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Mohican State Park, Ohio, USA, June 2, 2006
Stormy weather; the Mohican 100 launches the National Ultra Series
By Steve Medcroft
The first race in the new National MTB Ultra-Endurance season was held at the Mohican 100 in Ohio last weekend. After some confusion caused by the sabotage of a handful of course markings, Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication, open class), Tricia Stevenson (women) and Dan Jansen (singlespeed) became the first leaders of the series.
After they rode together most of the day, Price finished a slim four minutes ahead of Brad Cole. Still recovering from an injury he suffered on a training ride just ten days before the race, Jansen finished thirty minutes on second place in the singlespeed class and with a good enough time to place third overall. Stevenson managed to escape from Independent Fabrications endurance specialist Tiffany Mann to win by twenty-three minutes.
Since scoring for the series overall is based on the amount of time a racer finishes behind the winner in a race in which they compete, these first three results have set the bar for competitors in the next series race; the Lumberjack 100 in Michigan on June 17th.
Sabotage and mud play
Before Saturday, promoters weren't sure if the Mohican 100 would even go off. The local storm warning team, the ICA radio club based in a small room in the back of Best Bike in Mansfield, warned of two storm fronts moving quickly through the Mohican area on Thursday June 1st. Promoter Ryan O'Dell says his team gathered nervously around the club's weather monitors as they watched funnel clouds after funnel cloud develop.
But all they could was watch as torrential rains and up to 70mph winds whipped through the five counties that collectively make up "Mohican Country."
The weather wreaked havoc with the course. The Mohican/Malabar Bike Club, who design and maintain new trails in the forest, cleared downed trees and worked trouble areas, including constructing a new bridge and 30-foot boardwalk across a wetland, up until just days until the race.
Luckily, the non-stop, soaking rains that began on Thursday and continued into Friday morning stopped on Friday afternoon and by Saturday morning, the course had drained enough to provide a slick but rideable hundred miles. 168 of the 175 registered racers showed up on race day.
PA endurance pro pays the Price
Harlan Price says he was surprised to find himself at the front riding into the first singletrack of the day. "The trails were a little slick," he said the Monday after the race. "The first set of singletrack was like snot; you had to be careful."
Thirty-year old Price says he didn't plan on being off the front. "I usually wait to see what happens," he said. "But there was a guy at the start who looked strong so I stuck with him." Price's instinct paid off; he had marked eventual runner-up Brad Cole.
Price, who is a freelance photographer and journalist and also works at a Pennsylvania bike shop, said he traded the lead with Cole several times throughout the race. Soon enough, they hit a section of the course without markings. "Someone had taken the arrows down," Price said. He and Cole waited for help and directions. It came from their chase group. "One of the guys in the chase group knew where to go," Price said. "We lost a five to ten minute lead but everyone was cool and they let us get back off the front again."
Price and Cole rode together most of the final thirty-file miles. "I waited until about ten miles to go before trying to pull away," Price said. He made his final move with about ten miles to go. He ultimately gained just under four minutes by the finish.
Price, who hails from central Florida and started mountain-bike racing after a post-graduation cycling trip through Europe, plans to contend the whole series, hitting the Breckenridge 100 in Colorado, the Wilderness 101 in State College, PA and the Shenandoah 100 in Harrisonburg, VA to meet his four-race quota.
What's a broken collarbone when you don't even have gears
Singlespeed winner Dan Jansen, 33, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been racing consistently since 1999 but dedicated himself to singlespeed competition in 2002. At the Mohican 100, he was the only singlespeeder in a leading group of about eight riders (the group that connected with Price and Cole at the first checkpoint). "It was muddy and there were a lot of steep climbs in the first half of the race," he said Tuesday by phone. "The rain had washed out a lot of trail. I noticed that the geared guys were shifting into the easier gears. I spent a lot of time running and was able to keep up. "
After the lead group broke up, Jansen found himself third on the trail. And besides spending a few minutes within site of Cole and Price, he rode the final sixty miles alone. Not that he minded; Jansen said that the solitude is one of the attractions of the 100-mile format. "They used to call this race the Mohican back-country 100-mile race. That's such a true definition; it's a continuous 100-mile loop. I didn't see another human being for a long time. It was definitely a back-country experience."
So back-country, he laughs at one unusual obstacle he encountered during the race. "We came to a road where there was a 8-foot fence surrounding a pen with twenty horses in it," he said. "A Mohican 100 sign said I needed to cross the field." A farmer working on the fence took a section down to let the rest of the race through but Jansen says he had to crawl through the fence, negotiate the crowd of horses, and crawl through the opposite fence to keep his advantage in the race."
Besides the adventure and solitude, the most amazing thing about Jansen's finish is not that, as a singlespeeder, he finished fast enough to place third in the overall standings, but that he rode with an injury that would sideline almost any other racer. "I broke my collarbone ten days before the race on a training ride," he said. Jansen raced with a harness. "Deep breathing hurt but it's a lateral fracture so it's well supported and riding wasn't a big deal."
Jansen also says he's competing for the entire series. "The series involves half the races I was going to do this year anyway and I was planning to vacation in Colorado this summer so it should all work out."
A 10 hour drive for a 10-1/2 hour race
In return for the first win in the women's category, Tricia Stevenson, 37, of Asheville, North Carolina, invested ten hours in a car to make it to the Mohican 100. "It was definitely longer than I want to spend in a car," she said. "But I have a rule that the race has to be longer than the drive to be worth it and even though it took longer than I thought it would (she predicted an eight-hour finish based on previous year's results), I'm glad I did it."
Stevenson says she also fell victim to the course-marking hooliganism that plagued riders further up the trail. "I rode with a pretty serious group of guys for a while but I took a 40 minute detour with an Independent Fabrication racer at one point. His odometer said we spent nine miles going the wrong way before we got shuttled back to the course."
Stevenson, who's experience with ultra-distance mountain biking includes four years in the Shenandoah Mountain 100 in Harrisonburg and being part of the winning women's team at the 2005 Trans Rockies, says that although the confusion was "annoying" it's an understandable challenge for promoters to mark 100 miles of racecourse without a single mishap. "Especially when the course is sharing trails with heavily populated camping areas," she says.
She also says the win helped with the frustration. "I had no idea where I was," she said about the early going. "But I've been in an adventure race and just accepted that this was like an adventure race - you had no idea where anyone else was so you just rode your race and hoped you came out okay at the end."
Stevenson says that the win was the perfect start to a season in which she plans a return to the Trans Rockies Challenge (this time in the mixed-competition with 25 year-old teammate Sam Koerber - brother of Gary Fisher / Subaru pro Willow Koerber), a stint at the upcoming Sugar Mountain, North Carolina NORBA and, primarily, the remainder of the Ultra Series. "The National Series is a big goal for me," she says. "I plan to do the Park City race (Endurance 100), the Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah 100. I'm not a hundred percent that I can make the trip but I'm shooting to make the Lumberjack (June 17) and I'll try to sneak in Breckenridge as well."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Jymme Perrone / www.ombc.net
100 mile Open 1 Harlan Price 8.42.29 2 Brad Cole 3.34 3 Kip Biese 1.04.59 4 Justin Pokrivka 1.06.10 5 Skip Brown 1.17.07 6 Alex Dolpp 1.18.43 7 Jeffery Whittingham 1.20.35 8 Ross Clark 1.22.11 9 Travis Mullen 1.27.47 10 Andy Sanidas 1.38.01 11 Alex Cox 1.42.30 12 Steve Smith 1.46.21 13 Tim Wilkie 2.16.06 14 David Vesper 2.23.46 15 Adam Thompson 2.34.08 16 Jason Kinley 2.36.09 17 Nicholas Broskovich 2.38.41 18 Rich O'Neil 2.38.42 19 Jason Mahokey 2.41.08 20 Matt Thourot 2.42.02 21 Justin Becker 2.44.38 22 John Kline 2.45.25 23 David Virgili 2.49.09 24 Heath Boedecker 3.11.47 25 Andy Klumb 3.14.04 26 Adam Mallet 3.17.06 27 Rob Brawley 3.18.21 28 Shrigler, Adam 3.32.37 29 Mark Salzman 3.40.08 30 Doug Milliken 3.44.08 31 Mike Hufhand 3.45.01 32 Leikert, James 3.57.38 33 Joe Gore 4.02.01 34 Chris Brena 4.05.01 35 James Heverly 4.06.05 36 Clark Johns 4.34.30 37 Mike Lawler 4.46.13 38 Nicholas Brummer 4.53.03 39 Harvery Santana 5.08.36 40 Durniat, Andrew 5.17.50 41 Michael Ryba 5.42.01 42 Kurt Shoemaker 7.21.05 43 Greg Perry 7.47.31 DNF William Alcorn DNF David Reynolds DNF Stephen Drazdik DNF Steve Thorne DNF Jim Belcik DNF Chris Whitman DNF Matt Sidel DNF Tom Sharp DNF David Lewis DNF Harvery Minton DNF Gary Williams DNF Peter Muench DNF David Metz DNS Garth Prosser DNS Pflug, Gerald DNS Volz, Corey DNS Chambers, Scott DNS Good, Andrew DNS Atkinson, Fraser DNS Chambers, Scott DNS Evans, Darin DNS Farnham, Dave 100 mile Women 1 Tricia Stevenson 10.37.20 2 Tiffany Mann 22.24 3 Hillary Harrison 1.22.48 4 Rae Gandolf 2.04.40 5 Ruth Cunningham 3.29.09 6 Laurren Coffelt 4.15.46 DNF Marie Parker 100 mile Master 50 1 John Majors 11.38.02 2 Steve Kinley 42.11 3 Larry Swanson 59.03 4 Eric Franck 1.54.42 DNF Brad Poster DNF Edie Perun DNS Lilly, Zeke 100 mile Single Speed 1 Dan Jansen 9.24.34 2 Rich Dillen 37.23 3 Thom Parsons 43.11 4 Matthew Ferrari 44.56 5 Sean Sullivan 1.00.11 6 Dejay Birtch 1.00.12 7 Zachary Broussard 1.34.01 8 Blake Jenssen 2.02.10 9 Michael Tressler 2.58.46 DSQ Tim Dougherty 100 km Open 1 Anthony Slowinski 6.04.37 2 Brian Schworm 0.11 3 Steve Twining 32.08 4 Michael Gorman 52.57 5 Brian Kenney 1.16.03 6 Brooke Furio 1.20.43 7 Bob Goetz 1.27.28 8 Wesley Jones 1.30.55 9 Chip Meek 1.35.30 10 Nathan Lowien 1.52.40 11 Steve Schwartz 1.59.34 12 Tom Brockman 2.02.35 13 Mike Colonna 2.05.10 14 Ryan Knopf 2.05.27 15 Mike Maher 2.06.44 16 Brian Lennon 2.10.48 17 David Appel 2.18.43 18 Mark Luecke 2.41.48 19 Jason Reinhardt 2.43.27 20 Simon Koster 2.43.29 21 Ryan Faulk 2.48.25 22 Trent Lundberg 2.49.14 23 Bob Rodgers 2.52.14 24 Jeremy Larson 2.53.09 25 Eric Schumann 2.53.52 26 Lars Anderson 2.55.13 27 Tim Bonifant 3.13.46 28 Mark Milliken 3.14.09 29 Frank Brummer 3.20.24 30 Bob Turanchik 3.27.59 31 Rob Truscott 3.31.01 32 Jim Core 3.37.56 33 Joe Merry 3.44.56 34 Mark Reynolds 3.47.04 35 Eric Yoder 3.48.24 36 Cory Knight 3.58.52 37 Mark Shellhamer 4.03.43 38 Ryan Wayne 4.03.53 39 Brett Anderson 4.09.11 40 Mark Custer 4.10.20 41 Andrew Norris 4.15.35 42 Mike Hollowniczky 4.17.30 43 Thomas Stapleton 4.19.15 44 Mark Hepp 4.19.44 45 Paul Gorgias 4.23.35 46 Ralph Ruppe 4.23.36 47 Steve Herbst 4.23.37 48 Ron Munro 4.29.51 49 John Cvetic 4.46.42 50 Charles Woodruff 4.57.49 51 Kurt Russman 4.58.47 52 Patrick Taylor 5.37.38 53 Doug Haines 5.37.39 54 Scott Miller 5.47.13 55 Noah Mabry 5.49.38 56 Bobby Brummer 6.46.18 57 John Richards 8.27.35 DNF Chad Woolf DNF Chase Mohr DNF Randy Coddington DNF Dan Kenaan DNF Jason Anderson DNF Matt Anderson DNF Matthew Page DNF Curtis McKee DNF Darrel Sides DNF Gary Snodgrass DNF Robert Ginter DNF Todd Sides DNS Herbst, Steve DNS Monarch, Michael 100 km Women 1 Tiffany Kenney 8.24.02 2 Lindsey Lighthizer 1.07.35 3 Debbie Baker 2.19.18 4 Kerry Combs 2.23.39 DNF Teresa Muench 100 km Master 50 1 Terry Campbell 8.13.29 2 Mike Dietlin 1.46.47 3 Bill Kennedy 2.30.47 4 John Blakemore 2.37.49 5 Steven Mabry 3.55.11 DNF John Miller DNF Charlie Hoover DNF Frank Booth DNF Jim Dill DNF Dan McIntyre