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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Please support Quickdirt by sharing this with your friends on social media. You can also like us Facebook and Twitter. You can subscribe to get instant updates about new content by providing your email address in the right-hand column.