Why should I do the Mohican MTB 100?

James Knott at the Mohican 100 in 2013

In 2013, I completed the Mohican 100k for the first time. I was the 85th person to finish with a time of 6:33:10. I vowed to never do it again. …but I’m signed up for another battle in 2014.

In the summer of 2013, I rode in the Mohican MTB 100 for the first time, specifically the 100k, not the 100 miler.  There was just one reason I decided to compete – peer pressure.  But, the bigger question is… Why am I going back?

The Mohican 100 is the largest mountain bike event in Ohio.  There is a 100 mile and 100k version of the course and hundreds of riders line up to test their mettle against some of the best singletrack and toughest climbing in the state.

Last year was my first year on the Combo Race Team and it was a race that a lot of the guys on the team were really excited about – probably our highest team turnout of the year.  The team rented a cabin at Mohican Adventures and I was reluctant to miss out on the big event.

Honestly, it sounded like a lot more riding than I was interested in doing.  I am passionate about mountain biking – as evidenced by the fact that I started an entire blog dedicated to the subject.  However, after a few hours of riding I am usually ready to do something else.  I get bored and tired and cranky.  About 2 or 3 hours is usually more than enough to satisfy my biggest fat tire cravings.

I crossed the finish line in 85th place, 6 hours and 33 minutes after the start of the race.  I dropped my bike, grabbed a beer and vowed to never do race here again.

Yet, here I am in 2014 with another paid registration.  Why did I sign up for more torture?  I’m not 100 percent sure, but this year the motivation is coming from a different place.

Nobody pressured me to come out.  I doubt that I would be missed very much amongst the throng of racers at the start.  The team cabin would probably not feel empty without me.  There are plenty of off-roaders to fill the beds.

I still don’t have a desire to be an ultra-endurance mountain biker.  I like XC racing just fine.  A 10 mile race is usually long enough to get me to drive across the state.

No.  The real answer is I want a rematch against myself.  I didn’t know what I was getting myself into last time.  Now, I’ve seen the test and I know how to study.  I want to beat my time from last year.


Why did I let my heart rate get so unsustainably high at the start of the race? My goal this year is to pace myself better. You can see a distinct drop in my heart rate late in the race where my legs just didn’t have any juice left. That was an excruciating bonk.

In my inaugural run, I went out way too hard.  I told myself that my only goal was to finish.  But let’s be honest, I get a little competitive from time to time.  I was having way too much fun passing people (smarter people) in the opening stretch.

At the start of the race my heart was beating at a very sustainable rate – if I was only racing for 90 minutes!  By hour four, I was cursing my decision to do the Mohican 100k.  NUE can go to h-e-double hockey sticks.  I couldn’t believe that I still had over two hours of racing to go.  My legs were so heavy and I was sure that vultures were going to pick at my tendons as my body laid motionless on the side of the trail.

I stopped at aid stations and tried to rebuild my depleted energy stores by eating everything on the table.  Now I had both side stitches and crampy legs at the same time.  As I neared the finish line, I watched racers zoom by me with enviable amount of speed.

Looking back on it… I really messed it up.

Mohican 100k GPS Map from 2013

A map created by my Garmin from last year’s race. The start of the race is in downtown Loudonville, Ohio. There is a long stretch where you have an opportunity to pass a lot of riders.  But, should you?

The thing is… I’m not sure if I’m smart enough to learn from my mistakes.  Whenever I visualize the race this year, those same competitive juices are driving me to get to singletrack as quick as possible before the other five or six hundred racers do.

Cory Knight before the OMBC race at Mohican State Park

Cory Knight and I have a friendly wager over who will finish first. He easily beat me in the 100k last year, but I have a few OMBC wins over him. The winner gets a 6-pack of his choice.  This is going to be a really close race.  Tune in next week to find out who won.

I know I need to be more patient.  Just because I can go faster at the start doesn’t mean that I should.  Just because I can charge up that hill faster than the guy next to me, doesn’t mean he won’t pass me 10 miles down the road.

In an event like this, good pacing is the key.  But what should that pace be?  What is my goal?  I told myself that I just want to do better than last year.  Will I be happy if I beat that time by 1 minute?  10 minutes?

To complicate things, I just made a friendly wager with Cory Knight.  (Hope this wasn’t supposed to be a secret.)  We bet a six-pack of beer over who would finish first this year.  Last year, he finished in 6 hours and 18 minutes.  That’s almost exactly 15 minutes faster than my time.  He said that his goal is to finish under 6 hours this year.  Does that mean that my new goal is to finish in under 6 hours?

Another item that makes the pacing calculation more difficult is that there is a higher percentage of singletrack in the first half of the race.  Does that mean that I should aim to make my average speed in the first half slower?  How much slower?  Should I aim to maintain the same average speed throughout the race knowing that singletrack will slow me down on the first half and fatigue will slow me down on the second half?

Tell me about your approach to pacing in the comment section.  I’d love to hear about some different strategies.

Mohican 100k Elevation Chart 2013

Up and down. Up and down. You can see the elevation that the Mohican 100k throws at you in this chart from my GPS.


James Knott finished the Mohican 100k in 2013 and looks to 2014 with nervousness and excitement.

One thing I know is that I’m not going to be the overall winner.  There will be hundreds of mountain bikers lining up and only a few will be able to be division winners.  Everyone else has to look elsewhere for motivation.  What is your motivation for entering?  Are you riding just to finish or hang out with your friends?  Is it the rural scenery?  Do you want to go fast, PR, or win?  What other reasons are there to ride in a big event like the Mohican 100?

I’m not sure how this will play out.  I’m both excited and nervous.  I know this will be a fun event and a great opportunity to hang out with some cool, like-minded folks.  Will I beat my time from last year, and if not, can I be happy with that?

I expect that somewhere a around the fourth hour of the race I will be questioning my sanity.  Why, oh why, am I suffering through this again?  But, I expect those painful memories will fade and I’ll be signed up again in 2015 with new goals and aspirations.  I’m just not sure what they will be yet.

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8 thoughts on “Why should I do the Mohican MTB 100?

  1. This is my first year doing this race and don’t know the course at all. Pacing is a big concern for me. I’m told if you get in midpack or so you’ll be bottlenecked into the singletrack and be slowed down considerably. So, … is it worth it to push a little to get ahead of that bottleneck or use it as a tool to keep pace slow at first so you can push harder later?? Did you run into a logjam of riders at any point? Honestly I just want to finish unscathed and in an amount of time that I feel is acceptable for my age(44) and fitness. I just don’t know what that is. Hoping I can maintain a 10mph average but that might go out the window at any given point. Good luck!

    • There is definitely a log jam. I want to say that it happens around mile 5, but that could be different this year with the reroute. It’s nice to get ahead a few people before that happens, but I paid dearly for it later. I’m going to try a slower start this year and see if I can maintain my pace for the entire race. …at least that’s what I tell myself. 🙂

  2. Mohican 100k is on my bucket list, I am not sure when I will do the event.

    Good luck and have fun.

    As a long course triathlete that enjoys the longer distances over the shorter ones, in the last 7 years of racing, I have learned that pacing is the key while making adjustments as the race goes on. Just like you, I have to internally monitor my HR, how the body feels, nutrition, and hydration. Just like everyone else, chances are that my race plan will not go as planned on race day, thus make adjustments along the way. I make 4 race plans, Plan A – Ideal and perfect race, though I have yet to race according to my Plan A. Plan D is survival mode till the finish line. I already know it is going to be a long day and I will have to travel a long distance.

    I have also learned over the years is that at races, you have two different athletes racing. The Competitor and the Completer. From the little time I have been reading your blog, your a competitor, you want to race and you want to win. I have been racing long enough to know I am a completer. I train hard, but know I am not a podium racer, for me crossing the finish line is my victory. For a race like Mohican, my goal would be to somehow, someway make sure that I just cross that finish line. Being a completer, I have learned over the years not to get caught up in people passing me. It took me a long time to learn that skill. If I chased them down, I am throwing my race plans out the window. We are all different but we usually fall into one of those two categories.

    I remember my first year of racing and I was at Alum Creek training with a small group swimming. When someone said to another that completed an Ironman “Wow, you did an Ironman, I hope to be like you one day” and the Ironman Finisher said something that has stuck to me still today and say it anyone that will listen. He said “You know what you call the first person that cross the finish line at a triathlon, a triathlete. Do you know what they call the last person to cross the finish line at a triathlon, a triathlete.”

    • I would say that in my first year I was a “completer”, but I have definitely changed to a “competitor” this year. Although, I’m mostly just competing with myself. I would say that I did the same thing with TOSRV. The first two times I rode it, I just wanted to complete it. If I did it again I would like to see how quickly I could do it. Have you ever tried TOSRV?

  3. I, am out to beat my unimpressive time, in 2012. And, not have to get off of the bike after 50 miles, because of leg cramping.
    I, like you James, am not going to be crossing the finish line first. Nor, am I expecting to win my age category. I just don’t want to be last!
    I am going to be gunning for some friends like Tim Bonifont, Joe Merry, Scott Jaenke, George stantko, Brent Thompson, and Michael Ritterbeck. Plus, any Orrville jersey shirts I come across.
    You pose the million dollar questions: do I go out too fast? I my case in 2012, I did. And, if so, how do I slow myself down? Like you said, it is a race.
    Good luck on your little side bet, and I hope you win! Good luck to your your whole combo mountain bike race team.
    May it be dry, fast, and a whole lot of fun, this year!

    • We’ll have to have a beer afterwards and compare notes about whether we were able to control ourselves at the start. I’m getting pretty excited about it. I think this is going to be a fun one!

  4. James, This will be my first (100k)and my goal is to finish.The only person I am competing against is myself.I have ridden Mohican many times and I have done a couple of the gravel road climbs that are part of the race as well.I hope to meet you there James and wish all the best on race day.God bless!

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