trails in one day is just a dream. Getting to have that much fun on quality trails makes the
hundred miles worth it. I am alway s struck by the excitement and energy that surrounds the Shenandoah Mountain 100.
How does an event appeal to all participants, from the hypercompetitive to casual riders?
There are so many personal benchmarks that can be achieved during an event like that. Some people
are wrapped up in riding a hundred miles for the first time in their life and they want nothing more than to finish. Others want to improve on their time from last year or beat their training partner. A lot of people are
like me, just excited to ride tons of quality trail in one day.
You’ve been around for quite aw hile, done the race circuits and promoted events for over a decade, what comes next? Do 100-mile races remain popular?
I think 100-milers will remain popular because they are an extension of the challenge for people already engaged in the sport. They give people who have done 20-mile events for the past 20 years a place to extend their boundaries. They don’t solely appeal to racers—a segment which hasn’t seen much growth in the last 10 years.
On the multi-day tour side of things, there seems to be a growing interest in events like the Stokesville-Douthat-Stokesville. What makes this event special?
The event is similar to the popular brevets and randonnées in Europe. The whole concept is to ride a loop so big that when you are on top of the mountain in the morning you can’t even see the end of the ridge you will be riding. I think the vast distance covered on trail provides a great sense of accomplishment. You ride an IMBA Epic in the morning from the Shenandoah 100 campground, have lunch and then ride trail to Douthat State park, which is often called the “Disneyland of Mountain Biking.” A warm bed and home cooked food always helps too, but that is only the first day, then you get to ride back! SDS showcases the mountain bike’s
ability to help us cover serious ground on remote singletrack in a few days. Riding that much singletrack squeezed into two days is just thrilling.
Tell us about the Wilderness threat to the IMBA Epic North Fork Mountain Trail in West Virginia?
Wow, that’s a doozy. As far as I am concerned, that is one of the best rides on the East Coast. The group that is the Wilderness Society, their goal is to get more land designated as Wilderness. I understand that, it is a great concept for many people. But to me, my personal feelings are that the trail is an amazing bicycle ride and bicycles shouldn’t be prohibited. Protecting the resources in the area should be compatible with recreation. I think that land protection and recreational trail access is a symbiotic relationship. Recreation interests only help bolster the number of constituents who care about a wild and remote place. Land protection shouldn’t preclude bicycle access to an amazing trail that has been bicycled on for the past 20 years.