My decision to do the Mohican 100 on a geared bike was not an easy one. Racing singlespeed bikes has been good to me and I do love the simplicity of a SS. But, I've got to say the ride of my full-suspension Specialized Epic with the SRAM xx1 11 speed drivetrain is so incredible. The Epic just makes riding a whole lot more comfortable and faster for me. Additionally, I found that riding my singlespeed was a lot more difficult after my rib injury occurred three weeks before the Mohican. I found that sitting and spinning up a climb was a lot easier with my injury than standing up and pulling on the bars of my singlespeed to get up any sort of hill. So, with all these issues at hand, the Epic was made my bike of choice over the SS.
My decision to use gears was solidified even more when four days before the race I started to suffer from symptoms of a respiratory infection. First, I just had some sinus congestion and a runny nose, but the infection soon moved into my lungs and I was painfully coughing up mucus. And, with my cracked rib still healing, it was like a painful punch in the chest every time I tried to expel some mucus from my lungs. On Friday morning, my conditions were so bad I started to wonder how I was even going to race the next day. I did know that I was now even more happy about making the choice to use gears because I was going to need all the help necessary.
Amazingly, however, when I woke up on Saturday, my energy level didn't feel too bad. I was still painfully coughing up yellow mucus chunks the size of small animals, but at least I wasn't feeling too drained. I did my normal pre-race routine of drinking a cup of coffee and eating a bunch of French toast to fuel up for my long day of racing a head. I arrived at the camp ground about an hour before the start, but somehow just barely managed to make it to the starting line before the crazy-fast start would roll down Main Street in Loudonville.
|600+ riders rolling down Main Street.|
|On the trail with Gordon in hot pursuit.|
checkpoint #2 was riding in the third place position overall with my singlespeeding friend Gordon Wadsworth riding along with me. We pretty much rode everything in the first 50 miles together, which I thought was an impressive feat for Gordon since he was using a singlespeed. After Gordon and I went into checkpoint three together, we somehow got separated when he started to follow the 100K instead of the 100 mile course markings. Initially, I thought my direction of travel might be wrong, until I arrived at the turn for the long, hard and unforgettable grassy climb off Wally Road.
After being separated from Gordon, I rode by myself from checkpoint 3 until the finish. During this time, my Rare Disease Teammate, Christian Tanguy and Tinker Juarez were leading the race. I was getting times from the checkpoints saying the gap between us was about 10 minutes. I figured it would be hard to make up that time by myself, but I continued chasing hard anyway. During the second half of the race and my pursuit of the two in front of me, I definitely noticed how nice it was to be able to shift into a big gear on all the fast sections and also into an easier gear on all the steep climbs. There were so many times I questioned my sanity for ever attempting these sections on my singlespeed bike.
Happy Trails... Gerry
Thanks to Butch Phillips for the photos above!