Barry Wicks Sprints for the Win at High Cascades as Serena Gordon Rules the Women’s Field
By Ryan O’Dell
The Seventh Annual High Cascades 100 marked the midway point of the 14 race National Ultra Endurance MTB Race Series with yet another sold out NUE event. The HC100 begins at Bachelor Village, near Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon. Bend has become a well-known mountain bike destination with hundreds of miles of singletrack trails connecting nearby towns.
Deschutes Brewery, one of the top rated micro brewerys in the US, was onsite at the finish line serving up draft brews including Twilight Ale and newly developed Pinedrops IPA. Sagebrush Cycles of Bend, in addition to offering mechanical services on the race course, also offered racers a place to ship their bikes that included getting the bike race ready and inspected before the race.
Gordon Crushes HC100!
Serena Bishop Gordon, LIV/Giant Co-Factory Team, crushed the field by nearly an hour to finish 8:32:42. “Mike Ripley and the Mudslinger Events out-did themselves once again with great course design, amazing volunteers, and an after-party that made racers and their families want to hang out for hours.
Recent rains made for ideal trail conditions and I was excited for a long day of racing when we rolled out of the Athletic Club of Bend at 5:35am on Saturday. I tucked into the large group and drafted until we turned onto the dirt and started to climb. My goal was to ride within myself all day, keep to my fueling and hydration plan and to arrive at each aid station before any of my female competitors. Once we started climbing, I never saw another woman, and I never looked over my shoulder. Instead, I looked forward and tried to pick off the men in front of me, working to catch them one at a time.
I felt really strong on the climbs and tried to relax and recover on the descents. Breaking the race up into sections made all the difference; looking at the race as a whole would have been too overwhelming. It wasn’t until the Edison aid station (mile 80) that I started to feel the fatigue of a long day in the saddle. At this point, I just stayed focused and position – and set mini-goals.
I had told my coach, Brig Brandt, I wanted to finish in a time of 8:30. When I crossed the finish line and stopped my Garmin, it read 8:29. The official clock was at 8:32 – pretty darn close!”
Coming off a third place finish at the Mohican MTB100 in Ohio and fourth place at the Bailey Hundo in Colorado, Marlee Dixon, Pivot/Epic Brewing, took second to finish 9:21:33. Dixon is currently ranked fourth in the NUE point standings.
Julie Browning, CyclePath Racing, of Portland placed third at 9:31:45, winning the HC100 Vet 40+ Women’s Cat in the process. “This was my second 100 mile mountain bike race, my first one being HC100 the previous year. That first race was more about seeing whether I could finish in one piece. I finished just a hair under 10 hours and missed the Masters podium by a few seconds and thought, OK, I can do this again.
This year, I knew what I was getting myself into and was ready both mentally and physically to race, not just finish and made a few changes to my training and to my bike: dropper seat post, Racing Ralph Tires with snakeskin sidewalls (2.35 on the front and 2.25 on the rear) along with a Garmin to better gauge the time to the aid stations and the length of the climbs.
I started off conservatively, making the most of the flats and the downhills, but riding steady on any up hills. By aid station 3 (56 miles), I was feeling great and knew that there was a downhill section to look forward to. I was descending well (thanks to the dropper post and tires) and pushed it for over an hour on the swooping fun descent that took you right up to the next aid station at mile 70 before a tough climb.
My teammates had warned me about the Lava Lakes climb and I had built it up in my head as something that was totally un-rideable so I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t a sustained climb, but rather a stair stepped climb. It was still tough and required some walking though! I hit a few of the lava rocks a little hard and was so thankful my tires held up. Afterwards I heard that a bunch of riders weren’t so lucky and hobbled into aid station 5 with shredded tires.
After that final aid station at mile 80, I didn’t see anyone for quite some time which made me wonder if I was still on course! Then I caught up to another rider who told me he thought I was in third place overall. I had no idea! From there it was a race to the finish to hold onto that third place, which I did, crossing the finish line in 9:31:45. I loved the course and it suited me well. I’m amazed at how fast time flies when you are so focused (and having fun).
What made the race even more special was to have my family there supporting me in the aid stations and also a bunch of my Cyclepath team mates there racing and supporting. Everyone on the team had some personal victories that day. Good times and huge thanks to Mike and his crew for putting on such a great event and big thanks to the awesome mechanics at Cyclepath for keeping my bike running.”
Rebecca Rusch, Niner/Red Bull, placed fourth in 9:38:10. Rusch, known as “The Queen of Pain” among many recently published a book titled “Rusch to Glory” that features her exploits in the world of endurance racing. Her book is now available for just $20 at www.rebeccarusch.com.
The youngest woman to ever finish an NUE race at the age of 16, Susannah Hart, Hapi-Go, now 18, completed the race in11:26:09. “Susannah emerged from the race saying once again that her favorite part was the climb out of Lava Lake. According to her father, Brian Hart, “Favorite” was strangely absent from the choice words I heard from many of the other racers when we served them at the Edison aid station.”
Overall in the NUE Race Series point standings, Defending NUE Champion, Brenda Simril, Motor Mile Racing, leads the Women’s Open with back to back wins at Tatanka 100 and Bailey Hundo plus second place at the Mohican MTB100 and a third place at True Grit Epic.
Wick’s wins in a sprint finish
Barry Wicks, Kona, finished first in a close race that came down to a sprint finish with the strong man from Colorado. Wick’s finished in 7:50:50, just seconds ahead of NUE contender Josh Tostado, Santa Cruz/Swiftwick, who rolled in six seconds back with dust flying at 7:50:56.
According to Tostado, “I just had a great race and enough at the end to catch Barry and ride strong for the last hour. It was fun to sprint it out at the end.” Next for Tostado are the Big Bear Grizzly 100 and the Pierrie’s Hole 100. Josh Oppenheimer, TruWhip Cycling, came in just five minutes behind Tostado for third place at 7:55:55.
Fifteen minutes later, Brent Pontius, Roosters/Biker’s Edge, took fourth at 8:10:54. Two minutes separated fourth and fifth place with Christopher Jones, United Healthcare Pro Cycling, finishing 8:17:11 ahead of Matt Woodruff, Kuhl/Salsa Cycles, at 8:19:50.
The youngest NUE race finisher ever at the age of just thirteen, Brian Hart Jr., Hapi-Go, now 15 years old improved his finish time by more than three hours in the Men’s open at 9:54:35. The future of NUE has arrived! Hart says he may also enter the Mohican MTB100 in 2016.
Overall in the NUE Race Series point standings, Keck Baker, Champsys/Cannondale P/b Battley, leads the Men’s Open Division with four completed races, including a win at True Grit Epic and second place at the Mohican MTB100.
Single Speed Open
Shaklee gets a decisive win at High Cascades!
Ben Shaklee, Jack’s Bicycle Center/Homegrown Racing, stepped up his game and had sixteen minutes to spare when it was all said and done finishing the race in 8:18:21, good enough for seventh overall. Last year, Shaklee finished third behind NUE’s top contender AJ Linnell, Fitzgerald’s Bicycle, and Jace Ives.
31 year old Jace Ives, Bear Creek Bicycle/Syntace/SQ Lab, from Ashland, OR who earned his first win at the HC100 last year with six minutes to spare finished 8:34:18. “I knew coming into this year’s race I was lacking fitness. Even though I crammed pretty well during June, taking April and May mostly off would no doubt slow my pace. Early on, before racers turned onto the first dirt road, I position myself in the front (planning to avoid the dust, which there was little to none this year). I maintained in a front group of ten for a bit, then began to slip off the back. Soon, Ben Shaklee said hello while passing, then bridged up to the front group. Two other SS riders came by. I came through Aid 1 shortly after the three SS riders, but could not catch up to them. At this point my legs began to feel like they would at mile eighty, sore and tense.
I continued on slowly, frustrated at slight inclines, and happy when I could coast. I thought it strange to feel this level of fatigue early on; I thought I was in a bit better shape. From Swampy to the top of Swede Ridge I was pretty much by myself. After riding through the masticated, debris strewn dirt road climb, I tuned onto the trail and felt my legs slowly release themselves of the icky heavy feeling. I caught up to two other SS riders and several geared riders while climbing to Dutchman. I passed a few more on Metolius Windigo before the aid near Lava Lake. My legs where feeling crazy better, but by that time I was already beginning to become overall quite tired.
Climbing up Edison Lava trail, after passing a couple guys, I pulled over for a whizz, and to my surprise I saw another rider pushing a hard pace up the steep loose terrain. It was Serena Bishop Gordon! I got going again and caught up, but I could hardly keep up with her on the climbs and descents. She is one helluva good descender. I made it through the lava rocks without injury or shredding a tire. While negotiating the loose rocky terrain, I remembered back to last year’s race, when, after finishing, I suggested to Race Director Mike Ripley to bring the loop back around Mt. Bachelor, the lava section. Well here it is back in the race, the lava. Fun, yes? What the hell was I thinking?!
I overcame Serena and another rider before Tiddlywinks trail. I proceeded down the more Funner than Funner trail at an efficient pace, floating some of the tables and doubles. I came out on the road by myself and continued for a few miles spinning alone. I saw Serena and a male rider were coming up fast. Great, I thought, I can jump in with them. I hear them coming, so I increase my pace, and check back, but before I could react I see the guy passing me, standing up and sprinting, dropping Serena and not even giving me a chance to catch on. That was selfish I thought (even though, I selfishly wanted a pull). Somehow, after ninety three miles of dusty, twisty, rocky, and rooty trail, these final miles on a nearly flat road seemed the most annoying and difficult for me. I work hard to pass peeps up and down the trail, then get dropped on a long flat road. Suck it up ya dope, I told myself, you chose this archaic bike.
I finished a couple minutes after the racers who passed on the road, but a long time after Ben Shaklee. He hammered. Even if I did not miss two months of training in the spring, I think keeping up with his pace would be uncomfortable and difficult. Overall, I was surprised how horrible my legs felt for the first third of the track and surprised that I caught back up to finish in second place. Once again, I was just stoked to play bikes in Bend for a hundred miles!”
Twenty minutes behind Ives, Tom Flynn, Pro Leisure, finished 8:54:07. Four minutes behind Flynn, Cole Anderson took the fifth spot at 8:58:00.
Overall in the NUE Race Series point standings, Peat Henry, Team Noah Foundation, leads the SS Class with 21 points over five completed races.
Masters 50+ Open
Tonning refuses to settle for second place in 2015!
Following a second place finish at the HC100 last year, Wayne Tonning, Multnomah Athletic Club, from Lake Oswego, OR managed to outlast last year’s winner to settle the score at 8:38:50.
Just four minutes behind Tonning, last year’s race winner and NUE Race Series Contender, 52-year-old Greg Golet, Team Chico, from Chico, CA finished in 8:42:30. After the race, Golet commented that he felt he really needed this win to contend for the NUE title and is now re-evaluating whether it is still possible for him to win the series. Golet gained his first victory this year at the Bailey Hundo but also has a second place finish at True Grit Epic.
2013 NUE Master’s Champion, Marland Whaley, Hammer Nutrition/Red Barn Bicycles, rolled in six minutes behind Golet to take third on the day at 8:48:58. “I’ve been somewhat scarce due to an injury to my left arm that forced me to pull from True Grit and Cohutta 100. I went to Bailey and really enjoyed the race, but the last minute course change caused me to miscalculate my aid station support and left me running on fumes and getting my second camelback with only seven miles to go.
The HC 100 went somewhat better after dealing with some mechanical issues in the first thirty miles and a really big crash at speed just before Lava Lake that I thought, at first, was ending my day. After pulling branches out of my front wheel, I got back in pursuit moving up twenty places from Swampy to Lava. Coming into Lava, I made my last final mistake thinking I had enough in my camelback to get to Edison. There was a small crowd at the aid station so I decided to go for it. Much to my dismay, I took my last suck of fuel and hydration just 200 yards past the aid station.
Half way up the Lava Lakes climb, Greg Golet passed me back for second place when I was just trying to hang on and make it to Edison. After Edison, it took about two miles to get revived again and I was able to make a fast trip back to Bend.
This is the only other NUE race I will be doing this year because I’m off to Leadville next month. On a whim, I used a chance to visit my Dad and show my wife the Grand Canyon as an excuse to go to do the Barn Burner 104 qualifier. I didn’t expect much since it would be my third ultra-distance race in as many weeks but thought it would be fun. To my surprise, it was a day winning my class and earning a gold tier starting position with my finishing time. With this possibly being a once in a lifetime starting position for me, I decided to go for it.
So far, Bailey Hundo and the HC 100 have been training races without taper for me to prepare for Leadville. I’ve come into both races very fit but not really fast from building fatigue. I will taper for Leadville in two weeks and hopefully it will all come together as planned. Regardless of the outcome, it’s hard to watch some of my favorite races go by and I will be back soon.”
It was a close race for the four and five spots but Robert Wilson took fourth place by just six seconds at 9:38:05 ahead of David Caplan, Webcyclery, who finished in 9:38:11.
Next up for the NUE Race Series: Two unique races east and west.
EAST: Rock Solid-The rocky goodness of the Wilderness 101 in State College, PA.
WEST: The Big Bear Grizzly 100 in Big Bear, CA.