LOUDONVILLE — The cyclist who won the men’s open of this year’s Mohican MTB 100 race had never ridden a bicycle in Ohio before.
Kyle Trudeau, 28, of Tucson, Arizona finished the race with a time of 7:31:11. Moments after finishing, the professional cyclist said Ohio's terrain was a bit different than the cacti and loose desert dirt he’s accustomed to. And the horse trails were different, too.
“Some spots were saturated and thick with mud, and you’re just tractoring through it — you could tell horses had just walked all through them and dug it all up," Trudeau said. "Other than that, just nonstop hills out there. Nothing super long, but steep, and they come the entire race.”
Saturday’s event marked the National Ultra Endurance race’s 20th anniversary.
“The first year was 30 guys who all got lost,” said Ryan O’Dell, the race’s director.
He said organizers used pie plates to mark trails back then and most of those riders were his friends. Each year, the race has grown along with the appeal for ultra endurance races around the country.
“We were doubling in size every year and the growth was hard to manage," O'Dell said. "We also had very little volunteer support. That’s when New Hope (Community Church) came.”
The church began volunteering for the race around 10 years ago. On Saturday, around 200 volunteers manned aid stations and helped with other aspects of the race — which drew nearly 600 riders from around the country. One rider traveled from France.
O’Dell said the race was made tougher this year with the addition of more single track, eliminating around 20 miles of road along the route.
“We expanded the trail out at Camp Mohaven, so there’s a 5.1-mile loop there now. And the biggest news is there is an 18-mile loop on four private properties outside of Glenmont,” O’Dell said. “It’s a really awesome trail. You have old growth trees out there.”
O’Dell said eliminating road miles made the race more off-road. In years passed, several of the roads were unpaved. Some of those roads have recently been paved, making it easier for drivers to reach high speeds — and more dangerous for cyclers.
“Many riders were saying ‘Oh, you’re trying to kill us,’ with more singletrack. But they eventually told me they like the changes,” he said.
Last year’s race was shorter because COVID-19 meant O’Dell couldn’t obtain permits from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He did this year, making the race more akin to previous years.
But O’Dell did not seek approval from Loudonville for a mass-start through downtown. Like last year, racers started in staggered times.
“We’ll have downtown start next year. You just don’t see the size of the race (without the mass start),” he said.
Other top finishers for the men’s open division included Chris Mehlman, Anthony Toops, Tho Charnay and Jeffrey Pendlebury.
Jen Toops, of Marion, blew out her division with a time of 9:31, nearly two hours faster than her competitors.
“She started racing here as a novice — she’s really on top of her game now,” O’Dell said.
Full race results can be found here.
O’Dell said there were no major injuries reported. One rider, in the men’s division, was transported to an urgent care facility but only reported minor injuries.
O’Dell is now hard at work preparing for the Mohican Trail 100 Mile Run, an ultra-marathon that snakes runners through similar parts of the state. The race takes place June 19.