OMBC Mohican Cabins 2014: Race Report (Lots of Photos!)

Men's Expert Vet Open 35+ races at Mohican Cabins.

Men’s Expert Vet Open 35+ tackles the initial climb to the singletrack at the OMBC season opener at Mohican Cabins on March 22, 2014

In the days leading up to the Ohio Mountain Bike Championship (OMBC) series race at Mohican Cabins, there were big question marks about whether the event would be cancelled.  After a long cold winter the trails had recently thawed out and needed all the drying time they could get.  A threat of rain the night before made the conditions even harder to predict.

I hadn’t spent anytime training on singletrack because the local trails have been too muddy, so I was really hoping to race.  It’s been a long cold winter and I was eager to get out of the basement and onto singletrack.  I also wanted to see how my winter training would hold up to the competition.

Race director Ryan O’Dell announced on the website the day before that “The Season Opener Race at Mohican Cabins is ON!” and 101 racers from all over Ohio and beyond loaded their bikes into their cars and headed to the Grand Barn at Mohican Cabins in Loudonville, Ohio.

Temperatures were in the low 40s and overcast during the race.  Mohican Cabins is definitely one of the most technical trails in the OMBC series and the early spring conditions made it even more challenging.  For the most part, the singletrack was rideable and tacky.  Their were several sections of the trail that were muddy and squishy and many racers had to hike their bikes through these sections.

In the Men’s Expert Open Division, 2012 OMBC champion Steve Twining beat out 2013 OMBC champion Ben Ortt by just over 30 seconds.  It will be riveting to see how this hotly contested division develops over the course of the season.

Racers crossed the finished line looking beaten up and battered with mud covered wheels and drivetrains.  For recovery, they munched on Smokin’ Bro’s BBQ Chicken and Ribs and drank Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold and Smoked Porter.

Racers gathered outside the Grand Barn at Mohican Cabins for the awards ceremony to celebrate that battles that had been won and lost that day.

Steve Twining won the Men's Expert Open Division

Steve Twining won the Men’s Expert Open Division

GPS map of the OMBC race course at Mohican Cabins

GPS map of the OMBC race course at Mohican Cabins

Jake Scott, James Knott, Cory Knight and Jarom Thomas from the Combo Race Team get ready to race.

Jake Scott, James Knott, Cory Knight and Jarom Thomas from the Combo Race Team get ready to rumble.

In general, the course is hilly with lots of rocks.  The race starts at the bottom of a hill which helps separate the pack before the it hits the singletrack.  This uphill sprint is always hyper-competitive because the racers want to be in good position for the first big downhill on the course.  Riders that are good at descending can speed away from the competition if they are the first to hit it.

Elevation Chart for the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins

Elevation Chart for the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins in 2014.  This is from my Garmin GPS unit and is the sport version of the race which consisted of two laps.  My computer said that I climbed 2,293 feet for the day.  The race started at around the 4 mile mark on this chart.  The first four miles were me warming up for the race and the last mile was the cool down.  At the beginning, there is a huge descent that is tons of fun.  You can also see that the course ends with a huge climb.  You spend most of that climb paranoid that your competition has more legs left than you do as you fight to get up it.

There is a long section of the race that speeds along Wally Road and if you are lucky enough to hit it with other riders you can draft and save some energy – for the longest, highest singletrack climb of the race.  You are climbing for over a mile and your quads are usually burning by the time you get to the top.  It was nearly impossible to reach the pinnacle of this climb without doing some hiking due to some slick sections in the trail.

James Knott races his mountain bike at the 2014 OMBC Mohican Cabins event

I’m finishing the final climb of the race at Mohican Cabins.  When I see the smile on my face, it makes me wonder whether I pushed hard enough.  My legs were definitely struggling up this final climb, but that being said, I still felt pretty good. I think I could have kept racing for a few more miles.

Speed chart of the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins in 2014.

Speed chart of the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins in 2014.  You can see two spikes of speed at around 38:00 and 1:24:00, these were the fast sections along Wally Road before the long slow climb.

There is usually a steep downhill rock garden for the sport and expert racers, but it was closed for the event because O’Dell was concerned with the boulders getting slippery and dangerous with all the traffic.  This is one of the defining features of the course, so it felt bazaar to not have to deal with it.  This was a disappointment to some racers because it is definitely a fun technical feature, but for others, like myself, there was a sense of relief.  I once had to get stitches because of that rock garden.

Rusty Brown races on a fat tire bike.

Rusty Brown stuck out from the herd by being the only racer to complete the course on a fat tire bike. He was looking pretty fast too! He raced with me in the Sport Masters division and beat me by 2 minutes. Doh! He also said that it wasn’t just the early season trail conditions that inspired him to ride it. He plans on racing a fat tire bike all summer. I think that’s awesome!

Chris Knapp with his Specialized Epic Expert Carbon World Cup

Chris Knapp’s new bike, a Specialized Epic Expert Carbon World Cup, was recently featured on Quickdirt.com. This race was his first opportunity to get the bike dirty.  He brought his old bike and I thought that might be because he was afraid of messing up his new bike.  However, he was just trying to sell his former Specialized rig.

My Stats – According to My GPS

James Knott after the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins

James Knott after the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins.  This was a fun event.  I hope they do it again here next year.

  • Sport Masters Division
  • Distance – 13.75 miles
  • Time – 1:35:40
  • Elevation Gain – 2293
  • Average Speed – 8.6 mph
  • Max Speed – 30.8 mph
  • Average Heart Rate – 155 beats per minute (about 84% of my Max HR)
  • Max Heart Rate during race – 167 beats per minute
  • Average Cadence – 69
  • Average Power – 199 W
  • Normalized Power – 253 W
  • Max Power – 833 W
  • Kilojoules – 1417 (including warm-up and cool down)
  • Average Temp – 43.4
  • Calories – 1,146
Heart Rate Graph for James Knott at the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins in 2014.

Heart Rate Graph for James Knott at the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins in 2014.

James Knott's Power Graph in Watts for the OMBC Mohican Cabins race in 2014

James Knott’s Power Graph in Watts for the OMBC Mohican Cabins race in 2014.

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Jimmy Knott’s Race Breakdown

My training for this race has been well-documented here at Quickdirt.com.  Like I said before, I was very eager to find out how my hours this winter would translate to the trail.

About 5 minutes before the race, Ryan O’Dell made an announcement that your official race age would be whatever age you are on December 31, 2014.  I was not aware of this until this moment.  I’m currently 39, but I’m turning 40 in December.  I had assumed that I would be racing in the Sport Veteran 30-39 age group, but all of a sudden I was faced with the reality that I was now a masters athlete.  Let the mid-life crisis begin…

I was still digesting this information when I lined up with my new age group.

James Knott struggles to keep up at the start of the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins in 2014.

I struggled to keep up at the start of the OMBC race at Mohican Cabins in 2014.

Ryan shouted “3, 2, 1, Go!” and the Sport Masters field took off up the initial hill.  I struggled for a split second to engage my clip with my pedal.  Immediately, I felt like I was falling behind the pack.  These old dudes were fast as hell.  What was happening?  I was supposed to be the young 39 year old in a group of decripid, aging 40 year olds.  I had hoped to enter the woods in the top 5, but I ended up in the bottom 3.  This was not a good start.

I’m not sure if it was because I wasn’t properly warmed up, because I wasn’t acclimated to the cold weather, or whether my training just hadn’t prepared me for that fast, powerful sprint.  Whatever it was, my legs weren’t pushing me up the hill as fast as I wanted them to.

Furthermore, because of the long cold winter, I haven’t done any of my training on the trail.  I spent the first two or three miles of the race trying to remember how to ride a mountain bike.  My handling was way too sloppy and I was wasting way too much energy with my lack of flow.

As we bombed down that first slope I had to come to terms with the fact that this wasn’t going to be a race with the front of the pack.  This was going to be a game of catch-up.  I caught my breath on the downhill and tried not to panic.  I knew that my training had given me strength in my legs.  I just needed to calm down and trust them.

James Knott and OMBC race director Ryan O'Dell

James Knott and OMBC race director Ryan O’Dell after the race. I thought if I included this picture of him then he might post this article on the OMBC Facebook page. 🙂

When the trail spit us out onto a long stretch along Wally Road I started to gain my confidence back.  There were about 4 or 5 riders who were up the road from me.  I put my head down and tucked.  I pedaled with a strong tempo cadence and reeled them in one by one.  My legs were starting to feel good.  I had lost a lot of ground to the lead pack by getting caught in traffic.  They were nowhere in sight.  I wanted to catch up, but I wasn’t sure how far I could push myself without blowing up.  I focused on trying to be patient and just tried to race my own race.

Most of my training on the spin bike this winter has been on aerobic endurance and muscular endurance.  This is good base-building.  I haven’t really done any high-powered intervals or sprint work, and I definitely haven’t done any hills.  That first climb sucked.  The entire time my legs felt like they were on the verge of giving out.  I had to focus on slowing down my pace and keeping myself under or close to my lactate threshold.

At several points in the climb the trail got slippery and I had to get off my bike and hike.  This was one area where I felt like my winter training has paid off.  I’ve been cross-training with running all winter and these hike-a-bikes were much less taxing than last season where I was doing no running in training at all.  I was able to trot along for some pretty long stretches and keep up with the guys who managed to ride just fine.  When I got back on the bike I almost felt refreshed because I was working a different set of muscles while running and giving my cycling muscles a break.

This was evident at the top of the first climb.  When the hill flattened out, I recovered almost immediately and passed several people in the open field before we headed back into the woods.

The finish line for the OMCC race at Mohican Cabins in 2014

Seeing the finish line was bittersweet. It was a fun race, but it was over too quickly. Can’t wait to race again in April.

The race went on this way for 14 miles.  The second lap unfolded much like the first, except for the fact that I felt much more comfortable navigating the technical features of the trail.  I wasn’t really getting passed by anyone and I was able to pick off riders for the entire ride.  I wasn’t used to the Sports Masters category, which involves dealing with a lot more traffic than the Sport Veteran’s division.

The entire race I was completely unaware of my place in the standings.  It was really hard to tell whether the guys I was passing were in my division or not.

The final climb of the race was really intense.  Tanuma Tunihiko, #2074, was in my rearview mirror and charging hard.  I had passed him about a mile or two back and he seemed intent on catching me.  I think my heart rate felt like it jumped 20 beats per minute.  This is the kind of moment that racing is all about.  I stood on my pedals and churned them as hard as I could.  I knew I had to be able to hold this intensity for at least 2 minutes to hold off his attack.  In the end, despite his noble effort I crossed the line first.

I was pleasantly surprised when I finished and found out I was 4th out of 17.  The 9th fastest time overall out of 47 sport finishers.  A good finish with plenty of room for improvement.  I thought it was a strong comeback after my poor start.

See Full Results Here

After the race, I drank some recovery drink and ate a snack.  I then quickly found my way to the keg of Great Lakes beer that I had been promised.  Dortmunder Gold never tasted so good.

Sport Masters podium at Mohican Cabins in 2014

Sport Masters podium at Mohican Cabins in 2014. I always make it my goal to look extra enthusiastic. I’ll try to do better next time.

Although, this ride had pushed me hard.  I still felt pretty good after the finish.  I definitely learned where some of my strengths and weaknesses are and know what I need to work on for the next couple of races.  My endurance and seated tempo pedaling were great – this makes sense because that is the majority of what I have worked on with my spin bike.  I need to work on my higher power zones.  The anaerobic system that powers short hill climbs definitely needs work.  Some of these items will definitely be easier to work on once the trails dry out and I can ride outside more frequently.

Overall, it was a ton of fun and I am more pumped than ever for racing this summer.  I look forward to seeing everyone at the OMBC race at The Wilds on April 5th!

Also, thanks to everyone that came and said “Hi” to me.  It was nice to meet some of the people I’ve talked to on-line.  I really appreciate all of your support and the feedback you gave me about Quickdirt.  It was very motivating.  I look forward to hanging out with everyone at the upcoming races.  Make sure you bring me a beer!

Share this article with your racing buddies to convince them that they should come out for the next race.  The more the merrier.  Please consider subscribing to Quickdirt in the top of the right column for more great mountain bike content throughout the year.  It’s nice to finally be able to have some fresh pictures of actual mountain bikes to share on the site.  Spring is just the beginning of Summer’s great adventure!

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More Photos

These photos are owned by Quickdirt.com.  If you find one or two that you like and you want to upload it to Facebook or something that’s cool, but do me a favor and add a photo credit to the description.  Something like “Thanks to James Knott and Quickdirt.com for the great race photo.”  It’s not a big deal, but it helps me spread the word about the site.  Thanks!

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Thanks to Mitch Gay for all of his great support at the race. It really made the entire day a more enjoyable experience. It was especially nice changing in the heated trailer! …and having my bike washed at the end!

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The finish line for the OMCC race at Mohican Cabins in 2014

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Congratulations to Bill Mickey for winning the Sport Master division. I hope to keep up with you next time!

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I love Jake Scott’s “new” look with the ZZ Top beard. Can’t wait to see how long it gets. I put the word “new” in quotes because he has obviously been working on it for a while. It was just new this season.

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6 thoughts on “OMBC Mohican Cabins 2014: Race Report (Lots of Photos!)

  1. Agree with fantastic writeup, nice job dealing with last minute cat change and cold shiggy spring conditions, either one could throw you for a loop….No one has great early season AND late season mtb fitness, think about the big picture which I think you are preparing for. I think you did great just for taking on all the mud. Hillclimb practice time is upon us,
    let me know if you want to suffer in training with me.

    • Thanks Jon. You were one of the biggest advocates for me moving up to expert. Hope I didn’t let you down. 🙂 We’ll have to go head-to-head next year! It’s going to be fun to hang out at Mohican 100 and a few OMBC races this year.

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