NUE Iron Mountain 100K

Written by: Jen Toops

Photos: Ryan O’dell

The NUE Iron Mountain 100k mountain bike race took place June 24th in Damascus, VA. Part of the National Ultra Endurance series, this was a new venue added on the 2018 race schedule. Located within the Mount Rogers National Recreational area, Damascus is know as trail town. The Virginia Creeper trail, the Appalachian trail, the Transcontinental Bicycle Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, and the Daniel Boone Trail all intersect in the historic downtown of Damascus.

photo: Corianne Kocarek

Put on by Shenandoah Mountain Touring, the race had a mix of singletrack, doubletrack, and fire roads. The course had over 8k feet of steep and rocky singletrack climbs with some long gravel accents mixed in.  The descents were fast and technical with lots of chunky rocks, slick roots, and off camber thrown in.  Rain in the days prior created tougher conditions come race morning which made it fun and challenging for racers.

photo: Corianne Kocarek

Women’s open

Nielson comes from behind to WIN the women’s open

Women’s open podium: 1st Jen Nielson (Southpaw Cycles/I9), 2nd Bryna Blanchard (BMB Racing), 3rd Laura Hamm (Moonstomper), 4th Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles), 5th Carey Lowery (Rescue Racing/Scott’s Bikes)

Coming from behind and taking the lead on the last downhill, Jen Nielson (Southpaw Cycles/I9), wins the women’s open in a time of 5:59:38.

“It was a cloudy start on race day, with threats of rain and storms. After much internal debate over drop bags and riding with or without a Camelbak, I packed my rain jacket in my Camelbak and got to the start. The first 5 miles had more of a roadie feel, which suited me just fine. I found a comfortable spot towards the front of the pack and settled in. The pace ramped up as we neared the single track and before I knew it, it was all out into the first climb. The trail was slick! I spun out early on and it felt as though everyone was passing me while I attempted to remount. Once moving again, I felt like I was going backwards.  The best I could tell, I was sitting somewhere around 5th and it was disheartening. Nothing felt particularly bad or off, but I couldn’t seem to get moving either. I decided to hunker down and focus on riding smart and smooth. Damage control was the name of the game and with the super slick conditions big risks didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Before the 1st aid station I had a minor crash on some slick roots and was reminded again to keep it smooth and steady. Coming through aid station 1 I snagged some liquid gold in the form of a Coke and was informed by the volunteers that I was in 4th place.  Good to know. It didn’t change how my body was feeling though.  Hitting the next couple of slick single track climbs 3rd place came into view.  I could see her as she crested and then disappeared.  I hit the back side descent with a little more enthusiasm finding my fire had been stoked a bit.  Half way down the descent Lara was off to the side of the trail looking at her bike.  I asked if she was ok as I came up on her and she responded with what sounded like she was having issues with her chain coming off.  She was ok, so I let those brakes go a little more and continued on. The 2nd aid station informed me I was closing in on the next girl and that 1st was about 4 minutes up.  Well, that’s not so bad.  With a lot of miles left, this could actually work out.  I found a rhythm up a long unending gravel climb and slowly wound in a few guys before hitting yet another “fun” slick, rocky, rooty descent.  Rolling into the 3rd aid station, I snagged some more Coke and was getting ready to break open an Uncrustable.  Time for a picnic! Before I could get my hands on the Uncrustable, one of the volunteers informed me that the next girl was 30 seconds up.  Nice!  I looked across the street just in time to see her climbing up the trail on the other side.  Forget food!  This was it! I handed back the soda, scooted across the road and got to work on reeling her in.  The climb wasn’t long or technical and when I hit the descent on the other side, I let go of the brakes and let gravity carry me to her and on by.  The next climb was very technical.  With a lot of effort and heavy breathing, I pushed, determined to not let her find my wheel or any hope of hanging onto it.  I passed by a single speed guy I had been yo-yoing with all day and knew it wouldn’t be long before I was hiking too.  When the time came, I made sure to move out quickly and only risked a quick glance or two back.  Once on the ridge, it was more slick rocks, but I was  compelled to push through.  I found myself getting sloppy in my haste and had to remind myself to take a deep breath and harness the smooth and steady that had gotten me here in the first place.  The deeper I dug, the more hunger pangs started to creep in.  Maybe I should have eaten.  Too late, take it smooth, food will come shortly.  The next descent felt a little dicier, but I rolled through the 4th aide station and was informed I was about 2 minutes down on the leader.  Ok.  My single speed friends were with me for those final miles and with some chews in my belly, I was ready.  The ground finally felt like it was drying out and the trails were feeling oh so good. The last 11 miles were long.  The flat sections felt like climbs, but the descents were feeling like money.  I hit the last two descents hard passing several guys before finding the girl in 1st.  She was off to the side and reported thinking she was off course.  I had a moment of hesitation as I processed what she said, but with all of the bright yellow arrows up to that point, there is no way this was wrong. I let it fly! There were a couple of creek crossings that could have been ugly as I hit them blindly full throttle, finding nothing but luck as I cruised through without an issue.  I reached the end of the trail and was thrust onto pavement, securing 1st! It was a “neutral” roll back into town to the timing clock. My adrenaline was up and I didn’t dare risk getting caught in case I had misheard the racers meeting and the battle for 1st was still on, so when I guy I came up on asked if I wanted to “pin it” I was all smiles.  I hopped on his wheel and cruised in. What a race!  Just the right amount of climbing, descending, gnar, and gravel.  Challenging in all aspects and totally thrilling!
Sponsors: Industry Nine, SouthPaw Cycles
Next NUE Race: I’m not sure. This one was a bit of a last minute decision for me. A couple of weeks prior, I had to have a heart to heart with myself, husband, and coach. The plan was to train for and Race XC Nats. The problem was, my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t excited for Nats at all and was already hating the idea of missing out on some good endurance racing. So, we switched gears and threw Iron Mountain on the calendar. I couldn’t be happier we did! I think I’ve got the NUE bug and will definitely be looking into competing in the series next year. I’m just not sure if I will be able to get the travel in for the others this year. Can’t wait to do more of them!”

Just a little over a minute back was, Bryna Blanchard (BMB Racing), coming in at 6:01:13.“The NUE Iron Mountain race was a great way to cap off a week of riding mountain bikes in the giant hills of VA. Long climbs make me happy and the Iron Mountain course was a good mix of climbing rooty trails, smooth single track and dirt roads. As this was my first time racing Iron Mountain I did pre-ride the first climb. I absolutely should have pre-rode the last descent to the finish line as it turned out. The first rooty washed out climb bottle necked as I predicted it would, but I stayed calm and realized I was feeling good and riding clean, passing folks who were off the bike walking. As the race went on I continued to feel strong, pushing the pace on the climbs in order to compensate for my lack of aggressive descending. The rocks in VA seem to move around like giant marbles, kind of disconcerting to me on the unfamiliar trails. After a few hours I reached aid station 3 and was told I was leading the race. I thought Jen was ahead of me the whole time and the news gave me extra motivation to push the climbs. Then came the most fun section of single track on the course, a rocky yet flowy ridge trail with gentle ups and downs. The rain and slippery conditions added to the fun, requiring extra focus and finesse. Every mountain biker knows the feeling of being in the moment, one with your bike and floating on trails. During this awesome section I felt the flow as I passed at least 3 racers fixing flats on the side of the trail. Luckily the air stayed in my tires but the rest of me was starting to deflate. According to my gps I still had 10 miles to go, which later proved to be incorrect, and I was beginning to pay for my previous efforts on the climbs. My brain was getting foggy and I knew my pace was dropping as the guys who had flatted caught and passed me. Then the ultimate mistake, I was loosing focus, riding extra slow on an especially long chunky downhill. I thought I saw a trail branching off to the left, I stopped to look around for course marking and that is the moment Jen flew passed me looking confident and strong. She quickly asked if I was ok, I said “yes”, realizing I was confused and feeling out of my body with fatigue. Within a very short time I crossed the finish line in 2nd place on the day. Lessons learned, it can be extremely important to pre-ride the end, know the finish and don’t trust the gps. Great day overall, in a super stacked women’s field I am happy with my result. Even after all these years of racing I’m still learning and using my mistakes to improve for the next time, I love this sport. Thanks to the promoters, volunteers, NUE, and as always Barker Mountain Bikes for all the support.”

Laura Hamm (Moonstompers), hung on for third place with a time of 6:10:46.

Men’s open

Bishop gets the top step

Men’s Open Podium: 1st Jeremiah Bishop (Canyon Topeak Factory Racing), 2nd Dylan Johnson (Leska MTB), 3rd Keck Baker (Blue Ridge Cyclery), 4th Nick Bragg (CTS Cycling Team), 5th Erik Nielson (Southpaw Cycles/I9)

Taking the win in the men’s open class was Jeremiah Bishop (Canyon Topeak Factory Racing), with a time of 4:24:01.

“Keck found out his step Dad was killed in a auto accident at 5:30 that morning. It was a challenging morning then Keck and I hit a deer on the way to the race in the van.

Sometime you win by finishing, sometimes adversity finds a way of distilling how lucky it is that we can do such things for the few moments we have on earth.

Gun went off and I was not ready..

Dillion Johnson kept me honest today attacking the first climb, he kept coming back after I countered his early push! And caught me on the first nasty wet raining descent thru a jungle. I had to find my groove but I needed to nail this one.

I attacked several times on the long grind up to Iron mountain until I was clear.

Some of the best trails I didn’t know where out there!

I won. But more importantly I proved I could turn the day around and stay focused when things get sideways.

Id like to thank Canyon, Topeak, Fox, Shimano, Beet Extreme, and Maxxis for the goods!”

Challenging Bishop all day was, Dylan Johnson (Leska MTB), coming in about nine minutes back at 4:33:07.

Keck Baker (Blue Ridge Cyclery), took the third spot with a time of 4:56:30.

“Went into first climb of the day in terrible position. About 11 riders back. By the time I made my way up towards the leaders Jeremiah had attacked Dylan after Dylan had set a blistering pace up the first half of the climb. I caught Dylan and pushed the pace a little and was able to open a gap. The attack was short lived and Dylan and I worked together on the road sections. The next downhill was very technical and slick, as it was now raining. I could not keep up with Dylan on the downhill. He opened up a huge gap on me and caught Jeremiah. I almost rode the rest of the race solo until I was told I was going the wrong way (which I wasn’t) so when I did a 180 I met up with 4th place finisher who turned me back around. I had a blast trying to hold his pace on the descents. I was able to shake him on the last climb and come in for third. The race course was awesome and the town was great. I was battling with the loss of my stepfather whom I found had past that morning from hitting a cow and that morning Jeremiah and I hit a deer. The mountain bike community is fantastic and being in the wilderness around all that beauty was very cathartic.

Sponsors: Blue Ridge Cyclery.”

Singlespeed

Toops gets his first NUE win!

Singlespeed Podium: 1st Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage Racing), 2nd Josh Kunz (Knobby Side Down), 3rd Eli Orth (Team Hungry), 4th Scott Smith (TVB racing), 5th Scott Harper (Rescue Racing)

Taking the win in the singlespeed division and getting his first NUE win, was Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage Racing), with a time of 5:29.

“The race started pretty casual with everyone rolling out to the Creeper Trail.  I tried to position myself as near the front as I could while keeping the other one gear guys in sight.  It was Josh Kunz hitting the single track first followed by Eli Orth and then myself.  I knew this first climb was going to be a hike from my pre-ride so I didn’t try to push too hard but keep the competition close.  I managed to pass Eli on that climb and Josh and I rode together until aid station 1. I grabbed my two bottles and wasted no time getting back on the road but I think Josh dropped a bottle so he had to make a slightly longer stop. I’m usually the one dropping bottles… There was a slight gap with Josh slowly catching me as we hit a steep section that I was able to ride but I think we was geared harder so had to hike. From this point on I just put my head down and tried to keep the gap which was 1min or so into aid three and growing towards the finish. Seeing the finish banner at the bottom of the final downhill was a welcome sight;  I wasn’t sure how much longer my grip would hold out on the chunky fast single track!  Another great day of SS racing!

Thanks to Paradise Garage for all the support and my friends and family for making these events fun!  My next event will be Tatanka in Sturgis, SD.”

Second place went to Josh Kunz (Knobby Side Down), coming in at 5:36:10. Eli Orth (Team Hungry) came in third, just a couple minutes back on Josh, with a times of 5:38:59.

“Iron Mountain 100k lived up to the hype that I had heard and read about.I noticed immediately Sunday morning that there was yet another great single speed turnout with strong riders for this NUE race like there was for Big Frog and Mohican, where I took 4th at each.

Coming into the race I had a goal to improve on my previous two finishes. I had never done Iron Mountain and had no idea what to expect for a good finishing time.
Thankfully the pace at the start on the basically flat creeper trail was very single speed friendly. I got into the woods in a good position on the initial long steep technical climb. After the long climb up I settled in. I settled in a little too much though and maybe 20 miles in I heard Kenny Kocarek coming behind me ringing his bell! Kenny passed me and Scott Smith also caught me. At that point I felt I was racing too conservative and decided to attack the climbs. I was able to put distance on both of them. I knew I had to push on every climb as I had my Pivot Les setup for smoother xc racing. I was at a little disadvantage to handle the gnar at a blistering pace on the downhills.
At aid station 3 I was within a minute of 2nd place Josh Kunz and I ended up catching Josh somewhere around mile 40. We were together for a while and he put an attack on me on a downhill and gave himself some distance from me. At the bottom of that downhill I noticed my rear tire was squirming. I jumped off and hit it with co2 and prayed it would stay sealed long enough. It didn’t start squirming again until the last downhill but was never able to re-catch Josh.
It was a fun and very challenging race. All Ohio in top 3! Anthony and I were talking about how it would be great if we could keep it an Ohio top 3 as we were racing together early in the race and it happened!
My gear of choice for this race was 34×21. Overall it worked out well.My next NUE race will be Wilderness 101k. After that the plan is to race Shenandoah and Marji Gesick.
Most of all I’d like to thank my wife Cheyenne for supporting me all season long. I’d also like to thank my team and all it’s members that make it great.. Team Hungry.
Thanks to Absolute Black, Lauf, and Carbonfan for their support and help on my recently completed Pivot Les ss build.”

Master’s 50+

Clayton WINS his third NUE for 2018

Masters’s 50+ podium: 1st Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute), 2nd Darren Cox, 3rd David Jolin (Rescue Racing), 4th Charles Parmain (Team Soundpony p/b Triad Bank), 5th Steve Schumaker

Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) get his third NUE Marathon win this season winning Iron Mountain with a time of 5:32:35.

About six mintues back Darren Cox grabbed second place with a time of 5:38:51. David Jolin (Rescue Racing) rounds out the top three spots taking 3rd with a time of 5:51:19.

Click here for full results

What’s next? 2018 NUE Tatanka Epic and NUE Tatanka Marathon mountain bike race in Sturgis, SD.

NUE Lumberjack 100

Written by: Jen Toops

Photos: Jen Toops

The 14th annual Founders Brewing Lumberjack 100 is Michigan’s original one hundred mile mountain bike race.  Taking place in Wellston, Michigan, the race course is located within the Manistee National forest and is ninety percent singletrack. Each lap consist of thirty-three miles of sandy loose soil, fast flowing hills, and three thousand feet of climbing. Racers complete three laps and support crews set up along the finish providing “pit style” aid to racers.

Part of the NUE series, the Lumberjack is capped at four hundred-forty racers and sells out within hours. This year four hundred and four racers eagerly hit the start line and seventy-four of those had to DNF.  Rain the day before hardened up the sandy loose soil, making for near perfect racing conditions. The weather remained cool and cloudy skies held throughout the race as you could hear thunder in the distance.

Men’s Open

Johnson wins the AXE with back-to-back wins at Lumberjack 100

Dylan Johnson wins the Men’s Open

Men’s Open Podium


The 2017 NUE Epic Series winner Dylan Johnson (Lesko MTB Racing), repeats at Lumberjack 100 taking the win for two years in a row. Finishing only a couple minutes ahead, he gapped the men’s field at the end of the third lap taking the win with a time of 6:41:25.

“With Lumberjack being a relatively flat course a large group tends to stay together at the front. That was the case this year as well with riders slowly dropping of as the race progressed. The first big move came from Jordan Wakeley at the end of the first lap. Going into the second lap the front group was reduced to less than ten riders. For the most part the pace was steady after that. We all knew that fireworks were going go off on the last lap. By the last lap six of us remained in the front. The longest climb of the race comes with 12 miles to go so made sure I was leading into it. I pushed hard to test the waters. I saw I had a small gap over the group so decided to go for it. From that point it was all out to the finish.”

Just two minutes back, Brian Schworm (Think Green-Bicycle Face) finishes second coming in at 6:43:56.

“2018 Lumberjack 100 was a blast! Fast flowing singletrack with some hills mixed in made for an awesome course and the looming rain showers held down the temperatures for some great conditions for racing. After racing 85 miles with an incredibly fast group a mishap with my derailleur and chain cost me 90 seconds and (I thought) put me out of contention. I kept chasing and was able to move up to second by the finish. Thanks to Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b SWORD Cycling Team and to my wife Jennifer Schworm for their continued support!  Without their help none of this would be possible.  Up next is the USA Cycling XC Nationals in West Virginia followed by the NUE Series race Wilderness 101.”

Coming in just a second back from Schworm is Christian Tanguy (RBS Cycling Team), with a finishing time of 6:43:57.

Women’s Open

Williams gets her first Win at Lumberjack 100

Carla Williams wins the Women’s Open

Women’s Open podium

Taking top honors in the women’s field is, 2017 NUE Epic winner Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop), finishing at 7:23:47 about a half hour ahead of the rest of the women’s field.

“Race start was at 7 down a straight road followed by a bottleneck into the 1st singletrack section. I had a good start, and I knew I was going to have to go out fast to stay ahead of Chase who won this race last year. The first 8-10 miles of the course was just a single file line of riders in front and behind me, and I worked hard to hold my position.

I finished lap 1 and was definitely feeling the effort which was not a good sign given I had 2 more laps to go. I was using a camel pack and my plan was to only stop once to get more water so I rolled through the tent without stopping. I decided I would have to slow down the pace. I passed Anthony at the start of lap 2 who was suffering more than I was. I tried to focus on eating my Huma gels, drinking Gatorade, holding speed through the corners and spinning up the hills to let my legs recover. I was feeling a little nauseous and was also getting nervous about holding my lead.

Miraculously, about halfway through the second lap, something flipped. I have no idea what but it was like my body kicked into endurance mode and remembered how to race 100 miles. I was happy, my legs felt good, I no longer felt sick, and I knew I would have no trouble finishing the race strong.

I started attacking again and caught up to Peyton on his ss. I followed him into the start/finish at the end of lap 2, quickly switched camel packs and took off to catch back up to him and start lap 3. I was still feeling great and managed to catch up to Jeff Rupnow and followed his wheel through the trees towards the end of lap 2 and traded pulls on the fire road leading into the last 5 miles of singletrack. He pulled ahead and finished a few minutes ahead of me and I came in at 7:23 and won the race in the women’s open. I would like to thanks Joe’s Bike Shop, ESI grips, Maxxis tires, Huma Gel, and Rudy Project for their support. Next race: High Cascades 100”

Last years Lumberjack 100 winner, Chase Edwards (CZ Racing), took second place finishing with a time of 7:52.

“The Lumberjack 100 course helps me dial in my cornering skills each year. I was stoked about the fast conditions on race day! I had some fun chasing down Carla on the first lap, but my body just wasn’t up to the challenge of hanging on to her. I finally found my groove on the third lap (it was 8:30 in the morning Arizona time, and I was finally awake!). My finish time was a lot slower than previous years even with the fast conditions, but I pushed hard on the punchy climbs for the entire race, so I can’t complain. This race is a blast! Sponsor: Construction Zone Racing.”

Coming off a sixth place finish at the 2017 Lumberjack, Amanda Lappe (Maplewood Bicycle), gets the third podium position in 2018 with a time of 8:06:35.

“This was my second Lumberjack, and the trails were just as fast and flowy as I remembered from last year.  I spent a lot of the first lap picking my way through groups until I settled in with a couple people who were doing a similar pace as me.  I wasn’t feeling the greatest for the first part of the second lap, but I caught up to a group that was led by Noelle.  I sat on the back for a while, trying to eat and drink until I felt decent again.  I was able to get around her and for the rest of the second lap, I tried my best to put distance between us.  I was flying solo on this trip, so I had stashed my food and water in the Hammer neutral aid tent and the volunteers there were amazing. They had me in and out super quick to start the third lap.  My legs were toast by the time I hit the 10 miles to go sign and those last few hills were a grind.  I was super happy to beat my time from last year and thrilled when I realized I had gotten third.  Thanks to my coach, Chris Mileski (www.chrismileski.com) for helping me get ready for this race and Maplewood Bicycles in St. Louis for keeping my bikes dialed.”

Singlespeed

Randolph get his first ever NUE win!

Singlespeed podium

Peyton Randolph wins Singlespeed

Winning his first ever NUE race and earning the top step in the singlespeed division, Peyton Randolph, finished in 7:29:13.

“I learned my lesson at Mohican 2 weeks ago and started a few rows back to keep my opening pace calm and comfy. The two-mile road section to the jeep trail was highlighted by a saturated road and a 4” fat tire directly in front of me to ensure I was properly hydrated. Once we hit singletrack, it was on. My 32:18 gearing was smooth for 2 laps. The 3rd lap, my legs decided 100 miles is just unnecessary and that I was on my own for the final 33. The first ½ lap I rode with fellow Ohio SS’er Anthony Toops. We chatted quite a bit. He made a few excuses about tire pressure and how he hasn’t ridden since Mohican, then left me in the dust to ride by my lonesome. We’re OK now though. He bought me a cake after the race but I’m concerned that he didn’t eat any of it. Perhaps one of his tactics? After the mid-lap aid station of lap 2, super wicked fast Carla Williams tagged on the back of my wheel and for some reason wanted to stay there. I’m not boasting that I’m good at technical areas and climbing, but that’s just about all I’ve got going for me. I was riding a hard pace for myself and Carla effortlessly stuck on my knobbies back there jamming to tunes and having a jolly good time. Just when you think you’re starting to whip your body into shape, a true athlete shows you how it’s done. ½ way through the 3rd lap, I was fading and Carla had more in the tank so she took off. By far the best part of the 3rd lap was getting passed by very part-time Ohio ss’er Michael Gottfried with only ~3 miles to go (riding Lumberjack with shifting buttons). My brain had melted by this point so I mumbled some hurtful suggestions his direction as he passed. As I entered the finish line area, I see Michael messing with his chain maybe 100’ from the finish! Apparently, he had some issues with his gear things. I think I acted very mature by laughing and pointing as I slowly rode by to victory over my good friend Michael. We ate burgers together later that night so all is good. Thanks Lumberjack crew for the best trophy that may ever grace our house! Thanks to my wife Kayla for allowing us to take so many bicycle vacations, to all our Ohio friends for making the Airbnb house a blast the entire weekend, and to Ryan at Wheelie Fun Bike shop in Powell, OH for setting me up with the perfect fit. Next race is Wilderness 101 in a few weeks.”

Only a few minutes back, Vincent Roberge, finished second with a time of 7:31:38.  Lane Myers took the third spot finishing in 7:34:22.

Master’s 50+

Devin Doboer get second NUE win for 2018

Masters’s 50+ podium

Devin Deboer wins Master’s 50+ class

Coming off a win at the NUE Mohican 100, Devin Deboer (Fusion/ New Holland Brewing), takes the win in master’s 50+ with a time of 7:09:42. This is back to back wins for Deboer in the NUE Epic series in 2018.  About ten minutes back and finishing second, Bradley Cobb (Motor Mile Racing/SCV) finished in 7:19:01.  Rounding out the podium, John Risk (R2R), took third place at 7:29:40.

Fatbike

Fatbike podium

Winning the fat bike division, Allen Wheeler (Grand Rapids Bicycle Company), finished in 7:22:57. Twelve minutes back, Brad Lako (KLM/Cold Stone) took the second step at 7:35:48.

“The decision to race “Fat” at Lumberjack100 is simply a challenge on top of a challenge – why not!? But to do the race and try to win the fat category is simply just, well, not advised.

LBJ started out like most years, rain the night before (which is a good thing) hot, humid and early. The strategy for me was simple: pace yourself right on the edge of zone 2 and zone 3 and managing the efforts on the hills. Lugging a 22lbs Specialized Fat Boy, set up with FastTrack 4.0 tires at 9psi in the front and 11psi in the rear up the hills was actually not all that bad. The extra noticeable effort for me was when the bike slowed down. The effort to overcome the big tires was huge at times and the bike just never feels snappy. Nonetheless, I soldiered on negative splitting each of my lap times and trying to keep the effort as high as possible as I knew I was in the top three after lap one. I managed to get into good groups and would leap frog them when I felt them starting to settle in. On the last lap I was holing 2nd place firmly pushing as hard as I could on the last lap in hopes to catch the leader. I rolled across the line in 7hrs 35min securing 2nd place. I remember thinking, I’m glad that’s over and will never do that again. But remembered this was my second LBJ FAT and 6th attempt. I guess I’ll be back next year! Huge thanks to my main sponsors/supporters: KLM Bike and Fitness and Cold Stone Creamery of Rochester Hills, MI.”

Coming in third, Jesse Gould (KLM/Cold Stone), finished in 8:04:18.

Click here for full Lumberjack 100 results

What’s next? NUE Epic Series heads to South Dakota on July 7, 2018 for the Tatanka 100. Click here to register

NUE Mohican 100 Mile

Written by: Jen Toops/Ryan O’Dell

The Mayor of Loudonville, Steve Strickland, welcomed racers to Loudonville before the start of the 16th Annual Mohican MTB100 at 7am sharp. With the downtown blocked off by the LPD, The Kenda Mohican 100 released nearly 600 racers along some of the most popular single track trails Ohio has to offer on a grand single loop, 100 mile and 100k, that spans three of the four counties that make up what is locally known as “Mohican Country”. New Hope Church added 200 volunteers to the nearly 250 volunteers that managed the many course marshal and aid station positions.

A neutral start due to a bridge out at the start. Photo: Butch Phillips

Pastor Paterson of New Hope Church, offered a prayer for the safety of racers who left on a slow neutral start this year due to bridge construction on Main Street that presented just one lane across the Black Fork of the Mohican River. The Ashland Sherriff’s Department sounded the siren that would signal the start of the race near the city limits at Maple Heights, traditionally the spot where racers competed for a $200 Prime. Kent Cycle and Spin Bikes were among a team of seasoned professional mechanics that covered all six aid station this year.  The Ohio State Patrol offered assistance to racers at a dangerous crossing on SR97 and Great Lakes Brewing http://www.greatlakesbrewing.com offered 22 kegs of refreshment to finishing riders.

Jeremiah Bishop and Chase Edwards Win Mohican 100 Mile

Men’s Open

Jeremiah Bishop repeats at NUE Mohican 100 Mile

1st-Jeremiah Bishop (Canyon Topeak Fox Shimano Maxxis) 2nd-Bryan Lewis (Cutaway USA) 3rd-Christian Tanguy (RBS Cycling Team) 4th-Brian Schworm (Think Green-Bicycle Face pb Sword) 5th-Lee Hauber (Appriss Racing pb Clarksville Schwinn) Photo:Butch Phillips

After setting the course record in 2017, Jeremiah Bishop wins the Mohican 100 mile again with a time of 6:57:53.

“Perhaps I had better invite a slower car pool bud to drive to races with I though as Bryan Lewis demolished lead break of NUE Contenders on the toughest climb of the day. Christian Tangy and Brian Schwarm lost contact and I was in trouble.

OUCH 400 + watts at 5 1/2 hours in and I am getting dropped after the second big attack. I clawed my way back to the wheel and we came to a stalemate until the final slick single track where my 20 years of pro xc experience might render and edge. I attacked full gas out of the saddle on every turn and gained just the slightest edge. Stoked to take my first win after a 3 month comeback from a major crash in South Africas Cape Epic. Not sure where those last 15 minutes of attack speed came from but glad I had it! Thanks to Canyon Topeak Shimano Fox and Maxxis.”Only about one minute back and taking second place was Brian Lewis, coming in at 6:59:01.

“The Mohican 100 started with a long stretch of fun single track that formed the lead group (7 or 8 riders) of 100/100k riders of prior to aid 1.  Punchy farm roads and mixed single track slowly whittled the group down to four 100 miler participants (JB, myself, Christian Tanguy, and Brian Schworm) as the 100k folks split off at aid 3.  Our group road steady and stayed together until we hit Stroble Road.  A tricky muddy section with big bulldozer tracks left some daylight into Stroble Road climb and I rode it hard enough to split the group before pausing in the middle for some horses.  We were back together but another hard push and fast downhill left JB and I alone off the front.  I had a little gap as I crossed the Mohican river, but JB tagged on shortly.  I took another dig at JB on Valley Stream Road and again got a little daylight, but he was strong enough to bring me back after the descent.  We stayed together until the single track where JB took the lead.  As we ripped past 100k finishers JB got a little daylight and slowly build his lead on the climb until he was far enough out of sight to cause me to relax a bit into the finish.  It was a blast ripping and beating on each other over the final miles.  It definitely made the 100-mile distance entertaining.

Next NUE race:  TBD???  Suggestions? I haven’t gotten past tomorrow yet. Sponsors: Flying solo, but appreciate the support of my employer Cutaway, USA as well as a good group of friends (Will, Steven, Tyler, Seth, AT, and Carlo) that consistently talk smack and give me a hard time as I chase fun events across the country.”With third and fourth place only 11 seconds apart, it made for an exciting finish.  Christian Tanguy (RBS Cycling team), who finished second at Cohutta this year, manage to hang on to third place with a time of 7:03:39. Brian Schworm (Think Green) took the fourth position with a time of 7:03:48.

Women’s Open

Chase Edwards Takes the Top Step

1st-Chase Edwards (CZ Racing) 2nd-Joanne Beattie (Six S Partners p/b Ciclowerks) 3rd-Laureen Coffelt (Los Locos/Pivot/Outdoors Inc 4th-Angela Graziosi (Trailer Park Racing) 5th-Lauren Ison Photo:Butch Phillips

Making her first appearance at the Mohican 100 mile, Chase Edwards (CZ racing), takes the win with a time of 9:18:31.“The Mohican 100 proved to be harder than I expected in all the best ways! I was happy to land a spot on the start line next to Ohio State Champion Jen Toops (racing the Marathon) who was very kind about my dad standing nearby taking a lot of photos. I thought if I could hang with Jen for the first part of the race, maybe I’d learn a thing or two about riding muddy Ohio singletrack. But my nerves got the best of me, and I lost Jen after the neutral start and ended up in the lead. My start was fast enough to avoid a lot of bottlenecking onto the singletrack. I was stoked! Unfortunately, a few miles in the bag with my tools in it fell off my saddle and I had to stop and throw it in my jersey pocket. Shortly after, I crashed unexpectedly when my bike cut out from underneath me on some slippery roots. I got it back together quickly, though, and rode well for the next 20 miles of singletrack and proudly descended the one techy rock garden with ease. Jen and two of the other Marathon women caught me around mile 30, and I had a blast going back and forth with them for the next 10 or so miles. Just before Aid Station 3, my descending started to fall apart, and I worried maybe I had messed up my fueling and my body was already shutting down. Then, on a short hike-a-bike, I noticed my front wheel had come really loose. That explained the clunky descending! I pulled out my small race tool to tighten the thru axle and learned the hex wasn’t long enough to tighten it. I tend to learn lessons in my life the hard way, and it had never crossed my mind to check this on my new bike this season. Luckily, I was only 5 miles from the Aid Station. I said goodbye to the top Marathon women at this point (their race was starting to get exciting!), and I just kept trucking and descending as best I could. At the Aid Station, Marlene (my Dad’s wife who has supported me in three races now and is really good at it) was ready with fresh bottles and Honey Stinger waffles. She held my bike while I tightened down my front wheel with a full-size wrench. I had a really strong come back between the next Aid Stations and managed to put out really consistent power on the half-hour stretch of beautiful but mind-numbing paved urban trail. I was a bit surprised and worried when my back and shoulder pain from a crash last month started to flare up, but it forced me to focus all my energy on throwing down consistent watts. This was the most painful section of the course but somehow also ended up being my fastest section. I was so happy to see my support crew of five family members waiting for me at Aid Station 4.5. My dad teased me for walking the last part of the suspension bridge, to which I responded: “Too many new mediums out here for me! I’m used to dry sandstone and granite.” Once again, Marlene re-loaded me with bottles and I was off toward the finish! The slippery rocks and roots on the final stretch of singletrack took all the mental power I could muster. There was a man hot on my wheel as we popped out of the woods, and I managed to hold him off with an all-out sprint to the finish line. Thanks, Construction Zone Racing, Scott Bicycles, and Paragon Athletics for the support! The Mohican 100 is an awesome race. ”

Chase celebrating at the finish line. Photo Butch Phillips

Joanne Beattie (Six S Partners p/b Ciclowerks), finished second with a time of 10:13:41.

“This was my second year racing the Mohican 100 Mile and I have absolutely nothing but great things to say about this event! I loved riding the fast, flowy single track in the Mohican forest. I only wish I was a stronger climber and better able to get ahead of the pack before the turn into the first 25 km section of single track leading up to Aid Station 1. There was a line of riders ahead of me and the narrow trails made it difficult to pass, but I ended up utilizing the pace to keep my legs loose so that I had plenty of power to draw upon throughout the rest of the race.

I was thoroughly impressed by the level of volunteer support at each of the Aid Stations. Volunteers were on hand, ready to help with anything from filling water bottles to lubricating chains. Although the Aid Stations were fully stocked with anything you could imagine ingesting, I generally stuck to eating the cut-up Clif bars that I keep in a cup in my jersey pocket. They are easy to grab and eat while riding and are packed full of energy.

I currently don’t have any other NUE races planned for this season, but I have been looking at the calendar, trying to figure out how to squeeze in another one. I love these ultra-endurance races! PEDAL HARDER! (Sponsors: Six S Partners, Ciclowerks, Clif, Biemme, 3Sixty5 Cycling)”

Laureen Coffelt (Los Locos/Pivot/Outdoor Inc), came in third place at 10:50:05.

“Back in 2006, I believe, it was my first Mohican 100 MTB race. I have returned 8x, with an absence for the last few years. It was a WOW this year. Incredible volunteer efforts, beyond expectations! The work of Ryan O’Dell to develop and foster the NUE series comes to fruition, at this race. My friend, and coach, Chris EATOUGH, won the NUE and the Mohican 100 in 2007. It is with pride and honor that I can say he got me where I am today, on the bike, and even off! I hope to return to the NUE Racing 50+ next year, and complete the series!”

Masters 50+

Devin DeBoer win’s Masters 50+

1st-Devin DeBoer (Fusion New Holland Brewing) 2nd-Joe Johnston (Brauer/Mick Management) 3rd-Tom Stritzinger 4th-Roger Masse (Stokesville/Shenandoah Mountain Touring) 5th-Russell Spaulding (TFM Racing) Photo:Butch Phillips

Winning the Master’s 50+ Mohican was Devin DeBoer (Fushion New Holland Brewing) coming in at 8:06:53.

Taking the second step and finishing fifteen minutes back was Joe Johnston (Brauer/Mick Management) at 8:22:25.

It’s been a few years since my last trip to Loudonville for the Mohican 100, Ryan & Crew did not disappoint. The start in downtown is always a highlight & nerve wracking at the same time. Once into the single track I found myself in a nice little group including Jeff Mandell (Rare Disease Cycling) &  Mitchell DeYoung (Hammer Nutrition). We pretty much stayed together until the water bars adding riders here and there. At one point I looked back and saw 6-8 in the group.  After aid 3, Jeff, who was riding great had pulled away with David Parson-Foresi (JA King/KTM). Just before the Holmes County Trail, Devin DeBoer (Fusion New Holland Brewing) caught and passed me on his way to the masters win (Congratulations!!!!). Other than a few 100k riders over the next 3ish hours it was a solo ride until Ross Anderson (Fincraft) came up just before aid 5 giving me the motivation I needed to push to the finish.”

The third spot went to Tom Stritzinger coming in at 8:28:59.

Singlespeed

Haddock gets his Second Consecutive NUE Mohican 100 SS Win!

1st-John Haddock (CarboRocket, Christopher Bean Coffee, XoSkin) 2nd-Donald Powers (UPMC Pro Bike & Run 3rd-Peyton Randolph 4th-Ross Anderson 5th-Joe Worboy (Trailer Park Racing) Photo:Butch Phillips

After a second place finish at True Grit and a win at Cohutta, John Haddock (CarboRocket, Christopher Bean Coffee, XoSkin), wins the Mohican 100M with a time of 7:44:41.

“It was great to get back to this event for another year. The trails, venue, and volunteers are always top notch, which makes for a great experience every time. My goal coming into the race was to ride fast, stay on top of fueling, and not get injured on the wet trails. Once the lead out vehicle pulled off, it was fast from the start, but actually more “singlespeed friendly” that past years where everyone redlines up the first hill. I’m never disappointed by a casual start to help warm up! I entered the woods in good position, accompanied (like last year) by my buddies Jim Litzinger and Alex Hashem. We held a steady pace together until Aid 3 where Jim, looking incredibly fresh, headed back to win the 100K singlespeed. Alex and I enjoyed each other’s company for a bit longer, but a wrong turn by Alex left me to spin the rail trail alone in 34/20. Thank goodness for the deer and singing birds that kept things interesting! Surprisingly I was never caught by a geared rider nor did I hear Dahn Pahrs coming up from behind, so I rode solo to the finish. Huge thanks to my team for making all of this possible. And lastly, thank you to my wingman David Parsons-Foresi for being such a solid dude and letting my tag along to Ohio for the weekend.”

Finishing second place about fifteen minutes back was, Don Powers (UPMC Pro Bike & Run) at 8:00:43.

“I wish I had an exciting race report to share with everyone but I went into the woods behind John Haddock and never saw him again.  I raced the entire race in 2nd place.  Had a couple back and fourths with some of the 100K SS’ers, Josh Kunz, Anthony Toops, & Dave MrKonja.  Caught drafts off geared guys when I could and got a super pull from Dave Parsons and Alex Hassam on the rail trail, was able to average 19.4mph on my SS (36X21, 15th fastest ever according to Strava).  At the end I finished in 8 hours and some odds seconds and enjoyed some Four Lokos on the podium.”

After a blazing fast start, Peyton Randolph finished in third place at 8:20:01.Race week started off with daily online harassments from the one and only king of SS smack talk Dahn Pahrs. Online one of the most cut-throat talkers but in person one of the most “ok-ist” guys. Ohio has stepped up this year with a ton of SS guys. The SS class is growing and in return the podium shorts are creeping up! The Ohio OMBC and 331 series are a blast now with more ss guys than ever. Races like Vultures Knob and Tuscazoar will even bring out-of-state ss guys to join the party. It was great to see a ton of Ohio SS friends at the start. The start this year was different due to the slow pace through the bridge construction. When the lead truck honked their horn on the hill after the bridge, no one sped up. I just did my thing and pedaled up the hill by myself not noticing that the pack was taking a super chill pace up the hill. Perhaps due to there not being a $200 prem.? Now it’s debatable whether this was a good idea or not. At the very least I thought the picture would be fridge-worthy so I drove it home and kept my 32:18 cadence in the sweet spot. When the flat road came, the derailleur party slow rolled on by with a few SS bros hugging the back. I rode the first single track with friends Eli Orth and Ross Anderson. We set a casual pace quick enough to call it “racing” but slow enough to talk and laugh. Mohican wilderness was in the best shape I’ve ever seen it. The majority of the day involved a lot of solo gravel/pavement spinning. The fresh single track between mile 50 something and the rail trail was ridiculously hard for me. Just when you think your avg speed is not looking bad, this section keeps you working hard. It sure would’ve been nice to throw a wrench in the PA domination over OH. It didn’t happen this year, but every year the PA harassment gets worse, Ohio training grows! Next race will be Lumberjack. Huge thanks to my wife Kayla who rides, races, and travels with me as well as my parents who came to Mohican to cheer us on.”

Click here for full results

What’s Next?

NUE Marathon Series: June 24, 2018 in Damascus, VA  Iron Mountain

NUE Epic Series: June 16, 2018 in Manistee, Michigan (sold out) Lumberjack 100

NUE Mohican 100K

Andrew Dillman and Lara Richards win Mohican 100K

Written by: Jen Toops & Ryan O’Dell

The Mayor of Loudonville, Steve Strickland, welcomed racers to Loudonville before the start of the 16th Annual Mohican MTB100 at 7am sharp. With the downtown blocked off by the LPD, The Kenda Mohican 100 released nearly 600 racers along some of the most popular single track trails Ohio has to offer on a grand single loop, 100 mile and 100k, that spans three of the four counties that make up what is locally known as “Mohican Country”. New Hope Church added 200 volunteers to the nearly 250 volunteers that managed the many course marshal and aid station positions.

Pastor Paterson of New Hope Church, offered a prayer for the safety of racers who left on a slow neutral start this year due to bridge construction on Main Street that presented just one lane across the Black Fork of the Mohican River. The Ashland Sherriff’s Department sounded the siren that would signal the start of the race near the city limits at Maple Heights, traditionally the spot where racers competed for a $200 Prime. Kent Cycle and Spin Bikes were among a team of seasoned professional mechanics that covered all six aid station this year.  The Ohio State Patrol offered assistance to racers at a dangerous crossing on SR97 and Great Lakes Brewing http://www.greatlakesbrewing.com offered 22 kegs of refreshment to finishing riders.

A neutral start due to a bridge out near the start. Photo Butch Phillips

A muddy start! Photo Butch Phillips

Men’s Open

Dillman wins back to back at Mohican!

1st-Andrew Dillman (Think Green) 2nd-Jeffrey Pendlebury (Ride On Wooster) 3rd-Chris Shannon (Think Green-Bicycle Face) 4th-Chris Tries (The Bike Shop) 5th-Andy Scott (Riverside Racing) Photo Butch Phillips

Coming off a win at the 2018 NUE Big Frog 65, Andrew Dillman (Think Green) wins the 2018 Mohican 100K with a time of 4:43:20. This makes back to back wins for Dillman at Mohican!  Second place was Jeffrey Pendlebury (Ride On Wooster) at 4:50:22.

Just thirteen seconds back from second place, was Chris Shannon (Think Green-Bicycle Face) rounding out the podium with a time of 4:50:35.

“My goal for the race was to be the first to enter the single track and ride a consistent and manageable pace. The trails were a bit slick in places, but still a blast to ride. About mile 30 or so I had to make a pit stop and lost touch with the lead pack. The next 20 miles were spent in time trial mode until finally catching Chris Tries and Jeff Pendelbury around mile 50. Jeff and I attacked on a steep climb to establish a decent gap around mile 55. We yo-yo’d back and forth until we entered the final road to the finish side-by-side. He was able to put in a solid effort on the final road to the finish and establish a 12 second gap. I ended up finishing third behind team mate Andrew Dillman who has been on fire all season and Jeff Pendlebury who was able to dig so deep in the final miles. Kudos to the race organizers on another successful Mohican 100. The next stop will be Wilderness 101 followed by Marji Gesik. Sponsors: Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b SWORD, Green Guru Gear, Heine Brothers’ Coffee”

Women’s Open

Richards gets her first Mohican 100K win!

1st-Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles) 2nd-Bryna Blanchard (Barker Mountain Bikes) 3rd Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) 4th-Megan Doerr (McLain’s Race Team) 5th-Erin Necko (J.A. King) Photo Butch Phillips

After a 2nd place finish at the NUE 2018 Big Frog 65, Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles),  takes the women’s open class with a time of  5:44.

” The reputation of this race precedes it. I have some friends who have made the 11 hour trek from Georgia to race this race. But this was the first year I have ever raced the Mohican, and it did not disappoint. It was a great mix of rooty single trek, gravel and some grueling hike-a-bike. It rained the Wednesday before which made the MTB trail ideally tacky with a few slick roots, however the rain made the horse trail a sticky mess. Other than that, you could not ask for a better day on the bike. I really enjoyed the feel of the single trek – super fun. On fun trails like this I do not mind using a little extra energy to zip around corners and pop over rocks. It keeps me motivated. I have to say I even I enjoyed the down hill section of the horse trail. The railroad tressels were a fun obstacle to have in the middle of the course. The route went from trail to gravel then back trail, I liked the mix, it never kept us too long on just road. The day left me a little bloody and tired but definitely all smiles. I went into this race thinking’ with a pool of 56 awesome female athletes signed up that there was no way I could pull off better then 10th but some how I managed the win. I still feel new to this style of EPIC races and To me this is probably the biggest win I have had in my MTB career. I do hope to race more NUE races in the future. I’ll cross my fingers for more podiums but know it will be tough with such amazing competition. My sponsors are Little Fire Cycles wheels, Adventure Cycles of spout springs GA, Rhinohead, and Muc-off. Many thanks to all who made this race possible.”

Bryna and Lara battle for position near the start of the race.

After winning the Mohican 100K in 2014, Bryna Blanchard (Barker Mountain Bikes) beats her previous 2014 winning time by six minutes to take second place this year at 5:48:38.

“Sometimes everything comes together in a way that makes me reflect on a race and feel satisfied that I did my best. With the 9 hour drive under our belts the day before the race and an early 7 AM start I wasn’t sure how my body would feel for the Mohican 100K, my longest race to date this season. I was strategizing to try and get a fast start remembering the long ribbon of tight, flowy fast single track that followed the initial few miles of rolling pavement. The first plan came together and I ended up entering the single track with a group of 8-10 fellow riders, including another woman in my category, setting a pace that felt comfortable and efficient. My legs felt good but the early start and short sleep left me with a bit of a brain fog. I kept my focus, rode clean and even managed to get by a few people on the trail. Once out of the woods and back on the open road, some spectators reported I was riding in 4th, then I got passed by Lara as if I was out for a Sunday recovery ride. I quickly decided against attempting to chase with more than half the kilometers looming ahead of me. At that point I also realized I needed to catch up on hydration and nutrition that I had ignored in the single track. Within half an hour I started feeling really good, legs strong, mind awake, calm and confident, the kilometers and hours passed by. Stopping at a mid point aid station for a refill from the tremendous volunteers, I encountered a few other women heading out as I was pulling in. Jen, who I had expected would be in front of me, and Chase who was racing the full on 100 crazy miles. Jen pulled away quickly while Chase and I rode together on the pavement for many miles until the next section of delicious single track. Even with the majority of her race ahead of her, Chase put in a massive effort on the hilly road, motivating me to push myself harder than I would have alone. We managed to catch and pass Jen which gave me another boost of motivation. I entered the single track and tried to keep the pace high but metered, taking advantage of feeling strong. Enjoying the challenge of slightly slick rocks and roots I was able to make a few more passes on the men in the woods and continue to ride clean until a particularly washed out steepish decent sent me off my line and over the right handle bar. Unable to remount in the baby heads I ran down the rest of the rocks and realized I was beginning to feel the hours setting in. The final road sections consisted of steeper longer climbs, at least that was my perception at the time. Long steady climbs seem to be a strength for me so I settled in and kept reminding myself that this is a race and it is supposed to feel hard. Past the aid station where the 100K and 100 mile courses split I knew I had a good chance of maintaining 2nd, I also knew I wanted to finish strong with nothing left in the tank and try to catch the leader. I was fortunate to share ride company with some of the single speeders along the way who offered encouragement and entertainment. After riding with one single speed man on the final road he politely asked to enter the last single track first to which I replied please do, I’m exhausted. In survival mode I entered the trail which quickly turned my fatigue into joy at the superb quality of track, the bike floated along up the switch backs and around the corners. I managed to make a few more passes on the men, entered the camp ground and felt myself return to race mode as one guy pushed to pass me back. I surged ahead and found the finish line in 2nd place where Lara was celebrating her win. After a few frustrating races this season with mechanicals, it was extra sweet to have a great experience at Mohican. Thanks as always to Barker Mountain Bikes for their amazing support and friendship. Thanks to the race promoters, volunteers, sponsors and vendors for a most memorable day on the bike.”

Coming off a win at the 2018 NUE Big Frog 65, OMBC Race Series Champion & NUE Marathon Series Champion, Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) comes in 3rd at 5:53:51.

” This year I made sure to get a spot up front since the bridge was out.  My plan was to start fast and get a good position into the singletrack after getting in a congo line the previous year.  I was first going into the first singletrack for women 100k and to my surprise rode most of the singletrack loop by myself. My first mistake was listening to my GPS yelling “off course” and back tracking a wee bit thinking I’d missed the hike a bike turn off. Finally a few other riders were coming through and I knew I should have kept going. This is where Lara caught up and we rode together until the hike-a-bike. After 2 years of racing La Ruta, I think I’m starting to get this hike-a-bike thing down. I managed to put a small gap on Lara and caught up to the women’s 100 mile leader Chase. We worked together on the roads leading up to Aid 2 but Lara put it in beast mode and powered up to us!  We all rode into Aid 2 together and I was out of water and fighting off leg cramps. The volunteers did a great job and had my pack ready to switch out. I went to grab a shot of coke and some pickles and noticed Lara rode right on through the aid station. I never saw her again.  As I was leaving Aid 2, I saw Bryna was coming in and I wasn’t sure if any other 100k women were with her.

The wilderness was a dark place for me. I knew I had to eat more but I was so nauseated. I tried slamming a gel and started dry heaving. Then the full on calf and hamstring cramps paid a visit.  I was behind on my nutrition plan.  I kept pedaling knowing stopping wouldn’t fix anything. The cramps finally subsided and I managed to get through wilderness. Once on the roads I was just in survival mode. Mentally I wanted to race but the power and my legs just weren’t there. All I wanted to do was stop, lay in the gravel and throw up! At this point I was wondering if I had a stomach bug and debated taking a DNF. Then Bryna and Chase (100 mile leader) were working together and made a pass on the roads. There was nothing left in the tank to challenge and I rode it on in to the finish.

Some races are good some are bad. Unfortunately the Mohican 100k didn’t go as planned, but I somehow managed to keep it together enough to hang on to a 3rd place finish!  Thanks to all my sponsors, fellow racers/volunteers trying to encourage and motivate me, Anthony Toops for getting the Pivot Les on point, and my parents for coming to cheer me on!”

Masters 50+

Clayton Wins Masters 50+

1st-Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) 2nd-Scott Burrill (Bikeman.com) 3rd-John Lorson (River Day Racing) 4th-Gregory Cimmino (Class Cycle) 5th-Tom Weaver (KSD/Summit Freewheelers) Photo Butch Phillips

Winning the Masters 50+ Mohican was Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) 5:18:22.

“I think the neutral start led to the heavy hitters not punching it quite as hard, so the field stayed together for a while. I was able to hang with the lead group on the road and into the first singletrack, albeit at the back end of a long string of riders. Things were pretty good until I caught a root wrong with my front wheel and I ended up with the wheel jammed in between two roots and my bar twisted pretty good from the sudden stop.  Of course being early in the race probably 10 riders went by…never good for the confidence!  After getting going again, I pulled back a notch and focused on being efficient.  I started to reel riders in, but there was a good sized group that seemed to be holding steady behind and a couple guys right on my wheel.  As it turned out, one of those was Devin DeBoer who ended up winning the 100 mile M50+ category.  I eventually caught up to a guy who was moving through the technical parts well, so I decided to follow him figuring I would make it through the rough stuff better that way.  We chatted a bit and it turned out it was Scott Burrill who had placed 2nd in the Big Frog 65 to me a month ago.  After riding together awhile, I slowly gapped Scott on the gravel road rollers and got in with a small group of single speeders, including my old race buddy Ross Anderson,  and one geared rider.  After the course split at aid 3, I was on my own and was very happy to see the gravel rollers that come so much sooner than they do in the 100 mile race…the end was near!  As I got into the last singletrack, Anthony Toops caught up to me with another singlespeeder chasing hard for their 3rd podium spot.  It was great to use them to keep me charging hard, especially as I didn’t know how far back Scott was or even if there was any other 50+ racers ahead I might catch.  I took the 50+ win, but Scott kept me honest just a few minutes back.  I’ll be racing the Iron Mountain 100k next.”

Clayton wins the masters 50+ 100k

Scott Burrill (Bikeman.com) took the second place spot in 2017 and repeats in 2018 with the same exact time of 5:23:11!

Taking the third podium position was John Lorson (River Day Racing) with a time of 5:52:35.

“After winning the single-speed 100K at Mohican in 2008, 2009 and 2011 (in 2010, I took a wrong turn with 4 miles to go and handed the win to my teammate) I’ve moved further down the ranks and even off the podium in the ensuing 6 years in my past few attempts. The class was getting younger and faster and I was not. Finally, at age 54, I decided to “race my age” and entered the Masters 50+ category. Still, having ridden a single-speed exclusively for the past 10 years (even winning the OMBC Masters 45+ Championship in 2011 and 2012 against geared bikes) I knew what bike I’d be on: my 8-year-old Gary Fisher Superfly Single-Speed, running a 36×20 with my trusty Niner rigid carbon fork up front. (You’ve “gotta dance with who brung ya’,” right?)

I’ve go to admit I was a little worried at the “neutral roll-out” plan for the start. I envisioned a lane-wide flesh pile as four lanes choked to one, but it turned out fine and actually a bit to my advantage because I wasn’t spinning like a hamster trying to keep up as we started into the hill. The problem with the starting route now, as opposed to the course from a few years back, is several miles of road riding before we hit singletrack. It’s a long spin for a single-speed and it sucks the life out of me being passed by tons of geared bikes I had just aced on that first climb.

This year I really let that get into my head and I was convinced I was having another off year until I hit Aid 2 at Buckhaven. There, the I applied the lifesaving elixirs of Coca Cola and watermelon and underwent an on-bike metamorphosis. After leaving the Buckhaven single-track I was overtaken by a pace-line of geared guys just before the infamous Township Road 344 which my buddies and I have dubbed the “Arc of the Moon” climb, because it looms on the horizon like a giant moon with tiny suffering cyclists crawling along its profile. Every one of the pace-liners passed me before the turn toward the climb, including a rider that I knew was in my class. I resolved to attack it as hard as I could up the hill and passed all but two of those guys, which I caught and then pipped on the way up the next roller. It had taken me right around 40 miles to get my grove on.

I ran up on a bunch of bikes in the bottom rock garden of Mohican Wilderness and the scene was like something from a horror film. One of the many “living dead”, I stumbled and struggled through the sweaty rocks like I had learned to ride bike just moments before. This was easily the toughest part of the race for me, but nothing that couldn’t be healed with a few shots of Coke and a handful of watermelon at Aid 3.

Two of my non-racing buddies, Scream and Cappy, were watching the carnage atop the Valley Stream climb and shouted that they thought I might be among the first Masters to come through. That was literally the first moment that I figured I had any shot at a podium finish. I turned myself inside out the rest of the way home, making sure to keep my place. As I crossed the line Ryan O’Dell announced me as “somewhere in the top 5 Masters” and I was blown away to find that I was, in fact, 3rd!

My Masters gamble had paid off and I hadn’t forsaken my single-speed soul in the process. It was another fine day at Mohican, even if I finally had to admit I had somehow finally become an old guy!”

Singlespeed

James Litzinger gets the win and sets new SS course record!

1st-James Litzinger (Syndicate Cycling pwrd by Pro Bike+Run) 2nd-Josh Kunz (KSD) 3rd-Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage Racing 4th-Eli Orth (Queen City Wheels) 5th-David Mrkonja (Silverback Racing) Photo Butch Phillips

Setting a new SS 100k record and crushing the SS Division was James Litzinger (Syndicate Cycling pwrd by Pro Bike +Run), 4:53:13.

“Wow, the Mohican 100k is an awesome race!  With a great mix of trails and gravel it made for a great day on the bike.  The anticipation of 600 plus riders at the start line and trying to navigate through a one lane bridge is a very exciting way to start off the morning!

I was really torn this year if I was going to race the Pivot Les as a Single Speed or the Specialized Epic FS which I have grown to love over the spring months.  I was kind of persuaded into racing the SS since the majority of the riders in the cabin the night before were riding single speed.  After getting all of my race prep and nutrition in line for the next day we enjoyed some time hanging out.  I have felt really good this year since starting to use some GNC products.  My top favorites have been the GNC Mega Men Sport daily vitamins, GNC Turmeric Curcumin 1000mg, and the GNC AMP Pure Isolate protein.

It was a very Single Speed friendly start this year with the controlled start until the bottom of the opening climb out of town.  I was up in the front row churning the pedals pretty casually and since there was no cash money for being the first rider out of town this year the pace was very manageable.  From the top of the first climb to the woods can be a nightmare for SSer’s with the rolling hills and very high speeds.  On that road section though, I was able to link up with John Haddock, of JA King Racing, the 2017 and 2018 100 mile SS winner.  John is a very smart and strong riders.  He and I had a great time racing in the past at various NUE events.  When you have a buddy to ride with it makes the day go so much better!

Once getting into the woods in the top 20 or so we quickly learned that the prior week of rain and humidity were making the trails a little greasy.  I always have the utmost confidence in my Schwalbe Racing Ralphs!  They are truly the jack of all trades!    John and I made our way through the single track picking off only a few riders this year since we had a pretty good start on the road.   We were even able to pick up another riders for the party, Alex Hashem of Shenandoah Mountain Touring.  The three of us had a great time working together!  Alex would give us some help on the roads while John and I would pace the single track and climbs.  It made for the perfect combination!

Getting into aid 3, John and Alex hit the road for the 100 mile loop while I cut off to finish the 100k.  After doing the 100 mile in previous years it was very lifting both physically and mentally to have less than an hour to go.  I held a steady spin along the flat stream road trying to conserve a little energy for the steep Valley Stream road climb.  This year my goal was to clear the entire climb on my Wolf Tooth 30×17 gearing.  The climb seemed to go much faster this year and I felt good the whole way.  After cutting down through the woods and making my way along the stream for the last road section of the day I went through the last aid station right into the final miles of single track.  Once cutting up into the single track it was motivating to see Bubba standing along the trail taking a picture or video.  From there it was party time to the finish!  Having fun in all of the single track back to the finish I looked up to find that I caught a geared 100k rider.  Continuing and pushing on down through the campground is a great ending to a fun day with friend new and old on the bike.

Thanks to my Team, Syndicate Cycling, sponsors, and family for their continued support!  My wife Jenn and 3 boys, Garrett, Cameron, and Mason.  Pro Bike+Run,  Legacy Medical, Schwalbe Tires, Voler, Specialized Bikes, GNC, and Cenacolo all make me feel so fortunate to do something that I love so much.”

Coming in twenty-three minutes back was Josh Kunz (KSD) with a time of 5:16:02. Taking the third podium position was Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage), coming in at 5:18:25.

“All the usual suspects were in attendance this year for the single speed 100k so I knew it was going to be a tough day.  The race started pretty hard up the the first road climb with most of the SS’ers still together.  My goal was to get into the single track as near the front as possible so some huge efforts were required for the first 20min of the race.  This plan worked well and I had a good position behind Josh Kunz and David Mrkonja.  We were riding at XC pace the entire single track section with none of us letting up.  They would make a pass and then I would make the same pass to stay on their wheels.  Eventually I got around David and Josh and tried to up the pace a little more through some technical sections to break up the group.  This seemed to work and it was just Josh and I hitting the road sections.  About this time I looked down and realized I had lost a bottle somewhere.  Thankfully I carried three to get me to aid 2 but this was going to put me behind on nutrition, which wasn’t ideal.  Josh is a super strong climber and started to drop me on the initial road sections before aid 2 and losing that bottle was starting to take its toll.  I just tried to hang onto third for the rest of the race and hope some power would come back so maybe I could catch him.

Through aid 3 and heading towards the finish my right cleat started to loosen up.  I had to stop and tighten it at about mile 48 and this is when Eli Orth passed me.  I quickly hopped back on and made sure to catch him asap.  When I had his wheel I realized my left cleat was now loose but at this point I didn’t have the option to stop.  We rode together until the last single track section and I made sure to take the lead going into the woods.  Somehow I managed to find some legs and hold off Eli until the end to take third.  It was another tough Mohican 100k with close racing all day! My next NUE Marathon Series race will be Iron Mountain in Damascus, VA.”

Click here for full results

What’s Next?

NUE Marathon Series: June 24, 2018 in Damascus, VA  Iron Mountain

NUE Epic Series: June 16, 2018 in Manistee, Michigan (sold out) Lumberjack 100

Pisgah Productions 111K and 55.5K

Written by: @JenToops

Photo credit: Icon Media Asheville

Pisgah Productions put on a stellar weekend of mountain biking in the Pisgah National Forest with the 111k and 55k endurance events.  Racers were greeted with flash flood warnings from previous storms and had to worry about more rain lingering in the forecast. This years course had some slight changes due to trail work on Black Mountain trail (removed from race) and the heavy precipitation leading up to the race.  At times there were streams flowing down the trails as racers made their way through the course.  Regardless of the changes, Pisgah always provides some amazing riding with chunky single track and punishing climbs.

Pisgah Productions 111K

1st- Dylan Johnson 6:29:13 2nd-Thomas Turner 6:43:45 3rd Elliot Baring 7:09:37

In the Open Men’s race, Johnson, Baring and Turner quickly formed the lead group. Shortly after aid station one Baring was dropped off the group leaving Johnson and Turner to battle it out for the win.  Johnson was able to gap Turner going into Pilot and hold him off to the finish, coming in at 6:29:13. Turner hung on for second place at 6:43:45 and Baring came in third at 7:09:37.

1st Jen Toops 9:21:32 2nd Rachel Balson 11:32:58 3rd Emily Watts 13:22:39

In the Open Women’s race, Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) was able to form an early lead and hold off the competition to take the win with a time of 9:21:32.  About two hours back was Rachel Balson taking second place. Emily Watts took the third spot with a time of 13:22:39.

Full 111k Results: click here

111k Event Photos: click here

Pisgah Productions 55KMost of the racers from the Pisgah Productions 111k stayed for a second day of racing for the Pisgah Productions 55.5k, but a few fresh racers also joined in on the fun. Due to high water, there were some mandatory course changes and the 55k turned into about 50 miles and another long day in the saddle for racers.  The weather was clear for the first half of the day but quickly turned into heavy thunderstorms with temps dropping considerably. For some riders this meant navigating the tricky, technical Pilot Rock descent in a full downpour!  One rider noted that she had to ride in the stream of water flowing down which helped her stay on line and get to the bottom safely.  Some riders even resulted to using emergency blankets to stay warm.  You definitely need to be prepared for anything when racing in the Pisgah National Forest.

55K Open Men podium: 1st-Dylan Johnson 4:45, 2nd-Nick Bragg 4:57, 3rd-Thomas Turner 5:09

In the Open Men, the top competitors all raced the previous day, making it a fair playing field.  The pace started off fast with Johnson and Baring breaking away early in the race.  Baring had some unfortunate luck breaking a spoke on Cantrell downhill and Dylan Johnson rode in for the win at 4:45:08. Nick Bragg took second with a time of 4:57:47 and Thomas Turner took third with a time of 5:09:45.

Open Women: 1st-Jen Nielson 6:13, 2nd- Annie Pharr 7:04, 3rd-Jen Toops 7:21

In the Open women’s race, a few fresh racers showed up for the 55K, Jen Nielson and Annie Pharr. Nielson attacked early taking the lead on the first climb.  Pharr and Toops spent the day trying to catch Nielson but couldn’t bridge the gap. Nielson took the win in 6:13, finishing before the storm rolled in.  Pharr and Toops faced an all out thunder storm on Pilot, changing from racing to survival mode and just happy to finish.  Pharr took second place in 7:04 and Toops took third in 7:21.

Full 55.5k results: click here

55.5k Event Photos: click here

Click here to check out all the other Pisgah Productions events.

Black Fork Gravel Grinder

Written by: Jen Toops

Close to 300 riders showed up for the Black Fork Gravel Grinder, held May 5th, 2018 in Loudonville, Ohio. New this year was the 54 mile race option, along with the original 23 mile and 30 mile ride routes.  The new 54 mile race brought mountain bikers, cyclocross, gravel, and road racers from all over and offered up a cash purse.  The race had 10 major climbs with about 5500 ft of elevation gain; hitting many gravel roads that are in the Mohican 100 National Ultra Endurance race.

Close to 300 racers/riders lined up and ready to ride!

The weather was perfect and the gravel roads were in prime condition after some rain earlier in the week.  Racers were all smiles at the start since its finally warmed up enough to be off the trainer and riding on real roads!  The race started with a short neutral roll out that led into one of the harder climbs of the day (Valley Stream) followed almost immediately by the KOM/QOM climb (Big Hill).  From there the race was on and small groups worked together to keep the pace high.

In the 54 mile Men’s Open it was James Pooler from West Salem, OH that took the overall win in a time of 3:08:27.  About 25 miles into the race Pooler’s handlebars broke but he somehow still managed to finish and take that top step! Coming in 5 minutes back was Dan Payton for a 2nd place finish at 3:13:32 and Joh Wischmeier rounded out the podium just 30 seconds back at 3:14:04.

Men’s 54 mile overall podium: 1st- James Pooler 3:08:27 (Ride On), 2nd- Dan Payton: 3:13:32 (Champion city cycling), 3rd- John Wischmeier: 3:14:04 (Bicycle Station)

The overall men’s winner James Pooler managed to hang on for the win after his handlebars broke at mile 25!

The women’s overall 54 mile race winner was Jen Toops from Marion, OH with a time of 3:39:57.  Only 6 minutes back in 2nd place was Wendy Billings at 3:46:02 and coming in 3rd was Allyson Tufano with a time of 3:49:12.

Women’s 54 mile overall podium: 1st-Jen Toops 3:39:57 (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles), 2nd-Wendy Billings: 3:46:02, 3rd-Allyson Tufano: 3:49:12 (Sportif Coaching Group/Patapsco Bicycles)

The first male and female to reach the top of Big Hill Rd (a 0.3mile section with a 15% grade) was crowned King and Queen of the Mountain and given some extra cash!  Taking the KOM was Taylor Kruse and QOM Jen Toops.

Both Overall male and female winners received entries into the Barry Roubaix!

When racers finished race directors Jay Clipse and Matt Simpson gave high fives and a finish beer compliments of  North High Brewing Co.

Garth Prosser (left) pictured with Race directors Jay Clipse and Matt Simpson.

Lots of volunteers helped make this event a success!

Overall results click here

The Black Fork crew is also hosting a night gravel grinder Sept 1st: Nite Rider Gravel Grinder

 

Beti Bike Bash this Weekend

Up next is the 9th annual Beti Bike Bash mountain bike race in Morrison Colorado on Sunday June 3rd.  Racers of all abilities (we mean all – from never have I ever raced, new moms, juniors, fat bikes, sport, pros and more) will get to take part in the largest women’s mountain bike event.  Whether you like to ride, race or just enjoy getting outside with your friends, the Beti Bike Bash brings together the cycling community in a unique and supportive environment.

On Saturday, get race ready before the big event with the VIDA MTB Series. VIDA coaches will cover all the basics and give interested participants an inside look at race-specific considerations including body positioning, race etiquette and more. The condensed 1-day format is perfect for women wanting to improve a specific technique or acquire a new skill. Beginners, as well as our Never Ever racers are welcome and will benefit from VIDA’s highly qualified coaches. Sign up at www.vidamtb.com.

Sunday is race day! Come out and race or support then stay and watch the pros battle for the $3000 pro purse! With a lap format; you’ll be able to watch every racer come through the finish area multiple times. Hang out and enjoy all of the sponsors in the expo area while cheering on every level of racer. The last event of the day is the Men’s DRAG Race. Cap off a full day of racing with guys dressed in skirts, halter tops, and heels! The race feature a dirt crit format with guys dressed in skirts, halter tops, and heels! Men will race several hot laps while Spectators cheer on their favorite riders on a super fast, fun lap. Prizes for Fastest Dragster and Prettiest in Heels.

If you are in or around Colorado on Sunday June 3rd, you won’t want to miss this exciting, supportive day of mountain bike racing!  Check out all the details at www.betibikebash.com.

 

 

Cohutta 100: NUE #2

On April 28, 2018 Roost Racing, LLC held the Cohutta 100 (NUE Epic Series), Big Frog 65 (NUE Marathon Series), and Old Copper 20 in Ducktown, TN. This was stop number two on the 2018 National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) race schedule.  These races were held at the Ocoee Whitewater center, a venue that hosted the kayak/canoe slalom competitions at the 1996 Olympic games.  Nestled within the Cherokee National Forest racers traversed through sections of Brush Creek, the Tanasi Trail Systems and miles of fire roads.

The Cohutta 100 had over 12,000 feet of climbing and included a huge gravel loop that was cut out last minute the previous year. Rain the previous day had some racers worried, but the trails were in prime condition. It was a little chilly at the start but the sun peaked out and warmed up to mid 60’s for most of the race. Couldn’t have asked for better racing weather!

Men’s Open

Dylan Johnson makes it a Three-Peat at NUE Cohutta 100

1st- Dylan Johnson (Leska MTB Racing) 2nd-Christian Tanguy (RBS Cycling Team) 3rd- Brian Schworm (Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b SWORD) 4th-John Wiygul (High Point-Rock/Creek-Trek Chatt) 5th-Alex Hashem (Stokesville/Shenandoah mountain touring)

Defending NUE Epic Champion Dylan Johnson (Leska MTB Racing) wins the Men’s Open with a time of 6:43:38.

“My goal for this year was to be as conservative as possible. I knew that I had the edge in the single track over the main players and the course finishes up with 10 miles of single track. If I could stay in the lead group until then I knew that my odds would be good. We finished the first single track with a decent sized group but it wasn’t long at all before Christian Tanguy pulled away. I quickly bridged the gap and the two of us rode together for the majority of the day. Tanguy was fine to do most of the pulling which was fine with me. When we got to the final single track I got to the front and pushed the pace enough to get a gap between me and Tanguy to take the win.”

Christian Tanguy (RBS Cycling Team) comes in second just three minutes back at 6:46:34.

Third place was Brian Schworm (Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b SWORD) coming in at 6:54:40.

“I arrived at the Ocoee Whitewater Center on Friday to beautiful weather. It can sometimes be a bit unpredictable down there with many past races taking place in downpours but this year things looked great. It had rained the previous day but my teammates and I found most of the course to be in primo condition during our preride with the exception of the Old Copper Trail which is always at least a little bit wet. Anyway, we had a great preride, checked in at registration, and parted with our drop bags for the next day’s festivities.

On race morning it was quite chilly but things heated up quickly once the race was underway. We rolled up the opening climb at a modest pace with a mad scramble to the beginning of the singletrack. I found myself in third position which was perfect for this beginning trail section. Once we raced for approximately 90 minutes we popped out at the first aid station and started the 68 mile “Death March” gravel loop. There were approximately 8 or 9 riders together as we started our journey around this loop including Christian Tanguay, Dylan Johnson, John Wiygul, Alex Hashem, Lee Hauber, single-speeder John Haddock, my teammate Nathaniel Cornelius, and myself.

During a “moment of inattention” the paced quickened and I found myself off the back of the group and scrambling to catch back up. I caught the main group but Christian and Dylan were gone. My teammate Nathaniel helped to pace me for a while but then I was on my own to chase them down. With all my might I chased but made no progress whatsoever. After a bit of discouragement and a “bad patch”, John and Alex joined me and we worked together through most of the remaining gravel loop section and we were hearing time gaps of nearly 20 minutes to the leading duo.

Once we joined the Big Froggers on their 65 mile journey I hammered the last couple of gravel climbs and the following singletrack to the finish. I was able to decrease the gap to the leaders somewhat but it was too little too late. I finished third with John and Alex not far behind finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Moving forward I am now looking ahead to Marathon Nationals in Arkansas this weekend and then a nice break until the Mohican 100 for another NUE battle. Thanks to my team Think Green – Bicycle Face and my sponsors SWORD, Native Eyewear, Specialized Bicycles, ESI Grips, Schwalbe Tires, and TruckerCo for making this all possible; and a special thanks to my wife Jennifer Schworm for her continued support and sacrifice in my pursuit of endurance MTB racing.”

Women’s Open

Cantwell gets her first Cohutta 100 win!

1st- Lauren Cantwell (Moonstompers/Stokesville Lodge) 2nd-Britt Mason (The Bike Lane) 3rd-Heidi Coulter (Paradise Garage Racing)

Lauren Cantwell (Moonstompers/Stokesville Lodge)  wins the Cohutta 100 women’s open with a time of 8:04:58.

“First time at Cohutta for me was a great one. First 18 miles of singletrack was a blast! Smooth, flowy, and the dawn mist made for a beautiful way to start the ride. The Death March became a grind towards the end but the views off of the high mountains into the valley were spectacular. I hadn’t examined the route very closely before and was surprised in the best way possible when I found myself on recognized terrain from a bikepacking trip I did last fall with a couple friends. Especially because race day was about 45 degrees warmer and no snow! Finishing the race on more miles of singletrack was an awesome end to the race!”

Second place was Britt Mason (The Bike Lane) 8:46:41.

Taking the third podium spot was Heidi Coulter (Paradise Garage Racing) 9:33:45.

“It was a beautiful day riding through the enchanted Cherokee National Forest. After getting DFL at True Grit in Utah, it felt great to finish strong and step up on the podium. Not too shabby for a grandma!”

Singlespeed

Haddock repeats Cohutta singlespeed

1st-John Haddock (J.A. King) 2nd-Kenny Kocarek (Kobby Side Down) 3rd-Joseph Stroz (Stroz Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab)

Winning the singlespeed division by an astounding 35 minutes was John Haddock (J.A. King) coming in at 7:22:02.

Kenny Kocarek (Kobby Side Down) took the second step with a time of 7:57:31.

“At the start line I was so grateful for cooler temps compared to the heat wave of last year.  The countdown to the start came and the neutral car rolled out and as I stood to sprint out of the gate and spin my singlespeed like a hamster through the parking lot then I nearly ran into the row in front of me!  The start seemed very relaxed even some conversations were going on up the initial road ascent.  I stuck with fellow Ohio SS’r Peyton Randolph and we creeped up toward the middle of the main group and then the first roller hit and we we’re stuck spinning and tucking and as the lead group revved their quads up they put us in our place at the back.

We entered the singletrack slightly behind the main group to a relatively open trail in now we know was 2nd and 3rd in SS.  We kept a good pace until Peyton endoed and flew off the trail like an 1980s metal tipped lawn dart.  I saw him bounce up and say he was ok and kept rolling onto the “river” trail and hooked up with another Ohio rider Michael Gottfried.  His huge legs parted all the water puddles for me and pulled me all the way to aid one where it seemed like we were a little behind the main group.  I was looking forward to having a partner for the massive gravel roads ahead however on the first descent I see Michael pull off the road and starts putting his chain back on his bike (geared bike problems) with all the road I figured his gears would catch up soon enough and I continued on.  Little did I know since this was the first time on this course that I would be climbing for the next 20 miles!!  It was fun until about mile 45.  I started to fall behind on nutrition and slowing up the pace of my grind luckily the drop bag station 3 came up and I reloaded and got my groove back.  From there on I was solo until merging into the big frog course and had carrots to chase.  I got to the last aid station and they informed me I was top fifteen.  Adrenaline kicked in on the singletrack and I enjoyed the ride till thunder chicken and since I did not see anyone pursuing and throttled down because I knew I was in a good spot and did not want a flat tire to ruin it!  At the gravel I was at 750 something and decided sub 8 would be good regardless what position I was in so I pushed it for a finish time of 7:57 and found out 2nd place which is a huge improvement on my 13th place the prior year!
Huge Thanks to Knobbysidedown for putting up with me and all our sponsors Schwalbe Tires, HandUp gloves, Infinit Nutrition, Dumonde Tech Lubricants, Portman Mechanical and Swiftwick socks”

Third place was Joseph Stroz (Stroz Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab) 8:08:09.

Master’s 50+

1st-Brad Cobb (Motor Mile Racing) 2nd-Roger Masse (Stokesville/Shenandoah Mountain Touring) 3rd-Russell Spaulding (TFM Racing) 4th- Tom Stritzinger 5th-Alan Miner (Rescue Racing-Banks Bikes Canada)

Winning the Master’s 50+ Cohutta was Brad Cobb (Motor Mile Racing) 7:20:21.

Following a second place finish at Cohutta in 2017, Roger Masse (Stokesville/Shenandoah Mountain Touring) finished second again in 2018 in 7:51:48.

The third spot went to Russell Spaulding (TFM Racing) 8:05:04.

“What a beautiful day! Not your typical “Cohutta” weather of past years. This race flew by for me, and I enjoyed it a bit too much! I spent a good amount of the race riding with two talented riders. Lauren Cantwell (1st women’s open), and Joseph Stroz (3rd single speed). Congratulations to Bradd Cobb (1st masters), and Roger Massee (2nd masters). Brad really laid down a blistering pace during this race. I really appreciate Justin and Amy Mace of Roost Racing for putting on a great race. I know that last year’s foretry service approval process was really frustrating for them, and well beyond their control.  I am so glad they didn’t give up and stuck with it! Also a special thanks to Josh at “Tried & True” for keeping my 2014 Superfly patched up this year. I’m pretty sure the bike has more miles on it than my old orange truck. Nex up, we”ll be heading to Ohio where it’s FLAT. Well….except for Loudonville!”

Photo credit: Gretta Spaulding

 

For full results click here

The next NUE race is Mohican MTB 100 on June 2, 2018 in Loudonville, Ohio. Hope to see you there!

Written by: Jen Toops

Big Frog 65: NUE Marathon Series #2

On April 28, 2018 Roost Racing, LLC held the Cohutta 100 (NUE Epic Series) , Big Frog 65 (NUE Marathon Series), and Old Copper 20 in Ducktown, TN. This was stop number two on the 2018 National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) race schedule.  These races were held at the Ocoee Whitewater center, a venue that hosted the kayak/canoe slalom competitions at the 1996 Olympic games.  Nestled within the Cherokee National Forest racers traversed through sections of Brush Creek, the Tanasi Trail Systems and miles of scenic fire roads.

The Big Frog 65 packed over 8000 feet of climbing in just 65 miles.  Rain the previous day had some racers worried, but the trails were in prime condition. It was a little chilly at the start but the sun peaked out and warmed up to mid 60’s for most of the race. Couldn’t have asked for better racing weather!

Women’s Open

1st-Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) 2nd-Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles) 3rd-Danielle Slaton

Toops gets her second consecutive NUE Big Frog 65 Win!

The  2017 NUE Marathon winner Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) wins the women’s open in 2018 with a time of 5:23:24.

“This was my second time racing the Big Frog 65.  The weather was perfect for the race in the Mid 60’s, much better than last years humidity. From racing the previous year, I knew starting position and powering up that first road climb could make or break the race.  Going into the singletrack I was second, making sure I had the leader in  sight. The group I was with quickly became a congo line as we all rode each others wheels having no where to pass.  In hindsight this probably gave my legs the warmup they needed. It also allowed  some time to get used to my new Pivot Les 27.5 as we just finalized the build two days prior.  As we entered the first gravel climb I was now leading and worked hard on the ups and downs to maintain that lead.  I worked with several other racers through out the day and had a 40 minute PR from last year!” Next NUE race will be Mohican!

Finishing second was Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles) 5:32:01.

“I have raced the Big frog 65 for past two years.  Both years I really enjoyed the race and thought the race officials did a great job.  This year the weather was perfect and condition of the trail was mostly good with an exception to trail by the river which was muddy and wet.  Tanasi trail system offers some great rooty single trek. And the graveI flows good with some steep climbs and pretty views. My goal was to get 5th or better and was not expecting to get 2nd at all. I beat my previous years time by more then an hour.

I think preriding, fitness and my new bike contributed to my improvement from the previous year. I had no significant mechanicals and only wrecked once with no injury.  I started the race fast but feel like I did slow down to a steady pace during the second half.  All the racers were friendly and made the race even more enjoyable.  Even though it was a grind, it was still just overall just a great raceday!”

Just a couple minutes back from second was Danielle Slaton 5:33:54.

“I stayed in the second group on the road climb and went into the singletrack as the 3rd female behind Jen and Mary. I was by myself which was unusual and wasn’t pushing too hard since I knew it was a long race. Lara and Hallie caught me and the 3 of us rode together though the end of the first singletrack and across the bridge. I stayed in 5th place for the Bear Paw climb and Riverview singletrack, conserving energy where I could and staying behind Hallie (we could still see Lara about 10 seconds up). Once we hit the forest roads, I managed to pass Hallie but could no longer see Lara. Eventually, I caught Mary and rode with her until she flatted on the big frog loop. That put me in 3rd with only Lara and Jen ahead. I kept riding hard since I didn’t know how long it’d take Mary to fix the flat. The result was better than I’d expected, after training for only 14 weeks with Jeremiah Bishop. I was hoping for at least a top 5 and exceeded my expectations! My best result in this race previously was 9th in 2016 and I cut 20 minutes off my time!

Sponsors: My education and full time job, haha :) And my husband who’s the best mechanic in the world! I’m a Vanderkitten VIP too.”

Next NUE Race: None, doing BC Bike Race in July!

Men’s Open

1st-Andrew Dillman (Think Green) 2nd-Elliott Baring (Pivot Cycles/Baring Performance) 3rd-Chris Tries (The Bike Shop) 4th-Thomas Turner (Jamis Factory Team) 5th-Chris Shannon (Think Green-Bicycle Face)

Andrew Dillman wins NUE Big Frog 65!

After a second place finish in 2017, Andrew Dillman (Think Green) wins the Men’s open in 4:16:56.

Thirteen minutes later, last years winner, Elliott Baring (Pivot Cycles/Baring Performance) took second in 4:30:41.

Chris Tries (The Bike Shop) finished third in 4:32:16.

“I race for The Bike Shop in Johnson City and Industry Nine. I ended up 3rd in the open men Big Frog after having a slow start. At the start I got popped of the front group and was 15th or so going into the first singletrack. As I sat in the back of the group watching the leaders roll away from me, with nothing I could do because the singletrack was too tight for passing; I accepted I was not making a podium today.  In that group I made my way to the front on the first climb and got away from eveyone on the first decent.  After that I was solo for while until John and Spencer caught me in the big frog loop. This gave me some rest and allowed me to attack the big climb coming back and start my bridge to the guy in 4th who I thought was a world away until other racers coming the opposite direction started saying ” you can catch him”. I started seeing the 4th place alone and up from him 2nd and 3rd midway from aide station 3 to aide 4 and thought “shit I am back in the game!”  but did not make contact until the finial  5 to 10 miles of singletack where I came through 4th and 3rd place.I plan on making it up to the Mohican 100k after MTB marathon nationals this week where I hope to defend my 35-39 title from last year.”

Singlespeed

Crawford takes the win in singlespeed

1st-Matt Crawford (UPMC/PRO Bike+Run)  2nd-Josh Kunz (Knobby Side Down) 3rd Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage Racing)

Matt Crawford (UPMC/PRO Bike+Run) wins Big Frog singlespeed in 4:56:40.

“My recent move to Asheville made this race an easy trip from my new home soil. I’ve raced the Cohutta 100 the past couple of years so the course was very familiar. I decided to start off fast this year vs pacing the single-track in the 100-mile version. Entering the woods in top 20 really allows for a fast and flowy ride. Once the single-track opened up to gravel roads the race was on. I put in a coupled digs up the beautiful TN gravel. To my surprise, 1st place was in sight after the first summit. We continued to ride together for the next 10 or so miles. I would create a gap during all the climbs but Josh quickly made up ground on the flats. My trusty 34×20 gearing was once again a good choice as the miles added up. However, the legs began to fatigue around mile 50 heading into the last 10 miles of punchy single-track. I put one last effort into the big climb up to Aid #1. The gap to 2nd place was about 30 seconds into the single track. I kept looking back for any sign of life behind me. I didn’t see anyone for the last 10 miles. Making the turn and entering the Whitewater center was a pleasant feeling.

 This was my first NUE win after a couple 2nd and 3rd  finishes last year. Heading to PMBAR and Pisgah 111k this month. Time to get gnarly! Big thanks for Pro Bike +Run for dialing in my SS each year.”

Just a few minutes back Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage) finished in 5:05:07

“This was my first ever single speed endurance race and it was tough!  My 32×19 gearing seemed a good balance for the day.
The day started out with some big efforts jockeying for position up the road climb. I managed to just get ahead of Eli Orth and into 3rd place just before the first single track. At the time I thought I was at least 2nd but I didn’t see Josh Kunz sneak past in the pack up the road climb. Apparently he was pulling on the front like a beast!
Most of the day I was racing by myself (around geared racers) until midway through the “lollipop” area of the course. Eli had closed in and was looking strong so I made sure to at least stay on his wheel, which wasn’t an easy task. Eventually I was able to get a gap on the gravel downhills and maintain it through the flat section and all the way until the finish line. It was a tough day and I’m pumped to end up on the podium!  Thanks to Paradise Garage for the support!
Looking forward to Mohican 100k SS!”

Masters 50+

Clayton gets the top step in Masters 50+

Jeff Clayton (left) wins Big Frog 65 in Master’s divison. Race director Justin Mace (Center). Roger Masse (right) placed 2nd in Cohutta Master’s

Coming in first, 2016 NUE Master’s champion, Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) in a time of 4:57:46.

“With a lot of rain forecast Thursday before the race I was expecting muddy trails and roads.  So, I was pleasantly surprised when taking a hike with my wife on a trail from Thunder Rock campground Friday that the trails and roads were in great shape.  A short pre-ride of some of the course later confirmed that.  I had an ok start to the race, sticking with the second group heading into the first trail. Unfortunately about 10 minutes in I clipped a pedal and crashed pretty hard.  Several racers went by, and more importantly my rhythm/confidence was shaken and knee bruised.  By the time I got through the only messy part of the course on the old copper road trail a few more racers had come around.  Things started to improve for me and by the time I exited the trails onto the gravel I was feeling better.  From there on, I started catching racers consistently.  Passing Jorge Cortez gave me a boost as he is a strong Masters racer.  I traded some strong pull on the flats/downhills with Jesus Galindez up to the 3rd aid station and from there summoned my reserves to catch a few more racers on the road up, up ,up to the return of the trails.  Feeling pretty strong as I entered the singletrack I relished the fact that I wasn’t in the 100 mile race this year and could really enjoy the trails!  I figured Matt Hammond was still ahead in the Masters category, and I wasn’t sure about anybody else including Scott Burrill, who won Masters in 2017, so I gave everything I had all the way to the finish line.  It turns out Matt had gone off course on the gravel, so was behind me and I’d already passed Scott so I was chasing a ghost!  I really enjoyed returning to the Big Frog race after three years of surviving the Cohutta.  The race was very well run and who could ask for a more beautiful day in a more beautiful setting!”

About twelve minutes back was Scott Burrill (Bikeman.com) coming in second at 5:10:20. Rounding out the top three was Matt Hammond in 5:14:01

“Was leading the race more than halfway through and took a wrong turn that cost me about 20 minutes. This occured on the lollipop portion between sag 2 and 3. It would have helped tremendously to have a marshall at this area. I was just following blue tape like we were told to do…. It was my first attempt at this race and it was well attended with may recognizable faces in the cycling community. All in all, I enjoyed the day 😊

For complete results click here

The next NUE race is Mohican MTB 100 on June 2, 2018 in Loudonville, Ohio. Hope to see you there!

Written by: Jen Toops

Mitas 4 Islands Stage Race – Croatia

4 Islands Mountain Bike Stage Race: Racing from the New World to the Old

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Just over a year ago Jen and I finished our last mountain bike stage race, Titan Tropic Cuba, two weeks ago we went from what felt like a developing civilization in Cuba to racing in the earliest expanse of western civilization; I can’t imagine a greater contrast from out last stage race to the Mitas 4 Islands mountain bike stage race in Croatia. From racing in the untouched interior of Cuba we transitioned to racing on trails built in the Roman era; the start of stage one traverses through castle ruins for shit’s sake. A castle built well before discovery of the Americas, when the earth was still thought to be flat. How’s that for a contrast.

Despite the differences in location there were several constants shared between this and other stage races we’ve done, the most important being: incredible trail riding.

Riders roll through the ruins of castle Baska – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

The 4 Islands organization know they have a special gem in their hands and they want to share it with all their mountain bike friends. From the opening climb through the castle Baska ruins on day one to the seaside trails and beach finish on the final day in Losinj, 4 Islands serves up an all-you-can-eat feast of dope singletrack, breathtaking views, rowdy descents, and steep steep steep climbing. This is an amazing race but you best be ready to throw down because 4 Islands will test you in everyway.

The 4 Islands stage race follows a course through historic Croatia hitting 4 of the over 1,000 islands in the Eastern European nation. Tucked just across the Adriatic sea from Italy, Croatia is a beautiful country with a rich mixture of old world charm, modern European comforts, and post-Soviet culture.

Riders are never far from coastline and port cities at 4 Islands – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

Each stage of 4 Islands begins on a new island starting with Krk then moving on to Rab, Cres, and finally Losinj. Participants have a choice of staying on a yacht, the race hotel package, or arranging their own lodging.

The race is a team event so each racer needs a teammate. Teammates have to stay within 2 minutes of each other throughout each stage. The race hosts roughly 300 teams during the 4-day race.

Jen Hanks and Shannon Boffeli ride in the Mixed category at 4 Islands stage race – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

4 Islands is a UCI event so it’s guaranteed some of Europe’s fastest riders will be in attendance. This year accomplished UCI riders like Fabian Geiger and Esther Suss were pushing the pace up front and although you won’t be starting with them, unless you have your UCI license, the men’s and women’s times will definitely be measured against these superstars.

There is no doubt 4 Islands will provide what you are looking for in a European adventure. Incredible scenery featuring everything from hidden inlets and secluded coves bathed in the pristine turquoise waters of the Adriatic, towering mountain scapes of jagged, jostled limestone, to medieval cobblestoned villages seeping with old world charm. 4 Islands will not disappoint.

Team Ghost navigates the rocky singletrack in Croatia – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

And if challenging yourself on the bike is your goal well you’re in for a real treat with this race. Without a doubt Croatia offers up some of the very best riding I’ve seen in all of Europe. And I don’t mean groomed flow trails. I’m talking about narrow, rough, rowdy singletrack that never lets up from the start of stage one to the final beach on Losinj.

Unlike some other European stage races, 4 Islands is a real mountain bikers race and you won’t do well if you can’t ride your bike. Croatia’s unique geology leads to a land covered in baby head, limestone rocks and when I say they are everywhere, they are literally everywhere. The porous limestone on the Croatian islands, called karst, allows water to seep through the rock rather than run off in streams and rivers. This slowly erodes and dissolves the top layer of sediment exposing an ocean of baby heads. Over centuries the Croatians have used these stones to build their paths, trails and endless stone walls that line everything, the only clear land visible is because some intrepid Croat cleaned away all the rubble using it to create an endless maze of rocky ramparts (thank you Les Brown, professor of geology and 4 Islands finisher.)

Riders cross the Moonsurface on stage 1 -Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

What I’m trying to say is riding in Croatia is a blast! The difficulty level of riding at 4 Islands was a real treat. Each day you are being challenged not just by distance, fatigue, and competitors but by the trail itself. Full suspension is a must and even a dropper post would be a welcomed addition for most riders who find themselves hurling their way down rock strewn descents with 5-foot stone walls on each side funneling the riders through 10 to 20 minute descents that feel like one never-ending rock garden.

Despite having 600 racers on course at the same time and an abundance of singletrack riding, the racers rarely encountered bottlenecks or slowing on course because of slow moving riders. The 4 Islands crew does an admirable job of dividing riders into 4 different starting waves and because racers start most days right from the ferry it means you often face a brutally steep climb right out of the gate that does a great job of stringing out the pack and allowing riders to attack the singletrack when they approach it. A real treat in any big stage race.

4 Islands climbs are steep steep steep – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

Outside of the racing activity the 4 Islands staff are nice as hell, as were all Croatians we encountered, they will bend over backwards to help you out even if what you actually need may get lost in translation a bit. The food provided on course and at the race hotels is fantastic and plentiful with a wide variety of meal options that made it easy even for a gluten-free and vegetarian racer to stay well fed throughout.

 

Our Experience

Mitas 4 Islands stage race is our fifth stage race competing as a mixed team, male and female partners. We arrived in the start village of Baska on the island of Krk two days before the race. Just enough time to get bikes built, pick up our registration, ride some of the opening stage, and take a quick tour of the Baska harbor.

Baska harbor

One of the more exciting aspects of racing in an international event is having no idea who you will be facing out on the trail or how high up in the race you’ll be. It’s all a mystery until the start.

Day one began with a big climb of about 1,200’ right out of the gate. The pack spread out quickly and we found ourselves surrounded by about five other mixed teams heading up the long first climb that empties out onto a rubble-strewn mountain top called the “Moonsurface”. The riding gets tough here as you weave your way through fields of baby heads. Jen surged ahead through the rough riding and moved us into second place for a bit before settling back in to fourth.

4 Islands offers up some of the best singletrack Europe has to offer. Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

We spent the rest of the day chasing a Belgian duo who would give up time on the techy parts but make up time on the roads using a cable that allowed the male rider to tow his partner in the open sections.

We crossed the finish pretty happily in fourth place not far behind the Belgians. We had spent about four hours weaving our way around Krk. All the talk at the finish line focused on the abundance of gnarly descending throughout the day as I think everyone was happily surprised by the quality of the trail riding.

 

Day Two

The morning immediately had a different feel. It was raining. An early transfer to the island of Rab offered no respite from the rain as it was coming down in sheets by the time the race started.

cold, wet, and muddy was the name of the game on day 2 – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

We were instantly drenched from a combination of the persistent rain and water pooling on the road and trails. Once again we opened up with steep climbs but the rain and cold deadened our legs a bit. Once again we were battling with the Belgian squad but without the tow cable this time.  As it turns out, towing is illegal and they were given a 30-minute time penalty after stage 1. They seemed to have a bit more juice than us and, I’m going to presume, perhaps a bit more experience with cold and rainy conditions coming from Belgium.

About an hour in, the second place team (MT Zoom) were on the side of the trail with a mechanical and despite not feeling our best we were excited to be in third again.

Rab was one the most scenic days of riding in 4 Islands as the trail skirted along endless miles of shoreline within inches of the sea offering riders views of the incredible hidden coves and inlets around the island. Enjoying the scenery was tough as water, mud, and more water poured over us all day long. The stage finished with a massive descent into the resort town of Lopar which our drenched bodies were unable to enjoy; as the descending just made us colder.

Riders begin the final rainy descent into Lopar on day 2 – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

After crossing the line most riders quickly retreated back to the port where dry clothes were waiting. Recovery was critical on this stage.

We were excited to finish third again but lost over 18 minutes to the Belgians. Things could always be worse though as we later found out that Ant White from the MT Zoom team had broken a crank arm and, incredibly, rode over half of the race with one leg! Mountain bike stage racers are a tough bunch.

Mixed team leaders Thomas Weschta and Rebecca Robisch power through the rain to win stage 2 – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

As difficult as the day was the aftermath was almost as bad. Cleaning bikes, cleaning bodies, cleaning clothes, getting warm, eating, cleaning bikes again, replacing brake pads and cables, drying shoes, and preparing for the next stage left very little time for recovery and rain was, again, in the forecast.

 

Day Three

Mercifully we woke to clear blue skies and much warmer temperatures the morning of stage 3. We prepared for another ferry transfer to Cres. The location of the day’s stage. As we boarded the ferry we were told the race mechanics had run out of brakepads overnight and anyone needing new pads would have to wait until we landed at the port to get them. The exhausted race mechanics had been working until 5 in the morning getting bikes ready for riders the next day but a shortage of brakepads meant either you would be going without or frantically work some of your own bike magic when we hit shore.

Riders enjoy the return of sunshine on stage 3 -Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

Luckily, I used the 2 pairs of pads we had with us on Jen’s bike the night before. That meant I only needed stoppers for my bike.

We hit the shore with about 50 minutes before the start. After navigating a long line of distressed racers I finally got my pads and had just enough time to change the front set of pads while we waited on the start line; only having front brakes is better than no brakes at all and there were plenty of people who would be going without.

We started off the ferry deck and immediately up a 1,200-foot leg-burner. After that we were dumped again into fabulous Croatian singletrack flowing through vineyards and fields of olive trees, lined with rock walls of course. The warm weather and sun helped to fuel us to a strong start sitting comfortably in third on the stage in front of the Belgians this time.

Race leaders bounce between another of the many stonewalled descents in 4 Islands – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

Midway through we hit a long stretch of two-track hugging the Cres coastline. A breathtaking track but wide and flat enough that it allowed our rivals to catch up just as we hit the base of the day’s steepest climb. About a mile long and well over a 20% grade for long sections the Belgians attacked early. We were able to close the gap back down and when it kicked up again we countered their attack and briefly got a gap of our own before they brought us back. They launched to final counter attack just as the climb crested and that was it. We were in damage control mode again.

We rode strong the rest of the day enjoying the dry trail, tacky dirt, and endless Croatian singletrack.

Race leaders charge through the cobbled alleys of Osor – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

We finally finished the stage charging down a long section of cobblestoned streets and narrow passageways through the medieval town of Osor.

Despite losing more time to our rivals we really enjoyed the day and felt good about our performance on the 4 Island’s queen stage on Cres. Finishing in Osor was icing on the cake. Cobblestoned streets, canals, a rusty old drawbridge, all in the shadows of centuries old steeples and facades made an amazing stage that much more memorable. With big smiles, we boarded the bus for our final transfer to our finishing hotel on Losinj.

 

Last Day

Another warm day and no transfers made for a more relaxing feel to this final morning of 4 Islands. We were a bit nervous though wanting to hold onto our second place in the GC and knowing we only had just over 5 minutes to work with. With a shorter stage on tap it seemed possible especially if we could get off to a quick start like we had the previous day.

The start of stage 4 in Mali Losinj – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

After a mile or two cruise to the day’s start venue in Mali Losinj we found ourselves right in the middle of a perfectly picturesque scene in the quaint port city. Imagine the most idyllic European seaside town square and that’s Mali Losinj. Cobblestone streets lined with cafes and coffeehouses, majestic sailboats resting in crystalline blue waters set the scene for the final day’s start.

The last stage was the shortest but featured two very steep climbs at the start and a long flat run into the finish line following the coastline.

The start was fast and our Belgian rivals managed to get in front of us as the climbing started. It was tough to enjoy another warm, clear day as we pushed hard to limit the time gap.

One big climb down, we reached the bottom of the final big ascent of the race. A beast of a mountain that starts hurting before you even start. It’s so steep you can see the final climb for a half kilometer before actually getting there. The climb itself is so steep they recently had to pour two parallel ribbons of concrete running from top to bottom to help the 4×4 trucks get up. Pick one ribbon at the bottom and stay on it if you hope to have any chance of riding your way to the top. You need every bit of your 50 tooth eagle rear cassette to get up this thing.

Most riders are forced to walk on the epically steep final climb of stage 4 -Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

As painful a climb as this was it lifted our spirits a bit as we could see the Belgian duo in front of us and they were off walking.

We crested the climb and attacked the usual mixture of rock-strewn singletrack, walled descents, and seaside walkways literally giving everything we had to get to the finish line.

We spent no time enjoying the incredibly scenic final kilometers, running just feet from the Adriatic, we were pushing with all we had for the finish line. When we finally crossed, it was a mixture of accomplishment and disappointment that waited for us as we were so happy to be on the podium but lost second place but just 21 seconds!

Riders celebrate the final day at Losinj – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

The disappointment quickly faded as we enjoyed another great post race meal and shared our stories with the new friends we made throughout the week.

4 Islands is an incredible race. It gives riders everything they could possibly want from a multi-day stage race; unrivaled scenery, tough competition, challenging course design with loads and loads of singletrack, friendly staff, and excellent food and sleeping accommodations. My two tricks for making your 4 Islands experience the best would be: pay the extra coin to stay on the boats during the race and take advantage of the race mechanics to service your bike each night (your legs will thank you for the extra time to recover).

Final podium of the mixed category with Jen Hanks and Shannon Boffeli in third – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

 

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