The statement “Jeremiah’s back” can be taken two ways.
The first is, literally, his back, as in broken vertebrae. The second take is that after his performance in last weekend’s Shenandoah 100, well, Jeremiah’s back, as in back winning races.
Going into the third of five stages of the inaugural Intermontane Challenge in Kamloops, BC last July, the MonaVie-Cannondale.com rider went over the bars on a sketchy part of the course and cracked two vertebrae. Needless to say, he was out of the race and a slew of big, mid-summer events.
“Obviously I would have loved to have finished the Intermontane,” Bishop said, noting the purse was $10,000 (Canadian).
Out of reach as well were the Leadville Trail 100 and the World Marathon Championships. The former, Bishop noted, being a high-profile event for MonaVie-Cannondale.com; the latter a more personal goal.
The lone America male at the worlds in Austria was Harlan Price in 87th place.
“I really wanted to peak for the World Marathon Championships,” said Bishop, the 2008 US marathon and short-track champion. “Life has it’s turns and twists.”
Those twists, however, are starting to straighten out. In his first event since the vertebrae incident and three weeks into training, Bishop stormed the Shenandoah 100, his “home course,” by going under the 7-hour barrier, which stood for 11 years at about the 7:15 range. Bishop finished at 6:50:27, 20 seconds ahead of Christian Tanguy (Fraser Cannondale), the “revelation,” Bishop said, of the National Ultra Endurance Series.
“It was an awesome day; perfect conditions,” Bishop said. “I think I was a little lucky.”
But course knowledge likely played a role in the victory, as Harrisonburg, Virginia is the stomping grounds for both Bishop and the Shenandoah 100.
“For me, sub-seven at Shenandoah is significant. It’s my home turf race. It’s my Leadville,” Bishop said. “It was a career goal for me.”
Meanwhile, Bishop is in the running for the NUE Series title by virtue of his early season results – a second at Cahutta and a first at Mohican – as well as his win at Shenandoah. However, he won’t make the trip west to the last race of the season – the Sierra-Tahoe 100 this weekend. A win would have tied him with series leader Jeff Schalk (Trek Racing Co-op), but the best result at the final event serves as the tiebreaker.
However, Bishop said logistics are too costly, considering the prize money at the Sierra-Tahoe 100 is $500 compared to $4,000 last year. Bishop said he does have an invite to race on the road in the UCI Univest Grand Prix in Pennsylvania this weekend.
“I have to see how my back feels,” he said. “I do still have some pain.”
As far as getting back on the dirt, Bishop’s next stop is the Pisgah stage race in North Carolina in October and perhaps the Hawaii Pro-Am, a three-day mountain bike stage race, where first place yields $15,000.
“Then of course the grand daddy,” he said. “La Ruta.”
Yes, it’s safe to say Jeremiah’s back is back.