Cathi Cannon’s Cohutta 65 Race Report

massive congrats to my coaching client cathi cannon! she earned a podium spot at the cohutta 65 mile mtn bike race!! this is a great benchmark on her road to the leadville 100 mtn bike race! as you’ll read in her report below… she’s dropping the fellas on climbs! that brings a tear of joy to my eye. =)

cathi’s race report follows..



One of the key races I was using as a benchmark for Leadville was the Cohutta 65. At one point, I had planned on doing the 100 mile course, but a lingering early season injury forced me to choose otherwise. While not the full monty, the 65, just shy of 11k of elevation gain, was still going to be a respectable day. The rain overnight and during the first hour of the race added another twist to the day; luckily the temps remained nice.

We started at the Ocoee Whitewater Center at 7:15am with a light drizzle. After a quick 3 miles down Hwy 64, we turned into the Brush Creek trails. I actually haven’t ridden this section before and I’d imagine it would be quite nice and flowy if it wasn’t for the thick, slick mud everywhere. All was going well until I wiped out hard on a bridge. I’m not exactly sure what happened here, but next thing I know I lay my bike out and we’re sliding across the bridge… I see a pole and think “this will not be …”. My bike hits it first – then I slam into my bike… Groin into the handlebars and stem. Yeowsers. I layed there a minute taking some deep breaths, but when I saw a girl pass, I was back on my feet. Time to go!

I was a bit slow at first, trying to shake things off. We circled back to the WWC, entering the Tanasi trail system. By the time I was up Bear Paw, I was able to pass the 2 girls that had passed me when I was down. Once I hit the forest service roads, I was back in my element. I was alone for a long time here, just doing my thing and trying to ride hard. Two voices were constantly in my head – Matt’s voice saying “attack the hills” and Jeramie saying (in response to me wondering how he thought I’d do) “well, depends on what Cathi shows up”. Early on it was the “Cathi that crashed hard and was in pain”. But now it was “Cathi that was on a mission”. I wasn’t there to just ride; I wanted to race.

Finally the turn from 221 to 62 (the “Big Frog Loop”) came, along with the aid station with our drop bags. I actually didn’t need anything in my bag (my hydration & nutrition was going well & I had all I needed with me), so after some quick lube on the chain and I was off again – I has seen a pink jersey ahead and really wanted to reel in that girl…Which I did soon enough, along with 2 others on this section. That was energizing! I hooked up with a few guys that had a solid pace and good conversations for a bit.

Once back on 221, I just kept on… My legs were feeling fabulous, although the shoulder/neck pain I get sometimes was now setting in – at least that made me forget about my pelvis. The big neverending climb came and went without problem – with the leaders of the 100 mile passing me here – damn they looked fresh!

Finally the last aid station before the final singletrack section. Hooray! They didn’t have any Heed, so I just kept the 1 full bottle I had, figuring it would be enough for the last 12 miles or so. About 10 minutes in, I started hearing some noise from my bike… Not the hiss of flat tires (like last weekend), but something else. Then without warning, chain suck. Ahh, so that is the sound of a bone dry chain that doesn’t want to move. What sucked even more was the fact I didn’t have any lube on me. Every 5-10 minutes my bike would seize. Sometimes I could get through it, but half the time I was going up a hill or over some rocks/roots, so it royally messed me up. For once I was totally thankful for every descent I could find – if I didn’t pedal, I didn’t have problems. I passed lots of people sidelined with mechanicals (including a friend with a snapped derailleur), but no one with lube. So basically this last section (which initially I was worried about, not knowing how tired I’d be going through it, then was excited about because I was feeling great), ended up sucking royally, taking at least 30 min longer than it should have.

Thunder Rock Express (a sweet descent) could not come soon enough. I got through that easily and was thankful for the road at the end – that signalled about a mile to the finish. Yeah! My time was 7:32:06, good enough for 5th place, earning me spot on the podium (I would have been 56 out of 100 total riders in this distance – always like to see how I compare to the guys!). I was about 32 minutes behind 4th place, so it would have been an interesting finish if that last section had gone better. One of the guys I had been riding with earlier came by to say the way I dropped him on the neverending FSR climb was impressive & that I should have no problem with Leadville. Let’s hope!!

So now… The next day…
I am definitely happy with my race – my body felt great (except for the crash of course) and I was happy with how my legs responded. My nutrition and hydration was on. What to change? Well, carry lube!! Other than that, just continue on with Matt’s plans, whatever they may be. (it’s working so far!) I’ll be interested to see how this experience relates to Leadville. I’ll have 4.5 more hrs to tackle 35 more miles and 3000’ more elevation gain. Altitude will be the determining factor I think, as my fitness track seems to be right on.