A little more on the Mohican 100 since no one asked.
The Wilderness 101 is still tops in my book, but the Mohican was a really nice ride. It was well worth the drive and is one I'll certainly put on the schedule for next year. The singletrack - the Mohican state park mountain bike trail network in particular - was a lot of fun for the most part and while I've been gun shy on this race in the past due to course marking concerns I found the course pretty darn well marked.
The race started hard. A neutral-ish start (neutral-ish is when the lead moto goes hard enough to actually split the group on the way to the start and then doesn't stop to allow everyone to regroup..) contributed to an early pace that was a good bit harder than I'm used to 100s starting. I'm thinking to myself, "self, your ass is going to get kicked today," but I set my pace and give the old, "those guys are going to blow up and come back to me" speech to myself to get back on top things, tuned up the diesel, and settled in for a long day at the office.
Nate D and I rode together for an hour or two at the start of this thing as it was his first 100 and I was definitely willing to pass along my "knowledge" of these things to him (mostly though it was just a ploy to have someone to share the driving, tolls, gas, and room expenses). We had some fun riding together until nature called and Nate answered and we didn't see each other for about 7 more hours - musta been a long conversation. Some of this early riding took us along trails that were just spectacular. One section in particular was nothing but ferns as far as you could see through the woods with just a winding singletrack barely splitting the scenery. Super sweet.
I did end up riding a good bit with Jeff from VT riding for IF. J & I were PDQ thru CP2 B4 I crashed hard and spent a long time trying to catch back up. I rung my bell pretty well on the crash (thought breakfast was coming back to visit for 30 min or so) and that contributed to a second crash just before checkpoint 3. And I do mean JUST before the checkpoint. I didn't realize how close the CP was and as I was a little, umm, frustrated by my loss of focus and subsequent dirt surfing I released a little steam after the impact. Well, as I stood up and looked down at the top of the tent and the 15 or so people helping out it was pretty obvious that the expletive that escaped my lips was heard by all. This of course led to some smiles and chuckles as I rolled the last 50 yards down the hill, smiles from me too as this seems to be something that happens to me now and then. Crash hard, curse loudly, pick self up, remount, ride 50 feet around a blind turn and there are 20 people. Wonderful. I'm such a dumbass.
It is here that I actually realize why the race started so hard. See there was a 100 miler and a 100K going on today and we all started at the same time. I didn't really think about it much, but had figured the 100Kers would start after the 100milerers. Since this was not the case it quickly became apparent, even to my slightly concussed noggin, that if half the group you're starting with is racing just over half as far they'll probably go out a bit faster than you. The motivator was that if many of those guys were 100K racers I was doing a heck of a lot better than I thought and began to contemplate a possible decent finish...up to this point I was figuring I was around 20th-25th. With the 100Kers in the picture maybe a top 10 was possible.
Jeff and I saw each other off and on throughout the day - he'd get a little ahead, then I'd get a little ahead, then we'd spend some time pacelining...you go through such ups and downs during the course of one of these 8 hour gigs that it really has to be your pace as just a little too much at any time can really doom you later.
I thought I'd actually rid myself of Jeff after CP4 with about 20 miles to go as I just sort of set my pace and road away from him. I spent a good bit of the time from there to CP5 by myself and caught one rider on the crazy fishing trail that was just a few miles from the finish line. At this point I thought I was home free as I was feeling pretty good. Then I started to cramp. Dammit!! 97 miles into the freakin' race and I start to cramp. Then we hit the mud. Now there had been a little wet in the woods all day, but this was deep and sometimes very sticky mud. And I was cramping. And guess who comes up from behind. Yep, there is my new friend Jeff. He catches me just before the final big obstacle - the Dam. We come into the base of the Dam and all I see in front of me is a 5 story tall wall of dirt with a little tiny ribbon of trail leading to a staircase. Did I mention my legs were cramping? So now Jeff and I are walking up the Dam and I'm doing my best to hide any sort of impending full on leg locking writhing in agony cramps from him hoping that they might miraculously pass. Of course they don't and Jeff is able to put about 20 seconds into me as I struggle to get back on the bike. With maybe 3 miles to go we hit the last decent hill and the only way I'm able to ride my bike is to stand up. I found that by standing I could ward off the leg cramps and so, for the last 10 minutes of the race I'm mostly standing on my pedals trying to keep Jeff close. While he does get me on the line I'm still pretty happy to roll across in 9th.
I meant to write it in this blog after Cohutta back in April that I should perhaps train for these things and I'll say it again. That's two top 10s with not much in the way of training well for 'em and with getting a bit too fat before this last one. Lumberjack is in two weeks so there isn't much I can do before then, but I do love the 101 so maybe I can pull my stuff together by August and actually look to be truly prepared for it. That would be something new.
It certainly seems that Ryan, Garth, and the rest of the crew responded well to previous concerns. While breakfast left a bit to be desired the post race food was yummy and plentiful and that's all I need (well, a little ice cream after a 100 wouldn't hurt).
BTW, my sum total of knowledge for these sorts of events? Sleep a bunch leading up to it. Ride your pace. Eat (and drink) a lot. I'm really good at the riding steady and I love to eat. As Meatloaf said, "Two outta three ain't bad."