Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mohican 100

Saturday marked my first Mohican 100, and my first race of the weekend.  An ambitious plan, but more on that later.

I took the day off work Friday to make the drive to Loudonville, OH.  That way I could be there early enough to check-in and check out the trails at the Mohican State Forest. 

The majority of the single track that makes up Mohican are in the State Forest.  They are pretty sweet.  Fast rolling, hard pack with some roots, rocks and off camber mixed in.  The kind of trails you like to ride in an endurance event.  They actually make you feel like you are going somewhere instead of just twisting back and forth on itself.

Like Wildcat Epic, Mohican had a remote start in the local downtown - Loudonville, in this case.  Also, like Wildcat, my son made the drive from PA to help out with support.  It really makes a difference having a familiar face waiting for me at the aid stations.

The 100 mile and 100K riders rolled off together in one giant mass start.  I was reasonably near the front, so it never created a real bottleneck problem, but I think it kept the early pace pretty high as the 100K'ers could afford to push a bit harder early.

It had rained overnight, but I came prepared with a 2nd set of wheels for just such an occasion.  It proved to be the right choice as several racers slid off course in front of me while I was able to maintain grip.  Not big knobs by any means, but better than what I had for Wildcat!

The elevation profile of the Mohican course shows a lot of short to medium length steep climbs with no long, decisive climbs.  The climbs come quickly in the first 30 miles then spread out as the race goes along.

The 20 miles to the first aid station were almost all single track, so it took awhile to get there.  There was one notable ridiculously steep, straight up hike a bike section.  Everything else was quite rideable.  We would continue with rapid-fire climb-then-descent for another 10 miles in the Mohican forest before the climbs started to spread out a bit.

Aid stattion #2 came up at 34 miles.  So far everything is going smoothly, the weather is nice - overcast, warm, and no rain.  No bike mechanicals and I am enjoying the ride.

We ride with 100K'ers all the way to aid station #3 at mile 46.  We separate here, and I spend a lot of time riding solo in the woods with no one in sight.  It's kind of refreshing to ride my own pace.  This section would be the longest section between aid stations, but it is a fast segment.  There are a few short sections of more rugged trail, but mostly road, double track and rail trail.  It's a bit difficult tp  judge pace on a rail trail because if you go to hard you are completlely cooked for the upcoming climbs.  Too slow, and you just lose time.  I watch my power and maintain a high zone 2.

Aid station 4 finally arrives and I am starting to enter the finish-strong mode.  Using all my energy reserves and pushing the pace.  On a fast road descent, head down and digging, focusing on the climb ahead I fail to notice the signs indicating a left turn until I am right on top of it.  It's one of those "Y" intersections - for turning left or right, and I miss the first turn in, but I set up for the second one.  I let off the brakes, make the turn-in then slide out and hit the pavement hard.  As I skitter across the pavement I remember to roll to kind of evenly spread out the road rash.  I hit the road hard enough to brake a buckle on my shoe.  I hop back on the bike before any soreness has the opportunity to set-in and I hammer on.  Trying to focus on not focusing on the pain.  The extra adrenaline does add a bit of motivation to the pace

Five miles later there are a series of ridiculously steep single track descents.  I am pushing kind of hard (still), and I end up in a trap.  I am going too fast to slow on the loose descent, and with a loose shoe I couldn;t really weight my pedal like I needed to and I head right for a downed tree designed, I suppose, to keep fools like me on the trail.  To no avail.  I hit it.  Hard.  Over the bars.  I find myself sprawled out on the log with my bike hanging off of my leg by the seatpost.  It's all I can do to scramble out from the trap I'm in (resulting in my bike falling down the side of the hill), drag my bike out of the briers and back onto the trail, readjust my helmet, do a quick inventory and carry on.

I'm still in a bit of a daze as I come upon the longest swinging bridge I've ever seen.  It seems to narrow as I ride it.  But I manage to focus on the other end and traverse it safely, tho slowly.

As I roll into the final aid station, I am truly a sight to behold.  The mud has covered most of the road rash, but the most recent crash has added more places for blood to exit and my right calf is bruised, swollen and throbbing.  But I'm almost finished.  And that's reason enough to carry on.

I enter the familiar single track at the Mohican State Forest.  I quickly come upon mile marker 4, and I am heading towards the trail head, so I know there isn't much more than 4 miles to go.  With my shoe buckle whacking the crank every revolution and right calf throbbing I push on to the finish and ride through the very welcoming inflatable Kenda finish line.  Truly feeling like I'd accomplished something.  It's a great feeling.  It's probably why, as endurance racers, we do what we do.  I just hope that I do what I do in a way that will glorify God.

My finish time was about 8:17.  I didn't hang around for the results.  I had a 50 mile gravel/road race to do in North Carolina at 9:00am the next day.

See you on the trails!

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