Mohican 100, the solo ride

I raced the Mohican 100 three times before this edition. Two times out of three, I arrived completely smashed: one time totally exhausted; the second time really sick for 4 days after the race.
This year, the plan was to race the Transylvania Epic and consequently skip the Mohican 100. Unfortunately, a leg injury at the 2nd stop of the NUE had me sidelined. A week prior to the Mohican race, my wound was not bleeding anymore and I ventured on the bike. The leg felt okay during the ride but in the evening, the increased pain was a sign than I was not ready quite yet. However, I thought that the Mohican 100 was going to be a good training race for the following NUE race, the Lumberjack 100. In addition, the race venue is close to my home and the single track trails in the Mohican forest are just fun to ride…

The morning of the race, my right leg felt like 90% of its strength and I was wondering if it was indeed a good idea to line up at the start: hurting the leg could mean weeks of recovery instead of days. My plan for the day was to sprint for the $200 prime for the first person to reach the city limit and then take it easy (easier) for the remaining of the race. Two pedal strokes out of the saddle later, I realized that it was not for me as my leg would not allow such violent effort.

Change of plan. Will I be able to ride the single track trail at good speed, maybe even fatigue my lead group companions by riding a high tempo pace? I know that my teammate Brandon Draugelis is very agile in the trails and would probably benefit from the higher speed. Riding the trails required all my focus completely dissipating my worries about my healing leg.

I had flashbacks from last year, where Josh Tostado was riding awesome except that this time it was me in the lead… My Specialized Epic 29er was incredible. It is so comfortable, am I riding a Rolls Royce? 5 miles into the race I had a large smile on my face and no close-by followers chasing my wheel.

With a gap to the chasing group, I considered slowing down: the middle portion of the race has us riding open roads (paved or dirt) as well as the infamous buggy trail: a false flat trail that appears much longer than it really is due to tired legs.

The fatigue was not really present until aid #2. However the hike a bike prior to aid #3 was a real check back to reality. Both my legs were sore and I was in the lead for so long that I wished I could follow the 100k shorter course back to the finish…

Like everybody riding the 100 miles, I had to suck it up and get tough. Fortunately, the lead moto had some good news: the gap to the chasing group was over 10 minutes. I knew it was not going to be the case after the open road section. That is an area at which I don’t excel. Not only I was trying to hold off the chasing group but I was also trying to cope with the strong wind. Telltale signs of fatigue had me grab my Hammer bottle a little more often as well as slowing down for a while.

By aid station #4, my lead was reduced to 2 minutes. I was solo for more than 4 hours and I knew that the chasers would create a paceline and also would get motivated to chase harder knowing that the gap had decreased.

This is where I endured the pain, re-motivated myself and wished for more uphill roads. A paradox when my legs were shut, but one has to know his own strengths; for me it is not on the flat open roads but in the climbs. The brutally steep dirt roads were a great test but the legs did not seize up! By aid station #5, I started to really think about a possible win. I was in the lead for approximately 6 hours and I was going to make sure I could stay solo for another 30+ minutes…

Once more trail riding was a good distraction to the aching body. I was delighted to reach the finish line in first place especially after taking off 5 miles from the start. My lead increased to 7 minutes; the uphills in the last 20 miles saved my race…

My racing data can be found on Strava.com

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