My Mohican Weekend
A race report
By Harlan Price
I was 13 the last time I went to the Buckeye State, and for the past 17 years I’ve been unable to erase from memory the hell that Ohio is. Unbearable August heat, slurp it with a straw humidity, horse flies, sister’s bare chested, mullett wearing, G’N’R cranking boyfriend driving at 90mph on back roads in a ford 250. My mother was competing in a 100mile endurance horse race, and the heavy smell of manure was filling every article of clothing I owned. I haven’t had many good things to say about Ohio since then.
After this weekend and a 100+miles of my own endurance race I can’t say my opinion has shifted that much. June heat was a little more mild, but the same sensation of riding through a steaming jungle of horse manure was still there. The 7hrs of rain on the drive there was only made bearable by my travel mates Tim and Dave. About an hour before arriving we decided a cabin would be much more appealing than setting up in the rain and eating cold raw eggs in the morning.
One of the great things about this 100mile endurance series is the chance to compete against new people and get a gauge on who’s out there. The pre-reg list for this race lacked most of the familiar names so everything was up in the air. At the start line I leaned over to my friend Trish, pointed out a rather fit looking jockey and said he looks strong. I’ll tell you now, he (Brad Cole) ended up 2nd after we rode together practically the whole race, and I didn’t drop him till the last 11 miles of single track. My sister said I should start picking horses at the track.
The race started with a couple miles of road climbing before turning left into the single track. I ended up first in the single track only to have Brad come around me and turn up the pace. Pretty quickly Brad and I, along with two other 100K riders seperated ourselves from the pack on the slick, rain soaked trails. I felt like a toddler trying to draw a straight line, and could barely control my front tire through the corners. After going down once we all started to yo-yo with each through the single-track that lasted almost the entire first 25 miles before aid station 1, which we missed....
And so began a day of second guessing, backtracking, cursing and general chaos. Just before Aid Station 1, which had a mandatory check in, Brad and I came to an intersection with no arrows. We had dropped the 100Kers and were now wondering WTF. I knew where an aid station was because we had come out right at our cabin and I had an idea about where we were. A mile down the road we came to Aid station 4, who had no Idea where we were or how to get back on track. With a sense of doom creeping in, we turned to back track and started meeting up with riders who came out at the same place. Fortuntatly one of them knew how to get around to AID1 and the 8 of us rode the road for a couple of miles. We ran into Ryan Odell the promoter who put us back on track and said he would check the problem. Brad and I weren’t so happy about loosing a 10 min lead on most of the top guys, but fortunatly we didn’t have to bring up the subject as we left the Station, since most of the riders were gentlemen and waited for Brad and I to get up the road a little. I was surprised to see a fully ridged SS had left with us, but I felt sorry for him and didn’t feel a need to say anything.
By the time we got out of the single track at Aid Sta 1 a long gravel and paved road section was welcome relief. Brad and I sort of worked together and chatted a lot not really attacking but just keeping it steady. The constant short steep hills and long rollers made it a tough course, and Brad was proving to be a steady diesel. Though we felt very alone I was worried about late comers like Skip Brown or Garth Proser, rolling up on us and eventually the two 100ker’s krept up on us. Anthony Slowinski (eventual winner) said his buddy just decided to pull all the way up to us. That was sort of a surprise and a little ominous so we all decided to get a little more organized and the four of us did some steady pulling together.
I questioned in my head the ethical delima of working with racers who weren’t actually in our race, but decided that everyone has the opportunity to do the same, so the playing field was a little more level. a few miles before Aid Sta 2 we hit a long single track section, with some really fun downhiller features and a few good technical sections. I once again ended up first in. Without really meaning to I started to gap the other three riders and by the time we popped out to Station 2 I had a minute on them. With a quick stop involving some lube from Garth’s (who had dropped out) pocket I took off into another long section of single track. I figured i’d let it roll and let Brad feel a little pressure. I rode the next 45min alone and could have stayed that way for a while if it hadn’t been for a missed turn on a long gravel section that I had to turn around and ride back up. So once again Brad and I ended up riding together, not killing it but making steady. Just before station 3 a long rails trail that took about an hour to ride had to be one of the most mental karate chops the riders recieved all day. The long straight slog was a big bully to my fading brain. The Groups of Amish girls walknig barefoot were the only distractions.
Though I went through my obligatory hour 7 bonk I kept the secret agent face in full effect looking ahead while assessing the situation with my peripherals. With about twenty to go I started to feel like a win was possible, since the last 11 miles, after station 4, would be mostly trail. Brad let me lead in to the trail there and even proposed that we role in together and since I had waited for him earlier in the day he would give me the win. I half agreed and rolled on, but as soon as I heard him say he was blowing I never looked back. What can I say, points are based on time off leader’s. I started to feel my own bonk coming on with about 2miles to go when i came out to the bottom of a resevior dam. I couldn’t tell where to go unitl I looked up the fortress like wall of the dam and saw ribbon lining the steps that started half way up. The steps were necessary since it was so steep any walking would have resulted in a slide back down. The other stab in the back was the false finish, where you come to the resort and a just when a sense of relief starts to settle in then they tell you to take a left up and through the woods to a field where I used my granny gear for the last 100 feet to the finish, 4 minutes ahead of Brad.
Overall the course was great but the poor marking was rampant and really took away a lot of the flow that could have made the race much more enjoyable.