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Endurance series continues in Ohio this weekend

The tiny central-Ohio town of Loudonville used to be known as the canoeing capital of the state. But this Saturday, the rural community will be ground zero for the growing culture of ultra-endurance mountain bike racing, as Loudonville hosts the Mohican Mountain Bike 100. The Mohican is the second round of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE Series), a seven-race collection of 100-mile cross-country races.

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By Fred Dreier

2009 Mohican 100: The NUE Series continues in Loudonville, Ohio

2009 Mohican 100: The NUE Series continues in Loudonville, Ohio

Photo: Fred Dreier

The tiny central-Ohio town of Loudonville used to be known as the canoeing capital of the state. But this Saturday, the rural community will be ground zero for the growing culture of ultra-endurance mountain bike racing, as Loudonville hosts the Mohican Mountain Bike 100. The Mohican is the second round of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE Series), a seven-race collection of 100-mile cross-country races.

The race starts at 7 a.m. in downtown Loudonville before embarking on a winding journey through Mohican State Park. The course passes through four different counties, crosses the state’s longest covered bridge and spins through rural Amish country. The course includes 11,000 feet of elevation gain, and much of the climbing comes from an crushing number of steep, 200-300 foot uphills.

“A lot of people think that because this isn’t Colorado there isn’t a ton of climbing,” said race organizer Ryan O’Dell. “We don’t have the long sustained climbs, but there’s plenty of uphill.”

2009 Mohican 100: It all adds up: the map shows 100 miles of fun on tap for Saturday.

2009 Mohican 100: It all adds up: the map shows 100 miles of fun on tap for Saturday.

Photo: Fred Dreier

This year marks the seventh running of the race. The year’s course is nearly identical to in years past, however organizers added a few bits and pieces to spice things up. But the course still retains its wild, adventure feel.

“There’s been some logging that we’ve had to make adjustments for,” said Garth Prosser.

Last year nearly 400 participants signed up for the event, and this year organizers are expecting a similar number. Pre-registration was at 361, and with a weekend forecast calling for sunshine and 75-degree weather, Prosser predicts walk-up registration may boost him to a new all-time high.

2009 Mohican 100: The course includes highlights of rural Ohio, including this enormous wood chipper.

2009 Mohican 100: The course includes highlights of rural Ohio, including this enormous wood chipper.

Photo: Fred Dreier

The 100-mile format of mountain bike racing is on the rise in the United States. Michigan’s Lumberjack 100 sells out months in advance, as does Colorado’s Leadville 100, which is now a lottery-only event. Leadville, which is not part of the NUE series, received mainstream press in 2007 and 2008 when Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong toed the line. For many endurance rider, the single-day events are a suitable stand-in for the popular multi-day endurance races such as the BC Bike Race or TransRockies Challenge.

“I think it’s that perfect distance where you really challenge yourself, but you’re not so destroyed that you can’t go to work the next day,” O’Dell said.

The events also carry a price tag much smaller than the multiple-day events. Early registration for the Mohican costs $110, while day-of is $165. Those fares pale in comparison to the $1500-plus price tag for the multi-day races.

So who will reign supreme at the Mohican? Defending NUE series champ Jeff Schalk (Trek) comes in as the man to beat in the open category. Schalk won the April 25 Cohutta 100 in Georgia. Schalk enters the race with his teammate Chris Eatough, the 2007 NUE series champ.

Looking to dethrone the Trek squad is the Monavie-Cannondale team. The Utah-based team, which is sponsored by an antioxidant drink, has come with a full roster of riders. Reigning U.S. marathon champion Jeremiah Bishop leads the squad, which includes famed endurance racer Tinker Juarez, Utah regional strongmen Bart Gillespie, Matt Ohran and Alex Grant and Coloradan Bryan Alders.

Other riders to watch include Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication), Josh Tostado (Bach Builders), Betshy Shogren and Cheryl Sornson.

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