Whew... I can now say been there, done that in regards to the Mohican 100. And on a single speed to boot.
The course is a beast. In my opinion, it makes the Lumberjack look like child’s play. Not only it is probably the farthest I've ridden in a day, it's gotta be over the most varied terrain. That course has it all. Single track, log piles, rock gardens, white knuckle 40+ mile descents, stream crossings, dirt roads, paved roads, climbing, climbing more climbing.
After some investigation and inquiries to fellow Michiganders that have rocked out on a single speed at the Mohican, I chose to roll out 2:1. 36/18 to be specific. Good thing since this was what was on my bike and I had zero time for a test ride after a gear swap prior. I figured this was a bit a ballsy choice but, I was assured that there we a “ton” of flats and I would only have to walk a few hills.. Um yeah, right.
So, how to summarize a 100 miler? Let’s break it down in a some summarized segments. Disclaimer for accuracy due to the delirium that ensued within the race must be assumed.
This has got to be what brings folks back to the Mohican year after year. Single track, log piles, stream crossings, rock gardens, you name it. Pure MTB love. This blew anything I’ve ridden in Michigan out of the water. Prior to my second endo, I was loving every inch of it. Every climb leg burning climb was rewarded with a rocking downhill. I felt great at this point. I certainly was feeling the gearing on the climbs but, was not burning the candle at both ends. I passing geared riders just due to the fact I had no choice but, to mash up the switch back climbs. Gears? Meh, who needs em?
While I did get a little gun shy after my second crash in the single track. The 14-16 miles between the 2nd & 3rd aid station was mostly a mixed of dirt and paved roads and I was admittedly a little worked up because after having to loosen my brake lever to unlock my bars after my second endo. I was PO’d that I hadn’t raised my levers enough to clear my top tube and even worse it put a big o’ scratch in the top tube. Yeah, Yeah, I know. It’s a mountain bike. Scratches, dents, bends, etc are just character. But, this was lame and my fault. Plus, I felt like an idiot standing on the side of the trail with my bars locked. And what was this stretch packed with? Hills… And what’s my favorite activity on my SS? Crushing geared riders on hills and putting myself into lung burning, leg cramping, problem dissolving, blues curing, oxygen debt. And that’s exactly what I did.
Aid station 3 to 5:
This 40ish miles is a blur. It was filled with suffering, delusion, regret, excitement, you name it. I had made two poor decisions in the first ½ of the race. #1 being not carrying enough to drink and eat in the first 1/3. To compensate, I decide gorging myself with a toxic mix of heed, lemonade, coke, endurolytes, etc at aid station 2 was a good idea. The was second letting them hang out a little early on the stretch between the single track and prior to stopping at this aid station. By this time it was hot, which didn’t help, and my stomach was a wreck. I dumped all my mixed drinks, filled up with water and headed out mashing up the hill immediately following the aid station. I was in high spirits and convinced myself I was a machine and was going to rock the second ½ of this mother. Then boom. Mistake number two hit me as soon as I hit the single track. No more “climby” in these legs. Thank goodness the single track dried up and much of the remaining of the race turned out to be road, two track & rail to trail. Cause I am going to tell you. I probably would not have made it. So, 2:1 had kicked my butt at this point. But was it the wrong choice? At least not on the promised flats and they were finally here. The hills became few and far between and when on the saddle and spinning I felt great. I was holding 16-17mph with ease and picking off geared riders left and right. Even a group of about 4-5 single speeders which really fired me up. I was lucking to have a few riders that were mixing it up with me to keep me motivated. But, it was bizzaro world. I’d spin away from them on the flats and they’d catch me after I bailed out and started walking the next big hill or anything I couldn’t mash up in 20 or less pedal revolutions.
I neared the last aid station with one of the riders I’d been trading positions with about the last 10 miles. After my first aid station poor decision making, I had been stopping at each and ensuring that I was topped off with liquid and fuel. I did a quick inventory and decided I was supplied enough to go the remainder and let the guy at my side know I was rolling through. Secretly, partially because I wanted to put a little gap on him with hopes I could keep him in the rear view. But, what’s the last 10 miles of Mohican? Yep, single track. Gears? Who needs em right? I wanted some! 2:1 proved too much for me at this point. The rider I was hoping to keep in the rear view? Yeah. Caught me in about a mile. I think he put 7 minutes on me by the end. Anything that required any extended mashing or uphill and technical got walked. Luckily, I was now mixed in with 100k riders and had someone to chase to keep me motivated. I have to admit. I walked an embarrassing amount of trail in this stretch. I was in straight up survival mode. Not sure if I blacked out at some point, was just so delusional, I lost track of time focusing on not cart wheeling off the trail but, something made time melt away. I rounded a corner and could see the Mohican Adventures campground. And that meant FINISH. But, of course not before those SOB’s ran you up another ball breaking hill. :)
I coasted across the line. High on life or delirious. Or some of both. Mohican 100 completed. In damn near 9 hours and on a single speed with gearing I was told repeatedly after the race was just nuts to even attempt. Good enough for 15th in the SS division. Equally as impressive, I managed to hold off all but, 2 of the women in the race. Which beating all us know is a tough thing to do. Cause those ladies are more than just respectable riders. Them “girls” are fast!
Hanging out post race watching the awards was a riot. Many of the top riders were hanging out and I placed myself strategically close to the trailer serving Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer. This meant I had no shortage of great people to meet and hang around with and my pint glass was frequently emptied but, rarely empty.
So, how was the recovery week post Mohican? Legs are still pretty tired. Likely in part due to the race but, also given I am still on some kind of weird high and have put 1 day of cycling and 4 days of running under my belt this week. Much of it prior to 6:30am. In fact, that is the most training I have strung together since post Lumberjack schooling in 2009. Let’s hope it lasts cause I have some crazy ideas for August and September.