John Majors, winner of the master's class and me, 2nd place
(Photo from Jeff Kerkove)
Our travelling crew (Shari, Shirlee, Robin and myself) left early Friday afternoon for the four hour drive to the Mohican 100 race near Loudonville, Ohio. Last year Jason was home and the two of us did the race. That race was very muddy at the start due to week long rain prior to the race and we hoped this year would be drier.
The weather forecast was calling for occasional showers and we ran into some rain on the way down. Arriving at the race venue we could tell it had rained at some point during the day. After registering and checking into our dorm room we headed out for a short ride. The heat and humidity was enough of a reason to take it slow plus we had the race the next day. After riding some of the great paved back roads around the Mohican Forest area we rode the last mile of the trail to the finish, a new route that wound it's way though the forest to the finish. It was still wet and muddy in some spots under the trees causing me to make a tire change that night to accommodate wet conditions.
We had dinner at a nice restaurant in town, it seemed slightly out of character with the rest of the local establishments. Back at our rooms we were glad to find that the staff had provided a fan for our room. The race start and finish was at Camp Nuhop, a typical camp that had dorm rooms, cabins and big area for camping. Everything was right there in one spot. It was the perfect setting to host a race.
Race morning we did a mass start that was supposed to be a neutral roll-out for the first few miles until we reached a designated spot on the road. About 200 riders took off and out the reverse of the finish route. Riding the route yesterday we had taken note of a particular ditch that could cause problems if you were not aware. Sure enough, as I was going through it my front wheel turned sideways and flipped me over the bars. I got up and my left thumb was hurting to the point where I could hardly hold onto the bar and shifting was difficult. Great, only a mile in to the race and I was in trouble.
The first part of the race had a lot more singletrack than last year, probably about 30 miles of the first 35 miles of the course. Fortunately the trail was pretty dry but it was a lot of work in the high humidity and increasing temperatures. I managed to crash three more times in the first three hours. One was at a pretty good speed when the front wheel slipped off into the edge of the bench cut trail and I slid out. Sort of reminded me of when I was road racing. I was glad when we finally turned onto some back roads.
I could see that my pace was still ahead of last year's but I didn't feel particularly strong, especially when climbing. I'm not sure what is going on with my legs this year but hopefully they will recover in time for the Lumberjack 100 in two weeks.
The next seven hours was spent on a mixture of back roads, farm trails and secret singletrack that is not open to bikers at any other time of the year. There were also a few hike a bike sections where everyone was off there bike pushing, because it was either too steep, muddy or technical to ride. One section had us going along an old two tack trail only to come to a stream with a washed out concrete bridge abutment on the other side with no other trail across. So we had to cross the stream, throw the bikes up on to the top of the bank and then hoist ourselves up. I felt sorry for the shorter riders.
Later in the race with about 7 miles to go we had to go down a trail that ran along the river. The trail was full of big rocks, roots and drop offs that would have been almost impossible to ride at any time, let alone after racing for 93 miles. Then, after navigating that section you had another 3/4 mile section that was super muddy, the only way was to ride right through it.
Just when you though you were safe the trail exited you out to the bottom of the dam where you had to climb (walk) up the back side. Of course at the top you got back on the road with an uphill climb to take you back to the last mile trail section to the finish. At least I didn't crash in the ditch this time.
I ended up in second in my class, just like last year. And the same guy who beat me last year and won the national series beat me again. But this time instead of beating me by 42 minutes I think it was under 5. That makes four of the national 100 milers I've done and four second place finishes.
Robin raced again on his single speed but opted to do the 100k loop instead of the 100 mile after determining that he may not make the 100 mile cutoff time. I used every one of my 27 gears, I don't know if I could have done it single speed. And Shirlee finished as usual, with the regular grin on her face as she crossed the line. Several other riders from Michigan made the trip down to race, including Danielle who finished 2nd in the women's field and Mike Simonson who finished 4th overall.
I have to thank our support person, Shari Scurr for being there at the aid stations to look after our need and cheer us on. At some point almost everyone racing thinks about quitting a race, for one reason or another. Shari provided just the motivation we needed to keep going.
Time to start walking
Coming up the last paved climb
Danielle and I, looking a little muddy and me with some of it in my eyes
My left thumb, about twice the size of my right
If I could stay on the trail these things wouldn't happen