Local Superstars Serena Bishop-Gordon and Christopher Jones Win High Cascades Presented by Hammer Nutrition
By Ryan O’Dell
At 5:30AM, Racer’s gathered at Bachelor Village, near Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon in anticipation of one of the most popular races in the NUE Race Series. The town of Bend is a growing destination for mountain bikers thanks to hundreds of miles of primo singletrack trails that can be accessed directly from downtown connecting to other nearby towns including the town of Sisters.
The Eighth Annual High Cascades 100 marked the midway point of the fourteen race National Ultra Endurance MTB Race Series where NUE series hopefuls had just one final opportunity to lead their respective divisions earning a mid-season travel award to compete in NUE #12, Rincon Challenge, the first NUE race held outside of the USA near Liberia, Costa Rica.
Deschutes Brewery, www.deschutesbrewery.com, one of the top rated craft breweries in the US, was on site at the finish line serving up draft brews including Pinedrops IPA and Hopslice, a new refreshing seasonal session IPA. Sagebrush Cycles of Bend, www.sagebrushcycles.net, in addition to offering mechanical services on the race course at every aid station, also offered racers a place to ship their bikes that included getting the bikes race ready and inspected before the race.
Gordon makes it two in a row at HC100!
Serena Bishop Gordon, LIV|Giant Co-Factory Team, the local favorite from Bend, crushed the field for a second straight year by nearly an hour to finish 9:08:14.
Jennifer Shultz, Balance Point Racing/TREK/Fresh Air, from Kelowna, BC was next at 10:07:21. Five minutes later, Emily Kachorek, Squid, from Sacremento took third at 10:12:21. Twenty-three minutes later, Amber Bethe, 9:ZERO:7, rolled into fourth.
The youngest woman to ever finish an NUE race at the age of 16, Susannah Hart, Hapi-Go, now 19, moved up to fifth at10:54:14, more than a half hour faster than last year. Susannah’s favorite part of the race course is the climb out of Lava Lake, one of the most difficult climbs in the race.
Overall in the NUE Race Series point standings, Becky Edmiston, Crazy Pedaler Bicycles, leads all women.
Jones gets his first HC100 win!
With a winning time of 7:53:44, Christopher Jones, the local favorite from Bend, achieved his first win at HC100 with a time that was less than three minutes short of the record set by Barry Wicks, Kona, in 2016. “Winning the High Cascade 100 was a pleasant surprise. I’m a roadie to the core, including my dismal dirt handling skills, but, as luck would have it, sand and my cyclocross skills made the difference on Saturday. The two riders I was with dismounted on a sandy climb about twenty miles into the HC100. I was able to remount quickly and ride away, a move I learned from racing cyclocross in the dunes of Kokjside.
From there it was a six hour ride enjoying some of the best trails my home town, Bend, has to offer. The local trail building organization, COTA, has done a fantastic job building and maintaining the local trails including the new Catch and Release trail that was included in the HC100 for the first time. Thanks to the Mike the Mudslinger, and NUE crews, for putting on such a great race.”
Less than four minutes behind the leader, a multi time winner of the HC100, Cary Smith, The Hub/VFuel, from Jackson, WY came in at 7:57:23 placing second.
Clint Muhlfield, Sportsman Ski Haus Cycling Team, from Whitefish, Montana was third at 8:22:46. “The High Cascade 100 is by far my favorite 100-mile MTB race. It’s a super fun point-to-point course that has it all: fast and flowy single-track, technical rocky (lava) zones, steep climbs, and power sections.
I’ve done this race several times, and it requires steady pace and not going out super hard at the beginning, saving some gas in the tank for the last thirty miles. Also, it gets hot out there and it’s a long time in the saddle, often in no man’s land, so I tried to focus on the moment, concentrating on the next corner ahead, and keeping the pace high. I had a good race with no technical issues, and, for a Dad with a demanding job, I’m very happy with my podium finish at a national event.”
Less than five minutes later, Erik Bee, The Bike Hub Spokane/For The Veterans of the U.S., from claimed fourth in 8:27:09. Seven minutes later, John ShalekBriski, US Military Endurance Sports, also from Spokane, WA claimed the fifth spot at 8:34:01.
Overall in the NUE Race Series point standings, Anthony Grinnell, Napleton Elite Cycling pwrd by Dirty Harrys, leads the Men’s Open Division.
Single Speed Open
Mills gets his first NUE win at High Cascades!
Steven Mills from Redding, CA held on to get this first win of the season following a third place finish at True Grit Epic and a sixth place finish at the Bailey Hundo. Mills winning time was 8:27:56. “Pedal, Pedal, Pedal the High Cascade 100 was a fun day on the bike. The race started off good. “Just Ride” is what Mike Ripley said and that’s all you can do or else it’s no fun so I stuck with it on race morning. Don’t try racing, just ride at your own pace and you will do well, so I just started pedaling down the trail.
I had decided to wear a camel back for the whole race so I had everything that I needed, water, a bunch of GU, and stuff to repair the bike if it breaks down. I also thought it would be easier to drink water hands free and focus on riding the trail. It worked great and saved my back when I crashed after clipping a log, flying and landing on my back. What I didn’t realize, until I had to refill, was that the lid had broken into pieces and was leaking. I thought wow, so I asked for some duct tape to tape the plastic lid back together so I wouldn’t lose water down the trail. Then, a dude had an extra camel pack so I took the lid off it. He said “What are you waiting for, GO!” so off I went.
For the majority of the race, I was riding back and forth with the fourth place finisher, Ricketts. We had a great time shredding the trails, trying to reel in the next racer, but I ended up alone toward the finish down the road. The 34-19 gearing is not too quick for the road so my legs where spinning. I got dizzy spinning and just rode to the finish line thinking what a great day at the High Cascade 100. I can’t wait to go ride the grizzly 100 in a few weeks! YeeHaaaw!”
2016 HC100 winner, Ben Shaklee, Jack’s Bicycle Center/Homegrown Racing, from Bellingham, WA arrived ten minutes later to finish second at 8:37:14. “I entered the first fire road climb with two other SS riders, Steven and Mark, and a few geared guys. I wasn’t exactly sure on the position of our group, but estimated we were in the top 10-15. I was the first of our group into Tiddlywinks singletrack just before Aid 1 and put maybe thirty seconds on the others but stopped to relieve myself and they passed.
I jumped back on with Steven and Mark ahead; passed Mark in the rocks and never saw him again (he was running 32×18). I bypassed Aid 1 and was spinning my 34×19 well on the fire roads, maybe a little more smoothly than Steven Mills (34×19). I caught Steven and a couple geared guys, including Jay ShaleBriski. Jay and I worked together, gapped off the others, and wound up riding with or near each other for much of the day.
Jay blew through Aid 2 but I stopped for water. I passed him back as he was stopped trailside on the singletrack loop between Aid 2 and 3. A fast feed stop at Aid 3 and I was into the techie stuff descending to Lava Lake. At Aid 4 (mile 70) I was told I was in fourth overall and four minutes behind the leaders – I was pumped and resolved to ride steadily and smart for a linear effort to the finish.
This fell apart when I took a wrong turn crossing the fire road just above Aid 4, rather than climb over a log into the Edison Lava trail. I went out and back about 6 miles total and was off course for just over twenty minutes. Jay, who came through Aid 4 about one minute behind me, made the same mistake and we met on the fire road before getting back on course. I kept discouragement at bay and, once back on course, I passed back a few of the places I lost, but had no intel on where any SS riders were.
I crossed the line at 8:37:15 for second SS and ninth overall, about ten minutes behind Steven Mills. I was hoping to beat my 2015 time of 8:21 on this same course, and was on track to do so before my 20-minute detour despite slower course conditions this year. I felt good the entire ride and am pleased with the results. I thank, race director, Mike Ripley and his crew for another great HC100, and extend congratulations to Steve Mills for a great ride!”
Nine minutes later, Mark Schafer, Team Eastside, from Boise, ID took third at 8:56:34. Regis Ricketts, Iron City Bikes/Super Relax, was seven minutes back of Schafer for fourth at 9:03:34.
Seven minutes later, Kip Biese, KJBikeCoaching/Big Wheel Racing/Old Town Bike Shop, from Colorado Springs placed fifth at 9:10:35. Biese leads the NUE Race Series in the SS division with six finishes, including three second place finishes.
Masters 50+ Open
Golet crushes the field, getting his third straight NUE win!
Following wins at the True Grit Epic and Bailey Hundo, Greg Golet, Team Chico, was the only sub nine in the Masters division getting the win in just 8:42:59. Golet is undefeated this season and leads the NUE Race Series.
“At High Cascades the course has endless cornering, mostly around trees through the woods. In many sections you can’t see very far ahead, have to really focus, and be ready to react quickly. Constantly changing lighting, as you ride in and out of the shade, adds to the challenge. The trail surface is mostly smooth dirt and sand close to town, interspersed with occasional roots and rocks. Farther out, where the trail sees less traffic, it is more encroached with manzanita, and there’s a lot of loose and welded lava rock.
All this means you’re not going to do well unless you can ride varied singletrack really smoothly and efficiently. This point was really driven home for me last year. Even with 10,000 feet of overall vertical elevation, there just isn’t enough sustained climbing to do well simply by crushing the climbs. I tried that and it didn’t work. Also, unless you are a ripping descender, ideally with local knowledge of the trails (like my main competitor), you’re not going to gain much on anyone by saving energy until the second half of the race—my usual strategy.
So my plan was to eek the most out of every section of trail and get a big lead by Dutchman (mile 57), before the descent to lava lake. When I rode through there I was feeling pretty good, but didn’t really know my standing in the race. I knew I was ahead of Wayne Tonning (2015 Masters champ), who I passed early on, but definitely wasn’t ready to relax, knowing that there was a lot of race left. As it turned out, I was leading at that point, but only about two minutes ahead of Wayne!
Not wanting to flat, I rode pretty conservatively through the lava, checking my speed through blind corners, but still trying to push it where I could. I didn’t have any crashes or mechanicals there or anywhere else all day, and my nutrition was fine. I had energy to push hard through the last steeps and my decent to town was nicely uneventful. After finishing, I was feeling glad about my new “smarter” race strategy, but then I learned that my time was only twelve seconds ahead of last year, when I felt like I had played it all wrong!”
Wayne Tonning, Trinity Bikes, from Lake Oswego, OR placed second at 9:18:45. “Greg Golet, the winner, is a stud. I beat Greg last year and he took it to me this year. I tried to stay with Greg out of the gate, immediately red-lined, and still could not go with him. I ended up paying the price by riding sloppy; going over my handle bars twice, and had nothing the last twenty miles. I also flatted twice and had to run the bike into an aid for a new tire (sidewall cut) but persevered to finish and held onto second. That is what 100 milers are all about – digging deep and not quitting. What an incredibly competitive race, so many studs, and yet, really nice people. Gotta love the mountain bike community.”
Nine minutes later, Tim Phillips, Broken Spoke, from Eagle, ID rolled in to take the third podium spot at 9:27:34. “I got a better than expected start and, soon after hitting dirt, Golet went by with authority, followed by Tonning at a bit slower pace. Both pulled away as I expected.
The race went as planned and I felt pretty good through the Skyliner Aid Station #2 at mile 42. The climb to Dutchman Aid #3 (mile 58) seemed to go on forever. I believe it is the hardest section of this course. I rode smooth and safe on the downhill from Dutchman to Aid #4 Lava Lake. This section has tire gashing lava, numerous rock drops, and has been known to ruin many a racer’s day. I pegged my anticipated split times within a couple of minutes all the way to Lava Lake. However, the climb out of Lava put me under.
I came into Aid #4 at Edison (mile 78) but my legs were somewhere else and the usual cramping culprit wasn’t to blame. In addition, this course tests your upper body like no other. Starting at about mile fifty, the back of my left arm was screaming with every corner and pull of the brake lever. Volunteers at Edison mentioned that I was five minutes behind another 50+ racer. That’s when the mind games kicked in, who is in front?
The final 22 miles were brutal as my upper body, legs, and feet were all toast. The super fun DH sections on Tiddlywinks and Storm King that I rode the day before weren’t quite the same. Despite turning the cranks as best I could, I ended up fifteen minutes off my projected split on the final thirty miles. I ran into Wayne Tonning at the finish to find out he had double flatted.
An inventory of the water and calories consumed revealed I took in about 65% of what I should have, the likely the cause of my demise. I always say these races come down to fitness, mental toughness, and refueling. I failed at the latter. Despite finishing more than forty minutes behind Golet and nine minutes back of Tonning, what a thrill to be standing on the podium with these guys at one of the best races in the country!”
Twenty-two minutes later, Sten Hertsens, Muleterro, from Bozeman, MT took fourth at 9:49:14. Fourteen minutes later, James Coats took fifth in a packed Masters field.
Next: NUE Race Series #8, Wilderness 101 in State College, PA on July 23