As a friend of mine and fellow single speed racer, Ron Sanborn, said to me while we were waiting in line to clean our bikes after finishing the incredibly muddy NUE Series #2 Race, the Mohican 100, in Loudonville, Ohio, “My mind was in a very dark place at many points during the race.” I could not have agreed with the description Ron gave of his mental state during the race more. The Mohican 100 was intensely tough this year after the area received many days of saturating rain, which included heavy rain falling the day before the race and on the day of the race. Riding in wet, muddy conditions for 8 plus hours will make an already difficult race almost impossible at points.
I think for many riders the race was more against the course than it was against other riders. Sure, there were individual battles taking place between riders on the course, but I am pretty sure most riders would agree the race was more about surviving the nastiness being thrown at us by Mother Nature and hoping that the mud on the course would not cause a fatal bike mechanical than it was about beating the guy next to you. In conditions like these, the single speed is a viable weapon of choice. Overall, my Salsa Selma accepted the challenge quite well. I did have my issues at times, both physically and mechanically, but my trusty single speed helped guide me through the muck and the mire to a respectable 3rd place SS finish and to 13th place overall.
There were so many points in the race where I just wanted to quit because things were such a mess. I started questioning why I torture myself this way race after race, year after year. I couldn’t come up with a good answer, so I just kept riding, waiting for the pain to come to an end. Eventually, everything that hurt, including my mind, went numb and my only focus was on finishing the race, not allowing the course to beat me.
As I entered the last four miles of single track, which was more like a flowing stream of water at that point, I actually became euphoric about conquering the course. It didn’t matter what I was riding over or through during this time because I knew I had won my battle against nature and I was feeling good. The feeling of overcoming such a difficult test is a good one, especially since many did not finish the given challenge.
After the race, the darkness that entered my mind faded into the past as I was able to share stories of the race and hang with many friends that endured the same hardship. I am sure there are many people that would consider riding a bike in the mud for 8 hours and 53 minutes over a 100 mile course as being somewhat insane and at certain points during the race I would probably have agreed with them, but it is almost impossible to describe to anyone never experiencing such a thing just how rewarding it also feels to push yourself to the limit and finish something so hard. Congratulations to everyone else that suffered along with me at the Mohican 100 and was able to push through all the mess to finish the race. It is one challenge that I will never forget. Happy Trails, Gerry