Monday, June 2, 2008

There must be goats in Ohio. (A Disaster in 4 Acts)

The Mohican 100 this past weekend was held on some of the most diverse terrain I have ever ridden in one ride. We rode on highways, city streets, gravel roads, dirt roads, un-rideable horse trails, rail trails, hiking trails, driveways (no kidding), through corn fields, wheat fields, back yards, and some of the sweetest singletrack I have ever seen. In the end, I was battered, tired but thoroughly stoked for having the experience.

Here's what happened:


I loaded up in the USS Lamberson on Friday with Bob and his dog Jamis (more on Jamis later) and we picked up Anet and Wes on the way to our first stop at the halfway point - Ghent WV.

You can always tell you are in West Virginia by all the Adult Showplaces all up and down the Interstate. The place was hopping for 7:00 am. We continued on towards Camp Nuhop in Perrysville OH (thank God for TomTom) and got there just as registration opened things were starting to happen. Northern Ohio is a really nice place with lots of big farms and one thing unusual to us since we don't encounter them very much - the Amish.

Land stretching out so far and wide.

Look ma, no mountains....

Wonder what kind of gas mileage they get?

This one was moving on pretty good.

We deluded ourselves with the visions of flatness we saw. How bad could it be? There's no 5,000 ft peaks, no 10 mile long climbs, this might be fun. Um......Yeah well sit tight buttercup, It's gonna get a little bumpy.

Act one.

We got ready and headed out for some riding and it just so happened thata our ride coincided with the Trek guys - Chris Eatough, Jeff Schalk and a couple of others I didn't know. We also rode past Floyd Landis. It was kind of weird.

Since the race started in nearby Loudenville, we rode the final few miles of the course backwards. The first (last) section of singletrack came to a road and we followed the Trek guys up the road and into some singletrack.

In just a few yards, they turn and Chris Eatough says to me "Uh, I'm sorry, we saw a red flag and um, this is the wrong way". I thought it was funny. We rode on and down a dam that would be a nasty hike-a-bike at mile 96.

This is gonna hurt.
Trail looks kinda peaceful and serene huh? It wasn't like this for long (Bob and Anet are wrestling Anets pump back on her bike after letting me borrow it for a low tire)
We didn't ride much and returned to camp for dinner and rest. The race starts at 7:00 in nearby Loudenville. Just before dark we learn that there is a tornado warning for the area beginning at 11:00 pm. Ohboy.
Act Two
You know how whenever there is a big tornado on tv and there's always the person they interview at the front of what is left of the trailer park and how they say all they remember was the sound of a freight train? Well I heard that sound twice during the night and it freaked me the hell out. Bob heard it to and we both lay awake in the RV waiting to run down to the lake in case things got bad (the lake was the lowest spot around us). I hovered between awake and unconsciousness and I looked out the window and could see how still the trees were which was odd since the wind had been blowing since we got there. Then I dreamed the trees exploded into a funnel cloud, sucking all that was around up and into a fury of hell...................
I woke up and we were still there. There wasn't a tornado but there was lots and lots of rain and that led us into Saturday morning and
Act Three - Showtime
The race proper started at 7:00 am in Loudenville. We soon found out where they hid all the hills in Ohio, the first one being straight outta town where we hit this really steep, 200 yd climb. I felt good and passed people by the dozens. Two or three miles later we hit singletrack and it turned into a donnybrook pretty quickly. The mud just sucked the life from you like a Vegas bride as you'd fight the bike for steering and for traction. I was at a real disadvantage as my tire choice was a WTB Weirwolf and Vulpine - both designed for anything except mud. It was all I had. Every pedal stroke meant 2 more just to keep moving. I used enormous amounts of energy in the first 20 miles just to keep moving. At the first Aid Station, I saw Bob and he told me his knee was feeling like it did after Tsali (he injured it there) . As I left him there, I was disappointed because I knew he probably wouldn't finish.
There was more singletrack and it was starting to dry out some in places. I had fun for a while. The trails are really nice and lots of fun to ride. There was some really technical rock gardens in places and I was a little concerned at first since it had been a while since I had ridden anything very technical - especially mud covered rocks with semi-slick tires. It all went well though.
There was some long and sloppy hike-a-bike that was unrideable and that led to a descent with 4X4's laid in it every few yards at odd angles. What dumbass ever thought that would be a good way to build trails should be beaten with one of them. I made it over about 6 or 7 of them then I didn't quite get my wheel over one and I crashed hard. To make it worse the trail was still thick with slimy, horse-shit laden mud. Well at least I didn't have to worry about mosquitoes. I was doing fine after that and in a group of about 7 and one of them wanted by me. We were on a fast descent lined with ferns and one of the ferns hid the stump that smashed the three smallest toes on my right foot. I cursed in five languages. The pain was really bad and I could feel blood leaving my body but I was afraid to look. I kept riding.
After 46 miles, the ones doing the 100K split from the 100 milers and I didn't see a soul for about 3 hours. There was some singletrack but mostly long roads with long climbs and long descents. There was one or two more steep hike-a-bikes. I know they have goats in Ohio because we were on plenty of goat paths. I eventually got bored and on one mind-numbingly boring section of rail trail, I got sleepy too. No kidding, I was falling asleep. I eventually stopped for a minute because my foot was killing me. I took off my sock and saw one of my toenails ripped almost off and it was causing all the pain so I took it the rest of the way off and washed my foot off in a creek. It felt a little better after that. I made it to Aid station 4 at about 4:30 and grabbed some fruit, a Pepsi and filled my bottles. So far living off the land was working well for me. I was grabbing something at each check and filling my bottles (and emptying them between checks). I did run out once but stopped at a well and filled them back up. I figured I had ingested enough crap in the mud that a little well water couldn't hurt me. The next 20 miles were a blur and I don't remember them.
Aid Station 5 and the final 7 miles made me happy. I had a choice between energy drinks, water and Natty lights so I quickly chose the water and got the heck out of there. I was no match for temptation and at that point even cheap beer sounded great to me. I slogged out the final 7 miles and finished in 12:fiftysomething and 25th in the singlespeed category. I later found out that the course tooks its toll on a lot of people including Floyd Landis. There was a large number of dnf's

I was just happy to have overcome some bad stuff and finish.

Act Four

After enjoying many post race beers, some food and a shower I felt better. Bob will live to race another day. Anet finished 8th in the 100K and had a great time doing it.

Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Probably some of the most fun we had all weekend was on the way home watching Bob's dog Jamis chase road kill and big trucks from the front of the RV to the back. For nearly 8 hours this dog did not stop. Every time he would see roadkill he'd growl at it and chase it all over the RV as we passed it.
It was hilarious.




I have got to give a shout out to Vassago and WTB. The bike worked perfectly. During the three weeks, three races and over 300 miles of riding I didn't touch a thing except clean it and lube the chain.

The tires I used - WTB Vulpines and Weirwolfs worked great on the hardpack at Tsali and the Burn and even though they were never designed for what I put them through at the Mohican, they still did as good as a minimally treaded tire could.

Thanks guys. Good stuff!

Also thanks to Bob, Anet and Wes for letting me stowaway in the RV and for everything y'all did all weekend.


Tomi said...

yeah, that railtrail was especially sucky, nice work.

Cellarrat said...

looks fun!

Maybe next year?

CJA said...

I am glad you enjoyed yourself here in Ohio. My 12 hours was for only the 100k with gears. Great Job on your finish. How about the singletrack along the river at the end? I am guessing you didn't fall in to the river like i did.

bradkeyes said...

Nice write up. I need to get back east for one of the hundies, sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe Fool's Gold.