Jamie Lamb and Brenda Simril Take the Open Titles in South Dakota
By Ryan O’Dell
On Saturday, July 11, The Kenda NUE Series headed to Sturgis, South Dakota, home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally. This year, Tatanka also became the first point to point race in the NUE Series with the start line located within the shadow of USA National Landmark Mount Rushmore.
Beneath the magnificence of mammoth rock sculptures representing four of our nation’s greatest presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, NUE racer’s made their way down the Centennial Trail along a mix of gnarly single track and fast, smooth cruising trail all the way to Sturgis, nestled at the base of the northern Black Hills in extreme western South Dakota. Due to the added difficulty of this year’s race course, Race Director Kevin Forrester opted to shorten the race distance from 100 miles to 80 miles.
Due to an unusual amount of rainfall leading up to race day, some small portions of the trail were rerouted. Temperatures this year reached an unseasonable high of 93 degrees but were tempered by low humidity and strong breezes throughout the day.
Simril makes it two straight at Tatanka, and leads the NUE Series!
Following her most recent win at the Bailey Hundo in Colorado, defending NUE Race Series Champion, Brenda Simril, Motor Mile Racing, notched her second straight win at Tatanka by a large margin to finish 8:53:19. Simril now leads the NUE Series this year with back to back wins plus a second place finish at the Mohican 100 in Ohio and a third place finish at True Grit Epic in Utah.
Following her third place finish at the Lumberjack 100 in Michigan, Jill Martindale, Grand Rapids Bicycle Co., finished second at Tatanka in 10:47:36. Martindale has also moved into second place overall in the NUE Race Series. “I knew going into the race that the course was going to be hilly, a lot rockier than I had ever experienced, and really hot. Since there were a lot of unknowns during this race, my top priority was to just finish!
I knew if I crashed in the beginning it would hurt me for the long haul, so I rode within my limits and safely through the rocks at the start of the race. I entered the single track a decent ways back from Brenda and didn’t actually think I’d see her again, knowing she was used to the heat and the terrain. Before the first aid station, on a rocky downhill, I was passed by Beverly from Hammer Nutrition. It looked like the rocks were giving her as hard of a time as they were giving me, and I tried to stick close behind her, but also paid attention to my body and let back on the gas when I felt like the heat was getting too intense. The last thing I wanted was to overheat and to burn all my matches!
Once I hit the midpoint of the race, I knew I had a decent amount of energy left and was able to pass some racers who had burned out at the beginning of the race. When I passed a friend who had gone out too hard at the start of the race, he tried to shout that I was in second place, but I didn’t hear him. So I actually kept chasing Beverly, hoping to catch her! It probably lucked out in my favor, having a rabbit to chase, because it kept me focused. Beverly had taken a wrong turn and wound up coming through the finish a little while after me. The heat didn’t get to me as bad as some other racers I passed. I made sure to stay extra hydrated and drank a lot. If I started feeling exhausted, I just took it back a notch until I felt better. I paced myself really well for this race.
The highlights of the race for me were the shuttled start to Mount Rushmore, the free-roaming cattle (riding over the cattle guards was so much fun!), and all of the incredible views! The course was absolutely beautiful and the downhills made the climbing entirely worth it. I’m pretty sure every race should have river crossings. On the second crossing I dunked my entire head, helmet and all, into the river. IT WAS AWESOME! I had a really great attitude the entire race, thoroughly enjoyed every part of it, and will definitely be back!
I saw a lot of people out there with flats and was so happy to be riding with my Velocity Blunt SS wheels and tires with a durable sidewall.”
Beverly Enslow, Team Hammer Nutrition, took the third spot on the podium at 11:48:30. Former NUE Race Series Champion, Amanda Carey, Luna Sunscreen, was registered to race but an unresolved bike issue reportedly prevented her from being ready for Tatanka. Carey, who won the Cohutta 100 and placed second at True Grit Epic earlier this season, is expected to defend last years win at the High Cascades 100 in Bend, OR next weekend.
Lamb gets his first NUE win at Tatanka!
Jamie Lamb, Bicisport Calgary, started strong and finished strong gaining his first win in the NUE Series at 7:11:13. Early in the race, Lamb stuck to the wheel of Kelly Magelky, Honey Stinger, breaking away from the pack to build a significant lead. Late in the race, the heat would take its toll on Magelky who dropped out at Aid four.
Jesse Kelly, Toasted Head Racing, moved up to place second at 7:51:53. Six minutes later, Nathan Collier, Pedal Pushers Racing, worked hard to take the three spot in 7:57:56.
The next several racers jockeyed for position throughout the race but in the end it was Rob Batey, Feedback Sports, claiming fourth at 8:22:55. Just five seconds separated fifth and sixth place with Kevin Campbell, Spokes-n-Skis, arriving at 8:26:20 and Tim Lutz, 92Fifty Cyclery, finishing sixth at 8:26:25. Two minutes later, Brian Roggeveen, Momentum Racing, took the seventh and final spot in 8:28:51.
Two-time Tatanka winner and local favorite, James Meyer, Quark/SRAM, from nearby Spearfish, SD placed thirteenth at 9:02:21. Two-time US Olympian and Hall of Fame racer Tinker Juarez, who placed second overall in the NUE Series last year, was on the start list but sidelined following a bad crash at a recent race in Mexico suffering a cracked pelvis. Juarez is improving now but expected to be out for at least five weeks. He was scheduled to compete at the upcoming High Cascades 100 and Big Bear Grizzly 100.
Trent earns his first NUE win at Tatanka!
Richie Trent took a decisive victory in the SS, finishing in 8:01:45, placing fourth overall! “After leaving Mt. Rushmore, the short “climb” that was more of a false flat, that led into the first section of trail almost immediately, did little to spread the field out. Almost immediately there would be deep mud pits which had most riders getting off of their bikes. This would be the theme of the day, an adventure mountain bike race at its best. No watered down flow trail here.
I worked my way up in the first 5-10 miles to try and get some clear air. The first hour was mostly heinous, rocky, hike-a-bikes. On and off the bike constantly, I rode into aid one with Jesse Kelly. We had no idea what position we were in. After aid one I was caught by a few others on the flats that had the benefit of gears! Once the climbing started back up, I was quickly back and onto Jesse Kelly’s wheel again. We rode together for some number of miles, at one point blowing past a turn in the trail, which led us into a meadow and up a big hike-a-bike. At the top the trail fizzled out and we saw no course markings, so were forced to double back, losing around ten minutes.
Once we were back on the trail, I passed Kelly and spent the next hour regaining a few lost positions. At aid two, I was told the next guy was only a minute or so ahead. It was Nathan Collier, and I would find and pass him within a few miles. Reaching aid three I was really beginning to feel the heat. Water was a hot commodity at this point, and I was depleting my reserves much quicker than usual. I was told Magelky was only a few minutes ahead, which really surprised me.
Collier caught me at aid three and took off before me, but I was back on his wheel and passed within a mile or so. I could tell that he was focused and intent on making this a race. The middle 30-40 miles of the course involved a lot of fast double track and mud! With so many mud-pits and water, I was really enjoying the adventure aspect of this race. Unfortunately, at around hour five (mile 55), I began to really feel the heat and was out of water for a solid hour. Coming into aid four there were at least four knee-deep stream crossings. Completely out of gas and overheated, I was loving walking through the cool water. At the last stream crossing, Jesse Kelly caught me and said Collier was close behind. We reached aid four together and were told we were in 2nd and 3rd. I had no idea we were that far up.
Jesse took off and had way more steam than me. From this point the trail mostly pointed down. Miles and miles of super fun, sometimes flowy, sometimes steep and rocky and fairly technical singletrack, the entire way back to Sturgis. I had been running on fumes and dealing with massive leg and body cramps for hours at this point, and with about three miles to the finish, Collier caught me to take back third place. After not having raced in a year, I was super excited to take 1st SS and fourth overall. The Tatanka course was one-of-a-kind and a phenomenal experience.”
Thirty-six minutes later, Pete Henry, Team Noah Foundation, claimed second place dedicating his finish to two-time Tatanka winner and NUE Race Series contender, A.J. Linnell, Fitzgerald’s Bicycles/Pivot Cycles, of Victor, ID who died tragically earlier this year in a plane crash. Henry finished the race in 8:37:25, moving into first place in the NUE Race Series point standings.
Thirteen minutes behind Henry, Tyler Huber, BCBC/Larson’s Cyclery, took third in 8:50:09. Thirty minutes later, Ernesto Marenchin, Pivot Cycles, Twin 6, WAS Labs, took fourth at 9:20:21 moving up to fourth place overall in the NUE Race Series point standings.
“Last year’s race course was nothing but spikes in elevation with very little flat spots. This year’s course had approximately 10,000 feet of vertical according to my profile. After a short transport from Sturgis, we arrived at Rushmore. It was awesome having the entire Mount Rushmore monument open just for our start as it was not open for visitors at the early time of day. There were a few rollers on the road before we hit the single track and the first and highest climb of the day was roughly around 5800 feet.
I ended up running a 35×20 based off of last year’s profile and was soon debating if I had picked the right gear. It had some hike and bike on the first climbs but the temps were cool and it was early, so I hoped the steepness would back off a little and it did. I started to pick off a few riders here and there and soon I was riding alone starting around mile 25 or so. I would ride with riders not for very long as either the descent was too fast for me to keep their pace or the steepness was too great and I had to keep the pace rolling.
The views on course were awesome and coming from the Ohio area and not getting to see these areas often, I have to admit I slowed my pace to take in the view on more than one occasion. Soon, the heat started bumping up and I slowed my pace a bit to avoid getting overheated as it rose to just over 90 degrees. Four deep and cool water crossings had me feeling awesome again coming into aid station three sitting in third place. I ended up taking a wrong turn, but got back on track right about the time the heat hit me pretty hard. I would end up fourth on the day, a tough and epic day!”
Singlespeed finisher Jason Zoll may have missed the podium by a few spots on Saturday but was fortunate to be chosen as the winner of a new Lauf Fork. Lauf is offering a fork to one lucky singlespeed winner at each NUE race this season. Weighing in at just 4.3lbs, Lauf Forks have been ridden to victory by five-time NUE SS Champion Gerry Pflug and NUE Series contender A.J. Linnell.
Simril gets his first NUE Race win!
50 year old Lee Simril, Motor Mile Racing, husband and coach of defending Women’s Champion Brenda Simril, took his turn in the spotlight by earning his first ever win in the NUE Race Series at Tatanka at 8:53:23. With his win at Tatanka, Simril has moved into third place overall in the NUE Race Series point standings.
“If you like mountain biking on rugged single track this race is for you. I have come to somewhat loath the term “flowing singletrack”. Do not concern yourself that you will OD on flowy singletrack on this course, you will not. On the other hand if you like physical, rocky, technical trails, this course is for you. The course requires you to concentrate the whole race. You will have little to no time to sit up, stretch your back and eat. Brenda and I are lucky that this is the type of riding that we love, because we accidentally “trained” for this course by going out and having fun on the weekends.
This would be our third Tatanka 100. From the comfort of my couch this year’s revised course looked amazing. The new course would have basically no pavement or gravel! Before the race I wondered about time cutoffs and whether or not it was even possible to ride 100 miles of singletrack before the sun sets. I did learn that the course would be more like 85 miles, which seemed reasonable because of the amount of singletrack.
The idea still sounded great, but I knew it would be hard. I also knew it would be hard to eat and drink. Brenda and I tend to eat “normal” food during races. Stuff like PBJs, crackers, etc. This type of food makes my stomach and brain happy, but it was a real challenge to eat on this all singletrack course.
The race start was typical; it always seems so damn fast. We all fight for seconds during the first hour but give up minutes like they are meaningless in the last hours. Before the race I knew the last few hours of the new race course could make or break your day. It is one thing to lock into survival mode on a rail / trail but it is another thing to just ride along in survival mode on singletrack. I knew that if we could charge during the last few hours of the race we would have a good day.
Brenda and I have each been participating in endurance sports for the last 30 years and the NUE series for the last 7 years. If we have not learned a thing or two we would not be very smart. We now have a pretty good idea of what we need to do during the fall, winter, and then spring to be best prepared for an NUE season. That said this season has been different. I will not bore you with the details because we all have issues of one type or another. I will just say this year has been one of starts and stops.
Before the 2015 Tatanka I felt like we were pretty well good to go. We had strung together a few good weeks of riding and combined that with a couple of hard races. This combination of riding and racing is what we feel like is the best prep for a race like Tatanka. All of this said I still honestly am scared of NUE racing and always just hope to survive the day. The races are so damn hard I never feel capable of racing the course. Maybe it is just my way of dealing with what I know will be a hard day.
As Brenda manages to get faster through the year it pushes me to get fitter. We could just strike a deal and agree to ride an hour or two slower, but she does not seem interested in such a deal. This is my first year in the 50 plus category. The new category does bring a fun element to the year, but my biggest goal is still to hang on to Brenda for the whole race. I do not yet know all of the guys in my new category, so this year has been fun meeting and trying to ride with them. The 50 plus category is fast. I still do not know what Roger Masse looks like in his race kit, he is always showered and in his loafers by the time I finish.”
Former NUE Masters Champion, 54 year old Doug “The Hulk” Andrews, Rock N’ Road Cyclery, had a commanding lead early and throughout much of the race before making a wrong turn between aid 3 and 4 that cost him precious time. Andrews, nicknamed the Hulk for repeatedly crushing the masters field at many NUE races by as much as two hours, dropped back into the three spot. It wasn’t until sometime after aid four that Andrews made a late pass on John George to move up to second place at 9:21:21. Andrews plans to compete at the upcoming Big Bear Grizzly 100 July 25.
Just two minutes behind Andrews, 60 year old John George, Mountain Wave, hung on for third place at 9:23:44. 23 minutes later, 50 year old Alan Minor, Banks Bikes-Outdoor Gear Canada, took fourth in 9:56:01 and now sits in fourth place overall in the NUE Point standings behind Simril.
NEXT: The KENDA NUE Race Series heads due west for The High Cascades 100 near Bend, Oregon on Saturday, July 18. Like most of the NUE Races this season, The HC100 is sold out but racers can get on a waiting list to enter. http://nuemtb.com/series/high-cascades-100-ultra-endurance-mountainbike-race