Race Bikes for Leadville 100 – Round 4 of the Lifetime Grand Prix

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

In just a few hours many of North America’s top riders will be lining up in Leadville, Colorado, for the Leadville 100.

Saturday’s Leadville 100 course features just over 100 miles of mostly double track riding on an out-and-back style course. The Leadville course is more rugged than most in the Life Time Grand Prix which means all the top athletes will be on mountain bikes.

We got a sneak peak at what our favorite racers will be competing on as the Grand Prix turns to knobbies including top riders like: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Rose Grant, Keegan Swenson, Russell Finsterwald, Alexey Vermuelen, Melisa Rollins, Dylan Johnson, and more.

Sofia Gomez-Villafane: Specialized Epic Hardtail – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 1st

Sofia Gomez-Villafane’s Specialized Epic Hardtail. Photo by: Andy Cochrane

SGV is running Specialized Renegade 2.2 tires. Photo by: Andy Cochrane

SGV is running a full Shimano XTR bike with road pedals for better energy transfer. Photo by: Andy Cochrane

Photo by: Andy Cochrane

Keegan Swenson: Santa Cruz Highball – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 1st

Keegan Swenson’s Santa Cruz Highball

Swenson is running Reserve 28 wheels with Maxxis Aspen ST 2.4 tires

Keegan’s race set up includes a 38-tooth ring with 10-52 cassette

Keegan’s cockpit includes the SQ Lab Innerbarends

Evelyn Dong: Juliana HT – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 5th

Evelyn Dong’s Santa Cruz Highball frame custom-painted to represent Juliana. She’s running Reserve 28 wheels with Maxxis Aspen 2.25 tires.

Russell Finsterwald: Specialized S-Works Epic EVO – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 2nd

Finsterwald is running Shimano road pedals for better energy transfer and Specialized Renegade 2.2 tires

Rose Grant: Juliana HT – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 6th

Grant is full SRAM AXS with 32-tooth ring and Quarq power meter. She has custom 26oz bottles from The Feed with Gu Roctain fuel.

Grant has a Rockshox SID Ultimate 100 fork with Reserve 28 wheels and Maxxis Aspen 2.25 EXO tires and Orange Seal sealant

Her race bike will feature ESI grips and Hammerhead Karoo 2 computer

Alexey Vermuelen: Factor Lando HT – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 3rd

Alexey Vermeulen will be running the Factor Lando HT at the upcoming Leadville 100

Vermeulen will be running Enve 525 wheels and Kenda Booster tires

Vermeulen runs a full Shimano XTR rig with ESI grips

Melisa Rollins: Trek Supercaliber – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 6th

Melisa Rollins Trek Supercaliber with Bontrager Kovee XXX wheels

Rollins is running Kenda Booster Pro 2.4 tires

Hannah Otto: Pivot Les SL – Life Time Grand Prix rank 10th

Hannah Otto’s Pivot Les SL with DT Swiss XRC 1200 wheels and Kenda Rush 2.2 tires. She also runs full Shimano XTR with Stages dual power meter. She’s using a 32-tooth chainring for Leadville.

Dylan Johnson: Factor Lando HT – Life Time Grand Prix rank 15th

Dylan Johnson’s Factor Lando HT

Johnson’s bike features Black Inc wheels with Continental Race King 2.2 tires.

Black Inc’s sleek one-piece stem/bar combo

Stephen Davoust: Giant Anthem – Life Time Grand Prix rank 23rd

US marathon national champion Stephen Davoust on the Giant Anthem he will race at the Leadville 100

Davoust’s Giant Anthem sports the Fox Live valve system and a Fox 34. He’ll be running Giant XCR0 wheels and Maxxis Aspen 2.25 tires.

Stephen Davoust runs full Shimano XTR cockpit with Shimano Pro stem and bar

Click here to see our review of riders bikes from Unbound 2022 

Click here to see the full leaderboard from Life Time Grand Prix 2022

Machu Picchu Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Visiting the famed Inca fortress city of Machu Picchu in southern Peru is a bucket-list dream for most adventurers but few imagine the experience as part of 5-day mountain bike stage race. The Machu Picchu Epic makes this dream a reality. Following five days of racing throughout Peru’s Sacred Valley region racers finish their Peru journey with a day-long tour of the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu.

Race director Alexandra Whilar started the Machu Picchu Epic in 2021 with the goal of combining competition on breath-taking racecourses with a first-class tourist experience showcasing handpicked overnight locations allowing riders to experience Peru on a more raw and intimate basis.

“The goal was to re-create the route of the ancient Incas to the ruins of Machu Picchu combining the best of the mountain bike with the main touristic and archeological attractions. That’s why every stage has a different start and finish line, going through more than 22 communities, and riding from the highlands into the jungle”. -Race Director, Alexandra Whilar

The brave riders of the Machu Picchu Epic will be challenged by 5 days of racing starting in the historic Inca capital of Cusco. Tucked high in the Andes mountains, Cusco boasts an elevation of 11,152 vertical feet, just over 1,000 feet higher than the oxygen-deprived city of Leadville, Colorado.

Panoramic view of Cusco historic center, Peru

It’s from this dizzying height that riders will strike out for 169 miles of racing over five days with a total of 20,072 feet of climbing thrown in.

The best of Cusco in a Mountain Bike race

In Its first year, top riders finished each stage in around 2-3 hours leaving most competitors ample time to experience the uniquely historic stage finish cities and world-renowned Peruvian cuisine.

While following the Route of the Gods, riders will experience the wonders of Peru’s ancient culture starting with the first day in Pisac, center of the Sacred Valley. Pisac features majestic Incan ruins including some of its famed Incan interlocking stone walls. Riders will then return to the imperial city of Cusco for the night.

Stage 1 finishes in Pisac

Other overnights include the fortress of Saqsaywaman, site of one the most famous battles between the Inca and Francisco Pizarro’s conquistadors in 1536. The ancient city of Ollantaytambo, with its winding, cobblestone streets and babbling irrigation canals, Ollantaytambo has been continuously inhabited since the 13th century.

Riders will then dip into the Amazon jungle at Abra Malaga before finishing at the back door of Machu Picchu in Santa Teresa where the Cocalmayo hot springs await to heal the bodies of the riders strong enough to reach the finish line.

Day six of the Machu Picchu Epic includes a guided tour of the legendary citadel of Machu Picchu, considered one of the new seven wonders of the world.

Machu Picchu

Part bike race and part curated tour of one of the most unique and historic locations on the planet the Machu Picchu Epic provides an endless abundance of experiences guaranteed to give racers a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Racers can compete as individuals or as a team in completing the 169-mile journey through the Peruvian Andes. Accommodation packages available through the race include lodging, transportation, and breakfast/lunch each day. Riders are encouraged to visit one of the many local restaurants for dinner each night to further their experience of local Peruvian culture and cuisine. Packages are available with or without the unofficial sixth stage tour of Machu Picchu but it’s highly recommended as a pinnacle to the Machu Picchu Epic experience.

The Machu Picchu Epic runs from September 19-23, 2022, with guided tour of Machu Picchu on the 24th. While registraiton is open until September, the best hotels and tickets to Machu Picchu are selling out quickly. For more information or to register: https://moxie.pe/mpe/xcm/carrera/

Inca stone walls at the Sacsayhuaman archaeological site, Cusco (Cuzco), Peru
Aerial view of river at the Sacred Valley of the Incas near Urubamba town. Mountains alpine landscape in a region of Cusco, Peru.
Sun over Moray, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru
Inca terraces at Ollantaytambo, Peru

Mountain Bikers Still Rule After Round 2 of Life Time Grand Prix

Riders braved harrowing conditions in Emporia, Kansas, on Saturday testing their skill and determination to complete the Unbound Gravel 200.

Sofia Gomez-Villafane (Specialized) used smart riding in the early miles to stay clear of the chaos and toward the lead groups of male riders. In the second half, she transitioned to stomping out an unrelenting pace in a solo effort to distance her closest challengers and take the win in record time.

Lauren de Crescenzo (Cinch) took second followed by Emily Newsom (EF/Tibco).

For the men, a large early group finally broke apart leaving a lead group of five who marked one another for the final 30 miles eventually unleashing a 5-up finishing sprint won by gravel specialist Ivar Slik (Wilier) just in front of Life Time series leader Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz) and former world tour rider Ian Boswell.

Riders encountered epic mud in the second half of the Flint Hills course as rainstorms left long sections of barely rideable peanut butter coated dirt roads.

After the first two rounds of the Life Time Grand Prix, which has included one mountain bike and one gravel event, the mountain bike duo of Sofia Gomez-Villafane and Keegan Swenson have taken control of the six race series.

Sofia Gomez-Villafane (SGV) takes the lead in the women’s category with a second place at Sea Otter Classic and the win at Unbound.

Keegan Swenson has started the series with a win at Sea Otter and second at Unbound, he takes home first place points for the Grand Prix being the first Grand Prix rider to cross the line.

After two rounds, SGV has the lead with 59 points in the Grand Prix standings. She is followed by world cup mountain biker Haley Smith (Maxxis Factory) and Evelyn Dong (Juliana Bikes) with 52 and 51 points respectively.

Tied for fourth is Emily Newsom and Melisa Rollins (Team Twenty 24).

The men’s Grand Prix is now led by mountain bike athletes Swenson and Russell Finsterwald (Specialized) who sits with 55 points to Swenson perfect score of 60.

The fat tire riders are being chased by a group of three road and gravel athletes including: Alexey Vermuelen (Juke Box), Rob Britton, and Lance Haidet.

Click Here to View the Top Riders Bikes From Unbound Gravel 200

Click Here for a Link to Full Life Time Grand Prix Leaderboard

Race Bikes for Unbound Gravel – Round 2 of the Life Time Grand Prix

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Many of the world’s best riders are lining up in Emporia, Kansas, for the Unbound Gravel event – round two of the Life Time Grand Prix.

Saturday’s Unbound course features 200 miles of rolling gravel and dirt roads through the Flint Hills in eastern Kansas. Riders have chosen a wide variety of race set ups to get the most from their bikes in the first gravel race on the Life Time Grand Prix calendar.

We got a sneak peak at what our favorite mountain bike racers will competing on as the Grand Prix turns to gravel including top riders like: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Alexis Skarda, Rose Grant, Keegan Swenson, Russell Finsterwald, Melisa Rollins, Dylan Johnson, and more.

Sofia Gomez Villafane: Specialized Crux – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 2nd

Sofia Gomez Villafane Specialized Crux

Specs

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-ace/XTR/GRX with double chainring
  • Cockpit: Aero package
  • Tires: Specialized Pathfinder with inserts

Keegan Swenson: Santa Cruz Stigmata – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 1st

Keegan Swenson’s Santa Cruz Stigmata

Specs

  • Drivetrain: SRAM Red 48-tooth single ring & 10-50 SRAM Eagle cassette
  • Wheels: Reserve 40/44 with Fillmore valves
  • Tires: Maxxis Refuse 40c with inserts – 28 psi front 30 psi rear
  • Cockpit: Zipp 40cm Service Course SL bar and stem
  • Computer: Garmin Edge 530
  • Bike Bags: Zipp Speed Box top tube bag & Almsthre saddle bag
  • Extras: 3 tubes, Stan’s NoTubes Dart, 3 Genuine Innovations Plugs – Loaded, 4 CO2s and hand pump

Alexis Skarda: Santa Cruz Stigmata – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 3rd

Alexis Skarda’s Santa Cruz Stigmata

Specs

  • Drivetrain: SRAM Red 44-32t double chainring
  • Wheels: Reserve 34/37
  • Tires: Maxxis Refuse 40c with Tannus inserts

Stephan Davoust: Giant Revolt – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: DNF at Round 1

Stephan Davoust’s Giant Revolt
Stephan is Running Giant’s D-Fuse Handlebar and Seatpost to Dampen Vibrations on the Road
Giant Frame Bag for Extra Storage

Specs

  • Drivetrain: Shimano GRX Di2
  • Tires: Maxxis Rambler 45c silk shield with Cushcore
  • Cockpit: Giant D-Fuse handlebar and seatpost
  • Bike Bags: Giant frame bag

Evelyn Dong: Juliana Quincy – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 5th

Evelyn Dong’s Juliana Quincy

Specs

  • Drivetrain: SRAM XPLR 46-tooth single ring with 10-44 cassette and k-edge chainguide
  • Wheels: Reserve Gravel 32
  • Tires: Maxxis Refuse with Mynsweeper inserts

Russell Finsterwald: Specialized Crux – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 2nd

Russell Finsterwald’s Specialized Crux
Finsterwald’s cockpit is outfitted with a speaker

Specs

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace/GRX 48-tooth single ring with 11-46 cassette
  • Tires: Specialized Pathfinder Pro 42c
  • Cockpit: Specialized bar with Farr Bars aero package
  • Extras: Wireless speaker on stem for tunes to get him through the dark times

Kaysee Armstrong: Liv Devote – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 9th

Kaysee Armstrong’s Liv Devote
Armstrong is using mountain bike pedals and shoes for the first time at Unbound
Armstrong is the only rider I’ve spoken with no running inserts in their tires

Specs

  • Drivetrain: Shimano GRX/Ultegra double chainring
  • Wheels: Giant 35 carbon
  • Tires: Maxxis Rambler 40c no inserts

Dylan Johnson: Factor LS – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 13th

Dylan Johnson’s Factor LS

Specs

  • Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace/GRX double chainring with Quarq power meter
  • Wheels: Black Inc
  • Tires: Specialized Pathfinder Pro with tubolight inserts
  • Cockpit: Black Inc carbon bar/stem combo
  • Computer: Wahoo Roam

Rose Grant: Juliana Quincy – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 8th

Rose Grant’s Juliana Quincy

Specs

  • Drivetrain: SRAM Red with 44-tooth single ring 10-46 rear cassette
  • Wheels: Reserve 25
  • Tires: Maxxis Ramblers 40c with Orange Seal sealant
  • Computer: Hammerhead

Melisa Rollins: Felt Breed – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 11th

Melisa Rollins’ Felt Breed

Specs

  • Drivetrain: SRAM XPLR etap AXS with Quarq power meter
  • Wheels: Zipp 303S
  • Tires: Kenda Flintridge 40c
  • Computer: Wahoo Roam

Life Time Grand Prix Sea Otter Classic 80k

Moriah Wilson & Keegan Swenson Life Time Grand Prix Round 1

Moriah Wilson (Specialized) turned in perhaps the most impressive ride of the day in Monterrey, California, being known as more of a gravel rider, she was able to drop a mountain bike olympian and a reigning mountain bike national champion on her way to the finish.

Wilson rode strong in the front group all day coming into the final climb with US marathon national champion Alexis Skarda (Santa Cruz HT Squad) and Argentine olympic rider Sofia Gomez Villafane (Specialized) before turning the screws opening a gap that she held to the line.

Gomez Villafane held on for second just in front of Alexis Skarda.

In the men’s event Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz HT Squad) controlled the race from start to finish. Swenson’s early pace created the first selection trimming the field to a select group of seven with Russell Finsterwald (Specialized), Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz HT Squad), Andrew L’Esperance, Cole Paton (Orange Seal), Lance Haidet, and Alex Wild.

The relentless pace trimmed the lead group even more until Swenson, Wild, and Finsterwald coalesced at the front. On the final climb another acceleration from Keegan Swenson decided the race with Wild dropping off first followed by Finsterwald.

Open Women

  1. Moriah Wilson (Specialized) 3.24.16
  2. Sofia Gomez Villafane +0.20
  3. Alexis Skarda +0.29
  4. Lea Davison +0.59
  5. Evelyn Dong +1.30
  6. Haley Smith
  7. Hannah Otto
  8. Rose Grant
  9. Savilia Blunk
  10. Katerina Nash
  11. Kaysee Armstrong
  12. Sarah Sturm
  13. Anna Yamauchi
  14. Melisa Rollins
  15. Emily Newsom
  16. Hannah Wood

Click Here for Full Results

Open Men

  1. Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz HT Squad) 2.55.23
  2. Russell Finsterwald (Specialized) +0.18
  3. Alex Wild +1.07
  4. Tobin Ortenblad +4.27
  5. Andrew L’Esperance +4.29
  6. Lance Haidet +4.29
  7. Cole Paton +4.30
  8. Kyle Trudeau +4.31
  9. Alexey Vermeulen +4.31
  10. Robert Britton +6.15
  11. Lachlan Morton
  12. Ryan Standish
  13. Stefano Barberi
  14. Taylor Lideen
  15. Alex Howes
  16. Adam Roberge
  17. Dylan Johnson
  18. Bradyn Lange
  19. Geoff Kabush
  20. Blake Wray

Click Here for Full Results From All Categories

Race Bikes For The Life Time Grand Prix

Riders are lining up in Monterey, California, for the Sea Otter Classic and round 1 of the Life Time Grand Prix.

Saturday’s Sea Otter course features two 40-kilometer laps on the super-fast, hard pack at the edges of Laguna Seca Raceway. Riders have chosen a wide variety of race set ups to get the most from their bikes in Saturday’s marathon event.

We got a sneak peak at some of the fastest rides that will be on course this weekend including top riders like: Rose Grant, Geoff Kabush, Melisa Rollins, Dylan Johnson, and many more.

Rose Grant: Juliana Wilder

Rose Grant’s Juliana Wilder

Specs:

  • Drivetrain: SRAM AXS with Quarq power meter
  • Fork: Rockshox SID 100mm
  • Shock: Rockshox SID Luxe 100mm
  • Seat Post: SRAM AXS dropper
  • Wheels: Reserve 28 carbon
  • Tires: Maxxis Aspen 2.4 with Orange Seal sealant
  • Grips: Chunky ESI
  • Computer: Hammerhead

Melisa Rollins: Trek Supercaliber (Melisa is sponsored by Felt who do not currently produce a mountain bike)

Specs:

  • Drivetrain: SRAM AXS
  • Fork: Fox 32 Stepcast 100mm
  • Shock: Fox/Trek ISO strut 65mm
  • Seat Post: Bontrager Kovee XXX carbon fixed
  • Wheels: Bontrager Kovee XXX carbon
  • Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate
  • Tires: Kenda Saber Pro 2.4

Hannah Otto: Pivot Les SL

Specs:

  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR 12-speed with Stages Double Side Power Meter
  • Fork: Fox 32 Step Cast 100mm
  • Seat Post: Fox Transfer SL
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XRC 1200 carbon
  • Tires: Kenda Rush 2.2
  • Cockpit: Race Face Next SL
  • Grips: ESI Fit CR

Evelyn Dong: Custom Juliana SC Highball

Specs:

  • Drivetrain: SRAM AXS
  • Fork: Rockshox SID ultimate 100mm
  • Seat Post: SRAM Explr AXS dropper 75mm
  • Wheels: Reserve carbon
  • Tires: Maxxis Aspen 2.4
  • Saddle: WTB Silverado

Taylor Lideen: Pivot Les SL

Specs:

  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR 12-speed with 4iiii power meter
  • Fork: Fox 32 Stepcast 100mm
  • Seat Post: Fox Transfer SL dropper
  • Cockpit: Pro Bike Gear
  • Wheels: Boyd Trail Blazer
  • Tires: Kenda Saber Pro 2.4
  • Computer: Wahoo ELEMENT Bolt GPS

Dylan Johnson: Factor Lando

Specs:

  • Drivetrain: SRAM AXS with Quarq power meter
  • Fork: Fox 34 Step Cast 120mm
  • Seat Post: Fox Transfer SL
  • Wheels: Black Inc Twenty Seven
  • Tires: Maxxis Aspen 2.25
  • Cockpit: Black Inc bar/stem combo
  • Tires Inserts: Tubolight EVO SL

Stephan Davoust: Giant Anthem Advanced Pro

Specs:

  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR 12-speed
  • Fork: Fox 34 Step Cast Live Valve 110mm
  • Shock: Fox Live Valve 100mm
  • Seat Post: Fox Transfer SL dropper
  • Wheels: Giant XCRO carbon
  • Tires: Maxxis Aspen 2.25
  • Inserts: Cushcore front & rear

Geoff Kabush: Yeti SB115

Specs:

  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR
  • Fork: Fox 34 Fit4 Step Cast
  • Seat Post: Fox Transfer SL
  • Wheels: Stan’s No Tubes Podium SRD
  • Inserts: Cushcore front & rear
  • Tires: Maxxis Aspen 2.25 EXO 120tpi
  • Cockpit: Pro Bike Gear
  • Grips: Lizard Skins 32.2 DSP

You can follow Shannon Boffeli on Instagram @shan__solo

True Grit Epic 2022

Melisa Rollins & Danny Van Wagoner Open Endurance Season with Big Wins at True Grit Epic 50-Miler

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

After two years of snow storms and mud, True Grit race director Cimarron Chacon was more than pleased to see clear skies and warm temperatures as racers approached the start next to the red rock walls of the historic Santa Clara courthouse for the 8 AM start.

Melisa Rollins powered her way to a win in the True Grit 50. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

With more than 850 starters, True Grit represents the first leg of the National Ultra Endurance series and the first mass-start mountain bike event of the season. For more than a decade True Grit has challenged riders with technical desert singletrack riding that will both punish and delight.

Offering distances from 15 to 100 miles, in the warm desert of southern Utah, True Grit is the first opportunity for riders from across the country to stretch their legs and test their abilities on the dirt.

With most riders electing for the 50-mile distance, a tough battle was on hand as idyllic conditions promised lightning fast finishing times.

Riders weave their way through the rocks at True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Women’s 50-Mile

The women’s event promised tough racing with a host of elite athletes returning to battle in this early-season test.

Melisa Rollins (Virginia’s Blue Ridge/Twenty24) took the early lead out through Cove Wash and the undulating climbs of Green Valley. The duo of Liza Hartlaub and Mya Graham (Waite Endurance) chased close behind followed by Sparky Moir (Fezzari/MRP/Ergon), Nicole Tittensor (Jans/Scott), Lauren Zimmer (Bingham Cyclery/Peak Fasteners), and Jen Hanks (Pearl Izumi).

Jen Hanks flows through the rocks on Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Despite previous crashes at True Grit Melisa Rollins rode without fear through the daunting Barrel and Zen trails never relinquishing her lead.

After exiting Zen, Rollins held just over a minute lead on Hartlaub who had opened a gap to Graham.

Now at the halfway mark, Melisa Rollins upped her pace, hammering out some hard miles through the long Stucki Springs climb and onto the final Barrel Roll trail system.

By the finish she had doubled her advantage on second-placed Liza Hartlaub, and crossed the line in a blistering 3:55:50.

Hartlaub came home just 3 minutes back with an equally impressive time of under 4 hours.

Mya Graham takes on Zen trail on her way to third place for the day. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Mya Graham crossed the line with a well-deserved third place.

Sparky Moir rode strong in fourth throughout the day. Moir showcased her desert riding skill holding off Jen Hanks, while both shed Tittensor and Zimmer through the treacherous Zen trail before settling in with a steady pace to the finish.

The final podium spot was decided in the finishing miles after Hanks flatted on the last descent of the day allowing KC Holley (Kuhl) to sprint past less than a mile from the finish line.

Men’s 50-Mile

Things heated up fast for the men as an elite group powered at the front from the very start. After a rapid opening climb and a safe pass through Cove Wash, Danny Van Wagoner (Johnson Elite Orthodontics) moved to the front as the singletrack started in Keyhole wash, a deep ravine where riders are forced to ride single file.

Chris Holley leads the chase group on Zen trail. Zach Calton crests the slickrock. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Feeling confident, Van Wagoner opened a gap and kept the pressure on throughout the opening miles. “While it felt early to roll solo,” Van Wagoner said, “I looked at my numbers and felit I was riding sustainably. I was hoping the hard pace would allow some margin for error through the technical sections of the Waterfall, Barrel, and Zen trails.”

Van Wagoner’s early pace paid off as Zach Calton (Calton Coaching) suffered a flat while trying to keep his gap to the leader at a minimum on the Barrel trail. This left Cameron Larson (Summit Bike Club) second on course dangling between 1-2 minutes from the leader.

With his flat repaired, Calton started moving his way back toward the front eventually picking up Chad Berentsen (No Ride Around). The duo focused their effort on bringing back Van Wagoner who had pulled away from Cameron Larson on the false flats of Stucki Springs.

MTB legend Dave Wiens challenged himself with the 3-day stage race in Santa Clara, Utah. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Eventually the chasers caught and passed a fading Larson with only Van Wagoner left out front.

The solo leader had gauged his efforts well and showed no signs of slowing on the final lap around the Barrel Roll trail. Attacking the final climbs and slicing his line through the technical rock features Danny Van Wagoner finished off an impressive day taking a solo win in Santa Clara.

Zach Calton and Berentsen kept it close in the final miles of the race with Calton opening the smallest of gaps to take the runner-up spot just 23 seconds in front of Berentsen.

Nick Gould attacks the rocks. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Fourth went to Colorado ultra-endurance strongman Nick Gould (Mazda Lauf Factory Gravel) who was battling in a 3-man group for the podium. After Chris Holley (Kuhl) missed a final turn to the finish Gould and Blair Perkes (Kuhl) snuck through with all three finishing within seconds of each other.  

Gwendolyn Sepp and Nick Bragg Win the 100-Mile

The 100-mile race in Santa Clara saw smaller than normal numbers as most of the 865 racers opted to compete in the 50-mile distance or the stage race that included a gravel race on Sunday.

The women’s 100-miler saw mother/daughter duo to Allyson and Gwendolyn Sepp both take on the challenge of 100-miles on their home trails in southern Utah. Gwendolyn, a college athlete for Utah State University, took the win over her mom with a time of 8:54:30.

Allyson (Red Rock Bicycle) came home at 9:26:17.

Roger Arnell takes on the 100-mile True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Nick Bragg (Sycamore Cycles Collection) took the men’s title in a nail-biter over Utahn Roger Arnell (Johnson Elite Orthodontics).

Bragg’s winning time of 7:05:17 was just 2 minutes faster than Arnell, an impressively close race after 100 miles.

Brian Elander (No Ride Around)  finished third ahead of Jonas Woodruff (Next Wave Development). Joshua Tootell took the final podium spot in fifth.

Tony Rago hits the tuck position on Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

The masters 50+ group went to local speedster Jonathan Davis (Elevated Legs) with a finishing time just under 8 hours.

Second went to NUE veteran Greg Golet (Team Chico/Carborocket). Golet finished with just over a minute in hand from Amir Mattiyahu (Trail Head Racing) who took third.

Race Notes

Massive junior numbers were on hand for the 2022 True Grit Epic with hundreds of kids under-18 taking part in junior men’s and women’s categories as well as the open.

Large junior fields were on hand for the 2022 True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

True Grit Epic offers a 3-day stage race which includes a 90-mile gravel race on Sunday. Melisa Rollins and Zach Calton took wins in the 3-day event.

MTB legend Dave Wiens challenged himself with the 3-day stage race in Santa Clara, Utah. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Justin Holle doing damage to his competitors in singlespeed. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Liza Hartlaub navigates Zen trail at the 2022 True Grit. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Bob Saffell takes on the 100-mile. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Jeff Kerkove enjoyed his time in the saddle in Santa Clara. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Jen Hanks flows through the rocks on Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Brad Keyes braved a day on the singlespeed. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Holly Haguewood puts her local knowledge to the test in Santa Clara. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Riders charge through the desert with Santa Clara in the background. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Riders navigate rocks above and below on the Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Large junior fields were on hand for the 2022 True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Shannon Boffeli grunts his way to second place in the SS race. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Tony Rago hits the tuck position on Zen trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Halle Britton on her way to second place in the junior women’s 50 miler. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Riders had fun while challenging themselves in the southern Utah desert. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
Bri Hoopes shows the way through Zen Trail. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic
A feeling shared by most riders at the 2022 True Grit Epic. Photo courtesy of True Grit Epic

Click Here for Full Results From All Categories

You can follow Shannon on Instagram @ Shan__Solo

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
???. Photo by Eddie Clark
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

Breck Epic 2021: Stage 2 Colorado Trail

Skarda overcomes midrace stop to win second straight stage

Alexis Skarda leaps toward another stage win on day 2. Photo by Devon Balet

Epic rookie leads Evelyn Dong by 2:30; Swenson dusts Mejia on Colorado Trail descent

Evelyn Dong giving it her all on day 2. Photo by Devon Balet
Racers ready for the start of day 2 of Breck Epic. Photo by Devon Balet

By Devon O’Neil

Race director Mike McCormack oversees the start on day 2. Photo by Devon Balet

BRECKENRIDGE — Shortly after starting Monday’s second stage of the Breck Epic, Alexis Skarda felt it. A familiar fluttering in her chest. As the pro women’s leader in her Epic debut, with a scant lead over former champion Evelyn Dong, Skarda knew she didn’t have time to spare. She also knew she had no choice but to stop.

So Skarda, a 31-year-old from Grand Junction in the midst of the best season of her pro career, pulled off the trail and dismounted her bike. She drank water and breathed. She watched other racers fly past her, agonizing at the time she was losing.

For much of her cycling career, Skarda has managed a rare congenital heart defect known as supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT, an erratic heartbeat that comes from faulty electrical connections in her upper chambers. “It feels like a butterfly in your heart and lactic acid in your legs,” she said. She first felt it when she was 21. Ever since, it shows up periodically and unpredictably. It is caused by stress, but there’s no way to know exactly when or why certain moments trigger it, Skarda said. The first time it happened, her heartrate spiked to 260 beats per minute. On Monday morning, her rate rose into the 250s—an alarming number for someone who tries to stay around 170. “You have to relax to make it slow down, but it’s hard to relax when you see all these people passing you,” she said.

Since the episodes are random, Skarda often tries to build an early gap during races just in case it flares up. When asked if the condition—which is not dangerous in a mortality sense—has ever cost her a race, Skarda said, “It’s cost me a lot of races.” But she downplayed it being called a disadvantage. “I think everyone has something they deal with. This is just what I have to account for. I call it a body mechanical. It’s sort of like a flat tire.”

SVT didn’t cost her Monday’s race. Skarda got back on her bike once her heartrate slowed and rode strong to the finish, winning in 3:53:22. Dong finished second again, 56 seconds back, followed by Rose Grant in third. Skarda’s overall lead now stands at 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Evelyn Dong settles in for a long climb to start day 2. Photo by Eddie Clark

SWENSON BUILDS SIZABLE OVERALL LEAD

In Monday’s pro men’s race, reigning champion Keegan Swenson sent a message that echoed across Summit County—and perhaps down to South America. Swenson had narrowly beaten Colombia’s Luis Mejia in Sunday’s opener, winning by four seconds, and the two were tightly packed again until they began descending the Colorado Trail from West Ridge—one of the highlights of the week in terms of views and pure fun. Swenson sensed Mejia struggling to keep pace on the technical descent and rocketed away from his rival. Once out of sight, he built a seven-minute gap over the final 15 miles, winning in a time of 3:08:52. Lachlan Morton overcame a crash that bloodied his elbow to take third in 3:18:41.

Keegan Swenson sports the orange leaders jersey on stage 2. Photo by Devon Balet
Keegan Swenson and Mike McCormack enjoy a little pre-race chat. Photo by Devon Balet
Carlos Herrera on the hunt in stage 2. Photo by Devon Balet
Diyer Rincon gets low on the Colorado trail in stage 2. Photo by Devon Balet
Lone rider launching some roots on the Colorado trail. Photo by Devon Balet
Chad Barrentsen enjoying his time on stage 2. Photo by Devon Balet
Stage 2 is always a racer favorite descending the Colorado Trail. Photo by Devon Balet
Riders don’t have much time to take in the scenery on stage 2. Photo by Devon Balet
Rebecca Gross checks on her teammate Madelynn Gerritsen currently leading the duo women’s race. Photo by Devon Balet
Luis Mejia and Lachlan Morton lead Keegan Swenson in the early miles. Photo by Eddie Clark
Chris Mehlman gulps in air on his way up the early climbs. Photo by Eddie Clark
Riders enjoy the finish line. Photo by Eddie Clark
Macky Franklin grinds his singlespeed out front on day 2. Photo by Eddie Clark
Shannon Warburg is all smiles in the Women’s 50+ leaders jersey. Photo by Eddie Clark
Keegan Swenson enjoys another day in orange after winning stage 2. Photo by Eddie Clark
Lachlan Morton was all in on day 2 of Breck Epic. Photo by Eddie Clark

BAD LUCK HAS NO GOOD TIMING

The Epic has exacted its share of bodily damage over 12 editions, and this week, although young, has been no exception. Monday a pair of unlucky racers sat next to each other at the Tiger Dredge aid station, commiserating over their mutual misfortune. Rich “Dicky” Dillen, one of the Epic’s most popular characters and familiar faces, had crashed earlier in the day, breaking his carbon-rail saddle, twisting his ankle, crunching an already injured right side, and realizing he had to withdraw from the race. His shoulder was bloodied and smeared with dirt. His morale was crushed. After finishing eight prior Epics, Dillen—a professional bike messenger from Charlotte, North Carolina and nationally known singlespeed racer who competes on rigid frames—struggled to accept he won’t be going home with a BMF belt buckle. “I bought a geared bike a month ago and I think God hates me until I sell it,” he joked. To his point, he’d broken a carbon rim, bruised his ribs and cracked his helmet, all before Monday’s crash. The 52-year-old sat beside the trail and cried when he realized he couldn’t continue the race.

Then Dicky found Bob Orlikowski, a 47-year-old nuclear regulator from Illinois, and plopped down next to him. Orlikowski had trained for the Epic for a year and a half—or, as his wife put it, “his whole life”—before arriving with two buddies to toe the line this week. Twelve miles into the first stage, while pushing his bike up Little French Gulch, Orlikowski heard what he described as two rocks hitting together. “I actually turned around to see if somebody was running up on me,” he said. “But I think the noise was just my Achilles tendon rupturing.”

He made it back to an aid station and found his wife, who drove him to the hospital. Monday his leg was splinted up to his knee; a pair of crutches rested against his shoulder. And yet, as he watched racers pedal by at the dredge, Orlikowski was smiling. “It’s sad, but to me it’s nothing I had control over,” he said. “It’s just bad luck.” Dicky, resting in the dirt a few feet away, added: “It helped to sit down next to Bob. It could be way worse.”

A MOMENT FOR BEN

Riders remember Breck Epic veteran Ben Sonntag before starting stage 2. Photo by Devon Balet

Shortly before Monday’s start in downtown Breckenridge, racers and staff held a moment of silence for 2012 Epic champion Ben Sonntag. Sonntag, a longtime pro cyclist and beloved member of the fat-tire community, was hit and killed by a pickup truck traveling at 69 mph in a 35-mph zone on March 4, 2020, during a training ride outside his hometown of Durango. He was 39.

RESULTS

Find ’em all here: Click Here for full results from all categories

NUE Wilderness 101- Coburn, PA

Written by: @Jentoops

On July 24th, 2021, Shenandoah Mountain Tours held the Wilderness 101 ultra and marathon races in Coburn, PA. The Wilderness 101 is part of the NUE National Ultra Endurance Race Series. This east coast course takes you through the Bald Eagle and Rothrock state forests of Pennsylvania, and is know for pristine mountain streams, old growth forests and rocky backcountry single track.

101 Sunrise
Photo credit: Chris Merriam

Sunny skies and temps in the mid 80’s made for a near perfect race day. The gravel was fast, trails were dry, and racers put down some blazing fast times. After a hard days work, racers were greeted at the finish line with well deserved tacos and beer included with entry fee.

Post race tacos included with registration

Camping was also included with registration in Coburn Park. This is the staging area making for a trouble-free race morning and celebration at the finish line.

Thank you to the volunteers that came out to support the Wilderness ultra and marathon races!

Women’s OpenTSE winner Britt Mason gets 101 WIN

Coming off a win at the 2021 TSE, Britt Mason (Knobby by Nature) of Maryland, proves she can still navigate those PA rocks taking the win in 8:23:26.

Britt Mason fueling up at aid station 4 for the Stillhouse climb.

The 2019 Wilderness 101 women’s winner, Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) finished 2nd with a time of 8:31:04.

“Coming into this race I felt tired after a week long family reunion full of activities and wondered how my legs would feel. I knew Britt would be tough one to beat, especially after just racing TSE and the powerhouse she is. There was also quite a few other fast lady shredders signed up I had my eye on. I decided to take it steady on the first climb and feel it out. I found myself in a manageable pace and holding Britt’s wheel, we settled into the 2nd peloton for the first LONG gravel section. The pace line entered the first grassy downhill and I made the mistake of being 4-5 riders behind her in the pace line. There was no room to safely pass and this is where we got separated. I was told all day it was only a 3 min gap but could never quite shut it down. Around mile 45 was my dark place and I wanted to pull the plug as I was quite a bit nauseated but I’m stubborn and battled on. Still wondering if my racing legs were ever going to show up, I tried to rally on Stillhouse and closed some time. My back and arms couldn’t handle the beating of the PA rocks anymore on the downs. After I clipped a pedal at one point, went sideways over the bars I luckily managed to somehow land on my feet in a bush. This is where I decided to pedal it on in for 2nd and I was more than happy with a 30min PR from 2019! Congrats to Britt on her well deserved win! It was fun chasing all day :) I plan on hitting up Shenandoah next on the NUE tour. Bike: Pivot Mach 4SL live valve. Sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot Cycles, Ergon, SCC, Honeystinger, Carborocket, Stans, Fox, Maxxis, Xpedo, MTBracenews.

The 2019 wilderness 101 winner Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/ Pivot MTB) gets the number one plate. Thanks Shenandoah Mountain Tours for supporting women’s racing and equal payout! Photo credit: Bryan Cusick

Taking third place, Libbey Sheldon finished in 8:50:27 “So great to get back to the Wilderness 101, especially with the great conditions. I was coming back from a hard landing on my tailbone a couple of weeks back, so I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to do out there. Britt and Jen took off from the start on the road sections, and it was clear that I wasn’t going to keep up with them, so I settled in at what I hoped would be an all-day pace. The trails and double track were in great shape, and the temperature never got too high, so I mainly focused on enjoying my favorite sections and seeing friends out on course. Congrats to Britt and Jen for smashing it at the front, and to everyone out there—it’s so great to be back to racing!”

Fourth place was, Tina Severson, from Connecticut with a time of 8:54:14 “No stranger to the endurance scene having done events such as Breck Epic, Dirty Kanza, Gravel Worlds and Maah Daah Hey, I was looking for something new and challenging on the mountain bike. Wilderness 101 was just that! This was my first time riding in this area and I didn’t know much about the course. It had a good amount of fast gravel sections, some chunky, rocky descents and even pitch black tunnels! At times it had a real adventure feel to it, which I loved! My goal was to charge hard and steady for the duration of the day, keep the nutrition and hydration in check and finish strong to land on the podium. I had a really great experience and look forward to trying other NUE events in the future. Sponsors: Orange Seal, Specialized, Schwalbe Tires, Voler Apparel, Pedro’s, Wolf Tooth Components, Julbo, DeFeet”

Taking the fifth step was, Julia Thumel, crossing the line in 9:07:09.

Photo credit: Bryan Cusick
Women’s 101 podium: 1st Britt Mason 8:23:26, 2nd Jen Toops 8:31:04, 3rd Libbey Sheldon 8:50:27, 4th, Tina Severson 8:54:14, 5th Julia Thumel 9:07:09

Men’s Open 101 mile- Inger gets back to back NUE wins

Coming off a NUE Carrabassett 100k win the previous weekend, Jake Inger (Ride the Whites) took home the 101 WIN with a time of 6:53:23.

Ian Schwing (Flow Formulas) rode to a second place finish, coming in at 7:06:07. “Saturday morning started off great and I was fully prepared on the starting line. As all 100 milers I’ve done, the race started up the first climb like we were full gas racing. But there was no dropping off the peloton since I knew there was still a lot of gravel and flat road before any singletrack where some big separations could happen. My good friend, Jimmy Klose and one other rider broke off the front and we lost sight of them before any singletrack. Going in 6th wheel on Lonberger trail, I wasn’t able to pass riders and front and was getting frustrated seeing riders ride away, so much so I wasn’t paying attention to the trail and hit a huge boulder, endo-ed and by some miracle pulled off the ninja move of my life and landed flat on my feet. Got back on my bike, and somehow nothing was broken, headed back up the gravel road to catch the group again. Riding into aid 2 our group of around 10 riders got split up pretty quickly with the technical trail right afterwards, to about 6 of us. Team mate, Will Lovener, didn’t stop at aid 4 and broke away from our group on the following climb. Decided to chase and Jake Inger followed and we caught him on the singletrack at the top of the climb. I would find out later his wrist was still bothering him from his insane effort at Unbound XL. Jake and I rode the next 2 hours together and caught the break of Jimmy and the other rider close to the 60 mile maker. Descending into aid 4 there was nobody to be seen but Jake. Jake dropped the hammer at a water station around the 75 miler marker and I couldn’t quite keep his pace. All I could do as a smaller guy the last hour was get as aero as I can, fight off the lingering cramps, and pray there wasn’t a strong group of riders working together to catch me. Once I hit the tunnel close to Coburn, I was stoked to know I would be crossing the line in second. Shenandoah 100 is definitely on the schedule and huge shout out to flow formulas for fueling and sponsoring me”

Men’s 101 Podium: 1st Jake Inger 6:53:23, 2nd Ian Schwing 7:06:07, 3rd Jimmy Klose 7:08, 4th Heath Thumel 7:16:10, 5th Will Loevner 7:17:15

Just two minutes back, Jimmy Klose, finished third with a time of 7:08. Fourth place was Heath Thumel 7:16:10 and fifth Will Loevner 7:17:15.

Not racing in 3 years, Ron Harding, finished 6th place with a time of 7:19. ” About 10 years ago, my wife (Kathleen Harding) and I focused (and by focused I mean raced enough races to qualify for the series, which at the time was four, I think…) on the NUE series for approximately two seasons.  Back then I rode and raced exclusively on a single speed.  I look back on those days wistfully and wish with all of my heart that someone with more age and experience had pulled me aside, explained to me how stupid I was being, and encouraged me to ghost ride my single speed off the nearest highway overpass.  Racing a single speed for 100 miles is akin to beating your head against a cement wall for 8 hours, only the wall never breaks and neither does your head.  As I sit here in 2021 with the benefit of 10 more years of life experience under my belt and the relative wisdom that comes with it, I offer this to all of the single speeders out there – there is a good reason that gears were invented.

Anyway, I’ve never raced a 100 miles on gears before and didn’t know what to expect.  I got roped into this race about 1-2 months ago by a long time buddy of mine who was going to be visiting from AK the weekend of the W101.  He asked me if I was interested in racing it.  In my head and my heart, I said “no”, but I heard myself tell him “yes.”  And I’m glad I did.  The weather was perfect (which was novel in itself as 9 of 10 previous NUEs I participated in suffered from rain the day before or the day of the event), the trails were in great shape, and the aid stations were operated by the kindest and most accommodating Pennsylvanians a guy could meet.  Chris Scott puts on a top-notch event.

Regarding the race, the lead group crushed the first climb to create separation and rocketed down the first descent at warp speed to the point where I feared for my life.  I spent the first ~33 miles of the race riding in the top 10 wondering what I was doing there.  I knew a handful of people in the race but only two other people in the group at that point, Stewart Gross (who is local to me in southeast PA and a semi-regular riding buddy), and  Christian Tanguay, (who needs no introduction).  On the climb up to Aid 2, the elastic snapped and I had to let the lead group go.  I defaulted to riding my own race.  Around mile 44 I pulled Stewart back and Christian caught us.  We rode together for a bit.  They stopped at Aid 3 and I kept going.  Riding largely by myself for the next 50 miles pulling in three more riders and finishing 6th.  I saw 5th at the bottom of Old Mingle, but was unable to pull him in.  Having since learned of the insanity that is his riding life, I understand why I saw only a glimpse of him.  Who the f*** voluntarily does three laps of the W101?  Aside from witnessing one of the Flow Formula racers go OTB, cartwheel off the trail two wheels in front of me, and land on this feet like El Gato, the race was largely uneventful. Lessons Learned – (1) you can brake all of the cardinal rules of endurance racing and still do well, (2) having no expectations is a huge asset to racing, (3) people tend to come back to you late in an NUE if you don’t overdo it early.Next Planned NUE Race – N/A – I didn’t really plan to do this one and at this point I don’t plan to do any others this year but you never know…stranger things have happened.Sponsors – Full-****ing-retail brought to you by gainful employment.  I’m 42 years old.  Who am I kidding seeking after sponsors?  Ain’t nobody got time or energy for that.  I don’t race for a team anymore, because I don’t really race anymore.  That said, shout out to Trestle Bridge Racing (if I raced for a team, they’d be it) and Twisted Cog and Shirk’s bike shops; two shops I frequent if I need something for my bicycles.”

Master’s 101 mile- Kogelmann wins

Newly minted 50+, Chip Kogelmann (Bikeflights.com) coming off a 50+ win in the EX2 Exterra off road triathlon, won the Masters race with a time of 8:03 (15th overall).  Multi-time Wilderness 101 winner Roger Masse who finished 8:07 (16th overall) lead the race for much of the day and was reeled in only in the last 10-miles after the final aid station.   Kogelmann lost touch with Masse in the Dutch Alvin section of single track about 45 miles in. Kogelmann, a State College local on his 12th Wilderness 100 struggled to stave of intermittent cramps which kicked in around the 55-mile mark.  Kogelmann recovered after some pickle juice at Aid 4 and made a late charge to catch Masse thanks in part to a few 101k riders who he was able to work with on the gravel sections.

The 2019 Master’s 101 winner, Roger Masse, took the 2nd step crossing the line in 8:07:36 “After a one year hiatus for this event due to Covid, I showed up this year to defend my Stokesville Team Masters win from 2019 without knowing too much about the now two new classes of “incoming freshmen” into Masters 50+. Early in the opening climb, led by Chip Kogelmann (BikeFlights), several of the top Masters guys started inching away. They were going hard. Chip was climbing strong and seemed like the early favorite. I lost sight of Chip until mile 15 or so when the chase group that I was in caught the larger group that he was in which was what remained of the peloton. Then at the bottom of Thickhead, Chip again just laid down some climbing power and opened up a sizable gap. Hours later, after emerging from New Laurel Run, I was again in a chase group that together closed the gap on Chip as he was riding solo. Together again.  I managed to climb up Bear Gap with the group that now included Chip which was encouraging. At the top of Bear Gap, out of the group of 5 or so, I dove into the Croyle single track first and tried to work some separation in the woods thinking the slower single track riders might delay his chase. The effort seemed to work as we started getting into more of that amazing Rothrock knar. Dutch Alvin, Chestnut Spring, Sassafras, Sassy Pig, Pigpile, Shiitake, Beautiful and No Name all went by with none of the original group containing Chip. Sweet! Riding solo up Stillhouse, Sand Mountain, Panther Run all the way to Poe Paddy and the last aid, I started to feel like I might be able to hold on despite being pretty tired… Alas, it wasn’t to be, Chip came rolling by me with authority on the rail trail with about 7 miles to go. He spoke some words of encouragement, but I didn’t have the legs to respond. In the end he had put 4 minutes into me and I settled for 2nd. But wow, great course and great racing! Congrats to Chip on the win and a hearty welcome to you and all the newcomers to the Masters family!”

Finishing twelve minutes back, Bruce Stauffer, grabbed third place, 8:19:44 “What a great weather day for Wilderness 101!  This was my 3rd race of the NUE series this year.  If I complete Shenandoah as planned it will be the first year that I will be eligible for series points, so I really wanted to do well but also to finish.  I figured there was probably a sharp rock out there somewhere with my name on it, so I packed two tubes and a pump instead of just the usual CO2 inflator.  Fortunately it all stayed in the saddle  bag.  I started conservative on the first big climb, but by the technical signal track descent right after the 2nd aid station I was in a pretty good rhythm.  I enjoyed the mix of gravel and single track.  Riding thru the final tunnel at the very end is super satisfying as it’s the last challenge before banging the gong and collecting the finishers pint.”

Fourth place went to Rob Campbell in 8:30:46 and fifth place Donovan Neal in 8:34:46.

Master’s 101 podium: 1st- Chip Kogelmann 8:03:49, 2nd Roger Masse 8:07:36, 3rd Bruce Stauffer 8:19:44, 4th Rob Campbell 8:30:46, 5th Donovan Neal 8:34:46. Photo credit: Chris Merriam

Singlespeed 101 mile- PA’s Vorberger gets the W

Taking the single speed win, John Vorberger (Syndicate Cycling/Flow Formulas/Sweetwater Bikes,) from Pittsburg, PA finished in 7:35:27. “Friends told me the W101 normally starts off pretty mellow for the first 25-30 miles, but right from the start of the first climb this year, some open geared guys took off and hammered. I stayed with them and by the top of the first climb, I was in the lead group of only 10-15 or so riders, and the only SS’er in the group. A couple teammates on the Flow Formulas team were in the group with me – Will, Ian, and Caleb – so it made for fun riding as we cruised along the gravel roads. The second climb was also super hot, thanks to Will Loevner pushing the pace. I hung on for that climb also but got spun out on my singlespeed on the gradual downhill after it and lost the geared guys around mile 25-30. Oh well, I was hoping I put a lot of time on the other SS’ers, so my plan changed to just keep riding hard but smart to keep my lead. I rode the rest of the race mostly solo, but occasionally with a couple friends. Toward the end I got caught by a geared teammate and another geared friend doing the 100k race. I drafted them for a little on the rail-trail, but I got spun out and went solo again. Right near the end of the race I caught back up to my buddy Ryan Johnson, who got 3rd in the 100k open, and we crossed the line together. It was a fun way to end the race. The whole day and trip to State College was a lot of fun, it’s hard to beat heading out to a race with a friend and having a good day on the bike! I used 34×20 gearing, but next year I think I might switch to 34×19. Next up is the Shenandoah 100. Thanks to Flow Formulas for race-day nutrition, Syndicate cycling for the support, Sweetwater Bikes, and Extreme Nano lubricants for keeping my chain quiet and smooth the whole race. Also, thanks for Chris Scott for another great event!”

Coming in second was, David Taylor, with a time of 8:33:12. “Wilderness 101, I came in with a new outlook and it worked out this time. I have been racing the 101 since 2016 and love every bit of Chris Scott’s events. I had a bit of redemption for my poor performance at the Mohican 100 last month thanks to a nutrition mixup and the scorching heat. I dnf’d that race. I decided to focus on a couple things this race. Do an easy but consistent taper week, mix my nutrition properly and to go out easier. This worked exceptionally well. I paced with my buddy Jesse for most of the race and just let it come to me. I was back and forth with Joe Worboy but he went pretty hard up the third climb and I refused to chase. After aid station three I caught Thad and Joe again and managed to put a good gap on the long climb. I came up on Matt Ferrari in the new singletrack section and he didn’t seem to put up a fight. I just continued nice and steady and at the last aid station I came up on second place Stephen Schwarz. He quickly took off and I followed about a minute behind. I definitely had more gear than him and caught him about a mile later and never looked back.Despite some cramping on the final stretch I was happy to PR on Stillhouse and the final climbs. By the end I had gapped third place by about 12 minutes and gained a couple more positions on the geared guys. If you haven’t raced the W101 make sure to do so. It’s my favorite of all the courses I have raced. Thanks to The Peddler of Long Branch, Rescue Racing and Hilltop Bikes for all they do for me.”

Taking the third step, Steve Schwarz, crossed the line in 8:46:30. “The Wilderness 101 was really a phenomenal experience for me all around.  To give some background, I have been away from racing for probably 10 years, and this was my first race back with any real kind of training under my belt.  Coming into the race I knew I felt pretty good, but I didn’t know what to expect as far as results. I’m also not a regular on the single speed circuit, so I didn’t really know who was who as far as the competition goes. I know Chris Scott mentioned a few names on the pre-race report, like Thad, Ivan, and Matt Ferrari, but besides that I didn’t really know who to look for.
The race started out beautifully. I had a great nights sleep with a belly full of delicious food and yummy beers from Elk Creek brewing.  I knew once we turned on the first climb that I was going to ride well, but I didn’t know where my limits were, so I told myself I’d ride my own pace and let a number of the single speeders go by. Kept feeling well as the day went on, making sure to stay on top of my hydration and fueling, and things kept going great.  I kept wondering to myself when things were going to go sideways, but they never really did.
I passed a couple single speeders right before or after aid station two and noticed I was riding the trails pretty well.  Sometime around aid station three, I passed Thad Who is walking his bike on the technical single track and seem to be in a bit of distress. That was the first time I thought things might be going OK for me. Then I passed another couple single speeders coming into aid station four, I made it a point to bust a move out of there.  On the nasty climb out of aid station four, I came across Ivan Who was  now shirtless But hilarious as always. I chatted with him briefly, but wrote a way up the hill and he yelled out “looking strong,” which gave me a boost.  I ground myself a bit to make it up to the top of that nasty climb, and then settled in with a bunch of gearies who helped me pass the next 15 or so miles.  At that point I figured I was probably sitting in a pretty good spot. I didn’t know if I was in first third fifth or what, but I suspected things were going well and just road steady and hard to the finish. The finish line came a little sooner than I expected and I was glad to be done. I didn’t know where I had finished until about 45 minutes later when I decided to roll down to the keg for a beer and I saw Ivan standing up for the podium awards and I realized I better get my butt over there for the presentation. Really good to be back in the mix in some serious racing, and no place Better to do it then at one of Chris Scott’s events.  I’m thinking more NUE events are in my future for next year.”

Fourth place was Ivan Temnykh in 8:54:00 and fifth place Scott Rath in 9:04:39.

Photo credit: Chris Merriam
101 Singlespeed podium: 1st John Vorberger 7:35:27, 2nd David Taylor 8:33:12, 3rd Steve Schwarz 8:46:30, 4th Ivan Temnykh 8:54:00, 5th Scott Rath 9:04:39, 6th Joe Worboy 9:19

Women’s 100K- Laird’s 1st NUE win

After a 2nd place finish at both Mohican and Carrabassett 100k, Teresa Laird, from Richmond VA took the 100k win finishing in 6:36:45.

Taking second place was, Abigail Snyder, finishing in 7:16:36 “This was my first time at the Wilderness 101k, and only my second NUE or 100k race. I was both excited and nervous coming into race day, having never ridden in PA before, but having heard stories about how rocky the trails in the area could be. The mass start allowed me to settle into a moderate pace for the first climb. I soon realized that I really didn’t feel strong at all, but that being a 70+ mile race, I could still just diesel on. So I kept a steady pace and didn’t get too bothered by seeing riders pull away from me on the climbs. I approached the unknown singletrack cautiously, not wanting to risk a fall. I was pleasantly surprised by being able to ride the majority of the trails, only walking a few especially technical sections. As a whole, the gravel and trails were absolutely stunning—what a gorgeous course!! Many thanks to the amazing volunteers at each aid station who helped find my drop bags and fill water—that was a lifesaver! When I finished, I really had no idea where I had placed; it was such a fun surprise to realize that I was second! Sponsors: Ronin Velosport; AMP Human; OSMO Hydration; Cardinal Bicycle Next Race: Shenandoah Mountain 100k”

Tanya Campbell finishes in third place in the 100k

Taking the third step was, Tanya Campbell, with a time of 7:56:33. “HARD HARD HOT and HARD! In 2020 the Wilderness 101 race was cancelled. I still set a goal to see what The Wilderness was all about. I like pushing myself to try new challenges. That summer I rode the Wilderness 101 unsupported, with a little help from my friends Brad Fey, Mary Ann, Bri and Nikki. I also supported a fellow rider Will Lovner on his 300 mile tourture fest when he tackled  the Wilderness 101 three times in a row this past spring. Last weekend at an after party from Mid-State Gravel Mary K and I decided that we were going to race the 101. One week out all we basically had to do was rest and recover for our next race.. Chris Scott was more than generous to us. I volunteered with registration and picked up 50 liters of cokes from Wall-Mart for the aid stations. Then this past Saturday was my very first attempt at the Wilderness 101 Marathon 75 mile distance. My performance was not spectacular but I did manage to keep moving forward all day. I was not trained for the distance. At one point I pedaled by the course marshal, a Mom and her small daughter. Her daughter said look a girl. The Mom said look women are doing it too, see you can do this too! That kept me going out on the course all day. Mary and I found each other riding the single track together which was nice. At this point it was hard to tell who was doing the full or the sort course. Evan and Helena were amazing at the last Support Station! This was the only station I stopped at all day. I also had some coke and a pickle. (THANK YOU) I really wanted hot dogs, roasted avocado and whisky but, I know what not to do during a race from experience. I caught up to my friend Ryan and It was nice to chat and ride with him up Stillhouse. The rest of the ride I was suffering. My back hurt and my ankle were killing me. The tunnel was scary and the fishermans path sucks! If you want to know more about the 101 you should just go race it! I finished third on the podium of open women. My friend Mary was actually in front of me. She registered in the 50 and over so she ended up taking 1st in her class. “

Just a few minutes back Kat Brady took fourth 7:59:50. Paula Baake finished fifth in 8:42:36.

Women’s 100k Podium: 1st Teresa Laird 6:36:45, 2nd Abigail Snyder 7:16:36, 3rd Tanya Campbell 7:56:33, 4th Kat Brady 7:59:50

Men’s 100K- Petrylak takes 100k

Taking the men’s 100k win was, John Petrylak, (CarboRocket, Athlos, Kenda, Molly’s Bikes, Norco Bicycles) finishing in a blistering 5:28:35. “It was great to see Coburn park full of NUE racers! The W101K (which is closer 120k🥵) started on a bright beautiful Saturday Pennsylvania morning. Right away I could feel the energy as the peloton moved down the road towards the first big gravel climb of the day. The pace going up the climb quickly escalated until the elastic started to stretch and I found myself in a small group with Will Pfieffer and Ryan Johnson. We all equally shared time on the front and quickly established a lead over the chasing pack. For the first 25 miles we swiftly made our way through Rockrock State Forest towards the first piece of single track. I was first into the single track and proceeded to have an absolute blast!! After some twisting and flowing though the PA single track I got a little space on my breakaway friends; Ryan and Will.Almost immediately after the single track it was AS(1) and a quick refill of a few bottles of CarboRocket. As I began to climb up the gravel road away from the AS Ryan caught back on and reported Will had a little trouble in the single track. Ryan got on the front and both of us started up yet another Pennsylvania gravel road climb. This climb was a little different as it pitched pretty good at the top. Once we got to the steepest part I couldn’t hear Ryan tires crunching through the gravel so I threw caution to wind and just went for it. At the top I established a nice gap; this was mile 30. For the next 45 miles I proceeded alone and did a LONG TT; holding off the chasers to finish in first. Next up SM100K”

About six minutes back, Anthony Grinnell, finished second in 5:34:17. “The race started at a manageable pace and picked up a bit on the last 3rd of the opening climb.  I decided I didn’t want to push my power that early in the race so I maintained my power.  Three riders pulled a small gap by the top of the climb, but I made a very big mistake in thinking they’d slow down a bit or I could pull them back.  I spent the next 40 minutes solo’ing trying to bridge until I finally gave up and decided it would be wiser to slow down and work with the chase group behind me.  Even though I burned a few matches solo’ing, that decision to wait and work with the chase group paid off.  I saved enough energy to feel somewhat fresh heading into the single track.  I caught 3rd place half way through and caught my buddy in 2nd place, Ryan Johnson, on Sandy Mountain.  Ryan and I decided to ride together for the rest of the race, which was a lot more fun than riding the next 2.5 hours solo!  All in all, it was a fun day with some great single track and good friends.  I was happy to finish in 2nd place, considering the judgement error and resulting solo effort early on.  Huge shout out to Flow Formulas.  Their products have made a big difference for me this year in keeping fueled up and hydrated.  Big thanks to Shorkey Auto Group for financially helping the team get to the races and Pro Bike and Run for keeping our bikes going.  With a SS Marathon Win, a SS Epic Win, a top 5 in Men’s Epic Open, and a 2nd in Men’s Marathon Open, the Syndicate Cycling team had a great weekend.”

Only a minute back from second, Ryan Johnson, took the third step with a time of 5:35:28. Will Pfeiffer took fourth in 5:39:42 and Philip Maynard finished fifth 5:42:20.

Photo credit: Chris Merriam
Men’s Marathon podium: 1st John Petrylak 5:28:35, 2nd Anthony Grinnell 5:34:17, 3rd Ryan Johnson 5:35:28, 4th Will Pfeiffer, 5th Philip Maynard 5:42:20

Master’s 100K- Hagen gets master’s WIN

Mark Hagen (Charm City Cycling (C3 P/B Wagner Roofing) took the masters’s 100k win crossing the line in 6:16:57. “This was my first MTB 100k of the year, first time racing the W101 and my longest ride of the year thus far. Eyeing up the pre-reg I saw some familiar names including some of the mid-Atlantic legends such as the Thummels, D Atkins, Tanguy, Masse and Rob Campbell to name a few. Getting beta on the course was surprisingly tough but settled on my Yeti SB100, running Schwaby RaRa 2.5’s on a 34 tooth front with a 9-48 in the rear, running 2 bottles, couple of gels and 2 expired/very hard Shot Blocks I found in the bottom of my race bag. My strategy was going to be like any other MTB race and try and get a good start and hang as long as I could with the lead group. The 9am start was civil compared to our 101m compatriots (7am) and the temps were in the mid 70’s, which was welcomed as this race is notorious for being about 10 degrees hotter. My strategy worked on the first 4+ mile/1,100-virt. ft. climb until about ¾ of the way up the lead group of about 12 splintered off into a chaise group with myself the eventual single speed winner Litzinger, Josh Coffman, Sunny Gil, one other Bike Doctor guy and a smattering of others from the open podium. It was a friendly but focused group and we traded pulls leading up to the first single-track which I entered last and I never saw most of them again. The first 2 sectors of ST were pretty slow going and technical with sweaty PA rock in full effect. We met up with the 100m groups at around mile 35ish which gave me (and them) riders to trade pulls with. The two middle ST sectors were fun maybe not flowy but good singletrack and each gravel section was welcomed reprieve from the pounding PA rock gardens and used the gravel zones to refuel and lick my wounds. Eventually on the second-to-last long super fast fireraod DH I caught up with the Bike Doctor guys again and we met up at the last aid station, which I left first, and thought that they would me on the final climb but never did. On the final flat trail, through a rather dark and scary tunnel, I traded pulls with fast young-gun Chase Caughey and we both worked together in hopes to drop the BD guys on the final 3-mile climb. We hit the last ST sector at the which I knew from pre-riding the final 5-miles on Friday, so I just knew to get off, shoulder my Yeti and run much of it. Super happy with my first W in a while and huge thanks to the support from the volunteers at the aid-stations (well stocked) and Chris Scott at SMT for this and the other great MTB and Gravel events he throws down on. Also shout out and thanks to my team C3 PB Wagner Roofing and Charm City Cross…cross is coming people.Next up for me is the Breck Epic and can’t wait for the Shenandoah 100!”

Six minutes back and finishing second, Dorel Stoia, finished in 6:23:35. Ohio riders, Bob Sowga (PG racing), finished third in 6:51:51 and fourth went to, David Jolin (Rescue Racing) crossing the line in 6:54:06. Jeff Adamcik took fifth in 7:10.

Masters 100k Podium: 1st Mark Hagen 6:16:57 2nd Dorel Stoia 6:23:35 3rd Bob Sowga 6:51:51 4th David Jolin 6:54:06 5th Jeff Adamcik.
Photo credit: Jen Toops

Masters 100k Women

Mary Kowalski crossed the line in 7:44:50 taking the women’s masters win.

Women’s Masters podium: 1st Mary Kowalski 7:44

Singlespeed 100K

Pennsylvania’s very own James Litzinger (Syndicate cycling) took the singlespeed win and sixth overall finishing in 5:44:01.”

Who would not like the Wilderness 101? Loads of the finest gravel in Pennsylvania with east coast rock gardens and beautiful single track. On the first climb after the neutral start the race heated up with about five riders separating themselves as the lead group.  I thought it would be a good race move to conserve some energy and continue the climb at my own pace. When I got to the flat section at the top of the climb, I jumped on the chase group of three riders who meant business.  They were putting in big pulls making it difficult to hold on with all the spinning on the flat roads. I was able to hang on for 6 miles or so before deciding it would be best for me to conserve some energy for the big climbs later in the race.  After all my spinning, I could not wait for another climb and that came were the 100-mile racers joined the course. This is the point in my race where I felt steady and strong. The race just kept getting better, at the top of the climb I was able to put my Specialized Epic to work on the Dutch Alvin trail. It was a blast! From here I started to build confidence as I began passing more 100 and 100k racers. As I worked my way through the field it was great to run into some old friends and make some new ones. 

I had a bunch of support that made this race possible to do my best. Excellent support and friendship from the team shop, Pro Bike + Run. I was using Extreme Nano Lubricants which kept my chain incredibly happy in the harsh conditions. My nutrition and hydration were on point with flow formulas. My Perelli tires were fast and durable. My Wolf tooth 34 x 20 gearing was strong and flawless. As always, I would like to give special thanks to my Syndicate family for always supporting me and pushing me to do my best.  Next up is Shenandoah!! “

Matthew Doyle took second with a time of 6:42:02.

For full results CLICK HERE

Next up on the Epic and Marathon NUE series Pierre’s Hole in WY on August 7th, 2021

Funk Bottoms Gravel 100k/200k

Funk Bottoms Gravel entered its 10th official race excluding last year’s pandemic virtual race.  Saturday morning started early as the field has grown from three entrants in the first year to a capped 250 entrants in 2021.   Volunteers and support staff on little sleep from marking the course the night before, start rolling in around 4am to prepare for registration, a 7am start for the 200k race, and the 100k race starting an hour later.  Many familiar faces return while plenty of new faces arrive for the self-proclaimed Ohio’s toughest gravel grinder. The 100k course this year featured 66 miles and 8200 feet of vertical climbing with less than 9 miles of the course paved.  If that’s not enough for you then you can register for the 200k which sends you out for two laps of the aforementioned terrain.

The weather on this Saturday morning called for fairly mild temperatures in the 70s with possible pop-up strong thunderstorms throughout the day.   The course was in fantastic shape and some fast predictions were casually discussed among the race organizers.   The threat of storms kept quite a few riders away and there were around 60 DNS entrants in this year’s race.  However as 7am approached and the neutral roll out began, the largest field of 200k racers for FBG took to the course and an hour later the largest field of 100k racers took off after them.

Under mostly cloudy skies and mild conditions, the field looked enthusiastic and excited to tackle the course that was ahead.  The first 5.5 miles of the course are a gradual climb, which may give riders a false sense of security about what their day might look like.   After the first real descent is an almost immediate steep climb of nearly 500 feet in under ¾ of a mile, and it’s at this point you can really start to gauge what your day is going to look and feel like.   When you’re not climbing on this course, you’re descending steep gravel roads which leaves many riders white knuckled.  While it’s difficult to count the hills on the course as there is a frequent joke that FBG put’s hills on top of the hills, there are roughly 6 steep climbs in the first 25 miles before rolling into Killbuck for a much needed break at one of the local convenience stores to refill supplies on this self-supported race.

Every year the race coordinators vary the Funk Bottom course for new and interesting sights and challenges.  This year’s route included 1.5 miles of new gravel roads never ridden in previous years.  One of the favorite sections among the riders is “Bigfoot Road” where a 15-foot tall Bigfoot holding gun has been carved out of a tree.  To the surprise of the racers a few miles before the secret checkpoint, some Gravel Angels decided to set-up an oasis dressed as clowns.  This was a much-needed comical break from the relentless grueling hills.

A not so secret checkpoint this year was at mile 52 again in Killbuck where the first riders from the 200k managed to pull in just over 3 hours into the race.  With mild temperatures and a little bit of rain, most of the 200k racers opted to not stop at the only aid station provided by the race and continue to push through the final 15 miles of the first lap back into Glenmont.   A little less than an hour after the first 200k riders came through; the 100k field started rolling through the checkpoint.  The faces of the riders ranged from enthusiastic that they were nearing the end of the course, to agony and asking for the shortest bail out option to the finish line.   For the next few hours, the strung out field of 100k riders continued passing through the checkpoint.  As the last of the 100k riders made their way through the mile 52 checkpoint, the aggressive pace of the 200k riders on their second lap lapped some of them.

A group of about five 200k riders pulls in together back into Glenmont finishing the first lap.  Initially it appears that this group might stick together for the rest of the day and the race could be in for a close finish.  Shortly into that second lap however, a surge by the leader breaks that group up and by the second time through the mile 52 checkpoint, there was well over a 1-minute gap between each of the first five leaders.

Not to the surprise of the race organizers, past Funk Bottoms champion Ben Meer won the 100k in under 4 hours separated by less than 2 minutes by Paul Martin, with the 3rd place finisher just another few minutes behind.   A late entrant Julia Priet won the Women’s 100K and posted an amazing time.  For the next few hours, riders of all categories would continually be pushing across the finish line.

Jeff Pendlebury defending his title from the 2019 200K was the first 200k participant to cross the finish line set a new race record with a blazing time of 8h 32m 11s. Fresh off her win two weeks prior at the Mohican 100 Jen Toops won the Women’s 200K. All 200k participants are greeted at the finish line with a finishers award; this year being the Funk Bottoms Gravel pint glass (hopefully full of ice-cold Yuengling).

All in all, it was a fantastic day for racing for everyone involved.  Special thanks to everyone who participated in this race and makes the day what it is.   Funk Bottoms Gravel truly brings out the most determined riders for Ohio’s toughest gravel grinder

Mens 100k open podium

Mens 100K Open
1) Ben Meer* (Johnny Velo Racing) 3:55:41
2) Alex Lundbeck (Paul Martin) 3:57:36
3) Maxwell Matsanoff  (Audi) 4:03:41

women’s 100k open podium

Womens 100K Open
1) Julia Priet (Bicycle Face) 4:51:38
2) Emily Miller (VeloFemm p/b Litzler) 5:24:48
3) Christina Condon (West Coast Cycling) 6:10:02

100k SS podium

100K Single Speed 
1) Josh Kunz* (Trans-Sylvania Productions) 4:32:04
2) Nicholas Campbell 4:52:21
3) Tucker Cavanaugh 4:56:42

100k Masters men’s podium

100k Master Men
1) Nate Loman (Hammer Nutrition) 4:28:36 
2) Rudy Sroka (Lake Effect) 4:36:11 3) Tom Weaver (Summit Freewheelers) 4:42:29

100k Master Women podium

100K Master Women
1) Julie Sroka (Lake Effect) 5:28:54
2) Judy Porter* 6:09:37
3) Peggy Cook 6:10:16
4) Cynthia Berard 6:10:16

200k Mens podium

200K Men Open
1) Jeff Pendlebury* (Ride on Wooster) 8:32:11 (Race Record)
2) Andrew Boissiere (Headwins p/b Elevator Brewing) 8:41:54 
3) Brent Goetz (Think Green-Bicycle Face) 8:47:23

200k women’s open podium

200K Women’s Open
1) Jen Toops (Pearl-Izumi/ Pivot MTB race Team) 10:23:04
2) Maggie Livelsberger 11:53:02 3) Genna Brock (DNF)

200k SS podium

200K Single Speed

1)Scott Phillips* (Team Dayton-Reser Bicycle) 11:20:01

200k Masters podium

200K Master
1) Garth Prosser (Specialized) 10:18:04
2) Steve Curran (Ghisallo Cycling) 10:33:04
3) Jason Hall (Summit Freewheelers) 12:55:02 

Race report & pictures provided by: The funk masters (Chris, Marc, Paul)

Full results CLICK HERE