Wednesday, June 5

100 Proof

Herein follows the third installment of my 2013 Mohican MTB 100 race report.  Only Jeff's name has been changed to protect...well, no one.

saw this posted on facebook a couple of days before we left for Loudonville:

The Mohican MTB100 is still seeking two sweeps for Aid station 2 to Aid station 3, one sweep from Aid 4 to Aid 5, and two sweeps for Aid Station 5 to the finish. If you would like to help and ride a segment, earn a Mohican MTB100 Tee, and join us for a complimentary BBQ dinner…

I figured that was right up Tom’s alley.  He had no interest in doing the race, but he was all about making the scene.  I emailed him the blurb above with the contact info.  It turns out they actually needed proofers too.  Tom called me on Thursday.

“What’s a proofer?”

I shrugged.  Then I remembered I was on the phone.  “I guess that’s the opposite of a sweeper.”

He thought so too.  But he wasn’t sure what a sweeper did either.

"You gotta check and make sure the course is still rideable the day of?” I offered.  I was suspicious that the organizer made up proofing after talking to Tom.  Don’t ask me why ;)


A proofer was born.

As Yejefe and I mentally prepared for the race aspect of the trip Tom was steeling himself for a grueling day of proofing.  

Tom got his pick of the sleeping amenities because he needed to be fresh for proofing.  Okay, it was really because he paid for the room, but the proofing angle is funnier.  

I mentioned that he should contact Moots (Tom’s a big Moots fan) and get them to sponsor him as a professional proofer with one of those IMBA custom trail building bikes tweaked specifically for proofing.
Tommy’s inaugural proofing stint has changed the way the mountain biking world views proofers.  Even Dgaeff said (as he swayed at the finish line after 11 hours on the bike): “I’d never do the 100 mile race again, but I’d come back and be a proofer.” I agreed that proofing was a more desirable activity than racing.  I still hadn't replenished my electrolytes at that point though.  Traitorous electrolytes!

What surprised us all was that the organizers decided to add a podium stand for proofing during the awards ceremony.  That has never happened in the history of the world.  In fact, no one at the 2013 Mohican MTB 100 received a medal except the numero uno proofer extraordinaire: Tom-a-hawk.

Jaaff’s friend, the mayor of Loudonville (see future post), gave Tom the key to the city, and some of the more elite racers pitched in and even gave him a little something to show their appreciation for saving the day: a brand new single-speed, carbon-framed, fat-tired, Moots-like unicycle.

Saved the day, you say?  Oh yeah, all the best proofers do!

Tom was out riding his section ahead of the leaders when he found himself up to his eyeballs in briars and course markers.  Instantly thinking that something wasn’t right he sprang into action, and with the speed only the Tom-a-hawk can muster he literally coasted uphill back to the aid station where he reported that someone, some…punk-ish…one, had monkeyed with the course.  Volunteers wept.  Accolades flew.  Rebecca Rusch even dialed in via satellite phone from her unsupported crossing of the Argyre Basin on Mars to congratulate Tom on his excellent proofing.  Needless to say, the race went on only because of the Master Proofer.

The organizers got marshals out to the diversion instantly to get ahead of the leaders.  Tom’s proofing duties were over for the day.  Since there was no way he could outpace them to the end of the course at that point he hung at the aid station, where he became immersed in what would come to be known in the mountain biking world as the Hanoi-ican Airlift.  Riders were down all around and more crashing every second on the slick rocks and roots.  The Tom-a-hawk himself even skated on a few.  And so he began shuttling them out of the jungle and back to the extraction point, one and two at a time, their bodies and bikes muddy and bloody.  Old Blood and Guts got ‘em out!

Tom had turned proofing into one of the all-time greatest sports evacuations in the history of…well, history.

I could have used some of his proofing on the 24 mile singletrack where I went blind.  It may be that he could have even healed my blindness and driven my weariness away.  If only they’d let him proof the first section…maybe more of those poor boys (and girls) would have finished the ride.  The 2013 Mohican MTB 100 would have gone down in the books as the most amazingly fabulous mountain bike race since the dawn of time.

Well, it kinda was anyway.

After we’d all been reunited I sat with Mandy and her dad as they ate.  They were much more reserved about the food than I had been.  Anyway, Tom struck up a conversation with the couple across from us.  He said he was famished after a hard day of proofing.  The diminutive lady across from us said she’d been a sweeper and it was much harder than proofing.  

The entire dining area gasped. could have heard a pin drop.  Tom didn't look up from his food.  The sweeper dropped her eyes to her plate and mumbled something that had the tone of apology.  After a long, awkward silence the sounds of chomping resumed.

Last we heard as we were driving out of Loudonville there were plans for a statue in the town square.  The plaque would read: 

All gave some, some gave all, all hail the Tom-a-hawk. 

They did a cast of my father-in-law’s head for it.  They said it would be for all proofers everywhere, but we know the truth.  We know…

All I can say is that, in the realm of endurance mountain bike racing, you gotta have good proofers.
Tom, sharing the finer points of proofing with the rest of the crew

In all seriousness, I think Tom had more fun than all the rest of us combined.  He got to make the scene, ride part of the course, got a free t-shirt and meal out of it, and really did find the nefarious course detour before the leaders came through.  All hail the Tom-a-hawk.
I should be able to wrap this sucker up with one or twenty-eight more.  It's sure a good thing I get paid by the post, other wise I'd never recoup my expenses for this race. Oh wait, I get paid by the reference to my sponsors.

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