My slack ass has finally gotten around to writing a detailed report from my experiences at this year’s Mohican 100. Yes, it has taken me over a month but that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting around doing nothing…..
TimmyD and I took the Audi and cruised out to Ohio the day before. Rumor had it the weather was going to be hot and humid. It was hovering in the lower 80s on the way out. I drove the majority of the trip while my navigator was sleeping.We arrive and find the start/finish and pick up our numbers and such. Then it was off to figure out our lodging. After some back and forth with Harlan, Tim and Simon we found a cabin in, what I think, was the Mohican Campground. Turns out the racecourse looped around the campsite on some sweet singletrack. Shortly after arriving we were greeted by Simon and Lindsay who drove down from Ann Arbor Michigan.
Mmm. pasta dinner and rest. Great way to spend the night-before. Early to bed, early to rise (5:30/6am) along with the ‘oatmeal challenge’. Then we were off to the start/finish at another campground. It was humid and did not look like a fun day was in store.
The first 25miles or so was all singletrack through the Mohican Forest. It was a rolling start out of the campground onto the road. We cruised along top of the dam that I was informed we’d be climbing straight up at the end of the race. The start was ‘supposed’ to be a rolling, causal start to keep the group together but that lasted all of what, ½ a mile? I was rolling with Harlan for a little (hmm.. guess I was up front) but and then he pulled away when I ran out of gear. Then Simon came past me on the road and I hung with him ‘till we entered the singletrack. Tim was way up infront and I recalled Topher being somewhere behind me.
Enter the singletrack. Sweet stuff too. Fast rolling singletrack with some nice turns and switchbacks. I was moving at a decent clip. One that wouldn’t put me over the edge and one that wouldn’t hold me back. Every now and then I’d see Tim a few turns up the singletrack. Hmm.. Am I really that far up? I was guessing my singletrack romp had me in the top 3 singlespeeders and later I figured I actually was holding 2nd place SS with only Tim infront of me.
Lets say 10miles in I caught up to a group of geared riders that was moving slow for my tastes. I tried passing them but they wouldn’t have it. I was having so much fun pushing my own through the turns without anyone infront of me that I was pissed when I came up to this group. Even more pissed when they wouldn’t let me through. A few elbows here and a few explicit words there I got through. Only to open up a gap and then crash pretty bad about a mile down the trail. Yeah, it was a quick left and quick right (ala: chicane). I thought I could bunny-hop and go straight cutting off the turns. Wound up catching something with my tire and folded the bars. Landed on my left side and slid for about 20ft. Lost a waterbottle and the group I pulled away from caught me and passed me. Doh!
After a very quick search for my bottle revealed nothing I jumped back on the bike and shook off the crash. It was my first crash of the season so I was somewhat disheveled but shrugged it off the best I could. The folks at the first aid station (mile 15?) were kind enough to provide me with a new bottle (now I had two again) and I was on my way.
Pushing hard through the singletrack I was quickly finding that I was riding the first 30miles as if that’s all the race. Ugh oh. Not good. I still have 75ish-miles go to. Nearing the end of the singletrack (upper 20s) the temperature was rising and DeJay Birtch and Robert Elam caught up to me. Pushed it very cleanly through a rock garden only to notice I’d lost yet another bottle in the process. I was losing strength fast thanks to the humidity and let them pass me. I’m thinking I slipped into 4th place and was comfortable with that.
Out of the singletrack and onto the road. Hanging with some geared riders and beginning to cramp. Oh, and I’m out of water in my one and only bottle. Temps in the 90s. Not a good combination. A few miles out from aid station 3 I hear someone calling my name from behind me. It was Simon. He took a wrong turn for about 10mins and had to backtrack (the story of last year’s Mohican). He let me finish his water bottle and we cruised into aid station 3 together. Said Topher and company were about 5mins back on me. Not good. Now Topher’s catching me. What a day.
Topher and Keith rolled into aid station 3. We all refilled and then took off together. I was fading fast while Topher and Keith pulled away from me. We were on a bunch of unpaved and paved roads. At one point I was creeping along all by myself for easily 10miles. I’m hovering around mile 50now. Saw Garth cruising around in his car and was seriously, seriously, considering flagging him down and turning in my number (ala: DNF). Lots of thinking and I was able to push away the thoughts of DNF and kept on moving.
At some point I found the next aid station around mile 50/60. I was not feeling well. Drank two full bottles and ate some food (oranges, bananas, etc) while I sat there. By now I’m sure Topher and Keith had 30mins on me and I was delirious.
Mile 50 – 89:
Somehow pushed on and actually found some strength and my legs weren’t cramping anymore. Rolled back and forth with this geared rider that kept on commenting on how strong I looked (if only he knew). He eventually pulled away and found Topher and Keith at the next aid station. Said a few things about how well I was feeling and that I was gaining on them. I arrived maybe 10mins after they left.
The humidity was insane but that would soon change. I was out of water again and now onto these flat Amish carriage roads cruising at 100+ rpms riding solo. The high cadence felt great on my cramping legs but I knew it would take its toll for I heard these carriage roads were long. I began trying to figure out what I’d do for water. Then I come across this picnic area and saw a well. Now I shouldn’t go pulling random water from random wells but didn’t care. As I was filling my second bottle I looked up to see this group of riders in a paceline going down the carriage road. In amongst them was a singlespeeder. Shit. I jumped back on the bike and caught up to them. Hanging onto the back of the paceline I sat up, grabbed my Ziploc of Accelerade out of my jersey and filled up the two bottles. Now I’m set and settled into the paceline. Setting a blistering pace was Danielle Musto from Slingshot. Somehow I was able to hang on with shotty legs and 1 gear. Then the rain came. Finally I thought. It’ll cool down. It also formed huge puddles on this nasty cinder-covered carriage road. We quickly turned black with grit.
At one point the carriage road had a short 20ft climb up to cross a paved road. Little did I realize but I pulled away from everyone on this climb. Back onto the carriage road I turned around and saw no one. Huh? Damn. I don’t want to ride solo. Then Danielle and one of the other geared riders caught up and the 3 of us worked together to get to the next aid station (I pulled away from the SSr).
Cruising into the next to last aid station around mile 70ish I heard that Topher and Keith left only minutes ago. Awesome! I’m gaining on them! As I was refueling Danielle took off down the trail. The other SSr caught up and left before I could so I took off after him again. Working hard cruising down the road I eventually caught up to him and passed him. Felt really good. Had some trouble on some steeper grades but for the most part I was feeling really good. That carriage road helped me recover. My stomach was still in a knot though.
Rolled into the last aid station (mile 89) to see both Topher and Keith standing there eating. Topher turns around with a mouth full of pretzels and spits them out as soon as he sees me. “WTF? Where did you come from?” was his reaction. I smiled and said “I’m back.”. I spoiled their plans of an easy spin to the finish. I thought I could keep up with them but didn’t have the strength to duke it out. I had barely enough strength to hold my own and get to the finish. They took off and I followed not to long after.
Mmm. more singletrack. It was another 10miles of singletrack along this river front. I knew that dam was coming and sure enough, it did. Huge thing and we had to go right up the front of it (it was grass covered). Every step I took hurt for every step consisted of cramps in my legs. Many steps later I’m at the top of the damn. Sweet! Mile 98. Only 2 miles to go. I knew the rest was some ups and downs with one last climb to the campsite start/finish.
Not long after leaving the damn (about ¼ mile down the road) something didn’t feel right. My stomach knot was unwinding. Projectile vomit all over the road as I’m riding. It was hilarious, painful, and reliving all at the same time. I pulled over and was hunched over a guard rail and threw up a few more times. Basically everything I ate and drank in the previous 3 or 4 hours was now on the side of the road. My legs were cramping and I knew whatever I tried to eat/drink would not be absorbed in the 2mile ride to the finish. So, I mustered on without drinking or eating and dealt with the pain in my legs. Somehow I was able to ride up the climbs that I encountered, including the last and final climb to the finish.
As soon as I finished I hunched over the bars in relief. TimmyD was watching and came down off the lodge’s porch to help me. Turns out I finished only 5minutes behind Keith and Topher. Sweet! I made up an estimated 25mins after they passed me back around mile 30. My final time was 10hours 3mins and I was excited with that. 6th place singlespeed was the final finish.
Just think of how Mohican could have gone if I ate better and stayed hydrated??