Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mohican 100 - barely

Mohican 100k - 11 hours 8 minutes

Well, at least I now know that I could ride a 12 hour solo though I absolutely have no plans to do that.

It's an interesting thing to think about, why do I pay to challenge and torture myself? Well I had a lot of hours to ponder that question during Mohican. The recap of the 100k follows. It's mostly just for me to record the details, but maybe others racing might get some ideas from it. Here we go...

Mark and I arrived at Mohican Friday in time to register. Our first tough decision was in front of us - 100 miles or 100k? We knew what we should decide, but would common sense win out? We threw it back and forth until literally we were at the front of the line and had to make a decision. Due to the bad training weather, lack of solid training, and the forecasted high temperatures, we decided to do 100k. We hoped we wouldn't regret the decision.

Grabbed a good pasta dinner, checked into the motel, and promptly got no sleep all night. Five-thirty arrived early, and before we knew it were on the main street of Loudonville, Ohio.

The 100 milers started off, and the 100k racers had a 15 minute wait until we began. We started down the road and then up a fairly steep paved road. I did my best to keep my pace solid but not crazy.

Turned left into the woods. It was at this point that Mark got ahead of me. I kept him in sight at first, but slowly lost him somewhere. At first I was rather disappointed in the trails, I had heard they were flowy trails, but I was not finding that at all.

I looked around at the people I was passing. There were a good number of people pushing their bikes up hills that were quite rideable. I knew they were in over their heads; I wonder if they knew.

Finally after about four miles, we entered the flowy singletrack I had heard about. It was mile after mile of tight, twisty singletrack. My bike was hooking up unbelievably. It was difficult to pass on such narrow trails, but people were pretty good about moving over when they could. For a few miles, I had a train of six guys behind me. I felt like a race leader, though of course I was far from it. I told them they could pass, but they said my pace was perfect though they said they kept losing me on the downhills. I've never had anyone tell me this before, but I guess it depends on what your home trails are like. To a lot of riders, Mohican seemed technical. Compared to my normal trails, Mohican seemed hardly technical at all.

Aid Station 1 - 20 miles

After approximately 20 miles we arrived at aid station one. Mark had been waiting for me, but I told him to go on as I could see my pace was a bit slower. Really stretched out my back, refueled, then left after about 15 minutes.

I rode with much less pain to the next aid station. This section was about 14 miles, and the beginning had a lot of good singletrack again. I rode this section pretty solid. The last couple of miles were on the gravel roads. Though this section was marked well, I really wish they could've put out some extra flagging tape just to reassure me. Many hills I would go bombing down not seeing one marker thinking there was no way I would go back up it if I had gone the wrong way.

Aid Station 2 - 34 miles

Aid station two was a hunting camp that I'm guessing was on loan to us. The best thing about this aid station was the cold water mister. Never saw a bathroom at this station, and I wish I would've asked. I also saw a guy that I did a 24 hour race with last year, though he seemed to not want to talk to me. Well karma got him, I see that he was a DNF at Mohican.

Spent 20 minutes at aid station two as the heat was really starting to be noticeable. The single track out of the aid station quickly turned in to gravel road through farmland. That's when my stomach really hit me and I had to find some woods to take care of things. Just when I was getting settled, blam, there was a gun shot. About 200 yards away I saw a farmer, not sure if he saw me or was just hunting groundhogs. I scooted away to another set of woods, wasting probably another 15 minutes. Embarrassing and a waste of time. Ah well.

Back to the extremely hot gravel roads, and some really, really steep ones at that. Ended up riding a lot of the roads with a woman from California. She and a bunch of friends had flown in to use Mohican as a warm up for Leadville. "Do you want the good news of the bad news?" she asked. Good news I replied. "We have one last hill before the singletrack." Bad news? "The bad news is it's called Big Hill Road."

And it was big and long, though I was proud that I rode the whole thing, passing a number of people pushing their bikes. I popped into what I was hoping would be the cool singletrack, but was disappointed. It was very hot and humid, and there was no breeze at all. That's when I realized I was overheating badly. It was the only time in the whole race where I wasn't moving while on the trail. I had to bring down my temperature. Soon I was passed by the people I had passed on the road.

I jumped on the bike and was struggling to get a good pace going. I recognized how my body was reacting from all the hot races last summer. I dumped water on my head, got more water in me, and took a bunch more electrolytes. Though I knew it would be a while before I would feel better.

I continued on to aid station three. I knew it could only be two or three miles left, but it felt like 20 miles. I passed a guy just sitting on the side of the trail looking miserable. I talked him to getting up, and he started riding behind me; I lost him soon.

Aid Station 3 - 46 miles

Finally I saw the aid station through the woods. I only had a small downhill section to go. I popped out of the woods, and was totally crestfallen. The aid station was really just a pavilion that a group was picnicking. I then realized I had to go uphill to continue. This was probably my low point of the day. I was seriously thinking about quitting at the next aid station. I was overheated and I was pushing my bike up hills I should've been riding.

After an eternity, I arrived at aid station three. Though I felt bad, all I had to do was look around at the other riders around to me realize I was doing much better than they were. I saw riders throwing up, passed out, getting rides in cars due to heat exhaustion.

I alternated sitting under the canopy refueling and standing under a hose. Finally after about 40 minutes I felt cool enough to continue. The next cutoff was like in four hours, so at this point I knew I should be able to finish the ride.

This section was mostly gravel roads, and oh yeah, lots of hills. A couple of them the bikes had to be pushed up by everyone - not just me.

Aid Station 4 - 56 miles

Pulled into aid station 4, probably didn't have to stay there long but at this point I wasn't going to break any records. So I sat and had an ice cold coke. About 15 - 20 minutes later I headed off for the finish.

I was getting conflicting reports on whether it was seven or eight miles to the finish. This section returned back to the great singletrack we did at the beginning of the day. But, of course, we had to ride switchbacks to get to the top of the hill. Some I rode, some I pushed. The humidity at this point was so high I felt as if I was suffocating. I literally felt like I couldn't get enough air. Finally to the top, and just blew through the singletrack. I was riding so fast I was afraid I might not be able to react fast enough and crash, but the breeze that the speed caused was undeniable.

The mile markers were ticking down from seven. Before I knew it I was at mile marker one, I popped out of the woods on to a paved bike trail and almost crashed. I didn't have one fall all day long, but here at the end I almost ran into two older recreational cyclists that were wondering all over the bike path. Luckily I swerved out of the way. It would've been so ironic to crash there.

I passed the couple and saw the finish line ahead of me. Behind the people in camp chairs I could all the riders who had finished. I could see my van in the parking lot. I thought I was done, but I was not.

The people in the chairs told me one more mile to go. The cruelty of it all. Back into the woods and up a steep enough hill that once again I was pushing. Over a small creek where the photographer told me to wait, but that wasn't happening.

I finally arrive at the real finish line. Everyone who had finished were watching the trophies being handed out to the winners, and because I was so late, I at least go a big around of applause as I crossed the line.

Finish Line - 62 miles

Mark met me at the finish line and we celebrated us finishing, surviving. Mark finished about two hours ahead of me. Two hours! He didn't need a lot of time at the aid station whereas I needed quite a bit.

Grabbed a chicken dinner to go, checked in with some friends, went back to motel for shower. Once my appetite kicked in, it really kicked in. Woke up in the morning and was still starving. Ate a huge breakfast and was still hungry.

Final thoughts - I'm so glad we picked the 100k over the 100 miles. With the heat and lack of training, I never could've done 100 miles. The heat really hits me hard, not sure what I can do about that, but I really would need to limit my time at the aid stations. It was nice knowing deep down that I would finish no matter what. I only had a brief moment when I thought about cutting the ride short. Most of the day, I knew I was going to finish even if it took me all night.

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