Evelyn Dong and Cal Skilsky Win Moab Rocks 3-Day Stage Race

Melissa Rollins finishes 2nd overall

Moab Rocks 3-day stage race finished today with Evelyn Dong winning all 3 stages in the women’s pro field.  Melissa Rollins placed 2nd each day, Jenny Smith finishes 3rd, Emma Maaranen in 4th and Nicole Tittensor in 5th. For the men’s pro field, Keiran Eagen won today’s stage but it wasn’t enough to push him into the top 3 overall.  He finishes 5th overall. Yesterday’s stage winner, Macky Franklin finishes 2nd overall with the overall 3-day men’s winner Cal Skilsky!  Kolben Preble and Rotem Ishay finish out the top 5 men’s racers. 

Cal Skilsky and Macky Franklin finish 1st and 2nd overall

After taking a year and a half off due to Covid, Moab Rocks was completely sold out this fall.  With beautiful desert weather, a fun race venue and atmosphere, and epic Moab single-track it’s a race that mountain bikers come back to year after year.  Back on schedule next year, Moab Rocks 2022 will be in the springtime from April 2nd-4th, 2022.  Only ~5 months to go!

Teammates Rotem Ishay and Keiran Eagen

Women’s Pro Field

 1. Evelyn Dong 6:30:57.1

2. Melisa Rollins 6:55:26.7

3. Jennifer Smith 7:06:33.1

4. Emma Maaranen 7:13:20.0

5. Nicole Tittensor 7:27:29.3

Pro Men’s Podium

Men’s Pro Field

1. Cal Skilsky 5:43:19.6

2. Macky Franklin 5:43:58.8

3. Kolben Preble 5:46:15.7

4. Rotem Ishay 5:47:04.8

5. Keiran Eagen 5:47:38.8

View full results at: https://zone4.ca/race/2021-10-18/78d92b40/results/

Racer on Mag 7

Evelyn Dong and Macky Franklin win Moab Rocks Stage 2!

Featured

Top Female Pro Racers:

1.  Evelyn Dong 2:10:49.4

2. Melisa Rollins 2:15:53.2

3. Jennifer Smith 2:21:57.8

4. Emma Maaranen 2:24:37.2

Top Male Pro Racers:

1. Macky Franklin 1:54:49.2

2. Keiran Eagen 1:54:49.3

3. Cal Skilsky 1:54:50.2

4. Rotem Ishay 1:54:50.8

See full results at https://zone4.ca/race/2021-10-17/61f21de6/results/

Stage 2 Klondike Bluffs
A racer descends Klondick Bluffs
Cal Skilsky and Mackey Franklin
Klondike Bluffs Moab, UT

Evelyn Dong and Cal Skilsky win Moab Rocks Stage 1!

Moab Rocks Stage 1 Start

Top Pro Women:

  1. Evelyn Dong 1:57:44.9
  2. Melisa Rollins 2:11:13.2
  3. Jennifer Smith 2:14:56.7

Top Pro Men:

  1. Cal Skilsky 1:43:38.6
  2. Rotem Ishay 1:44:34.4
  3. Macky Franklin 1:44:40.0

See Full Results at: https://zone4.ca/race/2021-10-16/7eaca1ca/results/

Evelyn Dong wins the Women’s Open Stage 1
Moab Rocks Stage 1 Porcupine Rim
Racers on Porcupine Rim

NUE- Marji Gesick 100k

NUE Series 2021-Marji Gesick 50 mile

September 18, 2021

Written by: @Jentoops

The Marji Gesick is a point-to-point endurance race located on the upper peninsula of Michigan. It starts in Marquette and ends in downtown Ishpeming. The one-hundred mile and fifty mile mountain bike races are part of the National Ultra Endurance Series. There is also a one-hundred mile run, fifty mile run and one-hundred mile duathlon option. It’s quickly gaining popularity as one of the toughest endurance races in the United States and sells out in less than twenty four hours. This GPS required race is self supported, and racers are required to collect tokens at random checkpoints along the course.

Race director Todd Poquette collecting tokens from finishers. Photo credit: Ryan Stephens

The course was designed by Danny Hill and made to push riders to their absolute limits. The one-hundred milers having around twelve-thousand vertical feet of climbing, and the fifty milers around seven-thousand.  In both courses, racers have to navigate through sand, roots, rocks, off camber climbs, drops, jump lines and technical descents, all while saving enough energy to get through the grueling last fifteen miles.

Photo credit: Ryan Stephens

Racers in the one-hundred mile course finishing under twelve hours for mountain biking, under twenty-eight hours for runners and under twenty-two hours for duathlon, will earn the coveted belt buckle handmade by blacksmith Gordon Gearhart.

Marji Awards hand forged by Gordon Gearhart. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Women’s open- Lowery gets the top step

No stranger to the Marji Gesick races, Carey Lowery of Tennessee, won with a time of 8:14:19. “The 50 started in Marquette at the Ore Dock.  The first two miles were flat, paved, and faster thanI wanted to go so early into the race so I let the front go and settled into a comfortably hard pace.  After climbing Marquette Mountain, I settled into a rhythm of attacking the climbs, recovering on the flats, and finding my flow state on the descents.  I had no idea how many women were ahead of me, but I thought maybe 2 or 3.  I did not chase them, but let my legs and lungs dictate my efforts.  I have done enough of these endurance events to know to be consistent and conserve.  I felt great heading into Jackson Park, where I stopped to grab my hydration pack. I caught Kim Heintz a little ways after the first stop in Jackson.  I elected to keep my GPS screen on the breadcrumb trail and not watch “the numbers.”  I raced more by feel and knew how far I was by distinct landmarks.  I rolled back into Jackson Park, rewarded myself with an ice cold Coke, refilled my nutrition and fluids, and headed back out for the last 15.  I had pre ridden this two days before, so it was comforting to know just how far (both time-wise and distance) I had to go.  As I approached the rock slab hike a bike, I cried out, “My favorite section!,” which helped to stoke the fires for the final miles.  I did not pass any other women.  The last bit of single track was a real bugger, as the fatigue monster was riding piggyback.  I was all smiles going up Jasper Knob, as I was smelling the barn now.  I rolled through the finish line in 8:14, not knowing how I placed.  It wasn’t until after I had gotten cleaned up and changed 15 minutes later that I realized I had taken the win.  That was just icing on a wonderfully delicious Marji Gesick cake! Sponsors:  Rescue Racing, Scott’s Bikes, Industry 9, Chamois Butt’r, Christopher Bean Coffee, Trucker Co”

Women’s 50 mile podium: 1st Carey Lowery, 2nd Amy Schultz, 3rd Kim Heintz

About thirteen minutes back, Amy Schultz from Wisconsin, took second in 8:27:09. “This was my first time racing Marji Gesick 50, my longest mountain bike event ever, and honestly my longest bike ride ever (road, gravel, or mtb!). The longest I had ridden my mtb prior to Marji Gesick was about 5 hours for a non-race ride. I do put in a significant amount of volume on bikes throughout the year, but typically focus on shorter XCO races (such as the WORS series in Wisconsin) and cyclocross races. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I would have fun as I love technical singletrack. And I was right, I just loved the course. It suited me well. I started out near the back at ~200 of 240 racers. I was worried about going out too hard and not pacing myself. So I thought this was a good idea. However, when I reached the first climb, a gravel road, and a lot of people were walking already or riding pretty slowly, I realized I should maybe change my strategy. I decided to push the effort a bit to get ahead of as many people as I could before the first stretch of single track, Off Grade, a black rated uphill. However, I didn’t quite get ahead of enough people. I ended up behind a train of ~30-40 people on the singletrack. It was painful to walk and not rip that stretch at the speed I wanted. But, it allowed me to chat with some local riders, something I never get to do in shorter, hard-effort races. I met Trent and Luke and we eventually hit some double track, passed the rest of the group, and rode the iron ore trail to Ishpeming together. Luke didn’t stop at the checkpoint and I lost track of Trent, but it was so nice having them to ride with! I stopped at the drop bags to eat and refill. I was pretty strict about eating something every 30 min and drinking 1 liter an hour. I caught the wheel of Dan in the next techy section. He asked if I wanted to pass, but I decided it was probably a good strategy to stay with people. Time went by fast when I followed a wheel and chatted, also, when I went solo I tended to go too hard up hills and I was worried about bonking. I really enjoyed loved riding with Dan. He was a good technical rider and I rode some steeper parts I probably would not have otherwise. I eventually passed him and caught a few more wheels. The next guy I rode with told me I was only about 30 min from first place female, and I thought, “no way! I started in the way back and was so slow through the first 12 miles of single track” I decided I couldn’t and shouldn’t push the pace though. I should just ride a comfortable pace. I still had a lot of miles left – about half the race left. At the second pass through Jackson park to get my drop bag for the last time, about mile 40, the lady working there told me the 1st place woman just left the stop 5 min ago. I couldn’t believe I had potentially made up some time.  I sort of wanted to try to catch her, but I was tired and knew I had a long way. I also just wanted to eat and refuel in the moment. Furthermore, I was convinced I was maybe disqualified as I had not seen any checkpoints with tokens, which are needed when you cross the finish line. I carried on and decided I would stop at all remaining aid stations (I had skipped all up until then, except the Jackson Park drop bag stops). I stopped and had brownies, cookies, licorice and even stopped at the beach aid station and took a shot of whiskey with the crew there! I think it was the pick-me-up I needed, because after that stop, I had a second wind and some fast segments on the last single track stretches. Thank you aid station volunteers!  I think next time I will start near the front next time, but who knows, maybe it will help me pace and not fade towards the end! OTherwise, I wouldn’t change much. I really enjoyed the vibe and energy from the volunteers, staff, and riders. I would do Marji again, but would also like to try the Cascades 100 (I used to live out on Mt Hood, Oregon), or Mohican 100. Thanks to Neff Cycle Service (Sponsor and bike shop) and Josh McKinney (friend) for ensuring I have a mountain bike that works well and that I love to ride!”

Women’s open finisher Kim Rudd with masters finisher Diana Munger

Taking the third step on the podium, Kim Heintz from Illinois, finished in 9:17:47. “This year’s Marji 50 was my third time racing it and my first race in exactly two years. The last time I raced was this same race in 2019.I went into this race not knowing what to expect, I was hoping for a top 3 finish. I’ve spent most of this year focused on shorter, harder efforts and also out of practice with racing. The previous two times, I had just come off of racing Leadville, so I had everything dialed.I was assigned bib #666, and normally you’d think you’ve been dealt the worst luck every, but in the Marji, it’s kind of like winning the lottery. That’s their brand – and it definitely got a lot of attention! I was hoping it’d bring some good luck for the day!When we started, we were on a paved path for a couple of miles, and then we took a turn away from Lake Superior and started climbing. It was a long and sometimes steep climb. I saw that I was in second place and worked hard to try to keep 1st in my line of sight.  For most of the first hour or so, I figured I was only about 45 seconds back.  However, I think my lack of practice in racing the last couple of years got the best of me and I think I went out too hard.I didn’t realize it for a couple of hours but then it kind of hit me.I came into Jackson Park the first time, where I had my drop bag, about 6 minutes faster than my best time there. I was still feeling good but about an hour later, I could feel my legs starting to seize up a bit and cramp. My heart rate wouldn’t come down, and that’s when I realized I had gone out too hard. I slowed things down quite a bit for the next hour or two and got a little bit of positive talk from my friend Bryan who was out there with me and tried to get my heart rate under control and to also get my legs to stop seizing up.During this time, several other women had passed me, and I assumed my run for the podium was over. So, I just spent the rest of the race enjoying the super technical trails, fun descents, and insane climbs.

It was an absolutely picture-perfect fall day in the Upper Penninsula, and what a great way to spend it!You’re supposed to pick up hidden tokens along the race course as you go. Usually these are just randomly placed throughout the course. I never saw any this time but just as we did the final climb up, which is always an out and back, I saw the first one.  I kept going up and saw another one and then another.  In total, there were 4 tokens to pick up on this short, steep section.From there, I headed to the finish line, crossing in 9:17. One of the race directors, Todd, came up to me to congratulate me. And I said I’d hoped to have done the 666 number justice by taking a podium spot but I thought I was in 5th or 6th. He said “are you sure about that?” and pulled out his phone to show me I finished 3rd.I was in disbelief and overjoyed! I didn’t know it at the time, but the tokens each had a word on them – and they spelled out “Finish What You Start”.  How fitting for the type of day I had.Marji is such a cool race. Extremely hard and makes you feel all sorts of emotions, but such a satisfying and rewarding experience. Sponsors: PSIMET Racing and Roots Racing”

A couple minutes back, Kim Rudd of Minnesota, took fourth place in 9:21:34. Finished in fifth was, April Beard of Wisconsin, in 9:42:06.

After texting #quitter in 2019, Ella (pictured left), came back more determined than ever and finished the 50 mile course in 23 hours. She is only 13! Photo credit: Ella Clement’s mom.

Men’s Open

Getting his first NUE win of 2021, Anthony Grinnell of Pennsylvania, won with a time of 6:04:30. “I travelled to Michigan’s UP with my teammate Jim Litzinger with one goal in mind- to get Litz another single speed win so he could wrap up the championship.  The race started off at a very reasonable pace on the opening flat 2 to 3 miles.  This was the best possible scenario, allowing Litz to stay on my wheel until we got to the opening climb.  As we started up the first climb, a few overly ambitious riders got aggressive.  I looked down at my Garmin and was pushing over 400 watts as I watched several riders gap Jim and I on the climb.  Two of them blew up before the first climb was even finished, leaving one racer out ahead of us.  Even though we’d never done the Marji race, we heard all the rumors of tough, grindy single track and new better than to overdo it in the early stages of the race.  Single speed or not, Litz is one of the best technical single track riders I know.  All I had to do is pull him through the early flat gravel and paved sections and then follow his wheel as he lit up the single track.  We caught a glimpse of the leader just prior to the second stop at Jackson Park about 40 miles in and I could tell he was hurting.  With 20 miles of mostly super fun, grinder, old school single track left, Jim and I felt right at home and knew we had two wins in the bag, barring any flats or mechanicals.  We ended up pulling a 40 minute gap for Jim to seal up the Single Speed Marathon Championship and for me to take the Men’s Open win.  I’ve done a lot of NUE races, but this is one of my favorites now.  What an awesome event with an excellent course and an unbelievable crew who organizes it all.  If you haven’t done this race, you need to.  Huge thanks to Pirelli tires for taking a massive beating and not even thinking about flatting.  As always, Flow Formulas kept my energy up and legs feeling strong throughout the race.  I’d also like to thank Shorkey Auto Group, Pro Bike & Run, KOO Eyewear, KASK helmets, Extreme Nano Chain Lube, Starlight Apparel, Industry Nine, Wolf Tooth Components, ESI Grips, and Horizon Orthopedics.”

Forty-five minutes back, John Burmeister of Michigan, took second in 6:45:05. “The morning of the race was no different than many other races I have participated in.  I was anxious to start and the nerves were firing.  Being my first Marji event there were a few unknowns that helped fuel the anxiety.  I had heard many stories from previous racers about how grueling the course can be.  Especially near the end..  I had put in a fair amount of training this summer, had a handful of successful races this season, and did some pre-rides of the 2019 course.  I was feeling hopeful to be in the mix for a podium position. With so many names unknown to me I wasn’t sure who the competition would be.  My plan for the start of the race was to go out with a moderately hard effort to see who would give chase.  At the gun we rolled out fairly quick but the pace quickly slowed with no attacks being made for the lead position.  My next plan was to put in a good effort on the first real climb.  We hit the Mt. Marquette road climb and the group quickly broke up. I made it up and over solo and continued on to the first “checkpoint”, Jackson Mine park, with a 5+ minute lead on the 2nd and 3rd position riders. My pace felt good and I felt like I was going to be able to maintain it going forward.Having ridden most of the course I knew things would slow a bit once we got on the RAMBA trails.  With my lead I figured I would save some energy on the climbs and make up time on the descents.  Slowly but surely, I started to get the sense that a rider may being closing in on me.  On occasion I could hear what I thought was another rider somewhere in the woods.  Sure enough the 2nd and 3rd place riders caught up to me just before our return to Jackson Park.  We all stopped for feeds and I was first to leave the park heading for the finish. The other 2 racers caught up to me fairly quickly.  Seeing how well they were still moving along I told them they were looking good and let them by without any hesitation.  At about mile 52 I was starting to feel some real fatigue.  I decided I was going to ride the rest of the race for 3rd and I was OK with that. Things started to get dicey shortly after.. My legs were feeling fine but the rest of my body and mind were suffering.  For the remainder of the race there was a lot of walking on stuff I would normally ride.  (There really is “no free trail” out there. Even the descents make you work!)  At this point I was having lots of self-thought and contemplation about the choices I had made.  The typical thoughts and conversations one has with themselves when they’re deep into a grueling event! I just kept telling myself to “keep moving forward”, and that is what I did.At the end of the race, I finished in 3rd place but ultimately was more pleased with just finishing the event.  It was more than just a race but also a challenge of overcoming physical and mental limits .  There are always things we could have done differently when thinking back on our choices but at the end of the day I can say the outcome would have been the same.  The 1st and 2nd place finishers absolutely crushed it!  Hats off to the 2 of them for an exceptional race and kudos to everyone else who completed the race and to those who simply attempted it.  Easily one of the hardest events I have ever participated in.Thank you to all of the event coordinators, “trail angels”, and my support crew.”

John Burmeister. Photo credit: Rob Meendering

Taking third was, Rick Hatfield of Michigan, with a time of 6:50:59. “I had been looking forward to Marji all year. My wife and I traveled “up-north” several times from the Ann Arbor, MI area to pre-ride some of the course. She had raced Marji in 2019 so I had an idea what to expect. My J-Tree Teammates and I rode the few miles to the starting line from the place we had been staying at in town. The weather was perfect, low/mid 50’s and bright sunshine. At the start its always the same thing, everyone looking around squaring up their competition while trying to look calm while the race jitters set in. I do a final check of my bike feeling pretty confident that Wheels in Motion bike shop had my set up correct on my Trek Top Fuel right. The race starts and it’s a pretty chill start. I stay with the top 5 leaders on the road when we hit the first big climb, Marquette Mountain. The lead rider decides to put in a big effort, the rest of us look at each other decide not to chase. I crest the mountain and enter the trail in 4th place. I am caught by the 5th place rider and we work together pacing to Jackson Park for the first aid station. My wife was my pit crew for the day and had me in and out of aid station faster than a Nascar pit stop. I dropped off my 2 bottles of infinit and grabbed camel bak pre-filled with infinit which worked well. From there is was back and fourth working with the 5th place rider. We eventually caught the third place rider, but I got separated when I second guessed a turn onto a road. At about 45 miles in we hit Jackson Park for the final leg. The 5th place rider and I leave the aid station and begin working together again. With about 10 miles to go the 5th place rider begins to have stomach and cramping issues. He pulls to the side of the trail and lets me lead. At this point I see him start to fall back a little, so I decide to burn one of my last matches and push hard to gap him. The trail is not forgiving whatsoever, you are hit with hill after hill. You think, alright this is the last climb and you are hit with another. With 5 miles to go am I am getting really worried I hadn’t seen any tokens. I pass a few of the 100 mile runners and ask if they had seen any and said no. With about a ½ mile to go the final climb has all the tokens with about 50 yards apart. At the last token is mannequin of Todd holding the last token with his middle finger out – I laughed and rode into the finish. I loved this race! I thought for sure I would get lost with all the twisty turns and on-off-on again trails but it was pretty well marked. The chunky, rooty hilly terrain is not like any other NUE race I have done in the past and Marquette is such a great town to hang out afterwards.”

Taking fourth place was, Paul Fox from Michigan, with a time of 7:02:19. About ten minutes back was, Jason Kloptowsky of Illinois, with a time of 7:12:04.

Singlespeed- Litzinger with the WIN

Placing second overall and taking the singlespeed win by over two hours, James Litzinger of Pennsylvania finished in 6:04:31. ” My first time to the UP did not disappoint.  I really wasn’t sure what to think about the Marji Gesick after reading race reports, watching race video, course reviews, and talking to the few who have earned the coveted buckle.  My gathering was that it was a load of single track that will slow down your average speed and wind you through the punchy climbs of the forest.  I have enjoyed this type of race in the past so I was all set to go.  It started at the Marina in Marquette, at a casual pace, before climbing up a freshly graded climb at 10-12% grade for about 7 minutes.  This is when the race started and there was a flyer of the front, my teammate and friend Anthony Grinnell said he is either a rocket or he will fade back to us.  Anthony and I decided to make it a day by using each other to pace ourselves.  Anthony pulled and worked on the flats and double track then I would jump in the front navigating the fun single track.  These races are so fun but they are even better when you get to have your friend there with you to push you!  Our race was uneventful until I spotted the leader at the top of one of the punchy climbs.  From there Anthony and I reeled him in around mile 38 or so.  From there we kept our pace, while enjoying the trails, which lead us to the finish just over the 6 hour mark.  It was a blast to  The Specialized Epic was the perfect race bike that Pro Bike+Run keeps in tip, top shape for the grueling demands this race has.  Flow formula in the bottles was once again top notch considering fueling was difficult to come by with the rough trails.  Thanks to Jim Shorkey Auto Group and Dr. Bryan Hooks for their support of the Syndicate to make these trips possible.”

Litzinger takes the singlespeed 50 mile win.

Coming all the way from Utah, Benjamin Modic, takes second place in 8:35:28. “After moving from Grand Rapids and living in Salt Lake City for the past 6 years, I had an itch that only the Marji Gesick could scratch. My journey back to Michigan reconnected to me with old friends, introduced me to new ones, and allowed me to ride the trails where my passion for cycling began 12 years ago. This was my first time ever doing a race on a singlespeed, so I felt like to 50-mile race would be enough of a lesson for me. For gearing advise, I turned to community pages, discussing it with previous finishers. There is no perfect gear on a singlespeed so you can’t overthink it. I went with 30×20. I knew the start of the race and paths in between Marquette and Negaunee would be a high cadence punishment, but it made more sense once I got to the good stuff. I felt strong up until the last 10 miles of the race. Shortly after the suicide hill ski jumps, I found myself walking more and more. The last few miles gave me inspiration and overwhelming joy hit me at the finish line. I love this sport. Thanks to all my friends and my family for making this trip so memorable, especially my dad (pictured below) for helping crew for this race and all the previous races while I lived in Michigan. I will be back at some point to try the 100-miler… and I’ll be bringing the singlespeed!”

Ben Modic taking second place.

Taking the last podium spot, Dan Packer of Michigan, finished in 9:47:56. “I was surprised to come in 3rd out of the single speeders.  I rode with my City Bike Shop brother who unfortunately had to text #quitter a few years ago, so the goal was that we get him to the finish.  It was such an awesome day, we were both thrilled to just keep crankin.  I rolled a 30:20 gearing on my mulletted, slacked-out RSD Middlechild.  It was perfect for a long, slow day of spinning pedals through the endless steep, rocky, rooty, ribbons of singletrack.  I can’t thank/blame Todd and Danny enough for the effort they put into these events. Kept the rubber side down (for the most part)!”

Fourth place went to, Samuel Haglund of Michigan, crossing the line in 10:05:51. About an hour back, Cory Christener of Michigan, finished in 11:06:41.

Women’s Masters

First place in the women’s masters category went to, Martha Flynn of Minnesota, with a finish time of 10:09:36.

Taking the second podium spot was, Diana Munger of Minnesota, crossing the finish line in 12:51:30. “High time for some seriously #unfinished business in the Munger household. But first- let’s backtrack – to almost 5 years ago. Our intrepid gang of friends with a peculiar taste for masochistic epic adventures convinced us to sign up for a crazy new race in da UP. Completely self supported, hills upon more hills, upon more more hills, ridiculously hard old school singletrack – what the hell were we thinking? Blame Danny. Blame Todd. What does that even mean?! Well, we trained hard together and were ready to conquer. But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men. My husband, John, suffered a horrible crash with less than a month to go. So we forged on without him. Marji 2017 was a brutal year. Heat, humidity, and endless climbs, mosquitoes and flies. That is, racers dropping like flies left and right. Incredibly, my friends and I all managed to finish. Such relief and happiness to be done but mixed with a twinge of sadness that John couldn’t be there with us to share. Next time, we all wanted him along for the ride. Flash forward four years to the present. John’s injury was slow to heal and his mountain bike mojo took even longer to return. Pandemic and just life in general also slowed our return.Same gang -ready to try it all once more. Miraculously, we were able to snag coveted race entries- ‘cause now, of course, it seems like everyone who’s anybody wants to do Marji. But even after all this finagling, my beloved spouse waffled endlessly and and dragged his feet about biking.Race time drew near. Emails were flying in.  ‘Are you in or out?’ was the question from the race director.I posed this query over and over again to my husband.
‘Maybe’ was the reply. The date to transfer to the shorter race came and went. Wifely nagging was of no avail, yet a single word from a buddy sealed the deal- just two weeks before the race. Too late for Marji camps at this point. With just 14 days to go, a high intensity training plan was instituted. Not easy to accomplish in the flatlands of Minneapolis, but somehow he managed.Race morning dawned spectacularly. Not sure why, but I actually thought it would be easier this time round- maybe because it was about 35 degrees cooler. Sheer hubris. It was much worse, of course – way more gnarly singletrack, sheer drops, hills (mountains?) that never ended. So many more rocks and roots than I remembered- where had they all come from? Lots more runners and bikers. Spectacular views and fall colors popping helped to ease the pain a bit. Not to mention a course that was so well marked, I actually started wondering why I had spent so many hours trying to load the gpx file on to my Wahoo. And at the heart of it all-  still the same race. The same camaraderie and good will out on the trails. Every racer was super friendly- all working towards the same goal- to finish. Every volunteer I talked to had a Marji story they were eager to share. Was I actually hallucinating when I glimpsed the Marji mannequin giving me the finger on the very last climb? How very apropos. The last 5 miles seemed truly endless and somewhat terrifying as night fell. Not quite believing I was finally at the finish with my friends cheering me on. And not long afterwards, my husband also triumphantly crossing the line. How could he possibly ride 100 plus to my 60 plus miles and finish so embarrassing and so damn close to me?! But never mind, we were finally able to experience the legend that is Marji, together (well, sort of, anyway).The very nice race official lady who asked for this report told me to be sure to include my sponsors. Sorry to report that no one wants to sponsor me.  But I do happen to have oodles of amazingly supportive friends and family who nicely look the other way and sweetly pretend that I’m not just a little bit unhinged when I tell them that I worked so dang hard for just four wooden tokens. Blame Danny. Blame Todd. Thank Danny. Thank Todd, and thank all those awesome volunteers and the incredible community who make this ridiculous and over the top race possible.And by the way, both my husband and I had a marvelous time. As I knew he would.Marji Gesick 2021- check.Mission accomplished.”

Diana Munger all smiles at the finish line.

Rounding out the podium and taking third was, Dawn Steinmann of Wisconsin in 14:11:51.

Men’s Masters

50 Mile masters podium: 1st Jeff Adamcik, 2nd Todd Mcfadden, 3rd Dave Jolin. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Taking the win in the masters division was, Jeff Adamcik of Michigan with a finish time of 7:49:06. “It was nice to finally come into a race this year where I felt my left knee was up to the task. I rode most of the race with Dorel Stoia, who at the time was the current points leader. We were tracking with each other until we got to the aid station.  He was always faster than me at the aid station and both times I had some work to do to catch up.  On the last leg of the race I was starting to feel it, only to come out to a small lake where “ Danny “ and his crew were enjoying themselves. One of them asked “why are you smiling?”   I asked “could you share some of your pop?”  The response was that they had diet and by my reaction they knew I wasn’t excited about that. I needed some sugar.  Shortly after I heard, “what about a beer”.  Heck ya!  I felt I was back in my college days slamming down a BlackRocks Pilsner.  Next up, was the Suicide Hill climb.  Definitely energize by the beer … I caught sight of Dorel.  However, he stayed ahead of me and I was losing sight of him in the last few miles.  I came to the finish, thinking I was #2, but to my surprise I was declared the winner.  Dorel missed the last hill climb, thus, the tokens.  Thanks to Kevin Geminder at Bicycle HQ for getting my bike ready and the transfer registration!  Also thanks to Mike and Angi Golisek for housing me for the weekend and cheering me on throughout the race.”

Finishing seven minutes back, Todd Mcfadden took second place in 7:56:07. Taking third was, Dave Jolin of Ohio crossing the line in 7:57:43.

Dave Jolin from Ohio takes 3rd in 50 mile masters. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Fourth place was, Roger Lundsten of Wisconsin, in 8:15:45 and fifth went to James Kauth of Minnesota, with a finish time of 8:32:47.

For full results CLICK HERE

Pictures from the race can be found here: Rob Meendering and Ryan Stephens

Mark your calendars. Registration for the 2022 Marji Gesick is October 15th.

NUE- Marji Gesick 100 Mile

NUE Series 2021-Marji Gesick 100 mile

September 18, 2021

Written by: @Jentoops

The Marji Gesick is a point-to-point endurance race located on the upper peninsula of Michigan. It starts in Marquette and ends in downtown Ishpeming. The one-hundred mile and fifty mile mountain bike races are part of the National Ultra Endurance Series. There is also a one-hundred mile run, fifty mile run and one-hundred mile duathlon option. It’s quickly gaining popularity as one of the toughest endurance races in the United States and sells out in less than twenty four hours. This GPS required race is self supported, and racers are required to collect tokens at random checkpoints along the course.

Racers navigating the Top of the World. Photo credit: Ryan Stephens

The course was designed by Danny Hill and made to push riders to their absolute limits. The one-hundred milers having around twelve-thousand vertical feet of climbing, and the fifty milers around seven-thousand.  In both courses, racers have to navigate through sand, roots, rocks, off camber climbs, drops, jump lines and technical descents, all while saving enough energy to get through the grueling last fifteen miles.

Celebrating at the finish line. Photo credit: Rob Meendering

Racers in the one-hundred mile course finishing under twelve hours for mountain biking, under twenty-eight hours for runners and under twenty-two hours for duathlon, will earn the coveted belt buckle handmade by blacksmith Gordon Gearhart.

Women’s Open- Toops secures NUE overall win

Former NUE Marathon series winner, Jen Toops from Ohio, took the win in 12:58:22. With this win she secures the overall female Epic NUE title. ” I have a love/hate relationship with this race. How can a race so fun, hurt so bad? After completing the 50 mile Marji twice I decided it was time to conquer the 100. Although it would be awesome to get the buckle, I had one goal. To finish the race. As long as I finished I’d lock up the NUE epic overall win for the season. The start of the race was very busy and reminded me of the La Ruta de los conquistadors. Instead of a helicopter roll out we had an electric guitar national anthem, beautiful paint horse, lemans start and fire works. Just before the start, I got to meet fellow Pivot Cycles rider, Kaityln Boyle, who came all the way from ID for a chance at the buckle. After the lemans start I had no idea what place I was going into the woods. Did it matter? No. A very long day awaited. Even though I had my GPS, I still managed to blow by turns, start up the wrong trails and got turned around a lot at the beginning. Once we were on the single track I was having so much fun and was finding my rhythm. This is the part I love about Marji!

Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Just before the Jackson Park I caught up with Kaityln Boyle. We rode most of the sandy snowmobile trails and bike path together chatting it up! A welcomed mental break. The first loop out of the park I felt amazing and really was having fun on the tech singletrack. This loop went on forever! I was so focused on riding I didn’t eat enough on this loop. That was my downfall of the race and paid for it on the way to the finish. I stopped back at the park to get a back up charger and lights. This is when I saw Kaityln Boyle had DNF due to pain from a pre-ride crash. Kaityln and my support Heidi encouraged me I still might be a buckle contender. I had 15 miles to do a little over 2 hours. Feeling confident I continued to push the pace. After about an hour of riding I did the math in my head and realized a buckle was not in the cards today. My riding started to get sloppy, the fatigue had set in and I was in survival mode. I forgot how hard the last sections of trail were with non-stop punchy climbs, hike-a-bikes and just shenanigans. The last 30 minutes were torture, I wanted to lay down on the side of the trail. I wanted real food. I turned my lights on and navigated those roots and rocks walking what I normally could ride during the daylight. Jasper knob was such a rewarding sight to see on the GPS. The last hike a bike! I walked to the top collected my tokens and gave fake Todd a high five and headed in to the finish. My whole body hurt like it never has with any other race. I laid in the van post race for a couple hours before I could even function. Marji is by far the hardest hundred I have ever completed. I love it but hate it. I’m proud of my effort and learned a lot. Will I be back? You bet and next year I will have a different goal in mind! Calling all Ladies….lets go get this BUCKLE. Thank you Danny and Todd for an amazing event as always! Bike: Pivot Mach 4SL size XS. Sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot cycles, Ergon, Fox, Lazer, Honeystinger, Carborocket, SCC, Stans, Maxxis.” Special thanks to Heidi for the race support!

“That was hard.” Video by: Ryan Odell

Nicky Ruszkowski of New York, took second place with a time of 16:27:54. “Marji Gesick 2021 was my second attempt at this race. In 2019 I dropped out at around mile 85 and so I certainly came at this with unfinished business. I love riding the more technical trails and Marji certainly has plenty of those. The gnarly, rocky descents in this race play to my strengths and are so much fun to ride. I think the cooler temperatures on race day were actually a little deceiving and I don’t think I was alone in underestimating the amount of fluids needed to stay hydrated. Overall this is a phenomenal race and I was delighted to come in second behind Jen.”

About fourteen minutes back from second place, Jessica Nankman of Pennsylvania, finished third with a time of 16:42:44. “For years I have heard about this race with upwards to 70% non-finisher race called Marji Gesick and decided it was time to see what it is all about. I typically race ultra endurance events, 24 hour mountain bike races, thus was looking forward to another way to test my physical and mental fortitude. With my long-distance background I was confident in my ability to cover the miles and being that I live in Eastern Pennsylvania I felt strong about my technical skills, the thing I was most concerned about was the logistics of the race.  I was concerned about the self-supported aspect, it took extensive planning and contemplating on my part about how to carry the hydration, nutrition, and gear needed. Rumors about “trail angels”, volunteers who set-up aid stations along the course, were true and they helped immensely with rider needs .  Another part of the race that takes pre-planning is the point to point factor. Just being my husband (who was also racing) and myself making the trip to Marji, we had no outside help. We opted to stay in the campground located at race start, which made for a very relaxed pre-race morning but we wondered how to get back afterwards.  A friendly volunteer drove us from the finish back to our campsite post-finish.As for the course it’s self…it was a challenging and tough 105 miles.  There were many miles of smiles; fun single track, rewarding rock gardens, flowing berms, and air-time inducing jump lines. But there were even more miles of tough trail that caused much suffering.  Near vertical ups and downs, soul-sucking sand, and sketchy washouts induced a fair amount of walking.  To add to the physical and mental challenge many of the last few miles were ridden in the dark.  Thank goodness for the great cheering and support of the spectators and volunteers along with many friendly fellow racers that kept me going strong.I have never experienced a race like this. Marji Gesick truly is as advertised, it one tough event not to be taken lightly. But the achievement of reaching the finish line, and being on the podium, is an accomplishment that will never be forgotten.Sponsors to please be included in the review: Liv Cycling USA Ambassador, Lupine Lights, Saucon Valley Bikes.”

Nankman pre-riding part of the Marji Gesick course

Taking fourth place was Jenny Acker from Michigan with a time of 17:48:38. Finishing fifth was Christina Peek from Michigan crossing the line in 20:51:19.

Men’s Open Acker takes back-to-back Marji wins

Men’s open podium: 1st Matt Acker, 2nd Kurt Refsnider, 3rd Chad Cannon. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

The 2019 Marji Gesick winner, Matt Acker of Michigan, gets back-to-back Marji wins with a time of 10:36:55.

Just four minutes back, ultra endurance racer, Kurt Refsnider of Arizona, finished second in 10:41:38 “I made the decision to fly up from Arizona for the race just a few days before the race, so eveIrything was a very last-minute affair for me. But I had heard story after story about how technically challenging the Marji is, and that’s hands-down my favorite kind of riding. And I’m so glad I made the trip – it’s been a while since I’ve ridden a race course that was as difficult and fun as the Marji Gesick 100! I had the pleasure of riding with local legend Matt Acker for most of the race, and following his wheel for so many miles sure helped me ride efficiently (especially as I tried to keep him in sight on the longer descents). 100 milers are a bit on the short end of the races I typically do, and my legs started to fade in the final miles after trying to ride fast for 10,000+ feet of punchy climbing. Matt gradually disappeared ahead of me, and I just tried to hold it together after mile 90.I also am especially impressed by how the race organizers have created an incredibly demanding event in which riders openly embrace (and come for) that challenge. Most races with a course of this style would have relatively small fields, but the organizers have created a welcoming and empowering atmosphere around the race that’s truly one-of-a-kind.”

Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Taking third place, Chad Cannon of Wisconsin, finished in 11:34:32. Ryan Goemans of Wisconsin finished fourth in 11:39:28 and Ben Senkerik of Wisconsin took fifth place with a time of 11:43:37.

SinglespeedHolle takes overall NUE SS win

Singlespeed podium- 1st Justin Holle, 2nd Anthony Toops, 3rd Eli Orth. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Justin Holle of Colorado wins the singlespeed division and takes 4th overall with at time of 11:39:15. With this win he has secured the overall Epic NUE singlespeed title and went undefeated this year. “Bike: 34×19 gearing on Norco Revolver HT. The overwhelming sentiment leading into Marji seemed the same from every source, ‘good luck’.  Having never quit a race I didn’t understand the high DNF rate or the fear expressed by such sources. And then…after missing my 4th turn only to see the arrow placement AFTER the turn did I realize these racers quit because, damn, that course just presses your buttons! I jumped out early with fellow Singlespeeders Mark Kransz and Scott Quiring, jockeying 1st to 3rd. Just as I passed the hilltop bagpiper I put in a gap and thought I’d race off the front. No sooner did I see myself careening over the handlebars into a pile of rocks, giving up my position. Through mile 39 we danced positions and at that Aid Station I made haste and passed through without support. Alone until mile 65 Aid at Jackson Park I learned this “race” was more an “adventure”. Staying on course demanded full awareness so race efforts sat second wheel.On the loop from Jackson Park that Singlespeed Monster: Anthony Toops closed in behind me. I guess this IS a race! More friend than foe, we chatted and grunted through the loop keeping tabs on our pace for that coveted sub-12 buckle. Back through the Jackson Park aid we knew we had enough time to finish under 12 barring any issues. We hung together, alternating position, riding, and power hiking the steeps. Near mile 94 I slowly pulled away and looking back didn’t see Toops in sight. The course became more intuitive, sign reading less challenging, and I stayed committed to ignoring my computer data. I relied on looking up to the sun to gauge my sub-7:30PM finish. With 50-milers becoming more frequent on trail I could tell we were close. Feeling confident I looked back and saw Toops! What?!?! He closed in on me AGAIN. Providing that final fire I needed! I drove my pedals, attacked the steep hill holding the precious tokens, and headed back down with enough of a gap. Passing Toops I hollered to my friend and turned onto tarmac to punch it home. I passed a final geared racer and came across the line in 4th overall position with the SS win. Marji is the hardest 100-mile MTB race course I’ve ever done. It attacks you mentally, physically, and, when you blow a turn, emotionally. Fortunately I had a good day and I attribute that to accepting MG as an adventure first, race second. Oh, and the guys making grilled cheese at mile 58, thank you sirs. Thanks to my support: Base Canp Cyclery, Norco, Shimano, Crankbrothers, ESI, and Carbo Rocket.”

Anthony Toops and Justin Holle celebrating at the finish line. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Just a couple minutes back on Holle, Anthony Toops from Ohio, took second place in singlespeed and sixth overall, finishing in 11:41:13. “Marji Gesick is always the biggest test of the year.  This year, my goal was to go sub 12hr and get the coveted buckle on a single speed.  I was able to get a buckle on gears in 2018 but it was a true test for me at the time… so doing it on a single speed had me wondering if it would even happen.  The race started with the traditional 1/2 mile run and from the beginning I was on my own pace.  My goal was the buckle and if this turned into a “race” then so be it.  I could see a few ss racers up ahead but I stuck to my plan and didn’t chase.  I was in a good group with my teammate Jeff Rupnow, who has tons of experience at this race, and I knew he could carry me to a buckle… if I could hang!  At mile 13.5 the group was flying and unfortunately missed the left turn back to Forestville.  We were heading back up to the Top of the World!  Eventually we noticed the mistake but it cost us roughly 12min, which isn’t something you can easily claw back at this race.  This caused some high anxiety until I could get my time splits back on track. Going into Jackson Park I was still up 20min on my previous sub 12 race!  Now the stress was off some but I knew the two loops out of Jackson Park are no joke. This is where the race really starts.   At this point I’m still sticking to my plan and haven’t seen another ss’r in a while.  About 15min later I caught up with Justin Holle and we rode together pretty much the rest of the race, pushing each other to make sure that buckle was ours!  Half way into loop 2 out of Jackson, Justin started to get a gap on me.  I made a mistake with my nutrition on the first loop and ran out of calories and water for almost an hour (rookie!) so I started to fade.  I made sure to get some calories in and started to feel normal again with about 7mi to go.  I would guess Justin was only a couple minutes ahead but I was solely focused on that buckle!  The last 15mi of this race is the true test and every second counts.  It’s a weird experience because this is a race where you are in a battle with the trail and yourself; racing someone else is a bonus.  No matter how well you’re doing, you’re always wondering if you’ll make it.I put my head down and went as hard as I could for that last hour or so. I WASN’T coming up short!  When I could see the last climb to Jasper Knob on my screen, I knew I had it.  BUT where the heck were all the tokens!  Of course they were on the way up to Jasper Knob (blame Todd & Danny) so everyone had that stress all day.  In the end, I finished 2nd by just a couple minutes and the buckle was mine!Marji is one of those races where you always say you don’t need to do it again… but you always want to.  Now that I have a geared and ss buckle, next year will be a new challenge!  Thanks again to my wife Jen for her motivation, my team Evolution Training Cycles/Paradise Garage Racing, and especially Heidi for all her help!  See you in 2022?! Bike Setup:Frame – Pivot LES size large. Fork – Fox Step Cast 32 100mmGearing – oval 32x19Tires – Continental cross king protection 2.3 front and rear.”

Finishing in third place, Eli Orth of Ohio, crossing the line in 12:20:44. “Marji was my fourth NUE epic distance SS race. Going into the race my main goal was to have a clean race and finish with a decent overall time. I ended up finishing 3rd.The race started great getting into one of the lead groups. It took a little hit though when our group made a wrong turn at mile 15. We were repeating a section we had went through around mile 5. Luckily Jeff Rupnow and Anthony Toops realized it once we had climbed all way to Forestville Rd. We turned back and by the time we were back on track we had lost about 14 minutes… and we were battling through other riders that we were previously well in front of. Surprisingly time was made up and by the time hit Jackson Park I was still on track to get under 12 hours. On the first loop through Jackson I was still on pace. On the last trails through the last 15ish miles I was pushing the pace and had a small crash that set me back just a little and seemed to slow my momentum a little. I made it to the finish only to realize I dropped an orange token on my way in. Soooo I had to go back and get the orange token. My finish time was 12hrs 3 min 57 sec. A little frustrated getting so close to the under 12 but falling little short. Overall happy with the race though and finishing Marji without mechanical and any physical issues is always a win. Thank to my sponsors Dean Titanium Bikes, CarboRocket, Kenda, AbsoluteBLACK, ESI Grips.Also thankful for all my family that supported me to do this race from my wife staying and watching the kids to my step-dad that ran support for me!My gearing for the race was 34×20. This was my last NUE points race for the season. My next planned race is the Cruce Del Istmo in Panama to represent the NUE.”

Eli Orth ready for the Lemans run. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Fourth went to, Nathan Lillie of WI, in 12:45:47. Brent Pontius of MI, took fifth place in 13:37:48.

Women’s Singlespeed-First woman to complete Marji on a Singlespeed

Kristen Wade of Illinois is the first woman to complete Marji on a singlespeed. She finished in 23 hours. ” I hardly feel like I should be writing a race report considering the top female racer crossed the finish line nearly 11 hours before me but this was no ordinary race and I was in no ordinary category. The 2021 NUE Marji Gesick was my first Marji and I competed on a single speed. I was the sole female in the single speed category and much to my surprise I was the first female to ever FINISH the Marji with one gear. I rode a titanium VooDoo Dambala 29er with a 30:22 gearing and my nutrition consisted of a lot of Snicker bars, PayDays, grilled cheese and beef sticks. The Marji Gesick is more than a Hard Day, for some, it is a hard night too. I have no sponsors to thank because I am not a sponsored athlete. However, I would like to thank my husband, Al, for his continued support riding with me and encouraging me when I struggled. Next year I would like to return to race another Marji, with one gear, but faster.”

Kristen Wade is the first women to complete Marji on a single speed!

Schultz of Ohio takes the Masters win

Taking the Masters win, Brad Scholtz of Ohio, finished in 14:24:12. ” Having participated in other 906 events I knew it would be special and epic!   I had not raced Marji before, but I knew lots who had attempted, and a few who had completed the race-  and they made it REALLY clear that this would be the hardest thing you’ve ever done!  “Words can’t do it justice”! I started the race with two of my RBikes teammates as we knew that we should match up fairly well and to have some company at least for a while.   Not having any idea what I was in for, I would have been more conservative at the beginning, but my teammates were pushing a pretty spicy pace- I hung on and tried to settle in and stay on top of nutrition/hydration.  What a challenge it is pay attention to navigation, hydration, nutrition, physical effort and tackle the technical sections was crazy fun and challenging!   When I reached the bag drop(mi 65ish) I was feeling pretty good, but I also had a decent idea that the last 40 mi were the hardest!  And needless to say I was not disappointed!    The scenic views, stupid hard climbs and technical descents were my favorite- make no mistake, the constant punchy climbs really accumulate to break you down.   My secret is really to just “stay present” and enjoy/tackle the section that you’re currently doing.  Don’t even think about what’s yet to come.   The second most critical thing for me is to stay in a “positive“ place- giving and receiving positive energy from/to the other riders.   Positive engagement with everyone I can in contact with.  Thank you to my teammates(RBikes) for the pacing and to the amazing volunteers all over the course!!That was amazing!  I’m proud of my effort, but now I’m completely hooked, and already thinking about next year and how I can go faster!  I Was extremely pleased to take 1st place in the Men’s Master division.”

About fifteen minutes back, John Munger from MN, takes second place in 14:38:20. Vin Dog Mack of MI, takes third place with a time of 15:10:11. Fourth goes to, Scott Cole of WI, in 15:45:44 and fifth place to, Derrick Seys of IL, crossing the line in 16:21:30.

John Munger and Piotr Bednarski on their way to Marji

For full results CLICK HERE

Pictures from the race can be found here: Rob Meendering and Ryan Stephens

Mark your calendars. Registration for the 2022 Marji Gesick is October 15th.

NUE- Shenandoah 100k

The 23rd annual Shenandoah 100 is the oldest race in the NUE Epic Race Series held over Labor Day weekend in Stokesville, VA. Shenandoah now includes a 100k option of racing on Saturday and the classic 100 mile race on Sunday.

100k race start

Held within The George Washington National Forest of Virginia, Shenandoah marks the start of the fall season of the NUE Series with just a few races remaining that will determine this year’s champions. Shenandoah is a highly anticipated showdown showcasing top level talent in a festive atmosphere with most racers choosing to camp out at the Stokesville Lodge and campground which is included in registration.

Womens Open- Sheldon wins 100k

Women’s 100k podium: 1st Libbey Sheldon, 2nd Carla Williams, 3rd Laura Hamm, 4th Bryna Blanchard, 5th Lauren Zimmer

No one could match the pace of Libbey Sheldon (CSHairs Devo) in the women’s 100k race on Saturday and she took the win with a time of 5:29.

In her first mountain bike race after having a baby, previous NUE epic series winner, Carla Williams (CarboRocket) of Roanoke took second place in 5:38:25.

Just a couple minutes back from Williams, Laura Hamm (Moonstomper) took third place in 5:40:22. Hamm also went on to complete the 100 mile race on Sunday with a third place finish.

Making the trip from New York, Bryna Blanchard (BMB Racing) finished fourth 5:47:37. Taking the last podium spot went to Lauren Zimmer (Bingham Cyclery) in 5:57:15.

Mens Open- Petrylak second 2021 NUE marathon win

Men’s 100k podium: 1st John Petrylak, 2nd Anthony Grinnell, 3rd Will Pfeiffer, 4th Ben Ferguson, 5th Jarod Lawver

After a major setback with course markings, John Petrylak (CarboRocket) fights hard to take the Shenandoah 100k win with a time of 5:25. Petrylak had a previous NUE 100k win at Wilderness.

“After a typical start to the National Ultra Endurance Mountain Bike Race Series Shenandoah Mountain 100K we came to an intersection that I know very well. The course arrows should have pointed LEFT ; however they were pointing RIGHT. We got off course and after an extra 6 mile loop and 37 minutes waisted we climbed back to the original intersection in question and by this time someone came and realized that the arrows were wrong and fixed them.
Later in the day it was suspected that a person or persons maliciously changed the arrows. 
Now at this point I believe we were absolutely dead last or very close to it. Without much thought I just pressed on full gas and set out to pass every rider I could. After 5 and a half hours I managed to catch every rider except masters athlete George Ganoung and take the open men’s win.Also a huge amount of respect for Anthony, Will and Stew for rolling in literally a few minutes behind me as they had just as much additional pain and suffering to deal with and still rose to the occasion. Thanks to: CarboRocket, Molly’s Bikes, ESI Grips, Kenda Tires and Athlos Sports”

Just three minutes back, Anthony Grinnell (Syndicate Cycling) took second with a time of 5:28:32.

“The racing didn’t really start until we began climbing on the initial road sections, but even then, it was a manageable pace.  Shortly into gravel, the top 8 or so guys formed a pretty large gap to the rest of the field.  Heading up the first single track climb, we had a lead group of 4 and pulled a gap on the rest of the breakaway.  But as we got to the top of the climb, we encountered a problem.  GPS said go left, but the arrows pointed right and a tape banner blocked the trail to the left.  We all figured there was an issue with the GPS or a last minute course change since there was both tape and arrows telling us to go right.  Big mistake.  About 5 miles down that trail, we all realized there were no more arrows, too many downed trees, and we should have gone left.  At that point, it was easier to keep going and complete the 9 mile extra loop and re-peat that tough single track climb to make the correct left turn at the top.  37 minutes later, we were back on course and, as Will Pfeiffer so adequately stated “pedaling pissed off”.  The even bigger downside is, while we were adding our extra miles, someone corrected the course marking issue, which ended up putting the entire 100k class in front of us.  We literally had to pass hundreds of other riders as we worked our way up.  I’ve been a huge fan of Flow Formulas products, but wow did it make a difference in being able to maintain energy needed to make up all that lost time.  Big props to Pirelli tires too…they were bullet proof and with all of the sharp rocks on the course, that was a must.  I was shocked, and REALLY happy to see that John, Will, and I were all able to put our heads down and battle our way back up to sweep the podium.  We think a hunter likely changed the markings, but in the end, it didn’t keep John Petrylak from winning his first SMT 100K race, didn’t keep me from getting 2nd, and kept Will Pfeiffer’s title hopes alive for the series.  It was a great day for the Syndicate/Flow Formulas team with Jim Litzinger getting 1st in the 100K Single Speed Class and Joe Frass getting 5th in the 100 mile Single Speed Class. Huge thank you to Shorkey Auto Group and Pro Bike & Run for getting us to these races and keeping our equipment working.”

Will Pfeiffer (Flow Formulas) took third crossing the line in 5:31:37.

“The race started like any other, with a good push up the first climb.  Five of us got away and kept a good pace on Narrowback.  When we came to a T-intersection near the top, an unexpected right turn was marked.  We figured there was some issue with the normal trail and just followed the arrows and tape.  This proved unfortunate, because it turned out there were some people messing with signage on the course.  As we realized what had happened, I’ll be honest, I was not in a good place mentally.  I have been chasing the season standings this year, and I was watching all that effort go out the window in one fell swoop.  John Petrylak, Anthony Grinnel, and Stewart Gross were instrumental in keeping my head in the game and I am very thankful to have been with those guys.  So, one bonus loop later, the lost boys joined back up DFL and all sorts of motivated.

The rest of the race turned into a 50 mile TT trying to fight through the field.  My mom was a massive help, supporting me at each aid station.  Late in the race she told me I was 10th heading into the final climb of Hankey.  I was already deep in the effort and absolutely buried myself trying to catch riders.  Pulling a third in class was a mixture of some effort and a lot of luck.  But I will say this, I’ve had a handful of races over the years that presented some physically and mentally difficult obstacles.  It sounds cliche, but never once have I regretted refusing to give in.  The mindset, challenge, and camaraderie this weekend meant so much more to me than the result.  Huge thanks to Flow Formulas, The Black Bibs, Maxxis, Industry Nine, Kask, Koo, Handup, Ridge Supply, Chris of Shenandoah Mountain Touring, and my awesome teammates who let me be a part of their super inspiring rides on Sunday.  #flowformulasfamily”

Ben Ferguson finished fourth in 5:34:09 and Jarod Lawver fifth in 5:46:37.

Singlespeed– Litzinger leads NUE marathon SS

Singlespeed podium: 1st James Litzinger, 2nd Don Powers, 3rd Kenny Kocarek, 4th Larry Miller, 5th Kasey Clark

With a second place finish at Mohican and first place at Wilderness, James Litzinger (Syndicate Cycling) took the Shenandoah win with a time of 5:32:09. Litzinger now leads the NUE SS Marathon series.

“The backcountry racing at Shenandoah Mountain always is always a blast and this year was no different!  The start and preparation for the race was very smooth and thought out.  We were put in to starting corrals of 5 and I was lined up with some hammer in the corral 50-55, teammate Anthony Grinnell (2nd) and John Petrylak (1st) crushed the course!  Coming out of the campground it was very chill until it hit the road and everyone started to jockey for position.  Dahn Pahrs and I were the only 2 single speeders  spinning and tucking our way to the front with the geared guys.  We were comfortable with the brisk pace of the opening gravel climb and taking some pulls. The biggest deciding factor in the race came at the top of the first single track climb when 2 arrows pointed right and the GPS said to go left.  Decisions, decisions…we went right with the arrows which cost us about 4 miles and 13 minutes.  During the single track I noticed the screw on the top cap of my fork was coming loose so I used my thumb to push down on it and tighten it.  After getting back on course we were faced with the challenge of making our way through a lot of riders on the tight single track.  After getting back out on the road, Dahn and I worked together on our way to the next climb which was a lot of hike a biking.  At the bottom of the climb I noticed my fork was not responding as it should, it was stiff and in the down position.  I decided to put it in the lock position to prevent it from going down but made the descents very challenging.  After the race I noticed that I changed the rebound to SLOW when I was tightening the screw.  After the long, steep, rocky, and rooty climb. 

After the hike a bike we were rewarded with a super fun descent.  To my surprise, I was able to catch a few more riders before poking out onto the dirt road again.  After completing the descent, I looked back to join up with Dahn again and he came back out on the road a few seconds after me. I decided to sit up, get some nutrition, and wait for my buddy since these races are a lot more fun with some company.  After fueling up and spinning down the road a little I thought I heard a car coming so I moved off to the side of the road and looked back to see that it was not a car but John Petrylak.  As a single speeder we are often faced with the decision to burn some matches get dragged along by the strong geared guys or rider your own race and conserve your energy.  Well, I decided to burn some matches for a big increase in speed on the backcountry Virginia road.  I was able to make up some great time spinning and tucking behind John’s wheel.  When we pulled into aid 2, I had to fill my bottles, grab grub, and by that time John was already rolling and there was no catching him.  I continued rolling the course at my own pace until the ripping descent leading into aid 3 when teammate Anthony Grinnell caught me.  It was a blast shredding the descent and getting a big pull on the road with him until I had to let him go before burning up all my matches.  I was glad to be looking at the Hankey climb for the last time before working my way down the mountain to the finish.   Special shout out to the Syndicate Cycling support of Pro Bike+Run Shops, Shorkey Auto Group, Specialized bikes, Flow Formulas, Wolftooth Components, Extreme Nano Lubes, Esi Grips, Pirelli tires, KOO, Kask, Dr. Bryan Hooks Orthopedic, and last but not least my amazing family.”

Previously winning Mohican earlier this season, Don Powers, of Pennsylvania took second in 5:41:27. Don also raced the Shenandoah 100 mile race on Sunday.

Stopping the Pennsylvania podium sweep, Kenny Kocarek (Kobby Side Down) of Ohio finished in 6:12:53. Larry Miller (Team Bikenetic) took fourth in 6:47:32 and Kasey Clark (Velopigs) finished fifth in 7:10:30.

Masters Ganoung takes top step

Masters podium: 1st George Ganoung, 2nd Peter Schultz, 3rd Derek Dagostino, 4th ustin De Leo, 5th Roberts Moore

Winning the Masters category was George Ganoung (Otterhaus) with a finish time of 5:23:37.

” I have a long competitive road and gravel history but this was my first ever marathon mountain bike event. I won the Master 50+ and due to some strange circumstances, I came out the overall winner as well…with a big footnote though.About 9 miles into the race I was 8th in a group of 4 ~30 seconds behind the leaders and we had a pretty big gap on the rest of the field. We came across a major arrow marked intersection, but having pre ridden the course, and having the map on my GPS, they were not pointing in the expected direction. My compatriots followed the arrows so I went with them, about .5 mile in I just felt it was wrong, and told them I am turning around. They agreed and we flipped it, went the other way at the intersection and ran into course tape across the trail, it was broken, but seemed to indicate it’s a reroute. We flipped again and went back further, but with the trail getting significantly rougher and no other markers I told the other guys I think someone mucked it up and I am committing to the GPS track. By then the bulk of the race had caught up and the two way traffic on single track was chaotic and was forced to walk. I told the riders I ran into as I back tracked to make their own call but I am following GPS. It seemed like the majority turned around, and someone else had turned the arrows back by the time I got to the intersection. Fortunately it was the right call and the race markers had clearly been sabotaged. I ended up being about 30th out of the 1st single track after the confusion. Convinced the leaders went the right way and were long gone, and half the race was ahead, I just rode hard out of anger on the next fire road section catching as many folks as I could. It turned out the leaders had actually gone further off course before turning around and after the next big single track climb and descent, I was told I was in the overall lead…and somehow managed to hold on for ~40 miles to the finish. Massively impressive ride by 2nd place John Petrylak who went further off course and came back to win the open class and nearly caught me at the end. Big thanks to @shenandoahmountaintouring and all the volunteers for putting on such a cool event and hats off to the riders who do this stuff all the time, huge respect for the skill/fitness required.
In regards to NUE future, Shenandoah again and maybe Wilderness 101 next year are probably it for me because they are close. This is just a branch out as a new challenge.”

George Ganoung (Otterhaus) 5:23:37

About 10 minters back, Peter Schultz (Team Bikenetic) finished second with a time of 5:32:35. “As we charged up the first climb, I had my coach’s voice in my head to stay within myself. I was doing about 4 W/kg on the double-track climb and thought that’s about the power that would need to be sustained for 5 hours by the overall winner. So, I let about 30 people crank on past, pretty sure that they’d come back.The hitch in this plan came at the top of the first climb where the arrows were pointed in the wrong direction. When we finally got ourselves turned around, I got shuffled backward another 20 spots or so. So, I spent the entire descent in a conga line, as well as most of Lynn Trail. I tried to stay calm and stick to the plan.But things went further sideways on the Wolf Trail descent when I had a 5-minute mechanical due to a messed up jockey wheel. “The Plan” went even further in the crapper on the road to Hankey’s where I’d stashed my two bottles on little stands: someone stole one of my bottles. Whoever did that and whoever swapped the arrows on Narrowback is a complete butthead.“The Plan” started working in second half of the race where I passed dozens of people. I was able to keep my power relatively high (for me) at about 3.6W/kg. My times on the first and second Hankey’s climbs were within a second of each other. I was able to hold it all together on the descents and get back in one piece.I’d like to give a big shout-out to the OGs in this race, with the fastest overall times going to folks over 50. I had a front row seat watching Libby Sheldon (and Laura Hamm) from the rear as she nearly cleaned Lynn Trail. So impressive!I’d like to thank my sponsors — my wife, myself, and Bikenetic – and my coach, Jeremy Powers, for his attention to detail.”

Taking the third step, Derek Dagostino (Molly’s Bicycles) finished in 5:50:13. “While living and mountain biking in Richmond, Virginia, I had always heard about the Shenadoah Mountain 100 but never seriously considered participating in this race because of its difficulty. I participated in local XC races through the year in 2020 while working to improve my fitness. Going into 2021, I was looking for a challenge and made the SM 100 KM my “A” race for the year. New to endurance mountain bike racing I realized that I had a lot to learn before the race. I joined local marathon XC races for training and also to work my hydration and fueling plan. Admittedly I made some big mistakes along the way. 

3rd place Derek Dagostino

The SM was as exciting and challenging as I thought it would be! Race participants were lined up by bid numbers and in rows of five people. I started mid-pack and used the first 7 miles of fire road to move up while minding my pace. From the fire road you jump onto single track which starts the first significant climb of the day. A few miles into the climb, the riders leading the group of 15 or so stopped and mentioned that they thought we were off course. We turned around and back tracked to the proper course and I later found out that a prankster changed the course markings. The little detour added 3 miles to my race and I also found myself in heavy traffic until reaching the fire road at the end of Tilman single track. At this point I really had no idea where I was in the field because of the mix-up. The climb up the Lynn trail was as memorable as it was steep! Once back on the fire road, I was able to pace with some other riders including Eli Drooger who ended up taking 1st in U19 category. The climb up Hanky was tough but I was also able to pass other riders, make up some ground, and stay on track until the finish line! Special thanks to the SM race promoter and volunteers who pulled off the event this year. The event was well organized and not surprisingly will continue into its 24th year in 2022. Also I want to acknowledge my sponsor Molly’s Bicycle Shop and Blind Dog Brewery in Chester, Virginia. The team at the shop has played a pivotable role in supporting me with fantastic equipment (including my Norco Revolver FS1), topnotch service and an occasional beer!”

Fourth place went to Justin De Leo (Blue Ridge Cyclery) with a time of 5:55:46. Fifth place to Roberts Moore (Moore Velocity) crossing the line in 5:56:30.

Written by: @jentoops

Photos by: @Shenandoahmountaintouring

For full results CLICK HERE

Next up on the NUE Marathon Series is the Marji Gesick in Ishpeming, MI on September 18, 2021. See you all there!

The Park City Point 2 Point Returns

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

After taking the 2020 season off due to Covid, Utah’s most-anticipated mountain bike race each year returned for its 13th edition. Taking in over 75 miles of Park City, Utah’s, world renowned singletrack and 10,000 vertical feet of climbing, the Point 2 Point is known as one of hardest single-day mountain bike races in the country. 

This year riders from across the country came to the destination town of Park City to be challenged by technical trails, grueling climbs, breakneck descents, and moose. 

Elite men start at the 2021 Park City Point 2 Point. Photo by Jay Dash

Rains on Friday helped clear out some of the smoke that has plagued the west throughout the summer and provided endless hero dirt for the riders to enjoy their P2P experience.

As the race kicked off just after sunrise it was clear both elite fields were ready to push the pace early. 

Two-time winner Evelyn Dong (Juliana/SRAM/No Tubes) took the early lead pushing what challenger, Melissa Rollins (Team Twenty24) described as, ‘cross-county Olympic speeds.’ Dong was joined early on by Caedran Harvey with Rollins not far behind. 

Riders wind through the trails in Park City. Photo by Jay Dash

The  punishing early pace broke up the women’s field and saw Evelyn Dong establish a solid gap that continued to grow throughout the day. The Juliana rider rode clear throughout the day and not even getting stung by a bee on the lip would slow the lone leader. 

At mile 55, Dong passed through the crowds at the Park City Mountain feed zone taking in the cheers from hundreds of local fans lifting her spirits to finish the final 20 miles showing strong form. 

Behind the leader Melisa Rollins had moved into second place after Harvey got off course in the mid-mountain section of the course. 

Evelyn Dong navigates Round Valley in the early morning sun. Photo by Jay Dash

Rollins was followed by the hard-charging Virginian Andrea Dvorak (Cutaway), who is battle-tested in all forms of endurance cycling.  

No one would be catching Evelyn Dong on the day as she finished the race with a smashing time of 7:30:18, well inside the top-20 of the 350 men and women in the race. 

Rollins final push to the finish was temporarily delayed as a mother and baby moose took up residence on the trail. The 25-year-old Rollins was forced to bushwhack her way around the pair before getting back on course and finishing her day at just over 8 hours. 

Despite encountering the late moose challenge, Rollins managed to stay over 20 minutes clear on third-place rider Dvorak who finished at 8:24:55.

The only way to get through the P2P. Photo by Jay Dash

Chelsea Bolton finished fourth in the open women’s field but took top honors for best quote of the day for her comment after finishing the punishing Steps trail climb exclaiming, “Before today, I’ve only ever gone up that trail by mistake!”

Courtney Boyd (Wattie Ink) rounded out the women’s podium in fifth place with a time of 8:47:14

Momma and baby Moose on course at the P2P.

The open men’s race got off to a similarly rapid pace with relative youngsters Truman Glasgow (Rouleur Devo) and Tanner Visnick (POC) pushing hard early accompanied briefly by Australian Lachlan Morton (EF Foundation) who was fresh off a podium finish at the 6-day Breck Epic and his Alt Tour De France effort where he rode the entire Tour De France course solo. 

Morton suffered an early flat before exciting the Round Valley section of the course. This left Glasgow and Visnick out front, a strategy that Visnick had envisioned. “Going out hard early is typically my move,” the 24-tear-old Visnick said. “Unless I’m marking another rider and don’t know the course well, I prefer to be in front setting my own pace on the climbs and descents.”

Never-ending single track is on tap every year at the P2P. Photo by Jay Dash

Despite throwing down early speed, Visnick was unable to shed Glasgow who worked his way into the lead by the top of Deer Valley resort. The 21-year-old Glasgow stayed clear on the following descents and through the tortuous John’s trail where a mother and baby moose forced some brief detours. 

At 50+ miles in both riders descended into the Park City Mountain feed zone just seconds apart. 

Morton was slowly working his way through the field jumping into 5th place by the Steps trail climb and taking over 4th before making his way into the feed zone. 

In front the racing was all out with less than a minute between the two leaders and Tanner Visnick now being out front, barely. 

Tanner Visnick goes for an early lead in the morning sun. Photo by Jay Dash

Despite being young, Visnick is no stranger to distance events having already won the Gunnison Growler, Emerald Epic, and Big Sky Biggie in 2021. After a quick stop at the final feed zone, Visnick used his endurance experience to hold onto a 20 second gap over his challenger needing to essentially sprint the final 5 miles of downhill to cross the line with just 39 seconds in hand. 

After almost six and a half hours of racing Truman Glasgow finished less than a minute behind the leader.

Riders get a well-deserved break after 75-miles of single track. Photo by Jay Dash

Lachlan Morton worked his way up to third place by the finish, passing another youngster, Cameron Larson (Summit Devo Team), in the final miles of the race.

Larson took fourth in what was his longest-ever mountain bike race effort.

Fifth went to Danny Van Wagoner with a time of 6:45:29. 

Race Notes

In a tradition unique to the Park City Point 2 Point, a special award is given to the final racer to finish each year’s event; in special recognition of their perseverance making it to the finish line. 

This year’s red lantern award went to Kristine Thompson, who finished, in the dark, with a time of 13:58:44. The longest-ever finishing time for the P2P.

Red lantern winner Kristine Thompson at the finish

For the first time three riders on the men’s podium were former NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) racers. Truman Glasgow and Cameron Larson both raced in the Utah league, while race winner Tanner Visnick raced in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. 

Instead of tapering the weekend before the Park City Point 2 Point, race winner Tanner Visnick, was getting married in Bozeman, Montana. Congratulations Tanner!

Click Here for Full Results from All Categories

Hitting the descents at the P2P. Photo by Jay Dash

NUE-Shenandoah 100Mile

The 23rd annual Shenandoah 100 is the oldest race in the NUE Epic Race Series held over Labor Day weekend in Stokesville, VA. Shenandoah now includes a 100k option of racing on Saturday and the classic 100 mile race on Sunday.

Early 630AM race start

Held within The George Washington National Forest of Virginia, Shenandoah marks the start of the fall season of the NUE Series with just a few races remaining that will determine this year’s champions. Shenandoah is a highly anticipated showdown showcasing top level talent in a festive atmosphere with most racers choosing to camp out at the Stokesville Lodge and campground which is included in registration.

Womens Open Toops with second NUE win

Women’s 100 M podium: 1st Jen Toops, 2nd Leila Husain, 3rd Laura Hamm, 4th Kaitlyn Maddox, 5th Lynn Faust

Making the trip down from Ohio, previous NUE marathon series winner Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/ Pivot Cycles), took the top step with a time of 9:17:59. Toops now leads the 21 NUE epic series with a win at Mohican and second at Wilderness earlier this year .

” I’ve been signed up for Shenandoah for the past couple years but couldn’t make it for various reasons. I was very excited to finally make it down to VA and see what Shenandoah was all about. My brother Shane Cusick came to cheer and is a Shenandoah veteran so we spent race eve going over the course. Game plan: the “death climb” is tough so save some matches and ride my own race. Some jerk on Saturday threw tacks out on the beginning of course and I got one in my front and rear tires. Luckily Stans sealant did the job and I was still able to run my Maxxis ikons with no issues.

Toops navigates one of many water crossing

All the women were lined up together for start of the race in about 100th position. Julia and I rode most of the beginning gravel together and then I lost sight of her (turns out she had some tire issues and had to DNF). When the race entered the first singletrack there was a lot of Congo lines and hike a bikes. I think this helped in the long run by not burning too many matches in the beginning of the day. I continued to ride a steady pace, keep up on nutrition, and save plenty for the “death climb”. Then the moment of truth…. the so called death climb. Turns out what I envisioned was way worse than it actually was. The 17 mile death climb is long but never super steep and you even get some breaks here and there. I kept looking back and asking at aids if anyone knew time gap and no one knew. I just kept pushing a tolerable pace and ended up taking the win! Super excited to celebrate with my brother and Ohio crew that made it to the event. Sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot cycles, Ergon, Fox, Maxxis, Stans, Scc, Honeystinger, Carborocket, Lazer. Next up in Marji Gesick in MI. ”

Putting in a lot of training this year for Shenandoah led to happy tears at the finish line for Leila Husain. She took second place with a time of 10:11:33.

An emotional finish for Leila Husain taking 2nd in the women’s 100 mile open

Laura Hamm made a weekend out of racing. She completed the 100k race on Saturday and also the 100 mile race on Sunday. Taking the Stan the woman award she finished the 100 mile in a time of 10:32:13.

Laura Hamm completed both the 100k and 100 mile races

Finishing fourth was, Kaityln Maddox with a time of 11:27:26 and Lynn Faust finished fifth in 13:03:03.

Mens Open- Johnson gets Shenandoah win

Previous NUE epic series and Shenandoah winner, Dylan Johnson took the overall 100 mile race with a finish time of 7:29:21.

Johnson leading 100 mile race

About 20 minutes back, Ian Schwing took second with a time of 7:50:34.

“My favorite race of all time had awaited me Sunday. The legs were fired up from the day before having my second collegiate race in UVA. 6:30am start is always majestic at sunrise with hundreds of people riding together in the woods. Fireworks and moves happened early and many people flatted. Worked my way through traffic until finally at the bottom of Tillman, found myself in the lead group, racing through almost 20 places. Dylan was already out of sight and put in what seemed like a death march of an attack for 90 miles, and nobody followed. Dropping into aid 3 only 3 of us were left in our group. On braileys decent, Jake got a flat and I rode passed him. A very very lonely death climb was ahead of me, and lonely it was. I shared a few miles with Bobby Lea before regaining the gap on Chestnut and hammered to the finish to ensure a second place.  Thank you to Flowformulas for all the support and fueling these massive efforts! Next big race on the calendar is a full collegiate season, collegiate nationals, and marathon nationals!”

Taking third place was Bobby Lea finishing about three minutes off second place with a time of 7:53:21. Fourth place went to Jimmy Klose crossing the line in 7:54:40. Hot on his heels was Heath Thumel just one minute back in 7:55:39. Bishop had mechanical issues and finished 14th.

Singlespeed- Holle with 3rd NUE SS win

Singlespeed 100M podium: 1st Justin Holle, 2nd Lance Byrd, 3rd Anthony Toops, 4th Patrick Blair, 5th Joe Fraas

The single speed division put on quite the show with the top three just four minutes apart. Making the trip from Colorado, Justin Holle, took the single speed win with a time of 8:07:51. With previous wins at High Cascades and Lumberjack he now leads the NUE epic singlespeed series.

Holle congratulating Toops after a close race

Just over a minute back, Lance Byrd took second in the singlespeed division with a time of 8:09:09.

“The Shenandoah 100 single speed division went full-dramatic in 2021.  The lineup contained multiple previous winners (Justin Holle and Patrick Blair) and 39 registered single speeders.  With a neutralized socially distanced mass start, the pace remained sane early, keeping every possibility alive.  Justin Holle (current NUE SS series leader) wouldn’t waste his premium starting position and led the entire field up the gravel climbs to the singletrack.  His confidence paid early dividends as Adventures for the Cure teammates Lance Byrd and Pat Blair were trapped behind a pileup that caused the first decisive split on mountain 1.
Furious chasing towards mountain 2 ensued.  Lance, Pat and Anthony Toops were hanging onto geared riders for dear life as those who were held up tried to bridge back to the leaders.  Pat Blair tried eating gravel at speed, with only a chipped tooth and the dust of his competitors to show for it.  He would fall further behind but wasn’t done!  Lance and Anothony attacked mountain 2.  Lance bridged to leader Justin Holle on mountain 2, ripping Wolfe descent.  The race was on.

Just a minute back, Bryd finishes second in SS. Look at those bars!

Lance and Justin joked that it would be a battle the rest of the day.  They marked each other over mountains 3 and 4.  They climbed similarly, Lance hiked and descended a little faster, Justin would repeatedly pedal him down and take control of the race.
Heading to The Death Climb of mountain 5 the stakes were raised… Anothony Toops bridged, Pat Blair (chipped tooth) bridged.  The top 4 single speeders entered The Death Climb together.  In slow motion they tested each other, some were faster on the steeps, others faster in the mud.  But, even another hour of brutal climbing couldn’t separate them by more than a few seconds.
Lance attacked the 5th and most epic descent.  It seemed to work.  There was no one in sight as he turned onto the gravel leading to the finale, mountain 6.  But Justin would not be denied.  He clawed Lance back on the roads, bridging just before the start of the climb.  The two were inseparable and they even discussed how this would play out.  They decided at the same time that Lance would attack near the top.  It seemed scripted, inevitable.  Justin responded to the final surge and then pulled away over the final kicker.  He ripped down the final descent, sealing his Shenandoah 100 and NUE SS series victory.”

Previous NUE marathon SS series winner, Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage) of Ohio took the third spot with a time of 8:12:01.

“What a race this turned out to be!  This was my first SS race since 2019 and I really didn’t know what would happen out there.  I went into the day with no expectations and no pressure other than riding hard and NO CRASHES!
The race started pretty easy and I just focused on my own race.  Justin Holle went off the front going into the first singletrack section and I wasn’t sure if I would see him again.  After I think aid two, I started to see a group up the road and it turned out to be a few geared and SS racers.  I latched onto them on a road section and from then on it was 4 SS racers battling it out for most of the day.
The pace was quick but there weren’t any all out attacks yet, just steady efforts to wear everyone down.  We were all anticipating fireworks on the death climb and everyone was riding really strong. Justin dropped back a little going into  aid 5 (mile 75) at the top and it was Lance, Patrick, and I together in and out of the aid.  I was wondering if he had cracked… but Lance quickly replied “He’s not gone yet. He always comes back!”.  Wouldn’t you know it; by the time  we were almost to the longest downhill of the day, here comes Justin! 
Lance was in the lead by about 25 yards and I had a small slide out in some mud so Justin went by going into the downhill(Chestnut).  I quickly popped back up and caught his wheel.  Patrick was in 4th and taking it easier on the downhills after a crash earlier in the race.  Justin and Lance were absolutely flying on the downhills and keeping their wheel was difficult since I was having some pretty bad hand cramping issues.  The legs were feeling strong but the hands couldn’t safely hold on so I had to back off and would loose some time going into aid 6 (mile 88).
At aid 6 I quickly grabbed a can of coke and got pedaling again.  Justin and Lance were just up the road about 200 yards. I spun like crazy and was closing the gap going into the final climb.  I was all in and went as deep as I could and almost caught them, but they put in a big attack before I could close the gap.  They would again gain some time on the final downhill and at this point I was yelling at my hands they hurt so bad!  At the line we would finish just a few minutes apart. 
This is the best battle and the most fun I’ve had in a 100mi race and couldn’t have asked for better competition on the day. Looking forward to doing it again at the Marji Gesick 100! Sponsors: Paradise Garage. Bike setup:Frame – Pivot LES size largeGearing – oval 32x19Tires – front Maxxis Aspen 3c exo 29×2.25, rear Continental Race King protection 29×2.2″

Rounding out the podium was Patrick Blair finishing fourth in 8:30:58. Fifth place went to Joe Fraas in 8:52:56.

Masters- Weaver gets win

Masters podium: 1st Dave Weaver, 2nd Eric Magnuson, 3rd Amir Matityahu, 4th Keith Papanicolas, 5th Garth Prosser

Taking the win in the Masters division was Dave Weaver (Rapha/Canyon) with a time of 8:43:05.

“Last week my rear hub cracked and a replacement never made it by Friday. My mtb shoes and helmet were still lost in shipping from the Last Best Ride in Whitefish, MT. So I threw my mtb in the car without a rear wheel along with my roadbike, in case I couldn’t race, I was just going to ride Reddish and camp out with  friends. Fortunately, Jeremiah came through with a loaner rear wheel Saturday afternoon! 

I’ve only done one other 100 miler and it was the SM100 in ‘19. I wasn’t prepared for the attrition and pain it took…and my bike setup was all wrong. My goal for Sunday was not to go out too hard on the first two climbs and stay between 10-15th overall hanging close to  Pat, Lance, and Anthony. It’s easy to get caught up in fast starts. The masters guys at this level are all very strong and know how to ride bikes in the backcountry-I knew Amir is leading the NUE Series, kept an eye on him early, and was able to pull ahead on the technical Lynn Trail climb, only to lose time to Dan Atkins on the decent-he’s fast. 

On the flats going into the Death Climb I hear Nathan and Jeremiah charging back calling my name, and was motivated to jump on that train the entire climb as I was seeing some dark moments. It was great to be with two friends on the worst climb of the day. I pulled ahead of Dan again only for him to drop me on the descent again. After a season of flat tires, I took it easy on all the downhills making sure I didn’t flat, or crash. Both are likely at the SM100. Hats off to Chris Scott, who always works hard putting together the best bike racing experiences for everyone! We’re fortunate to have beautiful places to race bikes and volunteers who put in their time to help make the race possible. I’ll definitely be back next year!”

About twenty minutes back was Eric Magnuson finishing second and crossing the line in 9:02:51.

“Taking my son on a college-campus tour through PA, DC, and VA, I figured I’d take a slight detour to race the Shenandoah 100. Glad I did. The course mixes a range of surfaces (rocks, dirt, gravel, and pavement) with suffer-inflicting climbs and smile-inducing descents. The result: a stellar MTB race. I finished where I finished (second place Masters) by pedaling with some luck and sticking to a run-of-the-mill plan, which consisted of going hard at the start; settling down to an all-day pace; and avoiding direct conflict with trees, boulders, and other hazards. There’s a band of people to thank, including family, friends, racers, race organizers, and volunteers. Special shout out to Riverside Cycle for all they do to keep my “lightly used” bikes in working order. Next up: something on the NUE 2022 calendar—perhaps True Grit.”

Only a minute back from second was, Amir Matityahu took third place in 9:04:12. In what looks like a sprint finish fourth place went to Keith Papanicolas in 9:04:14. After a broke derailleur Garth Prosser ran the last few miles finishing in 9:05:53.

Written by: @jentoops

Photos by: @Shenandoahmountaintouring

For full results CLICK HERE

Next up on the NUE Marathon Series is the Marji Gesick in Ishpeming, MI on September 18, 2021. See you all there!

Breck Epic 2021 Stage 6: Gold Dust

Alexis Skarda and Keegan Swenson seal their Breck Epic 2021 wins on the final stage.

Alexis Skarda sums up her week. Photo by Devin Balet
Keegan Swenson with the early lead on stage 6. Photo by Devin Balet

Often times in stage racing when the leader has a commanding lead, the final stage is more like a victory lap than a hard-fought battle for the stage win. This was not the case on the final day of the 2021 Breck Epic. Both the women’s and men’s race leaders ended the final stage in a sprint finish. Alexis Skarda took her sixth of six stage wins in a sprint over Rose Grant. Grant seemed to get stronger each day, or at least more recovered from her Leadville 100 win the day before the Breck Epic started.

Alexis Skarda takes an early lead on the final stage. Photo by Devin Balet
Rose Grant riding strong on day 6 just missing out on a stage win. Photo by Eddie Clark
Alexis Skarda leading Evelyn Dong on the final stage. Photo by Eddie Clark
Alexis Skarda takes the final stage win just in front of Rose Grant. Photo by Devin Balet
Rebecca Gross enjoying her final day on course. Photo by Eddie Clark

Keegan Swenson sprinted to the finish against race runner-up Luis Mejia. Mejia edged out Swenson in a photo finish. Full results here.

Riders start fast on the final stage of Breck Epic. Photo by Devin Balet
Keegan Swenson and Luis Mejia have a small gap on the chasers coming up Boreas Pass road. Photo by Eddie Clark
John Rauen on the final day of Breck Epic. Photo by Devin Balet
Amazing scenery welcomes riders each day of the Breck Epic. Photo by Devin Balet
Luis Mejia and Keegan Swenson open a lead on the chase group. Photo by Devin Balet
A flat right at the finish line! Photo by Devin Balet
Good times at the finish line. Photo by Devin Balet
Singlespeed race winner Macky Franklin on the final climb of the 6-day Breck Epic. Photo by Eddie Clark
Riders crest Boreas Pass road before a final descent back to town. Photo by Eddie Clark
Photo by Eddie Clark
Amy Chandos putting the finishing touches on a podium finish at the 2021 Breck Epic. Photo by Eddie Clark
Mike McCormack at the final podium ceremony. Photo by Eddie Clark
Mike McCormack sits in front of his race team. Photo by Eddie Clark
The pro men’s podium. Photo by Eddie Clark
The pro women’s podium. Photo by Eddie Clark
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Snow covers the peaks where riders were just yesterday. Photo by Eddie Clark
race director Mike McCormack at the end of a week of racing. Photo by Eddie Clark

Breck Epic 2021 Stage 4: Aqueduct

Longtime World Tour pro Lachlan Morton finding beauty in Breck Epic debut

Lachlan Morton enjoying his time in the mountains. Photo by Eddie Clark

Swenson and Skarda remain unbeaten this week

Alexis Skarda extends her lead on day 4. Photo by Eddie Clark
Keegan Swenson on his way to another stage win on day 4. Photo by Eddie Clark

By Devon O’Neil

BRECKENRIDGE — When Lachlan Morton rolled through the Stage 4 finish Wednesday afternoon, word already had reached those in attendance. He’d suffered another flat deep in the backcountry, his third in two days, and was left to get out on one wheel, hemorrhaging time. Placing eighth on the stage dropped him from third to fifth overall. Suddenly he had an eight-minute gap to close in the final two stages to claw back onto the overall podium.

Morton explained that his flat on West Ridge, high on the Colorado Trail after climbing from Keystone Gulch, had left little hope of repair. Yet he spent 10 minutes trying in vain on the side of the trail, before limping down to the final aid station and bumming a replacement wheel from the Santa Cruz team. “I tried to rim it as soft as I can,” he said, “because I need to ride this wheel tomorrow.” He’d also crashed during Stage 2, shredding his forearm, and generally had not been on lady luck’s good side since Sunday’s start—which, ahem, came one day after he finished second to Breck Epic leader Keegan Swenson in the Leadville 100.

Yet to understand Morton, one of cycling’s most meditative characters, is to understand he did not come here for the number next to his name at the end. “Focusing on results is in the past for me,” he said.

Morton, 29, has become a singular professional because of his refreshing approach to a sport that gobbles up talent and often spits it out. A member of the EF Education-Nippo team and a World Tour rider since 2012, Morton started mountain biking two years ago. During his career he has ridden the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España grand tours, finished the Colorado Trail in under four days, set a fastest known time on the Kokopelli Trail, and won the Tour of Utah. Earlier this summer, he made international waves by riding the entire Tour de France course, plus transfers, faster than the peloton. He averaged 190 miles a day for 18 days, sleeping outside sans support. “I just try to be genuine to things that motivate me and inspire me in a certain way,” he said.

The Breck Epic fit that mold long before he was given bib No. 2 behind Swenson’s No. 1. “It’s just a race I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. Morton’s parents first brought Lachlan, a native of New South Wales, Australia, to Breckenridge when he was 12, then every year thereafter until he was 16. The junior team that the Mortons ran, Real Aussie Kids, trained here each summer. “Breckenridge was the first place I ever visited in America. Well, that’s a lie. I went to Disney World first,” Morton chuckled. “It’s probably my favorite place in America. I would live here, but my wife [a graphic designer] would rather be in Boulder.”

Morton has no support this week. He’s racing a two-year-old Cannondale frame with gaping chips in the paint. After Stage 1, he sipped a Modelo at the finish while his competition sucked down recovery drinks. “I’m just doing the best I can with what I’ve got,” he said. Yet he’s found the race fulfilling, as he does with any adventure. “You’re basically getting shown around the best local rides for a week, and I get to mix it up with some of the fastest racers too.”

Morton’s approach is as rare as it is intentional. “When I started mountain biking, I said I would never do it competitively because I didn’t want to ruin it,” he said after finishing in 3 hours 32 minutes. “So when I’m on course, I’m having a good time and giving it a go, but if I were really serious about results, I’d go home today really disappointed. Instead, I’m going home to have a shower and then have a nice afternoon.”

GC TAKEAWAY

Keegan Swenson won his 10th Breck Epic stage in 10 tries Wednesday, crossing the line after riding 41 miles in 3 hours 10 minutes, a minute faster than his 2019 time. As he has for the entire week, Swenson waited until late in the stage to put time into his Colombian rival, Luis Mejia, who finished in 3:12. The victory was a nice salvage for Swenson, who clipped a stump in Keystone Gulch and bent his derailleur hanger, leaving him without the use of his easiest gears. “The stump caught me on a hard right turn and lifted me up,” Swenson said. Morton witnessed what happened and was shocked Swenson didn’t go down. “That was a nice save,” he told his friend at the finish. Swenson now leads Mejia by 9 ½ minutes overall. Costa Rica’s Carlos Herrera moved into third overall Wednesday, while Nash Dory enjoyed his best finish of the week in fourth.

Nash Dory on his way to a top-5 finish in stage 4. Photo by Eddie Clark
Keegan Swenson chases Luis Mejia on Henious Hill. Photo by Devon Balet
Luis Mejia leading Keegan Swenson early on stage 4. Photo by Devon Balet
Luis Mejia walks the tightrope to stay on. Photo by Devon Balet
Swenson and Mejia on Heinous Hill. Photo by Devon Balet

On the women’s side, Alexis Skarda won her fourth consecutive stage in 3:52. Rose Grant ended Evelyn Dong’s second-place run in 3:56, though Dong (4:02) remains comfortably second overall. Skarda leads by 19 minutes in the GC standings.

Evelyn Dong stays strong for another runner-up spot on day 4. Photo by Eddie Clark
Alexis Skarda regroups after another tough stage. Photo by Eddie Clark
Rose Grant eyes up a tight corner. Photo by Devon Balet
Alexis Skarda stays out front on stage 4. Photo by Devon Balet
Amy Chandos is having a good week riding near the top-5 all week. Photo by Devon Balet

FIELD NOTES

For those outside the field, it’s hard to comprehend just how fast even the midpack racers cover ground at the Breck Epic. But that’s especially true of the top third. Among this week’s standouts is Macky Franklin, a 34-year-old fat-tire chameleon from Taos, New Mexico. Franklin won the Singlespeed title at the Epic in 2012 and is the current Singlespeed national champion. He’s also competed in more than 20 Enduro World Series events, and makes a living as a pro racer and YouTube personality. This week he’s swept the Singlespeed division and finished 14th, 12th, 12th, and 13th overall, crossing in 3:42 Wednesday.

Singlespeed leader Macky Franklin is forced to push on Heinous Hill. Photo by Devon Balet

Franklin keeps more meat on his bones than the father-son duo of Chris and Justin Peck, who have run away with the usually tight Duo Open Men division. Chris, a 51-year-old engineer at Apple, and Justin, an 18-year-old college freshman-to-be (and one of at least a dozen teenagers in the race), hail from Los Gatos, California. Chris weighs 140 pounds and ski bummed in Breckenridge in his early 20s; Justin weighs 115 and can sometimes be heard hooting on the trail. They finished in 3:56 Wednesday and hold the 28th fastest GC time overall.

Christopher Peck and his teammate navigate the steeps in Breckenridge. Photo by Devon Balet
Matt Pike emerges from the trees. Photo by Eddie Clark
Justin Desilets starting his ride back to town on the Aqueduct stage. Photo by Eddie Clark
Photo by Eddie Clark
Evelyn Dong grinding her way up Heinous Hill. Photo by Devon Balet
Chris Mehlman charges through the water. Photo by Devon Balet
Photo by Devon Balet
Photo by Devon Balet
Jacob Miller gets low on stage 4. Photo by Devon Balet

Click Here for full results from all categories