I’ve noticed Shannon Tenwalde’s name in the standings many times over the years. Tenwalde was the 2012 Ohio Mountain Bike Championship series women’s expert winner in 2012. She finished the 2014 Mohican MTB 100 Miler in 9 hours and 41 minutes, which I thought was impressive. However, what really intrigued me was when she won the OMBC Sport Singlespeed division at Scioto Trails – and beat all the guys!
I thought it would be interesting to dig a little deeper and find out how she got into mountain biking and what motivates her to race.
Q: How did you get started in mountain biking and what drew you to the sport?
A: John (my husband) convinced me to buy a mountain bike a couple years after we got out of college. He told me that he was buying one with tax money and that I should too. I was completely opposed at first because I had a road bike and I didn’t really enjoy it at all. He did take me and show me the trails at Alum Creek so he slowly convinced me to buy one when he got his. On my first ride at P1 I went over a bridge, freaked out, let go of the handle bars and had a pretty bad crash. John thought I would never ride again, but I did, and after a few years of riding for fun I decided to try racing. John has always been the one to push me to tackle new challenges on the bike. When I got my 2nd bike he told me to convert my old bike to a single speed. I thought there was no way I could ride with a rigid fork and no gears, but I instantly fell in love with it. It was also his idea to do a 100 mile mountain bike race. I really didn’t think riding 100 miles on my mountain bike was possible. I think I have stuck with the sport for so long because it never gets boring. There is always something to get better at or a new trail to explore.
Q: This year in the OMBC series you’ve been racing Sport Singlespeed with the men. Why did you decide to do that?
A: I decided to race Sport Single speed this year because I really wanted a new challenge. I had already won the expert women’s class so I thought I would try to win a different class. I also really wanted to try racing my single speed. There’s no single speed class for women so I figured why not race with guys and see what happens.
Q: What are your most important mountain biking events for 2014? Which one do you look forward to the most?
A: The 100 miles races are probably the ones that I look forward to the most because they are the most challenging. I’m always hoping to improve over the prior year. It’s also fun to see all the friends that I’ve made throughout the years of racing the 100 milers.
Q: You are throwing down some fast times this year. How do you train for your races? Can you give us any insight?
A: I really don’t have a set training schedule right now. I just try to ride as much as my schedule allows. I work a full time job during the week, so I try to get long rides in on the weekend and ride a few nights a week or sometimes in the mornings. I ride 3 -5 days a week, either mountain bike or road bike. Usually when I’m training for the 100 milers I try to do multiple laps at Mohican as training. Usually I do three laps at least once prior to my first 100 miler of the season. This year however I only rode at Mohican twice and only did one lap each time and both were on my single speed. I also try to do rides where I mix single track trails and gravel roads.
Q: Why did you decide to race for Paradise Garage? Is it important for you to be part of a team?
A: I decided to race for Paradise Garage because it’s a great bike store and a great group of people to be on a team with. My teammates have really pushed me to get faster and to also try new things, last year I started doing cyclocross races. We have a mixture of people that are excellent at all different disciplines of cycling. I think it’s important to be on a team because you have people to encourage you and also to have fun with after races. It has to be more than just racing, it has be something you enjoy too.
Q: What are your long-term goals in mountain biking? What motivates you to keep riding?
A: My long term goals are to keep improving and keep winning. I’m motivated to keep riding because it keeps me active and gives me new challenges to conquer.
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