NUE Pierre’s Hole Epic

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

The 2019 Pierres Hole 100 was once again slated to be a great day in the mountains of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The area doesn’t lack views with the Tetons in sight from most parts of the course. Grand Targhee events manager Andy Williams really puts his heart and soul into this race and it shows. With a great atmosphere and plenty for spectators and racers families to do, the resort really has it dialed.

Racers start at the Grand Targhee Resort and complete 1, 2, or 3, 31 mile laps depending on their distance of choice. The course is almost 100% single track except for a few short sections of double track to connect everything together. This can be a blessing and a curse; The trails are really fun, but they will wear even the toughest riders down.

Racers climb to the top of Grand Targhee and then turn and burn all the way down the 38 switchbacks.

Men’s Open

Men’s open podium: 1st Sam Sweetser, 2nd Jon Rose, 3rd Brandon Firth, 4th Adam Hill, Jake Inger

With the fastest time of the day, Sam Sweetser, wins the NUE men’s open with a time of 8:26:17.

Sam Sweetser leading through the Aid station

Over a half hour back, Jon Rose, pushed hard to hold off third place finishing second in 8:59:20.

“Pierre’s Hole 100 mile (actually 94) mountain bike race is in the books. It was one of the hardest days in the saddle I’ve ever had. The race took 8h59m. 
Most of the race was spent between 3rd and 5th place, sometimes as far back as 7th. I finally battled my way up to 2nd place with about 18 miles left. I could see the person who took 3rd at almost every switchback and had to go really deep to hold him off. 
Riding and racing bikes has has taught me so many things. One of the biggest lessons is that I can do hard things… on the bike and off the bike. 
Thanks to our sponsors Mad Dog Cycles/4Life Race Team Trek Bicycle 4Life Research USA #utahsfavoritebikeshop CarboRocketMad Dog Cycles”

Rose holds off Firth by a few minutes to take 2nd place.

Only a few minutes back, Brandon Firth, hangs on for a 3rd place finish crossing the finish line in 9:02.

“Pierre’s Hole is a very tough 100 miler. I was able to participate last year and landed just off the podium in fifth. So I figured going into this years event that I would take my time and ease into the race.
This years event saw very dry conditions and a hot day, which made it a hard day. I was glad at the midway point that I let the race come to me as the hot dry conditions started to rake a toll.  It was obvious that Sam was on a mission and was riding super strong. At the start of Lap two, 2-5 positions were all within 1-2 minutes of each other and Sam had about a 5 min lead.
At that point I liked my strategy and continued pushing on. I had a mistimed feed halfway through lap 2 and dropped off the group by a minute or so. I took a minute for a quick bite and a potty break. And continued  on.
At the beginning of lap 3 I was within 1.5 minutes of  2 place, and Sam was completely out of touch. I took a great feed and continued on with my strategy. By the Top of the big climb I was sitting in 3 position and making time on second. At the Bottom of the decent I overtook second position. At the midway point of the 3 and final lap I started to come unglued again and had to slow down and feed. A coke and a Banana later
I was feeling better but lost 2nd position to a rider from behind, but was confident I could bring him back on the last half of the coarse. Sadly I ran out out real estate and ended with 3rd for the day. I could see the rider just ahead of me but couldn’t close. I believe he was 1:38 up on me after 9+ hard hrs of racing.  Either way it was nice to be on the podium and to be finished.
I was a tight top five, with the exception of Mr Sweester 2-5 positions were only separated by a few minutes..
As always endurance racing it a long journey and there is always ups and downs in how you feel out there, but you just have to soldier on :)

Most likely my next endurance race will be the Park City P2P, where I will try to build a good strategy and stick to it the best I can. “Sponsor: Rocky Mtn Bikes”

Women’s Open

Toops gets back to back NUE wins

Women’s open podium: 1st Jen Toops, 2nd Becky Edmiston, 3rd Parker Tyler

Getting her third NUE epic series win for the 2019 season, 2018 Nue Marathon champion, Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) wins the women’s open with a time of 10:35:54. With this win she is now tied for the overall lead in the women’s NUE epic series.

“After racing Pierre’s Hole marathon last year I knew I needed to stay out of the red zone on the first lap or I’d pay for it later. On the first lap I kept a steady pace up the long climb and had a little fun coming down the 38 special. At the bottom of 38 special I saw second place catching me and tried not to let it get in my head, there was a long race ahead and I didn’t want to blow up. My husband was aiding for me and giving me updates as I came through the aid stations. I was about 4-5 minutes ahead of second coming through the first lap. The climb after the start is tough and requires mental strength but the views are so beautiful. Wildflowers and the Tetons mountains. I decided to run my Pivot mach 4 this year for a little extra cushion equipped with a 32 Rotor Q-ring to keep my cadence higher with all the climbing! I could see Becky at the bottom of the climb on lap two and I continued my own pace, pushing when I felt good and continued putting a larger gap between us. After 70 miles of single track I focused on my nutrition, riding smart and getting through the last lap. When I entered the last meadow I couldn’t see second place and cruised to the finish line ready to run to the taco bar included with race registration! Thanks to our team sponsors (Pivot Cycles, Pearl Izumi, FOX, Ergon, Rotor, Stans, Carborocket, Honey stinger, Xpedo, SCC tech, Kask, and Continental), my husband for the aid and Andy Williams for putting on such a great race!”

About 40 minutes back, Becky Edminston took the second spot with a time of 11:12.

  “The first (of 3) laps was so fun! Other than the big climb, it was awesome singletrack trail that really suits my riding style. A couple of guys even commented what a good downhiller I am :) ha! At the end of the first lap I was only 4 minutes behind the lead female and I thought “I either went out too hard, or I’m about to have a great day”. Turns out it was a little bit of both!    Starting into the second lap ~mile 35 my body was experiencing some weird pains. My forearms were sore, my triceps started cramping, my shoes were cutting the front of my ankles. And then beginning the climb after 38 Special (long downhill) my left hamstring began to cramp. I never cramp! Fortunately, engaging my quads (i.e. pedaling harder) seemed to keep it from totally locking up. This was a game I would play for the next 60 miles. I was popping salt pills and trying to hold it together. There were lots of riders around from the shorter races and that gave me people to ride with and chase.     The third lap saw me really slowing down fighting cramps and nausea (maybe I went out too hard?!). The field had thinned out and I was riding mostly alone but also knew I was “almost” done. As someone who usually runs negative splits I started getting really worried that 3rd place was going to catch me. Fortunately, the 2nd half of the lap was fun and flowy and I had to pedal to keep from cramping! So pedal I did, and I crossed the finish line in 11 hours 12 minutes, holding on to 2nd place female and in the top 15 overall. Did I have fun? You bet!      A big thanks to HoneyStinger #HSHIVE for making waffles which were the only solid food I could stomach! Also Orange Peel Bikes #orangepeelbikes and Rock N’ Roll Sports #rocknrollsports for keeping me rolling!”

Becky Edminston finishing the 100 mile race in second place

Taking the third step was, Parker Tyler crossing the line in a time of 11:44:43.

Singlespeed

Singlespeed podium: 1st Andrew Jones, 2nd Brent Cannon, 3rd Hunter Karnedy, 4th Joseph Stroz, 5th Brant Haflich

In the single speed division it was, Andrew Jones, who took the win finishing in 9:14:05. Almost a half hour back was Brent Cannon fighting hard to earn a second place finish at 9:45:30.

Cannon congraulated by race director Andy Williams

Taking third place and still managing to smile at the finish was, Hunter Karnedy, with a time of 9:59:37.

Karnedy earns a third in SS division

Masters

Smith earns the W and gets 2nd overall

Finishing 2nd overall and taking the win in the masters division, Cary Smith crossed the line in 8:48:16.

Smith with a 2nd overall and winning the masters class

Mike Baughman took second place with a time of 10:12:09. About 50 minutes back on second, Gary Gardiner finished third in a time of 11:01:32.

Click here for full results

Photos by: Ryan O’Dell and Powder Day Photography

NUE Pierre’s Hole Marathon

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

The 2019 Pierres Hole 100 was once again slated to be a great day in the mountains of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The area doesn’t lack views with the Tetons in sight from most parts of the course. Grand Targhee events manager Andy Williams really puts his heart and soul into this race and it shows. With a great atmosphere and plenty for spectators and racers families to do, the resort really has it dialed.

Racers start at the Grand Targhee Resort and complete 1, 2, or 3, 31 mile laps depending on their distance of choice. The course is almost 100% single track except for a few short sections of double track to connect everything together. This can be a blessing and a curse; The trails are really fun, but they will wear even the toughest riders down.

Wildflowers in full bloom

Men’s Open

Treadwell earns the Win

Men’s Open Podium: 1st Dereck Treadwell, 2nd Joseph Goetti, 3rd Dan Mahlum, 4th George Flynn, 5th Troy Barry

Dereck Treadwell earns his first NUE win of the season winning the Pierre’s Hole 100k with a time of 5:40:12. With this win he is now moves to second place in the NUE men’s open marathon series.

Treadwell takes the WIN.

Even after a flat tire, Joseph Goetti takes second just three minutes back from Treadwell at 5:43:29

“Packing and driving up the day before, I had a great deal of excitement in me as well as some nervousness. This would be my first race on the mountain bike! I’d been thinking about transitioning into marathon mtb racing for the past year as I’ve always had a desire for the longer, more grueling races and getting out on the trails using more technical bike handling skills! After expressing my goals with Scheels, I am super grateful they agreed to sponsor me with an amazing bike, the new 2020 Trek Top Fuel 9.8! 

In the 3 weeks that I’d had the bike leading up to this race, I’d put 270 miles on it with a few 4-5 hour rides to prep for this race! I was getting pretty beat up at first in my hands, back, and neck, but that had all worked itself out and I was feeling good and strong coming into the race. 

The race consisted of 63.6 miles (100k) with about 7,700ft of elevation gain over 2 laps with 1 long climb and a few other moderate ones. Almost all of the race was on single track besides the first half of the climb on lap 1. This was on a fire road to allow us to get into position going into the single track.

Lining up along side me was other Scheels sponsored riders, Jamen Bennion and Millard Allen, both racing in the single speed category on hard tails (bikes with only 1 gear and no rear suspension (BRUTAL!))

I don’t think any of us got any quality sleep the night before, but that is normal before a big race and having slept well in the previous nights, I was confident I’d feel OK in the race! I woke up at about 5:45 to get my oatmeal in and allow it to settle. We prepared our gear, did a small warm up spin and lined up to take off at 8:10am. 

My plan for the race was to be patient for the first lap and get a feel for the lap and how the other riders were doing; however, that plan quickly went out about a minute into the race. I was expecting a bit more of a fight for position on the first portion of the climb, but just getting my heart rate into the 160’s I was putting a gap on the field. I then changed my plan to push a hard, but still reasonable pace sitting in threshold heart rate at about 170bpm to come over the top first so I could take advantage of the new Top Fuels 120mm and 115mm front and rear suspension travel on an open downhill.

The new plan went well and I came over the top with a decent gap and opened it up on the downhill. Pshhhhhhhh, ahhh $#!^…. No more than 2 minutes into the descent and I was getting hit in the face with sealant from my front tire as air spewed out. I had not yet had a flat on my mtb, so I had my Co2 taped to my tire levers and allen wrench in my jersey (not thinking there was much chance I’d need to use them) which took precious time to unwrap. I first tried putting in more Co2 to no avail as it just leaked out. My spare tube was taped under my bikes top tube which took me more time to unwrap, and many riders were now going by. But I tried to stay calm, and was able to get the tube in and tire back on till ahhh $#!^… I didnt have enough c02 left to fill the tire.

HUGE thank you to the man who came by shortly after and lended me an extra canister which filled the tube up the rest of the way and saved my race! Lesson learned: I will have a much better strategy for fixing a flat next race as this one had cost me 8 minutes.

Proceeding down hill, I was riding a bit aggressive making time when I could but now having to deal with trying to pass slower riders. I came by Jamen shortly after getting going again as he had also suffered a front flat and was dealing with traffic as well. 

Making my way onto the second climb after the descent, I was putting the power down riding at threshold again and making up places quickly. I was riding a bit higher heart rate then I’d planned on the climbs and in the rolling sections, but with descents take much longer on the mtb than what I’m used to on the road. This means there is good time to recover your cardio system in between climbs, allowing me to push harder where I could.

Joesph Goetti all smiles after a second place finish

I came through the first aid station where Jamen’s family was stationed to help us out, grabbed another spare tube and ditched my bottle for a camelbak and continued to press on. 

Coming though the start/finish line at the end of lap 1, I had climbed back into 5th place overall and was about 4:45 down on the lead. I pressed on riding at threshold again up the main climb, passing many of the 100 mile riders who had started at 7:10 to tackle 3 laps of the course (I plan to do that next year if I make it to this race again!) I was keeping my eye out for the yellow ribbons they had all open 100k  men tie to their seats, the first of which I saw after descending down from the main climb and reaching the second climb. 

He said he was pretty blown when I was passing and cheered me on to catch the leaders! Just being 1 spot away from the top 3 now gave me some extra motivation, and I continued to press on riding up the climbs at threshold. 

I came through the final aid station with 15 miles to go with 3 open men still in front of me, exchanged my pack and grabbed another bottle which I used to cool myself. Shortly after this I came around the next open rider to move into 3rd, and then with about 10 miles to go I came around the next to move into second. 

My stomach was starting to get a bit upset now. I started the race with a bottle of water, moved to a pack with Hammer Heed in it at aid 1, then grabbed a bottle of scratch at aid 2. At aid 3, I picked up another pack of heed and a bottle of water. Up to this point I’d taken in half a pro bar, a few packs of shot blocks and some maple syrup. I think next time I will switch out the 2nd bottle of scratch for water, and then my final pack may be water and have the bottle be scratch. I think too much liquid nutrition and not enough regular water was upsetting my stomach in the heat.

I backed my heart rate down to low 160’s on the climbs as I was beginning to feel the signs of cramping, but I was continuing to push hard and ride fast. For all I knew, the leader may have been feeling the same way, and I was going to fight all the way to the finish for the chance to catch him! 

The remaining miles ticked down, and I ended up coming across the line in 2nd place, 3:16 down from the leader! Although it was a bit disappointing wondering what could have been if I wouldn’t have lost those 8 minutes with the flat, I was extremely happy overall with how I rode in the race! I had paced myself well taking it out hard, and I pushed it the the entire race without fading much at all! And most importantly I had and absolute blast racing my bike on the trails of Grand Targhee! Too focused to see it on the first lap, the view from the top of the main climb is stunning, and I was able to catch a few glimpse of it the second time around, struck in awe as I cruised down the descent. I highly recommend this area for anyone wanting to ride some amazing trails a bit more away from the crowds, and I hope to be back next year in the 100 mile race! My next mtb race will be Park City Point 2 Point on August 31st! 

As always, I want to send a huge thanks to everyone supporting me, especially to my girlfriend, Kendra Nelson, who has stood by me though all the years of training, moving to Utah, and transitioning to the mountain bike! I would not have been here doing this if not for her! Also to Scheels for the bike and race, to all my family back home wishing me well! To Jamen’s family for helping us in the feed zones. And to my racing team, Above & Beyond Cancer Cycling p/b Scheels. “

About 8 minutes back, Dan Mahlum took third place at 5:51:18.

Women’s Open

Harvey gets THIRD consecutive win

Women’s Podium: 1st Caedran Harvey, 2nd Ami Stuart, 3rd Ambert Steed, 4th Anne Perry, 5th Rose Kjesbo

Taking the win in the 100k for the third year in a row, Caedran Harvey seems unstoppable finishing with a time of 6:20:11. A little over twenty minutes back was Ami Stuart crossing the finish line in 6:41:14. Taking third in the women’s open was Amber Steed coming in at 6:49:54.

Steed- “This was my first year tackling the Pierre’s Hole course at any distance, and 100 km seemed like a good goal for me. With some real challenges to contend with – elevation, stiff competition, heat, and distance – I felt nervous but excited to enter my first NUE race. I’d been racing for Sportsman and Ski Haus (MT) since 2017, so I felt I was starting to crest the learning curve of this XC racing thing. What could possibly go wrong.

I knew no one in my field of competitors, aside from the name of a prior winner who seemed to top the podium every year she’d entered. Coming from 3,000’ elevation and being a bit riper in age, I worried I might fall short – but, I also knew that anything can happen in racing. So, I focused on my own race and started with high spirits and rested legs.

The 100km course took us through two laps of Grand Targhee’s finest trails – and there was no shortage of seriously fun descending. Knowing there would be relatively few opportunities for easy passing, I worked my way up early during the starting road section. Feeling good, I kept my pace generally steady throughout the first lap, surprised to hear I was only a few minutes off the leader as I started lap 2.

This is about when my hydration and fueling strategy fell short, allowing the elevation and heat to bear down on my body. Despite my best efforts to push my increasingly heavy legs, I couldn’t muster the power to maintain the pace I’d hoped for. Crushingly, I watched as I was passed by another competitor when the course wound back through camp, further dampening my spirits. My goals for the remainder of the race shrank – but remaining on the podium kept the cranks turning and my motivation alive. Climbing those last few miles took more mental power than physical, and I managed to finish in third.

Amber Steed with a third place finish in the 100k

Every race teaches me something, and some lessons are more powerful than others. At Pierre’s, I gained some perspective about the course, how I handle the conditions, and how I can better prepare in the future. But inevitably I’m humbled by my competition, inspired by my own accomplishments, and excited to return another day. While I don’t have another NUE locked into my calendar at the moment, I’m I’ll be showing up to another. Thanks to everyone who make these events possible!”

Singlespeed

McDonald gets SS win

Singlespeed Podium: 1st Will McDonald, 2nd Millard Allen, 3rd Holden Anderson, 4th Brad Keys, 5th Mark Llinares

Getting his first NUE SS win and third overall, Will McDonald takes the top step with a time of 5:49:41.

“I raced on a full suspension yeti ASRc with 34-20t gearing.  Race was great, started off in 3rd for ss and maybe 8th overall on the first climb, I was able to catch and pass the two singlespeeders ahead of me on the 38 special decent. And caught up with the 4th place overall rider, who I road with with for the rest of the lap, I would pass him on the DH and he would pass me on the up hills. We moved into the 3rd and 4th position halfway through lap 1. Last time I saw him was at the finish of lap 1 and then he took off from me on the long ascent to the top of 38 special and went on to win the race. The climb up to 38 special was pretty rough second lap with the 34-20t gearing, but I was able to grunt up there without cramping or bonking. I caught up to Bart Flinn at the bottom of 38 special, he was in a rough place and seamed to have bonked pretty hard. A few miles later on the decent back to the resort I had some deja vu and passed George Flinn, moving me into 2nd place overall. The rest of the race went pretty well, but with my legs fatiguing I wasn’t able to hold off the rider who ended up second overall, he passed me after the underpass and was able to put some good time on me during the ascents on the 2nd half of lap 2.Overall it was a great race and I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did with the minimal amount of training I have done this year, not to mention racing for twice as long as my longest ride in the past 2 years. “

McDonald takes the SS win and third overall

About 13 minutes back, Millard Allen took second at 6:03:44.

“Pierre’s Hole is one of my favorite races, although it deceives me every year in how challenging it will be.  I chose to run 32-20 gearing because of all the climbing and not thinking I would lose too much time in the descents.  I had somewhat of a tough day but was able to finish strong enough to take second.  Holden and I rode the first lap together and we were wondering if we would be able to catch Will, who passed us on the first big descent going down 38 Special.  It felt like he passed us sitting still.  I thought his full suspension bike and taller gear would allow me to catch him eventually, but he was a complete beast.
It ended up being a race for second place.  Holden attacked going up Andy’s and Peaks Trails at the beginning of the second lap.  He saw I was struggling a bit so he took a chance.  I was able to keep him in my sight during the climb while toeing the line of not redlining too much.  I was able to overtake him about 2/3s up the climb and hold it together the rest of the race.  My nutrition was off and I suffered A LOT the last half of the second lap.  Even if I had my nutrition dialed in that day, I am confident Will was just too strong.. plus with the larger gearing he would have been able to ride away from me.  Solid race by Will, Holden, Brad Keyes and all the other racers!  Amazing event and I look forward to riding True Grit Epic next year, TBD if it will be on a SS.”

Allen with a second place finish in the 100k SS

About 15 minutes back, Holden Anderson pedaled to a third place crossing the line in 6:19:15.

Masters

Saffell on top

Masters 1st Bob Saffell, 2nd Brent Peacock, 3rd Kyle Rafford, 4th David Miller, 5th John Lauck

In a very close masters race, Bob Saffell, dug deep to take the masters win at 6:27:07.

“I had no idea what the field was going to show for the race. I was just looking forward to 100k of amazing one track. I was expeing Jon Gould to be the one to watch. He rode away on the first climb, confirming my expectation, Brent Peacock was a bit behind him. I settled in for the duration. Soon after feed one I caught Jon and got a small gap on him. I caught and passed Ami Stuart on More Cowbell and we were descending together on Perma-Grin when disaster struck. My shifter fell off my bar.  I looked for the bolt for a second, determined i was going to have to drop out, when, hmm, tried a bottle cage bolt, and it worked. I took it easy through the lap, on the Andy’s climb on lap two I started to ramp it up a bit and decided, “what do i have to lose” I caught and passed at least one other 50+ on the climb and kept pushing it. In the Quakie Ridge section I caught glimpses of Brent, so I buried myself a bit and made the pass some where in the last 2 miles on Snow Drift, 40 seconds to spare. Brent had a soft front tire, otherwise it would have been a different finish.”

Less than a minute back, Brent Peacock, took second crossing the line at 6:27:59. Only 26 seconds back from second and taking third was, Kyle Rafford, at 6:28:25.

Photos by: Ryan O’Dell & Powder Day Photography

Click Here for full results

NUE Wilderness 101

Written by: Jen Toops

Photos by: Dave Seasholtz

On July 20th, 2019, Shenandoah Mountain Tours held the Wilderness 101 and Marathon races in Coburn, PA. The Wilderness 101 is part of the NUE National Ultra Endurance Race Series and is know for its East coast rocky singletrack, and rolling gravel roads. It was a scorcher with sunny skies and temps reaching almost 100 degrees F. Camping was included with registration in Coburn Park which is also the race start making for an easy race morning and celebration at the finish line

Women’s Open

Toops gets Top Step

2018 NUE Marathon champion, Jen Toops, Pearl Izumi/Pivot MTB race team, takes the top step in a time of 9:13:12.

Women’s Open podium: 1st Jen Toops, 2nd Julia Thumel, 3rd Lindsey Carpenter, 4th Rebecca Lewandowski, 5th Karen Talley

“After an unexpected need to fly back to Ohio (literally booked the flight Wed and flew home Thursday), I found myself racing Wilderness 101 instead of High Cascades. My mom agreed to make the 5 hour journey to Coburn, PA and spend the weekend camping at the race start.

My plan was to keep a steady pace on the first climb knowing it was going to be a long hot day. Julia quickly passed me at the beginning of the climb. I was feeling good so I held her wheel for a bit. About halfway up I felt warmed up and ready to race, so I made my move. I worked hard to latch onto the group ahead by the top of the start climb. Working in a small group we watch some gravel miles tick by. The pace of this group was a wee bit too fast and I found myself off the back.

It soon turned to singletrack and I felt at home. Having raced TSE this spring I felt confident on the PA rocks and kept a steady pace. After a few updates from fellow racers I knew I had a little cushion and focused on pacing, hydration and nutrition. It’s hard to eat when it’s 90F so I stuck with CarboRocket, plain Water, Honey Stinger gels and bananas. I wore a pack for hydration and carried a bottle of water on my bike primarily used to spray on myself to cool down on the long exposed gravel climbs.

Jen Toops trying to navigate the PA rocks

On the NoName descent I made a rookie mistake. I thought I heard someone bombing the descent behind me and I took a quick peek over my shoulder. There was no one there but my front wheel hit a rock weird and I found myself over the bars before I even knew what was happening. My left hand instantly throbbed as I landed on my left palm of my hand. It took everything to finish the last part of the descent holding tight with my right hand and hovering the bars with my left hand. I stopped took some Ibuprofen and thought about a DNF. Then I realized it would most likely take longer or be just as painful to find my way back rather than finishing the last 35 or so miles.

After riding with one hand for about an hour the Ibuprofen kicked in and I could at least hold the bars. On the Still house climb my shifting starting giving me fits and I had to stop and check it a few times but couldn’t find anything wrong. A little more down the trail I was standing and pedaling and my crank stopped completely. Turns out my thru axel was loose and had wiggled halfway out and my wheel was basically falling off. Must of came loose when I crashed. I’m lucky I got it fixed fairly quick and didn’t have a major mechanical or crash.With about 15 miles left I kept a steady/safe pace knowing the cool River was waiting at the finish line!”


Julia Thumel, Race Pace Bicycles, takes second crossing the finish in 9:55:59. With this race she is now in third in the NUE Epic series. Lindsey Carpenter, Salsa Cycles, takes the third spot on the podium 10:18:34.

Men’s Open

Bishop gets first NUE win for 2019

Men’s Open Podium: 1st Jeremiah Bishop, 2nd Dylan Johnson, 3rd Matt Acker, 4th Bobby Lea, 5th Gordon Wadsworth

It was a close race in the Men’s Open class. In the end it was Jeremiah Bishop, Canyon Bicycles/Ergon, who took the win in an impressive 7:08:53. This was Bishop’s first NUE win for 2019. Less than a minute back, the 2019 NUE series leader, Dylan Johnson, FBS Racing, finished second in 7:09:37. Only two second back, Matt Acker, Salsa Cycles finished in 7:09:39.

Singlespeed

Klose wins first W101

Singlespeed podium: 1st James Klose, 2nd Eli Orth, 3rd Scott Rath, 4th Matt Ferrari, 5th Donovan Neal

James Klose, SECT NEMBA/Wayfarer Bicycle gets first W101 win in a time of 7:50:03. Taking second and leading the NUE singlespeed division was, Eli Orth, Team Hungry crossing the line in 8:30:52.

“Wilderness 101 was my 4th NUE epic distance race of the year. Going in I knew it was going to be a tough race with the predicted temps and humidity. The heat index was upwards of 110 degrees! Keeping that in mind i set my own pace early and watched the lead group pull away which also included a couple of my competitors in the single speed class. I went into the day wanting to just stay hydrated and fueled and stay at a consistent good pace. After settling in I decided to pick up the pace a little after aid station 2. Not long after aid 2 I caught Dahn Pahrs. I was up to 2nd place and Dahn let me know first wasn’t too far ahead. While standing at aid 3 drinking coke and grabbing some snacks i turn around to see Dahn roll up. On the gravel climb and through single track Dahn and I were close together with Dahn pulling back ahead again in the single track temporarily until he got a flat. As i roll up and ask if he needs anything he lets me know he’s okay and I roll by picking up the pace even more hoping to gap him enough that i keep him from catching me again. After that I didn’t see Dahn again (later learned he dropped out somewhere after aid 4) and didn’t see any other single speeders the rest of the race. It was a brutal hot day where I felt like i was cooking from inside out. It was especially hard on climbs like Stillhouse where I was grinding up them struggling both physically and mentally. It was great once again to race with Michael Gottfried a good portion towards the end along with Roger Masse. We pushed each other and chatted keeping our sanity on this tough day.Overall I was very happy with the results as Wilderness always has a strong SS field. It was great racing on the rocks in Pa for the second time this year!My gearing of choice for the race was 34×20. Next up is Shenandoah and Marji Gesick. I’d like to thank everyone that has supported and motivated me this year. Especially my wife who has been very supportive to my busy schedule this year. Thanks to my team.. Team Hungry and Absolute Black. Also thanks to Nox Composites for quickly getting me everything i needed for my wheel build  in time for Wilderness on short notice.”

Scott Rath, Cadre Racing took the third podium spot in a time of 8:57:25.

“Heading into the Wilderness 101, my only goal was to hopefully take some of the fitness I picked up at The Trans-sylvania Epic and turn that into a sub 9 hour finish. Seeing the forecast, I wasn’t sure that would be possible. The first 30 miles had me burning matches on my 34X20 gearing trying to stay latched on to trains knowing that if I fell off the back, I’d be working twice as hard by myself. During the second half of the race, I started picking off fellow single speeders and when I passed Don Powers walking up the infamous Stillhouse Hollow Rd climb due to not being able to keep food down, he let me know that there were a few more single speeders just up ahead, and that was just the motivation I needed to keep the pedals mashing. Despite the debilitating heat, I worked my way past two single speeders up and over Stillhouse. I kept checking my Garmin and it seemed like a sub 9 hour wasn’t going to be possible but then a super long stretch of gravel had me descending and descending some more. I buzzed past a fresh off Lyme Disease, Matt Ferrari and closer to a possible sub 9 hour finish. I put my head down, grabbed my fork crowns, and pedaled the mostly flat finish always checking over my shoulder. I found my way back to Coburn Park and crossed the line at 8:57and found out I snagged 3rd place. I’m still in disbelief. I’m hoping to get to the Shenandoah 100 if my schedule allows it.”

Masters

Masse celebrates first 2019 NUE win

Masters podium: 1st Roger Masse, 2nd Hank McCullough, 3rd Jed Prentice, 4th Joe Johnston, 5th Tom Stritzinger

Roger Masse, Stokesville/SMT/Stans/TREK takes the Masters win with a time of 8:30:42. Second place was, Hank McCullough, Team Trappe Door, finishing in 8:52:07.

“I had big question marks going into this year’s W101 having not been to the race since 2015 and for that matter no NUE events since 2017, only participating in one.  The passing years have me moving to the “seasoned” end of the masters 50+ division with little intel on those who have just moved in from the open bracket.  Although I have been to W101 three times we just don’t have rocks like this down in SC and my trail work has been limited this year. Fortunately supporting Trappe Door’s road squad through the spring racing season combined with big miles at the Allegheny Mountain Loop 400 bikepacking race in late April had me ready for a long day…which it definitely was with a scorching heat wave upon us.  
To be honest my main reason for coming this year was to catch up with NUE masters regulars Mark Drogalis and W101 icon Jim Matthews, whom I have not seen for several year due to moves, and life’s changing priorities.  I intentionally set low expectations regarding the race itself with a focus on fun.   Ride sensibly and don’t get too far into the red zone and that is how it went.   I would like to say I could give a play by play but I can’t remember the names of all the climbs and trails.   A measured start had me alone after the first climb but I clawed at least a dozen back on the rolling fire roads including Jed Prentice who was in good form coming from a strong finish at the BC Bike Race.   Jed was climbing a bit stronger and definitely making it through the rough stuff quicker, but I sensed that he might be going a bit hard so I just stayed back 200m and settled into my own pace.  My strategy paid off after RS 3, as Jed admitted after that he blew before the ending two climbs.   I figured Roger Masse, a winner on numerous occasions, was well ahead but if I had pushed a little harder and avoided a few course miscues due to mental fatigue at the end perhaps his winning margin would have been smaller?   Cursing Fisherman’s, or really myself for having crappy skills through the boulders,  I sensed that a solid finish was at hand, my best NUE result to date and the satisfaction in knowing that even this old goat can still have a good day. ”

Jed Prentice, Team Bike Doctor crossed the finish line at 8:55:45.

“I was happy to make the podium. Let’s just say that 7 days of recovery after the BC Bike Race was not enough! (I finished third in the 50+ GC at BCBR). I thought the Wilderness 101 was a week later on 7/27, until I got the pre-race brief. My race bike was on its way back from BC so I had to prep my son’s bike (an old race bike of mine from a few years ago). I was tired and racing an old bike but hoping things would work out. 
I didn’t feel so great on the first climb and was dropped early by Roger and Joe Johnston. I resigned myself to maintaining a steady pace and hoping to catch them later if they cracked. I caught some riders and felt ok until about mile 50, then blew up at mile 60 or so, on the way up to Beautiful Trail. After aid 4, on the way up Stillhouse Hollow, the lights went out and I had to stop and collect myself for a minute while several riders passed me. After struggling up the climb, I passed Joe Johnston as he was cooling off in the creek at the bottom of the descent. Thinking I was maybe in second, I was motivated to salvage something so I suffered to the finish. It turned out that the guy who passed me before aid 5 was also in the Masters race; I could see him on the rail trail near the finish but couldn’t bring him back, so I ended up third. It wasn’t pretty but I survived it.”

Click here for full Wilderness 101 results

Next up on the 2019 NUE Epic series is Pierre’s Hole in Alta, WY August 3rd, 2019

NUE Wilderness Marathon

Written by: Jen Toops

Photo credit: Dave Seasholtz

On July 20th, 2019, Shenandoah Mountain Tours held the Wilderness 101 and Marathon races in Coburn, PA. The Wilderness 101 is part of the NUE National Ultra Endurance Race Series and is know for its East coast rocky singletrack, and rolling gravel roads. It was a scorcher with sunny skies and temps reaching almost 100 degrees F. Camping was included with registration in Coburn Park which is also the race start making for an easy race morning and celebration at the finish line.

Men’s Open

Schwarm Takes Wilderness Marathon win

Brian Schwarm, Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b Sword, wins the Men’s Open in a time of 5:40:48. With this win Schwarm leads the NUE Marathon series.

“The Wilderness 101K is one of my favorite races for many reasons. That area of Pennsylvania is breathtaking, the trip to get there (through Cumberland, Maryland) is extremely scenic, and of course the race course is marvelous with the big climbs and rocky singletrack. However, the main topic of discussion among all the racers was the heat. It was hot!

The race started as usual heading out of Coburn and up the Siglerville-Millheim gravel climb. Erik Neilson, Josh Kunz (on a singlespeed), and I rode mostly together until the ridge where Josh bid us farewell and Erik and I took off with our gears. We rode the following gravel sections together, often chatting, and enjoying the slight overcast before things started heating up (both figuratively and literally). 

Once Erik and I hit the trail sections the effort intensified. This was due to the trail itself but also we were catching some 101 mile racers once the courses linked back up. They provided extra motivation to keep going fast. So Erik and I were catching riders and railing the trails. We continued this until the Stillhouse Hollow Climb just past Aid Station 4 where I was able to slide away on the climb. From that point on I was riding by myself but I was running scared since Erik is such a strong racer. I kept an eye behind but was able to roll in for the win. 

Thanks to my amazing wife Jennifer for her continued support. I am very fortunate that she is often willing to travel with me, meet me at aid stations, and take care of me at the finish! In addition, thanks to my team Think Green – Bicycle Face and other sponsors SWORD, ESI grips, Native Eyewear, Maxxis Tires, and Specialized Bikes. Next on the agenda is the Shenandoah 100K over Labor Day weekend for my final stop in the NUE Marathon series.”

Marathon men’s open podium: 1st Brian Schworm, 2nd Erik Nielson, 3rd Thad Paunovich

Taking second place was, Erik Nielson, SouthPaw Cycles, Industry Nine/Giant, finishing in 5:56:54. In third place was, Thad Paunovich, coming in at 7:02:21

Women’s Open

Sheldon gets TOP STEP

Getting her first NUE win of 2019, Elizabeth Sheldon, Cxhairs Devo: Trek, wins the women’s marathon race in, 6:44:12.

“The Wilderness 101 marathon was a real challenge this year!  I’ve done the full distance a few times previously, but was hoping to spend a bit less time in the saddle (and a bit less time recovering after!). Race day started great, with cool-ish temperatures, a bit of overcast and even some breeze when the 100-milers started at 7 a.m.  The marathon racers roll out at 9, which makes sense for the logistics, but had us nervously waiting as the late-July temps started to creep up. Once we got underway, Bryna Blanchard and I were together for the early road climbing sections, but I was riding by myself or with small groups by the time we were at the first singletrack.  At the start of the singletrack, we were sharing the course with the 100-milers after their longer start loop, so there was more company. Aid Station 1 was up to Davidson standards (thanks!). 
After the aid station, the humidity went up and my recollection gets a bit foggier.  The rocks were much greasier, and the heat kicked up a notch, and by the time I got through the second aid station and on to the Stillhouse Hollow climb I was definitely feeling the effort. The kind souls handing out ice bags at Sand Mountain parking lot saved me and after more pedaling I was ecstatic to see the Stan’s finish arch in Coburn. Many good stories from the finish area (including from my husband, brother-in-law and nephew who all rode that day), but my favorite was from my son Jonah who broke his fork at the top of Stillhouse, rode back down, and then finished the full 100 mile course on a borrowed bike.
Thanks to Chris Scott and all the volunteers for a great day on the bike.”

1st Elizabeth Sheldon, 2nd Bryna Blanchard, 3rd Brittany Spangler

About 7 minutes back, Bryna Blanchard, BMB Racing, finished second in a time of 6:51:37. Brittany Spangler, Sacred Cycle, finished third, 7:34:34.

Singlespeed

In the single speed class, Josh Kunz, Knobby Side Down, takes the win in a time of 7:13:45. Jason Zollinger finished second crossing the line at 9:53:06.

Masters

Getting his first NUE win of the season, Carroll Thumel, LRC, wins the Masters division with a time of 9:13:34. Taking the second step, Dan Mock, finished in 9:29:06.

“The 2019 Wilderness 101k can be summarized in just one word, HOT! The prediction for 93 degree temps, prompted me to create a new, one of a kind, Garmin screen with just two stats, temp and mileage. I could feel my head exploding as I watched the degrees tick higher. The 80 plus mile course does have much needed relief, if you take advantage of a dip in one of the extremely cold creeks, well worth the time penalty. Special thanks to Chris Scott for supplying lots of ice at the aid stations. It may not sound like a big deal, but that ice and the many creeks along the way, kept me going.
My usual Tortoise (that’s me) and the Hare race strategy proved to find me on the podium for third place. I’ll take it! Chris has a way of making them tough, so congratulations to ALL who finished. Surviving the heat, extra distance and hours of climbing, is more than most 50/60 year old’s could ever dream of accomplishing. Next on the bucket list, good times at Shenandoah.”

Coming in third was, Richard Hultstrom, with a time of 9:55:47.

Click Here for full results

Next up on the NUE Marathon series is Pierre’s Hole August 3rd in Alta, WY

Breck Epic – Stage 5

Breck Epic
Photo Courtesy of Liam Doran

Vaunted Wheeler Stage takes racers into rarefied air along Tenmile Range

Swenson, Nash stay perfect while Mejia moves into third overall 

 By Devon O’Neil

GC TAKEAWAY: Keegan Swenson and Katerina Nash remained undefeated this week, both winning the Wheeler Stage by comfortable margins (28 seconds for Swenson, a whopping 4:33 for Nash). It sounds redundant, but they were never threatened on the 24-mile stage, which crests 12,400 feet three times and gains 5,544 vertical feet. The UCI Elite names behind them, however, were a different story. Colombia’s Luis Mejia marked Swenson (whose winning time was 2:36:33) for much of the day and leaped from sixth to third overall. He needed 1:34 to pass Arizona’s rising star Nash Dory, 21, who placed third on the day but conceded 2:53 to Mejia. With Russell Finsterwald looking solidly entrenched in second overall, Mejia’s advantage sits at 1:09 over Dory going into the final stage. 

In the women’s race, Nash (3:23:16) and Hannah Finchamp again swept the top two spots, but the big surprise was Laetitia Roux snagging third after starting the day in eighth overall. Roux, a French ski mountaineering racer who won the World Cup overall title eight times before retiring last year, capitalized on the rugged terrain to make the biggest jump by a women’s racer all week. She finished two minutes back of Finchamp.

BIKE COUNT: With help from SRAM’s staff, we checked bike and component specs and brands before today’s start. Some interesting trends shone through. Nearly half the field (44 percent) is using seat dropper posts, for starters. Among the 28 bike brands in action, one in four racers is on Specialized, while 13 percent are riding Santa Cruz. The rest of the top eight broke down as follows: Scott (10 percent), Yeti (9 percent), Trek (8 percent), Pivot (6 percent), Niner (4 percent), and Rocky Mountain (3 percent). 

Fox is the suspension of choice for 55 percent of the field, while 38 percent of riders are on RockShox. SRAM dominates the drivetrain category over Shimano (76 percent to 21), while Shimano led the way in pedals (49 percent to Crank Brothers’ 21) and brakes, edging SRAM (48 percent to 46). Amazingly, only three people are using front derailleurs this week.

WHEE-LER, WHEE-LER!: The theater never gets old on Wheeler Pass. Thursday an eight-pack of Summit Endurance Academy rippers donned white hazmat onesies and handed out bacon, candy, and bourbon (OK, maybe their parents handed out the liquor since this is a public forum, but let’s just say the adolescents were integral recruiters).

‘You want some whiskey, bro?” a 13-year-old boy asked a racer as he crested the 12,408-foot pass. 

“Nah, I’m drunk enough as it is, man,” replied the racer. 

The kid moved down the trail. “Hey dude, you want some liquid speed?”

This guy declined, too, but he did accept two strips of bacon. “I’m gonna stash this in my burrito,” he said, pulling off the trail. “I’m so sick of all this gel-y food.”

“I love you all!” someone yelled while pedaling away. 

Breck Epic
Photo Courtesy of Liam Doran

HOW DO YOU FEEL?: I asked this in various ways and at various locations along the Wheeler Trail between Peak 10 and the pass. Some excerpts:

“Good. I thought it’d be harder.”

“Terrible.”

“Emotional, incredible, on top of the world.”

“I’m seeing Elvis, man.”

“I’m not gonna lie. I’m a little loose today. My wits are about me, but only tangentially.”

“I don’t feel much.”

“Oh, excited, man.”

“Incredible,” said a man walking up the trail in his socks. “Blisters. I should’ve done this three miles ago.”

“I wanna see how YOU feel.” [Woman hugs me for a while.]

[Man takes a swig of bourbon] “Well, I’m Canadian, so this makes me feel normal. The bacon’ll round it out. All I really need now is a donut.”

BEST THING WE SAW TODAY: On my way back to civilization, I ran into Dawn Whaley. She is racing this week in place of her husband, Marland, who registered for the race but died of cardiac arrest on June 27. Whaley gave me a hug, tears welling up in her eyes, then introduced me to her two riding buddies at the back of the pack. “This race has changed my life,” she said.

Breck Epic – Stage 4

Race’s longest stage incites drama in men’s field, but yields same result

Breck Epic
Photo Courtesy of Liam Doran

Davoust, Nadell break away but fall short; Nash and Swenson increase GC leads as international field marvels at terrain 

 By Devon O’Neil

GC TAKEAWAY: Things got interesting in Wednesday’s Stage 4—for a while. Durango, Colorado, roommates Stephan Davoust (ninth overall) and Henry Nadell (12th) launched an attack on overall leader Keegan Swenson and the men’s elite field 10 miles in. Davoust, who won the Downieville Classic All Mountain World Championship the week before, flatted twice Tuesday and lost 24 minutes; he was intent on reclaiming some time and possibly stealing a stage. He and Nadell built their lead to 3 minutes, 15 seconds by the halfway point, and Swenson was content to let them go. But Luis Mejia of Colombia was not on board, and he attacked his fellow chasers in pursuit of the lead duo. Swenson matched Mejia’s attacks, which resulted in them passing the breakaway at the top of the 2,000-foot climb out of Keystone Gulch. “I was keen to just chill today, take it easy,” said Swenson, who rides for Stan’s/Pivot. “If those guys could hold the gap, good for them—I was kind of hoping they would. But I didn’t want to let [Mejia] go.”

Swenson then took over, as he has all week. He put 53 seconds into Mejia and coasted to his fourth win in four days in 3:11:39—building his GC lead to 11:01 over Russell Finsterwald, who took seventh Wednesday. Brevard College cycling coach Cypress Gorry claimed his first podium of the week, 16 seconds back of Mejia, while Nash Dory held on to third place overall. There are now four riders within 1:44 of the final GC podium spot.

The women’s race also felt familiar. Clif Pro teammates Katerina Nash and Hannah Finchamp rode together for most of the day before Nash pulled away, staying perfect on the week and inching closer to the overall title. She finished in 3:54:43 to beat Finchamp by 1:27 and increase her GC lead to 7:16. Evelyn Dong took third in 4:00:34.

WOOOOOOO!: With racers from 25 countries here, the international finish-line flavor has been rich. Languages, accents, and eyes as wide as pinecones permeate the race. Much of their conversation has centered on the local trail network and how diverse it is, so we were interested in how it compares with their hometown terrain.

“These trails are totally different from my country,” said Ajay Pandrit Chhetri, 31, a five-time national champion from Nepal. “We ride on quite wide trail, not narrow one, but I’m getting used to it day by day. It’s quite fun. In Nepal we can ride anywhere, from 500 feet elevation to 18,000 feet. But not like this—not technical singletrack.”

“You never get tired of it,” said Laetitia Roux, 34, of Sauvines Le Lac, France. Roux is a 17-time world champion in ski mountaineering who retired from the World Cup last year and now dabbles in mountain bike racing. “In France and Europe right now, the organizers don’t want to accept much risk, so they take the easy way down to avoid crashes. It’s so nice to see that we can have these super technical trails here. French Pass was awesome. It was just like, wooooooo!”

“This feels like home, like I’m in the Rockies in Canada,” said three-time 24-hour world champion Cory Wallace, who lives in Jasper, Alberta. “Even if you’re not flying, it’s still going to be a great week on the bike. Whereas if you’re not flying at a lot of races, it’s not that sweet.”

Cat 1 30-plus racer Mathias Purtschert of Ecuador usually rides fire roads. He lives at 9,200 feet in La Sierra, surrounded by volcanoes. “We’re not used to riding trails,” he said. “But they’re really amazing; good turns and jumps and berms. It’s very, very technical. I have to focus the whole time going downhill. You can’t recover on these descents.”

BEST THING WE SAW TODAY: While sitting on a bench in a meadow halfway up Vomit Hill on Wednesday, a long procession of very fast cyclists grinded past me. It was still relatively early in the stage, so heads were down. The 41-mile Aqueduct Stage is a moving day—a good one to make up time or distance oneself from challengers. So I was surprised when Thibaut Level pulled off the trail and came over to sit down. “I’m sick,” he said. “Forget the race.” Level, a journalist from Lyon, France, who is writing about each stage, said he hadn’t taken enough time to enjoy his surroundings this week, and he wanted to make up for that. So he sat down on the bench, opened up his pack, and took out a waffle. Then he spent 10 minutes admiring the view as all the people he is faster than passed him. He couldn’t have cared less. 

Breck Epic- Stage 3

Racers tackle wild queen stage around 13,370-foot Mount Guyot

Breck Epic
Photo Courtesy of Liam Doran

 Swenson, Nash build GC leads as race crosses Continental Divide twice

By Devon O’Neil

GC TAKEAWAY: It was déjà vu at the front of the field, as Keegan Swenson and Katerina Nash continue to separate themselves from their challengers. Both won their third straight stage in the grueling, 39-mile circumnavigation of Mount Guyot on Tuesday – the race’s queen stage. Swenson rode with Russell Finsterwald and Luis Mejia for much of it, with Nash Dory joining the group at various points. Finsterwald fell off on the climb up to the Great Flume, about 29 miles in, and Swenson dropped Mejia—who’d been attacking most of the day—on the final descent into French Gulch thanks to his flow-trail prowess. He put 42 seconds into Mejia over the last three miles, with Finsterwald taking third and Dory fourth. Swenson now leads the GC standings by 6:30 over Finsterwald. Dory moved into third overall.

Nash found herself chasing 2015 champion Evelyn Dong early in the stage. Dong, who started the day in fourth overall, was the only woman to clean the punishing French Pass ascent to 12,046 feet. She led Nash by 90 seconds and Hannah Finchamp by more than three minutes then. But Nash remained patient and eventually passed Dong on the Colorado Trail descent from Georgia Pass, riding alone for the next 17 miles. Nash beat Finchamp by 2:47 and Dong by 5:04, and leads the GC by 5:50 over Finchamp going into the second half of the week. Dong now sits in third. “This race is tricky,” said Nash, the 2017 runner-up. “The altitude is very challenging, but so far I have an appetite and can sleep, so I’m getting my recovery. That’s been big.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL?: Today this question was posed to the latter half of the field as they climbed French Pass, a spectacular saddle between 13,370-foot Mount Guyot and 13,684-foot Bald Mountain that doubles as the Continental Divide. 

How do you feel?

“Torn. It’s beautiful. It’s brutal.”

“Sin aire!” [Translation: airless]

“Wonky. With a slight bit of clueginess.”

“Pretty lucky to be here, to be honest.”

“Super medium!”

“Well, not as good as my wife and kids at the beach. I’m missing a family vacation to be here.”

“That’s a hard question.”

I’m feeling like in paradise!”

“Not bad for a guy from Ohio.”

“Just good enough.”

“Feel me.”

Breck Epic
Photo Courtesy of Liam Doran

RANDOM ACTS OF RADNESS: During Monday’s second stage on the Colorado Trail, Joseph Rosentel, 50, a first-time Epic entrant from Michigan, suffered through what he called “the hardest mental day I’ve ever had on a bike, in more than 30 years of riding.” He flatted four times and rode the final 10 miles on a rear tire with 10 psi, losing more than two hours to drop from fifth to 15th in his division. So when his seat snapped off in a crash 15 miles into Tuesday’s stage, he stood there in disbelief. Then he put his saddle in his jersey pocket and began what he figured would be a demoralizing ride to Aid Station 2 and the end of his race. 

Soon afterward, he bumped into another racer who had crashed and dislocated his ankle, eventually requiring a medevac. “After I made sure he was OK, I was like, ‘Oh, hey, can I use your seat?’ He said sure. So I took the seat off his bike and put it on mine,” Rosentel said after finishing the stage. “I can’t remember his name—I was cross eyed at the time. But it’s the only way I would’ve been able to finish. Just unbelievable kindness.”

BEST THING WE SAW TODAY: Rosentel wasn’t alone in his run of bad luck. Justin Holle of Denver was in the midst of a stellar stage when he endured “a cascading waterfall of turmoil” at mile 32. He broke a spoke, sending his derailleur and chain into his wheel and bending the derailleur beyond repair. Then his tire started hissing. He was resigned to coast home gearless on the flat, at which point he heard a crunch and looked down to find his carbon seat tube broken in half. He walked the last seven miles of the course. “It was so calamitous that I could only laugh and enjoy my hike,” Holle, 36, said at the finish. He was smiling. 

Breck Epic- Stage 2

Breck Epic
Photo Courtesyof Liam Doran
SWENSON, NASH BUILD LEADS WITH STAGE 2 VICTORIES
Perennially radical Colorado Trail course delivers with perfect dirt, fast descents”and a few wayward spills
By Devon O’Neil
GC TAKEAWAY: Halfway through the Colorado Trail stage Monday, it appeared Katerina Nash was cementing herself as untouchable. She led Hannah Finchamp by more than two minutes, a gap that had grown steadily since the morning’s sunny start in downtown Breckenridge. But Finchamp, who, at 23, is 18 years younger than the three-time Olympian Nash, slowly started reeling in her Clif Pro teammate. By the time they finished, Finchamp had only lost 24 seconds on the day and likely saved any hope she has of upsetting the favorite later this week. She’s 3 minutes, 3 seconds down.
“I know Katerina is an incredible descender, one of the best in the world. So if I want to be close to her, I know I have to bury myself on the climbs, which is what I did today,” Finchamp said. Nash, meanwhile, took the day in stride. “You’ve got to think about the six-day race,” she said. “I rode my pace. But it was getting long at the end — I was losing a little mojo. I was happy to see the finish.”
Keegan Swenson had no such issues. The Stan’s/Pivot rider and reigning XC national champion won his second straight stage comfortably ahead of Russell Finsterwald and Ryan Standish, Swenson’s roommate in Heber City, Utah. Swenson bided his time until the last climb, when he opened a gap and took 1 minute, 43 seconds by the finish—despite a wayward dog nipping at his heels en route. He now leads by 4 minutes, 26 seconds. “Keegan has definitely shown that he’s the strongest guy here,” Finsterwald said. Luis Mejia of Colombia, who took third yesterday, overcame an early flat tire to catch Swenson late in the stage, then flatted again. He lost 16 minutes. Standish moved into third overall.
EVEN PROS CRASH: The most entertaining chatter after the race centered on a surprising number of crashes by top competitors.
“Dude, I went down like a bag of rocks,” said Standish, who nicked a tree stump with two miles to go. “Over the bars, instantly.”
“I took a wrong line and wheelied into a tree,” said Nash. 
Cory Wallace, the reigning 24-hour world champion who sits in 11th place overall, clipped a pedal and flew off the trail. “You just kind of lay there, like, is anything broken? My wheel was still kind of crooked for the last descent.”
Stephan Davoust, arguably the best downhiller in the field, had his arm wrapped in a bandage from his own bar-twisting wreck. “I had to hike down to get my bike in the bushes, then take 10 seconds to make sure my body was OK and orient myself,” he said. “It was one of those where you don’t really know how or what happened.”
BEST THING WE SAW TODAY: Speaking of crashes, among the bloodied knees and shins and elbows was a bloody face. Tim Peeters, a 43-year-old online strategist from Leuven, Belgium, caught his bar on a tree and soared 10 feet downhill into a ditch while riding the ZL Trail. “You know how time slows down in an accident?” he said. “I saw all these sharp rocks coming at me head first, and I was like, I’m gonna break my face.”
He escaped major injury but laid there with his bike on top of him until Jeff Carter, an internal medicine doctor from Boulder, hiked down to help. Carter picked up the bike and got them both back on the trail. When they met again at the finish, Peeters thanked Carter once more. “No problem, man,” said Carter. “I’m just out here braaping it up, getting my suburban dad on.” 
Peeters didn’t seem to mind all his red leaks. Or even notice them. “Without a doubt,” he beamed, “today was the best day of riding of my life. I remember seeing one of the race videos last year and a guy from Ecuador said, “This is like Disneyland! That’s what I felt like today.” 
Breck Epic
Photo Courtesyof Liam Doran

Breck Epic Stage 2: Swenson, Nash build leads with Stage 2 victories

Perennially radical Colorado Trail course delivers with perfect dirt, fast descents”and a few wayward spills

By Devon O’Neil

GC TAKEAWAY: Halfway through the Colorado Trail stage Monday, it appeared Katerina Nash was cementing herself as untouchable. She led Hannah Finchamp by more than two minutes, a gap that had grown steadily since the morning’s sunny start in downtown Breckenridge. But Finchamp, who, at 23, is 18 years younger than the three-time Olympian Nash, slowly started reeling in her Clif Pro teammate. By the time they finished, Finchamp had only lost 24 seconds on the day and likely saved any hope she has of upsetting the favorite later this week. She’s 3 minutes, 3 seconds down.

“I know Katerina is an incredible descender, one of the best in the world. So if I want to be close to her, I know I have to bury myself on the climbs, which is what I did today,” Finchamp said. Nash, meanwhile, took the day in stride. “You’ve got to think about the six-day race,” she said. “I rode my pace. But it was getting long at the end — I was losing a little mojo. I was happy to see the finish.”

Keegan Swenson had no such issues. The Stan’s/Pivot rider and reigning XC national champion won his second straight stage comfortably ahead of Russell Finsterwald and Ryan Standish, Swenson’s roommate in Heber City, Utah. Swenson bided his time until the last climb, when he opened a gap and took 1 minute, 43 seconds by the finish—despite a wayward dog nipping at his heels en route. He now leads by 4 minutes, 26 seconds. “Keegan has definitely shown that he’s the strongest guy here,” Finsterwald said. Luis Mejia of Colombia, who took third yesterday, overcame an early flat tire to catch Swenson late in the stage, then flatted again. He lost 16 minutes. Standish moved into third overall.

EVEN PROS CRASH: The most entertaining chatter after the race centered on a surprising number of crashes by top competitors.

“Dude, I went down like a bag of rocks,” said Standish, who nicked a tree stump with two miles to go. “Over the bars, instantly.”

“I took a wrong line and wheelied into a tree,” said Nash. 

Cory Wallace, the reigning 24-hour world champion who sits in 11th place overall, clipped a pedal and flew off the trail. “You just kind of lay there, like, is anything broken? My wheel was still kind of crooked for the last descent.”

Stephan Davoust, arguably the best downhiller in the field, had his arm wrapped in a bandage from his own bar-twisting wreck. “I had to hike down to get my bike in the bushes, then take 10 seconds to make sure my body was OK and orient myself,” he said. “It was one of those where you don’t really know how or what happened.”

BEST THING WE SAW TODAY: Speaking of crashes, among the bloodied knees and shins and elbows was a bloody face. Tim Peeters, a 43-year-old online strategist from Leuven, Belgium, caught his bar on a tree and soared 10 feet downhill into a ditch while riding the ZL Trail. “You know how time slows down in an accident?” he said. “I saw all these sharp rocks coming at me head first, and I was like, I’m gonna break my face.”

He escaped major injury but laid there with his bike on top of him until Jeff Carter, an internal medicine doctor from Boulder, hiked down to help. Carter picked up the bike and got them both back on the trail. When they met again at the finish, Peeters thanked Carter once more. “No problem, man,” said Carter. “I’m just out here braaping it up, getting my suburban dad on.” 

Peeters didn’t seem to mind all his red leaks. Or even notice them. “Without a doubt,” he beamed, “today was the best day of riding of my life. I remember seeing one of the race videos last year and a guy from Ecuador said, “This is like Disneyland! That’s what I felt like today.”

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Stage One – Breck Epic 2019

Breck Epic
Photo courtesy of Liam Doran

Chilling rain storm tests hungry field in Stage 1 of the Breck Epic in Colorado
By Devon O’Neil

Keegan Swenson made a dominant statement in Sunday’s rain-hammered Stage 1 of the Breck Epic. The 25-year-old national XC champion, who cracked the World Cup top 20 this summer, made his move on the grueling and extra greasy Little French climb. Early leader Geoff Kabush had fallen off the pace (then flatted, fading to 20th), and Swenson turned a 10-second gap over Colombian stage-race veteran Luis Mejia and U.S. marathon champion Russell Finsterwald into a 2-minute, 42-second advantage by the finish. 

“I realized I was slowly gapping those guys, so I just twisted the throttle a little more,” said Swenson, a first-time Epic competitor who is using the race to earn points toward a potential 2020 Olympic birth. He finished the 36-mile stage in 2:41:51, with Finsterwald three seconds ahead of Mejia.

Breck Epic
Photo courtesy of Liam Doran

On the women’s side, Katerina Nash also spoke loudly, beating the field by 2 minutes, 39 seconds to win in 3:23:40. She passed the early leader and 2015 Epic champion Evelyn Dong near the second aid station and fought through the pelting raindrops to expand her lead. “I lost my hands, so I couldn’t shift or operate my dropper post,” she said with mud caked in her hair at the finish. “The weather really turned crazy.” Her CLIF Pro Team-mate Hannah Finchamp took second, while Dong suffered through the chilly precipitation to place fifth, losing 14 minutes and appearing hypothermic at the finish.

HOW DO YOU FEEL?: Expect this to be a recurring feature of our recaps. Today we asked the question at the top of Little French. Not everyone answered, understandably. Here’s a smattering from those who did. 

HOW DO YOU FEEL?
Absolutely fantastic. Honestly? No.
Relaxed.
Mediocre.
Wet.
I’m so stoked to be out here, shredding gnar.
Oh man. I don’t know how much I have left in me.
Like a hundred dollars. Maybe 125.
Like a hundred bucks.The guy in front of you said 125. Oh. He’s feeling better than me.
Very moist. But we’re more than halfway.
Old.
Floaty.
Somebody stole all the oxygen.
Eh, about how I should, I think

Breck Epic
Photo courtesy of Liam Doran

RANDOM ACTS OF RADNESS: On Saturday afternoon, Ecuadorean racer Jorge Brito decided he wanted to try racing a single speed, a category that doesn’t exist where he lives. The only problem? He wouldn’t have time to convert his bike before Sunday’s start. He was cleared to swap categories as long as he removed his shifter, but when perennial Singlespeed contender Dahn Pahrs saw he’d finished second to a racer with a full cassette, he protested. It was determined that Brito’s setup did not allow him to use multiple gears, even if it ran counter to Singlespeed tradition, and race director Mike McCormack informed Pahrs the results would stand. “Don’t feel bad,” a disappointed Pahrs said. “He’s faster than me. He deserves to win.

BEST THING WE SAW TODAY: Just finishing can sound like a cliche in mountain bike races, but today it ranked as a stout achievement. To see racers stagger and shake like vibrators at the finish, with drool hanging off their noses and chins, struggling to stay upright, their faces blasted by mud, strangers hugging them to keep them warm well, that’s what it’s about sometimes.