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.
Johnson wins the AXE with back-to-back wins at Lumberjack 100
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.
Williams gets her first Win at Lumberjack 100
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.”
Randolph get his first ever NUE win!
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.
Devin Doboer get second NUE win for 2018
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.
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.
What’s next? NUE Epic Series heads to South Dakota on July 7, 2018 for the Tatanka 100. Click here to register