This was my 7th attempt at the Mohican 100, twice on a Trek Fuel 100 with gears in the 100k ('05-'06), twice on the Gary Fisher Rig single speed in the 100k ('07-'09) and twice DNF the 100 mile on single speed, once from going out too fast ('08) and the 2nd (last year '10) from back and leg pain. This time I was back to the 100k because over the winter I had my L5 fused to my S1 with a chunk of Donor bone, 4 lag bolts and a couple chunks of Titanium rod. Basically, I had my butt bolted to my back and adding to the Ti collection in my knee and foot and my fitness sucked.
All I've been doing is riding with the occasional dedicated workout with the Eastern Block guys. I was pretty much doubtful I'd have a good day, figuring I'd sit around at aide stations resting to make it the full distance. There was no way I was going to quit unless my bike totally failed or I crashed my brains out (known to have happened a time or two).
In typical Mohican style, the start was straight up the biggest hill in town, a smaller version of the stair case hills of San Francisco, with a $100 prime at the top. This year Mr. O'Dell decided to split the fields giving the 100 milers a 15 minute head start which meant us 100k folks had to fight our way past all the guys and gals that were just there for the challenge and not "in it to win it" which truly is a challenge.
As soon as the siren blew, I never saw so many people with no chance to win a prime ride so hard. Usually I can be in the top 25 or 30 over the top of the hill but this time I was bottom 25 or 30 at the bottom of the hill! Panic started to set in knowing from past experiences, passing in the 1st 20 miles is very hectic and frustrating. As luck would have it, all the speedsters caught up in the moment of the start all went backwards up the hill. I was weaving in and out of riders so fast, I'd swore they were walking which filled me with a fear of going to hard. At one point I could hear Tim screaming incoherent gibberish and lots of heavy breathing. By the mid-point of the hill, I'd passed about 50% of those in front of me and by the top I think I had made up another 25%. One match burned...
One thing hasn't changed, mountain bikers need to do some dirt bike racing. If I pass you because you are slower, don't get mad at me, learn to ride technical trails faster! BTW, what the heck is a "%#@* Dickerhoof"? That's what some guy called me when I went over a boulder between him and a tree leaving him plenty of room. If you leave a gap open between you and the next guy, I will feel obligated to fill it. For the most part though, when asked, everyone moved over. I'd let them pick the spot then jump.
I caught Chris Huck and a congo line between the top of 7 mile hill and the descent to the covered bridge. Some guy was in the back complaining about the pace which wasn't bad at all. Same said guy pulled off the road after the covered bridge and just stopped. It looked like he was in no hurry to fix or do anything so maybe the pace was too fast for him?
Mt Doom, everyone hates that climb from the covered bridge to the fire tower but me. I don't know why I climb that thing so well. Maybe because it requires you to be in the red longer than normal like in time trials. In the past, the only person I couldn't out run up that section of trail was John Lorson. This was about the time my bike started to get really annoying as it creaked and moaned in protest of carrying my 200lb carcass up the hill. Caught and passed lots of guys and gals up this hill and that is when I met up with this fast chick just as we crested the very top at aide station 1.
The fast single track was up next and this is where I was introduced to my new friend Michelle Peariso from Wisconsin whom I followed over the top. She asked me if I knew the trails and when I said "yes", she informed me she was "sticking to me"! I did my best to make sure nothing snuck up on her knowing she probably couldn't see around all the donuts I ate this past winter. She was doing a good job at it but as Keith says, "nothing goes downhill faster than a middle aged white man" and that was the only time I was able to get any distance on her. Any other time she'd pedal her way back to me. Once the hill top rock garden started around mile 25, I didn't see her for a while. Then at the trail crossing after the big hike-a-bike, all I heard was Tim screaming incoherent gibberish again as he was waiting to cross. Timmy, remove that word from your vocabulary!!
Once out on the roads to trail section 2, I just spun my brains out like in years past. I'd pass people up the hills, try to draft those I caught as far as I could down them and out onto the flats. I did poach a few pulls from passing riders, one of which I think was Jason Fischer from Wadsworth, Ohio. He and I passed and re-passed each other throughout this transfer section. About a mile or so before "Big Hill Rd", Michelle came motoring by me way faster than I care to mention! I tried to jump on but it was futile, my gearing only allows a 16-17mph max at high rpm and she was on a mission. I caught back up to her at the top just before going into the wilderness trails and all was going well until I fubarred and dabbed on the downside of the trail and almost sent myself on a roller coaster ride to some serious pain. Michelle was smarter, she dabbed and fell to the up-side of the hill! She was ok so I motored on.
I'd blown through Aides 1 & 2 and by the time I reached 3, I had been dry for about a half hour so stopping was a must. My lack of paying attention caught up to me here. The lady said she had water so I filled up my bottle and another gent filled my camel back allowing me to gulp down a couple cups of coke. Michelle, who had stopped at Aide 2, came blowing by onto the next transfer section as I was mounting up. As I cruising along I knew (thought) I had enough in the camel back to get me home so I dumped half the water over my head and down my back. After my nice walk up part of Valley Stream Hill, I noticed a faint odor of vanilla, or so I thought. A quick sniff to my jersey confirmed the odor was indeed from me and not something in the air. The light goes on, I take a swig from my bottle, HEED! I'd dumped a half bottle of Heed sports drink all over me, what a 'tard! What the hell, it felt good so I took another swig and showered in what was left.
I could see Michelle up ahead but all I could do was watch her pull away. I couldn't spin any faster so I concentrated on keeping the next guy behind me. This section of road was lonely, hadn't seen a soul except Michelle since the aide station and all I could do was sit, spin and listen to my bike cry out in pain like a spoiled brat at walmart (Ohio's red neck embassy). I knew something was wrong but couldn't figure out just what "it"** was. We hit another short section of trail, a short road section, past Aide 5 then into the State Park for the finally in the camp ground. I caught up to Michelle about half way through the final section and just settled in to her pace.
I knew there was no time left to catch anyone, I was tired, and yes, out of fluids, again. I'm sure in hind sight, that Heed would have been better served inside me and not on me. I think at this point I told her she was on a very fast pace and more than likely had the over all. We were only 15-20 minutes behind my fastest times from previous years when I finished in the top 5 overall. She wouldn't let relax and I didn't really want to go any faster so she pulled over and forced me up front claiming she was slowing me down. (only if I were on my KTM) If it hadn't been for her being bait, I'd probably still be out on that last section of road some place putzing merrily along. I gave her one last warning about a bad sign* before she cramped up and slowed a bit.
I did pass one last guy who was totally cramped up and in pain as we entered the camp grounds then almost caught 2 others but they were all on geared bikes so I didn't matter much. I ended up finishing 4th Single Speed, well down in the overall. I was satisfied with that because my back never became an issue the whole race.
Congrats to all the Orrville and Soup Can racers, Gilmore for his 2nd full 100 miler, Julie Lewis for beating half the men's single speeders, Jason Supan for a great 100 miler and Lorson for once again kicking my ass.
If you ever get to ride or race in Wisconsin, please look up Team adventure 212 or visit their Adventure 212 blog. I spent some time with Michelle, her Husband Chris and their friends/team mates after the race and they are great down to earth people. I wish the both of them a successful 2011 season.
*Bad sign - This sign took out both my team mate Joe Lautzenhiser and the woman who was running 2nd over-all. Someone said it was vandals who moved it but I truly believe that the sign was never replaced and was still there from the start to direct you to the state park trail. Those who didn't know the area, didn't know that the sign caused them to repeat the loop.
**Wounded warrior - Stripped the bike down to her nakedness after I found out she had a fracture in her right rear leg. By races end, there was only about 5mm of aluminum and the chain holding the chain stay on. Loaded her up in the dead wagon hauled her away to be recycled into a beer keg.