NUE Marji Gesick 50

NUE Series

Written by: @JenToops

September 22, 2018

The Marji Gesick is a point-to-point endurance race located on the upper peninsula of Michigan. It starts in Marquette and ends in downtown Ishpeming. The one-hundred mile and fifty mile mountain bike races are part of the National Ultra Endurance Series. There is also a one-hundred mile and fifty mile run option. It’s quickly gaining popularity as one of the toughest endurance races in the United States. In 2018 it sold out in less than twenty-four hours with eight-hundred mountain bikers and seventy runners registered. This GPS required race is self supported, and racers are required to collect poker chips at random checkpoints along the course.

The Marquette Ski Hill climb at the start of the 50 mile.

The course was designed to push riders to their absolute limits. The one-hundred milers having around twelve-thousand vertical feet of climbing, and the fifty milers around seven-thousand.  In both courses, racers have to navigate through sand, roots, rocks, off camber climbs, drops, jump lines and technical descents, all while saving enough energy to get through the grueling last fifteen miles.

Racers in the one-hundred mile course finishing under twelve hours for mountain biking, and under thirty hours for runners, will earn the coveted belt buckle handmade by blacksmith Gordon Gearhart. For 2018: three-hundred-thirty-one mountain bikers started the one-hundred mile course, two-hundred-eighteen finished and only nineteen claimed a buckle.  For the one-hundred mile runners: twenty-seven started, twelve finished, and only nine buckles were handed out.

Men’s Open

Tries takes the win and leads NUE series

Chris Tries takes the win in the Marji Gesick Marathon race, finishing with a time of 5:38:05. With this win Tries is now leading the NUE Marathon Series.  “I came into the Marji 50 not really knowing what to expect. I had seen the videos and heard the horror story’s of endless relenting single track. My only race plan was making the lead group and see how things shook out from their since I hadn’t ridden any of the course.  I went hard at the first climb and got a gap and never saw anyone the rest of the day. I felt that I was riding well and had good legs all day but still heard footsteps the whole time.  Lucky I had no mechanicals and was able to take the win. The Marji was my favorite race of the year and hope to make it back again.  Thank you to my sponsor Bike Shop for your support.Matt Myers takes second place finishing at 6:33:25. “Still in disbelief that I actually stood on the podium at Marji. Hands down toughest 50 miles I’ve ever endured. I was with Eli Orth most of the race, he won the SS division and finished second overall. Anyways my best story from the race was when Eli and I came up on two riders and we got stuck behind them for a while. Finally on a decent climb Eli went for the pass, moved slightly off the trail, told the guy he was gonna pass, he didnt move over, Eli ended up hitting a dead pine tree that fell over and nearly took the guy out, Eli made the pass and just crushed. I call him Paul Bunyon, that guy is strong! Eli and I came into the final aid station together, but I never saw him again. Those last 15 miles are as much of a mental grind as a physical one. But crossing the finish line never felt so good. Amazing race, Todd and Danny are sick cats.”

Claiming third, Scott Wolfson finished in 6:50:01. “Never had I gone over my handlebars three times during a race until I met Marji. The climbing was extensive and the start straight up a ski hill a little comical, but it was a beautiful day, the trails were dialed, and for the first 30 miles I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

Then I got tied up between a couple trees and went OHB relatively slowly and uneventfully. A mile or so later I went flying over the handlebars on a fast descent after hitting a piece of fencing that was in the middle of the trail. I hit the ground very hard, but, other than a headache, I and the bike were okay. The fall a mile later sucked all the fun out of the day – it was a fast and technical descent but this time I flew onto a rock field and one squarely hit my right knee, gashing it and swelling it to the size of a softball. And my derailleur was bent two ways – I started riding again, but my chain came off four times until I figured out I could not use my two easiest gears. By that time, I got passed by at least five racers while I was repeatedly prying my chain out of my spokes. I pulled in to the 39 mile checkpoint a wreck, hoping and fully expecting my nurse wife Katie to suggest that I DNF — I planned to reluctantly agree. Instead she gave me some food and said, “Get going, you’re still in the top ten!”

A short time later on the luge hill climb I started cramping, especially when I had to get off my bike to walk it on some of the insane rock climbs. I fought like heck to make every hill from then on. With a couple miles left, spectators kept yelling that a group of racers was only 30 seconds to a minute ahead of me. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to finish. I eventually caught them and passed them up the last few climbs to finish a grateful and unexpected third.

The next NUE race I plan on is the Lumberjack 100. Thank you to KLM Bike & Fitness, Cold Stone Creamery, and my Bike Babe Katie Wolfson!”

Women’s Open

Toops gets back-to-back wins at Marji Gesick

Women’s Podium: 1st-Jen Toops, 2nd: Lisa Randall, 3rd-Ronnie Wick

Defending NUE Marathon Champion, Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles), wins Marji Gesick 50 with a time of 7:17:17. She now leads NUE Marathon Series going into the final race at Big Bear, CA next weekend.

“This was my second time racing the Marji Gesick 50 mile and I felt prepared.  I just finished a training block and had previous knowledge of the course. I was ready to race and chose to race my Pivot Mach 4 with Continental Cross Kings.

The race starts out on the Marquette ski hill and positions are sorted out early. It was much colder than last year and the conditions were perfect.  On the first downhill I dropped my 100% speedcraft glasses, but I wasn’t about to stop and get them.  I kept going and tried to stay on pace winding through the singletrack and at one point washing out on some loose sand.

Jen Toops crossing the finish line. Photo by Ryan Stephens

About an hour or two into the race a group of guys caught me and were going at a fast pace.  I tried my best to hang on for the ride up the bike path, knowing that any energy saved here would greatly benefit later in the race.  Eventually most of the guys took off and fellow Ohioan, Chuck Boyle and I decided to work together for a while.

Chuck and I rode over half the race together and helped each other navigate and keep each other sane.  The second half of the Marji 50 is by far the hardest. Any matches burned at the beginning of the race will catch up here.  I continued a moderate pace playing it safe on the downhills and pushing the pace on the uphills. The end of the race has a lot of climbing and I saved enough energy to move up a quite a few placings and ride into the finish taking the win in women’s open.

The Marji Gesick is a race not like any other.  The trails are fun, technical and challenging and that’s why I keep coming back.  It’s an adventure and I can’t wait to see what shenanigans Todd and Danny have waiting for next year.”

Photo by Ryan Stephens

Taking second, Lisa Randall crosses the line with a time of 7:54:02. “I did the 100 in 2016 when I was actually in pretty good shape but I’ve had a hard time the past 2 years with my health/personal life so haven’t been able to really train/race again, nor really get back to even what “normal” fitness was. I love this race though, and wanted to just come up and ride the trails because I really enjoy this type of riding. I didn’t want to push too hard for fear of melting down, however just keeping moving this year was tough for me. I’m hoping I can get my health in order so that I can come back and do the 100 again.”

Just a few minutes back from Randall, Ronnie Wick places third in 7:59:59.  “I’ve only been riding bike for 3 years but long enough to have heard about the Marji Gesick.  After checking out the website and watching a few videos, I wanted to ride it.  And I say ride it because other than what I’d seen on social media, I had no idea what to expect.  My goal was to finish  it – intact.

Ronnie Wick takes third place

I thought the 50mi was a great course.  I rode conservatively all day, unsure of what lay ahead.  I had heard a lot of different stories. I dig most terrains to ride and was happy the Marji had a bit of everything.

I’ll be back next year for sure! Being familiar with the course, I’ll be in race mode and leave it all out there! I’m sure, it being the 5th year anniversary, there’ll be some fun challenges!

I don’t have any sponsors.  I’m married with three kids.  I work shift work in an Emergency room as an RN.  I ride my bike whenever I’m able; it makes me smile.”

Master’s 50+

Lundsten takes the win in Master’s

Lundsten wins the Master’s race.

Roger Lundsten gets the top step in the Master’s category and finished with a time of 7:39:08.  Almost an hour back was Paul Tepp taking second in 8:22:39.  Rounding out the Master’s podium was Robert Zimmermann  with a time of 8:47:43.

Singlespeed

Orth takes the WIN and gets second overall!

Singlespeed Podium: 1st-Eli Orth, 2nd-Joshua Blum, 3rd-Yianni Pimenidis

Eli Orth gets back-to-back wins at the Marji 50 mile and takes second place overall with a time of 6:17:43.

“With Marji Gesick being my last NUE race of the season and one of my favorites i was really looking forward to race day. With cool temps i knew there was a good chance of improving on my time from last year. Up the first fire road climb i was surprised to find myself all alone up front with only Chris Tries catching up and passing me before the single track. During the race a wrong turn was made a few times but i quickly realized it and was able to catch those that had got in front of me.

During one of those passes a very memorable moment was when i was going for a pass on the right and my handlebars clipped a tree. I stayed up and kept going but the tree came crashing down next to us..narrowly missing me and at least one other rider!
The majority of the race i spent it just enjoying the trails and the perfect weather and staying consistent.
At the finish i was actually surprised i was 2nd overall on my single speed.. just like we started the race. My goal going in was sub 6:30 with last years time being a 6:50. I easily got it with a 6:17.
This is my last NUE race this year and this off season I’ll decide if I’m going to race the 100 milers or 100k’s next year. More than likely I’ll definitely be doing 100 mile at Marji Gesick next year no matter what.My bike in the race was a Pivot Les with 32×19 gearing using an Absolute Black oval. It was a little changeup from my normal gearing but it worked out good.

About twenty minutes back, Joshua Blum took second place with a time of 6:37:38.  “Ah the Marji Gesick, perhaps the most feared race in the galaxy, or at least the Upper Midwest. How the race took shape for the Half Marji. Metallica was playing at the start, the National Anthem was belted out via Electric Guitar, and we were off up a steep hill (which is fitting). Eli Orth sprinted his SS to the top of Marquette Mtn. We all then descended and settled in. Knowing the course from 2017, I was reluctant to do anything but ride my own pace in fear of the final 15 miles… (Note, staying redlined in the first 40 miles isn’t wise). Unlike 2017, the weather was perfect. Once stopping at the unofficial aid station (Jackson Park, around mile 40) I was greeted by an awesome group of volunteers, known as the “Suffer Crew” they helped refill water, and then I was off for the final 15. At this point I felt great, and knew I was in position to race the final 15 instead of survive the final 15. Upon leaving the Unofficial Aid Station, I was told that I was in 7th place overall for the Half Marji. Awesome! Time to pedal and push the bike. I was able to pass 3 more people in the final 15, and cross the finish line. Crossing the finish line at the Marji might be the best feeling one can have period. My goals for this race were a top 10 finish, and no mechanicals. Both were accomplished, the bonus was a 4th overall, and 2nd in SS. The gearing that was chosen for this race was a Wolftooth Oval 32 tooth ring, and Wolftooth Stainless 20 tooth cog.Thank You’s go out to my wife Rachel for taking care of our kids while I’m gone, Smith’s Bike Shop in La Crosse WI, NOX Composites for building very durable carbon hoops, and having an awesome crew from La Crosse to travel to this race with.

My next planned NUE race is likely the Marji Gesick in 2019. Time just doesn’t allow for more NUE races, as most of my free time away from my job is spent as a volunteer, building & maintaining local trails, and hanging out with my wife & 2 young daughters. At some point I would like to venture east to do another NUE race, as this style of racing is becoming more appealing than the standard XCO type of racing.”

Taking third was Yianni Pimenidis with a time of 7:24:03.

For full results: Click Here

Want to register for 2019 Marji Gesick? Registration opened Oct 13th and sold out in under a few hours. Don’t worry plenty of people back out so Click here to get on the wait list. Danny and Todd are looking to get more women racing. Any women on the wait list get moved into the race automatically! So get registered for 2019!

What’s NEXT?!

On September 29, the NUE Series heads to California for the NUE Championship race at the Grizzly 100k and 75k in Big Bear, California.

Follow the Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles team adventures as we travel and report on cycling around the globe.

Instagram: @pearlizumi_pivotmtb_team, @JenToops, @HanksJen, @shannonboffeli @graciedaze, 

 

NUE Marji Gesick 100

NUE Series

Written by: @JenToops

September 22, 2018

The Marji Gesick is a point-to-point endurance race located on the upper peninsula of Michigan. It starts in Marquette and ends in downtown Ishpeming. The one-hundred mile and fifty mile mountain bike races are part of the National Ultra Endurance Series. There is also a one-hundred mile and fifty mile run option. It’s quickly gaining popularity as one of the toughest endurance races in the United States. In 2018 it sold out in less than twenty-four hours with eight-hundred mountain bikers and seventy runners registered. This GPS required race is self supported, and racers are required to collect poker chips at random checkpoints along the course.

100 mile bikers starting the 1/2 mile run to their bikes. Photo Ryan Stephens

The course was designed to push riders to their absolute limits. The one-hundred milers having around twelve-thousand vertical feet of climbing, and the fifty milers around seven-thousand.  In both courses, racers have to navigate through sand, roots, rocks, off camber climbs, drops, jump lines and technical descents, all while saving enough energy to get through the grueling last fifteen miles.

Racers trying to stay warm at the cold race start. Photo by Ryan Stephens

Racers in the one-hundred mile course finishing under twelve hours for mountain biking, and under thirty hours for runners, will earn the coveted belt buckle handmade by blacksmith Gordon Gearhart. For 2018: three-hundred-thirty-one mountain bikers started the one-hundred mile course, two-hundred-eighteen finished and only nineteen claimed a buckle.  For the one-hundred mile runners: twenty-seven started, twelve finished, and only nine buckles were handed out.

 

Men’s Open

Jeremiah Bishop goes sub ten and takes the WIN!

Men’s 100 Podium: 1st: Jeremiah Bishop, 2nd: Matt Acker, 3rd: Tinker Juarez

The first racer go sub ten hours and take the win in the 100 mile was, Jeremiah Bishop,  coming in at an impressive time of 9:57:05.

“Marji ate my lunch last year, this year I came loaded for Bear.  I had a much smoother race and made all the selections early on, Matt Aker drove the pace. I put in a dig after clearing the most technical climb of the day and got clear. Legs ached but they answered the call. I nailed the last hour and took back my pride.
It was a honor to take down my last NUE 100 Win on Canyon Topeak Factory Racing.
It’s been a killer season.”

Photo by Ryan Stephens

Following second place finishes in 2016 and 2017, Matt Acker of Salsa Cycles, took second place coming in at 10:06:54.

“I’ve done Marji Gesick since the first year and have good knowledge of the trails so I used that to my advantage to stay on the front and keep the pace quick through the first 40 miles. Our group dwindled shortly after the first aid station and after a well placed attack there were only 4 of us going into the biggest climb of the day. Around mile 50 it was down to just myself, Jeremiah and Tinker. We rode together into mile 65 aid station where i stopped to refuel and the other two got out quickly. Chased them down and the three of us continued to roll until around mile 85 where Jeremiah made a move on a technical climb that Tinker and I got gapped on. We chased into the last aid station at mile 87 where he held about a minute gap. I was the last one out again, and all three of us rolled the last 15 miles solo until i caught Tinker with a mile or so to go at the last climb.  Great race with some fast guys, always a pleasure racing against some legends!”

Finishing less than a minute back was, Tinker Juarez, claming third in a time of 10:07:10.

Women’s Open

Williams gets her first win at Marji Gesick!

Defending NUE Series Champion, Carla Williams, takes the top step with a record time of 12:25:51.

“It was around mile 50 when I knew that my best effort was not going to be good enough. I asked the guy riding next to me through the sand what our chances were to break 12 hours and he shook his head. “Maybe if you gun it through the next 50 miles, you might have a chance.” I knew that it was going to be near impossible to “gun it” through the tight, twisty technical singletrack that lay ahead, and I also knew that the 2nd half of the race was going to be harder and only slower than the 1st half.

I had prepared as best I possibly could for this race. I had read about every blog post out there. I had talked to as many people as I could who had done this race before for advice. I knew that I had to go out hard at the start and hammer every easy trail because I needed to bank time for all the technical slow trail in between. My mom flew out from New Hampshire to spend the weekend with me and run support. She met me at miles 30, 50, 64 and 87 with food and water so I could minimize time stopping. I had the course loaded onto my wahoo, I had a back up charger for the wahoo, I had lights, I had food, I had tools and tubes for all the possible mechanicals that I knew how to fix. I guess it is fair to say that even the best preparation doesn’t really prepare you for this race.

Photo by Ryan Stephens

I didn’t reach my goal of 12 hours, but I am still really happy with my ride. I felt like I pushed the entire way, my legs felt strong, I never mentally broke down or entered a dark place, even when I got lost. I actually had a lot of fun working my way through the trails and was pretty happy with how I rode a lot of the technical stuff. It was awesome having my mom out there, and I kept looking forward to reaching the next spot out on course where I knew she would be. I think that if you accomplish all of your goals in a season, that means you are setting the bar too low. So I am ok with setting myself up for the challenge, giving it my best shot, but coming up 25 minutes short. It was an incredible backcountry adventure and a great end to my 2018 NUE season.

Taking second place, Chelsea Strate, finished in 15:07:30.

“Some of the recurring advice that I heard from past competitors that stuck with me was how it was very important not to get caught up in the fast start of the race, so I took it easy during the LeMans start, and even forgot where I put my bike. I just stood there for a few moments, wondering where the heck my bike was, when finally, my red grips caught my eye. I had actually forgotten I put red grips on, and thought my bike was all black. Oops! I hopped on, pushed myself a little bit, but I didn’t get caught up in where the other women were. There was still 100 miles of racing to go!

All day, I kept thinking to myself, “is killing this uphill or catching that person ahead of me worth burning a match over?” The answer most frequently was a solid “nope.” My matches are a precious commodity. I kept a solid pace, and just tried to keep moving. I hiked my bike up a lot of hills, and didn’t clear all of the technical sections that I probably could have on a shorter ride, but I was in a good headspace, and really enjoyed the constant challenges. By mile 40 I was probably in 5th or 6th place, but by the end I had secured 2nd. I was just a bike throw (2 1/2 hours) behind Carla, the 1st place finisher, with Heidi on my tail (45 min behind), so it sure was a close race! (But in all seriousness, this is why we need to work on getting more women out!) Thanks to Teravail Tires and my friends for the race support!

Rounding out the podium and taking third was, Heidi Coulter in 15:53:35.

“Last year I signed up for the Marji Gesick 50, I was in the running for placing 2nd overall in the NUE Marathon Series.  All I had to do was have a good race.  That slowly slipped away when I got lost, went without water for 3 hours, ate apples from a tree on a long lost farm and finally found my way back to the finish. It was the first and only DNF of my life.  It didn’t sit well with me, so much so that this year I put on my big girl pants and signed up for five 100 mile races!

The day started with the National Anthem played Jimi Hendrix style by the Grim Reaper, fireworks signaled the start of the race and then we were led out by a princess riding a unicorn.  Seriously how could the day get any better!?  I’ll tell you, it actually was incredible until it wasn’t and then it was amazing and then it was painful, gut wrenching and then It was the best day ever all over again.  The day went in waves like that and continued into the night.  The last 18 miles I ended up riding and sometimes walking like a zombie with my friend James Knott. I hadn’t seen him all day and by some sort of unicorn magic he saved the day with his spare light when mine died and helped keep me on course since my Garmin and phone had both been dead for about half the race. Finishing was a huge accomplishment and getting third was a great way to finish my season.  Will I be back? Yep. I’ve landed on my head a lot lately so it’s hard for me to think clearly! The Marji Gesick 100 is truly what dreams and nightmares are made of.”

Master’s 50+

McFadden takes the top step

Todd McFadden wins Master’s 50+

Winning the Master’s division was Todd McFadden with a time of 13:04:35. Taking second, Greg Gentle crossed the line at 13:27:47.

“In 2017 the heat kept me well off the buckle pace with a 14+ hour finish.  My friends that know me were confident I could buckle if I could keep a strong pace, follow a solid nutrition plan and keep the demons off.  Honestly this race isn’t so much about the terrain, but keeping your PMA and  mindset in-check.   I made some smart choices starting dropping 5 pounds off my ride by going with a Canyon Lux CF 9.0 instead of the Ibis Ripley I rode last year.  I was on pace and things were humming well until I left Ishpeming. I could feel the wheels start to come off at about mile 80.  Todd McFadden caught me just before we got back to Negaunee.  I was happy to see him doing well this year.  By the time I started the last section back to Negaunee I realized my buckle aspirations were gone so I decided to finish the race with my buddy Jason Kunisher.  Once I took the pressure off I could simply enjoy the ride and have fun.  Thanks to my bro Jay Henderson from Hollywood Cycles and my Team Hollywood Cycles (THC!) mates for the support throughout the year.  I look forward to crushing that 12 hour limit in 2019.  As for other NUE plans.  I raced the Tatanka in 2016 and plan a return to the Black Hills for an early season prep for the Marji. ”

Just a  minute back from second place, Tom Stritzinger finished third with a time of 13:28:22.

“Marji Gesick is one of my favorite races.  This year the conditions were perfect and I was hoping to have a shot at a belt buckle.  As fate would have it, around mile 48, my seat broke off on a rocky descent.  At first I thought my race was over, however, I was able to fix the seat back on but there was only 1 rail to hold it.  That lasted until mile 55 where the second rail broke off and I was left with no way to secure my seat to the seat post.  I began walking off the course with the seat in my hand, dreading the “quitter” text I would need to send to the race promoters.  A number of racers passed me, saw the seat in my hand, and expressed their encouragement and disappointment to me.  A racer named Justin Michels saw me carrying my seat, stopped and asked me if I wanted his seat so I could finish the race.  He said he really wasn’t feeling it.  We took his seat off and fixed it to my post.  It wasn’t perfect so we had to use some tape to make it fit better.  Finally, I had a seat, thanked Justin profusely and set off to finish the race.  The seat came loose about 10x over the last 45 miles but I was able to finish and somehow managed a 3rd place finish.  I feel like I still have unfinished business at Marji Gesick and will be back next year to take care of it. I did 8 NUE races this year and Marji Gesick is both the most fun and most difficult of them all.  I want to again thank Justin Michels for lending me his seat to finish the race!”

Singlespeed

Fuhrmann takes fifth overall and WINS Singlespeed

Brian Fuhrmann takes fifth overall and wins the Singlespeed division with a time of 10:49:21.

“After several years of not competing on bicycles I decided to drag my lazy carcass off the couch to try out a race called the Marji Gesick 100.  Since I was unfamiliar with the trails and the area I relied on past race results, reports, and word-of-mouth for how to plan my training and bicycle build.  The pre-race consensus was that the last 35 miles were not for the faint of heart and I would need to treat that as the true halfway point.  As such, I adopted the mantra “smooth & steady” for the race and routinely mouthed the words to myself to keep from going too hard early on.

Following the LeMans start, I was sitting around 10th place overall and stayed there for the first 25 miles before latching onto the wheel of Chris Lowry from LaCrosse, WI.  Chris and I were both riding smooth and we helped each other to keep an eye out for the trail markings. When we got to the trail magic station at mile 40, I realized we were already 30 minutes ahead of schedule for my goal of getting a belt buckle… decent!  Chris and I trucked on together until a few miles before the 65ish mile drop bag location when I stopped for some electrolytes and let him continue on with his gears and derailleur.  At mile 65 I reloaded my food reserves and got a quick bite to eat before learning about what the last 35 miles was going to deliver.Much to my surprise, these trails were very similar to my local stash of trails in Decorah.  Where other people were struggling, I found that I was able to thrive. The trails were tight and less flowy such that I had to be a scavenger of momentum.  Around mile 80, I once again met up with Chris along with another chap he was riding with at that time.  I think they both realized I was enjoying my time on these trails and let me by.  I pulled through Jackson Park for the last time at mile 85 and did a quick fill-and-go with the bottles.  The last 15 miles contained many climbs that forced me off the bike, but I continued to think about staying smooth and steady, especially since I was buckle-bound unless something catastrophic was to happen.  Somewhere in these trails, I passed a couple more MG100 racers before making my way to the finish line.

My bike setup was a Trek Stache Carbon 29+ singlespeed with rigid fork.  Gearing was 34:20 with a 29×3.0 tire.Thanks to Route 66 Bicycles in Rolla, MO for help with bike setup, Oneota River Cycles in Decorah, IA for 11th hour wheel building, and my wife Melissa for encouragement, race support, and keeping me from stepping in another racer’s vomit at Jackson Park.”

Joe Worboy finished second with a time of 13:07:48.

“The day started with a Unicorn and the National Anthem.  We started with a Lemans start which I paced myself, I was prepared to start the day at a slower pace than my usual NUE starts.  Marji is a long day and the last 30 miles of this race is tough.  The day started out with the perfect temperature and I quickly settled into a nice 10 mph pace, as planned.  The course is fun at this point and it is the perfect day to be on the bike.  The first 40 miles of the race has plenty of challenge but rewards you will some flow sections.  I split the day into small goals, this helped maintain a positive mental attitude versus thinking about the finish line.  Nutrition was spot on, I use infinite which always gets me through long days in the saddle.

Everything was going great, and then boom!  I hit the ground hard.   It was techy descend after the ski slope climb.  This is where I lost focus for a split second and I went straight over the bars in a techy downhill rock garden.  It felt like I just got hit by Connor McGregor.  This is for real, I am not sponsored in any way by Oakley.  The Oakley Jawbreakers saved the day, without that protection I am pretty sure my day would have been over.  They took the majority of the blow versus my face and cheek bones.  However, I did have some cuts around my eye from the frame impact that caused bleeding and my hand took a big hit, later to find out it is only a deep bruise.  I asked a passing rider if the cuts looked ok and if he thinks the bleeding will stop, he said, “Can’t see the bone so you should be good, but I am not a doctor.”  This was refreshing to hear….  So I kept going,  I must have looked like Rocky after fighting Apollo because there were a lot of comments.   I knew to complete the day I must stay focused and push through.  I was still riding but at a much slower pace trying to actively recover on the bike, this is not easy at the marji and hit the ground a few more times because I was not riding my usual speed.

Finally I made it to the Aide at mile 65 about one hour off my pace goal.  One of the volunteer nurses cleaned me up, thank God for her.  I am very appreciative of this because she confirmed my hand was ok and cleaned up my cuts.  Mentally I was back to 100% and feeling strong again.  I also saw my son, Mikey Worboy.  This was awesome!  We had a waffle, peanut butter, whip cream sandwich together.  Totally coincidental, he just happened to be coming through the same aid for the 2nd time to complete the 50 miler.  It was so cool to see him and knowing he is doing well was refreshing.

My energy was really good now, I was back on pace and caught up to single speeder, Joe Stroz, my NUE rival this year.  We chatted for a minute to compare battle stories then separated.  To his defense, he had some bike issues with  that caused him some time and riding on a broken saddle is not easy.  He would of never let me leave his sight otherwise.

I finished the day in 2nd overall in Men’s Open SS on my Pivot Les 34:21.  I will be back in 2019 for my third attempt for the Buckle.  I would like to thank friends and family that supported all the my training efforts. Especially my wife, Nicolette.  So hon, doing this one again!  She is so supportive, big thanks to her.  Warp Speed Training coach, Steve Clement, Wheelie Fun Bike Shop, Trailer Park Racing Team, North High Brewing, Grandview Pro Fitness, Hatfied RV that provided support.”

Taking third was, Regis Ricketts, finishing at 13:17:44.

For full results: Click Here

Want to register for 2019 Marji Gesick? Registration opened Oct 13th and sold out in under a few hours. Don’t worry plenty of people back out so Click here to get on the wait list. Danny and Todd are looking to get more women racing. Any women on the wait list get moved into the race automatically! So get registered for 2019!

What’s NEXT?!

On September 29, the NUE Series heads to California for the NUE Championship race at the Grizzly 100k and 75k in Big Bear, California.

Follow the Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles team adventures as we travel and report on cycling around the globe.

Instagram: @pearlizumi_pivotmtb_team, @JenToops, @HanksJen, @shannonboffeli @graciedaze, 

 

NUE Pierre’s Hole 100K

Written by: @JenToops & Marlee Dixon @graciedaze

The next stop in the NUE series, Pierre’s Hole, is a rugged 32 mile single track loop that takes racers all over Grand Targhee Resort. If you’re able to look up out of the chest high wildflowers, the views down into the valley and of the Tetons at Pierre’s Hole 100 are breathtaking. At 7:00am on a beautiful cool morning, the 100 mile racers start their three lap race followed at 8:10am by the 100k racers and at 8:40am by the 50k racers. The race starts with a grueling 1700’ climb up the resort separating everyone for the 95% single track course. Once at the top, racers head down 38 special for a memorable descent with 38 switchbacks. Climbing back up the resort slopes again, riders enjoy an exhilarating high alpine descent down to aid 1 and back down to the resort base area. The next two loops are an undulating combination of meadows, forests, twisty and smooth single track that brings racers back to the start/finish for the end of lap 1.

Photo credit: Jay Goodrich / jay@jaygoodrich.com / @jaygoodrich

With temps in the low 70s, a race venue at Grand Targhee resort full of campers, hot showers, local beers, good food and kids activities as well an epic single track course; this is a race geared towards the avid mountain bike racers as well as the family-friendly and casual racers.

Photo credit: Jay Goodrich / jay@jaygoodrich.com / @jaygoodrich

Open Men

Brown takes the top step

1st-Josh Brown, 2nd-David Wiens, 3rd-Tanner Visnick, 4th-George Flynn, 5th-Davey Mitchell

Taking the top step in the Open Men’s division was, Josh Brown (Bountiful Bike) crossing the line in 5:18:47.

“Race day was an absolute blast. I entered not knowing what to expect or where my fitness was as it was my first race of the season.I quickly realized up the first long climb that I had the legs that day. When we rolled over the first climb I was sitting in second behind George Flynn, with a couple of seconds on third and fourth. We maintained those couple of seconds for the entirety of the first lap, which was a very fun. George was setting a great pace and it was fun to sit on his wheel.

Just as we finished lap number one, Dave Wiens closed the gap and there was now three of us. While climbing the first big climb of lap two I could feel George fading a bit and knew that I had more legs than he did. So at the top of the climb just as it turns into an ATV road, I put in a hard surge and put about 15 seconds on George and Dave.

Down the long decent I knew that I would have to put a good amount of time into Dave if I wanted to be able to hold him off. So I pushed my comfort zone a little down the decent. I could see Dave for most of lap two, he was pegged at about two minutes back. There were times on switch backs that I would try and duck/hide behind bushes and trees to keep out of his sight. (Out of sight out of mind ;)). I somehow managed to hold the gap and cross the finish line in first. It was a great day and an amazing course! Another fun day on the bike.”

David Wiens (Topeak Ergon IMBA), takes second in a time of 5:21:13.

“Racing Pierre’s Hole was a blast! A most stunning place to ride, friendly, laid back people, awesome trails that wouldn’t end, and top-notch race organization. On the first climb, five of us quickly separated from the field with Tanner Visnick and Josh Brown both looking strong. There was a ton of singletrack and while it was fairly smooth and fast, it required concentration as the vegetation, including awesome wildflowers, encroached from the sides and you were never quite sure what the trail was going to do around each corner: continue fast, switchback up hard to the right, switchback down to the left, you get the idea – lots of quick braking and shifting and getting back on the pedals accelerating.

I was dangling out alone in 5thearly in the first lap but steadily moved up into 3rdand caught the leaders as we hit the halfway point and embarked on lap 2. Josh rode a stellar race, marking the front and not charging until he hit the big descent on lap two. There, I jumped on his wheel and into second place but he put solid time on me on the descent. From that point on, I would get a glimpse of him now and then, but I could always tell he was feeling good and dancing on the pedals. Congrats to Josh and Tanner and everyone else that raced. I was happy with my race and also pretty stoked to not be riding another lap like the 100-mile riders. My hat is off to those men and women for sure.”

Rounding out the podium was, Tanner Visnick (Steamboat Velo) at 5:30:35.

Open Women

Harvey defends title on home turf

1st-Caedran Harvey, 2nd-Marlee Dixon, 3rd-Christy Olsen, 4th-Jen Toops, 5th-Jaime Brede

Winner of the 2017 Pierre’s Hole 100k, Caedran Harvey (Fitzgerald’s Bicycles), defends her title winning the 2018 Pierre’s Hole 100k at 6:09:12. Coming from Fairplay, CO, Marlee Dixon, Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles, takes second in 6:15:43. Taking third place was Christy Olsen, 1890 Cycling/Crazy Pedaler, crossing the line in 6:30:55.

Singlespeed

Toops gets four back-to-back NUE wins

1st-Anthony Toops, 2nd-Brad Keyes, 3rd-Weston Hutchinson, 4th-Jordan Radin, 5th-Michael Riley

Ohio racer, Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage), gets his fourth NUE Marathon singlespeed win finishing with a time of 6:18:14.  This gives Toops a perfect score of four in the overall NUE series for singlespeed.

“Pierre’s Hole was a “bonus race” on the calendar this year since I wasn’t sure if I could make it… and it was a tough one! I had no expectations coming into this one but I did know the suffering would be high. Little did I know my low lander fitness would eventually show itself halfway through.

From the gun the race started off on a long cat-track climb where the positions sorted out before hitting the singletrack (95% singletrack on this course).  I immediately took note of my power and effort being held back by the high elevation so the strategy was to never go too hard; just hard enough.

I managed to cap off the first lap pretty much on pace with my plan, but that’s when the wall hit me in the face.  At around the 3:30 mark I was in survival mode.  I honestly don’t remember a ton of that lap as I was just head down trying to keep the pedals turning over.  I’m not sure if its all the recent racing catching up to me but the elevation certainly spares no one from its pain.  I did manage to get some motivating words from Greg Gollete as he motored past about 1/3 of the way through the lap. I just kept trying to tick the miles off, stay upright, and keep my competitors out of site.

Coming up the last kicker and seeing the finish line was such a relief!  After tons of rugged singletrack, brutal climbs, and fast switchbacks,  I was pretty much wrecked!
My gearing was 32×20, which was a little hard I think. I’ll probably go easier next time since it’s a climb-descend type of course.
Thank you to Andy for putting on an amazing race, all the volunteers for their hard work, and always Paradise Garage who keep me rolling!”

Brad Keyes (CarboRocket) excited to cross the finish line!

Taking second was, Brad Keyes (Carborocket) crossing the line at 6:46:26.  Just four minutes back was, Weston Hutchinson (Elevate) finishing at 6:50:00.

Masters

Local racer Llinares takes the top step

1st-Mark Llinares, 2nd-Greg Golet, 3rd-Michael Piker, 4th-Gardner Brown, 5th-Klaus Fleischmann

Local Mark Llinares (The Hub), proved his strength on his home course taking the win in 5:55:44.

2017 Epic Masters NUE champion, Greg Golet (Team Chico) took second at 6:06:06.

“Pierre’s Hole just keeps getting better! This year added a new section of trail that eliminated the pavement! Some complained that they no longer had the road to recover on, but I was glad to stay in the woods. The course was super fun and varied, and as always provided a true test of fitness—and cornering skills through endless sections of switchbacks. On race day the air was clear, and the Tetons were out!! Everyone’s spirits were high. Such a nice contrast to the ridiculously smoky California where I had come from, and where for the last few weeks we’ve been advised to stay indoors.

I set a fairly fast but comfortable pace and was first after lap 1, but only by a minute (although I didn’t know the differential at the time, of course). Then on the upper part of the biggest climb of the second lap, a courteous fellow with an Aussie(?) accent cruised passed me. All I could do was watch him go. I didn’t know who he was or if he was in my class, but guessed he might be. In any case, it didn’t take long until Mark Llinares from Jackson, was out of sight. My lack of recent training probably didn’t help, nor did being at 9,000’ for the first time since backcountry skiing in Lassen park last winter. But even though I had just been fully dropped, I was loving it! Being fully incapable of matching his pace, I just rode my own race to the finish savoring every moment. It’s hard to beat riding perfect singletrack that snakes endlessly through aspen groves and wildflower meadows. So thankful to have this time with such great people racing bikes in the mountains!!

Thanks #honeystinger, #carborocket, #kaliprotectives and #wolftoothcomponents for keeping me fueled, safe and shifting smoothly! Looking forward to Big Bear for the season finale (unless the smoke keeps me from riding leading up to it).”

Taking third place was, Michael Piker (Hoback Sports) at 6:37:24.

Photo credit: Jay Goodrich / jay@jaygoodrich.com / @jaygoodrich

Full results click here

What’s Next? Click Here for info on the next NUE Marathon series race: NUE Marji Gesick race in Michigan. Click Here for info on the next NUE Epic series race: Shenandoah 100 in Virginia.

Follow the Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles team adventures as we travel and report on cycling around the globe.

Instagram: @pearlizumi_pivotmtb_team, @JenToops, @HanksJen, @graciedaze

 

NUE Pierre’s Hole 100 Mile

Written by: @JenToops and Marlee Dixon @graciedaze

The next stop in the NUE series, Pierre’s Hole, is a rugged 32 mile single track loop that takes racers all over Grand Targhee Resort. If you’re able to look up out of the chest high wildflowers, the views down into the valley and of the Tetons at Pierre’s Hole 100 are breathtaking.At 7:00am on a beautiful cool morning, the 100 mile racers start their three lap race followed at 8:10am by the 100k racers and at 8:40am by the 50k racers. The race starts with a grueling 1700’ climb up the resort separating everyone for the 95% single track course. Once at the top, racers head down 38 special for a memorable descent with 38 switchbacks. Climbing back up the resort slopes again, riders enjoy an exhilarating high alpine descent down to aid 1 and back down to the resort base area.

Photo credit: Jay Goodrich / jay@jaygoodrich.com / @jaygoodrich

The next two loops are an undulating combination of meadows, forests, twisty and smooth single track that brings racers back to the start/finish for the end of lap 1.With temps in the low 70s, a race venue at Grand Targhee resort full of campers, hot showers, local beers, good food and kids activities as well an epic single track course; this is a race geared towards the avid mountain bike racers as well as the family-friendly and casual racers.

Photo credit: Jay Goodrich / jay@jaygoodrich.com / @jaygoodrich

Open Men

Lewis gets second NUE win of the season

1st-Bryan Lewis, 2nd-Sam Sweetser, 3rd-David Krimstock, 4th-Stefano Barberi

East coaster, Bryan Lewis (Cutaway USA), proved he could handle the elevation and took the top step in a time of 8:00:01.

“The Tetons have always been one of my favorite places to visit and I was excited to meet up with a couple friends from the area and take on the PH100. With 3 distance options to choose from the 100 mile field was a lot smaller than other NUEs. It’s as if others knew something I didn’t. The race started with a long climb that set up the lead group fairly quickly. On the first descent of the day Sam Sweetser set the pace and quickly separated he and I from the rest of the lead group. That set the tempo for the remainder of the ride as he continued to pull me around the single track.

Sam was super smooth and fast on the switchback heavy course and it was fun to follow him along. He was riding strong and when he made a minor mistake in a corner I made my way around him and tested his legs a bit separating from him around mile 60 and never (and by never I mean always) looking back. He kept the gap tight but I was able to hold on and really felt good on the final lap in Rick’s Basin and had fun ripping on it.

Overall, Pierre’s Hole was an amazing race under the view of the Tetons, which is hard to beat. I will say when I was finished I didn’t want to see another switchback for a few weeks, but that’s just me. Thanks Andy and the crew for building great trails and putting on a fun race!

Sponsors: Flying solo, but appreciate the support of my employer Cutaway, USA as well as a good group of friends (Will, Steven, Tyler, Seth, AT, and Carlo) that consistently talk smack and give me a hard time as I chase fun events across the country. Also big thanks good friend Jansen Gunderson who hosted and helped me with feeds during the race. Also I’m really glad my girlfriend didn’t shoot me for stealing her drink mix out of the cooler while she also cruised through 100 miles under the Tetons. :/ Lessons learned and thanks a great vacation Lauren!”

Twelve minutes back, Sam Sweetser (Cole Sport), takes second at 8:12:01.

David Krimstock (Shimano/Pearl Izumi/Pivot) rounded out the podium taking third at 8:19:47.

“Pierres Hole was the 4th 100 mile race in 5 weeks for me, and even though I have done this type of schedule before the added travel and fatigue left me with some unknowns. Riding sections of the course before the race had me looking forward to giving it my all on race day. This years course was unique with a small handful of dirt road miles, it seems to me that the PH100 has the most single track of any 100 mile race Im aware of. Between 38 Special, Action Jackson, and the winding up and down of Ricks Basin, I had a feeling my body was going to be completely thrashed by the end.The race started with a reasonable pace, and I played it safe. Letting Brian, Sam, and Stefano get ahead then reeling them back in by the top of the climb. Leading into the 38 Special descent Sam and Brian pushed the pace to get onto the trail first, and I settled in behind Stefano. Feeling decent, I went ahead of him during the climb out of the canyon and tried to keep the leaders in sight. I was about 2 minutes back for the rest of lap 1, and was continuously trying to pull them back. I held onto faith that my strategy of fueling with EFS Pro and Gel and using a Camelbak to be able to drink while on the trail would pay off as it often does. However, the gap continued to grow and I found myself riding in 3rd for the majority of the day. I had a blast ripping the endless trail with my Pivot 429SL and seeing all the other folks out on the laps having the same experience. Even though it may not have been my best day out there, its hard to forget a day spent in that unique terrain.”

Open Women

Conners gets fourth NUE win on Kenda Tires!

Women’s Open: 1st-Larissa Connors, 2nd-Kaitlyn Boyle, 3rd-Jennifer Wolfrom, 4th-Lauren Cantwell, 5th-Ivy Pedersen

Taking the win in the women’s open division, racing on Kenda Saber Pro tires, Larissa Connors (Sho-Air CG), finishes in a time of  8:58:17. With this win Connors has a perfect score of four and now leads the overall NUE race series.

“Pierre’s Hole was a last minute addition to my race schedule. I Choose to head up to Alta because I’ve never been to WY and heard so many good things about it! The idea of a three lap race was exciting, as was the promise we would be racing under the Tetons all day on SO MUCH SINGLETRACK!

I tried to start easy, since the altitude meant pacing was going to be crucial. That didn’t last long though and by the top of the first climb I had been lured into riding super hard, and decided to just run with it. The 38 special descent was crazy fun on lap 1, and the flowers and scenery distracted me from any thoughts of how long the race was, or how much I was going to blow up if I kept going so hard.
By lap 2 I had to slow down a bit. I realized when my wrists started hurting on lap 1 that if I didn’t actively choose to recover on the dh then I was going to be in a world of pain by lap 3, since you COULD pedal every inch of the course if you wanted.
A volunteer told me that 2nd place was only 5 min back at the start of lap 3, which freaked me out since I was chillin’ on lap2, so I laid down the gas again on lap 3. Surprisingly it felt good to dig deep, so I pushed hard, had fun cheering on the racers doing the shorter distances, and ate all the BonkBreaker snacks I had on me over the course of the last 32 miles.
Crossing the line a minute under 9 hours was freaking rad, and winning my 4th NUE of the year was the icing on the scenic race cake!!”

Kaitlyn Boyle (Pivot Cycles/Industry Nine) finished second in a time of 10:06:59. Crossing the line third was Jennifer Wolfrom (Hoback Sports) at 10:49:59.

Singlespeed

Fischer gets the Singlespeed win

Singlespeed 1st-Henry Fischer, 2nd-Brent Cannon, 3rd-Adam Smith, 4th-Adam Miller, 5th-Warner Smith

Getting his first NUE win of the season, Henry Fischer of Wila’s Wheels, won singlespeed with a time of  9:23:15. Brent Cannon (Team Elevate), took second in 9:36:58. In a sprint for third place, Adam Smith finished just seconds before Adam Miller in a time of 10:32:05.

Adam Miller states, “I am a mtb coach for our local NICA racing teams, Teton Valley Composite, and Jackson Hole Composite, so a shout out to them!!! The younger kids were supporting at aid stations All day!  We had four of our athletes compete, and one of them podiumed in the 50K open!

I had only 2 rides over 4 hours prior to race, so the hundred miles was more of a challenge to say the least, and a good lesson of perseverance for our athletes’.

I chased another single-speed rider all day. He would DROP me on any hill handedly. I relied on my downhill skills any chance I could and would get him into view every once in a while. I got a glimpse of him in  the last 10 miles, so I gave-er everything I had. He did too! I finally caught up with him about 100 yds from the finish. Sprint finish, and I won by .3 seconds!

Looking back, I would have geared my single-speed at 32/21 instead of my usual 32/20. By the third lap, I was having a real hard time getting the cranks over, and the racer in front of me with 32/22 was still spinning along…NEXT YEAR!”

Masters

Smith leads NUE masters series

Masters: 1st-Cary Smith, 2nd-Matt Woodruff, 3rd-Mike Baughman, 4th-Dave Reynolds, 5ht-Alan Miner

With wins at True Grit, Tatanka and High Cascades, Cary Smith (The Hub) can now add Pierre’s Hole to the list and finished in 9:02:12. He now leads the NUE masters race series with a perfect score of four.

About ten minutes back was, Matt Woodruff (Kuhl) taking second in a time of 9:11:56.

Mike Baughman (Lost River Cycling) took third in a time of 9:57:52.

Photo credit: Jay Goodrich / jay@jaygoodrich.com / @jaygoodrich

Full results click here

What’s Next? Click Here for info on the next NUE Marathon series race: NUE Marji Gesick race in Michigan. Click Here for info on the next NUE Epic series race: Shenandoah 100 in Virginia.

Follow the Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles team adventures as we travel and report on cycling around the globe.

Instagram: @pearlizumi_pivotmtb_team, @JenToops, @HanksJen, @graciedaze

 

NUE Wilderness 101

Written by: @JenToops

Photos by: Bryan Lewis

The Wilderness 101 is a classic on the NUE National Ultra Endurance Race Series and is know for its rolling hills through amish country, long gravel roads, rail trails, tunnels and rocky east coast singletrack.  This year a new Marathon distance was added which is part of the NUE marathon series. W101 is hosted in Coburn, PA and organized by Shenandoah Mountain Tours.

One of two tunnels racers ride through near the finish line. Photo credit: Kayla Randolph

Flooding the previous week had racers wondering if racing was going to be possible, but the high waters receded and the weather was perfect on race day!  Camping was provided at the race start/finish which added to the overall race weekend experience.

Open Men

Johnson gets third NUE win for 2018

Open Men: 1st Dylan Johnson, 2nd-Brian Schworm, 3rd-Christian Tanguy, 4th- Heath Thumel, 5th-John Wiygul, 6th-Andy Rhodes, 7th, Dan Atkins.

In the open men’s division a lead group of Johnson, Bishop, Tanguay and Schworm formed but after, Jeremiah Bishop (Caynon Topeak Factory Racing), had to stop several times for flat tires, Bishop was able to finish in ninth place. Taking the win by about seven minutes was the 2017 NUE race series champion, Dylan Johnson (Leska MTB), crossing the line in 6:39:50.

Finishing strong for second place, Brian Schworm (Think Green Bicycle), came in at 6:47:17.

“The recent weather with the record setting amounts of rain and consequential flooding had me a bit concerned about the condition of the course for the 2018 Wilderness 101; however, with a few reroutes by the race director and a nice break in the weather on race day, the conditions were completely agreeable.  The race started out of Coburn to cool temperatures and the excitement began although the pace was moderate at best for the first hour and half.  In between aid stations one and two the pace quickened on a few of the climbs and a lead group containing Dylan Johnson, Christian Tanguay, Jeremiah Bishop, and myself formed.  We rode together for a while but either a piece of singletrack, or a climb, or mechanical problem would split our group into various combinations with some leading and others chasing but ultimately we would regroup.

I would say the first decisive section was the Sassafras/Pig Pile section of trail.  I was already 10-15 seconds behind the others entering the trail where Jeremiah and Dylan took off leaving a gap to Christian and another gap to me.  Unfortunately for Jeremiah, he suffered a flat towards the end of this section leaving Dylan on his own.  Jeremiah was able to continue but was now behind.  He quickly worked his way back up to me and then we rode back to Christian.  Us three worked together for a while trying to bridge back to Dylan but ultimately Jeremiah’s tire was still giving him problems.  He needed to stop again.  Christian and I forged on until the Stillhouse climb beyond aid station 4 (at least, where aid 4 was supposed to be; unfortunately, we beat the delivery leaving us without).  Anyway, on the Stillhouse climb I could see Dylan up the hill so I pressed on hard while Christian wisely held back to save some energy for later.

At the top of the climb just before entering the Sand Mountain section there was a “trail angel” with some water.  This unofficial aid station was perfect since aid 4 was missing and I was out of water.  Dylan was also in need and was taking his time refilling his bottles.  I filled up quickly and caught Dylan who was only a few seconds ahead at this point.  We rode together through Sand Mountain and the following climbs and descents.  I was feeling great at this point and sensed that Dylan was not.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  After a little back and forth, Dylan attacked with about 12 miles to go and I had no response.  I went from feeling great to feeling a bit sluggish.  Very quickly that deteriorated to feeling tired and hungry and then to feeling light-headed and shaky.  I was running scared; I had completely given up chasing Dylan and was more concerned about Christian gaining on me.  In the end Dylan put almost seven minutes on me and Christian was just 30 seconds back.  I was relieved to be finished and even more relieved that I held my second position.

Of course I need to thank my team Think Green – Bicycle Face for their support.  Also my other sponsors Sword Energy Drink, Specialized Bicycles, ESI Grips, Schwalbe Tires, and TruckerCo, but as usual, a special thanks to my extraordinary wife Jennifer for her undeniable support and understanding in these adventures of mine.  Now time for some recovery and then revamping of the training for my next NUE event, the Shenandoah 100 in about a month’s time.”

Just seconds back from second place, last years Wilderness 101 race winner, Christain Tanguy (RBS Cycling Team), finished in third place, 6:47:47.

Open Women

Barclay wins Open Women

Open Women: 1st- Vicki Barclay, 2nd-Lauren Cantwell, 3rd-Amelia Capuano, 4th-Julia Thurmel, 5th- Lindsey Carpenter

Local racer, Vicki Barclay (Cannondale, Kenda) took the top step in the women’s open, at 8:10:35.

“This was my first time racing the Wilderness 101 since 2015. After a few years of shorter, one-day races and stage races, plus a few weeks of little racing, I was excited to race this 100 miler to get in a good day of quality training and racing on home turf (I have a house in State College with my husband, Rich). Come race day, I was thrilled to see that the race had brought out some fast ladies; I knew I would have to ride a smart race to take the top step at the end. Lauren Cantwell and I rode mostly together until Aid 1; I let some small gaps open up at times, but wanted to ride conservatively for the first 20 miles (this was my seventh time racing Wilderness and I have made every mistake in the book in year’s past that has cost me significantly!). Once the pace settled a bit after the climb out of Aid #1, I put in some small efforts to gain a gap before a key piece of singletrack. The gap stuck and I managed to stay out in front for the rest of the race, trading places with some men on the course, and enjoying the special kind of pain that 100 mile racing induces. With the recent rain, a lot of singletrack had be replaced with fire roads, so I was happy I chose to run my Honey Badger XC pro 27.5 x 2.2 tires front and rear – excellent traction in the singletrack and fast rolling on the roads. I fueled the race with lots of my favorite race snack – GU Watermelon Chews! With the good feels at Wilderness 101, I am considering racing the Shenandoah 100 in a few weeks!

Sponsors:  Kenda Cannondale Women’s Elite Team”

About eleven minutes back, Lauren Cantwell (Deschutes Brewing), took second place at 8:21:21. Finishing third was, Amelia Capuano (Rearden Steel) crossing the finish line at 8:47:03.

“The race was comfortable for me. It was beautiful outside and I really enjoyed the evolution of the day’s riding. I am appreciative of the smiling and joyful riders with whom I rode for portions of the day, they made it a blast. Also very glad that the flood waters receded from the park to make for fun camping. Thank you Chris Scott for taking on the challenge of running classic races.

Sponsors: Myself, My Family, and Great Friends, LLC.”

Singlespeed

Wadsworth gets second NUE win of the season

Singlespeed: 1st-Gordon Wadsworth, 2nd-Ross Anderson, 3rd-James Litzinger, 3rd-Don Powers, 5th- Peyton Randolph, 6th-Joel Nankman, 7th-Kenny Kocarek, 8th-Joe Worboy, 9th-Donovan Neal, 10th-Peter Bradshaw

Defending SS NUE Champion and last years Wilderness 101 singlespeed race winner, Gordon Wadsworth, Blue Ridge Cyclery/Pivot Cycles, gets his second NUE win for the 2018 season finishing in 7:14:41.

“My day was pretty swell. We JUST finished relocating a little outside roanoke and so motivation wasn’t high to be honest. Nevertheless as soon as we kicked tires onto the sweet Pa dirt all the stoke came flooding back.

Our start was WILDLY casual for about the first two hours. A wild pack of singlespeed racers including Don Powers, Kenny Kocarek, Peyton Randolph, and myself seemed pretty comfortable controlling the pace from the front. And the group of maybe 30-50 riders seemed happy to let us!
In the downhill turns prior to aid 2 I made sure to be at the front and was joined by a purposeful Jeremiah Bishop. We’ve got a few W101s under our belts and both knew that the dirt climb out of Aid 2 was narrow and more difficult to navigate; often precipitating a break group or a bump in the pace. Jeremiah and I swapped recipes for a bit before charging down into the Detweiler descent. A firing Dylan Johnson shot past us and I knew if I could hold their wheels I could make the group I needed to be in.
Our group shrunk coming out of Detweiler, and again on3 bridges until it was the familiar company of Heath Thumel. Heath and I have similar strengths and after a long week of moving for me and a week away from home racing the High Cascades 100 for him we were both happy to keep things “fast casual.”
And we pretty much did. Working with two other riders until the descent down No-Name trail after which it was the two of us singing songs and dreaming for finish line.  Crossing 4th and 5th overall with me 1st SS
The Pivot Cycles LES was MONEY as always on the fast fire roads and gnarly rock knees of the PA Wilderness. Industry Nine system wheels custom laced to NOX rims wrapped in Maxxis Ikon rubber had heath and I both smiling and confident no matter our line choice.”

Fifteen minutes back, Ross Anderson (Elevation Zero), finished at 7:35:01. A couple minutes later, James Litzinger (Syndicate cycling) and Don Powers (UPMC Pro Bikes), declared a tie for third place and finished together at 7:37:36.

Powers states, “Well this past Saturday was my 8th time racing the Wilderness 101.  I’ve had recent success at this race scoring podiums spots in 3 out of the last 4 years and was hoping for another similar result this year.  I knew it would be tough with some strong competition in Gordon Wadsworth, Jim Litzinger and Peyton Randolph all in the mix.  The race starts with a 3ish mile / 1000 foot gravel climb.  The pace was pretty chill and the big geared guns let us SS’ers set the pace.  What surprised me even more was that they let us SS’ers set the pace all the way to aid station 1, which is 19 miles into the race.  Normally on the climb out of aid station 1 the intensity picks up and the top geared guys start to flex their muscle.  But that was not the case.  As we crested the top of the climb I started shouting out to the likes of Jerimiah Bishop, Dylan Johnson, Brian Schworm, & Cristian Tanguey that I was confused by their tactics.  On the next rocky descent things started to shake out, Gordon got away and I tried to keep it close to Litzinger.  Jim was on his full suspension S-Works SS while I was on a rigid SS.  I was able to gap Jim on the next climb and then he proceeded to drop me on the next technical rocky descent.  I was able to catch back up on the next climb and then once again he got away on the next descent.  After that I did not see him again until later.  Going into aid station 4, I was caught by another strong SS’er Ross Anderson.  He got away on the big climb out of aid station 4 and I didn’t see him again.  So I knew I was sitting in 4th place with about 35ish miles to go.  As I rolled into aid station 5, I saw Litzinger refueling and filling bottles.  He got a little lost and had to back track a bit, he was off course about 1.5 miles (This is what happens when you climb with your head down and miss arrows).  We rolled down the first part of the rail trail together and he said his legs were pretty dead.  On the last climb with about 7 miles to go in the race I attacked him and put a decent size gap on him heading down to the technical final single track trail called Fisherman’s Trail.  Well my lead didn’t last long as Jim caught back up and then proceeded to attack me.  After we got out of Fisherman’s Trail I was able to close the gap on the last part of the rail trail, I was running a slightly bigger gear than him 32X18 vs 34X20.  We called a truce and rolled the last 3 or so miles into the finish together.  They scored us tied for 3rd SS & 12 overall with a time of 7:37 and change.  While Jim is without a doubt my biggest racing rival, he is also a good friend and it was nice to finish tied with him in such a hard race.”

Masters

Spaulding repeats at Wilderness

Masters: 1st- Russell Spaulding, 2nd-Tom Stritzinger, 3rd- Roger Masse, 4th- Jim Matthews, 5th-Bruce Stauffer

Last years race winner, Russell Spaulding (TFM Racing), repeats again this year coming in at 8:09:12. Spaulding is currently in second for the overall series standings.

“I really didn’t know what to expect this time around at Wilderness. I have been racing hundreds every two or three weeks since Mohican in June. The “Double Hundred” (Miles & Heat) out in South Dakota really left me in a bit of a fog before this race.

After the neutral roll out I found myself stepping out in front of the lead pack on the initial climb. This ended up being my only real contribution to the pack behind me, because I ended up startling a family of deer that ended up crossing the road just ahead of the pack. So you see, that’s really why I was out front on the first part of the climb. Just trying to protect the deer / mountain biker relationship!

Halfway up the climb the lead pack caught me, and I just tucked myself right in behind one of the stronger riders and held on for the top. Once we hit the top the lead pack just cruised along like it was some Sunday ride. I’m tucked in behind a rider just cruising along, and I happen to notice that the entire pack was being led by two single speeders. It’s like all the geared riders are sitting on the couch eating chips, while someone else is doing all the vacuuming!

After aid two the master’s race was just starting to take shape. Johnston was within view up ahead of myself and Masse. The further we got into this race, I realized two things. One, the mountain bike Gods had selected me as part of their amusement during this race. I ended up on the ground a little bit more than I would have liked. Someday I hope to be a real mountain biker! Two, my legs were cramping way too early in this race.

Masse eventually ended up leaving us all behind to fend for ourselves. I was just trying to stay in the mix, and work through the cramping in my legs. By aid three I was hoping for some instant relief for my legs in the form of pickle juice or yellow mustard.  Neither were to be found, but fortunately there were some Endurolytes available.

At the bottom of the first downhill after aid three I ended up passing Masse. The rocks in Pennsylvania are just plain mean, and he was working on one of his tires. When I reached the off camber, rocky as hell “No Name” trail I ended up making another mistake and ended up on my back below the trail. It wouldn’t have been that bad if my legs had not immediately seized up. Man that’s painful! By the time I got back up on the trail Stritzinger comes screaming by me to take the lead before we reach aid four.

Aid four is grilling hot dogs! Can you believe it? Bottles of fancy mustard on the table! I pretty much drained one of those fancy mustard bottles before hitting the climb after aid four.

I would assume that most racers despise the climb after aid four, but for some reason I really start to come alive in the last third of a race. My legs were becoming less of an issue. The temperature was heating up, and the climb was taking me into my Zen zone.

Turns out I ended up catching Stritzinger just before the last climb of the race. I knew there were two major climbs after the aid four climb, but there are also a couple of smaller climbs within that mix so I wasn’t sure what lay ahead for both of us.

In the end I got to ride with some very talented riders. I’m grateful, and lucky to have had such an awesome experience. Congratulations to Tom Stritzinger and Roger Masse on their amazing finishes, and a special shout out to John Friel. Way to tough it out John!

Thanks to TFM Racing, G-Assist, Valor House, and Tried and True for sponsoring me this season.

Special thanks to Chris Scott, his crew, and all the volunteers that made the Wilderness 101 such an amazing experience. To the crew at aid four that decided to grill hot dogs. Thank you. That was a most excellent decision!”

Three minutes back, Tom Stritzinger finished strong for second place at 8:12:41.

” I was having a strong race until just before the last climb with about 5 miles to go.  Then Russell Spaulding catches me from behind.  He says “hello” then drops me like a bad habit.  If he used Strava, I am guessing that he would have been the KOM of the day for that last climb!  I really enjoyed the first 18 miles where it was like a Sunday morning ride with what seemed like the entire race field riding together, chatting and going at friendly pace.  I never see Jeremiah Bishop, Christian Tanguy, Brian Schworm and Dylan Johnson after the opening gun and until the finish.  It was unreal to still be riding with and chatting with these guys through the first 18 miles!  The course had everything:  gnarly single track, two track, gravel, long tough climbs, and a tunnel that was very dark and a bit scary as it was strewn with rocks!  Overall, a great venue, phenomenal volunteers, some serious mtn. bike riders and a fun time for all.  Wilderness 101 is one of my favorite races in the NUE series so far this year.  I hope to be back again next year.”

Rounding out the podium and taking third, Roger Masse (Stokesville, Shenandoah), finished in 8:17:38.

Click here for full results

Click here for event photos (by Bryan Lewis of Cutaway USA)

What’s next on the NUE Epic and Marathon Series? NUE Pierre’s Hole in Alta, WY on August 4th, 2018. Click here for info on Pierre’s Hole.

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