2013 Race Report: Mohican 100 NUE Series Event
Mohican was my fourth cycling road trip for the year. Here’s a recap of the trips to date:
- Southern Cross – Dahlonega GA – 675 Miles
- Cohutta 100 – Ducktown TN – 614 Miles
- Wildcat 100 – Rosendale NY – 267 Mile
- Mohican 100 – Loudonville OH – 408 Mile
Mohican 100 is the fifth stop in the 2013 National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Mountain Bike Series. After my DNF at Cohutta and the mudfest at Wildcat I was hoping for great weather for my third NUE series race. The forecast looked like light rain all day as of the night before the race.
My race week prep went smoothly. I arrived in Loudonville, OH at about 4pm on Friday. I learned a lot on the way to Mohican:
- Loudonville is smack in the middle of Ohio.
- I thought Ohio was flat. I was wrong.
- Central Ohio might be the worst cell coverage in the country. I lost coverage about 20 miles into Ohio and got service back when I returned to West Virginia. Strangely enough I had a slight signal at my tent where I was camping so I could at least text Elise at bedtime.
- There are a lot of Amish people in the middle of Ohio. They like to ride bikes so they seem like good folks to me.
I setup my tent, checked into the race, and left my drop bags at the check in. I changed and rolled out for a pre ride on the early section of the course. 20 minutes into the ride it started raining lightly, then steadily, then pouring, then buckets. I headed back to the campsite and changed to go grab dinner.
I met Pat Blair, Jed Prentice, Mike Tabasko, and Dan Atkins for pizza at Trails End Pizza. It was the young speedy guys and me. We had some great pizza and I asked the young veterans as many questions as I could without being completely obnoxious.
I read somewhere that Jeremiah Bishop eats ice cream the night before National Ultra Endurance Series events so I’ve adopted the practice. I hit up D’s Dari-Ette for some soft ice cream then headed back to the Mohican Adventures campground to sleep. It was still pouring so after saying goodnight to Elise I hit the sack at around 9:30. It rained most of the night.
Fortunately, I can sleep through almost anything. I woke up at 11:30pm to go to the bathroom and there was a huge party going on in the campsite down the hill from me. It didn’t bother me but I’m sure it drove some lighter sleeping racers crazy.
Race morning is getting to be pretty routine: wake up two hours prior to race, pack up my tent, grab coffee & breakfast, hit the bathroom, kit up, get the bike ready, ride to the start. The downtown Loudonville start was energetic and the weather was great. With 550 people registered Mohican is a big race compared to the other NUE races that I have done.
The start was predictably crowded. There were a few wrecks right off the line. Two behind me and one in front. The one in front tangled up Jed and Mike. The guy was laid out on the pavement looking rough. When you are about to race 100 miles, staying upright from the start seems like a pretty good idea. You’ve got 7-12 hours to catch whoever you are worried about. Chill.
The start is straight out of town and up a nice, steep, climb. Kim’s Bikes, the local Loudonville bike shop, gives a $200 preem to the first rider to the top so a lot of the speedy riders take off fast. I went off the line quickly enough that I warmed up fast but not so fast that I was going to regret it later. With 550 riders out there my goal was to get in the woods in the first 100 or so and I did that.
Once in the woods I was one happy dirt lover. The Mohican single track is awesome, beautiful, and fast. It was a bit of a conga line for a little while but everyone moved well and there wasn’t the mud induced walking we had to deal with at Wildcat. In spite of the rain the previous night the trails were in good shape. I was dreading a Wildcat mudfest repeat but that didn’t happen.
I blew through aid station one without stopping. After a few NUE races and other endurance races, I’ve settled into a routine for nutrition. I carry a 70oz camelback full of sports drink and a 5 oz flask of Hammer Expresso gel. I can get 3-5 hours into the race before I need to stop at all. I love the ease of the Hammer flask and the Expresso gel flavor and consistency work well for me. Add the benefit of caffeine for a long day and I’ve found what seems to work.
The single track lasted all the way to the 2nd aid station at mile 34 where I filled the camelback and swapped the flask for a new one. I was in and out of the aid station in 2 minutes.
Miles 34-50 were a mix of roads, fire roads, and single track. I stopped briefly at aid three to top off the camelback. Right after aid three we dropped into more single track and the 100k and 100m courses split.
I’m loving the course so far. The woods are awesome and beautiful. There is plenty of climbing but no soul crushing climbs. The course was always climbing or descending. Not much in between. At the bottom of one fire road a crowd of volunteers was cheering loudly and ringing cowbells which always boosts the spirits. No matter where you are in the pack being cheered for and encouraged on is great.
Especially halfway through a 100 mile race.
There was one bad section of mud in the middle of the day. Everyone walked up a steep, muddy, grade. It felt like Wildcat but it only lasted for a few minutes. Once over the top the course heads down the water bars. There are essentially 2×10’s in the middle of the trail creating the water bars. It’s still muddy so most people are walking but I keep riding and clear all the water bars without problems.
One of my favorite things about endurance mountain bike racing is the people you meet. I’ve come back from every race with new friends. It’s amazing how much you can get to know someone when you’ve got a few hours to pedal together. There is tremendous camaraderie that happens when you suffer with someone on a bike.
I met a few of these new friends after the water bars and we started working together to share the wind. I spent about an hour with a rider in a Garmin kit from New Mexico. Nice guy that grew up in Ohio but had been in New Mexico for years. He was a super light guy so he’d drop me on every climb and then I’d catch him on the flats and downs.
By the time we hit the rail trail around mile 60 I had also met Chris Bryce, Matthew Grant, and Shannon Tenwalde. The four of us spent the next 10 miles pulling each other at a healthy pace across the rail trail to aid station four. Shannon ended up on the podium as the 5th place women’s finisher. She was riding strong and doing more than her fair share along the rail trail.
Time passes quickly when you are with good people.
We arrived at aid four and I refilled the camelback for the last time and grabbed my last gel flask filled with Hammer Expresso. Nutritionally I was feeling great even after 70+ miles. My legs felt weak but I knew they’d be fine. I just needed to keep moving.
In every endurance event I’ve done the last 20% seem to follow a progression:
- The dark moment: “This is hell and will never end”
- The boost: “I am almost there”
- The euphoric: “I finished!”
As hard as these events are I think the last 20% is what makes them worth it. The last 20% is when you conquer something. It’s the pain before the victory that makes the accomplishment real.
Mohican was no different. Leaving aid four we hit gravel roads and short sections of trails until we arrived back at Mohican Adventures for the last single track. It was a great finish: fast and flowy single track back to the campground. As I passed under the finish line banner I heard my name announced on the sound system.
I thanked Chris, Grant, and Shannon for helping me get through. They were a huge boost. Garmin guy had dropped off a while ago so I didn’t get a chance to thank him. I put the bike on top of the car, hopped in the shower, and hit the road.
One of my main goals for 2013 was to finish one of the NUE events in under 10 hours. I finished this one in 10:20. 63rd place out of 138 who began the race (109 finished, 31 DNF’s).
I’m getting close to my goal for this year and I have three more NUE races I’m planning on racing: Hampshire 100, Fool’s Gold 100, & Shenandoah 100. Here’s what’s coming up:
- Hilly Billy Roubaix | 6/23/13 | WV
- Ironman Lake Placid | 7/28/13 | NY
- Hampshire 100 | 8/18/13 | NH
- Shenandoah 100 | 9/1/13 | VA
- Fool’s Gold 100 | 9/8/13 | GA
- Three Peaks USA | 9/22/13 | NC
- Iron Cross | 10/6/13 | PA
- Baltimore Marathon | 10/12/13 | MD
Keep moving forward,