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Mountain Gear

How to succeed in the NUE Series: What you need to know before the Mohican 100

Advice from the pros on picking the right equipment for the course and where to push the pace in the NUE Series

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After a two week break, the National Ultra Endurance Series continues on June 2 with the Mohican 100. Raced just outside of Loudonville, OH, the race is a staple of the NUE series as the series moves from the East Coast to the Midwest for the next two stops in the series.

At Syllamo’s Revenge, the previous stop in the series, the rocks and technical riding created a race full of carnage and flat tires as racers struggled to finish the course in the searing heat.

The course at the Mohican promises to give the riders a slight respite from the ultra technical riding they experienced at Syllamo’s — at least in terms of the number of rocks on the trail — but will surely test riders’ resolve with countless climbs and descents.

Still, no NUE race course is easy, and race organizers have ensured that the Mohican provides ample challenge right from the start line.

Racers will be competing for the prize of $1000 in both men and women’s open categories, along with comped entry for 2013, including two nights stay for up to nine at Mohican Cabins, valued at $700. Registration is available on Friday but same-day registration on Saturday is not an option.

The race and the course

Consisting of a lollipop loop, the Mohican course is made up of 40% singletrack, 50% dirt roads and double track, and less than 10% pavement. It crosses four different counties in northeastern Ohio with a total elevation gain of approximately 11,000 feet.

The kicker with the elevation gain: None of the hills are over 350 vertical feet in length. Sometimes the 350 feet are gained rapidly with a short and steep climb and other times it’s spread out over a mile. This means a constantly undulating course with an elevation profile that looks like an electrocardiograph trace of a patient undergoing ventricular fibrillation.

The race starts in downtown Loudonville and heads straight up a hill. In order to make the racing interesting, promoters have put a $200 prime up for grabs at city limits a mile from the start, ensuring an exciting and fast pace from the gun. The course quickly hits the most technical singletrack of the course with tricky off-camber descents followed by an uphill hike-a-bike.

Once out of the stem part of the lollipop, the course becomes a mix of rolling singletrack, rails to trails segments and short sections of pavement. Gerry Pflug, multiple time NUE series singlespeed winner says, “The singletrack is pretty nice. There is nothing super technical about it, but it’s tricky enough to keep things interesting.”

Unlike many other races that are held on entirely public land, the majority of the Mohican 100 course is on private land and equestrian trails that are only open to mountain bikes on race day. Thus, only the 25 mile section of trail in the Mohican State Park and approximately five miles on the Mohican Wilderness Race Course can be ridden ahead of race day. This gives a distinct advantage to those who have raced the course before or have done their homework in terms of course research.

Pfug says the trails are similar to many trails on the East Coast with tight turns through the trees and making use of the many opportunities to gain and lose elevation on the countless short and steep hills in the area.

The trails vary from mountain bike specific trails built within IMBA guidelines to foot paths through the woods. The constant variety serves to keep riders on their toes and the never-ending short but steep hills make it a challenging course to race.

The course will favor a rider with good bike handling skills to make it smoothly and efficiently through the technical sections of trail, especially on the stem part of the lollipop at the beginning and end of the course, but can also put out a lot of power on the smoother dirt road and paved sections of the course.

Equipment choices

When asked what bike he’d be riding for the Mohican 100 this year, Pflug pointed to his full rigid singlespeed Salsa Selma Ti, the bike that he uses for all of the NUE Series races.

This will be his 5th year racing, having raced on a bike with gears the first couple of times he’s done the race. He recommends a hardtail, saying that he doesn’t think that full suspension is necessary on the course but is quick to add, “this is coming from a guy that rides most races with a rigid fork.”

But with over 50 miles of dirt roads and double track, the Mohican doesn’t cry out for dual suspension the way a course like Syllamo’s Revenge does. The added comfort of a dual suspension bike to help with general fatigue over the course of 100 miles could create a case for dual suspension.

The weather in the area can be variable in June with the race seeing scorching temperatures some years and trails covered in mud other years. Pflug points to the weather as a potential factor in race outcome. “The weather in central Ohio in June is usually very hot and humid,” he pointed out. “It tends to wear on endurance racers doing the event quite a bit and can make the race even harder than it already is.”

At the time of this post, the Mohican area weather forcast is calling for dry trail conditions and comfortable temperatures in the upper sixties for Saturday.

For dry conditions, race organizers recommend a fast-rolling tire such as the Kenda Karma or the Kenda Small Block 8. Both are lightweight tires that will cover the gravel road miles rapidly while being strong enough to hold up to the singletrack sections of trail.

If dry, Plug plans on using a pair of Hutchinson Pythons, another fast-rolling and lightweight tire. If a storm passes through the area before or during the race, the trails quickly become muddy and a tire with some mud clearing ability and knobs are recommended.

Pflug also recommends bringing a front frame fender in case a storm rolls through. “Having mud splashed in your face for 100 miles is not much fun.”

Area Trails

In 2005, a partnership between the Mohican/Malabar Bike Club and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources opened an eight mile section of trail through the Mohican State Park and State Forest to mountain bikers. This partnership opened up an area previously used mostly by snowmobilers in the winter to an entirely new user group.

Since then, the Mohican State Park Trail has expanded to 24 miles of trail constructed specifically for mountain bikers.

Be sure to check Eszter’s recommendations in How to succeed before each of the NUE Series races for tips on equipment and the scoop on the course.

Eszter Horanyi lives and mountain bikes in Crested Butte, CO.  She has dabbled in road racing, cyclocross racing, and cross country mountain bike racing, but has gravitated towards ultra endurance and multi day self supported racing in the more recent past.  She firmly believes that nothing tops a good ride with good friends on good trails, thus she spends her life in search of all of the above. You can follow her adventures on her blog. All articles by Eszter.

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