Riding your bike for 100 miles doesn't really seem that hard, does it? Partcularly in Ohio which as I overheard someone in the staging area comment "Ohio doesn't have any hills." I was hoping to find that person after the race and see if he still felt that way. So if 100 miles on a bike is not hard, then why are these 100 mile races so hard? In the case of the Mohican 100, it could be the 40+ miles of singletrack, 11,000 feet of climbing, grueling hike-a-bike sections, or miles of rolling gravel road climbs.
I had done this race previously in 2004 and coming into this year felt confident after some decent efforts at Wilderness 101 the last 2 years and the Shenandoah 100 last year. These 100 milers are all about climbing as they all claim in excess of 10,000 feet of elevation gain. Having ridden many of the roads and trails, I knew the climbing in the Mohican 100 did not include any extended 30-40 minute climbs but rather a multitude of shorter 5, 10 and 15 minute climbs. Fortunately, give my body type, 5'7" and 180 pounds, this type of "power" climbing best suits me.
Because of the climbing I choose to go with the Specialized S-Works Carbon Hardtail as it weighs in at 22 lbs (cages, no bottles, no seat bag) which is 2-3 pounds lighter than my Epic. It is not as comfortable as the Epic, but for some reason I feel faster on the climbs, particularly climbing out of the saddle.
Saturday morning at around 7am the 200+ entrants rolled out for either the 100k of 100 mile race. Weather was warm and clear with a chance of an afternoon shower. The first few miles was semi neutral as the lead motorcycle kept the pace down. Once we got to the Dam (which we would later have to hike up) it was game on. I rode hard but kept it just under red line in anticipation of the long day to come. We rode about 7 miles and then we entered at around mile 1 of the 25 mile Mohican SP loop. We rode the loop until Mile Marker 22 then veered off on a horse trail. I rode back and forth with a few people, including Michael Gorman of Orville who was riding a single speed in the 100k race. We rode all the way to the the Aid Station where the 100k riders split with the 100 millers. From that point on I saw only a few riders. I passed a few and one guy passed me. On the Mohican Trail, a long rails/trails, I passed TJ Platt who was obvioulsy in some difficulty as we was going about 15 miles per hour while I was rolling 44x11 at about 20 mph.
Anyway, I felt great the whole day, no cramping and steady energy. Nutrition was all Hammer Products, a secret blend of Perpetuum, Sustained Energy, and Heed. Also sucked down some Hammer Gel in the last 30 miles. I must have taken 3-4 Endurolyte capsules an hour for 8 hours.
After not seeing anyone the last few hours, on the last 15 miles I began catching 100k riders that were finishing up. I kept an eye out for 100 milers but did not see anyone...until the Dam. As I was hiking up the Dam, I saw a guy catching me, so I quickly got to the top, remounted and put the hammer down. I saw him again on the paved climb to the finish. I paced the climb and he was still gaining so I attacked over the top and put in a big effort hoping to get out of sight. I managed to stay just ahead of him and finished 18th overall in 8:51...the first time I have broken 9 hours in one of these 100 milers.
Overall, it was a great day, with great weather, except for the 20 minute thunderstorm. Super fun and challenging course that was well marked, no wrong turns for me or anyone I talked to afterwards. Aid stations were well stocked with plenty of volunteers. I suffered a flat about 10 miles in when I puntured a tubeless tire in a rock garden and had some shifting issues due to a slighty bent derailler, but it was relatively smooth sailing. Kudos to Ryan, Garth and all the volunteers who did a great job. Seems like the race gets better every year. I am pleased with my performance and hoping for some good results later this summer at Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah, just need to drop this pesky last 5 lbs.