Monday, June 7, 2010
Mohican 100 Race Report (2010)
Mohican brake pad on the left, healthy new pad on the right. Doooom.
This wasn't what I wanted to see on the way to the Mohican 100:
But it didn't matter what I or any of the other 600 fools entered in the race wanted. It was going to rain. And it did.
There was a long enough break in the weather after we arrived that Steevo was able to set up a little canopy he had snatched from a dead man's house. We sat under the canopy in the drizzle, and life was all right. I extolled the virtues of my newly purchased Walmart "deluxe camp chair" with dual cup holders and 300 pound capacity, and the others listened in jealous awe. We cheerfully hoped that the trails would stay decent. Then a big black cloud rolled over the hill and tried to sweep us and the dead man's tent away.
Wind was blowing away the canopy, and rain was pelting through the mesh screen. Even with four guys, it was hard to hold the tent down. The thing lasted for almost half an hour, and all we could do was laugh miserably. 100 miles is a long way to go in the mud.
After the storm, we had to reset out tents because they were floating in their own private lakes.
Brad and Jason arrived later, and we went down to register and get drop bags. The line of guys bailing on the 100 miler and switching to the 100k was huge. Afterwards, we headed up to our tents and bedded down to the sweet sounds of screaming children and frustrated parents across the street.
I listened to the patter of heavy rain on the roof of my tent, and every few minutes a flash of lightning would make the fabric house glow like a lantern. Shit. I tried to sleep.
It's 5:00 when I hit the indiglow button on my watch. I'm not leaving my sleeping bag for at least another 30 minutes. I can still hear the rain. I groan and roll over. A few minutes later I pull on my kit and a hoodie, and stumble out into the dark morning. Everybody else is awake, and a few stoves are blasting blue jets of flame to boil water for coffee.
The rain stops, and we all get excited. Maybe the day won't be too bad after all. I'm still trying to pull my drop bags together and fill my bottles, and everybody else is rolling out to the start in downtown Loudenville. "WRAAA!" Steevo screams at the tent with the sleeping obnoxious family as he rides away.
I steal a banana from the picnic table and head for the start. A few minutes later, I stop by the side of the road to pee, but there's an endless stream of riders cruising by me "It's not worth it man!" somebody yells. Maybe he's right. I wait until I'm in the woods to go.
In the little town, people are lining up under the big "Mohican 100" banner that's stretched across the main street. I stand in the grass in the front row while the race promoter makes some announcements. Only a few minutes to go. Steavo straddles a telephone pole and pees. I'm as impressed with his ability to urinate in public as I am riding skills.
The promoter gives a five count. 4..3..2..the field starts to roll..1 everybody hits it and we sprint out of town. I spin my face off and catch up to the truck in front. I pull the big number one and lead the field until we hit the first hill in a few hundred yards. Then the field starts to wizz past me. But I was winning the race for a few seconds. And the truck caught it all on video. I'll take it.
(45 seconds of victory)
We stay on the road for a few miles before heading into the first muddy section of double track. The air is heavy with the smell of cow poop from surrounding farms. I wrinkle my nose.
The pack slows down to about 5 mph. I try to get around people. It looks like a lot of these guys have never ridden in the mud. They're slipping and sliding and putting a foot down all over the trail. We have to hike most of the hills.
The course winds in and out of our camp ground, and it's goopy single track for ever. I ride with Gunnar for a while, and we pass trains of geared guys, only to have to slow down again when we catch a new one. A bee stings me in the arm on a climb and I curse the little bastard. That frigging hurt.
More and more mud. I'm having a pretty good time in the woods. Almost 20 miles in. Nice.
I keep rolling on, but now I start to get a tired of the mud. I wana take a nap. Dammit. The single track feels like it's never going to end.
I catch up to Brad while he's fixing a flat after a sketchy water bar descent. The trail keeps getting muddier and muddier. "Dude this is so fucked. So so fuckity fucked." I say as we walk up the hill.
"My back brake quit working. It just goes all the way to the bar." he replied.
We ride the road together for a little while. A pack of tiny fat dogs attack Brad yipping and yapping as we pass a farm. Finally we roll into the 2nd aid station. I grab some pb&j and stick a banana in my back pocket while a super helpful volunteer power washes the muck off my bike. I hike up the grassy hill and hop back on when I finish my delicious sammach.
Brad drops me on the next road section, and I yell to him that he needs to fix the Simple Strap holding his tools and tube to his saddle. He doesn't listen, and his stuff falls off later in the day.
I roll along the lonely farm roads for a long time. I sing a crappy Lady Gaga song out loud. I really am starting to lose my mind. The road alternates from pavement to gravel and back. It rolls along the farmscape with some big climbs and descents. Still smells like cow shit.
A train of geared guys catch me, and I latch on to the back of their pace line as they take turns pulling. I love being the parasitic single speeder. They compare mileage. 5 Garmin units, 5 different readings. They range from 38 to 45 miles. I have 45 on my old school magnet and sensor computer, so we go with that.
We go back into the woods and I'm ready to strangle a kitten. Enough god damn muddy single track. I make a really angry face. There's really nothing else I can do so I keep riding.
At the 3rd aid, the 100k guys split off from us. In about 12 miles, they'll be home. We have over 50 to go. I grab more gel, another pb&j, and hose sandpaper mud off of my crotch. It's a huge climb out of the aid station. In mud. On single track. Again. Now I would skip strangulation and just bite the stupid kitten's head off.
I head back out onto the road by myself. More smelly rolling hills. I watch the miles slowly tick away on my speedometer. 60.35, 60.40, 60.45. I hit the rail trail of doom and I'm glad. It's so slow and long and soul crushing, but it's flat, and it's taking me closer to the finish.
People start to pass me every few minutes. I couldn't care less. I'm almost done racing at this point. I just want to be done. Rob blows by me and shouts "I eat the soul crushing rail trail of despair for breakfast!"
"You sure do" I murmur. I'd like to throw my decapitated kitten at his face.
We hit the next aid together and I down a cup of peanut m&ms. I feel a little better now. I try to hold on to Rob, but he is just way to strong on the road, so I let him go. I go back into the woods and hike up a super steep fire road. A geared guy passes me and we ride together for a while.
At the end of the fire road, we make a left on to paved road. Once we're out of cover from the trees, thunder cracks and the sky lets loose. A sheet of rain smacks down and pelts me in the face so hard that I can't open my eyes. We pass a group of people watching riders from their porch. "Hey you guys are goin the wrong way!" they yell.
Shit. We continue on for a while and don't see any signs. "We better turn back!" my companion in misery yells over the crushing storm. We head back down the road a few miles and find the arrow we missed. I look down at my computer. An extra 4 miles. Dammit.
More muddy single track. I try to catch a single speeder that passed me while I was lost. After a big climb we hit the 3rd aid station again. I ride right through it and roll with Gunnar for a while. He also passed me while I was lost in the rain. The finish is close I think. I start feeling good, and mash up a hill away from Gunnar.
I start passing a few 100k riders on a big fire road climb, and I'm almost happy. So close to being done. Then I hit the last aid station. "6 to go!" yells a volunteer. I'm so happy. Then I hit the muddy woods again. My happy leaves.
The last single track is the muddiest of the entire day. I'm moving at about 6 mph. I hate it. I want to be done. I pass people sitting by the side of the trail. "Hey man do you have a granola bar?" one poor soul asks. I throw a chewy bar at him. Screw this race. Screw mud. Screw the woods.
So close. There's mile markers on the trail but they tick by so slowly. I finally hit the camp ground, and see people riding up a road around the lake. I'm so pissed off. I thought we rolled right down to the finish. But there's more. I hit an over flowing stream. "Pick your bike up over your head and cross here! Get it over your head!" yells a volunteer. The brown water is moving fast and almost comes up to my chest.
I get out of the stream and keep riding. Not long to go. I see the banner up ahead. I'm so angry and spent that I'm not even relived to roll through the finish. That sucked. I stand in line for Mongolian barbecue.