The Story of the Ore To Shore: What Happens When a Regular Nerd Tries to be an Athlete

Every summer, there’s a mountain bike event that begins in the rolling hills near the birthplace of iron ore mining in Michigan, and ends along the pristine shoreline of Lake Superior. The event is known as the Ore to Shore. The true race is the 48-mile long “Hard Rock” (77 km for the international readers).

I was not part of that race…. Still, I had a title to uphold. This is a story about one otaku’s effort to repeat a 1st-place age group finish in one of the shorter races.

There are two other major races that are part of the Ore To Shore event: the 28-Mile “Soft Rock” (45km), and the 10-Mile “Shore Rock” (16km), which basically functions as either a mountain bike sprint race, or an entry-level course for novice riders.

Last year, I placed first in the “Shore Rock” Men’s 20-29 age range, and in the top 40 overall.

I even got a little consolation trophy for doing so.


This year, I intended on a repeat age-group performance, along with a top 30 finish overall. So, I sported my sick Yowamushi Pedal wristband and rolled out.

yowapedal 1

yowapedal 2

I got there early enough to get a pretty good starting spot; I was definitely near the front of the pack.

shore rock start

Given my starting position, I felt pretty confident about my chances. After all, all I had to do was maintain said position throughout the trail portions, then finish strong once we hit the pavement again for the final mile.


It started out fine.

I was probably moving a pace similar to last year, then about 2/3 of the way through, my ファッキング seat broke.

I just had the bike tuned up at a shop earlier in the week, and it felt fine when I was riding around/tweaking things last night. That’s the crushing reality fun of racing, though. Whether by bike, boat, or other motor vehicle—sometimes things go wrong. The seat started to slip underneath me during a rough stretch of trail. I pulled over and saw that the threading on both the bolt and the nut was stripped. My assumption is that I hit a big bump at some point, and came down hard on the saddle. If it didn’t bust loose right then and there, it started to wear away as I continued to put pressure on it during the race.

I tried my best to get it back on, but it wasn’t having it. In fact, it came undone a second time and I actually fell over.

This meant that I ended up running alongside my bike for the next three miles until I reached the paved roadway, then stood on the pedals to finish the race.

Now, some might ask “why not just stand up on the bike for the rest of the race in the first place?”. That’s a fair question, but if you’ve ever ridden a bike while standing on your pedals, even for just minute or two, you know that standing is much more physically taxing—particularly when the terrain isn’t smooth asphalt or concrete.

Furthermore, let me assure you that the risk of slipping whilst pedaling over the various rocks and roots in the woods and coming down on a metal post as opposed to a seat is not worth the reward.

Sadly, this tale ends with a loss. A big one. My total time was like 40-something minutes longer than last year, and I finished 207th total.


Oh, and FYI, shoes that are good for biking aren’t always good for running; my friggin’ knee hurts.

I took the bike to the shop after the race and bought a new seat post.

in the shop

Then walked across the street to drown my disappointment in a frappuccino.

frappucino of distress

On the bright side, at least I looked good losing in my matching bike/uniform. Style is important, too, y’know.

Also, the girl at the counter took pity on felt sympathy for me, and gave me extra strawberry syrup.

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