Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mohican Forest OMBC race...

Sunday morning broke with a cool crisp chill in the air, indigo blue skies, and the promise of a wonderful day of racing.

The annual cross country race at Mohican forest, a 24.5 mile stretch of rolling to hilly single track, is always an anticipated venue, due to it's length, flow, and beautiful scenery.  Steve and Jeff were committed to racing; Steve as this is his "home" course and Jeff because he wants to finish well in the series to secure an entry into the Iceman Cometh race in a few weeks.  Carey choose to bow out of this competition to taper into the final Groovy/Neo race on Saturday, where he will have to come out swinging against Jeff Cochran, if not for the series title, but for pride in defending his home turf :)  Kalten, feeling pretty sick and puny, was coming along for the ride but had no designs on racing, as the fall cross country running season had left him injured with little time on the bike.

Christi left first thing in the morning for a weeks vacation in West Virginia, so Em had little choice but to come along as I am single parenting all week.

We arrived early and set up the tent and maintenance equipment so that we would have an opportunity to go over the guys rides before the race.  Surprisingly, both Steve and Jeff had not done anything stupid to their bikes in the last week, and I had little to do.  Gotta admit, I give both of them a hard time, but they have both really come a long way in their maintenance and prep this season, well done guys ;)

While wrenching on bikes, Jeff somehow convinced Kalten that as long as he is here, with his bike, it would be a shame not to race; soon we had three horses at the line.

The Expert race was gonna be a barn burner, with many of the top guys showing up to play in the sunshine...Steve, Jeff, Dave Walker, Tim Carson (good to see you back after such a looong recovery!), Kyle Spisak, Dave Hall, Chip Meek, plus a host of southern boys I rarely get to meet.  I really missed seeing Brad Wilhelm line up, as he is out with a broken hand (heal fast bud).  The guys were off at a moderate pace, exchanging glances on the run in to the single track to determine who was gonna be the test rat out front for the first major climb.  You can see who took up the torch.

Stevie pacing the bunch into the first single track and the subsequent climb...
I was able to watch Kalten go off the line as well.  Being on a single speed, I strongly encouraged him to try to stay in the top 4-5 for the gravel road start, tucking in behind a few guys and using their draft to stay competitively close so he would not need to pass a bunch of riders on the climb.  Of course, he didn't listen, sprinting off the front right at the start...ahhh, youth :)

Em and I loaded up the race water jugs for the half way point aid station and went off to meet Jeff and Steve with water bottles and Gu at the covered bridge before the horrendous climb out of the valley.  The covered bridge, under restoration this summer, has been closed to cross traffic this season, forcing riders to wade the river to continue.  Ryan, the race director, was able to secure a safe passage across the bridge for the race.  Unbeknownst to Em and I, the road to the bridge was gated at the top...uh oh.  The guys were counting on us for the fresh bottle and energy gel before the climb.  With little choice and less time, we jumped on our bikes and bombed down the 1.5 mile hill, getting there with just enough time for the hand off.  The bad news...we not only had to climb back up the long road ascent, but beat Steve and Jeff, the top two places, to the top for the next exchange.  Em pedaled like a, not so much :)

Steve was riding like a soaring hawk...pedaling effortlessly and really tearing up the course.  Jeff was two minutes back, and facing a physical battle of his own, fighting off some dehydration and the onset of the race bonk with Tim and Dave making up time as the trail wore on.  In the end, the order did not change, Steve capturing the win with a new course record, Jeff gutting it out and finishing three minutes back.

Back at the finish line, I caught up to Kalten, who complained of constant snot and coughing throughout the race.  "I felt terrible...don't think I did very well."  Too bad, but at least he toughed it out.  My empathy evaporated once the results were posted and he was in first, little bugger.

Steve, with a family birthday party to attend, was not able to hang about for the ceremony.  Emmy stepped in to represent our Groovy winner in first place, next to Jeff in second and Tim in third...
Big props go out to Ryan for the excellent weather (someone's gotta get credit), and fathering a state wide race series that has brought much joy to our mountain biking brethren.

Looking forward to Saturday for the final Groovy/Neo race,


Photo credits to Justyna and Jymi, thanks guys

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