NUE Marathon Race Series #8
Presented by Hammer Nutrition
Written By: Ryan O’Dell
Grand Targhee Resort has become a cool mountain destination resort for mountain bikers. This is the time of year when the wildflowers are in full bloom and waist high in many places along the single-track.
This year’s race was the largest turn out for Grand Targhee Resort with close to 400 athletes. The morning started at 7:00am for the 100 mile racers and progressed with a staggered start for 100km and 50km racers. The 100 mile race included NUE Epic Series points; the 100k was included in the NUE Marathon Race Series.
“This event continues to grow year after year. It is exciting to see the same racers, as well as new racers. The resort continues to add miles of single-track trails, which makes for a slightly different course each year.” Andy Williams, events manager for Grand Targhee Resort.
Many racers recalled 2016 when world road champion Peter Sagan, who had recently won the green sprinters jersey in the Tour de France, made an unexpected appearance, winning the 50k race and, to the delight of many, sticking around for photos and autographs following the awards presentation.
Harvey wins with a sub six finish!
Caedron Harvey, Fitzgerald’s Bicycles, was the first and only sub-six hour finish in the Women’s division at 5:57:59.
“Theme of the day: Even if I don’t want to, I Can
Over the days leading up to the race, I had contemplated many forms of mild self-mutilation. I could convincingly twist my ankle in that pothole, come down with the flu the night before, or even poison myself with some substance that would wear off by 9am on Saturday morning; all very valid options. But alas, Saturday morning came, and I was healthy and fit. I guess I am racing.
My mindset going into Pierre’s Hole was different than it had been for any of my prior races in my short career; I had finally come to accept that I can only ride as fast and as well as I can ride, and I need to be proud of whatever that means for me. That may sound obvious, but, as an extremely competitive individual with an unbelievable aversion to individual sports, it was a monumental recognition. That clarity of mind helped me approach Saturday’s race calmly, although the reality that 60+ miles and 7000+ feet of climbing was in my immediate future loomed large.
I had known that I’d face some stiff competition ahead of time, but, it wasn’t until I was standing on my bike at the start line that I realized just how much talent there really was. I enjoyed a brief moment of panic and heightened pulse, but I forced myself to remember my newly-developed mantra: ride your own best race. So, one deep breath and I was ready to roll.
From the get-go, I was out to test myself. In the 90 seconds between recognizing the competition and the start, I had resolved to stick with the wheel of the reigning champ (Karen Jarchow) as well as I could. Within a few hundred yards, I noticed everyone around me dumping gears and spinning at a high cadence, and I was faced with a decision: I could pace myself to the experienced women around me, or I could ride the way that I know best and turn a harder gear. I went for it. I revised my objective, then, to be the first to the top of 38 Special, and try to gain some time on the descent.
With that objective achieved, I enjoyed the long descent down 38 and Mill Creek, as I found greater comfort descending than climbing that day; my legs had felt pretty junky from the beginning, but I figured that the only way out of that pain was to push it. I was going to race regardless of my how my legs felt, so it wasn’t worth succumbing to my body’s whimpiness.
Halfway through the first lap, however, I started to realize what I had done: I had sprinted out of the gates at a marathon, and placed the target on my own back. “Caedran, you are SUCH an idiot,” I thought to myself. I was convinced (for an entire lap and a half) that my competition was more disciplined than I was, and that they were conserving just enough to throw down the gauntlet on the second lap. With that thought on repeat, I rode to defend my position. I had no concept of the time gap, or how spread out the field was, so I just assumed that they would sneak up on me at some point.
So, then, there’s that second lap. A real mental sucker-punch, not just because you’re setting out to what you just did again, but that there is more of it. So you ride through the start gate, end of lap 1, and your race is STILL not even halfway over. Hooray.
I was feeling decent heading onto AJ’s trail, but was starting to worry a bit about my stamina. My legs were still giving me grief, but I wasn’t about to let them get the better of me. When I wanted to shift into an easier gear, I stood up instead. For the rest of the race, that was my tactic; since the first climb up Peaked, I had no idea how far ahead of Karen and Megan I was, but I wasn’t really interested in finding out.
Heading up Peaked, I knew that something had to give. I had 30 miles left to ride, and I could not destroy myself on a long climb so far from the finish. Scoping the meadow below and seeing no one, I weighed the options, and decided that I could afford to conserve energy climbing Peaked, thinking that any time that I lost getting up there I could probably make up on the descent. Whether or not that’s true, it was definitely the right decision. Had I emptied myself on Peaked, I’m not sure that I would have been able to maintain a reasonable pace for the rest of the race.
The second Rick’s Basin lap was tough; I knew my nutrition was waning, and was resolved not to lose my position in the final 45 minutes of the 6-hour race. I knew that, the harder I pushed, the less likely that was to happen. So, again, I pushed myself. I stood when I didn’t want to, and powered up the little punches that Rick’s throws at you. After finishing Northwoods, though, I started to feel a little weaker and a little less focused, so I managed to sneak some gummies in on the climb, while squeezing the rest in my grasp on the handlebar during the descents. With a few more calories in me, I just needed to be smart and safe for the remaining 20-or-so remaining minutes. I could almost start counting down the number of times I’d have to pedal uphill, which gave me so much joy and quite literally propelled me through Snowdrift and onto the home stretch.
Before Pierre’s Hole, I had competed in the Pocatello Pedalfest in June, but crashed out and needed stitches in the eye – not super confidence inspiring. Later in June, I competed in and won our local Cache Creek Race, which is just 10.5 miles with 1,500 feet of climbing. Even for that race, I had thought hard about various minor injuries I could sustain the day before (or of…). Last year, I competed in Grand Junction and Pierre’s Hole, neither of which went particularly well. I finished third and fourth, respectively, but was so new to mountain biking that I didn’t really understand how to ride efficiently (or well), let alone race that way.
One of the biggest differentiating factors between this season and last, for me, is my ability and willingness to hurt. Whereas before, I hadn’t really wanted to tap into the depths of that dark place, I have since embraced it as part of the game and, in some sick way, have actually started to enjoy it.”
Ten minutes later, Meghan Sheridan, Bingham Cyclery Peak Fasteners, was second at 6:07:40. “This was my first time racing at Pierre’s Hole and I believe my first NUE race.
I have done other long races in the past, including Leadville and the Point to Point in Park, City Utah multiple times as I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. I mostly only race locally and places within a short drive. Only twenty women lined up to race and I wasn’t even sure who my competition was. I was feeling good on the first climb and didn’t want to blow up as I passed Karen Jarchow (defending NUE Race Series champ) near the top.
I then started to close the gap on who I thought was the only woman left out front (Caedran Harvey). I followed her close to 38 Special, where her skills surpassed mine and she gained some time on the downhill. I never saw her again. I just stayed steady and tried not to let any men pass me on the downhills for the rest of the first lap – which I succeeded at. I had so much fun on the first lap riding all of the trails, especially More Cow Bell and Perma Grin. Rick’s Basin was beautiful. One guy was following me close the whole time but he never got by.
Coming out of the North Woods, on the last push in Rick’s Basin over Snow Drift, I saw Karen Jarchow creeping up on me. As we came through the start/finish, the announcer commented on how strong I was riding, and then realized Karen was right behind me! I quickly grabbed my other camel back and jumped on the single track right in front of Karen to head out on the second lap. She stayed close for a while, and I pushed where I could up the mountain to try to gain a gap.
Peaked trail was TOUGH that second time. I stayed steady to the top though and didn’t see Karen by the time I got up there, continued to keep my cool on the descents, and push where I could through the rest of the race. One guy finally passed me on the road, a few others tried, but I stayed ahead of them to the finish.
I was feeling decent and wanted to push harder, but just wanted to get the race over with since my right brake hadn’t been working great the whole race and I was having some vision/contact issues out of my left eye. Incredible course, race, aid, organization, finish line fun! Thanks Grand Targhee!”
Twelve minutes later, NUE defending Marathon Series Champion, Karen Jarchow, Team Topeak Ergon, took third at 6:19:07. Jarchow is also the reigning Fat Tire Champion.
Pond defends last year’s win!
Defending NUE Marathon Series Champion and 2016 Pierre’s Hole race winner, Alex Pond, Steamboat Velo, earned his second straight win at Targhee to finish 5:26:17. This was Pond’s first win of the NUE Race season since his fifteenth place finish at the season opening True Grit Epic in March.
“From the start, I found myself watching a handful of riders pull the front of the group up the first road section until I got my legs spinning and, just like last year, went for the solo lead out over peaked and into 38 special. I definitely paid for the hard effort over the climb because slowly going through Perma Grin and Quackie Ridge, two riders were reeling me in pretty quick so I made the decision to let off a little, get fueled up, and battle it out over the second lap.
The three of us made a quick pit stop before the climb back up and Matt Turner of Competitive Cyclist got the lead out, so I settled into his pace and waited out the climb with a local Jackson rider, Davey Mitchell, on my tail. Before we reached the top though, the race started to get interesting.
The local from Jackson made a hard attack over Peaked Trail while Matthew started to fade and I was stuck in the middle, knowing if I went any harder over the climb I would blow up, so I let him go and saved it for the last 16 miles. I made contact with Davey on ski hill road and could tell he was paying for the hard effort at 9000 feet.
Before we hit the next section of singletrack, I made an attack and, the next time I looked back, Davey had dropped off. I rolled past my bag drop, grabbed a fresh bottle, and headed out to Perma Grin for the last time. The climb felt slow and I was sure that I would start seeing other racers making gains, so I kept my focus forward, didn’t go over the top, and rolled in with a comfortable lead over the next competitors.
The race was a clean ride this year with no broken saddles. The Trek Top Fuel was the perfect race bike with a solid lockout on the front and rear suspension, Bontrager XR1 in the front and XR2 in the rear, Stans race sealant, three bottles of CarboRocket (2 of 333 full strength, 1 of Elecrolytes), five Honey Stinger Mango Gels, and two Honey Stinger chews (mixed up flavors) was the winning package.”
Twelve minutes later, Matthew Turner, Competitive Cyclist MTB TEAM, was second at 5:38:37. Ten minutes later, Justin Raynes, Owenhouse Cycling, was third at 5:48:06.
Twenty-Four minutes later, Nathan Collier, Pedal Pushers KIND Racing, finished fourth at 6:12:54.
“The Pierre’s Hole 100km has been on my bucket list for years. Due to the race location’s distance from my home, I never thought I could make it happen. It wasn’t until a last minute family trip, planned in early June, that I could get off work, and luckily there were still spots open.
I showed up on race day with one goal — finish. I knew the race would start with a big climb, so I made sure to extend my race warm up so I was ready to go. This paid off since the race started out fast.
The first half of the race, I pushed harder than what I knew I should, but I just couldn’t help myself with the abundance of outstanding trail the Pierre’s Hole had to offer. I paid for it late in the first lap but, as an experienced endurance athlete, I knew that if I kept up with my fueling it would pass. By the time I finished the first lap, I was ready to attack the climb to start the second lap. It hurt, but I was able to push up the climb while still maintaining some clarity for a big descent down to Ski Hill Road. More amazedly, I still some gas left for the road climb as well.
The last hour of the race was brutal. The mind became foggy. It took everything in me to concentrate on picking good lines on the descents and giving it everything I had on the climbs. When I crossed the line, I had left every ounce of energy on the course —which, to me, defines a successful endurance race!”
Larrabee earns the W and gets second overall!
Cory Larrabee, Kuhl, earned his first NUE SS win this season at 5:33:44 using 32×20 gearing, second overall behind Men’s Open winner, Alex Pond.
“Pierre’s Hole 100 has now become somewhat of a tradition with me and my support crew of five kids and my wife Amber. This year I decided that the third lap on the 100 miler kinda ruined the fun factor so the 100K was for me. I knew the competition would be great with George Flynn in the mix in the single speed category.
At the start, George was climbing strong and was twenty seconds up on me and a couple other ss riders. At the road climb, George continued to hammer and I was not able to get on his wheel. Eric Melson went up and rode with George and I was again 15 seconds back. On the loop out on the north of the resort, I passed Eric and set my sights on George. I would see him a switch back up from me but could never close the gap. At the aid station, I stopped to get bottles and fuel from my amazing crew and rode through the start/finish.
Going up the hill toward the single track, George was there refueling. We rode together for almost the entire peaked climb and I kept thinking that this could get interesting if neither of us fades. At the road climb, we both refueled and were heckled by the Fitzgerald Cycling crew at the aid station.
At the top of the road climb, we passed another geared rider. Then, going into aid 2, I looked back and didn’t see George. At this point, I thought I had better do what I could to maintain the gap. Just after the aid, I passed another geared rider and was curious where I was in the field. No reason to worry about it I continued, knowing that I had approximately 10-15 miles left.
I pushed as hard as I could and was cheered into the finish by my great wife and kids. I am extremely grateful to my sponsor KUHL Clothing, ESI Grips, Wolf Tooth Components, and Carborocket. I know that I couldn’t race or train without their help. Also, I want to give a big shout to my wife and kids. Thank you for your cheers and support.”
Five minutes later, George Flynn, finished second at 5:38:28.
Sixteen minutes behind Flynn, Shannon Boffeli, MTBRaceNews, was third at 5:54:11.
“My race started off a little slower than I would have liked as Corey, George, and Eric took off as we headed up Peaked Mountain the first time. I was riding 34 x 21 Rotor elliptical gearing, which I felt was the right gear for me but may have made the first climb a bit tougher.
By the time we hit the descent, I couldn’t see the three leaders but I was feeling pretty good and having a great time making my way through the singletrack at Pierre’s. This race has such a great collection of trails it’s always one of the highlights of my season.
The second time up Peaked I could see Eric again just a couple minutes in front of me and, by the top, I moved into third but he quickly passed me back on the 38 Special descent. I stayed close and, by the time we started climbing again, I was close enough I could move past and open up a solid gap.
I finished third but, more importantly, had a great time riding the incredible array of purpose-built one-track that Grand Targhee has to offer all the while battling it out with some of my best friends on the race circuit. I’m already looking forward to next season!”
Harris wins Big!
David Harris, LW Coaching, wins the Masters division at 6:03:27, more than a half hour ahead of his nearest competitors.
Thirty-five minutes later, Ben Alexander, Team Rockford, was second at 6:38:34.
Six minutes later, Tim Walker, Non Stop/Sierra Cyclesmith, was third at 6:44:26.
“After pre-riding the course on Thursday, I thought this course and elevation suited me perfectly. At the start, I was eyeing who my fellow 50+ races were. I started out pretty fast but kept within my zone. About ten riders went super hard and I figured they were all 40+ racers.
Going onto Peaked trail, I was behind one guy with gray hair (definitely in my class). He was going really fast but I was wondering if he could keep that pace. He didn’t. Starting down 38 special, I kept my speed up with pushing too hard. Went right by the first aid station and started up the paved road. I didn’t know what place I was in but figured I was at least top three. One 50+ rider passed me up the hill and I went by one also. As I hit the section in Rick’s Basin, I was still going strong.
At the start of the second lap, I picked up my camelback (the first time in 30 years of racing I used one). Just as I left, I heard the announcer say that fourth place was right on my tail. It was time to get going! Going up Action Jackson and Buffalo Soilder, I kept the pace as high as I could and kept a gap to fourth. I rode steadily up to the top of the course and down 38 Special.
On Mill Creek, fourth place caught me and put a few seconds into me by the aid station. I lubed up my chain, asked a volunteer to pour water down my neck, and I was ready to go. Fourth place was still there and I joked to him that he could take as long as he needed eating. I was beginning to feel the effects of the race and needed as much time on him as possible as he was riding really strong. By the top of the road going into Jolly Green Giant, he had caught me and slowly pulled away. I never saw him again.
So I’m thinking now, I’m in fourth and just have to keep the legs turning to stay on the podium. I was riding a little bit slower than on the first lap but kept sipping on the CarboRocket and kept pushing towards the finish. About a mile from the finish, Jeremiah Bishop blasted by me leading the 100-mile race. I was happy to finish in fourth until, about thirty minutes after I finished, I saw that I was actually third. The guy that passed me going up the road on the first lap was vaporized on the second lap and carded a dnf. Overall a great race course and organization. Put this race on your “Must Do” list. My first Marathon podium and I am looking forward to the Grizzly 100k race in Big Bear.
Just one minute behind Walker, Brian Ressa, Utah Mountainbiking.com, was fourth at 6:45:40.
The NUE Race Series heads east to New Hampshire for the Crotched Mountain 100, formerly known as the Hampshire 100, on Saturday, August 19. Visit www.nuemtb.com for more information and stay tuned her for the latest news, photos and results.