Monday, May 22, 2023

Mohican 100 plus more Ohio domination

My alarm went off at 4:55 AM, and I immediately heard the sound of rain on my tent. I was expecting that, so at least it wasn't a surprise. I ate breakfast still in my sleeping bag and I contemplated life's many mysteries, like why I was going to crawl out of my dry tent into the rain before sunrise to get ready to race my bike all day.

After getting dressed in the campsite bathroom, I rode down to the finish line area in the campground, where I met up with Thad, Simon, Anthony, Joe, and Joe Sr. I forgot my ankle timing monitor (how the race records your finish time), so I had to race back up to my campsite to grab it from my car. After I got it, I met back up with everyone at the finish line, and then we rode the two miles into downtown Loudonville for the start of the race. Of course, it was pouring down rain all the while.

The Mohican 100 mile singlespeed podium

I lined up at the start line a few rows back from the front, near my brother, Simon, and Tanya. When the clock hit 7:00 AM, the gun went off and we all rolled out. Quickly I was able to move my way toward the front, and I felt like I was in a good position. There was a short but steep pavement climb right after the start, and my legs felt fantastic. After the short climb, there was a series of rolling hills, where I alternated between full power on the climbs and spinning like crazy on the downhills on my singlespeed to try and stay with the leaders. I was right up at the front with Chase, Anthony, Mark, and a few other friends. Right behind me was my brother and Thad. Also near me was legendary mountain bike racer Tinker Jaurez, perhaps one of the most well-known racers in the country.

The start line

After the pavement section, the course turned onto gravel, and shortly after, muddy doubletrack. As we turned onto the doubletrack, I heard and saw a crash behind me which took out several riders. I was glad to not be one of them. The next several miles were a mix of doubletrack and singletrack, and I tried my hardest to not lose any positions. After we finally made it into the Mohican Trail loop - a 25 mile singletrack loop that was the first part of the race - I settled down for a little bit.

The trails were extremely wet with standing water everywhere, which to me actually wasn't so bad. I felt really smooth in the trails and I was able to pass a bunch of people. I knew Thad, my main singlespeed competition, was right behind me, so I tried to put as many people between us as I could. Before long, I passed Tinker in the singletrack, who was not having a good day. I also saw Thom the wideo guy out there filming and I said hello to him.

I'll be honest, by the time I popped out of the 25 mile singletrack loop, I was hoping I had a decent lead on Thad. I pushed pretty hard in the singletrack and I was hoping my full suspension gave me an advantage, because I knew on the gravel sections, my heavy bike wasn't going to be great. Plus, my chain was already grinding, so I knew Thad was going to be pushing me on the gravel.

I must've misread the aid station distances, because I passed up water at mile 20 and thought there would be more at mile 30, but I was wrong. Instead, I only had two bottles until mile 45 at the first drop bag. Luckily, a volunteer at a mini aid station around mile 35 had a small bottle of water for me, which definitely helped. I drink a lot of water while racing, so I was worried about running out.

Around mile 43, I looked behind me on a gravel climb and saw Thad's unmistakeable red jersey gaining on me. He seemed smooth and determined, and part of me thought he was going to blow right by me never to be seen again. My brother was also with him, but we were in different races, so I wasn't worried about him.

Fortunately, I turned on the gas and was able to hold a lead on Thad before we popped into a technical singletrack section. I'm not saying I'm fantastic, but I'm decently good in technical trails, so I tried to push the pace through the rocks for a while. At the infamous Mohican rock garden, I saw Thom again wideoing (the Boston spelling of video), and I felt confident in my ability to clean all the rocks. Unfortunately, at the end of the rock garden, the rider ahead of me slipped out and slammed into the rocks, making me get off and walk around him. Maybe next year I'll get the chance to clean the whole thing.

After the trail section, we popped out into an open field for the first aid station. I quickly swapped my bottles and grabbed some extra food and left the aid station as quickly as I could. It looked like I put a little bit of time on Thad in the singletrack, so I wanted to keep the pace hot to hold the gap.

On the flat road after the aid station, my brother caught up to me and we rode together for a bit before the next climb. The next climb was a terrible grassy climb that was quite steep, and also quite painful. I saw Thad on a switchback below me, so I buried myself the rest of the climb to hold the gap between us.

For the next hour or two, I got into a rhythm of pushing it on the climbs, trying to be smooth in the trails, and making sure I kept eating and drinking. I didn't see Thad behind me anymore, but I knew he was probably still close by. My power meter was telling me I wasn't putting down as much power as I hoped, but I was still feeling alright.

Around mile 80, I hit the last aid station before going back into the Mohican trail loop for a full second 25 mile singletrack lap to the finish. It was going to be a fun but very difficult ending to the race, and I was looking forward to it.

The second lap of the Mohican loop felt much harder than the first, obviously. The first lap felt very flowy and fast, but this lap felt like it was all uphill. Plus, the trails were now soft and muddy rather than just having standing water on them. At one point, I looked below me and saw Thad on a big switchback. I estimated he was maybe five minutes behind me, so I cranked up the pace and teetered on the edge of muscular failure, haha.

The miles seemed to go slowly at first, but before long, I was nearing the end. Thom was out there with his GoPro, and he rode behind me for a mile or two getting footage of me riding. That was pretty cool. I figured there was behind two miles left until the finish, but I asked Thom just to be sure.

"I think about six or seven miles left", he said.

Ouch. This was going to hurt. I kept on the gas all the way, and after what seemed like forever, I rode across the finish. My time was 9 hours and 17 minutes, and it was enough for the singlespeed win in the 100 mile race. I was pretty smoked. For comparison, the last time I did this race, it only took 8 hours 25 minutes. This new course is much harder.

Thad came across the line about 15 minutes later, and we congratulated each other on a great battle the whole day. After chatting with my parents, brother, Thad, Simon, Tanya, and some others, I rode up to my campsite to shower and change into clean clothes.

Talking to Simon post-race (and my dad in the red)

Joe, my friend and Syndicate teammate, finished third singlespeed in the 100 mile, and Simon won the 100 kilometer singlespeed, which means Pittsburgh swept the singlespeed class as best we could. Just what Dahn Pahrs ordered up when he texted us the night before.

Anthony won the 100 km race overall, and my brother finished 4th overall in the 100 km. More Pittsburgh domination. Plus, my friends Dave and Dylan had strong races in the 100 km race as well, and Tanya finished 5th in the 100 km women's race. A great day was had by all.

My dad also finished the 100 km race, and he said it was the hardest MTB race he's done. I'd say that's a fair statement, the Mohican race is not easy. Congrats to him for doing such a hard race.

As hard as it it, though, the Mohican race is exceptionally well run and organized, which makes it seem easier. Maybe? The aid stations are top notch, the course is great, and they even pay out money for the singlespeed class. Check, check, check. I'll be back, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

After hanging out some more, getting the post-race interview with Thom, eating a burrito, and talking with a bunch of friends, it was time for the podium. Luckily, I remembered how to pop a champagne bottle, so I made sure to spray everyone. In true singlespeed fashion, I drank some of the champagne on the podium and passed it around to the rest of the fellas.

Podium champagne

The remainder of the evening consisted of Thad and I each eating an entire half gallon of Oreo ice cream, hanging out with the Syndicate group at their campsite, and a couple hard ciders. Pretty great finish to fantastic day of racing.

Hanging out at the Syndicate campsite post-race

That night as I was trying to go to sleep in my tent, I heard some drunk people arguing around me. It got pretty crazy, and just after midnight, I thought there was going to be an actual fight. The guys started threatening each other while their wives tried to calm them down, and I really thought police might be called. Somehow, though, it got diffused, and I went back to sleep.

Instead of sleeping in, though, my alarm went off at 3:55 AM, and I hurriedly packed up my tent. I was driving to Cleveland to help support Will at the Cleveland marathon, and I was meeting up with my friends Ed and Robyn in Cleveland as well.

It was a brutal start to my Sunday, but after a pre-5:00 AM McDonald's stop, I felt a little bit better. I made it to Cleveland around 6:00 AM and met up with Ed and Robyn shortly after.

We pedaled to the start of the marathon and watched Will take the early lead, a good sign for the miles to come. We then rode to the 10km aid station, where we'd hand Will a bottle of drink mix and cheer him on.

Will made it to the 10km aid station right on pace, and he already had a big lead. I handed him his bottle of drink mix and he kept blasting. Ed, Robyn, and I met him at five more aid stations, and each time, the handoffs went flawlessly.

Bottle hand-off to Will

After the last aid station we saw him at, we raced past him on our bikes to see him at the finish. A few short minutes later, Will came down the finishing stretch running at full speed, as the announcers called out his victory. He finished in 2:19, which is just an absolutely absurd marathon time. Not to mention that this was his first marathon ever, or that he has only been training for running for five months. Just ridiculous.

Ed, Will, and Hamburger

I saw Will's dad after the race, so Ed, Robyn, and I met up with Will's family in a grass area near the finish to wait for him to come over. After getting his post race interview, Will came over and everyone congratulated him. It was really an incredible race for him. Plus, it capped off an excellent weekend for the Syndicate team and for Pittsburgh in their domination over Ohio.

After riding many, many, many thousands of miles with Will on the bike, literally driving across the country for bike races with him, and biking from Canada to Mexico with him, it sort of felt strange to see him winning a marathon. I couldn't be happier for him though, and it's pretty clear that he is an elite runner.

All in all, Pittsburgh came away with four wins and many more podiums last weekend. That's a pretty good weekend of racing, if I don't say so myself.

The best trophy at any race I've been to


  1. Started with this entry, but read several others on your blog as well. I really like your narrative style! Congrats on the 1st place win and really intense push throughout the race.

    1. Thank you for the kind words! Living the dream!