Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike EPIC- Stage One

After the TSEpic was canceled in 2018, the race has been brought back thanks to the new race director Ryan Fulton of Trans-Sylvania Productions. The TSE is held in Spring Mills, PA at a local scout camp aka “Single track Summer Camp”, where the trails are know for their rugged east coast rocks. Racers can choose between a 5 or 3 day race and are allowed to camp for free.

Stage one of the TSE was Poe Valley and started from camp. Racers climbed 3208 feet in 30 miles. The weather was a perfect cool sunny day until the skies opened up on some of the racers. It was a mix of rocky old school singletrack and gravel roads with beautiful vistas.

Men’s Open

Brian Lewis made several strong attacks on stage one.

In the open men category a leading group formed of Kerry Werner (Kona/Maxxis), Bryan Lewis (Cutaway), Jeremiah Bishop (Team Topeak) and John Petrylak (Endeavor Cycles/ESI). Bryan Lewis made several attacks throughout the stage. Jeremiah Bishop was able to bridge the gap on the last attack near the finish. Lewis and Bishop rode the last several miles together until it came to a sprint at the finish. Bishop took the stage win with a time of 2:08:54:26, Lewis came in second at 2:08:54:38, and Werner took the third spot in 2:09:21.

Jeremiah Bishop (Team Topeak) on the hunt for the stage win.

Women’s Open

Carla Williams (CarboRocket) taking the win for stage one of TSE

In the open Womens category, Carla Williams (CarboRocket) took the lead from the start and continued to gap the other women on the first climbs and gravel sections . She held the lead until the finish crossing the line in an impressive 2:28:36. Behind her, Marlee Dixon (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) pushed hard but had some mechanical issues on the technical singletrack finishing 2nd in 2:39:43. Just a minute back and taking third place, was Julia Thumel at 2:40:36. Britt Mason (Joes Bike Shop) started strong but after a flat she finished 4th in 2:41:18. This is a very competitive field with 4th-6th place all within minutes of the podium and should be an exciting race to follow this week.

Marlee Dixon (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) on her way to 2nd place.
A rainy end to stage one.

For full stage 1 results click HERE

Written by: @jentoops

Photos: Bruce Buckley

NUE Cohutta 100 mile

“The 2019 event was hosted by Mountain Goat Adventures, who recently took over promotion of the event from Roost Racing, LLC.  Race day weather at the Ocoee Whitewater Center could not have been more perfect with temperatures in the mid 70’s.  Similar to prior years, the race was well attended and had sold out by the Monday before the race.

One change we immediately made to the course was to make the final singletrack section nearly all downhill to the finish.  I had raced in several past editions of this event in both the 65 and 100, and every time I returned from the gravel road loops, I wished that we could just bomb down to the finish instead of winding around on 8-12 more miles of rolling (and sometimes steep) singletrack.  While the gravel road loops of the course remained the same from the 2018 edition, we configured a course that included nearly all of the Tanasi singletrack on the front end, while riders were fresh.  After leaving it all out on the course for the gravel road loops of the 65 and 100 mile, riders were treated with a nearly all downhill 4 mile mile run into the finish.  

A very close race in the singlespeed class Left Eli Orth 3rd, Center Dan Pahrs 1st, Right Anthony Toops 2nd.
Photo: Ryan Odell

Another change we made was to offer more swag to our event participants.  Big payouts are great if you can manage to land on the podium, but that only accounts for a very small percentage of our riders so it is important to me to make sure we are taking care of the other 95% of our participants as well by offering them nice swag, a well-marked course, good support at the aid stations, and overall a great race experience that they will remember.  We saw riders from all over the US and Canada, so it was great hearing how much riders from other regions enjoyed the course (albiet a tough one!)  While the race overall went very smoothly, we learned a lot in our first year of production that we can take with us moving forward to make this event even better in 2020.” -Lisa Randall (2019 Race Director)

Men’s Open  

Johnson gets FOURTH consecutive Cohutta WIN

1st-Dylan Johnson, 2nd-Christian Tanguy, 3rd-Matt Acker, 4th-Spencer Whittier, 5th-Lee Hauber. Photo Credit- Dashing Images LLC

Taking the win in the Men’s Open class for an impressive fourth year in a row was Dylan Johnson, FBS Racing, with a time of 6:57:09. Christian Tanguy, RBS Team, took a close second just two minutes back, coming in at, 6:59:08.

Matt Acker grabbed the third spot with a time of 7:05:15. Sponsors include: Salsa Cycles, Velocity USA, Industry Nine, and Grand Rapids Bicycle Company based out of Michigan.

Matt Acker 3rd place
Photo Ryan Odell

“The weather was perfect for race day and the pace started out modestly from the whitewater center. As we got out onto the highway roll out there were some attacks and Dylan and Christian got out in front. I settled in behind them with another gentleman. Their gap slowly grew through the first 30 miles of trails and 4th place and myself stayed together. Once we hit the big gravel loop we could no longer see 1 and 2. The 4th place rider pushed a hard pace and rolled ahead of me for quite some time on the gravel loop while i focused on staying true to my pace. About halfway through the event i caught him again and we rolled into the 59 mile aid together to re-supply. They told us that 1 and 2 were almost 5 minutes up the road so it became a race between us. We worked together a bit back and forth until just over 80 miles and when 4th stopped to get bottles and nutrition i kept rolling. I kept the effort smooth but hard until the last singletrack descent and rolled in for 3rd. Great event, awesome volunteers and fun course.”

Women’s Open

Toops gets first NUE Epic Win

1st-Jen Toops, 2nd-Mary Penta, 3rd-Anne Pike, 4th-Laureen Coffelt, 5th-Angela Graziosi.
Photo credit: Dashing Images LLC

Taking the win in the women’s race, 2018 NUE Marathon Champion, Jen Toops, Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles MTB race team, finished in 8:33.41.

“This was my first 100 mile race so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew Penta was a strong gravel rider from her finish at the Barry Roubaix, so I went hard on the first climb and made sure I was ahead of her going into the singletrack. Having some fun on the downhills and pushing the pace a few times uphill, I was able to make a gap before entering into the gravel. My legs were feeling good and I continued to ride my own pace. The changes to the course this year were a pleasant surprise ending the race with so much downhill. I rode my Pivot Les 27.5 and am always reminded how well this bike climbs! My next NUE race will be Mohican 100!”

Taking second was Mary Penta, Think Green/Bicycle Face, crossing the line at 9:17:51. Third place was Anne Pike with a time of 10:03:38.

Singlespeed

Pahrs takes top step

1st-Dahn Pahrs, 2nd-Anthony Toops, 3rd-Eli Orth, 4th-Chris Blakenship, 5th-Joe Worboy
Photo credit: Dashing Images LLC

Winning the singlespeed class was, Dahn Pahrs of UPMC Pro Bike, crossing the line in 7:30:07.

Anthony Toops, 2018 NUE SS Marathon series Champion, racing for Paradise Garage took second place, 7:43:12.

“Cohutta was my first big test of the year so I was ready to get this one in the books.  The race started with the usual effort up the road to get to the single track as near the front as possible.  Pahrs led the pack up the climb initially until the spring over the top into the trail. I made sure to get into the singletrack as the 1st single speeder so I could hopefully use my full suspension to my advantage. This year 95% of the single track was at the beginning of the race unlike previous years where it was 50/50. I should’ve done more homework here as the full suspension wasn’t really needed due to the course changes.
Pahrs was on my wheel the entire singletrack section and with a few riders ahead, passing was difficult. He eventually passed me and we hit the first road sections together.  He started to pull away some on the climbs but I was making up time on the descents. Eventually he got a gap around mile 45 I think that would grow for the rest of the race.  I struggled some in the potato patch section of climbs, trying not to lose time because I had a feeling Eli Orth wouldn’t be far behind. Around mile 65 or so Nick Bragg caught up to me and we rode together for a while. Some good conversation made the time pass faster as we kept turning over the pedals. He would pull ahead out of aid 5 and I just kept the power down to bring home 2nd place… only around a minute ahead of Eli Orth!
This was the first race with my Pivot 429sl set up single speed. After some initial setup issues the bike was performing great. My bike selection was overkill for this course, but I kinda knew that going in. Next time will be the hardtail. 
Another great event put on by Mountain Goat Adventures. The crew and staff did an amazing job!  Looking forward to some more NUE racing coming up! Gearing 34×20″

Taking the third spot was, Eli Orth of Team Hungry, with a time of 7:44:30.

“Cohutta was my first NUE race of the year. The weather for the race couldn’t have been better. It was a little cool in beginning but quickly warmed up with the first long climb. I played it safe in the beginning on the first climb but also made sure i was in top 3 in ss going into the single track. I got into single track with Michael Gottfried and we kept a good pace but got slowed down in several areas by slower traffic. We called for the pass and started to pick up the pace. Once we got into the death march gravel loop I was hoping i was still within striking distance of “Dahn Pahrs” and Anthony Toops. I picked up the pace on the gravel loop trying to make up time if possible. Everything was going great and I still felt great but got a puncture flat on my rear tire at mile 80.. after we joined up with big frog racers. Of all places it was on gravel and i didn’t even see what caused it. I felt the tire going down so i jumped off and grabbed my plug kit from my jersey pocket. I initially put in small plug but it didn’t hold. So i put in big plug and after stans sprayed out for a few seconds it stopped leaking and sealed. A fellow teammate that was racing big frog stopped and gave me one of their co2’s to take just in case i would need it. Fortunately i didn’t need it. Unfortunately though having the plug in there and what seemed to be barely holding i started to race conservative, so i wouldn’t rip the plug out and flat again. I knew i could hang onto 3rd as long as i kept everything together.I was really surprised at the finish to find out Anthony came across the line only a minute ahead of me. Once again it was a close race between us after over 7.5hrs of racing. It was a great race and I look forward to more. I ran 34×19 gear. The gearing made some of the climbs a little tough but overall it was the perfect gearing for me on that course. My next big race will be the TSE 5 day stage race in May followed by Mohican 100 5 days after that. Thanks to my team, team mates, and sponsors Team Hungry and Absolute Black. “

Masters

Hammond gets first Cohutta win

1st-Matt Hammond, 2nd-Zdenek Fiebinger, 3rd-Rodney Reed, 4th-Alan Miner, 5th-Jeff Chalmers. Photo Credit: Dashing Images LLC.

Matt Hammond took the Masters win with a time of 8:11:34.

“My experience with the Cohutta 100 this past Saturday was fantastic! The course was well marked and overall production was great! Could not have asked for better weather and conditions for a bike race.I’m a veteran bike racer but first time winner of a 100 mile race. I will very likely participate in this event again next year. Not sure that I’ll do any more of this years series. I’m not sponsored currently but would entertain any offers!

Taking the second step was, Zdenek Fiebinger of Sonic Cycling, 8:44:16.

“After racing Big Frog few times in the past and recently turning 50, I decided that is time to try the big boys distance. I did many different races around Ocoee and love to return to this area. Plus, mountaingoatadventures.com is always guarantee of perfectly organized race. My race started slower as my old diesel needs little more time to warm up. Once in the single track, I moved up several places and felt good until about mile 30 miles when I had to back of the pace little bit after my lower back started to remind me that as rest of me it is also 50 years old. Few riders came from behind and we formed nicely working group For rest of the race I was yo-yo ing around few younger riders, passing and getting passed. I was happy to see my teammate RJ and was able to ride with him for some distance later in the race. I was hoping to see the finish line sooner but was happy with the result under the circumstances. It was hard but great race. Well organized with many super friendly and helpful volunteers. Cohutta definitely found a permanent place on my race calendar.” 

Rodney Reed finished third in a time of 8:50:08.

“This was the 8th time I’ve lined up for the Cohutta 100.  The difference this year is it was my first time competing in the masters category.  The day couldn’t have started off more perfect weather wise – high 40’s to start and getting up to mid 70’s by the finish.  Although the course was similar to last year, there were a few course changes early in the race that left me with some uncertainty but off we went.  I felt really good headed into the first bit of single track with good position and good pacing.  After the first aid station I began having some stomach issues which would come and go the rest of the day.  I had one minor mishap when I miscalculated my bunny hop over the off camber pine on Riverview Loop causing me to go over the bars.  I picked myself up and continued.  Once onto the gravel section I was caught by a couple guys who were “not racing, just riding” then they dropped me!  Probably about 5 1/2 hours in Jen Toops caught up with me and we chatted for a few minutes exchanging positions on the climbs before she took off.  After the merge with the Big Frog riders I knew I only had a few moderate climbs left so I gave it all I had to the finish.  Very much appreciated the downhill sections after the last aid stations.
A special thank you to my wife Amy and daughter Emma for putting up with my long weekend away and supporting the countless Sunday’s spent gravel grinding in Ohio.  Shout out to the Sunday Gravel Church gang – Rick, Matt, Terry, Mike and Benton for pushing me all winter!  Special thanks to Rick’s Bicycle Service and HWB Cycling for keeping my Santa Cruz Tallboy in tip top shape year after year for these grueling races.  Next up, Mohican 100.”

Click here for full results

What’s up next? Click here to register for the NUE Mohican 100 mile & 100 K in Loudonville, OH.

Written by: Lisa Randall & @Jentoops


NUE Big Frog 65 mile

“The 2019 event was hosted by Mountain Goat Adventures, who recently took over promotion of the event from Roost Racing, LLC.  Race day weather at the Ocoee Whitewater Center could not have been more perfect with temperatures in the mid 70’s.  Similar to prior years, the race was well attended and had sold out by the Monday before the race.

One change we immediately made to the course was to make the final singletrack section nearly all downhill to the finish.  I had raced in several past editions of this event in both the 65 and 100, and every time I returned from the gravel road loops, I wished that we could just bomb down to the finish instead of winding around on 8-12 more miles of rolling (and sometimes steep) singletrack.  While the gravel road loops of the course remained the same from the 2018 edition, we configured a course that included nearly all of the Tanasi singletrack on the front end, while riders were fresh.  After leaving it all out on the course for the gravel road loops of the 65 and 100 mile, riders were treated with a nearly all downhill 4 mile mile run into the finish.  

Crowley all smiles after a 1st place Masters finish
Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Another change we made was to offer more swag to our event participants.  Big payouts are great if you can manage to land on the podium, but that only accounts for a very small percentage of our riders so it is important to me to make sure we are taking care of the other 95% of our participants as well by offering them nice swag, a well-marked course, good support at the aid stations, and overall a great race experience that they will remember.  We saw riders from all over the US and Canada, so it was great hearing how much riders from other regions enjoyed the course (albiet a tough one!)  While the race overall went very smoothly, we learned a lot in our first year of production that we can take with us moving forward to make this event even better in 2020.” -Lisa Randall (2019 Race Director)

Men’s Open

Pendlebury takes top step

1st-Jeffrey Pendlebury, 2nd-Brian Schworm, 3rd-Dereck Treadwell, 4th-Chris Tries, 5th-Eric Post. Photo credit: Dashing Images LLC.

Jeffrey Pendlebury from Rideon Wooster took the Men’s Big frog win with a blistering fast time of, 4:39:04. A close second place was, Brian Schworm, Think Green/Bicycle Face crossing the line in 4:43:39.

“Racing the shorter Big Frog was a change for me this year since I’ve entered the Cohutta 100 the last four years or so.  My goals for this year have changed with a focus on the shorter marathon and traditional cross-country distances in mind.  Anyway, I was not unfamiliar with the Big Frog since I raced it three times many years ago.  I knew the similarities and differences between the two races and knew what to expect.

Think Green Team: Left- Nathaniel Cornelius, Middle- Brian Schworm and right-Paul Karle. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

The race started as usual up the paved climb with the typical scramble into the singletrack.  Chris Tries lead the way with five more riders, including myself and teammates Nathaniel Cornelius and Paul Karle, separating fairly early.  We rode the first portion of singletrack together until Thunder Rock Express and the following gravel climb.  On that climb eventual winner Jeff Pendlebury attacked and I was able to respond (although I had to dig deep).  From that point we rode together through the rest of the singletrack and most of the gravel section.  I think Jeff knew I was struggling a bit as he threw in some attacks and I was able to respond until the last one on the gravel section headed back to the start/finish.  Jeff threw down a big attack and I had no response.  I tried to keep my pace high to fend off any chasers behind and was able to finish second on the day.  It was great to see my teammates, Paul and Nate, finishing close with sixth and seventh positions giving our team three in the top ten.

Of course I need to thank my team Think Green – Bicycle Face for their incredible support and my other sponsors SWORD, ESI grips, Native Eyewear, and Specialized Bikes.  An extra special thanks to my wife, Jennifer Schworm, for her daily support.  Without her these pursuits would not be possible.  Up next is the USA Marathon Nationals in Texas followed soon by the Mohican 100K in Ohio.”

Just four minutes back, Dereck Treadwell, finished third in 4:48:06.

Dereck Treadwell 3rd
Photo: Ryan Odell

Women’s Open

Schneeberger takes Big Frog win

gig
1st-Leia Schneeberger, 2nd-Ali Lecraw, 3rd-Kelsey Devereaux, 4th-Naomi Haverlick, 5th-Kimberly Flynn. Photo credit: Dashing Images LLC.

Taking the win in the women’s marathon race was, Leia Schneeberger, Broken Spoke Racing, finishing in 5:50:20.

” I had been informed the race was mostly single track in style with a “portion” of gravel.  To my surprise it was the reverse.  I am a single track specialist and have never raced gravel before so it was an eye opener.  I certainly understand why they call them gravel grinders as this race was certainly a steady grind for me.  I made a solid effort to be the first women into the single track portion so that I could create a gap on the rest.  I’ve never raced a course this long or with this amount of elevation so I kept my heart rate in the endurance / tempo range all day in effort to avoid bonking.  It ended up being enough to get the job done. I currently race for Broken Spoke Bikes in Green Bay Wisconsin and Hammer Nutrition. I will be racing the Marji Gesick 100 this fall.  

Ali LeCraw 2nd place women’s open: Photo Ryan Odell

About thirteen minutes back, Ali LeCraw of Peachtree Bikes finished second in 6:03:15. A close third place, Kelsey Devereaux crossed the line in 6:06:16.

Singlespeed

Kunz gets his first NUE win

1st-Josh Kunz, 2nd-Scott Brannon, 3rd-Nathan Grubb, 4th-Forrest Ege, 5th-John Leblanc

Getting his first NUE win, Joshua Kunz of Knobby Side Down finished in 5:14:52. Eleven minutes back, Scott Brannon of Motor Mile Racing crossed the line second in 5:26:11.

Josh Kunz 1st place SS
Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Nathan Grubbs grabbed the third place step in 6:01:10.

“For the first race of the season and only my 4th ride on single track this year, I opted to gear down to a 32-20.  It was a pretty slow ratio for the first 10 miles of singletrack, but I managed to finally start passing other riders on the first big climb after the bridge.  By aid 3, I had moved up at least 30 positions and was feeling good.  By the massive climb on FS 62, 32-20 seemed like a good choice.  With a healthy mix of ‘stand-and-mash’ and swearing, the large gravel climbs went by quickly.  Into the last 5 miles downhill, geared riders that I had been passing since Aid 4 were starting to catch me.  Dylan and Christian blew past on the last few hundred yards of singletrack, and I gave a last big effort to try and get in under 6 hours.  I was very happy with third and a 6:01:10 final time.  “

Nathan Grubbs 3rd place SS
Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Masters

Crowley WINS Masters

1st-Ariel Crowley, 2nd-Jeff Clayton, 3rd-Jorge Cortez, 4th-Mathew Sexton, 5th-Chris Torrance. Photo credit: Dashing Images LLC.

Making the trek from out west, Ariel Crowley of QQQQ Racing, wins the masters division in 5:23:50.

No stranger to the NUE series, Jeff Clayton of Georgia Neurosurgical Institute took second in 5:25:25.

Jeff Clayton 2nd place masters
Photo credit: Ryan Odell

“I came to the race with much less than ideal training.  Just one ride of over 5 hours in the last few months and that was a gravel grinder race.  I did a late afternoon pre-ride Friday and found the trails to be in great shape.  The start was nice and mellow, giving me a few minutes to get my body ready for the shock of the inevitable surge on the paved climb.  I accepted being dropped on the second surge and settled in with a couple other guys entering the singletrack.  We caught a group ahead and were caught by a few riders from behind.  Things split up again in the roots on old copper rd and the bear paw climb.  By the time I got on the gravel road portion of the race I’d left all but one of those racers behind and caught a few more.  On the gravel loop I rode mostly solo, catching and riding with a few racers and then dropping them.  The last long road section had me feeling my lack of training—cramps!  I got dropped by one companion I’d caught and then passed by one other guy.  I was able to keep it that way, though I could feel that I was slowing.  One racer I caught a glimpse of in the distance on the final climb ended up being Matt Crowley who held me off for the win in 50+.  Kudos to Matt for coming from Utah to race and taking the win!”

Finishing third was, Jorge Cortes with a time of 5:37:41.

Click here for full results

What’s up next? Click here to register for the NUE Mohican 100 mile & 100 K in Loudonville, OH.

Written by: Lisa Randall & @Jentoops

True Grit Epic 100 Mile

A Day of Firsts for True Grit

This year’s True Grit Epic in Santa Clara, Utah, represented an exciting new chapter for the southern Utah race. 2019 was it’s first sellout year with an impressive 800+ riders taking the start. It also represented the first year of the True Grit gravel grinder.

Riders enter the Zen trail

As race morning broke it seemed to be following a now-familiar pattern, early forecasts of cold temperautres and rain turned into pleasant skies and ideal riding weather. Rain throughout the week had left some puddles on the trail but nothing a seasoned True Grit rider couldn’t handle.

The hundred milers start first just as the sun rose over the cliffs of Zion.

True Grit defending champion and endurance-veteran Taylor Lideen (DNA Cycling/Pivot) was a heavy favorite for the men’s category as fellow Arizona rider Chase Edwards (CZ Racing) was favored for the women who was determined to improve on her fourth place from last year.

As the riders rolled out a puddles and standing water from the previous rains splattered the field until they exited the opening wash and the climbing started. At the front Lideen moved to the front with Pete Karinen.

Karinen kept the heat on the defending champion ensuring he wouldn’t ride away for an easy win. The lead duo rode together throughout the opening 50-lap and the early climbs of lap two.

It wasn’t until the steepest climb of the day up to the dreaded waterfall descent that Lideen was able to open a gap. A small advantage was all Lideen would need as his riding skills took control on the highly challenging Barrel and Zen trails.

It certainly wasn’t an easy day for the defending champion. At the finish Lideen said, “some days you feel great and just ride away and other days it feels like you really have to work for it. Today was one of those days.”

But despite not feeling his best Taylor Lideen was able to control the day and finish the 100 miler in just over six and a half hours. Nine minutes in front of challenger Pete Karinen.

After the race the repeat race winner had this to say:

It was a blast riding with Pete throughout the day as he is a super talented and skilled rider. I was able to make my move on the longer climb up to the waterfall early into the second lap. You never know how the day will go on such a rough and technical course out there but I was fortunate enough to grab the win. I am always blown away by how awesome and friendly every racer is out there no matter the distance they are competing in. It’s always a pleasure to race in this event. Mary (Mrs. Lideen) of course was my everything with her aid in the pits. I am one lucky dude to have her in my corner. Big thanks to all of the volunteers out there as well! Races like this wouldn’t happen with great people like that!

Timon Fish (Sticky Racing) finished in third with a time of 7:00:12 after a close battle with Stefano Barberi (Serious Cycling).

Chris Alstrin (Carborocket) grabbed the final podium spot in fifth.

With the win Taylor Lideen takes the lead in the NUE series but will not likely feature in the final series picture as his goals for the season are outside the NUE leaving the door open for others to challenge for the NUE title.

The women’s race appeared to be starting as expected with Chase Edwards opening an early lead through the big climbs on the opening lap. She held the lead heading into the technical slickrock jungle of Zen trail but St. George local Shirley Leydsman (Team Redrock) closed things down in the rocks and pulled ahead.

Once out front Leydsman stayed focused on riding her own race and erasing the disappointment of crashing and badly injuring her wrist in last year’s True Grit.

Her motivation showed as she opened a big gap finally crossing the line over 30 minutes up on Edwards who had this to say after the finish.

True Grit is a brutal NUE season opener! Shirley, the local gal who won, caught me at Zen, took a line I was unfamiliar with, and dropped me on the first lap. It was a great warm-up to the season as the techy sections on the course forced me to keep my head in the game and to also acknowledge skill sets that got a little rusty over the winter. I’ll be chasing other NUE races this season while representing Construction Zone Racing. I’d also like to say thanks to Paragon Athletics for helping to keep my body strong and injury-free, to Coach Kata for continuing to work with me on this ongoing journey of balancing work stress and training, and Honey Stinger for fueling all the adventures. 

Julie Thumel (Race Pace Bicycles) finished in third place followed by Becky Edmiston (Steamboat Velo) in fourth.

In the singlespeed group, Mark Schafer improved on his bronze medal from 2018 with a race win at this year’s True Grit. Schafer dominated for most of the race finishing almost a half hours clear of runner up Johnathan Ciampa (DRT/Cycological).

Ciampa put together a strong race chasing down Nathan Whipple after the opening 50 miles and opening a gap in the second half of the race. Whipple started out strong but a tall gear and a long New England winter effected his performance. The third place rider had this to say about his day in Santa Clara:

Early season weather in New England didn’t let me get out on the SS as much as I’d have liked. Just days before the race, Boston got a fresh 18” of snow even.  Add in an optimistic gear choice for the race and I did a great job setting myself up for an Epic amount of hurt. It was hardly noticed though, what with the amazing trails and spectacular vistas constantly trying to one-up each other. 

The gear choice did help early positioning, but by the start of the 2nd lap the damage from the low cadence grinding started to show. I found myself forced off the bike to avoid having the wheels fall completely off. I had nothing to counter with when the second place finisher caught me and I watched him motor away from me up the first climb on Zen. I rode by myself for the majority of the second lap after that and soaked in the views and amazing trail. 

The men’s master group saw Cary Smith once again crushing the hopes of all competitors. Smith, who had the fifth fastest finishing time of all the 100 mile riders dominated from the starting gun leaving no doubt he was going to repeat as master’s champion short of major catastrophe.

But Smith avoided any complications to his race and finished a full 2 hours clear of runner up Gerry Hatcher (Santa Cruz).

Hatcher turned in a strong effort in his first True Grit experience and had this to say after the finish:

The Santa Clara/St George area has intrigued me for a while and I’ve never ridden in Utah so learning of the “True Grit Epic” race gave me the push I needed – Road Trip!  I brought my 2018 Santa Cruz Highball CC 29’r hardtail.

Having never ridden in the Santa Clara area before, and my introduction to it being the most gnarly sections of the True Grit rattled that confidence and made me immediately re-calibrate my race strategy. 

I dialed everything back from “go fast” to “just make damn sure I finish.”  Having fitted relatively thin walled & fast rolling tires thinking because I’m a small framed lightweight rider it was “probably worth the risk”, didn’t help with my anxiety. Sidewall tearing, rim & tire destroying geology was lurking everywhere! It wasn’t until I got through Zen Trail on my second lap that I relaxed a bit. Until then I had to constantly remind myself to stay focused, keep good lines, and to not take unnecessary chances.  I used my cyclo-cross skills to shoulder the bike and trot over, around, or down more sections than I’m proud of, but hey I finished! And, un-expected icing on the cake, with a respectable second place too!

Jim Miller finished third after enjoying his day and improving after a broken frame almost ended True Grit in 2018.

He had this to say at the end:

It was a great day, I love this race and plan to come back again and again.  The trails are nearly 100% sweet single-track, the race vibe is competitive but fun and friendly, the event is well run, the volunteers are great, and the setting is so very beautiful! Thanks to Joe’s Bike Shop in Baltimore for having my Trek Fuel EX in tip-top shape.

Click Here for full results from True Grit Epic 2019

Riders were treated to food a live music after the finish

True Grit Epic 50 Mile

This year’s True Grit 50 miler started an hour after the 100 milers allowing the trail a bit more time to soak up the previous day’s rain and the 100 milers to disperse some of the standing water.

The trip out of Santa Clara was warmer than the last several years and the racing heated up quickly too.

Utah powerhouse Evelyn Dong (Pivot/Stan’s Notubes) surged into the lead of the women’s open race early on. Being known as one of the most talented technical riders in the US Dong was near unstoppable in the rocks and ledges of the True Grit course.

Riders navigate the loved and hated rocks of the Zen trail

After sailing through burly sections like the Waterfall and Zen trail Dong spent the day challenging many of the top open male riders out on course. Even a crash out on course couldn’t stop Evelyn Dong from taking a win in the NUE series opener. After the race she had this to say about her first True Grit experience.

“2019 was my first time racing True Grit, which is a bit shameful having lived in Utah for years now. The Green Valley and Santa Clara trails are some of my favorite trails to ride so I figured I had no excuses not to race this year.

I was pretty excited to race and just to ride on dirt because the winter has been pretty brutal this year. My race experience included going back and forth with a few men for the entire race which made it fun, and one crash which fortunately bang me or my bike up too much. Favorite part? Zen is always a sweet spot and going down Barrel Roll is a good reward near the end.”

After the lone leader it was local legend Lynda Wallenfels (LW Coaching) putting together a stellar effort on her home course proving she’s back on form after a few years away from racing. Her second place finish was a welcomed upgrade from her 2018 True Grit experience which saw her suffer a catastrophic mechanical. Ride back to her house for a fix and then return to complete the 50-mile course.

Behind Wallenfels, Nicole Tittensor (Scott) and Jen Hanks (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) battled for third with Tittensor opening a lead on the early climbs and holding pace for the first 30-plus miles of the race.

Hanks stayed close and late in the race closed the gap on the Rim Reaper trail and moved into third before the final singletrack on Barrel Roll.

Ami Stuart (Upcycle) took the final podium spot in fifth.

Riders wind through a wash in the early morning sun

The men charged off the start line with Cannondale rider Alex Grant looking to improve on his third place finish the last two years.

Defending champion Justin Lindine wasn’t on hand to defend his title as a water leak at his home forced him to return home instead of riding the trails in Santa Clara.

Grant got off to a good start joined by local contenders Drew Free (Kuhl), Chris Holley (Kuhl), Bryson Perry (Rouleur Devo), and Clayton Otto (Pivot, TRP, Rotor).

Grant shed his competition once and for all in the red rock maze of Zen trail and powered solo to the finish line. He had this to say after the race.

“I was able to break away from the front group on the climb up to the waterfall descent, and then hold the gap in to Zen where I increased it to a couple minutes. 

From there is was steady eddy all the way and I rode solo for the rest of the race.  I rode the Cannondale Scalpel-Si with the Lefty Ocho and it was the perfect setup for the course. 

I was really happy to take the win and want to say thanks to the promoters, volunteers and city of Santa Clara for putting on another awesome event!”

Chris Holley stayed close to the loan leader but not close enough to challenge. A gifted rider in the rocks, Holley used his skills to hold off a strong challenge from Clayton Otto.

Drew Free crossed the line in fourth barely a minute in front of Bryson Perry.

The two closest races of the day came from the singlespeed  and 50-plus riders. Both coming down to sprint finishes deciding the race winners.

In singlespeed, Preston Edwards (Zone Five Racing) took the early lead cresting the opening climbs in first place. But after being forced to dismount on the Waterfall drop he lost his spot to Shannon Boffeli (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) and defending champion Christopher Heinrich (The Path Bike Shop).

Boffeli took the lead into Zen and holding Heinrich off throughout the remaining course. The gap never reached more than a handful of seconds with Boffeli pulling away on the climbs and Heinrich closing it down on descents.

“I did everything I could to drop Chris once I knew he was back there,” Boffeli said after the finish. “I thought I had gotten clear but as soon as we popped back onto the road just a mile from the finish he was right there.”

“I hit the pavement with maybe 10 seconds in hand and I felt pretty confident. I lowered my dropper post a tiny bit to make it easier to spin on the flats back to the finish and right when I did that both legs completely cramped.”

“I was lucky enough to get my legs moving again but by that time Chris was right on my wheel and he timed his sprint perfectly to pip me just before the line. It was a great race on an exceptional course and Chris fought hard for the win.”

Both riders collapsed at the finish with a very happy defending champion in Christopher Heinrich.

Past race winner Corey Larrabee finished in third in front of early leader Preston Edwards.

Brent Cannon took fifth.

The 50-plus men’s group saw Jeff Jacobson (UCC/JW Floors) taking an early lead pulling away through the Waterfall drop and Zen trail before Matt Crowley (LW Coaching) bridged up to the leader around the halfway point.

From Stucki Springs on, the lead duo matched each other move for move surging back and forth through the Rim Reaper and Barrel Roll trails before entering the final stretch into Santa Clara wheel to wheel.

Just feet from the line both riders unleashed their sprint with Crowley only just getting the better of Jacobson at the line.

Andy Compas (VeloLove) was thrilled with his third place finish after crashing on his face over the Waterfall drop in 2018. His sub-4 hour time was a big improvement over the previous year.

Mike Hileman navigated his way through a successful True Grit finishing fourth in front of fellow Nevada racer Richard DeYoung.

The 2019 True Grit Epic saw the addition of a completely new category to the NUE series. The women’s 50-plus category put forward a strong showing in their first event as an official NUE category with seven riders taking the start and all but one completing the gnarly 50-mile course.

Joanne LaBelle (Peaked Sports) was the winner in the inaugural True Grit for 50-plus women. The Driggs, Idaho, rider logged a time of just over five hours.

Gayle Olpin took second as Laura Shaw and Jennifer Kruleski duked it out for third with Shaw crossing the line just seconds in front of Kruleski.

Danita Ritter (WomenMTB) took the final podium spot in fifth.

Next the NUE series moves east to the traditional east coast opener, the Cohutta Classic in Ducktown, Tennessee on April 27th.

Click Here for full results from all categories

Moab Rocks Stage 3

The final stage of Moab rocks is the most popular and it’s no surprise with the mixture of challenging rocky climbs and burly, thrilling descents. The race starts on Gemini bridges road which turns from a flat dirt road to a steep climb in the first mile. The climb helps to spread racers out and once over the top it’s a fast, loose road descent onto a flat road ride until the next steep paved climb.  After a few more miles, racers start climbing technical single track but are rewarded with fun descents and some dirt flow sections. The trail continues in an upward trend until Bull Run, a thrilling rocky descent.  Next the trail climbs and descends some rocky plateaus before racers head over to great escape for some more downhill fun.  Once off the single track it’s back up and over Gemini bridges road to the finish.  Today was another beautiful sunny day for racing some challenging, phenomenal singletrack. 

Photos by Jean McAllister & John Gibson

For the pro men, on the first single track, Geoff Kabush (Yeti) pushed ahead from the lead pack.  Cal Skilsky (CZ racing), Taylor Lideen (Pivot), and Justin Lindine rode together on the single track but once on the final road section they were caught by Ben Sonntag (Clif Pro Team) and Cooper Wiens (Topeak Ergon). It was a sprint finish to the end for 2nd-6th.  Kabush won the stage in a time of 1:57:31. Lindine finished 2nd (1:59:01), followed by Lideen (1:59:02), Skilsky in 4th  (1:59:02.5) and Sonntag in 5th (1:59:04.3).  For the overall, Kabush wins with a total time of (5:17:50.3), followed by Skilsky in 2nd (5:20:27.2), Lindine in 3rd (5:20:50.2), Sonntag in 4th (5:21:26.1) and Lideen in 5th (5:21:29.2).

For the pro women Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) started in the lead on the road climb.  Once over the first climb and on the flat road, Karen Jarchow (Topeak Ergon) worked with a group of men to catch her but when they reached the single track, Nash took off.  Marlee Dixon (Pivot/ Pearl Izumi) raced in 3rd until Bull Run where she ran into chain issues and was caught and passed by Tamara Donelson (The Cycle Effect).  For today’s stage, Nash wins (2:16:02), followed by Jarchow (2:29:48), and Donelson in 3rd (2:30:19).  For the overall, Nash wins Moab Rocks with a time of (6:10:05), Jarchow finishes 2nd (6:45:17) and Dixon in 3rd (6:46:32). 

rider: Yuki Ikeda leads Travis Hauck and Nathaniel Vacura
Photos by Jean McAllister & John Gibson
Photos by Jean McAllister & John Gibson

Moab Rocks Stage 2


rider: Justin Lilndine leads Geoff Kabush.
Photos by Jean McAllister & John Gibson

For stage 2 of Moab Rocks, racers head out of town to the Klondike Bluffs trails.  Unlike the beautiful sunny skies of yesterday, racers started this morning in overcast, cool conditions. The forecast was for 60’ weather and no precipitation but an hour into the race, big wet snowflakes fell on racers! There’s something about crazy weather conditions to add to the epic-ness and challenge of a mountain bike race! 

At 8:30am, the gun went off and racers charged ahead.  The first 5 miles of the race are an undulating road ride where racers quickly spread out.  Once on the single track it’s a mixture of slick rock and dirt with technical features and quick climbs/ descents. The snow added a different complexity to the race- with wet rocks, cold temperatures and limited vision. Once the storm had passed, racers again enjoyed sunshine and tacky trails. 

For the pro men, it’s still a tight race with 2nd-5th in a sprint finish. The top 5 pro men raced together until the 2nd check point when Geoff Kabush (Yeti) attacked, leaving the other 4 guys behind. 2nd through 5th worked together trying to catch Kabush, but couldn’t reel him in.  Kabush won the stage in a time of 1:48:56. Once off of single track on the last 4×4 dirt road section, it was a sprint finish between 2nd- 5th place with Taylor Lideen (Pivot) finishing 2nd (1:49:20), Cal Skilsky (CZ racing) finishing 3rd (1:49:21) Ben Sonntag (Cliff Pro Team) in 4th (1:49:28) and Justine Lindine in 5th (1:49:29).  The overall for men changes today with Kabush still in 1st (3:20:18), Skilsky in 2nd (3:21:25), Lindine in 3rd (3:21:57), Lindeen in 4th (3:22:27) and Sonntag in 5th (3:22:29).

For the pro women, Karen Jarchow (Topeak Ergon) lead the women on the road until Katerina Nash (Cliff Pro Team) passed her before entering the trail system. Jarchow kept Nash in sight for the first climb but Nash continued to pull ahead finishing 1st (2:10:23). Karen remained in 2nd (2:20:51) and it was a sprint finish for 3rd with Syd Schultz (Jamis Bikes/ Pearl Izumi) finishing (2:24:00) ahead of Marlee Dixon (Pivot/ Pearl Izumi) (2:24:04).  For the overall, Nash increases her overall lead with a total time of 3:54:03, followed by Jarchow in 2nd (4:15:28) and Dixon in 3rd (4:15:34).  

rider: Katerina Nash won Stage 2 in the Open Women category.
Photos by Jean McAllister & John Gibson
rider: Marlee Dixon
Photos by Jean McAllister & John Gibson

Moab Rocks Stage 1

Written by: Marlee Dixon @graciedaze

Today’s stage began in downtown Moab, UT where racers lined up in the race corral as TransRockies ritualistic playing of “Highway to Hell” blasted over the speakers. At 8:30am the race rolled out behind a neutral start car. Once on Sand Flats road, the pace car stopped and the race began.

Riders struggle to hang with the group on the steep Sand Flats road climb

The first 13 miles of the race are a steady climb up Sand Flats road with a steep paved section.  This year, due to excessive snow up high, the course was modified and racers climbed 2 miles less, taking Lazy Man 4×4 trail to Porcupine Rim.  Lazy Man is a rugged climb, but once over, racers get to enjoy the legendary Porcupine Rim descent.  The views from Porcupine Rim are iconic, however, not many racers are able to raise their heads from the fast, technical descent to enjoy the scenery.  After miles and miles of epic descending, the race ends on Porcupine Rim.  Although a cold morning, temps warmed up for a perfect, sunny race day. 

Katernia Nash climbs her way up Sand Flats road and into 1st place

For the pro women, Katerina Nash (Cliff Pro team) lead the women out, putting distance between herself and the other women on the long road climb.  Behind her was Karen Jarchow (Topeak Ergon) followed by Marlee Dixon (Pivot / Pearl Izumi) riding with Suzie Synder (Cannondale).  Synder and Dixon caught Jarchow on the road and a mile before the lazy man cut off, Dixon pulled ahead.  Nash remained 1st for the entire race, finishing in a time of 1:43:39.  Dixon finished 2nd (1:51:29) and Jarchow passed Synder on Porcupine Rim, finishing 3rd (1:54:37).

For the pro men it was a close race!  The lead group of 20 men rode together on Sand Flats road until the steep paved section, located a mile before the Lazy Man cut off.   Once on the pavement, Geoff Kabush (Yeti) attacked, pushing ahead of the pack.  Following with him were Cal Skilsky (CZ Racing), Taylor Lideen (Pivot) and Nick Gould.  On Lazy Man, Rotem Ishay passed Gould and Lideen followed by Justine Lindine, Cooper Wiens (Topeak Ergon) and Ben Sonntag (Cliff Pro Team).  Kabush won the stage (1:31:22) followed by Skilsky (1:32:04) and Lindine (1:32:27). Only 2 minutes separate the top 8 men! With such a close race, a lot can happen over the next 2 days.  Tomorrow racers head to Klondike Bluffs trails for a very different style of racing including technical, steep xc style terrain.  Check back to see how things change up after tomorrow, day 2, of the Moab Rocks stage race.  

Geoff Kabush wins Stage 1 of Moab Rocks.
Cal Skilsky drops in for an impressive 2nd place on stage 2
Karen Jarchow gobbles up the rocks on her way to 3rd
Geoff Kabush making the decisive attack of the day as Taylor Lideen tries to bridge the gap

Moab Rocks 3 day XC stage race

Are you looking for races to kick start your mountain biking season?  Moab Rocks 3 day XC stage race is the perfect start to 2019!  Long known as one of the world’s most iconic mountain biking destinations, Moab features fun, technical desert riding. If you’ve never been to Moab before, this is the perfect opportunity to ride some of the best trails in the area including Mag 7, Porcupine Rim and Klondike Bluff.   If you have ridden in Moab, then you know you’re in for some of the best mountain bike riding in the country.  All this wrapped up in a fun and friendly atmosphere, combining camaraderie and competition.  

Day 1:  Starting in downtown Moab, Utah, racers will line up and head out of town amongst crowds of onlookers.  The first 10 miles is a climb up Sand Flats road – perfect for the climbing legs, this is your opportunity to push yourself and get into position for the downhill.  Once at the top of the road, it’s left onto one of the most famous Moab trails.  Porcupine rim is an extremely challenging and technical downhill trail that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.  With over 12 miles of descending, you’ll finish day one having fallen in love with Moab.

Day 2: After an epic day one, day two is a true cross country race. Klondike Bluffs trail system features punchy short ascents and descents, rock features, and moderately technical riding.  Today’s course will keep you sharp with plenty of technical single track racing. 

Day 3: After two days of racing, there’s no letting up on the last day of Moab Rocks. Today is your opportunity to race hard and finish strong.  Starting at Gemini Bridges road, today racers begin with a 4 wheel drive dirt road climb followed by a short dirt road descent and then everyone is hammering again on the next road climb before getting onto the single track.  Once on the single track racers continue in an upward trend on moderately technical trails.  Finally over the climbing, it’s yet another epic descent on Bull Run.  Physical and technical, this descent will again leave you grinning.  But leave some in the tank, as there’s still some uphill before you’re home.  Racers finish by climbing back up the Gemini bridges road and descending back to the start.  

rider: Ksenia Lepikhina

Get ready to push yourself to the limit against pros and amateurs with 3 days of XC racing in beautiful Moab, Utah.  Then prepare to relax in the warm desert afternoons, soaking up the sun and experiencing the best in Moab culture, with beer from Moab Brewery, nightly slideshows and awards.

For more information and to register visit: transrockies.com/moab-rocks. 

Giddy up and get ready to ride Moab!

NUE Big Bear Grizzly 100k

NUE Big Bear Grizzly 100k

Written by @JenToops

The NUE series headed to the San Bernardino mountains in sunny Southern California for the Grizzly 100k, 75k races and Grand Fondo. This was the final NUE race of the 2018 season and determined the NUE overall titles.

Starting around 7000 feet above sea level in Big Bear Lake, CA, racers were challenge to a high altitude course with technical singletrack, loose descents, and the all famous 5 mile Radford climb.

Open Men

Trudeau takes the WIN

Open Men’s Podium: 1st-Kyle Trudeau, 2nd-Bryan Lewis, 3rd-Nic Beechan

Getting his first NUE win of 2018, Kyle Trudeau, CZ Racing takes the win with a time of 4:35:32.  

Bryan Lewis finished about a minute behind Trudeau taking second place with a time of 4:36:59.  In a battle for the overall NUE series title, it came down to this race for Lewis and Johnson.  With this win, Lewis secures the 2018 NUE Epic series title and Johnson, who finished 6th at Big Bear, takes second in the overall standings.

Claiming third was, Nic Beechan, Trek Test Team finishing in 4:41:25.

Open Women

Connors secures the NUE Epic series with her FIFTH win

Women’s Open Podium: 1st-Larissa Connors, 2nd-Hanna Muegee, 3rd: Marjie Bemis

Taking the win in the 100k was Larissa Connors, Sho-Air Cycling Group, coming in at 5:27:29.  With this win she takes the overall NUE Epic series with 5 straight wins.  

Taking second place was Hanna Muegee crossing the line in 6:26:35.

“I know little to nothing about racing mountain bikes, but after a busy pro road season racing for DNA Pro Cycling Team, I signed up for the Grizzly 100 to throw myself into my next challenge–learning how to mountain bike. Thanks to the encouragement from my boyfriend Chris Cain and my entire family, the steady support from my colleagues at the Monterey Bay Air Resources District, the steady race prep check-ins from team director/team co-owner Lee Whaley, the trust from my friend Steve Jones for letting me borrow his badass bike, and for soaking up some last minute racing tips from cycling legend Micah at Peninsula Bike Works; I hit the road running at the fun yet grueling 100k race at Big Bear, CA. I loved every moment of the race, and quickly realized how much I was out of my elements. But this is how you learn. Racing very conservatively on every technical section of the course, and trying to make up time on every uphill section, I made it across the finishline in 2nd place! There is still a lot to learn for me especially when it comes to proper nutrition for these ultra-endurance races, as well as learning how to handle a mountain bike. My Thule hydration pack filled with Asend Nutrition  electrolyte mix were a lifesaver, though I did run out of fluids and food in the critical last 6 miles and bonked terribly hard. Congrats to Larissa Connors on the win and for showing us all how it’s done! Coming into the race without any expectations, a podium finish was definitely a great reward to a wonderful solo roadtrip to Big Bear. I’d like to give a huge shout-out to all the racers and volunteers for showing me what mountain bike racing is all about and a big thank you to Derek Hermon and the Big Bear community for making this one of the most memorable races I have ever done. I will be back!”

Taking the third spot on the podium was, Marjie Bemis, Socal Devo/CCMTB in 6:31:45.

Master’s 50+

Niedringhaus gets the top step

Master’s Podium: 1st- Paul Niedringhaus, 2nd-Jiri Kozesnik, 3rd-Tom Stritzingert

In the Master’s division it was, Paul Niedringhaus of Hammer Nutrition taking the win with a time of 6:04:47.  Just about four minutes back was Jiri Kozesnik taking second place with a time of 6:08:17.  Tom Stritzinger took third place crossing the line at 6:14:30 and ends up 4th in the 2018 overall standings

Singlespeed

Wadsworth gets 4th NUE Win claiming NUE series

Singlespeed Podium: 1st-Gordon Wadsworth, 2nd-Marc Engelhardt, 3rd-Chad Davies

Crushing the competition and taking his 4th NUE win for 2018 was Gordon Wadsworth, Blue Ridge Cyclery/Pivot Cycles with a time of 5:00:25. With this win Wadsworth takes the 2018 NUE Epic Singlespeed series with a perfect score of 4.  

About forty-eight minutes back was, Marc Engelhardt, Tasco-MTB, taking the second step at 5:48:17.  Rounding out the podium claiming third place was Chad Davies at 6:16:22.

Full results CLICK HERE

What’s NEXT?!

Click here for the 2019 NUE schedule

Follow the Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles team adventures as we travel and report on cycling around the globe.

Instagram: @pearlizumi_pivotmtb_team, @JenToops, @HanksJen, @shannonboffeli @graciedaze,