Endurance racing is often seen as the realm of older guys, not teenagers, but Dylan Johnson is bucking that stereotype. A string of mishaps — flats, wrong turns...concussions — has marred his previous attempts at placing well at NUE hundred milers. After an early flat, he was able to battle back to second place in the single-speed category at the Shenandoah Mountain 100 last year, beating everyone except for Gerry Pflug. This season he'll be riding with gears. He's a year older, he has a lot more miles in his legs, and he's got gears...watch out NUE contenders.
11 Vaguely Cohutta 100 Related Questions With Wunderkind Dylan Johnson
1. First off, how old are you dude, seriously?
2. Word on the trails is that you’re the next 100 miler killer. Where did you come from and what were you doing before you started doing hundreds?
I started riding at 11 with my dad and did my first race at 12. I started doing local races in the singlespeed category and then at 14 I did my first endurance race, a 6 hour lap race. After that I gained interest in hundreds and eventually did Shenandoah.
3. Hundred milers are complicated, there’s a lot to figure out — nutrition, equipment, strategy and pacing...engineers tend to be good at this stuff. How did you, at your less-than-advanced-age get the hundred miler thing so dialed?
When I was 15 I would do a 100 mile ride by my self almost weekly. I bonked many times but eventually you figure things out.
4. Now you’ve gone from single-speed class to the men’s open category. Are you still riding a single-speed or have you sold out? I’m kidding. But seriously, are you riding a geared bike now?
I am only racing my geared bike for 2012. I think that it is a natural progression into more serious competition.
5. What’s your set up for the Cohutta bike-wise: tires, hard-tail vs. suspension, all that?
I am using the Scott Scale 29er hardtail which is a huge improvement in weight and stiffness form last year.
6. What do you do for fuel during a 100 miler?
I use GU gel and some sort of energy drink and maybe a bar or two.
7. I imagine you’re still in high school. How does training for a hundred miler fit into your day? What does that training look like?
Over the winter I was able to ride quite a bit. School gets off at 2:00 and I have block scheduling which means I have one set of classes on even days and the others on odd days. This gives me a fairly flexible schedule for riding after school and getting homework done. In the winter I will typically do big rides on the weekend and then do as much as I can during the week with one or two recovery days thrown in. Lately it has been all about intensity and staying fresh for races on the weekend.
8. What inspired you to start doing this stuff? Are there any riders out there that you look up to?
It was really my dad that got me started riding. We used to go out every weekend and ride together. He definitely sparked my enthusiasm for riding.
9. What’s the craziest thought that’s ever entered your head while riding a bike?
Last year when I crashed and had to go to the emergency room for a ton of stitches all over my face the first thing I remember is a woman driving me down the mountain and I was thinking “Why are you taking me away from the race. You never asked me if I wanted to quit. Turn around and let me race.” Before I said anything to her I realized that the left side of my face was drowning in blood and that I couldn’t remember anything from the last half hour.
10. What are your predictions for Saturday, who’s gonna win this thing...both men and women? Who are you going to be marking out there?
On the women’s side my vote is Cheryl Sornson. She got third place overall two weeks ago at the Michaux Trail Cup. Tanguy is probably the race favorite but watch for a surprise performance by Kevin Carter.
11. Where are you going to be in ten years, riding the Pro Tour or seeking out crazier and crazier endurance mountain bike races to do?
I really don’t know what the future holds. I plan on racing in the college and I will see where I go from there.