Chris and I like to arrive early the day before races so we can ride a section of trail. Let me give you an idea of what the weather looked like on Friday. It rained on Thursday and down-poured right before we headed out for our ride. As the sky was clearing we headed to the first section of singletrack that you come to in the race.
We crossed the red metal bridge right from our campsite and headed up the first dirt climb. It’s nice and steep with 3 switchbacks.
There is a short step descent on the singletrack just past the upper campground area. The trail swings right and then sharply left near the bottom. As I flew through the left turn my back wheel slipped right out from under me. I learned real quick how slippery the roots were.
After that, I thought I was going to crash my bike on everything. Stuck in my own mind, I walked over several rooty sections, rock gardens, and log crossings. Chris and I took a moment to session a rocky descent until I was able to ride it cleanly. I finally regained confidence in my skills. It had a high and low line. Looking back on it, the top line is the fastest but for some reason I liked the lower section better. I ended the pre-ride covered in mud, all scraped up, and a mind full of concern.
I was having doubts about the race all evening. In the back of my mind I was praying for no more rain. I had no clue how I was going to race over such slippery obstacles. Ask my husband or Nick Williams, I was a hot mess.
I was all geared up for the race. I had my cycling kit on, shoes tightened, and Garmin on. I slung my Camelback on my back and joined Chris Shannon, Nick Williams, and Lee Hauber on the ride to the start. I was nervous about such a fast start with so many people. Last year there was a huge crash right in the first 30 seconds. As I arrive to the start it seems they made a few changes. They changed the start to a rolling start and removed the $$$ prime at the top of the first climb out of town. They did this because there was construction narrowing the road down to one lane just after the start. 4 lanes of 600 people making a mad dash for a 1 lane bridge was a recipe for disaster. I am glad they slowed the start down for this year.
Once at the start we all said our good luck’s and went are separate ways. I started about 8 rows back and easily rolled across the bridge. 10 seconds later the sirens went off and my race was on. I ignored my power meter as I started up the first long climb. After that I latched on to riders to help draft up and down the next 4-5 rollers. At the end of the road section we hung a left onto a gravel road. I believe this is private property that is only allowed on race day.
Anyways, I managed to stay towards the front on the start and avoid being stuck behind a large group. Last year, I had to walk tons of areas of trail early on due to traffic jams. There are only about 5-7 miles of road/gravel before heading into singletrack that immediately climbs up. I managed to make it through the singletrack by our campsite without having to hike-a-bike. Don’t let me fool you, there was another climb into the upper campground that is rideable but had already started a line of hikers. I ran up that and jumped on the bike determined to get into the next bit of singletrack ahead of as many people as possible. It was crazy that once the race started all my fears of crashing on slippery roots just evaporated. It did not rain anymore after our pre-ride on Friday, so the course was a little more dry.
The first 20 miles of singletrack were fast, and fairly flowy. That means it would be easy to burn yourself up real fast and not realize it. There were several long trail climbs and descents. It was the perfect trail to make use of my new dropper post. I was dropping it all day long. There was a guy behind me who was loving the trails. He really helped keep my energy up while we rode together. I never looked behind me or introduced myself. Thinking back I have no clue why my formalities went out the window. I am still not sure who he was.
Within this first 30 miles you get to see the famous tree gnomes on your left after a long climb to the ridge. So don’t forget to wave as you fly by on your way to the fun switchback descent. My favorite part after here was turning the corner and ending up in a pine forest. Just imagine one single dirt path with pine needles and tall skinny pines shooting up to the sky. It made me feel like I entered a different world. Just like an enchanted forest without fairies and unicorns. At mile 20 we passed through an opening of trail where there was an aid station. I cannot tell you much about it because I did not stop. It was probably fully stoked with water, heed, electrolytes, trail mix, pickles, gels, and PB&J sandwiches like all the others.
There are so many different trail features throughout this race it is hard to remember when I came across certain sections. I know at some point in the race there was an awesome descent with several (6-7) railroad ties spanning across the trail with huge ruts in between them. This is the area everyone loves to heckle riders. Last year, I remember them being much muddier and with no way around the wooden ties. This year I managed to not have to dismount and run it. It felt really good to be able to get through this section and not be the butt of the jokes. Another notable section of trail “the Wall.” I am climbing, climbing, climbing, and see this lady and girl saying take a left. I am like yes! I am almost finished with the climb. I turn, look up, and gasp. I instantly jumped off the bike and trudged up the climb. It is a calf-cramper for sure. It was thoroughly slick, steep, and long. I was lucky enough to have Jordan Sands hiking with me. It is always fun to race with friends. As for the rest of the trail all I can remember are tons of descents, up and down climbing, lots of rock gardens, and plenty of “baby heads” scattered on the trail.
Drop bag aid stations.
There were 2 drop bag aid stations for the 100K; mile 34 and 46. By the time I reached mile 34 I had already downed 3 bottles of nutrition and was overdue for more. As I climbed up to the aid station there was a guy with binoculars radioing racer numbers up to the top. Normally, I roll up and there is someone ready with my drop bag. I arrived at the second aid station (mile 34) looking anxiously around for someone with my bag but no one insight with my number. It then dawned on me that I had put my drop bag in the wrong pile in the morning, thus sending it to the wrong aid station.
I quickly took my Camelback off and asked a volunteer to dump a pitcher of water into it. I grabbed 5 gels and tucked them into my shorts. Before I knew it I was back on the bike. The third aid station is my favorite. I rolled up to this huge grassy area with people cheering and yelling. This is where the 100K and 100M split. For me, I could not get to this aid station fast enough. Without my proper nutrition, my right hamstring started cramping up. I sucked down as many gels and water as I could before arriving (knowing the gels have no electrolytes). Once again, pulled in and there was my girl. She was holding my bag and ready to help. She dumped my 2 bottles into my Camelback and shoved the other on my bike. Another guy grabbed me some electrolyte tabs and a gel. I scooped up some pickles and took off again. The volunteers at Mohican are so fast, efficient, and eager to help. With a cup of pickles, a gel, and 2 tabs down I was just hoping the cramping would subside.
The last 2 gravel climbs.
I was greeted by a technical trail section with awesome tricky descents after leaving the aid station. This can either go in your favor or not. The final big kickers of the day were the last 2 gravel climbs. Once I hit the road I was like “yes I can relax now.” Nope. I turned left onto the gravel road which instantly started to climb. It was nice and steep. A few people were there to watch me slowly suffer through each pedal stroke. They clapped and cheered then realized I was still there. It made me laugh during the race. I bet they clapped for a good minute as I passed them. This is also the one everyone remembers goes on forever because of the last left turn. It goes straight up and then hooks left for more steep climbing. For the last gravel climb all I remember is it was steep.
The final Singletrack section.
There is one final aid station right before you enter this last section of trail that takes you to the finish. In my opinion, do not stop. There is only 3-4 miles left which includes one trail climb, a flow section, and then a long fast descent to the finish line. This climb probably would have felt easy on Friday but it seemed forever during the race. I climbed into the trail, crossing over several wet bridges. After finishing the last switchback at the top I dropped back into a familiar section. I remembered the rock garden we had sessioned on Friday and knew I was almost to the finish line beer. I saw the arrow pointing straight down and dropped into the campground area one last time. I skidded down the swithcbacks and back over the red metal bridge to the finish line stretch. .25 mile later I veered right and crossed the finish line.
As I crossed the finish they handed me a glass of water and pointed me to the beer. One of the greatest features of this race is the finish line atmosphere.
People hangout all day. There is a a big white tent with music, food truck, a local pizza joint down the hill, and showers! Who doesn’t love a good shower beer!
I finished the race babying a cramping hamstring and having no clue what place I was in. From the beginning I thought I had no chance. My mind was in a terrible place and everyone looked very strong. I ended up placing 6th out of a field 56 women. I was super shocked, but stoked on how well I did. Made a few dumb mistakes with nutrition but felt my pacing stayed consistent.
This year the Mohican 100K helped build up my confidence in my technical skills. If I would have said this at the beginning of the race I would not have believed myself. Will I be back next year, heck yes! What do I need to improve on? CORNERING. If you were behind me on some switchback descents, let me apologize for my atrocious turns.
One big change I made for this years race was using my Camelback. This was my first race using a Camelback and have to say it was key for my success. I gave Camelbacks shit for so long but have finally found a way to drink out of them efficiently. Last year I had so much trouble finding a spot to drink my bottles early on in the race. I went the first 20 miles last year without taking in any nutrition. When I have to race on so much singletrack this is going to be my go to!
So guys and gals I hope you all liked reading about my race experience and the Mohican 100K experience itself. If you have any questions about the race or camping let me know in the comments below. For everyone who raced this weekend and helped volunteer I do want to say thanks for making my experience this year one to remember!!!!