Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge

Anthony and Daigle Conquer Carrabassett

Written by: Ryan O’Dell

Located in the beautiful Carrabassett Valley of Northern Maine at Sugar Loaf Ski Area, The eighth annual (CBCC) Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge 100k joined the NUE Marathon Series in 2017 witnessing tremendous growth. According to race director, Warren Gerow, “the event has evolved a lot since 2011 when the 100k was a two lap course that was stitched together with mostly old single-track and double track. We’ve seen tremendous growth in the past few years; 2015 187 people registered online, this year, the race has grown to about 500 racers.” In addition to the NUE 100k distance, CBCC also includes shorter distances of 50k and 25k plus kids races.

During the past seven years, approximately $750,000 has been spent building mountain bike trails in the Carrabassett Region. The goal is to construct an iconic mountain bike trail network that is on everybody’s “must-ride” list. To date, there is approximately eighty miles of riding for all abilities. This includes miles of super flowy, machine-built singletrack and old-school style trails that have been carved out with hand tools and sweat. Profits from the race go towards construction and maintenance of new trails.

 

Women’s Open

Anthony Wins!

Crystal Anthony, Liv Cycling, won the Women’s race finishing in 5:44:59, her first NUE win of the season!

Following her second place finish at Cohutta and her first NUE win at the Mohican 100k this spring, Lara Richards, Little Fire Cycles, finishes second in 6:11:19. “This year has been a great year of racing for me. I have really enjoyed doing the NUE series. It seems that every race the weather has been wonderful and each location seems to be more beautiful than the last.

However, since having to DNF due to a mechanical at Damascus, I was definitely not going into the Carrabassett Challenge with much confidence.  And after the 20 hour drive from Georgia to Maine, I was contented with just enjoying my race, doing my best and finishing where I may.

Bacon with chocolate drizzle to power riders on course.

At the start of the race Kaitlyn and Crystal both took off fast and I thought I was sure not to see either of them again. I was not too far along when Bryna passed me strong on a climb of rocky switch backs putting me in 4th. I was able to keep her in my vision for the first 18 miles or so and was able to pass her, while charging down a steep downhill. But not for long, she passed me back soon after and this time I was not able to keep up.

At this point I found myself riding with the same group for several miles. I road chill and paced myself accordingly. I did not think I would make it onto the podium. But even still I was having a crazy fun time on the trails and the ever changing terrain. Even if I finished last, I would not have regretted this race at all.

The Carrabassett Maine trails offered a more challenging course than I expected and kept me engaged throughout. I enjoyed the twisty sections, moving in out of the rocks. I enjoyed getting to ride up the Widowmaker to and through the ski resort. There were longer and steeper climbs than I anticipated. The downhills were also a blast and so much of the single trek was fast, fun, and flowy.

I was picking up speed in a level area of single trek, just enjoying my ride, when I noticed a female rider ahead of me. I could not believe it!  I told the male rider just in front, “to the left”.  I was going to catch my competition. At that point, the race became a race to me again.  I was off and was able to catch and pass Kaitlyn before exiting that section of single track but I knew I had to keep pushing. I could tell she was a strong rider and knew if I slacked off at all she would be right on top of me. I think I was able to put a little distance between us after a long climb through a clearing.

After this came Birthday Hill which I bombed down fast as I could and it was here I unknowingly passed Bryna as well. She road in behind me from the aid station from on top of the hill. I only noticed her as we exited on to the gravel. She got in front of me at the u-turn and, from there, we road together for many miles passing each other now and then. I still, at this point, thought she would get away from me before the race was over and I would finish third but I was able to break from her after a short stretch of gravel and then the last climb of single track switchbacks. It was hard for me to keep a decent pace at this point, I was getting very tired and was waiting for her sneak behind me. I gained some speed on some fun downhill which was a nice break and helped push to finish the race and take the second spot.

I did not see Cathryn at all during the entire race and I am proud to finish second to someone so strong. I am also grateful to be able to race with such amazing female athletes as Bryna and Kaitlyn.

NEMBA and the volunteers did a terrific job setting up this race.  Many thanks to Little Fire Cycles and Adventure Cycles for making sure my bike and wheels are race worthy and Rhinohead for my awesome gloves. See everyone soon at the next NUE race!”

Four minutes later, last year’s race winner, Bryna Blanchard, BMB Racing, was third at 6:15:06. Blanchard is a top contender for the NUE Marathon Series title with second place finishes at both Mohican and Iron Mountain this year. “Another fantastic NUE race happened last Saturday, this time in the Carrabassett Valley wilderness of Maine. The weather and trail conditions were perfect, much different from last year’s mud and pouring rain on the start line. The level of competition had also taken a step up from last year.

Two very accomplished women from the west coast, Crystal Anthony and Kaitlyn Boyle, pushed the pace from the start. I love racing this course, the constantly changing terrain, long climbs and descents keep me engaged and distracts from the exhausting number of hours it takes to complete. I raced hard and felt good, passing Kaitlyn on the long exposed midpoint climb to move myself into second. Super strong Lara Richards and I rode together on and off, trading places back and forth for much of the race until she dropped me for good and rode away on the final long double track climb. The highlight of my race was riding with Lara, trying to capitalize on my strengths and minimize my weaknesses to stay ahead or in contact with her. Not sure if I went out too hard or didn’t fuel properly but the last five miles were absolute survival, suffering and going nowhere fast.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with finishing third in such a strong field of women. While my good friend and world class racer Crystal easily took the win, less than eight minutes separated 2nd through 4th place. At the end, I was spent, all my strength, mental focus, and strategizing was left out on the course. Every race is a learning experience and I have two weeks to makes some tweaks and prepare to the next one in PA. This was my most challenging day on the bike so far this year, and quite possibly the most fun!”

 

Men’s Open

2018 Marc-André Daigle wins, setting a new course record!

37-year-old Marc-André Daigle, Garneau/Pivot Cycles OTE Canada, was first overall, earning his first NUE win completing the 100k course in 4:54:15, setting a new course record, the first racer to finish sub five hours!

Custom syrup bottles for race finishers!

Four minutes back, Mathieu Belanger-Barrette, Pivot Cycles OTE Canada, gets second at 4:58:03. “I wasn’t expecting such a fast start especially knowing that we were about to shred singletrack for 5+ hours. The pace was sustained and even exaggerated for a while and we finally got settled around km 60. Marc-André and I were in front and we couldn’t see the chase group. I was starting to see double when Marco pulled a big attack. It was way too much to handle. As I tried to catch him back, I clipped my pedal on a hidden rock and crashed quite hard on my ribs.

I was able to keep my second place untouched even though I slowed down quite seriously after the crash. The course was insanely good, not too much climbing but a lot of technical section to distance the riders.”

Two minutes later, 2017 Race Winner, Andy Scott, Riverside Racing, took third at 5:00:08, sixteen minutes faster than last year.

 

Singlespeed

2018 Kramer wins the SS Race!

Shane Kramer, Placid Planet/Barkeater Trail, won the Single Speed race to finish 5:35:29. “After hearing several of my friends talk about how great the riding was in Carrabassett Valley, I knew I had to add this race to my calendar. I’ve always been a slow starter and showing up to the line late didn’t help me any this past weekend. I was probably in 100th place leaving the start and maybe 80th by the time we hit the tight singletrack. Patience was the name of the game while I waited for every opportunity to pass. As we got to the condos on Sugarloaf I heard someone counting off riders as we went by “…48, 49, 50…” making up ground but still a long way to go. I finally caught up to a group with Peter Bradshaw and Matt Sousa just after the 1st aid station on the climb up Buckshot.

I was racing on a borrowed frame from Solace Cycles that I just built up on Wednesday before the race. The frame fit and rode great but didn’t have any water bottle mounts. I don’t like riding with a hydration pack so I only had one water bottle in a fanny pack. This meant I had to stop and fill bottles at every aid station. Not the best race tactic.

I yo-yoed for quite a while with Peter and Matt. Matt told me that Doug Thorp was still up ahead somewhere. I don’t know Doug but heard he was a strong racer and figured he had 1st place already wrapped up. So, after finally getting a gap from Matt and Peter, I was pretty surprised to come up behind Doug a couple of miles before the 3rd aid station. I made a pass but he passed me back as I stopped to fill my only water bottle. I caught and passed him again on the fast gravel out and back section. I think mainly because I was pushing a bigger gear, 34×19. This section also allowed me to see that Peter and Matt were still right there. So, although, my legs were showing signs of cramping I tried to keep the pace up and decided to skip the water refill at the last aid station and push through to the finish. I’m so stoked to come away with a win at such a great event.

Four minutes later, Peter Bradshaw, Mad Alchemy/Zanconato, took second at 5:39:28. “Start was quick into singletrack and super fun. Lots of people but it moved well. Weather was cool and just got a few sprinkles right as we got going. Doug seemed to have a great start and was well ahead. I was riding just behind Sousa for the open miles through all the fun stuff. Once the race opened up to the gravel climbs we were joined by Shane and a bunch of people from other categories. We kept a pretty large group until maybe halfway up the large climb in the middle of the race and Shane rode away.  Sousa and I rallied pretty well to the top but split. I connected with another rider and he pulled me along for a long way along a great river trail. I saw Doug and Shane riding together at the turn around, then later caught Doug and tried to chase down Shane but he was flying. Fun day, singletrack we rode looked great, monster climbs, sketchy skimobile descents, and a river crossing! Gearing was 30×18 and I was pretty happy with that.”

Three minutes later, Doug Thorp, Colonial Bicycle Company, finished third at 5:42:21. “To fully understand why I ended up on the podium you need to understand two things; I’m addicted to cycling and I’m broke. This was my second NUE single speed race, and truly my third SS marathon mountain bike race ever. My journey began in Pisgah in April where I was JRA and ended up bashing my carbon wheel and squishy bike just days before Big Frog for which my girlfriend was registered and I was still only toying with the idea. With my squishy bike in the emergency ward, I only had one option. I had to race my cobbled together SS which was an old On-One 456 26” setup like a dirt jumper. So with the option to race Open off the table I was more inclined to race but still unsure if I was up to the task of slogging for 65 miles in Tennessee. I did some reconnaissance the day before with a few friends who had flown in for the race and felt it was within my ability to finish. The race started slow and ended well with me getting stronger throughout and moving from 13th to 7th in the last 10 miles. I ended up losing a sprint for 6th, but was elated that my first marathon SS race went so well. The only question I had was could I do better? I was hooked.

Brimming with confidence I registered for my local race the Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge knowing full well that this race was full of both Backcountry and challenges. My race morning got a little thrown off since I had forgotten my 2toms chamois sheets; I was desperately searching for anything that would keep me from destroying my undercarriage. I found my Shimano bleed kit in my trunk and slathered on some green mineral oil and was hoping for the best. I rolled up to the starting line late and found a friend that let me squeeze in. He told me he just applied his own sheet, and was worried his hands were now too slippery to hold his bars. “5 minutes to start.” ~Announcer. I sprinted over to his car and went full sloppy seconds on his 2toms sheet, rolled back to the start line at peace and waited for the gun. Right there my race was saved.

“Bang” we were off! The first couple turns are important at every race but hitting that single track before the rest can save you minutes in the overall. I fell back to somewhere in the high 30s or low 40s before making it to the first real climb. After the first 10 miles I was only 6 minutes back on the open leaders. I was feeling great and kept just spinning up the climbs and letting her buck on the descents. I was sitting in the 20s overall and was really feeling the flow.

Across the 30k mark at the aid station I was told I was in the lead just before heading out on the 5 mile climb. I felt strong and was forcing myself to keep up on my nutrition. Greg Jancitis who was recovering from an early mechanical went by me on a power section like a freight train. I was baffled by his speed; he was kind enough to let me know I had a solid lead over the next single speeder. Little did he know I was four miles away from the “Lake Placid Kid” (aka Shane) from blowing my doors off.

The course had some great water crossings and the last one had an un-rideable log at the top of the bank which was about 4 feet wide. Looking back and watching four riders hurdle the log and seeing the absence of a rear derailleur on one was disheartening. It was now a race or so I thought at the time. Shane and I rode together for the next few miles until I went past him at the aid station. Shane quickly filled a bottle and gave chase. The best and worst part of this course is around mile 44. It’s an out and back power section on a dirt road, where you can see 5 minutes ahead and 5 minutes behind you. As I found out the hard way my cadence of 120 couldn’t match the gearing and legs of Shane. I then was doing damage control wondering if all these other hammerheads that saw me spinning my wee little legs could see how much I was hurting. Turns out one other did and also had the legs and will to do something about it. Bradshaw caught me after mile 50, somewhere in the willywacks on some OG single track. For the most part I kept up to him, until I didn’t.

I had one last trick up my sleeve, a trail called Crommet’s which is a half an hour climb at mile 60 (Yeah, 60! If you’re quick at math you’ll realize this was not as billed; a 100k.) I kept going the best I could with will and legs starting to fade I finally hit the last aid station just before the climb and started pushing my way by the masters racers up Crommet’s. At the top I was truly hurting with my stomach turning sour, my Garmin reading 65 and my legs all but spent. Heading down Oak Knoll, a heavily armored trail which I did my best to vibrate my way down, I didn’t manage to catch Bradshaw and believe he stayed strong. The last piece of this course has you cross the mighty Carrabassett River via a small footbridge. However this year’s big spring storms took it out and we were forced to ford the Carrabassett on foot. Running with my bike in knee deep cold river water was the highlight of the day. I finished better than I could have hoped and raced my hardest with limited mental mistakes.

If you’re not from around here and want to disprove the local colonialism “You can’t get there from here.” Mark your calendars for the hardest NUE in the Northeast.

 

Masters 50+

Golet gets his first NUE Win of the 2018 Season!  

NUE Epic Series Champion, Greg Golet, Team Chico, earned his first win of the season now competing in the NUE Marathon Series.  Golet completed the 100k course in 5:34:26. “This trip was a homecoming of sorts for me having spent many of my vacations as a kid alpine skiing at Sugarloaf and hiking in the Bigelows. And with my mom still living on nearby Eustis ridge, the race was the perfect excuse for a visit. The plan also made sense for my brother and best childhood friend who came from Alaska and Colorado.

I’m terrible at pack starts and group riding in general, and had a pretty bad start jamming a stick in my derailleur trying to pass in a brushy area, and otherwise wasting energy being spastic when I should have just been patient and waited for the course to open up. On the first sustained climb I got past my friend/rival Jeff who I’ve battled with the last couple years in the Epic series.

After traversing the resort we hit a section of steep narrow trail where a wrong line choice sent me flying over the bars. My bike cartwheeled, but somehow I landed on my feet. With no apparent bike issues or injuries I was able to ride on.

All day I was blown away by the varied terrain and trail conditions. Coming from dry California, it felt so good to ride in the moist forests.

On the out and back I saw Jeff was riding fast with a group just a few minutes back, and so kept pushing, skipping aid stops even though I was low on water and out of food, but then wondering if the little bits of time I saved would be lost from slowing down if my intermittent leg cramps worsened, which didn’t seem unlikely given how dehydrated I was.

But on the last long climb I felt good, and the oak knoll descent was pure joy. However, at the bottom I relaxed too soon and went off course. Luckily a guy not far behind me figured it out quickly and soon we were back on track.

Before the race started, the guy who set up the course welcomed us there “as family”. That resonated with me, and I felt lucky to have so many friends and family there to share the experience with. Maine rocks, and it’s awesome to see such a vibrant and quality mountain bike  scene developing in Carrabassett Valley.

Next up Pierre’s Hole!

Three minutes later, 2016 NUE Epic Series Masters Champion, Jeff Clayton, Georgia Neurosurgical Institute, now competing for the NUE Marathon Series title, finished second at 5:37:21. “My wife Jodi and I arrived at Carrabassett Valley on Thursday afternoon after several days of spirited hiking in Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia and Acadia NP. I was looking forward to riding some rugged trails, but unsure how my tired legs would do. My potent rival, Scott Burrill, graciously offered to share his slope side condo minutes from the race start….it is not at all unusual in mountain bike racing for the fiercest competitors to become great friends.

On Friday morning race director, Warren Gerow, gave Scott and me a riding tour of some of the course, which was very helpful because it covered some of the more technical single track and sketchy “rake and ride” sections. Race start was pretty typical sprint for the trail, with the usual silly risk taking for very little gain. Not wanting an early crash or quick burn out, I was content to settle in behind the large front pack.

About 15 minutes in, Greg Golet came cruising by and I got on his wheel. I managed to stay on his wheel for about 15 minutes while he passed several riders. Just after we passed Scott, Greg kicked the pace up, I fell off and Scott passed me back. For the next couple of hours I plugged away, my technical riding getting more comfortable and pushing a big gear on every road climb.

I finally caught Scott on the Esker trail but he was having none of that and gunned it dropping all but a few of a train on riders I’d brought up. Barely hanging on through the poplar stream trail, I knew I needed to drop him (and have any chance of catching Greg) on the road and/or Crommets trail after aid 4. I was never sure I had dropped him because I was passing many of the 50k racers and it was hard to see who was behind.

The lady who let me know five miles to go put a smile on my face, and I made sure to have fun but be cautious on the switchback descent to the narrow gauge trail. From there it was a nice cool river crossing and hammer up the final single track, never giving up hope of catching Greg. I really enjoyed the race and appreciate the effort and hospitality of the CRNEMBA crew and my new Mainiac friends.”

Seven minutes later, NUE Marathon Series defending champion, Scott Burrill, Bikeman.com, finished third in 5:44:25. “This was my fifth or sixth time riding the Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge and by far the best. The race organizers really nailed it this year and we were graced with perfect racing weather and trail conditions!

Coming into the race after two weeks of nursing a summer cold, my strategy was to go in slow and steady and to keep an eye on Jeff Clayton. The first 20 miles or so went well. I got ahead of Jeff after the first gnarly downhill from West Mountain. I knew, though, that he’s a steam roller and gets faster as the race goes along.

Through aid 2 I saw no sign of him and kept on trucking up the notorious 4 mile dirt road climb.  When I made the turn onto the Esker trail I was feeling good and maintained a fast steady pace toward aid 3 at “Birthday Hill”.  Looking over my shoulder on a long power line stretch, I saw no one behind and felt fairly secure; surely I had a big lead on him by now? Nevertheless, a couple miles later, a group caught me including Jeff; so much for the gap. We left aid 3 together and headed out.

The group worked together on the out and back and then into the “Sticky Trail”, a technical stretch of ST I know well. I led the group and we whittled it down to three quickly. Unfortunately, I blew a lot of energy in there and felt it climbing to the Poplar Hut. I followed Jeff and another racer into aid 4 feeling pretty blown and knowing I had the very long climb up “Crommets” to the Stratton Hut area. Sure enough, I had no gas going up and watched as the two rode away from me, so, another lesson in the never ending course of XXCM racing.

The race was blast with fantastic competition, amazing turnout, stellar management and killer conditions! The aid station crews were, as always, simply awesome. Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen!”

 

WHATS NEXT: NUE Epic Series heads to Bend, Oregon on July 21 for the High Cascades 100, a race around the volcano of Mount Bachelor. One week later, NUE Marathon and Epic Series racers will head for the challenging hills and rocks of State College, PA for the Wilderness 101.

NUE Tatanka Epic

Written by: Jen Toops

Tatanka Epic stop #5 on the 2018 NUE Race Series

On July 7, 2018, NUE racers headed to Sturgis, SD for the NUE Epic and Marathon races.  Previously a point-to-point race, the new 2018 course consisted of a loop format that started and finished in downtown Sturgis.

The start, finish and neutral aid station.  Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

The new course was made up of loops A, B, and C. Epic riders started at 7AM and completed all three loops, 90 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing. Marathon racers completed B and C loops, 40 miles and around 5,000 ft of climbing. There was also a Sprint loop that only completed the C loop.  The neutral aid station on Main Street also served as the start and finish for all races.  The volunteers helped make sure racers were safe and directed traffic at all intersections.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Sturgis is located in western South Dakota and is home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally.  This area is also quickly becoming popular with mountain bikers. Racers rode on parts of the Centennial trail, which is located in the Black Hills mountain range.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Trails winded through both prairies, cow pastures, and rocky forest single-track. Race day  conditions had temperatures pushing 100 degrees, exposed sunny climbs, fast flowing downhills, sand pits, steep switchbacks, and stunning mountainous views. Racers were also challenged with dodging the occasional fresh cow patty. There was a 50% DNF rate in the Epic race.

Men’s Open

David Krimstock WINS Epic men’s open

Men’s open podium: 1st David Krimstock, 2nd Josh Tostado, 3rd Dylan Johnson

After a long scorching hot day, David Krimstock takes the win in the men’s epic open with a time of 7:19:16.

“I was anxious and excited to race against Dylan and Josh at Tatanka. The two things on my mind going into the race were the high temps forecast and the foreign terrain. I usually get a solid preview of the course, but this time only managed to ride the final loop. I had confidence that my nutrition, namely First Endurance EFS Pro and my Pivot 429 SL would be advantages for me during the race.

Settling in as a group of two with Mark Kransz behind Dylan and Josh, we kept them in sight until we decided to work together to bring them back. Once we caught them, we rode as a group of 4 until Dylan and Josh missed a sharp left turn onto the Centennial trail. I yelled down to them, and when I saw Dylan register this, we waited for him to climb back up the road. He was unable to get Josh’s attention, so we decided to carry on.

On the single track, I felt really good following Dylan on the trail that he had ridden in the past versions of the race. After about 20 minutes, I decided I felt good enough to pick up the pace and took over the lead. Creating a gap, I felt good about my legs on the day, and my reading of the trail. As the day went on, the heat became overbearing and I was taking a refill of my 1.5 liter Camelbak vest and concentrated bottle of EFS pro, along with drinking a bottle or two of water at each aid. Climbing the pavement road at the start of lap 2, it must have been over 100 degrees. I started to unravel a bit, but carried on to the aid station at the top of a long descent. Refueling there, I started to feel the light at the end of the tunnel and the relief that always gives me in an NUE race. I focused on riding smooth, but as fast as possible- thinking mostly about the cold, air conditioned hotel room that awaited me after finishing. The final loop was an out of body experience of sorts- taking 20 minutes less than my pre ride the day before, but with the climbs seemingly dragging on forever. Crossing the finish line in first was a great feeling, but I still had a lot of concern for all the folks grinding out in the heat. It was certainly an epic day out there!

Josh Tostado. Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

Even after a wrong turn, Josh Tostado comes in second in the men’s epic open with a time of 7:41:56. After almost taking a DNF due to heat exhaustion, 2017 NUE epic champion, Dylan Johnson takes the third position with a time of 7:50:17.

Dylan Johnson. Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

Women’s Open

Conners takes second NUE win

Women’s Open podium: 1st Larissa Conners, 2nd Carey Lowery, 3rd Sonia Pond

Coming off a win at the Firecracker 50 just a couple days prior, Larissa Connors gets her second NUE win of the season coming in at 8:50:30. With this win it puts her in the lead for the series.

“That was one of the hardest days I’ve ever faced on the bike, just finishing felt like a huge victory. My body was still wrecked from racing the Firecracker 50 in Breck 2 days earlier, and the heat/humidity was a nice curve ball I did not expect even a little bit.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

For the first time in my ultra endurance career I let the men ride away right from the start and focused all my energy on pacing myself. Despite my best efforts to ride conservative, drink an absurd amount of GQ6 and water, and slam Clif gels every half hour I fell apart before the first lap was over and had serious doubts that I would even finish right around that strange and beautiful ravine filled with cows making birthing sounds.

On the B loop, after that damned road climb brought me to my knees, literally in that spring on the side of the road, there was a point where, convinced I had missed a turn, I stopped to play a solo game of Marco-Polo in hopes that someone would hear me and help me find the correct route. But like most of the race, my solitude rang loud and lonely in the black hills, forcing me to dig out my phone and pull up the map. Yep, all that lost elevation was correct, and just as I dreaded, I would have to climb out of this hole. Fortunately the descents on the second half of each lap were rippin’ fun, and the volunteers at the aid station on Veteran’s hill with the ice towels were like angels on both laps, taking care of my nutrition needs and helping me get my core temp back down to normal-ish.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

A front flat on the final descent of the B loop had me secretly stoked that I would get to drop out (from lack of carrying a tube, like an idiot), but with a shot of C02 the Orange Seal had me rolling again and I had no excuses to NOT start the C loop. It took literally every ounce of brainpower to get me through that last 13 miles, and I stopped more than once just to stand there in the shade of a glorious fir tree contemplating the meaning of life, if I was actually still living, and how I was going to get to the end of the race. Days later I’m still shocked I finished that race at all, but also kinda proud that despite the insane amount of pain in every corner of my body, the Felt Doctrine and I somehow stuck it out and made it to the finish, in first place of all things!”

With a time of 10:12:56, Carey Lowery rides away with second place in women’s epic.

“When I lined up at the start and the temperature was already 82 degrees, I knew I was going to be in for a beat down on the bike. After the neutral roll out, I let many a racer by on the first big climb of the day. “Slow is fast” is my mantra. Over the next 5 hours, I worked my way around the A loop. The Centennial Trail had just enough tech to keep me happy and with the beautiful vistas, I had a permagrin. After fishing out a rock that had wedged itself between my frame and chainring, I began the long arduous climb up to the BullDog aid station. At this point, I was holding second place and not knowing where third was, I did not stop to picnic. With a quick refill of my CamelBak, I was off for the blistering descent back into town. As I dropped in elevation, I felt the temperature rise; by the time I hit the hotter than Hades Gasline Trail climb, it was a real scorcher. I loved the rewarding descents of Peacekeeper and Main back into town. I stopped at my little mini oasis to wrap an ice filled pantyhose around my neck and down my jersey. I had sucked my CamelBak dry once again.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

The second lap, albeit shorter, was brutal. The exposed climb up Volnacker Canyon had me seeing stars. Had it not been for the melting ice in my pantyhose, I may have blown a gasket. Then onto more heinous climbing up Unnamed #1 and Unnamed #2 trails, which I quickly named Little Focker and Mother Focker. The Horse Trail was fresh 1/2 track and had it not been for the previous 60 miles, might have been a hoot to ride. Today was more like a death march: tight, off-camber, rocky, and pitchy, It took every ounce of my being to keep pushing forward. The climb up to BullDog the second time had me crying for my Mommy. I made it though, and repeated the process when I came through 3 1/2 hours ago. Heading down the steep rocky descent, I flatted. For once, I had a NASCAR-like fix and was back on the bike in 2 minutes. I went into autopilot for the remainder of this lap.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Repeating my mini oasis stop, I was hoping that the race would be called after the second loop and I would not have to go out for the third loop. That was not the case. Having been in these low moments before, I knew it would soon pass. As I headed out for my final loop, I knew that I could not chase down Larissa; she is a beast! Not knowing where third was kept me pushing the pedals as hard as I could. As I was climbing up the Centennial Trail to the ridge, my driveside pedal was all wonky. Upon closer inspection, the aluminum insert into the carbon crankarm had come loose. Worried that I might completely lose the pedal, I babied it for the remainder of the 13 mile loop. Fortunately it held up under the stress and I was able to finish on the bike as opposed to running it in or go 1-legged.

With no expectations to finish on the podium, I was stoked with second! That was brutally fun!  Sponsors: Rescue Racing, Scott’s Bike Shop, Chamois Butt’r, Christopher Bean Coffee, Industry 9.

After winning the Tatanka Epic in 2017,  Sonia Pond comes in third place with a time of 11:12:27.

“This was my 3rd Tatanka Epic, though with the course change and heat I knew 2018 would be about finishing, ranking as my longest bike race of any discipline in addition to the massive course elevation.  The heat was already starting to build as I rolled up to the start.  The first climbs I forced myself to take it easy, allowing much of the field to pass and drop me, including many women.  I was thrilled when Chris and I settled into a rhythm together, making a few new friends during the gravel sections.  The temps were already sweltering and my mind was already wandering towards “will I be able to ride in this for 90 miles?”  A good moment to practice positive self-talk as I continued on.
Chris and I eventually parted ways around mile 35.  I saw a few MN friends again as I reached the Bulldog aide station!  The volunteers gave us encouraging words, cool drinks, and a chilled cloth for my neck.  I had been looking forward to ripping down Bulldog, and set off in pretty good spirits.  The next few hours were pretty uneventful, as I just kept moving, eating, and drinking.

Coming into town after the A-loop, I had a really hard time emotionally.  I was hot and my body was already hurting.  Perry Jewett and other friends gave me encouraging words as I cooled off, and I knew I had more in me despite wanting to stop.  Christina Spencer (a friend from MN who absolutely crushes all things bike, including a SS on this course!!) was setting off for the B-loop at the same time, so we were able to roll together.  I had no idea what was ahead.  As a part-time roadie in the summer, I thought “road section, oh yea, I can do that.”  The climb started just out of town, and did not let up for several miles.  My garmin blinked 107 degrees.  I tried to keep my heart rate in zone 3 as Christina moved ahead.  Several other cyclists had turned back and were flying back towards town, and I so wanted to join them.  My body and head felt like it had a fireball attached to it.  We finally made it to singletrack, but the sun, heat, and climbing continued.  Still no cramping so I just focused on breathing and positive self-talk.  If I could just make it to the Bulldog aide station…and I did!  The volunteers here were so, so uplifting (again!). I took the time to sit down and cool off in the shade.  This was the point when I knew I could finish.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

I set off for Bulldog #2, and clouds moved over to block the sun.  I leap-frogged with a few other racers once we crossed the highway.  A few cool raindrops fell and improved my spirits.  Rolling into town, all the volunteers clapped and smiled, and a huge party cheered as I came in!  They checked over my bike, filled up my water and food.  13 miles…I could do this.  I was set off with more cheers and an update that I had somehow moved up to 3rd place. I had serious doubts this was fact, but figured I better get moving just in case.  I saw a few more racers in here as the miles ticked by.  I resorted to pushing my bike up several climbs, but then the final 5 miles were surprisingly enjoyable.  My mind and body felt good, and I so looked forward to sharing a beer with Chris and friends!  Rolling across the finish was a thrill, perhaps my greatest cycling achievement yet.  All in all this event was top-notch.  The volunteers make Tatanka what it is, and even after all the suffering and tears, we will probably be back for more.  Next year looking forward to putting Lumberjack and Mohican on the calendar.”

Singlespeed

Shaklee repeats at Tatanka

Men’s Singlespeed: 1st Ben Shaklee, 2nd Trevor Rockwell, 3rd Kip Biese

Ben Shaklee wins the Tatanka single-speed epic for the second year in a row, coming in at 8:08:54.

“I lined up with only 2 other Single-Speeders in the Epic race; Kip Biese and Trevor Rockwell. I recognized Kip’s name from many past NUE top results, and knew this was Trevor’s home turf with a win in 2016. With the limited SS field I was also looking for good placement in the overall. Trevor and I were each on 34×20 gearing, while Kip was running 34×19.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

After the neutral roll out I settled into 5th place through the doubletrack climbing and was later passed by 2 geared riders on the flat & downhill gravel roads. At Aid 1 I was in 8th, with a quick stop to fill bottles. I blew the L hand turn into the singletrack, adding a couple minutes off course, at which point Trevor and a few other riders jumped ahead. I passed them back in the singletrack and creek crossings before making the climb to Aid 2. I passed a number of riders in the climb to Aid 2, but they were mostly Marathon racers. Trevor caught me at Aid 2 and we left together, but I dropped him in the long singletrack descent and never saw him (or Kip) again. I rode very conservatively the rest of the race to avoid overheating, not getting passed, and not really knowing who was ahead of me. I finished in just under 8:09, good for 1st SS and 5th O/A.

Next NUE race for me is High Cascades 100. Sponsors: Jack’s Bicycle (Bellingham, WA) p/b Pivot Cycles & Stan’s NoTubes.”

With a Tatanka singlespeed win in 2016, Trevor Rockwell takes second place, coming in at 8:51:53.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

“Overall the race was a scorcher. Temps hovered around 103.  First 20 Miles felt great climbing out of Sturgis on open roads with a breeze to keep you cool. Dropping into the Centennial Trail the heat really picked up and so did the climbing.  The first aid station saw about 10 of us trying to cool down in anyway possible. After the aid at the top of Veteren’s Peak it was a blast rocking the down the Three Sisters and Bulldog descents. The open section on the BLM land was very fast but also one of the hottest spots on course as we were exposed to the sun the entire day. I was able to ride with Ben Shaklee the eventual winner of the single speed class for most of the first lap. He open some space coming into town and I never saw him again.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

I suffered up the road climb with the eventual Women’s Champion, weaving all over the roadway from shoulder to shoulder just trying to get up and out of the heat!!  At this point in the race, I wrestled with the same demons that pretty much all of us did in trying to figure out weather to pull the plug of keep going. going through was seemed like the longest 13 or so miles I have ever ridden, I was able to fill my jersey with ice, bottles to and head back into town. By the time I hit town the second time, my legs had returned and off on lap 3 I went.  I was hoping to just finish at this point but coming up to the last climb, I saw Kip B. who had passed me earlier during the long Aid stop in the middle of lap 2.  I thought I might have a chance to catch him for 2nd so I rode as hard as I could up the last climb and once we hit the pavement I could see that Kip was right there. Immediately when I put a push to catch up he stood up and a boom cramps hit and it was game over for him less than a mile away from the finish. I was lucky enough to walk away with 2nd SS and 11th Overall. This course is never easy and always something to make it one of the hardest races on the NUE circuit.  Running the 34×20 gear ration was exactly right and only wished to have a little harder gear on the open fire road and gravel road sections.  Will always be back to the Black Hills for the awesome races put on out there, no matter what the forecast is, even the heat that is far to common.”

Kip Biese, gets the third podium position, missing second place by less than a minute, 8:52:48.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Master’s 

Smith dominates the Master’s class

Master’s podium: 1st Carey Smith, 2nd Russell Spaulding, 3rd Tom Stritzinger

Cary Smith dominates the master’s class, winning with a time of 7:57:32, and taking the fourth overall position.

About an hour and a half back, Russell Spaulding takes second place, with a time of 9:27:12.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Rounding out the master’s podium, Tom Stritzinger, came in third with a time of 9:58:54.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Final results click here

What’s next on the NUE series? Click here to register for the Epic series High Cascades 100 in Bend, OR.

NUE Tatanka Marathon

Written by: Jen Toops

Tatanka Marathon stop #5 on the 2018 NUE Race Series

On July 7, 2018, NUE racers headed to Sturgis, SD for the NUE Epic and Marathon races.  Previously a point-to-point race, the new 2018 course consisted of a loop format that started and finished in downtown Sturgis.

The start, finish and neutral aid station.  Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

The new course was made up of loops A, B, and C. Epic riders started at 7AM and completed all three loops, 90 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing. Marathon racers completed B and C loops, 40 miles and around 5,000 ft of climbing. There was also a Sprint loop that only completed the C loop.  The neutral aid station on Main Street also served as the start and finish for all races.  The volunteers helped make sure racers were safe and directed traffic at all intersections.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Sturgis is located in western South Dakota and is home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally.  This area is also quickly becoming popular with mountain bikers. Racers rode on parts of the Centennial trail, which is located in the Black Hills mountain range.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Trails winded through both prairies, cow pastures, and rocky forest single-track. Race day  conditions had temperatures pushing 100 degrees, exposed sunny climbs, fast flowy downhills, sand pits, steep switchbacks, and stunning mountainous views. Racers were also challenged with dodging the occasional fresh cow patty. There was a 50% DNF rate in the Epic race.

Men’s Open

Easton win’s men’s open

Men’s open podium: 1st Ian Easton, 2nd Ryan Aakre, 3rd Jasper Klein

Winning by only a couple minutes, Ian Easton takes the men’s open win in 3:45:34.

The crew in Sturgis really knows what they are doing. They pretty much have everything dialed from the new course to the volunteers. Who spent all day in the scorching heat stopping traffic at every intersection and getting riders whatever they needed.  Thanks to everyone who had a hand in putting on this killer event.

Sponsors: Burleigh County Bicycle Cult, Dakota Cyclery and Larsons Cyclery”

Ian Easton. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

In a close race, Ryan Aakre, hung on for second place with a time of 3:47:22. Another four minutes back, Jasper Klein came in third coming in at 3:51:22.

Jasper Klein. photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Women’s Open

Walter’s takes her first NUE win

Women’s open podium: 1st Erin Walter,  2nd Jen Toops, 3rd Michelle Stampe

Local rider, Erin Walter, won the women’s open race coming in at 4:04:14.

“First, I want to thank Cranky’s Bike Shop, located in downtown Rapid City. They always hook me up and make sure my bike is dialed and ready to go, even when I procrastinate and bring it in a half hour before they close the night before a race!

I love riding and racing in the Black Hills. We have a fun and supportive bike community, which was much needed this last weekend during the Tatanka race. With temperatures nearly 100 degrees, the conditions were brutal, but I fed off the energy of all our volunteers at aid stations and spectators along the course. THANK YOU, volunteers and race directors for the high-fives, cheering, and buckets of ice to keep us going!

Erin Walter. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

The first loop of the Marathon (loop B) follows some of my favorite sections of the Centennial Trail. I was smiling from ear to ear flying down Bulldog! Thanks to the Wednesday Night Series in Sturgis, put on by Xtreme Dakota Bicycles, I didn’t have any surprises for trail conditions or steep climbs on our second lap (Loop C). This lap was straight survival-mode for me, my goal was to keep my heart rate down and just keep pedaling! After finishing the last climb, I was just so stoked to stay on my bike and to finish the race!

Great job Epic riders! You’re all animals! Maybe I’ll join you someday…”

The 2017 NUE marathon champion, Jen Toops, came in just four minutes back at 4:08:06.

“This is my second year racing Tatanka but the race course was completely new this year. The temps were scorching again and I knew it was going to be a hot day. The marathon race started at 8 and it was already hot! A motorcycle escort took us out of town and then we were let loose on the canyon climb.
Erin and I stayed together for most of the 17 min climb out of town. Having pre-rode a bit, I knew there was more single-track climbing ahead and I slowed the pace so I didn’t burn all my matches on the first climb. On the first downhill the trail was extremely dry and loose. Before I knew it, my front end washed out on a downhill switchback and I lost sight of Erin.
Relieved when I came up on the first aid station, I filled some water and got some ice around my neck. I knew I shouldn’t be stopping at all but I needed to get my temp down. It was scorching and I didn’t dare run out of water here.

Jen Toops. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

I spent the next few hours trying to ride smooth on my Pivot Les and make up some time. Around 2.5 hrs in I started feeling great, hot, but my legs felt good. At the end of B loop I grabbed my pack from the cooler filled with ice cold CarboRocket and a few Honey Stinger gels and set out for C loop.
The beginning of C loop was exposed prairie. I focused on reeling in the next rider I could see across the prairie grass in hopes of catching the Erin. I pushed the pace on the climbs and had fun dodging cow patties and trying to stay upright in the sand mines.  The last climb was unexpectedly steep. The finish line finally came and was rewarded with a ice cold misting machine to cool down.

Thanks to my sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot cycles, Rotor, Xpedo, Ergon, Stans, Continental, Honey Stinger, Carborocket, Kasks helmets.”

About forty minutes back, Michelle Stampe, finished third in 4:48:59.

“Sponsors: Two Wheeler Dealer Cycle and Fitness in Spearfish, SD, and am a Black Hills Ridge Rider.

It was my first time riding the Centennial trail and it was ripping good fun! It’s one of the most sustained downhills in the area, and it doesn’t disappoint. I’m pretty sure race director Kevin Forrester designed and built most of the trail we rode on Saturday, and he seriously knows how to build flow trail. The Centennial takes riders up high for some amazing views and gravel/sand/dirt riding, and then descents through classic Black Hills pine forests with fast turns and well designed water bars to give riders a little lift;). Loop C took us through the prairie, and boasted an incredible view of Bear Butte. The riding on this loop was a little more technical, but the entire course was 100% ridable, which makes for an outstanding 40 miler course. I was really impressed by the riding in Sturgis.
The aid stations were staffed with amazing volunteers–everyone was quick to offer up some ice and fill up bottles. Their was even a mister at the aid station in downtown Sturgis, which was ohhhhhhsogooood. I will absolutely be back to ride the Tatanka next year, despite the weather.”

Michelle Stampe. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Singlespeed

Toops makes it two in a row

Singlespeed podium: 1st Anthony Toops, 2nd Josh Kunz, 3rd Bob Callaway

Coming off a win at the NUE Iron Mountain, Anthony Toops takes another NUE win with a time of 3:54:43. With this win, Toops and Kunz are tied for the NUE overall singlespeed division.

“Tatanka has proven to be one of the toughest races on the calendar for me and this year wasn’t any different!  The extreme temperatures made for a tough day.

Again it was an Ohio single speed showdown! On the initial road climb Josh took the front and set a tough to follow pace. I decided to go at my own pace and was about 30sec or so back going into the first single track.  Josh and I came back together on the climb up before the first major downhill and we ended up riding together into the B loop aid.  On the downhill out of the aid station I got a rear flat and had to pull over to do some repairs. Josh kept going and was out of sight. I managed to pump a little air into the tire and get back on the trail (Initially I thought the tire burped but after the race I found a cut in the tread)

Anthony Toops. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

At this point I was worried I’d never see his wheel again but I decided to squash the negative talk and push on as hard as I could. On the downhill to I90 I made contact with him again which was a huge relief.  We rode together again until the climbing started at the FT Meade trails.  Josh stopped for some water just before the climb but I didn’t need to so I went on. This was where the race started to break up a little although I never let my guard down.

Across the finish line of loop B I grabbed two bottles and asked about a pump. My tire was really low (13psi confirmed post race) and I was worried it would de-bead in some of the fast corners.  No pump was convenient so I made the call to risk it and ride on. I knew Josh wasn’t too far behind because I saw him on my way out as he was coming in to the aid station.  At this point it was all or nothing; ride fast and don’t blow that tire!  Luck was on my side and I was able to cross the line first!
Sponsors: Paradise Garage in Columbus, Ohio

Josh Kunz. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Finishing about ten minutes back, Josh Kunz took second in 4:05:38. Bob Callaway took the third step in 4:28:25.

Master’s 

Llinares takes the top step

Master’s Podium: 1st Mark Llinares, 2nd Mike Young, 3rd Eddy Reimer

In a close race in the master’s division, Mark Llinares beats Mike Young by about three minutes, coming in at 3:50:05. Mike Young took second at 3:53:16.

“I am from Denmark, and we were visiting our family in Denver, Colorado. I wanted to do the Tatanka race, as it looked like a challenge and fitted our plans for the holiday.
From Denmark, I am used to doing mountain bike races in forests. But we have no mountains, and no rocky descents, so I was a bit apprehensive. We also never have it as hot as over here!
So the strategy was: Take it easy, drink a lot and survive! As it happens I found a good group at the front on the first climb, and managed the first descent pretty well. But towards the end of the first loop I was really feeling the heat and started losing time, especially on the descents. The second loop I went into survival mode. And what’s this with the last climb? I didn’t expect that, and I had to ride in my ‘granny’ gear.
Mentally I had this mantra going in my head on the last scorcher of a climb: “Stay on the bike, and don’t even think about walking”.
Brilliant race! I am heading back to Denmark now, where my focus is the local Hot Cup mountain bike series near Copenhagen, Denmark. Thanks to the organizers, and all you good people here in the US for this race experience!
Sponsors: Holte Mountainbike Klub, Denmark”

Eddy Reimer, rounded out the podium and took third with a time of 4:14:10.

Final results click here

What’s next on the NUE Marathon series? click here to register for the Wilderness 101k in Coburn, PA

TransRockies Returns July 2019

TransRockies Returns in 2019 with Classic Point-to-Point format from Panorama to Fernie

TransRockies Race Series is proud to announce the return of the TransRockies Classic Mountain Bike Stage Race, from Panorama Mountain Resort to Fernie, British Columbia from July 22-28, 2019. One hundred and fifty teams of two (300 riders) from all over the world will participate in the seven-day race through the Rockies, staying overnight at remote tent camps and making two crossings of the continental divide. The event will be perhaps the toughest mountain bike stage race in North America, and one of the major stage races in the world.

Photo by: Dan Hudson – Courtesy of TransRockies

The event, originally called TransRockies Challenge, was first staged in 2002 and ran continuously through 2013. In 2014, the event was replaced with the Singletrack 6 stage race, which has been held annually since then. The TransRockies Classic, which will run alternating years with the Singletrack 6, and will feature an epic point-to-point crossing of the Rockies on trails, remote tracks, and forest roads, with daily distances up to 100km. Tent camps will be located at the end of each stage where amenities such as catered meals, hot showers, bike mechanics and massage therapists will be waiting to help riders recover and prepare for the next day.

Photo by: Dan Hudson – Courtesy of TransRockies

TransRockies Classic offers a focus on community and camaraderie, as 300 riders along with crew, friends and family come together on this shared mountain biking pilgrimage to make it to the finish line in Fernie. War stories are told around the campfire and friendships are forged for a lifetime. Elite racers share the start line with riders who are focused on achieving a TransRockies finish and coveted Finisher’s Belt-Buckle. Stages will be hosted in Invermere, Nipika, Whiteswan Lake, Elkford, and Crowsnest Pass plus the start host, Panorama, and finish town, Fernie. Registration for the 2019 TransRockies Classic opens on July 20, 2018.

For more införmation visit TransRockies.com

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