Friday is drive day. The three days at work leading up to Mohican 100 are well, very trying. Everything just kept going wrong. Poor work order write ups. Customers not calling back. Shop computers not working. It was a mess. Plus I start hearing that it may be very sloppy at Mohican due to rain further complicating things, cuz my tires are not only becoming old and wore out but are not in the slightest "mud" tires.
I also notice my stem is developing a crack in it right at the steerer tube clamp bolt. I've had that Bonty stem for along time and has only ever seen the love of a rigid fork so having to put it to rest didn't bother me. It was doing so the day before leaving town for a national level race. So I last minute throw my KILL stem on that has the same length, but less drop. Going from a -17 to a -8 degree drop. Ok so my bars are a little higher than normal, but you still get to race without fear of a catastrophic stem failure. Woohoo, always look on the bright side.
I also am feeling very, ummmm, the opposite of good all week? Very un-good. I have a simple recovery gauge at work that I use to see what I can expect from my body for what ever is the upcoming race. Its as simple as how easy it is to run bikes up the back step at work to the storage loft. If I have spring in my step than I'm good for the race, if not well then I have a marginal race. Lets just say my cottages had no wattages.
I get home and prepare travel food which is a bunch of hard boiled eggs and veggies. Then get things packed. I'm in bed and its 12:30am. I have to be at Emily's by 6am. Uhggg!
4am alarm hits and pop music is my motivator. Shower and then pack the van I get everything in and can't find my helmet. Dang. I had it a week ago for the State Champ race. I don't have time to look for it. I remember that when Kate left town she gave me a crazy amount of bike stuff to give away and a cheap Bell brand girls Walmart helmet with purple flowers and stuff on. It was in the stuff pile. So more anxiety was at least semi diverted. I can now ride with a helmet!
Get to EK's place and get all her gear packed in the van, and on the road by 6:25am Friday morning.
She's kinda wrecked too, from a week of crazy work and a trail run event she managed the night before. Along with her guy being in town for the last week who was then driving to Emporia, KS for Dirty Kanza 200 that morning. Needless to say both of us weren't feeling very well rested or confident on how the next day would pan out.
We drive we drive we drive. At least we set up a little spot in the van to lay down and take turns sleeping. That was a good idea.
We finally get to Loudonville, OH 8ish hours later. Check in isn't for another 20 min. EK snoozes, while I go get a fan photo with Tinker Juarez.
4pm rolls around and we get checked in for the race, and then do a 5 mile pre-ride of the last portion of single track. Yup, everything is right where I remember it. Both EK and I are feeling slightly more confident. I even mention how playful my bike is riding.
We then get back in the van and make a hustle back to Butler which is 15mins back on the road to a sweet home cooking place called Whiffletree Country Dining. They had a real John Wayne theme going on inside, and everything was cooked with butter.
Back to Loudonville, we decide we are going to stealth camp in the visitor parking lot next to Mohican Adventures Campground. EK tried calling and they weren't allowing tents in the RV spots this year like they did last year. They told her that we could rent a RV from down the street. Shah right, exqueeze me, baking powder! That would totally defeat the purpose of rollin' on the cheap. We aren't made of money! So I slept in my van and EK set up her tent come night fall. Thankfully, we weren't the only peeps with this idea.
Morning comes food is eaten and we get ready to move. I see Ernie roaming around the parking lot and then back to his car. I pedal over and ask how he's doing. He responds with "I hit a deer on the way here." Yikes, I tell him we can chat about that later and that he should just get ready. After all it was 20 til 7am.
On the way to the race start which is on Main St. Loudonville I meet Bob Moss. We chat and then get into position for the start.
We then see Quadsworth come rolling up on his geared PIVOT full suspension bike. Thats funny, I seem to remember a Gerry Plug doing the same thing. Well I won't pass judgement, but I will make note of the hilarious look Rogo gave me when I looked over at him. It was hilarious.
At the start line I'm already sitting in a cluster of other SSer's, some I knew and some I didn't. The horn blows and we go. I make no rush for the first 3 blocks on the flat knowing that there is a monster opening climb with a false summit. I just draft off some folk until the climb.
|Yeah, thats the start of Mohican 100! I'm by the 39 sign.|
Initially i decide I'm not going to work myself over on the climb to stay with the lead group, but in usual Peat Henry fashion I throw that game plan out the window and boogie. Hitting the climb all the geared riders begin down shifting, and I end up accelerating up into them and begin navigation through the falling characters like a old Atari game. I give a few good digs, try not to get boxed in and wallah, I'm to the top and the lead group isn't that far away. Rogo is even closer and he's got gears. So I hyper spin up to him. Riding his wheel and then bouncing around to other fast geared rider wheels. Another look up to the closing lead group and it even looks like they are soft pedaling. I slightly curse myself for wasting that moment at the start by not putting in the earlier efforts to get into the peleton. I figure I can handle it though.
First I spot Ernie and pass him. He's got this rad way of starting slow, but then coming up from deep behind gobbling up everybody in his path. So the whole rest of the day I had that fear that he was about to crush my soul. Unfortunately, that was the last time I saw him til he crossed the finish line some 8hr45min later. Found out later he wrecked hard and made himself coocoo for a little bit. I then see Mike Montalbano just ahead of me. I'm already latched onto the wheel of the geared riders in front of me. As we pass I tell him to hop on. He does, but can't seem to hang then falls off the back. Me and Rogo are then floating off the tail end of the peleton. I give one last effort and get into the draft and then settle in. I look around, but Rogo is nowhere to be seen. We make the last left turn on the road and head to the gravel. I sit comfortably in the group.
Hitting the double track gravel makes staying in a draft more difficult just because of the likely hood of gnarlier rolling conditions and such. Also from last year I remembered that this was a good time to get a first recovery in after redlining for the last 4.5 miles. So I take a look behind me and see that nobody is in view. Awesome! And in front I see the fast dudes just slowly creeping away. Leaving me in a nice no mans land. I actually enjoy when this happens its relaxing. The gravel then turns into wooded smaller double track. On this Rogo catches me and asks where the Party Train is? I just tell him "Up there somewhere."
A few more gear riders then attack on me, but its no ish. I know the protocall. They will burn a crazy amount of matches to get in front of me, a poor sap with only one gear and a rigid fork, so I will then just ride their wheels in the single track until they make too many mistakes or just blow up. Its like clock work and now that I know that it makes racing way easier. Whats especially funny to me is that it seems like they're mostly full squish dudes.
|The camera dood complimented my beard!|
Carrying on, at some point I roll up behind Rogo again, and ride with him for a bit, when I ask him for a pass. I feel like its understood now that we have raced together as much as we have that we always end up back together later on in the race. So its not a attack on him, but just a "I have a different pace" thing going for my self. Sometime right around this point is when both Bob Moss and Mike Montalbano make crazy XC style passes on me. I question if I want to roll with them and just go for it. It'll be fun I thought and these geared dudes are starting to sputter out.
Mike pretty much bolts and then Bob and I roll together for awhile until he creeps away from me. With the pace those dudes were laying out I figured Blowupsville just a matter of time, and later on I was right kinda.
So they drop me, but in return I get two first timers on my wheel. Jim Litzinger and another kid. I'm sorry "other kid", but you didn't hang on long enough for me to commit your name to memory. The three of us all road together for awhile until then we lost "other kid". It was then just Jim and I tearing up the trail. At some point we rolled up on Mike M and he was shelled. I asked if he was ok, and he just responded with "Will Crissman is just a minute ahead." Although, I didn't hear that exactly just that somebody was a minute ahead. I also have to keep in mind this is all under the first 30 miles. We weren't even to the pipeline cut yet. Kinda blows my mind.
Jim and I also had gobbled up another SS who was completely nameless during this same little adventure. I was trying to get my numbers straight in my head with who I knew was ahead of us. I kept getting it wrong. I was confusing one person for another and then other people were not even in the 100m, but later found out they were 100k riders. I didn't even know Will Crissman was up ahead. My head was all kinds of a mess, but good thing I still had slight course knowledge and was staying keen on my food and drink intake! So the best I could gather was that Jim and I were 3 and 4.
Some how between mile 30-40 we hooked back up with Bob Moss. I can't remember exactly, but I feel like he had a little mini blow up or maybe at the top of the Pipeline cut hike a bike? By the time we got to Aid station 3 we were the top 4 SSer's all within minutes of each other. It was awesome.
Bob, Jim, and I almost all rolled in together. And thats when we almost literally had our minds blown. We hear "Whoa, look at all you SSer's. You got some work to do!" Can anybody take a guess as to whom that voice could be long to? One clue he has a mustache.... Gordon Wadsworth! Bingbingbingbing! Apparently he had got crazy blown up because of riding gears and having only one bottle, and just had to sit out for a while. Thats ok Gordy, we still love you and are very proud of you for finishing.
I gave him a hug on my way out of Aid 3 and told him to just come ride and have fun with us. He said he'd think about it, and then was a no show until the end when he crossed the finish line 5 minutes after me.
Ok, so Jim boogies out and Bob and I hightail it behind him. Bob and I comment on Gordon, and bridge back up to Jim. After we get back into the woods there are a few good digs and I witness what I perceive as Bobs second blow up. He just let Jim and I go, so we go.
We get around a handful of single track turns and come back to where we parallel the course. Its a spot thats super technical on both sides of the tape. This is also the spot that Jim and I over shot the left turn we needed to take. There was a sign there, but what happened was we had our heads down pushing our bikes up this tech section, when I further dumbfounded things by saying "Can you believe we were just there on the other side of the tape like 45 min ago." Thats all it took for us to lose 5 min and let Bob get back in front of us. Here, check out my druring.
Its not like we lost that much time,5 min maybe, but it was still a minor buzzkill ya know. And the course was actually marked extremely well, but it was our dumb luck that we just happened to be looking over our right shoulder at the complete wrong time. The only thing that would have prevented us from our mishap would have been tape across the trail, but oh well. Any thing can happen in a 100 miles.
Moving on, after we get back on track we actually catch back up to Rogo, and ask him if he saw a SSer in a black kit and a black bike. He is unsure at first and then says yeah. I know this is Bob then and want to at least establish contact or get a visual of where he is, and in doing so I kinda drop both Jim and Rogo. Sorry guys, but I was on a mission.
I establish contact with Bobby again, and creep up to his wheel. We roll together for awhile and bust outta the woods onto gravel and then onto the old rail bed turned into a Amish/recreational super highway. A handful of miles down the trail Rogo and Jim catch us. Rogo drops us and Bob and I ride together while Jim begins to float behind us. After about 8miles Jim gets pooped out and its just me and Bobby. Bobs got just a little bit more spin in his legs so knowing we still have some good miles to go I decide to save some juice and chill. He slowly creeps away. I then make another visual with him right when we pass these two magic old guys who just kept popping up all over the course, and they say "Just 4 more miles of downhill." Yes! I hang with Bob for a hot minute and then let him spin away. I will see you again Bob, I will see you again.
Ok, this Rail to Trail ends up being a long crazy out and back. Throw in a dab of some single track and I bridge back up to Rogo. Chit chat, and slowly creep away from him.
So remember how Bob had a couple of blow-ups. I was really expecting a third good one that would seal his fate. I pedal and hop out on to gravel and who do I see at the top of a gravel climb, but Bobby Moss.
I get stoked, and hold back just keeping him in sight. By this point we are maybe 15 miles out from done. I'm feeling great and drilling it. Rogo catches back up to me and we get into the last of the 2nd to last single track. Its the last bit just before the suspension bridge. I tell Rogo to be careful down the kinda gnar decent down to the river and over the bridge. We get over the bridge and Rogo stops for a min and I boogie on. We start blending into 100k traffic. We all hit a monster monster monster gravel climb that was seperating the weak from the strong, or the 100k from the 100milers. This was the last I saw Rogo and not the last of me seeing 100k'ers walking their bikes.
I just bring that up cuz I remember the first and second time I had Garth Prosser rip my legs off. Him yelling "Rider back, rider back!" And now I'm that guy, crazy how that works.
Now I'm just in full attack mode crushing every climb like its a crack in the pavement. Deeply believing that Bob is just around the next turn or halfway up the next hill. Crush Kill Destroy Crush Kill Destroy!
Another funny thing that I have mentioned before was that I sometimes feel the presence of AJ Linnel with me at certain times during the last few races I've been in. Early on in the race during the beginning single track I told AJ that "when its time to party we will party hard" and I really think I felt him push me. During this attack mode I was in I know I felt the same.
Around this time I go blasting past Will Crissman. He says it was about mile 85. I think it was about mile 90-92. does it matter, NO. Do I like to be semi accurate in my story. Yes. I never met Will before I don't think. So I wasn't really sure who he was when I passed him, but one things for sure. He done looked blowed up. So I don't let off the gas and jam leaving Will in my wake. Sorry dood.
Where the hell is Bob?!
I get into a big open field and where I pass a dood on a fat bike. I tell him nice work and as I pass he tells me that the other SSer is about 4 mins ahead. In my mind I knew he had to be wrong. How could bob put that much time on me. How could he recover off of his blow ups like that and then put that much time on me. It really kinda blew me away, but I drilled it just incase that fatbiker was wrong. I really left nothing to fate at this point.
I roll up to the last aid station and just yell "Enduralites Coke Enduralites Coke Enduralites Coke!" I had started the minor cramping and didn't need it to go full blown. I was in and F-ing out of that aid station and into the last 4.5 miles of single track. The same that EK and I rode the night before. I was annihilation time, I was a one man one geared wrecking crew set on destruction. This is where I had two really good crazy moments. The first was another Garth Prosser moment of me passing 100k folk like they were sitting still and wishing them good luck and to tear it up! The next was the eery, but comforting wind gust through the woods when I thanked AJ for getting me through the race safe and sound even though I still had 2 miles left. It was still rad. I will also say again thanks AJ, and if I got yer jersey on I will do all that I can to honor yer life by riding above and beyond.
Ok, so I'm just a few miles out. Not that I have abandon hope that I can't get Bob, but understand the reality that he may actually be crossing the finish line. My goal is to finish and not eat shit in the last of the race and finish strong. Oh, and did I mention I'm still also paranoid as hell that Ernie is right behind me. I have never gone this far in a hundo without Ernie catching me. So as a side note that was just a touch of my motivation to hustle. To not get caught by Ernie Marenchin.
Out of the single track and into the campsites. Onto some doubletrack and over the last little bridge and onto the final straight. I pass up the last 100k'er and freight train to the small gate and to the finish line. I blast a power wheelie under the Kenda Arch and pull a gnar showboater skid stop that I've been getting really into lately.
Almost immediately I have Mike Montalbano and Thom Parsons from dirtwire.tv and a few others come up to me saying nice work. Mike is telling me he thinks I may be 2nd SS and asking where Will Crissman is. I'm blowed up and blown away, but am trying to not get too psyched since I'm not sure if I'm 2nd.
Mike and some folk walk away and Thom gives me a little interview. I think I may have been rambling a bunch and for too long. He likes to keep his edits 2mins or shorter. I tried to show off my KILL stem and the BOCOMO. I may have just been to big of a dork for this round of dirtwire.tv cuz I didn't make the cut, whatev's. Thom man, thanks anyway for cracking my shit up all the time :).
|You can really see the "flower power" helmet.|
It ends up that I was 2nd SS in a time of 8:11:53 and 14th overall. Bob was infact 4 mins ahead of me with a time of 8:07:49. Nice work dude! And Will not far back from me in 3rd with 8:14:41.
It was fun riding with Bob and leap frogging with him the whole race, and seeing Will for 5sec 90 miles into the race. Its what makes these NUE hundos freaking awesome. Anything can really happen in 100miles of off road bike racing, and yes we were racing the whole time!
|top 3 ss|
I also want to give a shout out to my girl Linda Shin outta Toronto. She's a hella bad ass lady I've been racing with the last few years who got her first NUE win. I'm so psyched for her cuz I know she's been puttin in the same effort and hard work that all my friends here in STL know that I've been putting in. And Craig, I wish you were there dude!
EK my team mate came in much later in 7th place second year in a row. She was kinda bummed that she was 10 mins slower than last year. But I had to remind her that she was about 25mins faster than Cohutta a few weeks prior which was basically a gravel road race. So I'm proud of her.
So just for finishing the 100 mile course you get a growler to fill with beer from Great Lakes Brewing. I ended up drinking 2 1/2 growlers and some how didn't have that terrible of a hangover. While I was filling my 3rd growler up this guy came in at 14:25 or later. I didn't get his name and the results that far down are kinda weird, but he was the last of the Mohicans for Mohican 100. I just want to give this dude a shout out for being freakin awesome and finishing when so many others didn't! He was in a rain storm and finished well after dark on wet trails being escorted in by sweepers with headlights. Nice work Scott Lang and or maybe Allen Wheeler or maybe somebody else entirely.
EK was back at her tent long before I showed back up from partying. We crashed the night there and drove off in the AM. I battled massive starvation unwilling to eat at a fast food chain until we found a Cracker Barrel type independent establishment. I ate much much foods and was then happy, but still kinda hung over.
Mohican 100 I had a blast. And time for a few shout outs.
-Thanks EK for being my travel buddy!
-Even though yer not my sponsor, thanks Bontrager XR1 rear tire for hanging tough for me! I love you and will forever be yours.
|Just one of the many reasons I was nervous going into this race. This tire has sooo many miles on it!|
-My KILL stem, and mix matched SRAM/ Shimano brakes for being there and not failing.
-My Dodge Caravan for hanging tough.
-Mike Best again for building me the BOCOMO.
-AJ, I know you were there giving me a guiding hand. Thanks again, man!
-And Andrew WK. I will always Party Hard!