Monday, June 4, 2012

Mohican 100 Race Report

Check out the video of two minutes of the first climb. I think I sit 27th here:

Lucky and I rolled into town Friday afternoon amidst the passing thunderstorms and wondered what would be for the race day tomorrow. Reports of the Mohican State Forest was that it was dry and needed some rain. Well, the rain that we were seeing might have been more than just a passing shower and wondered if it was going to slow the course down at all. So we got checked into the camground at the race start/finish and proceeded to go through the motions of getting food ready and prepping for a prerace warmup and such. We eventually rolled into town and decided to do the first few miles of the course to see what conditions were like and to open the legs up a bit. On the first section of singletrack, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it was wet but not treacherous mud like we thought could be there. So we pedaled a little bit being happy with what was there and hoped for the best the next morning. We had a good pasta dinner and passed out early in preparations for the nice 4:45 wake up call.

The alarm goes off and I jumped out of bed ready to get the show on the road. I made a nice batch of granola pancakes and jumped on my bike quickly to get rid of my drop bags and to start spinning before the race start. It was cold. Like 45 or so and I needed my warm gear to get me to the line. I had leg warmers and my long fleece jersey on as I knew I wanted to stay warm as long as possible. I didn’t want to have to race that way. I would suffer for the first few hours being cold if necessary. The only extra step I took with the cold was to wear a sleeveless summer jersey underneath my short sleeve regular jersey for a little extra warmth. It wasn’t really going to do much but it made me feel better. So casually late to the start as usual I came in warm and threw down my cold gear and jumped on the grass on the left side of the start line. That way as soon as the gun went off I was right near the big boys. After a few announcements and glancing around to see the usual big guns the horn went off and we were rolling.

Rolling out of Loudonville behind the pacetruck and knowing there was 600 more people right behind you is a cool feeling. The pace lifted a bit and then the road pitches up. I see someone go shooting out on the left for the hill climb prime. I wasn’t thinking about anything at this point besides just keeping it steady and not burning too many matches too early. I did that for Cohutta and regretted it ever since. So I crested the first climb at the back of the lead pack and it stayed that way into the entrance into the singletrack. Everyone played pretty nicely and stayed in line just riding their pace. A few riders changed positions but everyone was just happy keeping a nice high pace and getting the miles in quickly. I saw the usual names come and go and realized I was in good company if I could hang with them. I was riding behind Charlie Storm for a while and saw Mike Tabasko as well. About 2.5 hours in I saw some more strong riders sneaking up behind me to ride through. Gerry Pflug and Mike Montalbano were right behind and just keeping pace. A little while after I noticed them a group of singlespeeders including Ron Harding, and eventual winner Justin Pokrivka caught up with Gerry so he lifted the pace and the entire group rolled through. At that point there were a few in front of me but not like the train I previously was following.

So into aid 2 I knew things were going well since I was a few minutes ahead of the time I needed to be there to get a sub 8 hour finish. That was great motivation right there. So I topped off two bottles and headed out behind a couple of riders and at some point found myself all alone with Jed Prentice. That was just fine as I knew he is a very strong rider. Again being in company like his I knew I was having a good day. So we kept on and rode solid and worked together very well when we had the chance to draft and try and pick up some time. My goal was a PR not attacking every racer in sight so I just wanted to keep a steady pace. Jed agreed that the plan seemed good. So we rolled into aid 3 together and Jed stopped for a bathroom break at aid 3 so I rode the next climb strong but was definitely looking for him to come back so we could work together again. At the top he did and we regrouped in time for the infamous 10 mile rail bed. We traded 2-3 minute pulls the entire time and did some damage on that. We had no one in sight at all except for the very end where we rolled up on Matt Ferrari and Dwayne Goscinski, the eventual 3rd and 4th place SS finishers. We caught them just before aid 4 so we did a quick pit stop and then we worked together where we could to make the pain stop. The SS’ers took off on the climbs and then Jed and I would work up to them and pull them along to the next hill. Rinse and repeat. We did use them to help a little faster pacing on the hills so they weren’t completely wheel suckers. We did joke with them about charging towing fees but it was all in good nature. We kept the group together and rode right past aid 4 and into the singletrack system that leads to the finish. As we hit the little rollers before the last longer bit of climbing I felt my legs and body starting to shut down. I hadn’t eaten in the last 2 hours or so…damnit! I had to let Jed go and pull over and let the SS’ers by and limit my efforts on the hill. I pounded some cliff blocks and got some energy back but by that time the group I was with had a couple of minutes on me. So I rode steady and whipped past the 100 k riders and rolled into the finish happy to see the group that I had worked with for a good portion of the race.

I rolled across the line at 7:33 in 17th place in open men. Super excited since I never thought I’d be any where near 7’s when I started attempting these 100 milers a few years ago and now I finished with a 7:33. Holy crap. 2nd 7 hour finish ever. Hopefully more to come. I can finally say I know how it feels to race these things and put down a hard effort. Glad to see I kept with the good company and didn’t bonk hard in the last half like I’ve done. What a great feeling!

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