Moab Rocks: Stage 3

Canadians Dominate the Final Stage in Moab with Maghalie Rochette and Geoff Kabush Taking the 2017 Titles

Written by: Shannon Boffeli and Marlee Dixon

Cloudy and overcast skies with mild temperatures again greeted riders for the final stage of Moab Rocks. Starting at the Gemini Bridges parking lot. Riders attack a steep, Jeep road climb before entering the Magnificient 7 trail area. Moab Rocks promoters have connected a flowy loop to challenge riders including some of the best singletrack available including the Bull Run and Great Escape descents.

Geoff Kabush (#42) leads the first climb of Stage 3. He would go on to win the overall classification of Moab Rocks. Photo by: John Gibson

Open Men

With just seconds separating the top riders going into stage three the open men’s race was sure to produce some major excitement.

A leisurely pace to the base of the first climb quickly changed as the leaders wound it up looking to decide who would become 2017 Moab Rocks champion.

At the start of the day Justin Lindine (Apex/NBX) was just 50 seconds out of first place and was looking to challenge Canadian superstar Geoff Kabush (Scott) for the lead. Ben Sonntag (Clif Bar) wasn’t far back either and the ever-aggressive Chris Baddick (Boulder Cyclesport) was looking to continue his climb up the leader board having moving into fifth with his efforts yesterday.

The lead group got away early in a stage that featured much more singletrack and tougher passing than the previous days.

Justine Lindine (2nd overall) leads Geoff Kabush who eventually won Stage 3 and the overall general classification at Moab Rocks. Photo by: John Gibson

Lindine indeed gave it his all throwing everything he could at Kabush but the lanky Canadian would not be shaken. Kabush’s combination of incredible fitness and outstanding skills on the bike once again proved too tough for the competition.

Although Lindine kept it close, Geoff Kabush took his third stage win of the race and the overall title finishing just nine seconds in front and adding to his endless list of victories on American soil.

Ben Sonntag capped off a consistent weekend taking third place on the day and third in the final GC.

This left the race for fourth overall to be decided between Baddick and Taylor Lideen (Pivot/Industry Nine/Infinit). Lideen struggled mightily with his injured thumb making it difficult for him to grip the bar with his left hand.

Tokyo Joes rider feeling the flow in Mag 7. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Baddick did his best to take advantage, pushing hard and dropping the Pivot rider. In the end he picked up over 2 minutes on Lideen but needed one more to takeover fourth in the GC.

Lideen managed just enough to keep his spot secure as Baddick finished fourth on the day but fifth in the stage race. Lideen rolled across the line seventh in today’s final stage.

Maghalie Rochette of the Luna Team-1st on Stage 3 and 1st overall. Photo by: John Gibson

Open Women

Stage 3 of Moab Rocks was a mellow start with racers bunched together in a peloton for the first mile before hitting the steep loose dirt climb of Gemini Bridges Road.

From there Maghelie Rochette (Clif Bar) started to take the lead, pushing fast up the climb.

GC leader Jena Greaser was right behind with Marlee Dixon (Pivot Cycles/DNA) following closely.

Once over the opening road climb Greaser took off, blazing down the road followed by Rochette but once climbing started up the next steep climb of Gemini Bridges road Rochette made her intentions clear and started to put some space on her competitors.

Once the women hit singletrack, Lea Davison (Clif Bar) with Ksenia Lepikhina (Tokyo Joes) right on her wheel; passed Dixon.

Ksenia Lepikhina leads Lea Davison in the single track. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Davison put some time on Lepikhina and caught up to Greaser who was having trouble maintaining her power and speed from the past few days.

Rochette continued to put the hammer down looking to put time on Greaser and steal the GC title on the last stage. She rode aggressively all the way to the finish.

Davison stayed in second position and although Greaser crashed, she held on for third for the day.

Lepikhina and Dixon bunny hopped each other at one point with Lepikhina finishing fourth followed by Dixon in fifth.

Rochette, having her strongest stage of the race, finished a full 5 minutes ahead of Greaser, taking the overall win.

Jena Greaser-3rd on Stage 3 and 2nd overall. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Greaser dropped to second in the GC followed by Dixon in third, Davison in fourth and Lepikhina in fifth.

The women put on a great show at this year’s Moab Rocks. The extremely competitive group produced three different stage winners with a change in GC leader each day.

Although amazing scenery was all around riders had little time to enjoy the views on a fast stage through Mag 7. Photo by: Jean McAllister

By any measure the 2017 Moab Rocks was a huge success: a sold out event, stacked fields with national and world champions, incredible trails, hard racing, exceptional camaraderie, and organization like a finely-tuned Swiss watch. The folks at TransRockies events know how to put on a first-class event and all those on hand hope this event continues for a long time to come.

Click Here for Full Results From All Categories Including Final GC Standings 

Gallery

Moab Rocks: Stage 2

Stage 2 Photo Gallery

Lea Davison of the Luna Team-3rd on Stage 2. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Geoff Kabush wins Stage 2 of Moab Rocks. Photo by: John Gibson

The leaders of the Mens race in a group in the early stages of Stage 2. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Jena Greaser-1st on Stage 2. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Sparky Moir Sears hugs the rocks on stage 2. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Lea Davison (3rd on Stage 2) leads teammate Maghalie Rochette (2nd on Stage 2) Photo by: John Gibson

Rotem Ishay-6th Stage 2. Photo by: John Gibson

 

Moab Rocks: Stage 2

Kabush Takes Stage 2 While Jena Greaser Wins the Day and Leads the Women’s GC

 

Written by: Shannon Boffeli and Marlee Dixon

Stage 2 of Moab Rocks is a stark contrast to day two. After a day filled with climbing, climbing, and more climbing, stage 2 offers up a fast, power course with no climbs lasting longer than 5 minutes.

The course encompasses the trails of the Klondike Bluffs riding area and packs in 2,700 feet of climbing in the form of unrelenting, short, power climbs. The climbs are followed by rugged slickrock descents with plenty of technical features to keep riders on their toes.

 

Open Men

With a 3-mile flat road section right off the start, stage 2 got off to a fast start with rider battling for the front before the singletrack started.

Up front it was Boulder Cyclesport rider Chris Baddick driving the pace early on. Baddick flatted on stage 1 and gave it everything he had to take back some spots he lost on the GC.

Baddick’s rapid pace quickly whittled the field down to a hand full of riders. Once again it was Justin Lindine (Apex/NBX), Geoff Kabush (Scott), Taylor Lideen (Pivot/Industry Nine/Infinit), and Ben Sonntag (Clif Bar).

“Baddick was really fast today,” Taylor Lideen shared after the finish. “Every climb he was out of the saddle sprinting. He made us work keeping up. I couldn’t even get a drink for the first hour.”

And he kept it going for most of the day.

The fast pace was taking a toll forcing the chasers to push their limits. Lindine went down briefly around the halfway point and Lideen caught a tree with his left hand, smashing his thumb and loosing contact with the lead group.

Lindine bridged back up to the lead group but Scott honcho, Geoff Kabush had no interest in letting it come down to a sprint finish again. On one of the longer climbing sections late in the race Kabush attack hard opening a gap that would continue to grow until the finish.

By the line he held a minute over runner-up Justin Lindine.

Ben Sonntag crossed the line in third followed by Chris Baddick and Taylor Lideen, who held on for fifth thanks to the large cushion he opened up early in the day.

For all his early effort Baddick did manage to pick up a spot in the GC jumping ahead of Rotem Ishay (Jamis) for fifth.

Kabush will be looking to protect his GC lead going into tomorrow’s final stage.

 

Open Women

 The leading women flew off the start of stage 2.  The first three miles of the course are a winding, rolling, dirt road and from the get go it was a sprint.

A sand trap right at the entrance to the first singletrack threw a few girls off and they were off their bikes running to get back in position.

Once on the singletrack, it’s a slick-rock climb and already the women were beginning to spread out with Jena Greaser leading the way.

In a strong position for the entire road, Jenny Smith (NoTubes) wrecked right at the start of the single track and lost position to Lea Davison (Clif Bar) and Ksenia Lepikhina (Tokyo Joes).

Maghalie Rochette (Clif Bar) rode strong and fast from the beginning maintaining her second place position for the entire day.

Today’s course was on Klondike Bluffs, a man-made trail system that includes a lot of punchy climbs, technical features and short descents.  It’s a great test of racers power, quick thinking and technical skills.

Greaser had all of those today as she led the women from the beginning, finishing a minute ahead of second place, Rochette.

Davison finished a minute behind her in third.   The overall GC changed today with Greaser moving into first, Rochelle in second and Dixon (Pivot/DNA Cycling) in third.  Dixon struggled to match the speed and power of the top riders today with a lack of long climbs for her to get in a rhythm.

The third and final stage of Moab Rocks moves south to the Magnificent Seven trail area. The final day includes a nice mixed of both stages featuring some extended climbs, a healthy dose of slickrock, and technical descending.

Stage 3 will test riders with 3,600 feet of climbing over 30 miles.

Check back tomorrow for a full report and results from stage 3

Click Here for full results from all categories including GC after stage 2

 

 

Moab Rocks Stage 1 Photos

Photos from Day One of Moab Rocks 2017

Catharine Pendrel wins Stage 1 of Moab Rocks. Photo by: John Gibson

Ksenia Lepikhina navigates the singletrack on UPS trail. Photo by: John Gibson

A line of riders negotiate the “Notch” on Porcupine Rim. Photo by: John Gibson

Spring conditions on Moab’s Porcupine Rim. Photo by: John Gibson

A rider threads the needle on Porcupine Rim. Photo by: John Gibson

Geoff Kabush wins Stage 1 of Moab Rocks. Photo by: John Gibson

Riders live on the edge racing on the Upper Porcupine Singletrack. Photo by: John Gibson

Classic Moab scenery on Porcupine Rim. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Sparky Moir Sears drops in toward the finish line. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Porcupine Rim claims another victim. Photo by: Jean McAllister

Jeff Kerkove takes the high line to the finish. Photo by: Jean McAllister

A talented field was on hand to compete at this year’s Moab Rocks. Photo by: John Gibson

Moab Rocks: Stage 1

Canadians Geoff Kabush and Catherine Pendrel Take Stage 1 at Moab Rocks

Written by: Shannon Boffeli and Marlee Dixon

After a year hiatus, the Moab Rocks stage race made a triumphant return to the race schedule. Organizers made the switch from the usual October date to March with great success. This year the fields ballooned from just 70 to 80 riders to a fully sold-out 150 riders.

The full field was a buzz on the start line rolling out from downtown Moab and heading out Sand Flats road past the famed Slickrock trail before cresting the climb up to the Upper Porcupine Singletrack and descending the way back down to the finish. Riders were challenged by about 4,200 feet of climbing, almost all of which was in the first hour-long climb, and 27 miles of riding on one of the most iconic trails in all of Moab.

Taylor Lideen descending Porcupine Rim.

Open Men

Racers started at 8:30am with a mass start rolling through town and out Sand Flats road. The first selection started early with about 30 riders staying together past Slickrock trail. Slowly the pack thinned as they passed Lower Porcupine hitting the steepest slopes just after. Nick Gould (Ska Brewing/Zia Tacoria) and Payson McElveen (RideBiker) started to dial it up, pulling Geoff Kabush (Scott), Taylor Lideen (Pivot/Industry Nine/Infinit), Justin Lindine (Apex/NBX),  Chris Baddick (Boulder Cyclesport), and Ben Sonntag (Team Clif Bar).

This group of four took control of things up front with Kabush eventually putting some sunlight between himself and the three chasers just before the singletrack started.

Now on the Upper Porcupine descent Lideen took up lead chasing duties finally bridging the gap to Kabush who had to stop for a dropped chain. Shortly after, Chris Baddick flatted, ending his shot at a race win.

Once again the group of four descended the hard-pounding drops of Lower Porcupine. Almost in sight of the finish it was Lideen’s chance to drop his chain producing the final selection of the day as the three leaders stayed wheel-to-wheel until the finish line.

In the end Kabush crossed first followed by Sonntag and Lindine. Lideen regrouped to finish fourth.

Almost without exception all riders enjoyed the day riding classic Moab trails. As usual Porcupine Rim produced enough carnage to end some rider’s day and pushing everyone to their limit.

Stage 1 winner Geoff Kabush

Open Women

There was a fast group of female racers at the start line for Moab Rocks this year including Canadian and American Olympians Catherine Pendrel (Luna) and Lea Davison (Luna).

Once past the neutral roll out the women started to spread out with Pendrel, and Jena Greaser taking the lead.

Not far behind were a handful of strong women all racing close to each other pushing hard up the 15-mile climb.

The road includes some rolling sections at the beginning and not too far into it Marlee Dixon (Pivot/DNA Cycling) caught Pendrel and Greaser.

The three of them climbed together for most of the road with Dixon making a move to the front in the second half.  Pendrel caught up and rode with her and Jena right behind.

Once off the main road climb, Dixon tried to widen her gap on the singletrack, losing her chain twice, she was caught by Jena Greaser.

However, being unfamiliar with the course, Jena was off her bike and Dixon again moved into the lead.

Porcupine Rim is a technical, pedally descent going from smooth dirt to sand to gnarly rocks to drops.

Pendrel passed Jenna not too far into the descent and then five miles from the finish caught and passed Dixon as Dixon endo’ed over her bike.

Pendrel took the win; showing her strong technical skills and speed on the most technical stage of the race.

Stage 1 starts with a long road climb testing racers fitness then moves into a rocky, chundry descent where anything can happen.  For racers this is probably one of the most technical trails to race on.

For stage 1, Pendrel took the win, followed by Dixon and then Greaser.  For the 3 day overall, Pendrel is only racing one day so Dixon takes the overall followed by Jena Greaser and Maghalie Rochette (Luna) in 3rd.

Sparky Moir Sears (Pivot) finished fourth followed by Jenny Smith (Kenda/NoTubes) in fifth.

Tomorrow’s stage changes things up with more trail and a hefty dose of slickrock as riders tackle the Klondike Bluffs trail area with another 27 miles and just 2,800 feet of climbing.

Check in tomorrow for full coverage on MTB Race News.

Click Here for full results from all categories

True Grit 100-Miler – Santa Clara, Utah

Taylor Lideen Repeats as True Grit Champion and Joey Lythgoe Takes First 100 Mile Win

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

 

Once again riders from all across the country made the trek to Santa Clara, Utah, to take in the desert singletrack oasis tucked in the southwestern corner of the state. Warm weather and ideal trail conditions greeted the 500 riders registered for this year’s True Grit Epic.

The fact that the NUE series finale would be moving out west in 2017 provided extra buzz as many of those in attendance would be making a run at the series title, a challenge that is typically out of reach for most racers out west who have a hard time traveling to the east coast for the series final. This year’s finale will be located in Big Bear, California.

100-mile open male winner Taylor Lideen leading Dylan Johnson.

Open Male

The open men’s field included a healthy bunch of seasoned NUE racers looking to kick off 2017 with a race win.

Last year’s True Grit champ Taylor Lideen (Elevated Legs) looked poised to repeat after a winter of training in sunny Arizona.

Looking to unseat Lideen as champion was 2016 NUE series champion Dylan Johnson (Cameron Racing). Johnson was making his first appearance at the Utah race. Following a long trip out from the east coast Johnson wasn’t left with much time to ride the True Grit course prior to race day and would be racing blind for the first of two laps.

Not to be counted out was Colorado duo David Krimstock (Giant) and Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz); both experienced ultra-endurance riders capable of taking the title in Santa Clara. Perennial contender Cary Smith (The Hub) of Jackson, Wyoming is always in the mix and should never be counted out of a 100-mile event.

This impressive bunch departed downtown Santa Clara just as the sun rose Saturday morning. Once on course, it didn’t take long for Lideen and Johnson to establish themselves up front. A sight the chasers would have to get used to seeing all day.

Misfortune struck Cary Smith early on as one puncture led to another leaving the Wyoming strongman walking his bike on course in the first hour of the race and forcing him to call it a day much earlier than he would have liked.

This left the two leaders out front with Josh Tostado solo behind, doing his best to chase down the leaders.

“I felt really good the first lap and a half but toward the end of lap two the heat started to get to me.” The Breckenridge-based rider shared after the finish.

This was a common theme for most riders even with temperatures creeping just above the mid-seventies many riders, who traveled south from snowy, cold winter locations, were quickly overheating.

Lideen wasn’t feeling the heat though. In fact, the Phoenix-based rider was in the opposite situation. “I thought it was so cold this morning,” he remembered at the finish. “Mary (his wife and support crew) and I had to drive the van around this morning to get the heater running so I could warm up.”

Now in the seventies he was feeling comfortable and midway through the second lap he started opening up a gap on Johnson, who had stayed glued to his wheel following all his lines throughout the day.

On the long, false-flat climb of Stucki Springs, Lideen slowly pulled away from the reigning series champ who was also dealing with a broken saddle that cracked toward the end of the rugged Zen trail.

Lideen could feel a gap opening and kept the hammer down, deciding he wouldn’t look back until the very end, just a mile or so from the finish when his win was all but secured.

The two-time True Grit winner was ecstatic at the finish. Through big smiles Lideen had this to say about the course, “I think this the best single day endurance racecourse. It’s true mountain biking. I like seeing more and more people racing with dropper posts each year. Some of this stuff gets gnarly on an XC bike. I think it’s great.”

Johnson, comfortably held on to second spot crossing the line just over 10 minutes behind the race leader.

Josh Tostado took third but was feeling the heat, coming from the sun and Giant rider David Krimstock who was closing the gap on Tostado late in the race.

In the end, just over a minute separated the two with Tostado taking third.

Krimstock would finish the day in fourth place with not much time to spare over final podium finisher Heath Thumel (Race Pace Bicycles).

100-mile female winner Joey Lythgoe. Photo by Crawling Spider

Open Female

The women’s event featured one overall favorite and several lesser-known challengers looking to compete for the top spot on the podium.

Previous True Grit 100 race winner and ultra-endurance superstar Sonya Looney (Freakshow/Scott) was looking to continue her winning ways in Utah but would be challenged by former 50-mile winner Joey Lythgoe (Kuhl) and successful triathlete and road racer Shirley Lydsman (Red Rock Bicycles) who just recently found a love for the dirt.

The race got off to a fast start with several of the women mixing in with the men. The main contenders were all well established early on until Looney suffered a flat on one of the opening descents costing her time early on.

Lythgoe established herself out front and never let off the gas for the rest of the race. After the first of two laps the Kuhl rider’s lead was just over 10 minutes and almost double that at the finish line.

Lydsman meanwhile, surprised herself with a strong showing occupying the second spot throughout the race. Her fitness and ability on the mountain bike showed as she tackled one of the most technical racecourses on the NUE circuit.

Sonya Looney never recovered from her early flat. Loosing significant time and getting into the red zone trying to catch back up left the defending True Grit champ in a very dark place suffering from heat stroke for much of the day.

She worked her way back to the fourth spot but was never able to overtake third-placed rider Abelyn Broughton (Fitzgerald’s Bicycles) in the end.

Chase Edwards finished off the podium in fifth.

Riders flows over the rocks on Zen trail. Photo by: Crawling Spider

Singlespeed

At the beginning of the day the big question on everyone’s mind was, ‘Is Gordon Wadsworth here.’ It was rumored the multi-time NUE singlespeed champion and last year’s True Grit winner would be in Utah defending his True Grit win from 2016.

Steven Mills (New West Medical) stood on the start most interested in Wadsworth’s location. Mills was determined to rectify his mistakes from 2016 that let Wadsworth steal his race win. Mills led all of last year’s 100-mile event until an inexplicable course deviation just 10 miles from the finish meant he needed to ride back on course and complete the section he missed dropping him from first to third.

Mills took no chances this year and if Wadsworth was on hand Mills was determined to take him on. He threw a heavier gear on than he rode in ’16 and went hard right from the start.

Mills got out early, mixing in toward the front with many of the fastest geared competitors. And although Wadsworth ultimately didn’t make the trip out west Mills rode as if he were there.

He went out so hard in fact that even his closest chasers couldn’t see or follow him.

“He kind of has a great game plan for this race,” said second place finisher Quin Bingham (America First/Bikers Edge). “He has a big gear and gets out front really fast with the geared guys. Then he was just gone. I chased for awhile but you eventually just kind of forget about him.”

Mills also rode a hardtail on the rough southern Utah course but that didn’t seem to slow him down much.

Out front all day Mills eventually finished with a time of 7 hours 28 minutes. Good enough for first in singlespeed and ninth overall.

Bingham finished just 12 minutes behind the leader. Mark Schafer (Team Eastside Cycles) finished third.

Kip Biese, last year’s NUE singlespeed runner-up came home in fourth.

 

Masters Men 50+

Last year’s True Grit winner Greg Golet returned as the overall favorite in the 100-mile event. In addition to taking last year’s race win he also finished second in the overall NUE series barely getting beat out in the series final by top rival Jeff Clayton.

Clayton wasn’t on hand in Santa Clara giving Golet a clear shot at another True Grit title.

He proved to be up to the challenge turning in a blistering sub-eight-hour time, the only masters racer to do so.

Golet had a clean ride with no issues throughout the day. His consistent pace got him to the finish line almost a full hour ahead of second place and provided him with a great start for his shot at the 2017 NUE title.

Tim Phillips crossed the line in second at 8 hours 46 minutes followed by Sten Hertsens (Carborocket) just five minutes later.

Next the NUE heads back east to the Cohutta 100 in Ducktown, Tennessee April 29th. Check back for full coverage only on MTB Race News.

Click Here for full results from the True Grit 100

True Grit Marathon – Santa Clara, Utah

Keegan Swenson and Jenny Smith Win NUE Opener in Utah

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

 

In it’s second year as an official NUE event the True Grit 50 or marathon event showed significant growth and stacked fields to compete in the series opener.

Once again riders from all across the country made the trek to Santa Clara, Utah, to take in the desert singletrack oasis tucked in the southwestern corner of the state. Warm weather and ideal trail conditions greeted the 500 riders registered for this year’s True Grit Epic.

The fact that the NUE series finale would be moving out west in 2017 provided extra buzz as many of those in attendance would be making a run at the series title, a challenge that is typically out of reach for most racers out west who have a hard time traveling to the east coast for the series final. This year’s finale will be located in Big Bear, California.

Keegan Swenson leads Justin Lindine on course.

Open Men

The opens men’s race featured some of the fastest legs in the United States. Two-time U.S. national championship runner-up Keegan Swenson (Cannondale) was making his first appearance at this 50-miler. Swenson would be going up against longtime friend and teammate Alex Grant (Cannondale) who was making his return to mountain bike racing after being sidelined for almost all of 2016 after suffering a foot fracture in the world cup opener.

Last year’s NUE marathon champ Alex Pond was on hand looking to defend his title as was Justin Lindine (Apex/NBX) who always finds his way to the front of the pack.

Off the start it was Keegan Swenson and Justin Lindine providing the watts early on. Driving the pace and easily shedding the majority of the field in the early miles. The early pace was too much for Grant but California rider Menso De Jong (Clif Bar) and youngster Zach Calton (Competitive Cyclist) emerged from the pack staying close to the leaders. Calton surged ahead bridging the gap to the leaders.

After the race’s early climbs Swenson and Lindine led into the slickrock labyrinth of Zen trail. Both talented bike handlers, the lead duo flowed over the rocks like a flashflood pulling away from everyone including Calton who had worked hard to match the leaders pace.

Now the duo forged ahead, pushing the pace once again and opening big gaps behind them.

In the final miles, Lindine and Swenson traded attacks with neither rider getting an advantage. Late in the race the lead duo stayed together approaching the 1-mile paved finishing straight into downtown Santa Clara.

Lindine took the lead out with Swenson tucked behind waiting to make his final surge, which came just feet from the finishing chute as the Cannondale rider popped ahead just enough to take the win by one second.

Behind them Alex Grant had worked through his early cobwebs and traded the third spot with Calton. He made his final move on the Barrel Roll trail just miles from the finish securing a third place finish.

Calton rolled in for fourth followed by De Jong for fifth.

Riders flows over the rocks on Zen trail. Photo by: Crawling Spider

Open Women

The 2017 women’s field represented the most competitive bunch ever assembled at the NUE opener. Over twenty women registered for the race including mountain bike speedsters like Alexis Skarda (NoTubes/Kenda), Jenni Smith (NoTubes/Kenda), last year’s runner up Nicole Tittensor (Scott/Jan’s), collegiate cyclocross star Sofia Gomez-Villafane (Assos/Pivot), Arizona speedster Erin Osbourne (Flagstaff Bicycle Revolution) and ’16 podium finisher Jen Hanks (Pivot/DNA Cycling).

A mixed start with the open men’s group meant a fast start for the ladies. Alexis Skarda showed the most power off the start opening it up early. She was joined early on by Gomez-Villafane.

Jenny Smith managed to find her way up to the lead group before being gapped again just before a notoriously technical section called “the Waterfall.”

Skarda managed a small gap that widened at Sofia Gomez-Villafane missed a turn and ended up off course. This put Smith in second position chasing her teammate Skarda.

“Alexis was climbing so well today,” said the always-cheery Smith after the finish. “She would pull away from me on the climbs and I would have to claw my way back on the flats and downhill sections.”

Lucky for Smith she stayed close enough throughout the race to pull ahead in the closing miles and take advantage of the rolling downhill terrain leading to the finish line.

An impressive effort throughout allowed with race winner to cross the line with a smoking fast time of 3 hours 50 minutes; fast enough to beat more than half the open male riders.

Alexis Skarda came in about 5 minutes back after being in close contact with Smith for most of the day.

Sofia Gomez-Villafane soldiered on for third place after encountering some confusion on the notoriously tricky racecourse. “I didn’t have the luxury of pre-riding the course so I got off track about four times out there… Overall a hard day on the bike, but it was a good day.”

Nicole Tittensor secured the fourth spot after trading her position with Jen Hanks several times throughout the day. Ultimately her strong climbing gave her the advantage over the Pivot/DNA Cycling rider.

Start of the True Grit Marathon

Singlespeed

A moderately-sized crew signed up to race one-speeders in the southern Utah desert. Ten in all, decided riding 50 miles of rugged terrain would just be too easy with gears.

The favorites included 2 podium finishers in the 100-mile True Grit event in 2016. Shannon Boffeli (Pivot/DNA Cycling) and Corey Larrabee (Kuhl) finished fourth and second respectively in ’16 and spent much of the race wheel to wheel last year.

The 2017 race got off to a quick start with several of the singlespeeders spinning their way to the singletrack with the lead group of geared 40-49 racers. Once on the dirt Larrabee and Boffeli were joined by Brent Cannon (Team Elevate) as the three leaders made their way through Cove Wash and onto the early climbs in Green Valley.

When the uphill started Larrabee showed a clear advantage being marked for a short time by Boffeli but eventually opening up a solid advantage on the climb to Zen trail.

Now riding with the fastest of the geared riders Larrabee kept putting time into the chasers pushing a 32 x 20 over the 50-mile course.

In the end the Kuhl rider passed all but two of the geared riders he started with and posted a time that was over 10 minutes faster than last year’s winning 50-mile finisher.

A satisfied Shannon Boffeli took second suffering a bit in the heat. “Even on my best day I couldn’t have matched Corey on the climbs,” Boffeli shared at the finish. “I could get close on the flatter stuff early on but he just crushed me when it started to get steep.”

Brent Cannon solidified the third spot with a strong finishing time well ahead of the next closest rider.

Both Larrabee and Boffeli have eyes on the NUE marathon title so expect to see them at more NUE events throughout the season.

 

50+ Masters Men

The master’s event turned out to be a battle of local talent with local legend Dave Harris (LW Coaching) taking the win over fellow Utahns Zan Treasure (Bountiful Bicycle) and Dave Smith (Red Rock Bicycle).

Although once active on the race scene Harris has been absent from competition for years focusing his efforts on youth mountain bike coaching and desert moto riding. After Saturday it was clear the years away from racing haven’t slowed him much as he posted a time of 3 hours 51 minutes, which would have put him in the top-30 of the open male category.

Once again the True Grit epic did not disappoint. Riders taking on the True Grit challenge know they can expect a tough, technical course with incredible views, great weather, enthusiastic support crews, and a hefty dose of spring-time singletrack riding.

Cannondale rider Alex Grant’s thoughts after the race captured the overall feeling well. “It felt so good to be back out racing the mountain bike. It has been almost 11 months since my last MTB race. It felt so familiar yet so strange getting ready. Last year’s injury definitely gave me some perspective, when I was laid up and couldn’t step on my foot for 3 months I had plenty of time to think about how I would never take just being mobile and active for granted again. Every race I do is all just gravy because at the end of the day I unclip and walk away on two feet.”

 

Click Here for Full Results From All Categories

NUE Announces 2017 Race Schedule

“Celebrating our first ten years as the premier XXC Race Series”

The 11th Annual National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series www.nuemtb.com announced the 2017 race schedules this week that included several exciting changes.

The NUE Epic Race Series Schedule, comprised of races at or near 100 miles in length, will witness the return of the Breckenridge 100 mile in Colorado, a new race, the Marji Gesick, located in the upper peninsula of Michigan and a new date for the Big Bear Grizzly in California which will also serve as the new Championship race where all ties are broken.

In 2016, NUE introduced the first Marathon Race Series schedule, comprised of races at or near 50 miles to 100k in length. In 2017, the Marathon race series will expand to include three new locations in 2017, the Carrabassett 100k in Maine, the B-68 in Breckenridge, Colorado and the Marji Gesick 50 in Michigan.

“On behalf of The NUE Race Series, I would like to thank all of our sponsors, many who have been with us for up to a decade now, for believing in our vision and supporting NUE. We are proud to promote our NUE sponsors including Kenda Tire, Hammer Nutrition, Sigma Sport of Germany, Darn Tough Socks of Vermont, KMC Chain, Lauf Forks, Voler apparel, Squirt Lube, and Chris Eatough Coaching, for providing training plans for NUE Racers, many tailored to specific NUE race courses based on his success with NUE.

Singlespeeder Gordon Wadsworth mixes it up with the lead group. Photo by: David Smith Photos

Born in 2006 to fill a need for XXC racers, the NUE Series began with just six races before growing over the last decade to now include twenty four races held within thirteen different states and now internationally in Costa Rica and Spain. In 2016, NUE made the leap to the International stage by introducing the Rincon de La Vieja Challenge, held in Costa Rica, as its first Latin American venue. Race attendance doubled this year to nearly 700, making Rincon, now known as the Volcano 100, one of the largest races in the NUE Race Series.

Rincon Race Director, Juan Carlos, “The Volcano 100 MTB race has gathered momentum being the first 100 miler of Latin America. It is truly a giant step forward to become part of the NUE (National Ultra Endurance) Race Series. We are honored and thankful for the opportunity and look forward to growing with the NUE, helping the NUE grow and promoting this wonderful sport of endurance MTB cycling internationally.”

The NUE Marathon Race Series will be made up of ten well known races plus two new venues. Distances will vary ranging from 50 miles to 100k. Like the NUE Epic 100 Mile Race Series, the NUE MARATHON Race Series will be governed by the same rules and will require the same number of races (BEST 4) to become eligible for series awards and recognition. It is important to note that these are two separate race series. Points will not transfer between the Epic 100 Mile and Marathon Race Series. Marathon Series finishers will receive a national ranking and qualify for series awards, including a share of the minimum $4000 Cash purse, Custom Voler NUE Champion Jersey or discounted NUE finisher jersey plus prize packages for ALL NUE Race Series Finishers.

To claim the NUE Race Series Epic 100 Mile title, racers best four finishes will count. NUE requires a minimum of four races to receive a national ranking. ALL racers who complete four of the NUE 100 Mile distance races will receive a national ranking and qualify for series awards, including a share of a minimum $10,000 cash purse, Custom Voler NUE Champion Jersey or discounted NUE Finisher Jersey plus prize packages for ALL NUE Race Series finishers.

Additional Travel awards for NUE Division leaders or Champions, and randomly drawn NUE Racers,  including  the Volcano 100 and The LaRuta de los Conquistadores, will be announced publicly soon.

All ties will be broken at the Big Bear Grizzly in California to be held on a new date, September 30. An attractive feature of the NUE Series is that there is NO LICENSE REQUIRED in order to participate. Everyone is welcome to compete on a level playing field alongside top Pro’s. ALL finishing racers receive a score based on their race finishes with a “lowest points wins” formula. The best possible score is 4.

Taylor Lideen leads the chase group. Photo by: Cody Downard Photography

Nearly ALL NUE Race Series events sold out again in 2016, some within mere minutes.  The NUE Race Series presents racers with a balanced schedule, east and west, plus Central America. Costa Rica is now served by Southwest Airlines making airfare to the capitol city of San Jose and Liberia, located farther north, as affordable as traveling across the US.

NUE is currently soliciting the support of additional partners to promote products and services that racers can use. Potential sponsors can receive more information by contacting Ryan O’Dell at nolimit@mohican.net

What is on tap for each event for 2017

The 2017 NUE Series will roll out on March 11 in the southwest at the True Grit Epic and True Grit Epic 50 in sunny St. George, Utah.  According to Race Director Cimarron Chacon, “The True Grit Epic is long, tough, and technical. The first twenty miles are along rocky and steep terrain that requires excellent bike handling skills and upper body strength. This course is a roller coaster of desert riding with over 70% of the 89 miles on single track and slightly over 13,000 feet of elevation gain.

On April 29, NUE returns to Ducktown, Tennessee for the Cohutta 100 and Cohutta Big Frog 65 now under the direction of Justin and Amy Mace.  In 2016, the Cohutta 100 took on a fresh route, drawing up the southern end of the course that went into Georgia and displacing it west across more of Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest and the Ocoee region.  Staging for the race takes place along the banks of the beautiful Ocoee River — site for the 1996 Olympic White Water Events.  The 100 miles of race course traverses the mountain terrain by world class single track and fire roads. The single track is fast and flowing, but can get tight and technical in spots. The fire roads are demanding but rewarding with long ascents, fast descents, and spectacular mountain views.

Out of the gate, the race makes about a three mile climb on pavement up highway 64.  This warm-up serves as a good field displacer and pole position before entering into the fast and flowy single track for the next twenty miles. Next is an out-and-back trip on beautiful mountain fire-roads.  Road texture alternates between hard-pack gravel and smooth moist dirt. Expect tenacious climbs (over 12,000’ of elevation gain overall), hundreds of curves, and peaceful mountain streams.  Upon return, racers will re-enter the single track for about nine final miles of the best trails in these mountains.

The weather in Southeastern Tennessee in late April ranges in expression. Expect a chilly morning for sure on race day, but a quick warming up in the early miles.  Eight Aid Stations provide supplemental support throughout the course and a delicious meal and coveted “Finisher” mug await at the Finish Line.”

Hundreds of racers charge off the start line and through Loudonville, Ohio, at the start of the Mohican 100. Photo by: Butch Phillips Photography

Next up is the 16th Annual Mohican 100 and Mohican 100k on June 3, the largest attended NUE Race where racers compete for a $10,000 cash purse, the highest single day cash award in the NUE Race Series. Like the Leadville 100, Mohican features a downtown start in Loudonville leading racers up a long climb for a $200 prime at the city limits. From there, the course covers several miles of double track before treating racers to Ohio’s top ranked pristine, flowing single track within the 5000 acre Mohican State Forest along a single loop spanning three of the counties that make up what is known as “Mohican Country”. Due to tremendous growth, The Mohican 100 mile and 100k imposed a limit of 700 racers beginning in 2015. This race may sell out quickly so it is recommended to register soon. 100 Mile Race finishers receive a custom Mohican finisher growler to be filled and refilled with a truckload of microbrew provided by Great Lakes Brewing of Cleveland.

From the Buckeye State, racers wither head north toward Michigan or west toward Colorado! The NUE Series will feature two great races, east and west on June 17. Marathon racers will enjoy the Bailey HunDitO 50 in Colorado, a not-for-profit event invented by a Colorado State Senator benefiting youth biking initiatives in Colorado including Trips For Kids Denver/Boulder, which offers mountain biking opportunities to underserved youth, changing lives “two wheels at a time”, the Colorado High School Cycling League, a new resource for high school students around the state to be exposed to the world of mountain bike racing. Bailey also continues to support the advocacy and trail building work of the Colorado Mountain Biking Association as it builds new trails in the Platte Canyon area that both serve the local community’s recreation needs and is developing Bailey into a mountain biking destination.

Starting from the heart of Bailey, the race features over 45 miles of single track as it winds from Bailey through the Buffalo Creek Trail system and along the Colorado Trail to the South Platte then on to Deckers up Stony Creek Pass to Wellington Lake, and, finally, finishing to a fabulous new festival-like finish area in a private meadow by the river.

One the same day, NUE Epic 100 mile racers will be heading into the Great Lakes State of Michigan for the Lumberjack 100, also on June 17. Located deep within the Manistee forest in Wellston, Michigan, The Lumberjack will cap off the spring portion of the series.  If you like fast flowing, mostly non-technical single track, and Founders Brewing, this is your race. Perhaps that is why this event always sells out early, sometimes within minutes, so don’t miss your opportunity to register on January 8 at high noon.

Riders are treated to the spectacular scenery around Ducktown, Tennessee. Photo by Sara Kristen/SaraKristen.com

As summer arrives, The NUE Race Series returns, to the Black Hills of Sturgis, South Dakota July 8 for the Tatanka 100 and Tatanka 50k. The Tatanka 100 is NUE’s first and only point-to-point race beginning beneath Iconic Mount Rushmore and finishing in Sturgis! From the shrine of democracy to the city of riders, racers will test their mettle as they navigate South Dakotas famous Centennial Trail. The Tatanka 50k will retain many of the same challenges albeit over a shorter distance that offers NUE Marathon Race Series points.

One week later, think Big Foot and Volcano’s as Mudslinger Events hosts The High Cascades 100 in Bend returning for its eighth year to represent the state of Oregon on July 15. The Trails around Mt. Bachelor are truly epic and racers are treated to quality craft brews from Deschutes Brewing. With just 350 spots available, racers are encouraged to register as soon as possible.

Also on July 15, a new race has been added to the NUE Marathon Schedule located in Maine. The Carrabassett 100k located in the Carrabassett Valley adds some northeast flavor to the NUE Series.

On July 29, The Wilderness 101, directed by Chris Scott, is located in the Rothrock and Bald Eagle State Forests just outside of State College, Pennsylvania, home of the Penn State Nittany Lions. If you enjoy technical backcountry single track and hair raising downhill thrills, nothing rocks quite like PA! W101 was one of just six races included in the inaugural NUE Race Series.

Also on July 29, NUE heads west for the return of the Breck 100 and B-68 in Colorado. Breckenridge can take your breath away, literally, as it begins at an altitude of 9000 feet before crossing the continental divide three times, eliciting jaw dropping views throughout in a three loop Clover shaped race originating from Carter Park in downtown Breckenridge.

The final four races will occur within two month period, as usual, has a tendency to create some chaos in the series standings before the final tie breaking event.

Josh Tostado attacks the DH with the Grand Teton in the background. Photo by: Jakes Hawkes

First up is the 9th Annual Pierre’s Hole 100 and Pierre’s Hole 100k located near Alta, Wyoming on August 5. “Pierre’s Hole, a mountain valley tucked up to the Wyoming border on the western side of the Tetons, was once known as the strategic center for fur trade in the Northern Rockies. Today it is known as the strategic gathering place to ski unfathomable deep powder and ride some of the best unknown single track in the nation.

According to race director Andy Williams, “The Pierre’s Hole 100 and Pierre’s Hole 100k at Grand Targhee Resort  newest course layout adds even more new single track without the nasty climb down to the ranch from the early years of the race that many old timers may recall. The 2017 course will take racers through fields of wild flowers, aspen trees and old growth forest right in the shadows of the Tetons.”​ The “Grand Loop” which is all a part of the Pierre’s race course was recently named as an IMBA Epic trail!”

On Saturday, August 19, The Hampshire 100 mile and 50 mile races return as the Crotched Mtn. Hundred. According to race director, Andy Gendron, “Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride, a ski area located in Bennington, New Hampshire is continuing the tradition of the Hampshire 100 race hosted in Greenfield at Oak Park. The race has been a huge success over the last decade and Crotched Mountain is looking to build on that success for the future. The ski area will now host the staging area, on-site camping and event venue at their location in Bennington, which has been a part of the race course in the past. In addition, an outdoor BBQ and beer garden are planned for 2017 and the event date will be moved to a Saturday, Aug 19. The new event organizers are excited for this shift in the Hampshire 100 event and look forward to hosting in August.”

On September 2, The NUE Race Series goes Latin to beautiful Liberia, Costa Rica for the Fifth Annual Volcano 100, formerly known as the Rincon Challenge and Rincon Challenge 100k, a 100 mile and 100k loop around a volcano that features both jungle and desert conditions. Now served by Southwest Airlines, racers should note that travel to Costa Rica has become much more affordable with airline pricing about the same as a ticket from the east to the west coast in the US. Enjoy Costa Rican cuisine and hospitality competing alongside local Tico’s and fellow mountain bike racers from all over the world.

The next day, on September 3 over Labor Day Weekend in the USA, The Shenandoah Mountain 100 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will send up to 650 racers into the George Washington National Forest. Shenandoah is the grand-daddy of them all, and the largest strictly 100 mile race in the NUE Race Series! Shenandoah not only has a great reputation for amazing trails but is also well known for the outstanding support of volunteers and aid stations that many racers would agree sets the bar for excellence.

One September 23, NUE shifts north to the upper peninsula of Michigan to Ishpeming for the Marji Gesick 100 and 50 mile races.  100 miles and 13,000 vertical feet armored with rocks, roots, drops, jump lines, flow trails, grueling climbs, dangerous technical descents and a final fifteen miles designed to push riders to their mental and physical limits.

Over its ten year history, the NUE Race Series has alternated the Championship race from east to west several times in an effort to keep the playing field level for racers. In 2017, the final NUE race will break all ties and determine the new NUE Champions on a new date and location returning to the west coast of California for the Big Bear Grizzly 100 and Grizzly 75k in Big Bear Lake. Big Bear has attracted racers from nine countries and eighteen states!

Tinker Juarez on course at the 2016 Big Bear Grizzly 100

 

Directed by Derek Hermon, racers familiar with the 100k Grand Fondo course will be treated to an extended portion of trail along a ridgeline with amazing views with the altitude beginning at 7000′ and reaching 8500′ with enough single track racers will beg for a fire road.

The NUE series schedule is tentative and subject to change as race organizers are still in the usual process of procuring forest service permits and other logistical race planning details. Stay tuned here for upcoming information about NUE Series Sponsors, Prize Money, and other race details. www.nuemtb.com

 

2017 NUE Epic 100 Mile Race Series

Date Race Location Limit
March 11 True Grit Epic St. George, UT 600
April 29 Cohutta 100 Ducktown, TN 275
June 3 Mohican MTB100 Loudonville, OH 700
June 17 Lumberjack 100 Wellston, MI 450
July 8 Tatanka 100 Sturgis, SD 300
July 15 High Cascades 100 Bend, OR 350
July 29 Wilderness 101 State College, PA 400
July 29 Breck 100 Breckenridge, CO 750
August 5 Pierre’s Hole 100 Alta, WY 150
August 19 Crotched Mountain 100 Bennington, NH
September 2 Volcano 100 Liberia, Costa Rica 500
September 3 Shenandoah 100 Harrisonburg, VA 650
September 23 Marji Gesick 100 Ishpeming, MI 650
September 30 Big Bear Grizzly 100 Big Bear Lake, CA 500

 

2017 NUE Marathon Race Series

Date Race Location Limit
March 11 True Grit 50 St. George, UT 600
April 29 Cohutta Big Frog 65 Ducktown, TN 275
June 3 Mohican MTB100k Loudonville, OH 700
June 17 HUNDitO 50 Bailey, CO 200
July 8 Tatanka 50k Sturgis, SD 300
July 15 Carrabassett 100k Carrabassett Valley, ME 400
July 29 Breck-68 Breckenridge, CO 750
August 5 Pierre’s Hole 100k Alta, WY 150
August 19 Crotched Mountain 50 Bennington, NH
September 2 Volcano 100k Liberia, Costa Rica 350
September 23 Marji Gesick 50 Ishpeming, MI 650
September 30 Grizzly 75k Big Bear Lake, CA 500

 

Titan Tropic by GAES – Stage 5: Vinales to Cayo Jutias

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

After 5 stages, 4 nights of tent camping, 271 miles, about 100 stream crossings, and countless gallons of bottled water we had finally reached the final stage of Titan Tropic.

The final day of any stage race has always left me with mixed emotions; excitement to sleep in a bed again and give my butt a well deserved day off, but sadness that tomorrow I’ll wake up and not be racing my bike, instead I’ll be packing and returning to the real world. There really is nothing better than putting all your focus on racing your bike and recovering for the next day.

Sadly, all stage races must end and I was thankful that I woke up Friday morning feeling good. No stomachache. No vomiting every time I looked at food. I wasn’t shoveling in breakfast like normal but I got in some cereal and bread. Way better than yesterday.

Photo courtesy of Titan Tropic by GAES

The final stage took us out of the Vinales Valley, out of the shadows of the mogotes, and up to the northern coast to finish on the pristine, white-sand beaches of Cayo Jutias.

Ourselves and the small contingent of U.S. riders in Titan Tropic were looking to cap off a successful week. We held the lead in the mixed duo category, despite losing time the previous day. Mountain bike super-legend Tinker Juarez (Cannondale) was wowing the field by leading the senior 50+ category but more impressively hanging on to fifth in the overall GC. Tinker was accompanied by second-placed senior rider and Cape Cod resident Kevin Hines (Corner Cycles) who sat in the top-10 on GC. While Selene Yeager (Bicycling) was solidly placed in 4th in the women’s competition. Everyone was looking forward to a good final day and that refreshing dive into the Atlantic following the finish.

Today’s roll out was fast, heading downhill on a paved road. Without warning the lead car sped off and riders ripped down to the first section of singletrack. The course bottlenecked quickly with riders battling for position.

The lead group crosses a river on stage 5. Photo courtesy of Titan Tropic by GAES

After the first few climbs and trail sections we began to settle in and tackle the progressive rollers that stood between us and the coast.

The final stage was shaping up to be a good one. The first 60km was almost entirely dirt with steep, short climbs making the legs burn. The second-place mixed duo team had gotten in front of us on the opening downhill road start as Jen was spun out with only a 30-tooth ring up front. We climbed our way back into the lead with some fancy trail navigation in the early singletrack and then hooked onto a group of drafting partners when the singletrack turned to logging road.

We were going good now and cruised past the final mogotes saying goodbye to the high cliffs and hanging gardens making our way into palm forests as we approached the coast.

With 10km left we exited the last of the dirt and entered a long causeway that would take us to our final destination. The road was dead flat but the wind was mercifully light and cool as it came off the water on both sides of us.

Finally, we made the turn off the road and onto the untouched sand. I dropped into the surf a little too deep and was immediately gobbled up by a wave that came almost up to my handlebars – my bike is not going to be happy with me tomorrow.

Jen Hanks on the beach at Cayo Jutias. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Higher on the shore now, we scrambled through the mangroves and palms dotting the sand and made the final turn toward the finish line arch.

It’s always a great feeling crossing the line after days and days of hard efforts, even more special we would get to enjoy taking the overall win, for the first time, in a multi-day stage race.

Just one last thing to do. We both dropped all our gear and raced into the clear turquoise water of the Atlantic.

It seemed like everyone had a great last day and a memorable week. The Titan Tropic was like nothing we had done before. The unparalleled cultural experience of Cuba fused with a week of bike racing and the excellent support of the Titan Tropic promoters combines to make a wicked stew of challenge, enjoyment, and unforgettable memories.

Once we complete a stage race Jen and I don’t typically do the same race again, always looking for a new experience and challenge, but Titan Tropic may change that for us. We are already looking forward to another week in Cuba, December 2017.

Us at the finish. Photo courtesy of Titan Tropic by GAES

Titan Tropic by GAES – Stage 4: Vinales to Vinales

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

We had been looking forward to stage 4 all week; 84 kilometers of dirt! The excitement was high going in and we felt like we would have fun and probably open up our lead a bit more doing it.

Unfortunately, that plan quickly went down the toilet as I woke up with a nasty stomach ache and some unfriendly diarrhea. I thought maybe I could power through but once I sat down for breakfast the mere sight of food made me want to barf.

First placed mixed duo team of Jen Hanks and Shannon Boffeli on stage 4. Photo courtesy of Titan Tropic by GAES

I nursed down a glass of orange juice and went back to the tent to get ready for the stage.

Yesterday had been long and hot with a humid night of sleep to follow so I wasn’t sure if I was suffering some dehydration or a stomach bug. Just in case I started taking an antibiotic I brought down.

I was excited to start the day because sitting on my bike was actually easier than trying to stand or walk. The first 10km went by mercifully quick but I had pretty much burned any matches I had at that point.

Race leader Diego Tamayo controls the front of the field from Vinales to Vinales. Photo courtesy of Titan Tropic by GAES

I was walking all the climbs. Jen took my heavy pack with all the tools and let me carry her lighter one but that barely helped. The second-placed team quickly passed us and I could tell by their urgency they wanted to put some time into us.

When I could ride Jen would push and pull me the way I do for her most stages but I still couldn’t keep up with her. Finally, after about two hours of suffering and harboring serious doubts that I could finish the day I managed to get some Honey Stinger energy chews in, the first calories I had eaten all day. I followed that with a little water and things were looking brighter.

Racers power past a tobacco drying barn in the Vinales Valley. Photo courtesy of Titan Tropic by GAES

I could at least keep up with Jen on the flats. After a bit more time we actually passed a few people and were getting a good chuck of kilometers behind us.

At the third and final aid station I was feeling good enough to drink and force down a banana. We were off again. I gulped down one final drink and that put me right over the edge. Everything came back up. My mouth was like an uncontrolled fire hose ejecting every bit of water and food I had eaten the entire day all over my bike.

Shannon Boffeli rolling his way through stage 4. Photo courtesy of Titan Tropic by GAES

With nothing left in me I actually felt the best I had all day. The final 20 kilometers of the day weren’t fast but I could easily keep my legs moving unlike earilier in the day.

We crossed the line having lost just 18 minutes to our rivals. I immediately headed for the medical station.

Upon seeing me they put me on a stretcher and carried me into their makeshift clinic. My color was pale and skin was dry despite the 90-degree temperature and matching humidity. The team quickly placed an IV and started giving me fluids to replenish what I had lost.

Stage 4 offered up the most dirt of any stage in the 2016 Titan Tropic. Photo courtesy of Titan Tropic by GAES

It helped. A lot! After 2 hours, a liter of saline, and something to help with nausea I was feeling much better.

Today was a real struggle but also a great test of the mixed duo team category. Today it was the female partner pulling her teammate along. Doing everything possible to put in the fastest time and it worked. Without Jen’s help I very well may not have finished and definitely would have lost a lot more that 18 minutes.

Now I just need to get some food in me before tomorrow. It’s the shortest stage of the week but 68 kilometers could be impossible on two days without food.

IV fluids and oxygen after the finish. Photo by: Jen Hanks

Raul Hernandez and partner Laura Ortiz look to pick up time on stage 4. Photo courtesy of Titan Tropic by GAES