Crotched Mountain 100 Mile

By Ryan O’Dell

In 1809, 81 year old General John Stark, a Revolutionary War Soldier from New Hampshire, declined an invitation to a Battle of Bennington reunion because he was ill. Since he could not make the event, he sent a letter with the quote Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” that was to be read for the toast. New Hampshire later used part of this toast for their State motto: Live Free or Die. The Hampshire 100, now the NUE Crotched Mountain 100, lives on with the same ideals and the same rugged, rocky course racers have come to expect from the Granite State.

Following last year’s retirement of beloved NUE Hampshire 100 founder and race director Randy Whitney, who led the race successfully for a full decade, this year’s race was renamed “Crotched Mountain 100” and moved from Greenfield Park to its new location at Crotched Mountain Resort, formerly an aid station along the same race course.

Under the leadership of new race director, Andy Gendron, this year’s race maintained the same course and divisions but moved from Sunday to Saturday offering free camping at the resort, outdoor showers, BBQ, games, plus two great brews from Baxter Brewing including Stowaway IPA, a new Imperial Hefeweizen, and live music on both Friday and Saturday.

A nonstop soaking rain greeted riders all day on Friday with much conversation centered on what the nearly 2.5 inches of rain in a single day would mean to course conditions.

 

Carla Williams takes another NUE race. Photo by: David Smith

WOMENS OPEN

Williams makes it five in a row this season!

Defending NUE Epic Series Champion, Carla Williams, Joe’s Bike Shop Racing, was the first and only women’s finisher of the 100 mile race at 10:53:03. Following impressive wins at the Cohutta, Mohican, High Cascades and Wilderness 101, Williams has a commanding lead in the Open Women’s division with five straight wins in the NUE Epic Race Series!

“I think CM100 is one of the toughest NUE races out there, especially if it rains the night before. It down poured all day on the Friday before the race, and the trails were pretty muddy and slippery. The course is really fun, lots of technical singletrack riding, lots of punchy climbs, and there is never seems to be a time to recover on the course. I was feeling great for the first two laps, staying upright on all the slippery rocks and roots, and really happy with how I was riding the singletrack sections.

I pulled into the aid station at the start/finish after the second lap and felt completely drained, like the race should be over. Somehow, I managed to get my legs pedaling through the third and final lap but it was definitely a tough one to finish. It was really fun seeing Anne Pike, who won the mountain bike race last year, dominate the ultra-run and win the 100k run this year! Much thanks to HumaGel which powered me through the last lap of the course, Ridge Supply Socks, Joe’s Bike Shop, ESI grips and Maxxis Tires for the all support.”

Last year’s race winner and four-time Hampshire 100 MTB finisher, Anne Pike, Team DNA-Movement p/b Penetron, set out on foot this year winning the 100k Mile Run that was held alongside the MTB races. Pike finished the 100k course on foot in 13:20:00.  Earlier this season, Pike achieved an impressive eighth place finish at the Mohican MTB100 followed by an even more impressive third place podium finish at the 28th Annual Mohican Trail Run 100 mile race, fifth oldest ultra-run in the USA, home of the first ever USATF National Championship for the one hundred mile distance in 2005.

“For the last three years, I have been focusing on endurance mountain biking and raced predominantly in the NUE 100 mile series (finishing third in the series in 2014 and 2016) but I also maintained a fair amount of trail running throughout this time. I had thought that for 2017, I would stick with endurance mountain biking as my focus although was keen to do one or two trail races, a couple in our area early in the year really appealed to me.

With that in mind (along with recently adopting our Border Collie who, of course, became my running buddy) I found myself running more through the winter and early spring. So I raced the 50k in March and won then decided to go for a big jump up and do a 100k race in May which went really well, fourth place in a really competitive field. The plan was to do that and then pretty much shut my running down for the mountain bike season but I was having fun and some good success running and riding so why not combine both and see what might happen? So, knowing that the Mohican 100 mountain bike race is held two weeks before the Mohican 100 mile run I decided, why not go for it and really put myself to the test?

The mountain bike race was not the best for me this year but I didn’t really expect it to be anything special, I had been focusing more on running mileage after all. The run, two weeks later, was a huge undertaking for me especially considering the 100k in May was the furthest I had ever run and, prior to that, the furthest was 35 miles.

Normally, people focus on a 100 miler months out to really prepare; well, I kind of did it on a whim! It wasn’t pretty but I survived and finished third. Again, after that race, I hadn’t any other trail races planned, wanted to see how I recovered, and also, so I could race Crotched Mountain and Shenandoah 100 MTB. Another last minute decision in the week of the race, I decided that I was feeling more excited about the thought of running the New Hampshire trails rather than riding and, since this would be my fifth year of racing there, why not switch it up?! So I did and raced the 100k trail race instead of the 100mile MTB, and won! Next up, I have Shenandoah on the schedule and a trail race in October.

That is how it evolved for me and I really hope I can continue to be successful in both disciplines. I think it will be a test to be able to maintain a balance. Obviously, both are a test of endurance but to get stronger as a runner you need to run a lot and to be a stronger rider you need to ride a lot! Balance will be key long-term… One thing, I believe, will be key for me is the maintenance of my strength, conditioning, and mobility work. As long as I keep enjoying the thrill of the trail riding and fulfillment of trail running, I will be happy :-)”

With just four races remaining in the NUE “best four of fourteen” Epic Race Series, Defending Champion, Carla Williams, Joe’s Bike Shop Racing, appears to be invincible!

 

Tinker Juarez was on hand again for the 2017 Crotched Mountain event. Photo by: David Smith

MENS OPEN

Johnson earns his fourth win, leads NUE Race Series!

In a mirror of 2016, Defending NUE Epic Series Champion, Dylan “The Kid” Johnson, Cameron MTB, earned a narrow win in New Hampshire to finish 8:12:10 but, in doing so, now leads the NUE Race Series with a perfect score of four wins. Johnson, now 22 years old, has completed seven NUE races this season, so far, earning wins at Cohutta, Lumberjack, Tatanka, and Crotched Mountain in addition to second place finishes at True Grit, Mohican, and Pierre’s Hole.

Twenty-three seconds behind the Defending NUE Champion, Hall of Fame Mountain Biker and Two-Time US Olympian, Tinker Juarez, Cannondale Factory Team, took second at 8:12:33 following a hard fought battle that saw a lead pack that stayed together for most of the race. Juarez placed third at last year’s Hampshire 100. Now at age 56, Juarez continues to display amazing strength and stamina as an ultra-racer, often competing with racers young enough to be his grandkids. His passion for the sport he started in as a kid in the world of BMX has been an inspiration to NUE Racers and his many fans worldwide.

Ian Spivak, Cameron MTB, a team mate of Johnsons, took third at 9:24:57 in a near tie with his team mate Mathew Merkel, Cameron MTB, also 9:24:57. Spivak is currently fourth place overall in the NUE Epic Series with fifth place finishes at both Cohutta and Mohican, plus sixth place finishes at both High Cascades and Wilderness 101,

Team Cameron Mountain Bike Racing had three of its six team members participate in the Open Men 100 mile race. I led out the first prologue lap up the mountain with Dylan Johnson closely behind. After about forty minutes of racing, the field was split into a lead group of Dylan Johnson, Ian Spivack, Brian Schworm, Tinker Juarez, Matthew Kesecker (Pivot racer from Canada), and Gordon Wadsworth.

Around mile 15, right before the muddy technical single track, a group of the 100k leaders joined our group. I could not keep up with the lead group through the first lap of the muddy and slick, so I settled back into my own pace. At about this time, I noticed that my left foot cleat was coming lose, so I was careful throughout the rest of the lap so I would not break the cleat off. I got to the end of the 1st lap and swapped out my left shoe and refilled. At this time, my team mate- Matt Merkel caught up and we rode the rest of the second lap together.

At the start of the third lap, Matt was fading a bit so I kept going at a steady pace. About half way through the third lap, my right cleat came loose and I could not unclip easily, so I decided to take it easy throughout the rest of the lap. I got my shoe changed at the final aid stations and, while waiting, Matt caught back up to me. We then rode together to the finish line by keeping a steady pace.

I am glad I kept pushing to finish in third, my best NUE result ever despite having problems with my shoes.”

Mathew Merkel, Cameron MTB, finished 9:24:57 in fourth place. With this finish, Merkel is now fifth overall in the NUE Men’s Open point race.

“Coming off a good race at Pierre’s Hole 100, I was pumped for an NUE race here in New England, but knew I needed to ride smart. Rain the night before made for wet and slippery conditions creating slick roots and large mud holes. My plan was to go out at a comfortable pace dropping back from the leaders early on.

I was able to catch my teammate, Ian Spivack, on the single track where he was having shoe issues. We were in fifth and sixth at the end of our first lap and decided to work together going into lap two allowing us to keep a steady pace. Ian was climbing strong so I dropped back at the beginning of our third and final lap, but ended up bridging the gap rolling into the last aid station.

From there, after a long day, we decided to ride in together crossing the line in third and fourth place. It was awesome being on the podium with my teammates Dylan and Ian, and legend, Tinker Juarez, for my fourth NUE 100 mile race.”

With just four races remaining in the NUE Epic Race Series, Defending Champion, Dylan Johnson leads with four wins with Brian Schworm in second and former NUE Champion, Christian Tanguy holding second in the point race.

 

Gordon Wadsworth took yet another win in the 100 mile event. Photo by: David Smith

SINGLESPEED

Wadworth does it again!

NUE Epic Series Defending Champion, Gordon Wadsworth, Blue Ridge Cyclery/Pivot, earned his third straight win in New Hampshire, to finish 8:17:48, crushing his nearest SS competitor by more than an hour and a half, good enough to place third overall! This is the second NUE Epic Series SS win for the defending champion who also scored a win at the Wilderness 101.

“I had a super race; decided to come and do the CM100 last minute and was glad I did! Lots of rain put a damper on the camping but the pre-race atmosphere was still great. The new venue was super and the new start/finish for the course was welcome as it changed the rhythm of the race nicely.

I had a great start and was pushing the pedals on the Pivot Cycles LES smooth as could be. When we launched into the single rack, we were greeted with the expected muck and east coast snot that rain can bring. New Hampshire trail is quintessentially East Coast with its rocks, roots and tight twisting singletrack. Everything was slick! I was sitting really comfortably in the top five or so as I usually do when we were nearing the final stretches of singletrack in the first half of the course. We had all been cautious because all of the roots and bridges were extremely dangerous. Sure enough, on one of the last bridge crossings I slid out like Michelle Kwan rolling a triple sow-cow.

I sat up on the side of the bridge and took stock. Immediately I knew I had broken and dislocated my pinky finger on my right hand. Perhaps my only muncher when it comes to racing hundred mile events is “don’t stop, and don’t lose the wheel.” So I gave one good tug on my right pinky to reset the break, daintily walked across the rest of the bridge, and hopped back on to Chase the front pack.

We had, by then, joined the one hundred K leaders, three of them; So I knew that that would be affecting our hundred mile race more than a little bit. My biggest concern, at this point, was completing the event. I’ve committed pretty late to the NUE this season so I need finishes and wins whenever possible. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle the bike as good as I normally do, but I expected I could be at least proficient and I raced past pretty quietly the rest of the day. As the one hundred mile participants dropped off and dwindled and the 100k finishers completed their journey, it was down to just me, Dylan Johnson, and Tinker Juarez.

We pitted briefly at the end of lap two, and immediately the duo dropped me heading up the ski climb. I tried to hang tight to their wheels but my broken finger was really killing and preventing me from climbing out of the saddle as well as I normally can. The two slight figures got even slighter and soon I was solo. I spent the rest of my lap suffering solo. I was thinking I might see my Canadian Pivot OTE teammate, Matheu, come up behind me but, nevertheless, stayed alone.

As the trails dried out, my handling on the twisty singletrack improved. My gap to Tinker and Dylan went from two minutes, out to four, and then back down to two as the singletrack concluded. I knew I would not have been able to catch the two of them on the open gravel roads of the second half of the course, so I just rode myself home, content with a third overall and an SS win.”

Peter Bradshaw, Mad Alchemy|Zancon, was second at 9:57:22.

Joseph Stroz, Stroz Physical Therapy, was third at 10:25:49. “I rode a 32:19 gearing for my ss this year, a bit taller than last year.

I was hoping for a drier course with this gear and took a chance before leaving for NH Thursday from PA.  After the hours after hours of rain Friday evening I knew that I was in for a long day. My gearing for this race was a bit tall for the conditions and with a calf injury from earlier in the week; I had to pace myself carefully from the start.

I pulled off from the front group after the second climb from the start. Peter (2nd SS) continued on to challenge Gordan Wadsworth and top open fellows in the front group. I figured Peter would burn out his legs during the first lap trying to keep up with their pace so I decided to pull back and pace myself with Carla Williams, always a sure strong finisher. I stayed with her for the first two laps hoping to catch up with Peter, but I was never able to catch up with his pace. At the end of the second lap, I passed Carla going into the self-support aid station and from there I was on my own.

Towards the last twelve miles of the last lap, I was able to hook up with third place masters racer, David Boyce. We road together drafting and pushing each other, as we both were riding to survive the final lap. I was trying to fight leg cramps and the heat. In the end, both David and I were able to capture third in our classes. I have done this race for four years in a row now, as I love the challenging trails up there. I like more technical riding and NH gives you more than your share. As much as I complain about how brutal this course is every year, I keep coming back; and next year will probably be no different.”

With just four races remaining in the NUE Epic SS Series, defending NUE Marathon SS Champion, James Litzinger, is now leading the NUE Epic Series with 13 points. Matt Crawford is holding second with 17 points, and Peyton Randolph has 25 points and Joseph Stroz in fourth with 35 points. Three wild cards threaten to shake up the standings with Defending Champion, Gordon Wadsworth, John Haddock, and Ben Shaklee each with two wins this season.

 

MASTERS 50+

Blanchet Wins!

With a comfortable lead, 2015 Hampshire 100 Masters winner, 54 year old, Terry Blanchet, Nav-North American, took the top spot once again in the Masters to finish 10:04:00. Blanchet placed fifth at last year’s race that was won by the Jeff Clayton, Georgia Neurosurgical Institute, who would go on to secure his first NUE Epic Masters Series title.

With this win, Blanchet completes his fourth NUE race that includes seventh place finishes at both Mohican and Lumberjack plus a more recent third place finish at the Wilderness 101 moving him up to fourth place overall in the NUE Epic Masters series with 18 points.

“Looking over the pre-registration list of eleven Masters my neighbor, David Boyce just 30 miles east over the MA border, was my most obvious concern, as last year on this same terrain, he beat me out by one position in the finale Hampshire100. Sure enough, early in the first lap, we went back and forth a few times though, after some side-by-side chitchat on the mid-lap Fletcher Farm climb, commiserating about one particularly grumpy runner refusing to cede the line on the preceding narrow section despite our three courteous requests, David decidedly took off over the top and disappeared through the next singletrack-heavy five miles.

I eventually caught sight of him again on the road-heavy section of the first lap beyond the Oak Park Aid Station next to the old Hampshire100 venue at Mile 21, but as he was already moving at a good pace with a Bikeman racer from another field to share the work with, I didn’t burn any matches at that early point trying to bridge up and, as the road gave way back to trail on the descent beyond Muzzey Hill, he again disappeared into the woods.

My next sighting of David wasn’t until this same stretch a whole lap later, with him just heading off from the Oak Park Aid Station as I was rolling in. This time on the road-heavy section to follow, as I was pulling towards him, he was sitting upright hands-off-bars stretching his back, and I passed by with little obvious response from him, only hearing of him again as I was climbing the ski slopes out onto the third lap while his name was being called over the PA during his descent at the close of his second lap.

Of the pre-registered Masters, there were a handful about which I really had no prior experience and, sure enough, wouldn’t it turn out that the racer in the Mathieu Performance jersey with whom I’d gone back and forth with over the first lap was Eric Truchon, one of the other Masters racers. In fact, we’d swapped positions so many times that, once I’d noticed that we’d finally stopped seeing one another midway through the second lap, I’d lost track of who was in front.

Having a suspicion that he might well indeed be another Masters competitor, it was with great relief upon my third-lap arrival at the Oak Park Aid Station to be greeted by a cheerful “Number 50, we’ve been waiting for you, you are the Masters leader!” Spirits buoyed and a couple Coke cups down the hatch, I was energized for one last trip across that road-heavy section, climbing up through the woods jeep trails to follow, and relishing the last roll down the ski hill singletrack to the finish.

It was great to share the podium with Eric and David, though all the while recognizing our opportunity to still hold out hopes for that masters Top Box during our race was but a consequence of our timeless contemporary, Tinker Juarez, remaining in the elite Open field, still so competitive as to come within seconds of challenging for the Open win. It was a great day of racing; many thanks to Andy Gendron and his staff for keeping the endurance MTB tradition going in southern New England, and for such a successful inaugural version of their Crotched Mountain 100!”

Seventeen minutes later, 50-year-old Eric Truchon, Club Mathieu Performance, took second at 10:21:15.

Four minutes later, 56-year-old, David Boyce, State 9 Racing, claimed third at 10:25:07. Boyce placed fourth at last year’s Hampshire 100.

“My race started out well keeping pace with the master’s group and then I settled into my own pace. I felt good and started to pull away from my group; but this was not the right thing to do because the damp trail took its toll early in the second lap.

On one of the dirt roads about midway through the second lap, Terry Blanchet flew by me and pulled away. That was the last time I saw him. Towards the end of lap two, I was feeling pretty gassed, did not stay hydrated or fuel right, and did not want to go back out for lap three. As I came down to the pit area, my State 9 racing team was cheering me on and my wife gave me my bottles and asked if I was ok. I said I no, but I feel better now.

On the third lap, I started up the ski slope. It was hot, humid, and the trail was like a sponge. When I got into the trees I got off, had some gel, drank a bottle, and started again. There was nobody; it was quiet, and I was feeling somewhat better. I got to the luau aid stop, ate some bananas, drank some coke, and continued on. I met up with Joe Stroz on his SS and we rode together in “survival mode”.

Towards the end of the race on a technical climb, Eric Truchon passed us and there was not a dam thing I could do about it but wave. I came down the hill to the finish line to nice applause in third place; It was AWESOME!  I will be doing the Shennandoah 100 in a few weeks and it will be new to me, I can’t wait.”

54 year old Alain Simard placed fourth in 11:17:52 gaining two points in the NUE Masters battle with 52 year old Alan Minor, Banks Bikes Falmouth, who placed sixth on the day.

With just four races remaining in the NUE Epic Masters Series, the battle continues as Defending NUE Masters Champion, Jeff Clayton, with three wins and two second place finishes, sits second to Greg Golet, who has a perfect score with four points, potentially setting up a rematch of the 2016 showdown at the final Championship race that was won by Clayton. The battle for third continues with Russell Spaulding at 16 points, Terry Blanchet at 18 points, Alan Minor at 21 points, and Alain Simard at 25 points.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS

What’s NEXT?!

One September 2, The NUE Race Series heads due south to the only NUE race held outside of the USA; NUE #11, the Volcano 100 on September 2 held in Liberia, Costa Rica. The very next day, NUE heads to Virginia for the granddaddy of them all; NUE#12, the Shenandoah 100 on September 3.  www.nuemtb.com

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