Sunday, October 4, 2015, the OMBC held it’s annual championship race at Mohican State Park. It was scheduled for Saturday, but postponed because of cold rainy weather. Several people grumbled on Facebook that the course was going to be awful, but they were off in their assumptions. Mohican absorbed the moisture and course conditions were close to ideal. There were a few wet roots and one or two mud puddles, but, for the most part, the tread was firm and tacky. Plus, the weather on Sunday was amazing – sunny and warm – a perfect day for a race.
119 racers showed up to compete. This number may have been down slightly due to moving the race to a different day. There were 26 experts, 56 sports and 37 novice racers.
There was one major change to the race course. Usually riders sprint for a quarter mile and then tackle a short steep climb. However, the rain plus a little construction work had made the opening hill a muddy mess. The race was rerouted up a gravel road called Main Street. Overall, I thought this was a better way to start the race. It gave riders more time to spread out and fight for position before hitting the singletrack. I thought it would be an easier way to start the race too, but it was actually fairly challenging. The climb up the road had racers pushing hard and gasping for breath just trying to survive to the singletrack where they could recover a little.
After that, it was classic Mohican. Roots, rocks, hills and over 25 miles of unique singletrack for sport and expert racers. Novice racers did a shorter 8 mile loop.
My Garmin recorded 25.4 miles of racing with 3386 feet of climbing.
In terms of competition, the best of the best showed up. The 6 top riders were all in attendance in the Expert Men’s Open and 10 of the top 11 in the Expert 40+ showed up (Jeremy Larson had a scheduling conflict when they moved the race day. Sorry you couldn’t make it.). There was no room for error, for the guys who wanted to win.
Ben Ortt, stepped to the line undefeated in both the Ohio and West Virginia series and was clearly the favorite to win. But, he crashed hard and received a DNF, opening up the door for Drew Purcell to win the final race. In the Expert 40+ category, Ross Clark, who had already locked up the title, continued his streak of dominance and beat Brad Rogers by over 2 minutes.
Official results can be found here. Here are the top times in each category:
- Drew Purcell, Open, Ride on Wooster, 1:53:35
- Jeff Rupnow, Open, Paradise Garage/Evolution Training, 2:03:36
- Ross Clark, 40+, Edge Outdoors/Hammer, 2:04:35
- Chris McGovern, 19-29, 2:16:32
- Kunihiko Tanuma, 40-49, Breakaway Quickdirt, 2:23:43
- Jeff Harper, 30-39, Mid-Ohio Velosport
- Joe Worboy, 40-49, Breakaway Quickdirt, 46:52
- Anthony Toops, 30-39, 49:17
- Chadd Hartman, 40-49, Breakaway Quickdirt, 51:20
- Emily Ponti, Expert, Team Bicycle Hub, 2:30:12
- Vanessa Marts, Sport, FMBR, 3:03:49
- Jen Toops, Novice, 0:56:19
The highlight of the day, may have been the post-race hangout. OMBC provided Great Lakes Octoberfest and most of the riders stuck around to watch the awards and socialize.
My team, Breakaway Quickdirt, had a cookout in the campground hosted by teammate Mark Hatten (Mark, I still owe you $5). It was fun celebrating the end of our inaugural season. We went from nothing to one of the largest teams in Ohio mountain biking very quickly. Not only did we get to celebrate several division champions, but we’ve had the pleasure of introducing new riders to the sport. I’m looking forward to seeing how 2016 turns out. Congratulations to Joe Worboy, Kunihiko Tanuma, and Dan Fausey for winning your divisions. It will be interesting watching you guys compete in harder divisions next year. Keep up the good work.
Jimmy’s Race – The Season End-Cap
I showed up not really knowing how the day would turn out. It was the end of my first season in expert and my fate in the standings felt like it had already been set. Depending on who showed up, I may move up or down, but I wasn’t planning on any big shifts.
When we lined up, I realized that almost everybody had come out to play. The deck was stacked with one of the largest Expert 40+ fields of the season – 14 riders. I looked around and saw a group that I respected – everyone there had beaten me at some point in the season and no place could be taken for granted until I crossed the finish line. Several riders like Ross Clark, Brad Rogers and Brad Smith were almost certain to finish ahead of me, but there were a few like Vince Urichich, Gary Hocke and Scott Young that I thought I had a chance with.
I was well-rested. I hadn’t touched my bike in 3 days (which can be a weird feeling when you are trying to stay fit). When the race started we charged to the opening climb and it was much tougher than I had anticipated. I was trying not to overdo it, but whenever I tried to dial it back the other racers began to slip away from me. The climb was longer than I anticipated and looped around to a campground before meeting back up with the singletrack. I managed to stay ahead of Gary Hocke and Scott Young, passed my nemesis Chris Knapp and dropped in on the trail behind Dave Tingley from the Trek Store Columbus team, the husband of Kate Tingley who manages the Breakaway Quickdirt race team.
I had beaten Dave at Chestnut Ridge and following him for a few miles seemed like a good goal. The pace was fast. I had been hoping to recover on the singletrack a little, but my breathing was still intense and I was pushing hard up the slopes to keep up. Was I going out too hard? I didn’t want to blow up at the end.
Dave is a good climber and he would gap me on the climbs, then I would play catch-up on the downhills and some of the more technical terrain. I noticed Dave getting a little tripped up on the roots and eventually one of them took out his bike and I was able to pass. I tried to keep up the intensity, but within a few miles I had lost sight of the rider in front of me. I had over 20 miles left and I had to look within to find some motivation.
For the most part, I would consider my first season in expert a success. I wasn’t even close to being the fastest guy, but I had kept up with some pretty strong riders. Not only that, I had made friends with these guys and looked forward to seeing them on Sunday mornings. My best finishes were a couple of 6th places that left room for improvement next year. I spent a lot of the season figuring out how to compete in these longer races, and by this point I was starting to figure out how I could take my riding to the next level. My technical skills were the strongest they’ve ever been and I’ve had a season with very few mishaps or crashes. If I could just survive the day at Mohican without bonking, then I thought I would go home happy.
After a few miles of riding by myself I caught up to Kenny Kocarek with Knobby Side Down Racing (KSD). This was good. A pass would be a good motivational push at this point in the race.
“Kenny!!!” I shouted.
He heard me and then that jerk put the hammer down and left me in the dust. What? Where was he going? Apparently, I was the motivational push he needed at that point in the race. I chased him for several miles and we pushed each other to go faster. It really was some of the most fun riding I’ve done all season. He was on a singlespeed and he was crushing it. I was fresh off of my trip to Colorado and was attacking the trail more aggressively than I usually do, fast downhilling, small jumps, tight corners, what a blast. 11 miles in, we reached the covered-bridge and rode on the pavement together, sharing a laugh or two, before we started the half-mile climb on the other side.
Since he was on a singlespeed, I let him go first. We did the whole climb together, but my gears finally won the day. My legs recovered more quickly and he offered me a pass. I didn’t want to leave him, because he had made the race more fun, but I knew I had to keep pushing myself.
Once again, I was alone and in search of of a carrot to chase. A couple of sport riders passed me, hopefully we will see them in expert next year, because I tried to chase them and they were just too fast. This was not the carrot I needed. My mind started to drift and I’m pretty sure I started to slow down when my focus waned.
This is when Dave Tingley came chugging up behind me. 10 miles after I passed him he was back. I immediately offered him a pass, but he waited for a minute or two before taking me up on it. He started to slip away, but I wasn’t ready to concede quite yet. This was the push I needed. My speed rose back up to where it needed to be. He would gap me on the climbs and I would catch him on the downhills. My legs were starting to feel fatigued, lactate was starting to build up in my muscles and create discomfort, but I managed to keep up with him (To his surprise… he later told me he expected to drop me right away.)
Around mile 22 or so, and this may have been my imagination, my tire started to feel funny. I tried to look down for a flat, but didn’t see anything. I slowed to test it to figure out if something was wrong. I couldn’t see any specific problem, but when I looked back up Dave had created a gap on me. With as tired as my legs were, I knew this would be tough to close. Dave caught another rider (Glen Gardner), who I didn’t recognize from a distance, and the two of them seemed to speed up.
Once again, I was alone, but this time I was tired as well. I had two more miles to go and I felt like I was slowing down. Paranoia started to set in. How far back were Gary Hocke, Scott Young and the evil Chris Knapp? Surely, one of them would be catching me soon. I thought of Jens Voight and his famous cycling quote, “Shut up legs!” I said that over and over as my quads churned – left, right, left, right… At this point, I didn’t know if staying ahead of these guys would help me in the standings, I just knew it would feel good after they had recently beaten me at previous races. As the final distance ticked away, I kept looking over my shoulder. There was no one in sight. Maybe I could pull this off?
In the final half mile of singletrack, I spotted sport-rider Jeff Harper in my rearview. It was the final piece of motivation I needed. Jeff was on his way to winning the Sport Veteran division and getting the second fastest sport time of the day, but I didn’t want him to catch me. I pushed my legs to the edge of cramping on the final climb and bombed down the final hill, missing the u-turn at the bottom, and coming to a stop in the weeds. Oops. I exited the woods and sped down the final stretch of road. These were the last moments of my first expert season. It felt good to finish.
I held off Harper and my other competitors and crossed the line in 2:25:46, 10th of 15 in the Expert 40+ division. After all was said and done, I had finished 7th out of 11 overall in my division for the season – not amazing, but not too shabby.
When I crossed the line, the Breakaway Quickdirt team tent was right at the finish. Several of my teammates cheered for me and offered food and drink for my weary body. Chadd Hartman gave me a 6-pack of beer! It was nice to have such a supportive group there for me at the end. That’s when I realized the true legacy of my season.
It didn’t matter how I finished that day or for the whole year. I was part of something bigger. I had helped start this team with Kate Tingley and Nahum Burt and that was more important than my race results. We had inspired these guys to come together (we want to recruit more gals). Their was a new sense of community that some of these folks had never experienced in mountain biking. Everyone wanted to support each other. If you needed a tube or a tool, someone was there to hand it to you. We were bringing new people to the sport. I had gone from novice to sport to expert and now I was inspiring other people to take that same journey. They were pushing themselves to new heights to see where their limits were on the trail. They were tackling new singletrack and doing it faster than they ever had. But more importantly, it seemed like they were developing friendships and life experiences that they would treasure.
It was a good feeling.
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- 10th of 15 in Expert 40+
- Time 2:25:38
- Distance 25.41 miles
- Average Speed 10.5 mph
- Max Speed 23.8 mph
- Average Power 212 watts
- Normalized Power 261 watts
- Max Power 858 watts
- Training Stress Score 183.5
- Work 1851 Kilojoules
- Elevation Gain 3386 feet
- Average Temperature 58.3 degrees F