NUE Mohican 100K

Andrew Dillman and Lara Richards win Mohican 100K

Written by: Jen Toops & Ryan O’Dell

The Mayor of Loudonville, Steve Strickland, welcomed racers to Loudonville before the start of the 16th Annual Mohican MTB100 at 7am sharp. With the downtown blocked off by the LPD, The Kenda Mohican 100 released nearly 600 racers along some of the most popular single track trails Ohio has to offer on a grand single loop, 100 mile and 100k, that spans three of the four counties that make up what is locally known as “Mohican Country”. New Hope Church added 200 volunteers to the nearly 250 volunteers that managed the many course marshal and aid station positions.

Pastor Paterson of New Hope Church, offered a prayer for the safety of racers who left on a slow neutral start this year due to bridge construction on Main Street that presented just one lane across the Black Fork of the Mohican River. The Ashland Sherriff’s Department sounded the siren that would signal the start of the race near the city limits at Maple Heights, traditionally the spot where racers competed for a $200 Prime. Kent Cycle and Spin Bikes were among a team of seasoned professional mechanics that covered all six aid station this year.  The Ohio State Patrol offered assistance to racers at a dangerous crossing on SR97 and Great Lakes Brewing http://www.greatlakesbrewing.com offered 22 kegs of refreshment to finishing riders.

A neutral start due to a bridge out near the start. Photo Butch Phillips

A muddy start! Photo Butch Phillips

Men’s Open

Dillman wins back to back at Mohican!

1st-Andrew Dillman (Think Green) 2nd-Jeffrey Pendlebury (Ride On Wooster) 3rd-Chris Shannon (Think Green-Bicycle Face) 4th-Chris Tries (The Bike Shop) 5th-Andy Scott (Riverside Racing) Photo Butch Phillips

Coming off a win at the 2018 NUE Big Frog 65, Andrew Dillman (Think Green) wins the 2018 Mohican 100K with a time of 4:43:20. This makes back to back wins for Dillman at Mohican!  Second place was Jeffrey Pendlebury (Ride On Wooster) at 4:50:22.

Just thirteen seconds back from second place, was Chris Shannon (Think Green-Bicycle Face) rounding out the podium with a time of 4:50:35.

“My goal for the race was to be the first to enter the single track and ride a consistent and manageable pace. The trails were a bit slick in places, but still a blast to ride. About mile 30 or so I had to make a pit stop and lost touch with the lead pack. The next 20 miles were spent in time trial mode until finally catching Chris Tries and Jeff Pendelbury around mile 50. Jeff and I attacked on a steep climb to establish a decent gap around mile 55. We yo-yo’d back and forth until we entered the final road to the finish side-by-side. He was able to put in a solid effort on the final road to the finish and establish a 12 second gap. I ended up finishing third behind team mate Andrew Dillman who has been on fire all season and Jeff Pendlebury who was able to dig so deep in the final miles. Kudos to the race organizers on another successful Mohican 100. The next stop will be Wilderness 101 followed by Marji Gesik. Sponsors: Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b SWORD, Green Guru Gear, Heine Brothers’ Coffee”

Women’s Open

Richards gets her first Mohican 100K win!

1st-Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles) 2nd-Bryna Blanchard (Barker Mountain Bikes) 3rd Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) 4th-Megan Doerr (McLain’s Race Team) 5th-Erin Necko (J.A. King) Photo Butch Phillips

After a 2nd place finish at the NUE 2018 Big Frog 65, Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles),  takes the women’s open class with a time of  5:44.

” The reputation of this race precedes it. I have some friends who have made the 11 hour trek from Georgia to race this race. But this was the first year I have ever raced the Mohican, and it did not disappoint. It was a great mix of rooty single trek, gravel and some grueling hike-a-bike. It rained the Wednesday before which made the MTB trail ideally tacky with a few slick roots, however the rain made the horse trail a sticky mess. Other than that, you could not ask for a better day on the bike. I really enjoyed the feel of the single trek – super fun. On fun trails like this I do not mind using a little extra energy to zip around corners and pop over rocks. It keeps me motivated. I have to say I even I enjoyed the down hill section of the horse trail. The railroad tressels were a fun obstacle to have in the middle of the course. The route went from trail to gravel then back trail, I liked the mix, it never kept us too long on just road. The day left me a little bloody and tired but definitely all smiles. I went into this race thinking’ with a pool of 56 awesome female athletes signed up that there was no way I could pull off better then 10th but some how I managed the win. I still feel new to this style of EPIC races and To me this is probably the biggest win I have had in my MTB career. I do hope to race more NUE races in the future. I’ll cross my fingers for more podiums but know it will be tough with such amazing competition. My sponsors are Little Fire Cycles wheels, Adventure Cycles of spout springs GA, Rhinohead, and Muc-off. Many thanks to all who made this race possible.”

Bryna and Lara battle for position near the start of the race.

After winning the Mohican 100K in 2014, Bryna Blanchard (Barker Mountain Bikes) beats her previous 2014 winning time by six minutes to take second place this year at 5:48:38.

“Sometimes everything comes together in a way that makes me reflect on a race and feel satisfied that I did my best. With the 9 hour drive under our belts the day before the race and an early 7 AM start I wasn’t sure how my body would feel for the Mohican 100K, my longest race to date this season. I was strategizing to try and get a fast start remembering the long ribbon of tight, flowy fast single track that followed the initial few miles of rolling pavement. The first plan came together and I ended up entering the single track with a group of 8-10 fellow riders, including another woman in my category, setting a pace that felt comfortable and efficient. My legs felt good but the early start and short sleep left me with a bit of a brain fog. I kept my focus, rode clean and even managed to get by a few people on the trail. Once out of the woods and back on the open road, some spectators reported I was riding in 4th, then I got passed by Lara as if I was out for a Sunday recovery ride. I quickly decided against attempting to chase with more than half the kilometers looming ahead of me. At that point I also realized I needed to catch up on hydration and nutrition that I had ignored in the single track. Within half an hour I started feeling really good, legs strong, mind awake, calm and confident, the kilometers and hours passed by. Stopping at a mid point aid station for a refill from the tremendous volunteers, I encountered a few other women heading out as I was pulling in. Jen, who I had expected would be in front of me, and Chase who was racing the full on 100 crazy miles. Jen pulled away quickly while Chase and I rode together on the pavement for many miles until the next section of delicious single track. Even with the majority of her race ahead of her, Chase put in a massive effort on the hilly road, motivating me to push myself harder than I would have alone. We managed to catch and pass Jen which gave me another boost of motivation. I entered the single track and tried to keep the pace high but metered, taking advantage of feeling strong. Enjoying the challenge of slightly slick rocks and roots I was able to make a few more passes on the men in the woods and continue to ride clean until a particularly washed out steepish decent sent me off my line and over the right handle bar. Unable to remount in the baby heads I ran down the rest of the rocks and realized I was beginning to feel the hours setting in. The final road sections consisted of steeper longer climbs, at least that was my perception at the time. Long steady climbs seem to be a strength for me so I settled in and kept reminding myself that this is a race and it is supposed to feel hard. Past the aid station where the 100K and 100 mile courses split I knew I had a good chance of maintaining 2nd, I also knew I wanted to finish strong with nothing left in the tank and try to catch the leader. I was fortunate to share ride company with some of the single speeders along the way who offered encouragement and entertainment. After riding with one single speed man on the final road he politely asked to enter the last single track first to which I replied please do, I’m exhausted. In survival mode I entered the trail which quickly turned my fatigue into joy at the superb quality of track, the bike floated along up the switch backs and around the corners. I managed to make a few more passes on the men, entered the camp ground and felt myself return to race mode as one guy pushed to pass me back. I surged ahead and found the finish line in 2nd place where Lara was celebrating her win. After a few frustrating races this season with mechanicals, it was extra sweet to have a great experience at Mohican. Thanks as always to Barker Mountain Bikes for their amazing support and friendship. Thanks to the race promoters, volunteers, sponsors and vendors for a most memorable day on the bike.”

Coming off a win at the 2018 NUE Big Frog 65, OMBC Race Series Champion & NUE Marathon Series Champion, Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) comes in 3rd at 5:53:51.

” This year I made sure to get a spot up front since the bridge was out.  My plan was to start fast and get a good position into the singletrack after getting in a congo line the previous year.  I was first going into the first singletrack for women 100k and to my surprise rode most of the singletrack loop by myself. My first mistake was listening to my GPS yelling “off course” and back tracking a wee bit thinking I’d missed the hike a bike turn off. Finally a few other riders were coming through and I knew I should have kept going. This is where Lara caught up and we rode together until the hike-a-bike. After 2 years of racing La Ruta, I think I’m starting to get this hike-a-bike thing down. I managed to put a small gap on Lara and caught up to the women’s 100 mile leader Chase. We worked together on the roads leading up to Aid 2 but Lara put it in beast mode and powered up to us!  We all rode into Aid 2 together and I was out of water and fighting off leg cramps. The volunteers did a great job and had my pack ready to switch out. I went to grab a shot of coke and some pickles and noticed Lara rode right on through the aid station. I never saw her again.  As I was leaving Aid 2, I saw Bryna was coming in and I wasn’t sure if any other 100k women were with her.

The wilderness was a dark place for me. I knew I had to eat more but I was so nauseated. I tried slamming a gel and started dry heaving. Then the full on calf and hamstring cramps paid a visit.  I was behind on my nutrition plan.  I kept pedaling knowing stopping wouldn’t fix anything. The cramps finally subsided and I managed to get through wilderness. Once on the roads I was just in survival mode. Mentally I wanted to race but the power and my legs just weren’t there. All I wanted to do was stop, lay in the gravel and throw up! At this point I was wondering if I had a stomach bug and debated taking a DNF. Then Bryna and Chase (100 mile leader) were working together and made a pass on the roads. There was nothing left in the tank to challenge and I rode it on in to the finish.

Some races are good some are bad. Unfortunately the Mohican 100k didn’t go as planned, but I somehow managed to keep it together enough to hang on to a 3rd place finish!  Thanks to all my sponsors, fellow racers/volunteers trying to encourage and motivate me, Anthony Toops for getting the Pivot Les on point, and my parents for coming to cheer me on!”

Masters 50+

Clayton Wins Masters 50+

1st-Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) 2nd-Scott Burrill (Bikeman.com) 3rd-John Lorson (River Day Racing) 4th-Gregory Cimmino (Class Cycle) 5th-Tom Weaver (KSD/Summit Freewheelers) Photo Butch Phillips

Winning the Masters 50+ Mohican was Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) 5:18:22.

“I think the neutral start led to the heavy hitters not punching it quite as hard, so the field stayed together for a while. I was able to hang with the lead group on the road and into the first singletrack, albeit at the back end of a long string of riders. Things were pretty good until I caught a root wrong with my front wheel and I ended up with the wheel jammed in between two roots and my bar twisted pretty good from the sudden stop.  Of course being early in the race probably 10 riders went by…never good for the confidence!  After getting going again, I pulled back a notch and focused on being efficient.  I started to reel riders in, but there was a good sized group that seemed to be holding steady behind and a couple guys right on my wheel.  As it turned out, one of those was Devin DeBoer who ended up winning the 100 mile M50+ category.  I eventually caught up to a guy who was moving through the technical parts well, so I decided to follow him figuring I would make it through the rough stuff better that way.  We chatted a bit and it turned out it was Scott Burrill who had placed 2nd in the Big Frog 65 to me a month ago.  After riding together awhile, I slowly gapped Scott on the gravel road rollers and got in with a small group of single speeders, including my old race buddy Ross Anderson,  and one geared rider.  After the course split at aid 3, I was on my own and was very happy to see the gravel rollers that come so much sooner than they do in the 100 mile race…the end was near!  As I got into the last singletrack, Anthony Toops caught up to me with another singlespeeder chasing hard for their 3rd podium spot.  It was great to use them to keep me charging hard, especially as I didn’t know how far back Scott was or even if there was any other 50+ racers ahead I might catch.  I took the 50+ win, but Scott kept me honest just a few minutes back.  I’ll be racing the Iron Mountain 100k next.”

Clayton wins the masters 50+ 100k

Scott Burrill (Bikeman.com) took the second place spot in 2017 and repeats in 2018 with the same exact time of 5:23:11!

Taking the third podium position was John Lorson (River Day Racing) with a time of 5:52:35.

“After winning the single-speed 100K at Mohican in 2008, 2009 and 2011 (in 2010, I took a wrong turn with 4 miles to go and handed the win to my teammate) I’ve moved further down the ranks and even off the podium in the ensuing 6 years in my past few attempts. The class was getting younger and faster and I was not. Finally, at age 54, I decided to “race my age” and entered the Masters 50+ category. Still, having ridden a single-speed exclusively for the past 10 years (even winning the OMBC Masters 45+ Championship in 2011 and 2012 against geared bikes) I knew what bike I’d be on: my 8-year-old Gary Fisher Superfly Single-Speed, running a 36×20 with my trusty Niner rigid carbon fork up front. (You’ve “gotta dance with who brung ya’,” right?)

I’ve go to admit I was a little worried at the “neutral roll-out” plan for the start. I envisioned a lane-wide flesh pile as four lanes choked to one, but it turned out fine and actually a bit to my advantage because I wasn’t spinning like a hamster trying to keep up as we started into the hill. The problem with the starting route now, as opposed to the course from a few years back, is several miles of road riding before we hit singletrack. It’s a long spin for a single-speed and it sucks the life out of me being passed by tons of geared bikes I had just aced on that first climb.

This year I really let that get into my head and I was convinced I was having another off year until I hit Aid 2 at Buckhaven. There, the I applied the lifesaving elixirs of Coca Cola and watermelon and underwent an on-bike metamorphosis. After leaving the Buckhaven single-track I was overtaken by a pace-line of geared guys just before the infamous Township Road 344 which my buddies and I have dubbed the “Arc of the Moon” climb, because it looms on the horizon like a giant moon with tiny suffering cyclists crawling along its profile. Every one of the pace-liners passed me before the turn toward the climb, including a rider that I knew was in my class. I resolved to attack it as hard as I could up the hill and passed all but two of those guys, which I caught and then pipped on the way up the next roller. It had taken me right around 40 miles to get my grove on.

I ran up on a bunch of bikes in the bottom rock garden of Mohican Wilderness and the scene was like something from a horror film. One of the many “living dead”, I stumbled and struggled through the sweaty rocks like I had learned to ride bike just moments before. This was easily the toughest part of the race for me, but nothing that couldn’t be healed with a few shots of Coke and a handful of watermelon at Aid 3.

Two of my non-racing buddies, Scream and Cappy, were watching the carnage atop the Valley Stream climb and shouted that they thought I might be among the first Masters to come through. That was literally the first moment that I figured I had any shot at a podium finish. I turned myself inside out the rest of the way home, making sure to keep my place. As I crossed the line Ryan O’Dell announced me as “somewhere in the top 5 Masters” and I was blown away to find that I was, in fact, 3rd!

My Masters gamble had paid off and I hadn’t forsaken my single-speed soul in the process. It was another fine day at Mohican, even if I finally had to admit I had somehow finally become an old guy!”

Singlespeed

James Litzinger gets the win and sets new SS course record!

1st-James Litzinger (Syndicate Cycling pwrd by Pro Bike+Run) 2nd-Josh Kunz (KSD) 3rd-Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage Racing 4th-Eli Orth (Queen City Wheels) 5th-David Mrkonja (Silverback Racing) Photo Butch Phillips

Setting a new SS 100k record and crushing the SS Division was James Litzinger (Syndicate Cycling pwrd by Pro Bike +Run), 4:53:13.

“Wow, the Mohican 100k is an awesome race!  With a great mix of trails and gravel it made for a great day on the bike.  The anticipation of 600 plus riders at the start line and trying to navigate through a one lane bridge is a very exciting way to start off the morning!

I was really torn this year if I was going to race the Pivot Les as a Single Speed or the Specialized Epic FS which I have grown to love over the spring months.  I was kind of persuaded into racing the SS since the majority of the riders in the cabin the night before were riding single speed.  After getting all of my race prep and nutrition in line for the next day we enjoyed some time hanging out.  I have felt really good this year since starting to use some GNC products.  My top favorites have been the GNC Mega Men Sport daily vitamins, GNC Turmeric Curcumin 1000mg, and the GNC AMP Pure Isolate protein.

It was a very Single Speed friendly start this year with the controlled start until the bottom of the opening climb out of town.  I was up in the front row churning the pedals pretty casually and since there was no cash money for being the first rider out of town this year the pace was very manageable.  From the top of the first climb to the woods can be a nightmare for SSer’s with the rolling hills and very high speeds.  On that road section though, I was able to link up with John Haddock, of JA King Racing, the 2017 and 2018 100 mile SS winner.  John is a very smart and strong riders.  He and I had a great time racing in the past at various NUE events.  When you have a buddy to ride with it makes the day go so much better!

Once getting into the woods in the top 20 or so we quickly learned that the prior week of rain and humidity were making the trails a little greasy.  I always have the utmost confidence in my Schwalbe Racing Ralphs!  They are truly the jack of all trades!    John and I made our way through the single track picking off only a few riders this year since we had a pretty good start on the road.   We were even able to pick up another riders for the party, Alex Hashem of Shenandoah Mountain Touring.  The three of us had a great time working together!  Alex would give us some help on the roads while John and I would pace the single track and climbs.  It made for the perfect combination!

Getting into aid 3, John and Alex hit the road for the 100 mile loop while I cut off to finish the 100k.  After doing the 100 mile in previous years it was very lifting both physically and mentally to have less than an hour to go.  I held a steady spin along the flat stream road trying to conserve a little energy for the steep Valley Stream road climb.  This year my goal was to clear the entire climb on my Wolf Tooth 30×17 gearing.  The climb seemed to go much faster this year and I felt good the whole way.  After cutting down through the woods and making my way along the stream for the last road section of the day I went through the last aid station right into the final miles of single track.  Once cutting up into the single track it was motivating to see Bubba standing along the trail taking a picture or video.  From there it was party time to the finish!  Having fun in all of the single track back to the finish I looked up to find that I caught a geared 100k rider.  Continuing and pushing on down through the campground is a great ending to a fun day with friend new and old on the bike.

Thanks to my Team, Syndicate Cycling, sponsors, and family for their continued support!  My wife Jenn and 3 boys, Garrett, Cameron, and Mason.  Pro Bike+Run,  Legacy Medical, Schwalbe Tires, Voler, Specialized Bikes, GNC, and Cenacolo all make me feel so fortunate to do something that I love so much.”

Coming in twenty-three minutes back was Josh Kunz (KSD) with a time of 5:16:02. Taking the third podium position was Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage), coming in at 5:18:25.

“All the usual suspects were in attendance this year for the single speed 100k so I knew it was going to be a tough day.  The race started pretty hard up the the first road climb with most of the SS’ers still together.  My goal was to get into the single track as near the front as possible so some huge efforts were required for the first 20min of the race.  This plan worked well and I had a good position behind Josh Kunz and David Mrkonja.  We were riding at XC pace the entire single track section with none of us letting up.  They would make a pass and then I would make the same pass to stay on their wheels.  Eventually I got around David and Josh and tried to up the pace a little more through some technical sections to break up the group.  This seemed to work and it was just Josh and I hitting the road sections.  About this time I looked down and realized I had lost a bottle somewhere.  Thankfully I carried three to get me to aid 2 but this was going to put me behind on nutrition, which wasn’t ideal.  Josh is a super strong climber and started to drop me on the initial road sections before aid 2 and losing that bottle was starting to take its toll.  I just tried to hang onto third for the rest of the race and hope some power would come back so maybe I could catch him.

Through aid 3 and heading towards the finish my right cleat started to loosen up.  I had to stop and tighten it at about mile 48 and this is when Eli Orth passed me.  I quickly hopped back on and made sure to catch him asap.  When I had his wheel I realized my left cleat was now loose but at this point I didn’t have the option to stop.  We rode together until the last single track section and I made sure to take the lead going into the woods.  Somehow I managed to find some legs and hold off Eli until the end to take third.  It was another tough Mohican 100k with close racing all day! My next NUE Marathon Series race will be Iron Mountain in Damascus, VA.”

Click here for full results

What’s Next?

NUE Marathon Series: June 24, 2018 in Damascus, VA  Iron Mountain

NUE Epic Series: June 16, 2018 in Manistee, Michigan (sold out) Lumberjack 100

Breck Epic Stage 3 Report

BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado

(Uncommon Comms.)

The third day of the Breck Epic saw the riders tackle the second-longest course of the week, circumventing the massive Mt. Guyot. Men’s overall race leader, Todd Wells (SRAM-Troy Lee Designs) and teammate Russell Finsterwald distanced themselves from the others on the second climb of the day —the decisive Georgia Pass—and they never looked back. “On the second climb, it’s a really steep one and it’s rideable all the way to the top,” said Wells. “It’s one of those things where you don’t attack or anything, you just push whatever gear you can sustain and we rolled off.”

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By the time Wells and Finsterwald reached the rock gardens at the bottom of the descent off Georgia pass the duo had about five minutes over third place rider Chris Jones (Unitedhealthcare Pro Cycling). At the finish, the lead duo had a nearly seven-minute gap.“First legit mountain bike podium ever,” said Jones at the finish. “Well, I’ve only done like six races ever, but I think if I’m on the podium with Todd and Finsterwald, that’s a pretty legit podium, right? We’ll call it dumb luck. I was okay going up Georgia Pass, but I don’t have the skills those guys do [on the steep climbs] where you’re just kind of balancing and if you unclip you have to run. That’s where those guys got away. They rode a section, I had to walk it, and I never saw them again.”

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While the leaders had dry conditions for most of the day, the majority of the field dealt with driving rain on the climb and descent of Georgia Pass. Many riders dealt with flats early on, including Clif Bar teammates, Troy Wells and Ben Sontag. Sontag was able to repair his flat with a plug, but Troy Wells’ who suffered his flat early in the stage, got shuffled back in the field and lose a chunk of time.

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ON RIDING WITH FINSTERWALD

“You know when you’re descending and you’re at a comfortable pace? ”Asked Wells. “You’re going fast, but it’s what you feel comfortable at. I was going just over that the entire day, so I couldn’t even enjoy those descents. I was always looking forward to the climbs so I wouldn’t have to worry about crashing into a tree. You know, we have a decent lead now, but with stage race mountain bike, anything can happen. You can lose an hour. Two hours. Break a wheel and have to walk five miles. “It’s not over until the finish,” added Finsterwald.

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In the three-day Epicurio us, Bryan Dillon (Topeak-Ergon), added to his lead with a win on his third and final stage. “Today is a fun stage. It really gets into the true Breckenridge style of rocky-riding and hike-a-bikin’, but it’s super fun,” said Dillon. “Being up on Guyot that time of day and looking back down on the valley, it’s just righteous.”

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WOMEN’S PRO/OPEN 6-DAY

The Women’s 6-Day Open leader, Amy Krahenbuhl, added to her lead with her elevated level of technical riding on the technical descents of stage three. Ksenia Lepikhina (Tokyo Joe’s) was in second 10-minutes back, and Emma Maaranen (Rolf) was another four and half minutes back of her. “[Lepikhina] was behind me at the start of the first climb, but after that I was hanging out with boys and using that as motivation, said Krahenbuhl of Lepikhina.

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“Today I finally felt like my legs were strong. I really like the day after day cycling, so I felt like today I finally got my legs and I’m going to keep with it.” “Absolutely beautiful to go up and over the Continental Divide,” continued Krahenbuhl. “Everyone was in great spirits and having a great time. On the downhill everyone was hootin’ an’ hollarin’. There was great energy out there.” With stage four being the longest of the week and almost 8,000 feet of climbing, there will be plenty of good times for the race leaders and those just enjoying the high-mountain singletrack, alike.

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Full Results from the stage here: (Stage 3 Results)

2016 Off Road Assualt on Mt. Mitchell Race Report

Race Report: Blue Ridge Adventures – Off-Road Assault on Mt Mitchell

The 2016 Off-Road Assault on Mt Mitchell (ORAMM) started off in downtown Old Fort, NC, for its 17th consecutive year, on Sunday, July 31, 2016. ORAMM was one of the earliest endurance mountain bike events in western North Carolina and has gained a reputation across the country for its challenging course, beautiful scenery and great support. For 2016, ORAMM saw riders from 26 different states, and as far away as Phoenix, AZ.

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Due to construction on Old Hwy 70, there was a slight re-route this year that added an additional 2 miles onto an already long course. That still didn’t stop the top riders from setting a blistering pace of over 13 mph across 62 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, Kitsuma, Heartbreak Ridge and Curtis Creek are all names that come up over and over again when talking to ORAMM racers. With beautiful views, rooty and rocky descents and climbs, long singletrack downhills and gravel road climbs that will make even the toughest of riders quiver, ORAMM has it all, leaving lots of smiles and grimaces on the faces of riders new and old.

A nice size lead group of about 12-15 riders stuck together for over half of the race. As they made the long climb up Curtis Creek to the Blue Ridge Parkway, things started to break apart. This is where racers have to decide to stay with the leaders or save some for the last third portion of the course. When all was said and done the top 3 finishers came in less than 10 minutes of each other and the top 6 broke the 5 hour mark.

For the Open Men category, current course record holder, Thomas Turner, took the win with a time of 4hrs 34min. Tristan Cowie followed for 2nd place in 4hrs 37min and Matt Champion rounded out the top 3 in 4hrs 43min. The Open Women category saw impressive performances as well, with Jen Nielson coming in first at 6hrs 21min. Jordan Salman and Erin Setzer took 2nd and 3rd place, with times of 6hrs 39min and 6hrs 45min, respectively.

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There are number of racers that choose to do a double-header, with the 26 mile Jerdon Mountain Challenge on Saturday and ORAMM on Sunday. Among these was Junior racer, Chad Hale, from Tallahassee, FL. This 17 year old racer took 5th overall in the Jerdon Mountain Challenge and almost broke the 6hr mark, with an impressive time of 6hrs 5min. With weekends like this, we’re sure we’ll be seeing his name pop up more and more. In addition to Hale, Andrew Blackstock and Noah Pawlik were 2 other Juniors racing ORAMM. Both at 15 years old, they endured with solid times and more importantly, finished the race.

 For complete results, visit: http://www.blueridgeadventures.net/2016-oramm-results/

It was another great day in Old Fort and smiles could be found all around the finish line area. Lots of stories shared and a feeling of accomplishment for everyone who trained, traveled and experienced one of the best mountain bike events in the country. While the podium often gets much of the attention, for hundreds of other riders, ORAMM is about setting a goal and pushing yourself, not necessarily to win, but to just have a good ride. For some, ORAMM is a race. For most, it’s a mountain bike adventure and one that brings riders back year after year.

-Written by Seyl Park

2016 Jerdon Mountain Challenge Report

Race Report: Blue Ridge Adventures – Jerdon Mountain Challenge

240 riders, from 13 different states, put their wheel to the starting line of the 2016 Jerdon Mountain Challenge. What was once considered the ‘little sibling’ to the infamous Off-Road Assault on Mt Mitchell (ORAMM), which happens the following day and is over twice as long, Jerdon Mountain Challenge has become a race all in its own.

Located in the small mountain town of Old Fort, NC, Jerdon takes on many of the same trails as ORAMM, such as Kitsuma and Heartbreak Ridge, but with a more user-friendly distance. This is part of the reason the race has become so popular with a wide range of riders. This year, Jerdon saw a 30% increase in riders over 2015. What makes this number so exciting is the people who make up the 30%. Women saw a 36% increase and 8 junior riders, ranging from 10-17 years old, started and finished the 26 mile route. “This is exactly what Blue Ridge Adventures is all about”, says race director Todd Branham. “Offering challenging, high quality events for seasoned racers, while creating a friendly environment for young and/or less experienced riders”.

The mass start left downtown Old Fort with a police escort leading riders to Curtis Creek, which allowed riders to spread out a bit before making the first climb up to Salt Gap. The route traverses to Star Gap, where riders make the ascent and descent down Heartbreak Ridge. The climb afterwards up Kitsuma is steep and technical, but offers a long descent down the backside, leading to the final miles back to the finish.

 The overall winner, Ben Renkema, from Greenville, SC, finished in 1hr 55min at a brisk 13.5 mph pace. Michael Mathers and Seth Cooley rounded out the top 3. 17 year old, Chad Hale from Tallahassee, FL, had an impressive 5th overall finish, with a time of 2hrs 18min. Bonnie Kleffman took the Open Women win, with a time of 2hrs 33min. Following in 2nd and 3rd place were Leah Nicholson and Duffy Danish, respectively. Another Junior rider made the top 5. Hannah Dickson, from Brevard, NC, came in at 3hrs and 3min, taking the 5th place Open Women spot.

For complete results, visit: http://www.blueridgeadventures.net/2016-jerdon-mountain-challenge-results/

 With temperatures approaching the mid-nineties, it was a hot and dry day of racing. Post-race, riders could be found cooling off in the cold creek that runs right through the finish area and enjoying a well-deserved meal and beverage. While most riders head home and recover in the comfort of their own home, a few hearty souls do a double-header, Jerdon Mountain Challenge on Saturday and ORAMM on Sunday. One of these happens to be Junior rider, Chad Hale. We’ll be keeping our eye on him and cheering him on. Here’s to the next generation of mountain bikers!

-Written by Seyl Park

Big Bear Grizzly 100 Race Report

JULY 23, 2016

Kenda NUE Series #9

Presented by Hammer Nutrition 

By Ryan O’Dell

The third annual NUE Big Bear Grizzly 100 race course received its inspiration from the infamous Terrible 10,000, a ride the local endurance hammerheads have been doing for years. This year’s race included racers from seven different countries and twenty different states. It also rewarded racers in both the Grizzly 100k and 75k with NUE Race Series points.

The race kicked off a week-long cycling festival organized by Big Bear Valley Race Association teamed up with the Big Bear Cycling Association and the City of Big Bear Lake. Big Bear Cycling Association promotes the Tour de Big Bear this next weekend with an anticipated 2000 riders.

2016 Grizzly 100 NUE Tinker Juarez

Located at 7000 feet above sea level, the charming tourist town of Big Bear has long had a solid reputation as a cycling destination, attracting visitors from the LA Valley and hosting some of the largest national events over many years. Nearby ski resorts offer lifts for cyclists during the summer months accessing the newly developed Skyliner Trail. New Belgium Brewing offered several variety’s of draft brews throughout the day in the beer garden welcoming weary racers and fans with malty, hoppy goodness.

 

 

 

Women’s Open – Edwards wins!

Following her fifth place finish last year, Chase Edwards moved up and across the finish line first in 2016 at 6:19:13.

Eight minutes later, Nikki Peterson, took second at 6:27:38 improving from a fourth place finish in 2015. “The Grizzly 100 is a unique event: with 8,000+ feet of climbing that is 75% singletrack, it is extremely challenging! However, at point in time when you are in excruciating pain all you need to do is look around and suddenly you are feeling better because the views are that AMAZING! I was recently signed to Team RideBiker, a professional mountain bike team, and this was my second race with them. Adam Pulford, the director of Team RideBiker and a coach for Carmicheal Training Systems, is my coach so, as of two weeks ago, I am training more than I ever have! I am so excited to have this opportunity, it is a dream come true!

2016 Grizzly 100 NUE Chase Edwards

The Grizzly 100 is not a focus for me as I am focusing on XCO distances (1:30-2hr races) so we decided to not rest up for it and ride it in the middle of a large training block. With this is mind, we focused heavily on my nutrition throughout the race to ensure that I was fueled properly for the latter half, where I bonked hard last year!

I came into this year’s event as the fastest returning competitor from the 2015 event. However, I knew the field was stacked: Chase Edwards, who finished 5th last year only thirty seconds behind me and beat me by 21 minutes at the Whiskey 50 in April; Madeline Bemis, a high school Phenom who happens to be the U23 World Champion in the 24 Hour Solo; Lauren Mulwitz, a new Pro who won Cat 1 Nationals 2 weeks ago; and local endurance legend Rhonda Patterson-Geiszler, who is commonly found on the podium of endurance races.

The race started out fairly fast given the fact that we had 56 more miles to go! I knew it was important to get a good position for Seven Oaks so I went with the quick start, went back and forth with Chase, and had a good spot going into the sketchy downhill. I ended up passing three people going down and felt good about the descent. Shortly after we got onto the fire road Chase was there again. We played Cat and Mouse for a while but Chase ended up getting onto SART ahead of me. I paced myself on SART, feeling my heavy legs but not worrying as I knew there was a lot of racing ahead. I caught up with Chase towards the beginning of Radford. She turned around, saw me, and put in a huge attack! I ended up struggling up Radford, which is usually a strong point for me, and never saw Chase again.

I stopped at the Heaven aid station to fill up my pack and continued on. Skyline was slow going at times but unlike last year when I had to dab and even get off my bike often, I was able to clean everything this year! I kept up with the hydration, sugars, and electrolytes and didn’t even bonk- another success! The best part though? I felt amazing going up the five mile Pineknot climb at mile 50! Some of it had to do with my positive mindset, but most of it had to do with nutrition and training. I finished strong on the fire road and came across the finish line in second place, 25 minutes faster than last year! I ended up about 8 ½ minutes behind Chase, which is also an improvement over the Whiskey 50 results.

All in all, I am stoked on my race given the circumstances. The Grizzly 100 is a very well-organized event and will likely be my next NUE event as I am going to work on getting some UCI points to hopefully compete in World Cups in the next year or two!”

Lauren Mulwitz from Marina Del Ray, CA finished third at 6:50:03.

At the age of fifteen, she was the final finisher in 2014, not long after becoming the 2014 NICA California State Champion. Last year, Madeline Beamis, Bear Valley Bikes, moved up to sixth place. Beamis moved up again this year finishing fourth at 7:01:06. “I took off fast from the starting line to begin the long uphill climb, paying close attention to the women around me, and estimating who would be my toughest competitors. The 7 Oaks single-track is the first downhill, and is particularly challenging because of the sandy terrain being easily influenced by every tire that passed before mine. Large ruts were left in the ground, leaving me holding on tight to my handlebars while sliding around; trying to avoid falling down the steep sandy slopes beside me. I was relieved when I reached the end of the daunting 7 Oaks and a wide downhill fire road greeted me.

Next up was SART, which is a more stable singletrack complete with just the right amount of rocky and technical terrain. At the end of SART, I had moved up from 9th place to 6th, and was determined to continue powering through. Next on the agenda was the infamous Radford climb, which is a grueling six-mile uphill. 5th place was in sight at the beginning of Radford, and I was determined to make a move or, at the very least, keep her in my sights. She and I both stopped at the aid station midway up, so I took off while she continued fueling.

But, as soon as she started again, she began gaining on me. I considered giving up and letting her steal 5th place back, which is something I would have done in my first or second year of the race, but this year was different. I became the U23 24-hour solo world champion in New Zealand this past February, so now I stand for something. People know who I am, cheer me on by my name, and hope to see me succeed in endurance races like these. So I persevered and held on tight to 5th place.

I had paced myself well in the beginning, so I was able to stay strong for the remaining 30 miles. More mountain singletrack and fire roads followed, but nothing as challenging or exhausting as Seven Oaks Singletrack or Radford. Temperatures reached up into the 90’s mid-race, but by the finish it was pouring rain with crackling lightning and dark clouds shadowing the landscape. The scenery was breathtaking as always in Big Bear, and the spirit and energy of the whole event is always memorable. The SAG stations of the Grizzly 100 are what make this race truly special. About every ten miles, an EZ Up sheltering cheering supporters awaited hungry racers, ready to serve boiled potatoes, fresh fruit (the watermelon was especially refreshing), peanut butter pretzels, olives, beets, pickles, trial mix, and even smoothies!

I am grateful for the support of my parents, coaches of my high school mountain bike race team Corona Composite, Empire Bikes, Kenda Tire, and, most importantly, God for the opportunity and ability to race mountain bikes. I ended the race in 4th place for the 2016 Grizzly 100 NUE, and I’ll definitely be back next year to improve my time and fight for another podium finish.

Eight minutes later, Mary Dannelley took the final podium spot to place fifth at 7:09:57.

Men’s Open – Lideen gets his second NUE Win of the season!

Taylor Lideen, Pivot Cycles 92Fifty, from Phoenix, AZ earned his second NUE Series victory with a winning time of 5:05:16. Lideen won the NUE Season Opener at True Grit and was 8th at Bailey Hundo before suffering an injury to his wrist and hand at the Tatanka.

“Oh man! What a fun event the Grizzly 100 was! I was super nervous going in knowing I had to conserve a bit due to racing next weekend at Pierres Hole in Wyoming. I think trying to keep a lid on things was a real test of patience but a smart choice considering that I have heard Pierre’s Hole is a tough race!

A group of eight or so formed right away and it seemed like we were all having so much fun! The first long downhill was such a blast! About half way into our day it was Tinker, Steven and I. Up the long climb Steven kept pushing his single speed gear and pulled away from Tinker and me. It was super impressive to watch Steven crank out an amazing ride on his singlespeed, massive congrats to him! I wasn’t at all interested in chasing Steven down as I was worried about coming across some more bad luck if I pushed too hard. I was happy enough to come across the line with a clean race and no crashes or bad luck like the last few NUE’s for me. Everyone was so dang friendly in Big Bear and it is an event I would definitely go back to! Next up is Pierre’s Hole and the Hampshire 100! I can’t wait for those events!”

Two time US Olympian and Hall of Fame inductee, David “Tinker” Juarez was next, just four minutes behind Lideen to finish 5:09:09. “I was hoping for a better result, of course, but when it is not your day, just go with the flow and be happy with what you get. When you make the podium that is not so bad. The course was awesome with 80% single track and over 8,000ft of climbing. It takes a lot of concentration because of the single track and that makes it a different challenge to race.”

2016 Grizzly 100 NUE Taylor Lideen

Three minutes behind Juarez, Ryan Steers was third at 5:12:10. “This is one of my favorite races of the year and one of the best courses you can ride in SoCal. To race here you have to be able to do everything well. Long, scorching, brutal fire road climb? Radford. Check. Elevation? Most of the race is at 6500-8k feet. Check. Technical single track? About 40 miles of it: Cabin Trail, Skyline, Santa Anna River Trail, Plumbers Trail. Check. Ridiculous loose descent with massive exposure? Seven Oaks. Check. Pavement? A few miles but still a check. To win this race you’ve got to be able to climb, descend, flow, spin, climb some more, shred it, and hammer….and ride a singlespeed?

We lined up at 6:45 for a 7am start. It was already getting warm in the sun, which was worrisome. The start was quick. You have a few hundred yards of gradual uphill pavement on Pineknot and then you hit 2N08 and the race is on. It’s only a few miles but just shy of 1000 feet of climbing and gets the heart pumping. The peloton blew apart quickly. I was in the front with Tinker, Steven Mills, Taylor Lideen, Stefano Barberi, Cameron Brenneman and Alfred Pacheco. I noticed Steven was on a single speed and thought to myself, “Wow, this guy is going to blow up.” Boy was I wrong.

After the climb you roll on the fire road a bit and the hit the singletrack and it’s right on to the Seven Oaks Descent: two miles and 1600 feet of descending a super narrow, exposed, sandy rut. No room for error. Every year I’ve been behind someone that’s taken a tumble- nothing serious but it’s easy to do some barrel rolling. Last year Munoz took a few spills and this year Barberi went toppled over. I play it a little too safe and it costs me a minute or two. Most the guys were out of sight by the time we were halfway down. Barberi and I were together and Alan Laframboise caught us and I let him by. Barberi and I hit the fire road at the bottom and played chase with poor single speed Alan spinning out on the rollers. I pulled ahead and caught sight of the leaders (after watching Tinker add some air to his tire and then speed away again). SART trail is always a blast and seems longer every year. They’ve done some work to it so there are no more walking sections and it’s all ridable. It’s a hard trail to rail because there are so many sweeping turns with exposure but you can get some speed. Lots of sharp rocks (I flatted here twice 2 years ago) so don’t run Schwalbes.

After the Santa Anna River Trail the real work begins. You roll along Seven Oaks road for a bit and then start to head up up up. Bit of advice- make sure you get aid here. Don’t hit Radford without full bottles. Sure there’s an aid station 3/4 of the way up but if you stop there you’ll have a really hard time moving again.

My plan all along was to chill the first 30 miles and then give Radford a good push. I saved the segment in my Garmin and gauged my effort against my time last year. On the way up I was able to pass Pacheco and Brenneman and catch sight of Tinker, and Tayler ahead. I also saw Steven throw the hammer down and take the lead on a single speed at the top of Radford! What a beast. This guy was not going to pop. I shaved over two minutes off my climb from last year but it wasn’t enough to catch the leaders.

The joy of Plumbers is immense. After a hot and brutal fire road you are rewarded with two miles of blissful single track….until you hit 2N10 and have to climb all the way back up to Skyline. Ouch. From there it’s about seven miles of rolling skyline but you’ve got to stay on top of your nutrition or it’s super easy to bonk or cramp here. You’re flowing and rolling along and suddenly you forget to drink and you’re out of water with twenty miles left to race. Miles of single track roll by.

I caught a glimpse of Barberi about two minutes behind me and kept the speed up. I kept getting time checks that Tinker was two minutes up but I was never able to spot him. Cabin trail is a blast but the climb back out to the fire road is brutal. Punchy and steep and your legs will be screaming. However, once you get back to 2N08 its easy street. The race ends with four miles of rollers and descending. Don’t crash. The descent into town (the same as the starting climb) is steep, fast, and loose. You probably won’t catch anyone but you can end your day in sight of the finish.

Big Bear is so much fun this time of year and every year we’ve been treated to a thunderstorm at the finish. The course is amazing and the talent is exceptional. I’m three for three on this race and I’ll be back again next year. So excited to finish fourth this year and win a little cash. Shooting for top three next year!”

Two minutes behind Steer, Stefano Barberi, took fourth at 5:14:29, two minutes ahead of Cameron Brenneman of Sante Fe, NM who took the final podium spot at 5:17:18.

Single Speed Open – Mills smokes the field!

Coming off his first NUE win at the High Cascades 100, Steven Mills dropped the hammer in his home state of California getting his second straight win at 5:01:04. Mills also placed third at True Grit and sixth at Bailey Hundo this season.

Allen“The Rasberry” LaFramboise, Don’s Bikes/Bike for Bender, was next at 5:35:37. The Rasberry achieved back to back wins in 2014 and 2015.

NUE Race Series SS leader, Kip Biese, KJBike Coaching/ Old Town Bike Shop, was next taking third at 6:02:15. Already, Biese has completed eight of the last nine races, including four second place finishes and two third place finishes. “I went in tired so I ran a little gear (32/20 on a 29er). On the very first hill I quickly saw I didn’t have it to keep up with Steven or Alan. So I just settled in and enjoyed my ride (except for the Radford climb).”

Ten minutes later, 50-year-old Rex Merritt, claimed fourth at 6:12:36. Three minutes later, Freddie Espinoza took the fifth spot at 6:15:42.

 Masters 50+ Open – Golet gets his fourth NUE Victory!

Greg Golet, Team Chico, moved UP to the top rung of the NUE Standings gaining his fourth straight win in the NUE Race Series this year. Golet’s time of 5:40:55 was four minutes faster than the blistering time put down by 2011 NUE Race Series Masters Champion, Doug Andrews, at the 2015 Grizzly 100.

“I spent an amazing day at Big Bear racing on fantastically varied trails that tested me in new and ever changing ways. I remember a crazy downhill on off-camber, thick coarse sand, where the only sign of the trail ahead was a transient rut carved by the previous rider, a sweet river trail with blind sandy and rocky corners flanked by steep drop offs, a fairly monstrous (HORS) climb that made me really wish for my hardtail, awesome rolling, flowy singletrack along a ridgeline with incredible views of the San Bernadino Mountains taking me up, around, and over cool sculpted granite towers, then a sweet bermed corner forested descent on relative hard pack leading to a nice late-in-the-game, pin-it-to-win-it singletrack climb up to the final fireroad downhill where the probability of a car appearing around each blind loose corner seemed to increase the closer I came to town (but where I got my only top 10 Strava segment on the day!)… All of that packed into one fantastic sub-six hour experience at a truly incredible place on the planet.

In terms of the actual racing, I spent most of the day chasing Doug Andrew’s ghost. He was registered, but didn’t show, although I didn’t know that until after the race ended. Doug was the 2011 NUE champ who has dominated the Master’s field here in the past, and I was worried about getting crushed by “the Hulk”, as he is sometimes called. So much so, I guess, that I taped a couple of his split times from his last year’s Strava record to my top tube. I thought that this might help me track where I was on the course relative to him. In the end, I finished a few minutes ahead of his last years’ time but, of course, that doesn’t really mean much. Just the idea that he might be out there was motivation enough to work hard until the end.

Thanks to Derek and his team for doing a fantastic job hosting all of us 317 riders from seven different countries and twenty US states! Next up Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica!”

Ken Winston from San Diego, CA was second finishing 6:03:55.

 

David Turner was third at 6:23:36. “I really hope that the fast guys in my class that whipped my ass this year share their secrets, as I would really like to go faster next year!

Yes, of course there will be a next year; there was never any doubt from the moment I finished. I was already looking forward to the Grizzly in 2017, maybe even try an out of state NUE like True Grit Epic or the High Cascades 100. The Grizzly race course was incredible, the numerous aid stations staffed with the most helpful people handing out a variety of snacks.  I really cannot thank everyone enough, hats off to Derrick Hermon and the dozens of staff scattered all over the mountain.

Anyone that calls themselves a mountain bike racer should plan on doing an NUE event, this IS mountain bike racing! A long day on the bike away from it all makes the rest of our cluttered lives shut up and just let us be for a good long ride, a total mental and physical reset. I look forward to doing it again.”

Eight minutes later, Dan Bartlett, finished fourth at 6:31:40. David Jolin, Stark Velo, from Belleville, Ohio claimed the fifth and final spot on the podium to finish 6:53:56.

NEXT:

NUE Race Series #10, Pierre’s Hole 100 in Alta, Wyoming on August 6

 

 

 

Big Bear 75k Race Report

JULY 23, 2016

Kenda NUE Marathon Race Series #6

Presented by Hammer Nutrition 

By Ryan O’Dell

The third annual NUE Big Bear Grizzly 100 race course received its inspiration from the infamous Terrible 10,000, a ride the local endurance hammerheads have been doing for years. This year’s race included racers from seven different countries and twenty different states. It also rewarded racers with NUE Race Series points for the first time as part of the new NUE Marathon Race Series.

The race kicked off a week-long cycling festival organized by Big Bear Valley Race Association teamed up with the Big Bear Cycling Association and the City of Big Bear Lake. Big Bear Cycling Association promotes the Tour de Big Bear this next weekend with an anticipated 2000 riders.

Located at 7000 feet above sea level, the charming tourist town of Big Bear has long had a solid reputation as a cycling destination, attracting visitors from the LA Valley and hosting some of the largest national events over many years. Nearby ski resorts offer lifts for cyclists during the summer months accessing the newly developed Skyliner Trail. New Belgium Brewing offered several variety’s of draft brews throughout the day in the beer garden welcoming weary racers and fans with malty, hoppy goodness.

 Women’s Open – Giovane wins!

Sophie Giovane was the first woman across the line at 5:21:14. Ten minutes later, Stacy Forcino was second at 5:31:22. Kathryn Lockwood from Dana Point was third at 5:48:05. Three minutes later, Mandy Oliekan was fourth at 6:08:54.

Men’s Open – Forcino with the W!

Romolo Forcino took the Men’s Open 75k at 4:15:43. Trolis Niebla came in second at 4:57:54.

“The race was epic. I tried not to go too hard at the start and save something for Radford. When we hit the decent from Grand View Point I was sitting third with fourth place on my wheel. I had heard the descent was knarly so I let him by and took it slow. I’m glad I did because the middle of that descent was crazy technical (especially since that was my first time on it).

Once we hit the bottom, I pushed a tough tempo thru the rollers up to the SART. I was able to catch third by the start of the SART. I rode his wheel through the single track and recovered some through this section, ready to go by Radford. I hit the gas at the bottom of Radford and dropped fourth place. Towards the top of Radford I could finally see second place and caught him at the top. When I passed him, I tried to sprint by so that he would not try to suck my wheel.

On the Skyline single track (which I know well), I hit the gas. Once we hit the second part of Skyline I could no longer see the third place racer behind me anymore. On Skyline, I was stopped by a rescue helicopter. I had to hike up a steep incline to the fire road and then back down to Skyline to get around it. This was exhausting and I was panicking about getting caught. After that detour, I pushed it all the way to the finish. It was a super fun and tough day. Glad to have finished second and already looking forward to next year!”

Three minutes later, Scott Pontzer captured third at 5:02:44. Collin Drake was fourth at 5:29:13.

Rob Marquart rolled in just six minutes later to take fifth at 5:35:36.

 

Single Speed Open – Mulka wins the SS!

26 year old Mark Mulka from Columbus, Ohio won the SS race coming in at 6:41:56.

53 year old Raulie Tarango from Fawnskin, CA was second at 7:08:40.

 

Masters 50+ Open – Whittmore wins the Masters!

51-year-old Joe Whittmore from Murrieta, CA took the top spot to finish in 6:00:39. “What a great event! This was my second year racing the Grizzly. Last year I competed in the 100K and decided I didn’t have the fitness for that distance this year, so I signed up for the 75K.

The event is very well supported with several (themed) aid stations that are placed at just the right distance apart. Great volunteers and support staff.

I’m from So CA and love the different trails that comprise the course. SART and Skyline rank at the top of my all-time favorite single track trails. If I had to sum up the race with one word it would be “Radford!”  The Radford road climb is a difficult climb on a good day, but start the 5.7 mile, 2500 ft. climb at mile 30 (at race pace) on a hot summer day and you’re in for a huge challenge, both physically and mentally. The conversation among most racers, post-race, begins and ends with how they did on Radford. Overall a great event! I am looking forward to next year!”

55-year-old Jeff Peterson from Mission Viejo was next, placing second at 6:27:23.

60-year-old Doug Benedon from Agoura, CA was third at 6:48:05. “This my third year participating in the event and I’ll keep coming back (legs and lungs permitting).  Everything about this event is first-class. The organization (registration, volunteer’s course markings, aid stations) is professional and friendly.

The course itself is unbeatable. There is a great mix of single track and fire roads, all of which seems to be pointed uphill. But when things really get tough, and they do, you can soak up the beauty of the surrounding mountains. This is a must do event for anyone looking to challenge and reward themselves on a mountain bike. There are also shorter distances for riders wanting to challenge themselves and get a taste of the event before taking on the longer distances. These riders enjoy the same first-class treatment as the NUE riders, so come one, come all!”

NEXT:

NUE Marathon Race Series #7, Pierre’s Hole 100k in Alta, Wyoming on August 6

 

 

 

Pisgah 111k/55.5k Report and Results

Pisgah 111k

Pisgah Productions dished out another weekend of epic racing in North Carolina with its Pisgah 111k and 55.5k events last Saturday and Sunday. The courses, which both feature a number of classic Pisgah highlights, some hard hike-a-bikes, and a few stream crossings for good measure, were looking a little more intimidating than usual after a week of soaking rain.

Thomas Turner on his way to a win in the Pisgah 111k

Thomas Turner on his way to a win in the Pisgah 111k. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville

A stacked field rolled out of the Pisgah Ranger Station early Saturday morning for the 111k, with things separating almost immediately on the first gravel climb of the day up to Buckhorn Gap. A group of seven including heavy hitters Thomas Turner (Jamis), Sam Koerber (Industry Nine), Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Bicycle Co.), and Tristan Cowie (Sycamore Cycles) crested the top together on their way to the days first major challenge: Squirrel Gap trail.

It was there that Cowie first showed his cards, attacking up Squirrel and quickly establishing a gap. “He was riding next level today,” Turner said later. Luck, however, was not on Cowie’s side, and he flatted soon after on the Cantrell Creek descent, allowing Koerber and Turner to slip past. And at Aid #1 that’s where things stood, Koerber followed by Turner out front, with Cowie chasing back and Wadsworth and Chris Tries (Piney Flats Bicycle Co.) rounding out the top five.

Gordon Wadsworth notching yet another overall podium on his singlespeed.

Gordon Wadsworth notching yet another overall podium on his singlespeed. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville

By Aid#2 a resurgent Cowie had ridden himself back to the front, taking Koerber with him. “I tried to stay on his wheel and lasted about 10 minutes,” Koerber would say later. Cowie was on his way to a big win, when another flat descending Spencer Gap trail ended his day. With Cowie walking out of the woods, Koerber led through Aid #3 and up Laurel Mountain trail when he too had flat trouble. He tried to put some air in, but the tire wouldn’t seal, forcing him to put in a tube – passing the lead to Turner in the process. Turner kept things smooth through Aid #4 and over Black Mountain trail to the finish, taking his second 111k win in two years, with Koerber rolling across in 2nd. Behind, Wadsworth piloted his singlespeed to a well-deserved 3rd overall.

In the women’s race, an expected battle between Kaysee Armstrong (Liv) and Nina Otter (Liberty Bikes) never materialized. Armstrong dropped Otter on the first climb of the day up to Buckhorn Gap and rode steadily from there, cruising to line and repeating last year’s win. Otter struggled to find her rhythm, and perennial Pisgah powerhouse Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) rode to the second spot of on the podium, with Otter rounding out the top three.

Women's podium at the 111k.

Women’s podium at the 111k. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville

 

Pisgah 55.5K

A majority of 111k racers awoke early for round two on Sunday, and they were joined by a few new faces for the 55.5k. While it’s half the distance of Saturday’s race, the 55.5k is a slightly slower course, and riders were in for another big day in the saddle.

The field rolling into the first singletrack of the 55.5k.

The field rolling into the first singletrack of the 55.5k. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville

In the women’s race, it was Elizabeth Sampey, who had passed on the previous day’s racing, turning the screws at the front. Kaysee Armstrong (Liv) gamely kept things close, but she was unable to match the pace of Sampey, and took second. Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) took her second podium in as many days with third.

Men's 55.5k podium.

Men’s 55.5k podium. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville

In the men’s race, it was Saturday’s top riders Thomas Turner (Jamis) and Sam Koerber (Industry Nine) riding together at the front all day. The two got an early gap by riding nearly all of the climb up Black Mountain trail, a stretch that forced most of the field to hike. Turner led for almost the whole day, but a crash that sent him off his bike on the final descent down Black Mountain trail gave Koerber a gap he held to the line. A very strong ride from Nick Bragg (Piney Flats Racing) netted him a well deserved podium as he crossed the line in third.

Full 111k Results

Full 55.5k Results

 

Swank 65k, Brevard, NC

The 2015 Swank 65k kicked off amidst cloudy skies and occasional showers on Sunday, making for a wet and treacherous edition of the Pisgah classic. As third place finisher Nick Bragg (Piney Flats Cycles) put it, “The Swank lived up to it’s reputation as a soul crusher of a race. The rainy conditions meant slick roots with leaves covering all the trails. Loose!”

In the men’s race, it was Ben Renkema who lit up on the first climb of the day up the Daniels Ridge trail, leaving the rest of the field to suffer behind. However, Matt Champion (Sycamore Cycles) made a move on the Daniels descent, and began to bridge back up to the leader. Behind, Scott Hoffner and Bragg were battling it out early for the third spot.

Matt Champion on his way to the win. Photo Courtesy of: Blue Ridge Adventures

Matt Champion on his way to the win. Photo courtesy of: Blue Ridge Adventures

As the race approached it’s crux, the climb up to Farlow Gap and the famed, harrowing, descent back down, Champion had finally made contact with Renkema. “I didn’t catch him until we were halfway through Butter [Gap trail],” Champion said later.We rode together until we started the gravel climb up to Farlow. From that point on I started to pull away on the climb and didn’t see Ben again until he finished. Farlow was insane with all the leaves and wet conditions. I wasn’t expecting the race to be fast, but somehow it was faster than Dave’s time from last year. It was a lot of fun and most of the rain held off until the first few riders finished.”

Renkema would hang on to finish 2nd behind Champion, while Bragg made a move behind to ride himself from 5th at the top of Farlow to 3rd by the bottom. “Descending down Pisgah’s most techy trail, Farlow, was nothing more than one long graceful trip, slip, and fall,” Bragg said. But his effort was good enough to land him on the 3rd and final spot on the podium.

 

Megan Hutton on her way to a win in the women's race. Photo courtesy of: Blue Ridge Adventures

Megan Hutton on her way to a win in the women’s race. Photo courtesy of: Blue Ridge Adventures

The women’s race was an open and competitive affair, with defending champ Nina Otter (Liberty Bikes) not in attendance. Stepping up with a big ride this year was Brevard local Megan Hutton, who was able to cruise home to the finish in Cove Creek and take the win by nearly 9 minutes. Rolling through in second was Angela Paterna, with Jessica Burger is 3rd. Last year’s runner up, Emily Watts, had to settle for 4th.

Full Results:

Open Women’s Results

Open Men’s Results

 

Freetown 50

Noah Tautfest and Karen Potter Conquer the Freetown 50

 

Perfect late summer weather for the Eastern Fat Tire Mountain bike series finale at Freetown State forest.  Early morning threatening a light shower but the sun came out at the day wore on and course conditions were near perfect.

Mountain Bike legend Tinker Juarez toed the line among top New Englander racers.  The Freetown 50, in its third year running, boasted some course changes to help eliminate some paved road and dirt road sections.  This simply meant more boney, technical, rocky singletrack and slower race times then previous years.  Although race promoters made it quite clear that the course could be even harder if they chose to make it so.

Racers had to face the toughest 8 miles of the 25 mile lap right from the start.  Rock gardens were plentiful.  Choosing good lines and maintaining momentum were key to staying on the bike and riding a fast lap. The middle of the course was where racers could gain some time and relax a bit more on the bike handling skills with some smoother trails and dirt road sections.  Around mile 15, the rough singletrack started up again for several miles ending on some bone rattling rock gardens before finishing out the lap on dirt road.

Riders enjoy the singletrack at Freetown 50. Photo by Deb Levesque

Riders enjoy the singletrack at Freetown 50. Photo by Deb Levesque

In the Elite/Open men’s field, Noah Tautfest (Bicycle Express), Billy Melone (ATA Cycles) Tinker Juarez (RideBiker Alliance/ShowAir), Neal Burton (ERRACE) and Matt Boobar all took off fast and hot.  Boobar faded off the pace first and Burton backed off about half-way through the first lap realizing the need to pace himself to finish the full two laps.  Melone, Tautfest and Juarez stayed together until early in the second lap Melone sliced his tire and had to abandon the race.  After that Tautfest rode clean and slowly opened up a gap on Juarez that held for the win in 4:12;  Juarez finished in 2nd 3 minutes back.  Burton rounded out the podium for 3rd in 4:33.

Tinker Juarez chose a super technical and rock garden laden course for his first race back after an injury sidelined him earlier this season.  He admitted it was more technical than he thought it would be thinking his “local” friends were exaggerating as to the toughness of the course.  He quickly found out differently but enjoyed the course nonetheless.

Karen Potter on her way to a Freetown 50 win. Photo by Deb Levesque

Karen Potter on her way to a Freetown 50 win. Photo by Deb Levesque

In the Elite/Open women’s field, Karen Potter (Pivot/Epic Brewing) took the early lead showing her strong rock riding technical skills and maintained it for the win coming in 4:59.  Alicia Faustini (Laurel Bike Club) followed up in 2nd in 5:29.  Pamela Fielding rounded out the podium in third.

For full results of the 50 miler, 25 mile and beginner race see here:  http://www.barttiming.com/lt/livetiming.htm