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True Grit Epic Preview

Posted by: Matt Williams |May 14, 2014 2:10 AM
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KENDA NUE Series #1

True Grit Epic

March 12, 2014

By Ryan O’Dell

On Saturday, The True Grit Epic Bike Race, will enter its second year as the KENDA NUE Series Opener! Now in its fourth year of existence, True Grit has made several improvements to its race course based on racer’s suggestions.

According to True Grit Race Director, Cimarron Chacon, "The race course now includes the lower Bear-Claw Poppy Trail and will no longer require additional laps on the Barrel Rolls Trail. For those new to the race, this means a smooth transition between course segments and a more fun and varied route. The lower poppy is the result of hard work and negotiation with the Fish and Wild life service to obtain the permit in this section. We hope to make them proud and demonstrate how great racers can be.”

To the delight of racers, the forecast for True Grit will be a high of 72 degrees under mostly sunny skies. Since joining the NUE Series, the race has nearly doubled in size with nearly 370 registered racers last year.

Women’s Open

Sornson returns to defend last year’s win!

NUE Defending Champion, Cheryl Sornson, Rare Disease Cycling (formerly Team CF), will return to defend her win at True Grit and her NUE title this year. Last year, she finished 8:36:04before going on to win five straight, finishing the season undefeated with a total of seven NUE wins.

Following her win last year, Sornson commented, "True Grit was a great adventure and a good test of early season fitness.”

Brenda Simril, Motor mile racing, returns following her third place finish last year at the race before going to finish third overall in the NUE Series including a win at Pierre’s Hole. Among the top contenders, Sonya Looney, Ergon/Topeak, is entering for the first time and a strong contender on the roster along with Jocelyn Linscott,Toasted Head Racing, who finished ninth overall in the NUE Series last season.


Men’s Open

Will Grant return to defend his title?!

Last year’s winner, Alex Grant, Sho-Air/Cannondale, completed the course in just 6:41:37, that’s an average speed of 13.31 MPH. He is not on the roster yet but has a reputation for showing up at the final bell.

Among the top contenders returning from last year that are already on the roster, Cary Smith, Rare Disease Cycling, who finished second, just three minutes behind Grant. Last year Smith overtook the strongman from the high mountains of Colorado on the three fingers of death by taking a harder line on the middle finger, no less. Smith has raced all three years of the 100 mile option and stood first or second on the podium every year. Josh Tostado, Santa Cruz/Maxxis/Shimano, took third at True Grit last year, but returns from high altitude, and numerous victories, along with the course experience he gained last year.

Returning for a second shot at victory is Jonathan Davis, Trek Colorado, who placed fifth last year, will, no doubt, use his race experience to his advantage this year. Also returning is Drew Edsall, Pro's Closet /Stans No Tubes, a formidable competitor who placed first at the NUE Syllamo’s Revenge last season along with a fourth place finish at the Lumberjack 100.

New to this year’s roster, Philly native Jesse Kelly, Rare Disease Cycling, placed 7thoverall in the NUE Men’s Open last season. Justin "the honey badger” Lindine, Redline Factory/NBX, hopes to get his season on track early this year following his second place finish at the Wildcat 100 last season.

Jeff Kerkove, riding for race sponsor Ergon, has been a leader in racing at other big endurance events such as The Whiskey 50 and La Ruta. Although this will be his first time racing the True Grit 100, he has been coming out frequently for training rides, and crushed the course last Saturday during a Camp Lynda pre-ride with other pro’s.”

Also, keep an eye on 28 year old Kyle Taylor, 92fifty' racing, from Black Hawk CO, who, according to Chacon, stepped in and set all sorts of new records in the geared category at frog hollow this year.


Singlespeed

The Pfluginator faces a formidable SS field

Five-time defending NUE Singlespeed Champion, Gerry Pflug, Rare Disease Cycling, will return to defend his True Grit title. Last year, the Pfluginator narrowly edged out AJ Linnell, Fitzgerald's Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/American Classic, to get his first "W” of the season in7:30:35. Linnell fought back later into the NUE season at the Tatanka 100, handing Pflug his only loss of the season. The battle between Pflug and Linnell continued all season, each getting wins at different NUE Series races in what became the most hotly contested division in the NUE Series. Expect sparks to fly between these contenders.

Ernesto Marenchin, Pivot Cycles and Twin 6, who finished third overall in the NUE Series behind Pflug and Linnell is on the roster. Marenchin peaked late in the season last year with second place finishes at both Shenandoah and Fool’s Gold. Also testing his grit will be Trevor Rockwell, Team Noah Foundation/Decorah Bicycles, who finished fourth overall in the NUE Series last year, including second place finishes at Syllamo’s Revenge and Pierre’s Hole.

Adding fuel to the battle for early season SS supremacy is Cameron Chambers, Podium Cycles, a former national 24 hour champion and podium finisher at the Breckenridge 100. He could make a big statement by winning race #1.

Locally, Jamon Whitehead, CutThroat/ BeeHive , is the Gro Races 25 Hours in Frog Hollow single speed champ and a record holder who will be taking on the 100 on a towny bike. His goal is to finish under the cut-off times.


Masters 50+

Ohio’s Jolin will defend his Masters Victory at True Grit

The top three finishers of last year’s True Grit Epic are back this year! However, it was 53 year old David Jolin, Stark Velo from Bellville, Ohio who nabbed his first NUE Series victory in 8:40:08before going on to experience his best NUE series run ever!

At the Fool’s Gold Championship race last year, Jolin, finished just behind Marland Whaley, Red Barn Bicycles, to finish second overall in the NUE Series. No doubt, Jolin would like to relaunch his second attempt at the title with a big win at True Grit. "Even though my body told me differently, I did enjoy this race venue. The Zen Trail and Barrel Roll had plenty of technical climbs and descents that required picking a good line and, even then, it got dicey. The course also had some great rollers that could get you up to great speed (stuckie trail) and let you just hammer away. I think this was a great venue for the opener.”

Perhaps his biggest competitor will be the man from Salt Lake that, last year, finished just over a minute behind him. At 8:41:24, 52 year old Jody Bailey, 4Life/Mad Dog, is back for another crack at Jolin. "NUE has always been my favorite race series.”

50 year old Charles Buki, Rare Disease Cycling, is also returning following his third place True Grit finish last year. Leading the series at one point, Buki went on to finish seventh place overall in the NUE series.

Two new guns are headed to Utah! Cohutta 100 (NUE #2) winner last year, Mark Drogalis, Cycle Center Columbia, is starting his season a wee bit earlier this year. Last season, the now 51 year old Drogalis finished sixth overall in the NUE Series, including an impressive fourth place finish at Shenandoah, the largest race in the NUE series. At 51, Roger Sutton, Brick City Bicycles, is blowing in from sunny Florida gunning for an early season win. Last year he placed second at the Cohutta 100.

Stay tuned here for the latest results, photo and stories!

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