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Pierre's Hole: NUE #8

Posted by: Jen Hanks |September 23, 2012 3:36 PM
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The Pierre’s Hole 100 - Grand Targhee Resort

Presented by Hammer Nutrition

By Ryan O’Dell

Grand Targhee Resort, a full service ski resort offering abundant lodging, has become well known for regular and abundant waist deep powder in the winter, however, with miles of pristine trails continually being added each year, lift service, and high end rentals available for both XC and DH riding, Targhee is fast becoming a cool mountain destination resort for mountain bikers.  

The Fourth Annual Pierre’s Hole 100, held at Grand Targhee in Alta, showcased their trailbuilding acumen with a challenging race course that included 16,000+ feet of vertical combined with amazing descents, excellent facilities, superb management, and incredible jaw dropping views of the Tetons and surrounding mountains.

The wildflowers were in full bloom and waist high in many places along the singletrack. The weather was near perfect under blue skies, billowy clouds and mild temperatures. A gentle breeze on race day and local brews that included Sweetwater American Pale Ale and Howling Wolf Weisse from Grand Teton Brewing helped to keep racers and spectators cool throughout the day.   

Women’s Open

Carey faces off with a local black bear en-route to her fifth straight NUE Series win!

NUE defending champion, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) made it five NUE wins this year and by doing so, is in an enviable position in her bid for a third straight NUE Series Championship on her home course Saturday. Carey, who lives in nearby Victor, Idaho, set the pace for women, cruising in at 10:26:57 along a course that featured several more miles of additional singletrack making the course close to one hundred five miles. At one point, Carey faced off with a local black bear on Mill Creek.

"I went out with the lead men, trying to get into the single track in the top fifteen just so I wouldn't get stuck behind slower descenders down Mill Creek. I felt good most of the day, although I did choose to back off the pace the second half of the race - it really sunk in how long and hard of a day it would be once I saw how long it took to finish the first 50 miles and I had the upcoming Breck Epic in my head, so I knew I didn't want to completely crush myself. The nature of the course was crushing enough on its own!

It took me 1:13 longer than last year. It was definitely the hardest NUE I've ever done, the only event I can think of that may rival its difficulty was the old E100 in Park City. It was just relentless. You had to be on the pedals one hundred percent of the time either climbing or navigating technical descents. I got 16,000 feet of climbing in 105 miles. I was so happy to have such a great NUE series race close to home. The race was well run, the weather was perfect and I slept in my own bed!

The bear?! I was descending Mill Creek and scared a black bear that was traveling across the single track. Honestly, I don't know who scared who more! He stopped and stood his ground for a bit and I, of course, also came to a dead stop at just enough distance for it to be safe but also for it to feel way too close for comfort! It was scary for a moment for sure but he decided to scamper off after a few moments. It definitely took a long time for my heart rate to come down and for me to stop shaking. Needless to say I took it a bit easier on that last descent!”

Just three women were able to complete the challenging course this year! In second place, Christy Olsen (Fatfish Racing) of Casper, WY finished 12:06:10. Perhaps most impressive was Ellen Guthrie (Revolution/ Peak Fasteners), a 50+ racer from Salt Lake City, UT who, following her sixth place finish last year, completed the course to finish third on the podium in 14:15:07!

NUE Series contender, Andrea Wilson (Outdoors, Inc.) of Cordova, TN registered for the hundy but decided to drop down to the fifty mile race where she earned a podium spot. "I've had a couple of instances of not being able to recover following the hundreds and with the Breck Epic Singlespeed Stage Race World Championship starting eight days after Pierre's, I wanted to make sure I was totally rested and ready to give it hell next week!”


Men’s Open

Plews earns his first ever NUE Series victory!

Evan Plews (Ibis Cycles) achieved his first ever NUE Series victory, and became one of just two racers to go sub eight 8:44:56, following his impressive second place finish behind Barry Wicks (Kona) at the High Cascades 100.

With this victory, Plews acknowledged that he may make a late season run at the NUE Series title. "I did a few of the races back in 2008 and finished third in the series but never finished better than second in a race so it’s kind of fun to check that off the to do list (chuckling). I’ve worked really hard and that’s the thing about cycling that’s so cool. It’s like doing homework for a test. You put in the time and train really hard and eventually it comes good.”    

Ten Minutes later, Ben Melt Swanepoel (Squirt Lube) rolled under the Kenda arch at 8:54:10, his second two spot since the Breckenridge 100. Fifteen minutes later, Cary Smith (Team CF) crossed the line in 9:09:29 and had this to say, "Today’s race at Targhee was in the running for the hardest race of the series, in my opinion. Luckily, the weather was perfect. Nice and chilly at the start but never getting too hot.

The race started fast, with Drew Edsall leading us up the first dirt road climb. When he eased off slightly I was able to move into the lead and have a dust-free descent for the twenty minute descent down to Mill Creek. I kept a slightly mellower pace than I would on the later laps, as last week I almost broadsided a cow early in the morning!

As we started the climb up the pavement a group of four formed. Plews, who likes to race from the front, set the pace the whole way, with Swanepoel, Clint Muhlfeld (Sportsman Ski Haus/Hammer Nutrition) and myself content to sit on his wheel. The conditions all day were quite dusty, so there was a definite advantage to leading the descents, especially down Bustle Creek, which was significantly more rutted than in years past.

The four of us were still together on the steep Dry Creek climb, but when we hit the upper pavement section, Evan increased his tempo. Ben went with him but the pace was too high for Clint and me, knowing that we had a long day ahead of us. We actually all came back together as we entered the base area at Grand Targhee Resort but then Evan and Ben again went on the attack, this time for good.

I was dangling behind them, with a slight gap over Clint, which I kept until the top of the Dry Creek climb. Clint was feeling good and put about thirty minutes on me. This was a low point of the race for me, as I was actually thinking of abandoning because the thought of two more laps up Dry Creek seemed very unappealing. Once we were back on the rolling singletrack in Rick’s Basin, however, I ate and drank from my trusted Hammer arsenal to ease the slight leg cramps that were forming and eventually caught and passed Clint to open a gap that I would maintain until the finish.

Evan was flying today, and Ben was also having a banner day. As the time splits to them kept increasing, I just tried to keep a steady pace on the climbs and have fun on the descents in order to maintain my position.”

The next four racers to finish sub ten hours came in just minutes apart led by Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt) from Ft. Myers, FL 9:24:41 who finished fourth, moving him into second place just one point behind the defending champion Christian Tanguy (Team CF) in the NUE Series. "My legs were pleased that I decided to go with my Felt Nine LTD Hardtail for the race and put on a lighter Kenda Kozmik Lite II Race tire on the front wheel and a fast rolling Kenda 24Seven SCT tire on the back. The bike worked great, but I've got a lot of work to do to get my "native Floridian legs" up to speed for all this climbing at altitude.

This race reminded me of why I love the sport. I get challenged at every one of these NUE races. They break me down mentally and physically and I feel like I’ve achieved something every time I finish an NUE race. I almost quit at one point until I grabbed some "magic" freshly baked mini cupcakes at the aid station along with some awesome watermelon. That was the perfect mix to get me going again.”

Edsall was followed closely by Jamie Lamb (Cyclesmith) from Halifax, NS placing fifth at 9:29:31. Lamb is a former member of the Canadian National Cycling Team in both the mountain bike and road disciplines, having formerly concentrated on Olympic XC in his younger years, riding for Kona. 

"I moved to the road in 2006, racing for Louis Garneau for two years, before deciding to concentrate on academics upon the end of my U23 days. I graduated from law school this spring, and, having decided not to practice law, began training in a panic as I looked forward to the Canadian XCO Championships in June (I placed 14th) and American endurance races.  I’m targeting the Canadian XCM Championships in Quebec on August 26th, hoping that if the planets are aligned I might find myself on my way to Marathon World’s in France.

I was impressed with and unprepared for the speed with which we left the line. Coming from a background of traditional XC, it’s hard to wrap your mind around starting at full power, knowing you’ll be on the bike for nine hours!  I suffered on the higher climbs due to the elevation, but was able to make time on the lower paved climb, and spent most of the race battling with Sam Sweetser for sixth place.  I was able to lose him on the main climbs of the last lap, also catching Clint Muhlfeld, and moving into fifth.  I gave everything I had to stay out of their sight on the upper section. With the mountain peaks looming above us, all of the climbs in that section were deceptively tough.  These races shatter you like nothing I’ve experienced in cycling! I can’t wait to do it again!” Lamb plans to compete next at the Shenandoah 100.

Less than two minutes later, Sam Sweetser (Cole Sport Racing) from Park City, UT finished 9:31:14. "I found myself riding with Jamie for the first forty miles until he put the hammer down on the second time up Bustle Creek and dropped me. From there, I just tried to maintain a steady pace and hoped I would eventually be able to ride back to his wheel.

Entering the last lap, people told me he was close. I tried to up the pace, but I was at my limit and could just not reel him back in.  Entering Rick's Basin for the last time, I was again told there was a one hundred miler not very far up the road. This gave me some more motivation to go just a little bit harder. Eventually, climbing out of Rick's Basin, I caught and passed Clint to move into sixth but with so many fifty mile riders mixed in, I had no idea I had moved up a spot until he graciously let me pass and told me I was now in sixth.” One minute later Clint Muhlfeld from Whitefish, MT rolled into seventh place at 9:32:54.

NUE contender, Ernesto Marenchin (pivot cycles) from Stowe, OH got off to a rough start following a crash on lap two of the race, "Up through the tough climb, and back through the camping area, I had dropped my two companions and set on my way, only to take quite a spill on a small bridge. I managed to smash my knee and knock the wind out of myself. After taking a minute or two to come to my senses, I pushed on having lost about six spots or so.

Back out on the second lap, things were starting to settle in and I passed all the riders that got past me on my spectacular crash. On lap three, a rider who I had dropped earlier caught up and went blazing up the road climb. I would never see him again. I was starting to feel the heat and my sugar was getting low so I started fueling up on Coca Cola when I could, thanks to the awesomely stocked fuel stops along the way.

By the start of lap four, I had managed to ride most of the race by myself. It was good to keep the dust out of my lungs, but bad for my mental state. Nearing the finish, I made a final push to try to get to the 10:15 cutoff for the belt buckle prize for all those under a 10:15 time, but I missed it by 5 minutes, however, any day I can get a top ten at an NUE race after a decent crash early on, is a good one.”

All racers who finish sub 10:15 were awarded the coveted Gold Pierre’s Hole Buckle and one local racer, who has sought the buckle for four years now, could not have been more pleased to make the cutoff. By a mere two minutes, Gabe Klamer (Fitzeralds Bicycles) of Jackson, WY finished eighth on the day as the final Buckle recipient in the Men’s Open Division, 10:12:11.


Pfluginator back in top form and "Moving like a machine” according to Rockwell

NUE defending champion, forty three year old, Gerry Pflug, (Salsa /Notubes/Top Gear), added brick and mortar to his series lead with just four races remaining, getting his first win since suffering a debilitating tick bite at Syllamo’s Revenge earlier this season. Pflug has three wins now, adding to his second and third place finishes on the comeback trail. Three of those races have been on back to back weekends! The Pfluginator finished 9:58:24, a half hour ahead of his nearest competitor and was the only singlespeeder the finished sub ten! 

According to Pflug, "With only two NUE Series Race wins this year, I very much needed a win at Pierre's Hole to get me closer to another series win. A win at Pierre's Hole was even more important for me with NUE Series contender AJ Linnell being at the race. AJ had really good fitness at the High Cascades 100, where he finished first, and I was sure beating him on his home course would not be an easy task.

When the race started, I got to the front of the field and tried riding the long opening climb at a fast pace. I could tell just a couple of minutes into the climb that it was going to be a long day because the 8000 plus feet of elevation was making breathing difficult for me. Additionally, the colder temperatures at the start of the race never seem to help me ride fast.

I was soon caught on the opening climb by AJ, Trevor Rockwell and Mike McShane. The three of them put a little time on me down the long Mill Run descent and I was starting to feel a little concerned about how things were going. I caught Mike on the long road climb back out of the valley, but Trevor and AJ actually put more time into their lead over me.

Eventually, when the temperature started to warm-up, my legs finally felt like going hard and I got a view of AJ and Trevor before going into Rick's Basin the second time, probably about forty miles or so into the race. AJ wasn't looking too good when I passed him and Trevor was only able to hang with me for another mile or so before I was able to get clear from him. From that point, I just stayed on the gas and continued riding hard to eventually get the SS win.

The new course design at Pierre's Hole is a lot of fun, but it is a brutal SS course. The long and steep Dry Creek climb felt almost impossible to ride on a SS at times, but I was able to clear it all four times up the climb. I used a 30x19 gear ratio, which was a little bigger gear than last year, and by the end of the race, I was starting to regret it. I also used a rigid fork for this race, but will definitely be using a suspension fork next year given the new single track descending here.”

AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald's Bicycles/Misfit Psycles), the local favorite from Victor, ID was forced to drop out after experiencing stomach flu like symptoms. Linnell still presents the greatest threat to Pflug’s quest for a three-peat following his impressive win at the High Cascades 100 and second place finish at Breckenridge.   

Twenty seven year old, Trevor Rockwell (Decorah Bicycles/Twin Six) of Decorah, IO placed second 10:29:52. "I was feeling great on the climbs, pushing a 33 x 20, especially the road climbs where I eventually opened a little gap on AJ. I would later learn that AJ pulled the plug after this lap with sickness from early in the week.  Coming out of my pit on lap two, Pflug came screaming up looking very strong. I went with him trying to finish the lap with him but my body was feeling a little mid-race fatigue and he was moving like a machine.”

Mike Shane finished third 11:23:29, "Having raced Pierre's the last two years I thought I knew what to expect.  This year proved to be the hardest by far.  I haven't had a lot of time to ride this year with a baby now, so I have been going into races this year to just go out and ride. As it turned out, the race proved to be less of a ride and more about survival for me.  I felt ok in the morning before the race.  My legs felt a little fatigued but I knew as the race wore on they would wake up but they never really did. 

From the start of the race I found myself riding behind AJ with Trevor following close.  We rode the first climb and into the first decent together.  With local knowledge behind him, AJ started to get a small gap in the new single track.  It became clear pretty quickly that my day was going to be long because I was not descending well at all.  Not long after AJ started to pull away I looked back and still had Trevor on my wheel so I let him by.  When I got out to the road climb I saw AJ and Trevor only about a minute up the road and thought that wasn't too bad for not riding well.  That is when Gerry pulled up to me and we rode together up to the descent into the ranch.  After that I never saw him or Trevor again. 

For the rest of the first lap I began to wonder if I was going to even finish because my legs were not waking up.  I had just settled in and rode towards Rick’s basin when I was told that I was now about four minutes back.  I was really surprised because I was not feeling well.  Out in Rick’s I saw AJ from across the meadow and thought that I might feel better on the second lap to maybe pick up the pace.  It did not get any better as the second lap started and by the bottom of the road climb I just decided that it wasn't going to be my day and that I needed to just finish. 

The new singletrack added this year was taking it out of me and it was becoming clear that the day was going to be harder than I had anticipated. On the third lap AJ's wife said he was thinking about pulling.  I was bummed because he has been riding like a man possessed but I saw him again on the climb out of the first aid station and knew he wasn't doing well because I was definitely not riding very fast. 

By the time I got to the aid station on the road AJ was sitting there not looking good. At that point I knew I would have third place wrapped up because I hadn't seen anyone in such a long time that I knew I needed to just keep riding to finish.  Getting through the rest of lap three was difficult, but the fourth lap turned out to be nothing more than pure stubbornness.   I have never DNF'd and just put my head down and kept pedaling. 

In the end I was able to keep the voices in my head from letting me quit and placed third.  It was not a pretty race for me.  I hurt for two thirds of the race.  I do not know why it was that much harder but it was.  I think this may have been the hardest 100 I have done to date.  My time this year turned out to be two hours slower than last year!   I knew I wasn't riding strong but two hours!  Overall the race was great.  The course was challenging and throws a little bit of everything at you.  Now if I can get my act together for Park City in three weeks!”

Trevor Bain (Archidocederbonga) of Wilson, WY, 11:56:14, and Richard Long (Cyclesmart Grassroots Team) of Orono, MA, 12:54:01, rounded out fourth and fifth. Just five SS racers were able to finish!

Masters 50+

Hershberger wins nail-biter in the Masters!

Just nine masters went the distance on Saturday led by fifty-four year old Mark Hershberger (Hoback Sports) who emerged victorious in a close race with the top three masters who finished just minutes apart. The local favorite from Jackson, WY, Hershberger finished 11:34:15, just over a minute ahead of fifty year old Dave Reynolds (Contender Bike) of Salt Lake City, UT at 11:35:52 who placed third last year. Hershberger, a top NUE Series contender, placed second at Syllamo’s Revenge and fifth at the Breckenridge 100.

Hershberger commented, "Living in Jackson an hour away, I knew this was a very hard course and that the race would likely be decided on the last of four laps. Marland Whaley was coming off two strong second place finishes, but this course takes its toll so I stayed with my game plan to ride for the last lap and not go out too hard.  At mile 81 I passed Marland on Hurricane Ridge. He's a strong rider and I'm sure he was feeling the fatigue of coming off two 100 miler’s in three weeks. I'm looking forward to the Park City Point to Point!”

Seven minutes later, fifty-four year old Marland Whaley (Red Barn Bicycles) passed through the Kenda arch in 11:42:56. Whaley has back to back second place finishes at Breck and the High Cascades 100, making him a leading contender for the title behind NUE Series leader Ron Sanborn (Einstein Racing) who has three wins plus a second place at the W101 and Roger Masse (Trek) who placed second at the Mohican 100 and first at the Wilderness 101 last weekend.

According to Whaley, it shook down this way, "Things were basically going well for the first two laps despite a crash on Mill Creek.  I wanted the buckle and was running at my goal time per lap. Then, on the third lap, everything changed.  I forgot my fuel bottle that covered my next two laps so I had to ride back and get it. Then, on the first pavement climb I knew I was in trouble. Riding a hardtail on that course was exhausting my back and arms.

Bottom line, I think as a first year NUE rookie at the tender age of 54, three tough races in four weeks was too much for me, including travel for 400 miles. I soft pedaled to aid stations at a pathetically slow pace just trying to hang on and finish....I'm learning!” 

 Rounding out the top six were fifty year old Gary Gardiner (Bountiful Bicycle Racing) of Centerville, UT 12:35:51, fifty-six year old John Lauk (Bountiful Mazda Cycling Team) from Bountiful, UT at 13:03:57, and Emil Gercke (Fat Fish Racing) of Casper, WY in 13:07:18. Fifty-six year old Dave Bell (that'll leave a mark) of Ketchum, ID finished seventh following a fourth place finish last year. 

What’s NEXT?!

The Kenda NUE Series race shifts hard east to New England for the Sixth Annual Hampshire 100, making its debut in the NUE Series on Sunday, August 19.  The race benefits the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center ( and consists of a 100 kilometer and 100 mile course that wind’s through the beautiful and varied terrain of Southern New Hampshire.

Most all of the NUE races have sold out this year and registration is filling up quickly in New Hampshire with 330 currently registered and a field limit of just five hundred so don’t lose your place in line and stay tuned here for the complete story, results and photos.  


Men's Open:


Evan Plews

Ibis Cycles



Ben Swanepoel

Squirt Lube



Cary Smith

Team CF



Drew Edsall




Jamie Lamb




Sam Sweetser

Cole Sport Racing



Clint Muhlfield

Sportsman Ski Haus/Hammer



Gabe Klamer

Fitzgerald’s Bikes



Jonathan Davis

Trek Bike Store



Ernesto Marenchin

Pivot Cycles



Chad Harris




Michael Muhlestein

Roosters/Biker’s Edge



Brock Cannon

Brock Cannon



Josh Jacquot

The Path Bike Shop



John Malloy

Planet Earth



Brian Blair

The Path Bike Shop



Bryson Deppe

Ed Cycles



Shad Hamilton

Lander Cycling



Jeremy Larsen

Rose Bike/Dr. Milleson Alpine



Tony Buoncristiani

Sawtooth Orthopedics



Paul Berry




Dave Byers

Fitzgerald’s Bicycles



Mark Llinares

The Hub



Travis Ward




Bill Josey




Brian Wieczorek

Freddie Fu Cycling



Jesse Ferrer




Andrew Jordan

Revolution/Peak Fasteners



Michael Belser

Fat Fish Racing


 Open Women:


Amanda Carey




Christy Olsen

Fatfish Racing



Ellen Guthrie

Revolution/Peak Fasteners


Singlespeed Men:


Gerry Pflug

Salsa/Notubes/TOP Gear



Trevor Rockwell

Decorah Bicycles/Twin Six



Mike Shane




Trevor Bain




Richard Long

Cyclesmart Grassroots Team


Master Men 50+


Mark Hershberger

Hoback Sports



Dave Reynolds

Contender Bike



Marland Whaley

Red Barn Bicycles



Gary Gardiner

Bountiful Bicycle Racing



John Lauck

Bountiful Mazda Cycling Team



Emil Gercke

Fatfish Racing



Dave Bell

That’ll leave a mark



William Cross

William Cross



Hal Loewen

Olympia Cycling Club


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