WARDADDY (a blog from Rae)

About 2 months ago, Dave asked me to go to this race, the War Daddy 100, with him down in Kentucky. A 100k mountainbike race in April is unwinnable for someone living in northeast Ohio. Our trail system is completely closed until at least May due to feet of melting snow and rain. I said no- it’s too early, but he insisted he was going. I considered Dave’s sacrifices (twice) to be my truck support at The Crusher and decided I owed him one. I set a reasonable goal of 10 hours for the two of us to complete the course. We rode out mountain bikes as much as possible on the local gravel courses and just kind of hoped for the best.

What I expected at War Daddy:
-Monster climbs. I’ve been all over the Daniel Boone National Forest. Ride – push- ride- repeat.
-Chunks. Real Appalachian fire & mining roads. No problem. nothing can be as bad as Mosquito Gulch.
-Creek crossings. A feature that used to be scary, but I’m getting the hang of.
10 hours to finish. Easy peasy- half a Crusher100. What could go wrong?

What I did not expect at War Daddy:
-Variable surfaces. The route surfaces changes so fast I found it hard to get a rhythm. We’d go suddenly from soft dirt with boulders to fresh 3in deep 57 rock (my LEAST favourite kind of gravel).
-Heat. The weather’s unpredictable everywhere around this time, but right up until our 9am start time, the high temperature was only supposed to be in the low 70s. We hit 82 degrees at 10:30am. My plan to skip the first 2 aid stations to save time wasn’t going to work, given that we were drinking so much water.
-Unending Climbs. Seriously, I never saw so many false flats in my life. Do people in cars just put it neutral and hope for the best while they go down the other way? Do they put the false flats in there to slow down the descending dump trucks? Seriously, what the fuck?

What Trail Sick Warned Me About:
-You will be riding in the middle of a creek bed for part of the course. It might be easier to walk it.
-It’s a long 67 miles.

My favourite part:
-Half mile creek bed jam!!! Easier to walk it?! That was the best part! And the warbaby trail after was primo – nice soft dirt with a little sand and pine duff (my speciality!) rollers and a few steep root climbs alongside the creek. I could have just circled back and done that all day. But alas…

The last thing I did not consider was how fas it gets dark in the mountains. For someone who used to part-time live in the Smokys, I should have known better. We hit the 11 hour mark at about mile 60. So, 7 to go on the mapped course. Problem was I had to take my sunglasses off. I stopped Dave and said, “dudebro, we really have to make a decision. It’s going to be dark, we’re in strange territory, we don’t have lights and we are NOT the blues brothers.” Trail Sick was hanging around at the last intersection looking for us. We took the ride at about mile 63.

yeah, we didn’t know either you can just buy pickle juice by the gallon!

I’m not disappointed, tho. As I age I’m getting faster and better but I’m also getting smarter. A metric century for the first outdoor mtb adventure of the year is enough of a feather for this girl’s cap! 10 years ago I might have chanced it. Hell, maybe even 3 years ago before my catastrophic crash. These days, I take victory where I can find it and roll over the the afterparty like I’m queen of the world!

War Daddy 100 is amazing. We’re going to get the Trail Sick Bros up here to ride with us and the McLain Farm Bros ASAP. Hanging out with them felt like we were with our dudes up here. I feel an epic MTB bromance coming on and I wanna be the shadchanit on that task! For real though, if you’re looking for a great group of hooligans to hang with and a hell of an adventure, this one’s for you!



You can keep up with my adventures on instagram at @raefaba and with Dave at @yellowmohican. Make sure you check out our new friends at @trail_sick too!

ad hillman hustle per aspera!

through suffering gravel grinding, to the stars…

a 2 hour drive, crappy weather & a model airplane runway: a tale of meeting goals with fiona, quinn, rae, molly & dave…

Sunday saw a 5 rider contingent of Mandalores at Hillman State Park in PA. Hosted by the (infamously infamous) McLain brothers, the Hillman Hustle is a gravel circuit race, consisting of 2 or 4 8 mile gravel laps with about 1,000 feet of elevation per lap.

Team Mandalore is all about making our goals, even when they’re completely ludicrous, because when you have a goal you can CRUSH IT! And early season goals are what brought 5 mountain bikes to the gravel bike race.

Rae wanted to complete 2 laps in 2 hours and have her second lap be faster than the first. Last year, at Hillman’s shorter course, she did 4 laps with a time improvement on each pass through. Dave is working on gravel mileage and seat time in preparation for War Daddy in April. Molly will honestly do ANY race the McLain boys put on, but she wants to increase her participation in the 2022 racing season.

And our lovely foundlings?
DON’T DIE
Seriously, they were the only juniors registered, the weather was miserable, 40 degree rain and they’re stuck with Rae as their coach and that jerk shows up in booty shorts and blows them off the start line.

Quinn is building a reputation for doing a really hard race for her first outdoor event of the season (Road Apple Roubaix, we’re looking at you) and was heard muttering on the first hill, “it’s going to be really hard for me to convince myself to do a second lap.” But she did. and look at the smile on that face!

after 2,000 feet of climbing, maybe Rae wasn’t so “underdressed” after all!

16 miles was actually young Fiona’s longest effort to date and with a finishing time of 3 hours, we noted on her strava report that while her average speed was 6.3 mp/h, her top speed was 27.9! With support from Dave, she also resisted the urge to quit and was rewarded by the rest of the team and the organizers at the finish line.

mandalore perks: finish line beers or choco milk.

Molly rode with Quinn and after threatening to lynch Rae for saying this race is “fun and pretty easy and the weather’s going to be great,” eventually agreed that it was a really fun time. We even overheard her making more gravel grinder plans over a brewsky with some of the other racers.

go molly! go molly! go molly!

Grueling travel, shitty gas station coffee, terrible conditions at impossible races… that’s what we’re all about! More adventures coming soon, but in the meantime, we can’t thank our sponsors enough. Especially this ride we want to shout out to ROKA because the sun eventually DID come out, and we were expertly prepared. Big love as well to KENDA, who provides the sticky rubber tread on our youth bikes.

Biggest thanks for this event goes to Annabel, for photographing the team and helping the organisers by volunteering at the race. She’s a superstar!!