NUE Pierre’s Hole Epic

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

The 2019 Pierres Hole 100 was once again slated to be a great day in the mountains of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The area doesn’t lack views with the Tetons in sight from most parts of the course. Grand Targhee events manager Andy Williams really puts his heart and soul into this race and it shows. With a great atmosphere and plenty for spectators and racers families to do, the resort really has it dialed.

Racers start at the Grand Targhee Resort and complete 1, 2, or 3, 31 mile laps depending on their distance of choice. The course is almost 100% single track except for a few short sections of double track to connect everything together. This can be a blessing and a curse; The trails are really fun, but they will wear even the toughest riders down.

Racers climb to the top of Grand Targhee and then turn and burn all the way down the 38 switchbacks.

Men’s Open

Men’s open podium: 1st Sam Sweetser, 2nd Jon Rose, 3rd Brandon Firth, 4th Adam Hill, Jake Inger

With the fastest time of the day, Sam Sweetser, wins the NUE men’s open with a time of 8:26:17.

Sam Sweetser leading through the Aid station

Over a half hour back, Jon Rose, pushed hard to hold off third place finishing second in 8:59:20.

“Pierre’s Hole 100 mile (actually 94) mountain bike race is in the books. It was one of the hardest days in the saddle I’ve ever had. The race took 8h59m. 
Most of the race was spent between 3rd and 5th place, sometimes as far back as 7th. I finally battled my way up to 2nd place with about 18 miles left. I could see the person who took 3rd at almost every switchback and had to go really deep to hold him off. 
Riding and racing bikes has has taught me so many things. One of the biggest lessons is that I can do hard things… on the bike and off the bike. 
Thanks to our sponsors Mad Dog Cycles/4Life Race Team Trek Bicycle 4Life Research USA #utahsfavoritebikeshop CarboRocketMad Dog Cycles”

Rose holds off Firth by a few minutes to take 2nd place.

Only a few minutes back, Brandon Firth, hangs on for a 3rd place finish crossing the finish line in 9:02.

“Pierre’s Hole is a very tough 100 miler. I was able to participate last year and landed just off the podium in fifth. So I figured going into this years event that I would take my time and ease into the race.
This years event saw very dry conditions and a hot day, which made it a hard day. I was glad at the midway point that I let the race come to me as the hot dry conditions started to rake a toll.  It was obvious that Sam was on a mission and was riding super strong. At the start of Lap two, 2-5 positions were all within 1-2 minutes of each other and Sam had about a 5 min lead.
At that point I liked my strategy and continued pushing on. I had a mistimed feed halfway through lap 2 and dropped off the group by a minute or so. I took a minute for a quick bite and a potty break. And continued  on.
At the beginning of lap 3 I was within 1.5 minutes of  2 place, and Sam was completely out of touch. I took a great feed and continued on with my strategy. By the Top of the big climb I was sitting in 3 position and making time on second. At the Bottom of the decent I overtook second position. At the midway point of the 3 and final lap I started to come unglued again and had to slow down and feed. A coke and a Banana later
I was feeling better but lost 2nd position to a rider from behind, but was confident I could bring him back on the last half of the coarse. Sadly I ran out out real estate and ended with 3rd for the day. I could see the rider just ahead of me but couldn’t close. I believe he was 1:38 up on me after 9+ hard hrs of racing.  Either way it was nice to be on the podium and to be finished.
I was a tight top five, with the exception of Mr Sweester 2-5 positions were only separated by a few minutes..
As always endurance racing it a long journey and there is always ups and downs in how you feel out there, but you just have to soldier on :)

Most likely my next endurance race will be the Park City P2P, where I will try to build a good strategy and stick to it the best I can. “Sponsor: Rocky Mtn Bikes”

Women’s Open

Toops gets back to back NUE wins

Women’s open podium: 1st Jen Toops, 2nd Becky Edmiston, 3rd Parker Tyler

Getting her third NUE epic series win for the 2019 season, 2018 Nue Marathon champion, Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) wins the women’s open with a time of 10:35:54. With this win she is now tied for the overall lead in the women’s NUE epic series.

“After racing Pierre’s Hole marathon last year I knew I needed to stay out of the red zone on the first lap or I’d pay for it later. On the first lap I kept a steady pace up the long climb and had a little fun coming down the 38 special. At the bottom of 38 special I saw second place catching me and tried not to let it get in my head, there was a long race ahead and I didn’t want to blow up. My husband was aiding for me and giving me updates as I came through the aid stations. I was about 4-5 minutes ahead of second coming through the first lap. The climb after the start is tough and requires mental strength but the views are so beautiful. Wildflowers and the Tetons mountains. I decided to run my Pivot mach 4 this year for a little extra cushion equipped with a 32 Rotor Q-ring to keep my cadence higher with all the climbing! I could see Becky at the bottom of the climb on lap two and I continued my own pace, pushing when I felt good and continued putting a larger gap between us. After 70 miles of single track I focused on my nutrition, riding smart and getting through the last lap. When I entered the last meadow I couldn’t see second place and cruised to the finish line ready to run to the taco bar included with race registration! Thanks to our team sponsors (Pivot Cycles, Pearl Izumi, FOX, Ergon, Rotor, Stans, Carborocket, Honey stinger, Xpedo, SCC tech, Kask, and Continental), my husband for the aid and Andy Williams for putting on such a great race!”

About 40 minutes back, Becky Edminston took the second spot with a time of 11:12.

  “The first (of 3) laps was so fun! Other than the big climb, it was awesome singletrack trail that really suits my riding style. A couple of guys even commented what a good downhiller I am :) ha! At the end of the first lap I was only 4 minutes behind the lead female and I thought “I either went out too hard, or I’m about to have a great day”. Turns out it was a little bit of both!    Starting into the second lap ~mile 35 my body was experiencing some weird pains. My forearms were sore, my triceps started cramping, my shoes were cutting the front of my ankles. And then beginning the climb after 38 Special (long downhill) my left hamstring began to cramp. I never cramp! Fortunately, engaging my quads (i.e. pedaling harder) seemed to keep it from totally locking up. This was a game I would play for the next 60 miles. I was popping salt pills and trying to hold it together. There were lots of riders around from the shorter races and that gave me people to ride with and chase.     The third lap saw me really slowing down fighting cramps and nausea (maybe I went out too hard?!). The field had thinned out and I was riding mostly alone but also knew I was “almost” done. As someone who usually runs negative splits I started getting really worried that 3rd place was going to catch me. Fortunately, the 2nd half of the lap was fun and flowy and I had to pedal to keep from cramping! So pedal I did, and I crossed the finish line in 11 hours 12 minutes, holding on to 2nd place female and in the top 15 overall. Did I have fun? You bet!      A big thanks to HoneyStinger #HSHIVE for making waffles which were the only solid food I could stomach! Also Orange Peel Bikes #orangepeelbikes and Rock N’ Roll Sports #rocknrollsports for keeping me rolling!”

Becky Edminston finishing the 100 mile race in second place

Taking the third step was, Parker Tyler crossing the line in a time of 11:44:43.

Singlespeed

Singlespeed podium: 1st Andrew Jones, 2nd Brent Cannon, 3rd Hunter Karnedy, 4th Joseph Stroz, 5th Brant Haflich

In the single speed division it was, Andrew Jones, who took the win finishing in 9:14:05. Almost a half hour back was Brent Cannon fighting hard to earn a second place finish at 9:45:30.

Cannon congraulated by race director Andy Williams

Taking third place and still managing to smile at the finish was, Hunter Karnedy, with a time of 9:59:37.

Karnedy earns a third in SS division

Masters

Smith earns the W and gets 2nd overall

Finishing 2nd overall and taking the win in the masters division, Cary Smith crossed the line in 8:48:16.

Smith with a 2nd overall and winning the masters class

Mike Baughman took second place with a time of 10:12:09. About 50 minutes back on second, Gary Gardiner finished third in a time of 11:01:32.

Click here for full results

Photos by: Ryan O’Dell and Powder Day Photography

NUE Pierre’s Hole Marathon

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

The 2019 Pierres Hole 100 was once again slated to be a great day in the mountains of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The area doesn’t lack views with the Tetons in sight from most parts of the course. Grand Targhee events manager Andy Williams really puts his heart and soul into this race and it shows. With a great atmosphere and plenty for spectators and racers families to do, the resort really has it dialed.

Racers start at the Grand Targhee Resort and complete 1, 2, or 3, 31 mile laps depending on their distance of choice. The course is almost 100% single track except for a few short sections of double track to connect everything together. This can be a blessing and a curse; The trails are really fun, but they will wear even the toughest riders down.

Wildflowers in full bloom

Men’s Open

Treadwell earns the Win

Men’s Open Podium: 1st Dereck Treadwell, 2nd Joseph Goetti, 3rd Dan Mahlum, 4th George Flynn, 5th Troy Barry

Dereck Treadwell earns his first NUE win of the season winning the Pierre’s Hole 100k with a time of 5:40:12. With this win he is now moves to second place in the NUE men’s open marathon series.

Treadwell takes the WIN.

Even after a flat tire, Joseph Goetti takes second just three minutes back from Treadwell at 5:43:29

“Packing and driving up the day before, I had a great deal of excitement in me as well as some nervousness. This would be my first race on the mountain bike! I’d been thinking about transitioning into marathon mtb racing for the past year as I’ve always had a desire for the longer, more grueling races and getting out on the trails using more technical bike handling skills! After expressing my goals with Scheels, I am super grateful they agreed to sponsor me with an amazing bike, the new 2020 Trek Top Fuel 9.8! 

In the 3 weeks that I’d had the bike leading up to this race, I’d put 270 miles on it with a few 4-5 hour rides to prep for this race! I was getting pretty beat up at first in my hands, back, and neck, but that had all worked itself out and I was feeling good and strong coming into the race. 

The race consisted of 63.6 miles (100k) with about 7,700ft of elevation gain over 2 laps with 1 long climb and a few other moderate ones. Almost all of the race was on single track besides the first half of the climb on lap 1. This was on a fire road to allow us to get into position going into the single track.

Lining up along side me was other Scheels sponsored riders, Jamen Bennion and Millard Allen, both racing in the single speed category on hard tails (bikes with only 1 gear and no rear suspension (BRUTAL!))

I don’t think any of us got any quality sleep the night before, but that is normal before a big race and having slept well in the previous nights, I was confident I’d feel OK in the race! I woke up at about 5:45 to get my oatmeal in and allow it to settle. We prepared our gear, did a small warm up spin and lined up to take off at 8:10am. 

My plan for the race was to be patient for the first lap and get a feel for the lap and how the other riders were doing; however, that plan quickly went out about a minute into the race. I was expecting a bit more of a fight for position on the first portion of the climb, but just getting my heart rate into the 160’s I was putting a gap on the field. I then changed my plan to push a hard, but still reasonable pace sitting in threshold heart rate at about 170bpm to come over the top first so I could take advantage of the new Top Fuels 120mm and 115mm front and rear suspension travel on an open downhill.

The new plan went well and I came over the top with a decent gap and opened it up on the downhill. Pshhhhhhhh, ahhh $#!^…. No more than 2 minutes into the descent and I was getting hit in the face with sealant from my front tire as air spewed out. I had not yet had a flat on my mtb, so I had my Co2 taped to my tire levers and allen wrench in my jersey (not thinking there was much chance I’d need to use them) which took precious time to unwrap. I first tried putting in more Co2 to no avail as it just leaked out. My spare tube was taped under my bikes top tube which took me more time to unwrap, and many riders were now going by. But I tried to stay calm, and was able to get the tube in and tire back on till ahhh $#!^… I didnt have enough c02 left to fill the tire.

HUGE thank you to the man who came by shortly after and lended me an extra canister which filled the tube up the rest of the way and saved my race! Lesson learned: I will have a much better strategy for fixing a flat next race as this one had cost me 8 minutes.

Proceeding down hill, I was riding a bit aggressive making time when I could but now having to deal with trying to pass slower riders. I came by Jamen shortly after getting going again as he had also suffered a front flat and was dealing with traffic as well. 

Making my way onto the second climb after the descent, I was putting the power down riding at threshold again and making up places quickly. I was riding a bit higher heart rate then I’d planned on the climbs and in the rolling sections, but with descents take much longer on the mtb than what I’m used to on the road. This means there is good time to recover your cardio system in between climbs, allowing me to push harder where I could.

Joesph Goetti all smiles after a second place finish

I came through the first aid station where Jamen’s family was stationed to help us out, grabbed another spare tube and ditched my bottle for a camelbak and continued to press on. 

Coming though the start/finish line at the end of lap 1, I had climbed back into 5th place overall and was about 4:45 down on the lead. I pressed on riding at threshold again up the main climb, passing many of the 100 mile riders who had started at 7:10 to tackle 3 laps of the course (I plan to do that next year if I make it to this race again!) I was keeping my eye out for the yellow ribbons they had all open 100k  men tie to their seats, the first of which I saw after descending down from the main climb and reaching the second climb. 

He said he was pretty blown when I was passing and cheered me on to catch the leaders! Just being 1 spot away from the top 3 now gave me some extra motivation, and I continued to press on riding up the climbs at threshold. 

I came through the final aid station with 15 miles to go with 3 open men still in front of me, exchanged my pack and grabbed another bottle which I used to cool myself. Shortly after this I came around the next open rider to move into 3rd, and then with about 10 miles to go I came around the next to move into second. 

My stomach was starting to get a bit upset now. I started the race with a bottle of water, moved to a pack with Hammer Heed in it at aid 1, then grabbed a bottle of scratch at aid 2. At aid 3, I picked up another pack of heed and a bottle of water. Up to this point I’d taken in half a pro bar, a few packs of shot blocks and some maple syrup. I think next time I will switch out the 2nd bottle of scratch for water, and then my final pack may be water and have the bottle be scratch. I think too much liquid nutrition and not enough regular water was upsetting my stomach in the heat.

I backed my heart rate down to low 160’s on the climbs as I was beginning to feel the signs of cramping, but I was continuing to push hard and ride fast. For all I knew, the leader may have been feeling the same way, and I was going to fight all the way to the finish for the chance to catch him! 

The remaining miles ticked down, and I ended up coming across the line in 2nd place, 3:16 down from the leader! Although it was a bit disappointing wondering what could have been if I wouldn’t have lost those 8 minutes with the flat, I was extremely happy overall with how I rode in the race! I had paced myself well taking it out hard, and I pushed it the the entire race without fading much at all! And most importantly I had and absolute blast racing my bike on the trails of Grand Targhee! Too focused to see it on the first lap, the view from the top of the main climb is stunning, and I was able to catch a few glimpse of it the second time around, struck in awe as I cruised down the descent. I highly recommend this area for anyone wanting to ride some amazing trails a bit more away from the crowds, and I hope to be back next year in the 100 mile race! My next mtb race will be Park City Point 2 Point on August 31st! 

As always, I want to send a huge thanks to everyone supporting me, especially to my girlfriend, Kendra Nelson, who has stood by me though all the years of training, moving to Utah, and transitioning to the mountain bike! I would not have been here doing this if not for her! Also to Scheels for the bike and race, to all my family back home wishing me well! To Jamen’s family for helping us in the feed zones. And to my racing team, Above & Beyond Cancer Cycling p/b Scheels. “

About 8 minutes back, Dan Mahlum took third place at 5:51:18.

Women’s Open

Harvey gets THIRD consecutive win

Women’s Podium: 1st Caedran Harvey, 2nd Ami Stuart, 3rd Ambert Steed, 4th Anne Perry, 5th Rose Kjesbo

Taking the win in the 100k for the third year in a row, Caedran Harvey seems unstoppable finishing with a time of 6:20:11. A little over twenty minutes back was Ami Stuart crossing the finish line in 6:41:14. Taking third in the women’s open was Amber Steed coming in at 6:49:54.

Steed- “This was my first year tackling the Pierre’s Hole course at any distance, and 100 km seemed like a good goal for me. With some real challenges to contend with – elevation, stiff competition, heat, and distance – I felt nervous but excited to enter my first NUE race. I’d been racing for Sportsman and Ski Haus (MT) since 2017, so I felt I was starting to crest the learning curve of this XC racing thing. What could possibly go wrong.

I knew no one in my field of competitors, aside from the name of a prior winner who seemed to top the podium every year she’d entered. Coming from 3,000’ elevation and being a bit riper in age, I worried I might fall short – but, I also knew that anything can happen in racing. So, I focused on my own race and started with high spirits and rested legs.

The 100km course took us through two laps of Grand Targhee’s finest trails – and there was no shortage of seriously fun descending. Knowing there would be relatively few opportunities for easy passing, I worked my way up early during the starting road section. Feeling good, I kept my pace generally steady throughout the first lap, surprised to hear I was only a few minutes off the leader as I started lap 2.

This is about when my hydration and fueling strategy fell short, allowing the elevation and heat to bear down on my body. Despite my best efforts to push my increasingly heavy legs, I couldn’t muster the power to maintain the pace I’d hoped for. Crushingly, I watched as I was passed by another competitor when the course wound back through camp, further dampening my spirits. My goals for the remainder of the race shrank – but remaining on the podium kept the cranks turning and my motivation alive. Climbing those last few miles took more mental power than physical, and I managed to finish in third.

Amber Steed with a third place finish in the 100k

Every race teaches me something, and some lessons are more powerful than others. At Pierre’s, I gained some perspective about the course, how I handle the conditions, and how I can better prepare in the future. But inevitably I’m humbled by my competition, inspired by my own accomplishments, and excited to return another day. While I don’t have another NUE locked into my calendar at the moment, I’m I’ll be showing up to another. Thanks to everyone who make these events possible!”

Singlespeed

McDonald gets SS win

Singlespeed Podium: 1st Will McDonald, 2nd Millard Allen, 3rd Holden Anderson, 4th Brad Keys, 5th Mark Llinares

Getting his first NUE SS win and third overall, Will McDonald takes the top step with a time of 5:49:41.

“I raced on a full suspension yeti ASRc with 34-20t gearing.  Race was great, started off in 3rd for ss and maybe 8th overall on the first climb, I was able to catch and pass the two singlespeeders ahead of me on the 38 special decent. And caught up with the 4th place overall rider, who I road with with for the rest of the lap, I would pass him on the DH and he would pass me on the up hills. We moved into the 3rd and 4th position halfway through lap 1. Last time I saw him was at the finish of lap 1 and then he took off from me on the long ascent to the top of 38 special and went on to win the race. The climb up to 38 special was pretty rough second lap with the 34-20t gearing, but I was able to grunt up there without cramping or bonking. I caught up to Bart Flinn at the bottom of 38 special, he was in a rough place and seamed to have bonked pretty hard. A few miles later on the decent back to the resort I had some deja vu and passed George Flinn, moving me into 2nd place overall. The rest of the race went pretty well, but with my legs fatiguing I wasn’t able to hold off the rider who ended up second overall, he passed me after the underpass and was able to put some good time on me during the ascents on the 2nd half of lap 2.Overall it was a great race and I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did with the minimal amount of training I have done this year, not to mention racing for twice as long as my longest ride in the past 2 years. “

McDonald takes the SS win and third overall

About 13 minutes back, Millard Allen took second at 6:03:44.

“Pierre’s Hole is one of my favorite races, although it deceives me every year in how challenging it will be.  I chose to run 32-20 gearing because of all the climbing and not thinking I would lose too much time in the descents.  I had somewhat of a tough day but was able to finish strong enough to take second.  Holden and I rode the first lap together and we were wondering if we would be able to catch Will, who passed us on the first big descent going down 38 Special.  It felt like he passed us sitting still.  I thought his full suspension bike and taller gear would allow me to catch him eventually, but he was a complete beast.
It ended up being a race for second place.  Holden attacked going up Andy’s and Peaks Trails at the beginning of the second lap.  He saw I was struggling a bit so he took a chance.  I was able to keep him in my sight during the climb while toeing the line of not redlining too much.  I was able to overtake him about 2/3s up the climb and hold it together the rest of the race.  My nutrition was off and I suffered A LOT the last half of the second lap.  Even if I had my nutrition dialed in that day, I am confident Will was just too strong.. plus with the larger gearing he would have been able to ride away from me.  Solid race by Will, Holden, Brad Keyes and all the other racers!  Amazing event and I look forward to riding True Grit Epic next year, TBD if it will be on a SS.”

Allen with a second place finish in the 100k SS

About 15 minutes back, Holden Anderson pedaled to a third place crossing the line in 6:19:15.

Masters

Saffell on top

Masters 1st Bob Saffell, 2nd Brent Peacock, 3rd Kyle Rafford, 4th David Miller, 5th John Lauck

In a very close masters race, Bob Saffell, dug deep to take the masters win at 6:27:07.

“I had no idea what the field was going to show for the race. I was just looking forward to 100k of amazing one track. I was expeing Jon Gould to be the one to watch. He rode away on the first climb, confirming my expectation, Brent Peacock was a bit behind him. I settled in for the duration. Soon after feed one I caught Jon and got a small gap on him. I caught and passed Ami Stuart on More Cowbell and we were descending together on Perma-Grin when disaster struck. My shifter fell off my bar.  I looked for the bolt for a second, determined i was going to have to drop out, when, hmm, tried a bottle cage bolt, and it worked. I took it easy through the lap, on the Andy’s climb on lap two I started to ramp it up a bit and decided, “what do i have to lose” I caught and passed at least one other 50+ on the climb and kept pushing it. In the Quakie Ridge section I caught glimpses of Brent, so I buried myself a bit and made the pass some where in the last 2 miles on Snow Drift, 40 seconds to spare. Brent had a soft front tire, otherwise it would have been a different finish.”

Less than a minute back, Brent Peacock, took second crossing the line at 6:27:59. Only 26 seconds back from second and taking third was, Kyle Rafford, at 6:28:25.

Photos by: Ryan O’Dell & Powder Day Photography

Click Here for full results

NUE Wilderness 101

Written by: Jen Toops

Photos by: Dave Seasholtz

On July 20th, 2019, Shenandoah Mountain Tours held the Wilderness 101 and Marathon races in Coburn, PA. The Wilderness 101 is part of the NUE National Ultra Endurance Race Series and is know for its East coast rocky singletrack, and rolling gravel roads. It was a scorcher with sunny skies and temps reaching almost 100 degrees F. Camping was included with registration in Coburn Park which is also the race start making for an easy race morning and celebration at the finish line

Women’s Open

Toops gets Top Step

2018 NUE Marathon champion, Jen Toops, Pearl Izumi/Pivot MTB race team, takes the top step in a time of 9:13:12.

Women’s Open podium: 1st Jen Toops, 2nd Julia Thumel, 3rd Lindsey Carpenter, 4th Rebecca Lewandowski, 5th Karen Talley

“After an unexpected need to fly back to Ohio (literally booked the flight Wed and flew home Thursday), I found myself racing Wilderness 101 instead of High Cascades. My mom agreed to make the 5 hour journey to Coburn, PA and spend the weekend camping at the race start.

My plan was to keep a steady pace on the first climb knowing it was going to be a long hot day. Julia quickly passed me at the beginning of the climb. I was feeling good so I held her wheel for a bit. About halfway up I felt warmed up and ready to race, so I made my move. I worked hard to latch onto the group ahead by the top of the start climb. Working in a small group we watch some gravel miles tick by. The pace of this group was a wee bit too fast and I found myself off the back.

It soon turned to singletrack and I felt at home. Having raced TSE this spring I felt confident on the PA rocks and kept a steady pace. After a few updates from fellow racers I knew I had a little cushion and focused on pacing, hydration and nutrition. It’s hard to eat when it’s 90F so I stuck with CarboRocket, plain Water, Honey Stinger gels and bananas. I wore a pack for hydration and carried a bottle of water on my bike primarily used to spray on myself to cool down on the long exposed gravel climbs.

Jen Toops trying to navigate the PA rocks

On the NoName descent I made a rookie mistake. I thought I heard someone bombing the descent behind me and I took a quick peek over my shoulder. There was no one there but my front wheel hit a rock weird and I found myself over the bars before I even knew what was happening. My left hand instantly throbbed as I landed on my left palm of my hand. It took everything to finish the last part of the descent holding tight with my right hand and hovering the bars with my left hand. I stopped took some Ibuprofen and thought about a DNF. Then I realized it would most likely take longer or be just as painful to find my way back rather than finishing the last 35 or so miles.

After riding with one hand for about an hour the Ibuprofen kicked in and I could at least hold the bars. On the Still house climb my shifting starting giving me fits and I had to stop and check it a few times but couldn’t find anything wrong. A little more down the trail I was standing and pedaling and my crank stopped completely. Turns out my thru axel was loose and had wiggled halfway out and my wheel was basically falling off. Must of came loose when I crashed. I’m lucky I got it fixed fairly quick and didn’t have a major mechanical or crash.With about 15 miles left I kept a steady/safe pace knowing the cool River was waiting at the finish line!”


Julia Thumel, Race Pace Bicycles, takes second crossing the finish in 9:55:59. With this race she is now in third in the NUE Epic series. Lindsey Carpenter, Salsa Cycles, takes the third spot on the podium 10:18:34.

Men’s Open

Bishop gets first NUE win for 2019

Men’s Open Podium: 1st Jeremiah Bishop, 2nd Dylan Johnson, 3rd Matt Acker, 4th Bobby Lea, 5th Gordon Wadsworth

It was a close race in the Men’s Open class. In the end it was Jeremiah Bishop, Canyon Bicycles/Ergon, who took the win in an impressive 7:08:53. This was Bishop’s first NUE win for 2019. Less than a minute back, the 2019 NUE series leader, Dylan Johnson, FBS Racing, finished second in 7:09:37. Only two second back, Matt Acker, Salsa Cycles finished in 7:09:39.

Singlespeed

Klose wins first W101

Singlespeed podium: 1st James Klose, 2nd Eli Orth, 3rd Scott Rath, 4th Matt Ferrari, 5th Donovan Neal

James Klose, SECT NEMBA/Wayfarer Bicycle gets first W101 win in a time of 7:50:03. Taking second and leading the NUE singlespeed division was, Eli Orth, Team Hungry crossing the line in 8:30:52.

“Wilderness 101 was my 4th NUE epic distance race of the year. Going in I knew it was going to be a tough race with the predicted temps and humidity. The heat index was upwards of 110 degrees! Keeping that in mind i set my own pace early and watched the lead group pull away which also included a couple of my competitors in the single speed class. I went into the day wanting to just stay hydrated and fueled and stay at a consistent good pace. After settling in I decided to pick up the pace a little after aid station 2. Not long after aid 2 I caught Dahn Pahrs. I was up to 2nd place and Dahn let me know first wasn’t too far ahead. While standing at aid 3 drinking coke and grabbing some snacks i turn around to see Dahn roll up. On the gravel climb and through single track Dahn and I were close together with Dahn pulling back ahead again in the single track temporarily until he got a flat. As i roll up and ask if he needs anything he lets me know he’s okay and I roll by picking up the pace even more hoping to gap him enough that i keep him from catching me again. After that I didn’t see Dahn again (later learned he dropped out somewhere after aid 4) and didn’t see any other single speeders the rest of the race. It was a brutal hot day where I felt like i was cooking from inside out. It was especially hard on climbs like Stillhouse where I was grinding up them struggling both physically and mentally. It was great once again to race with Michael Gottfried a good portion towards the end along with Roger Masse. We pushed each other and chatted keeping our sanity on this tough day.Overall I was very happy with the results as Wilderness always has a strong SS field. It was great racing on the rocks in Pa for the second time this year!My gearing of choice for the race was 34×20. Next up is Shenandoah and Marji Gesick. I’d like to thank everyone that has supported and motivated me this year. Especially my wife who has been very supportive to my busy schedule this year. Thanks to my team.. Team Hungry and Absolute Black. Also thanks to Nox Composites for quickly getting me everything i needed for my wheel build  in time for Wilderness on short notice.”

Scott Rath, Cadre Racing took the third podium spot in a time of 8:57:25.

“Heading into the Wilderness 101, my only goal was to hopefully take some of the fitness I picked up at The Trans-sylvania Epic and turn that into a sub 9 hour finish. Seeing the forecast, I wasn’t sure that would be possible. The first 30 miles had me burning matches on my 34X20 gearing trying to stay latched on to trains knowing that if I fell off the back, I’d be working twice as hard by myself. During the second half of the race, I started picking off fellow single speeders and when I passed Don Powers walking up the infamous Stillhouse Hollow Rd climb due to not being able to keep food down, he let me know that there were a few more single speeders just up ahead, and that was just the motivation I needed to keep the pedals mashing. Despite the debilitating heat, I worked my way past two single speeders up and over Stillhouse. I kept checking my Garmin and it seemed like a sub 9 hour wasn’t going to be possible but then a super long stretch of gravel had me descending and descending some more. I buzzed past a fresh off Lyme Disease, Matt Ferrari and closer to a possible sub 9 hour finish. I put my head down, grabbed my fork crowns, and pedaled the mostly flat finish always checking over my shoulder. I found my way back to Coburn Park and crossed the line at 8:57and found out I snagged 3rd place. I’m still in disbelief. I’m hoping to get to the Shenandoah 100 if my schedule allows it.”

Masters

Masse celebrates first 2019 NUE win

Masters podium: 1st Roger Masse, 2nd Hank McCullough, 3rd Jed Prentice, 4th Joe Johnston, 5th Tom Stritzinger

Roger Masse, Stokesville/SMT/Stans/TREK takes the Masters win with a time of 8:30:42. Second place was, Hank McCullough, Team Trappe Door, finishing in 8:52:07.

“I had big question marks going into this year’s W101 having not been to the race since 2015 and for that matter no NUE events since 2017, only participating in one.  The passing years have me moving to the “seasoned” end of the masters 50+ division with little intel on those who have just moved in from the open bracket.  Although I have been to W101 three times we just don’t have rocks like this down in SC and my trail work has been limited this year. Fortunately supporting Trappe Door’s road squad through the spring racing season combined with big miles at the Allegheny Mountain Loop 400 bikepacking race in late April had me ready for a long day…which it definitely was with a scorching heat wave upon us.  
To be honest my main reason for coming this year was to catch up with NUE masters regulars Mark Drogalis and W101 icon Jim Matthews, whom I have not seen for several year due to moves, and life’s changing priorities.  I intentionally set low expectations regarding the race itself with a focus on fun.   Ride sensibly and don’t get too far into the red zone and that is how it went.   I would like to say I could give a play by play but I can’t remember the names of all the climbs and trails.   A measured start had me alone after the first climb but I clawed at least a dozen back on the rolling fire roads including Jed Prentice who was in good form coming from a strong finish at the BC Bike Race.   Jed was climbing a bit stronger and definitely making it through the rough stuff quicker, but I sensed that he might be going a bit hard so I just stayed back 200m and settled into my own pace.  My strategy paid off after RS 3, as Jed admitted after that he blew before the ending two climbs.   I figured Roger Masse, a winner on numerous occasions, was well ahead but if I had pushed a little harder and avoided a few course miscues due to mental fatigue at the end perhaps his winning margin would have been smaller?   Cursing Fisherman’s, or really myself for having crappy skills through the boulders,  I sensed that a solid finish was at hand, my best NUE result to date and the satisfaction in knowing that even this old goat can still have a good day. ”

Jed Prentice, Team Bike Doctor crossed the finish line at 8:55:45.

“I was happy to make the podium. Let’s just say that 7 days of recovery after the BC Bike Race was not enough! (I finished third in the 50+ GC at BCBR). I thought the Wilderness 101 was a week later on 7/27, until I got the pre-race brief. My race bike was on its way back from BC so I had to prep my son’s bike (an old race bike of mine from a few years ago). I was tired and racing an old bike but hoping things would work out. 
I didn’t feel so great on the first climb and was dropped early by Roger and Joe Johnston. I resigned myself to maintaining a steady pace and hoping to catch them later if they cracked. I caught some riders and felt ok until about mile 50, then blew up at mile 60 or so, on the way up to Beautiful Trail. After aid 4, on the way up Stillhouse Hollow, the lights went out and I had to stop and collect myself for a minute while several riders passed me. After struggling up the climb, I passed Joe Johnston as he was cooling off in the creek at the bottom of the descent. Thinking I was maybe in second, I was motivated to salvage something so I suffered to the finish. It turned out that the guy who passed me before aid 5 was also in the Masters race; I could see him on the rail trail near the finish but couldn’t bring him back, so I ended up third. It wasn’t pretty but I survived it.”

Click here for full Wilderness 101 results

Next up on the 2019 NUE Epic series is Pierre’s Hole in Alta, WY August 3rd, 2019

NUE Wilderness Marathon

Written by: Jen Toops

Photo credit: Dave Seasholtz

On July 20th, 2019, Shenandoah Mountain Tours held the Wilderness 101 and Marathon races in Coburn, PA. The Wilderness 101 is part of the NUE National Ultra Endurance Race Series and is know for its East coast rocky singletrack, and rolling gravel roads. It was a scorcher with sunny skies and temps reaching almost 100 degrees F. Camping was included with registration in Coburn Park which is also the race start making for an easy race morning and celebration at the finish line.

Men’s Open

Schwarm Takes Wilderness Marathon win

Brian Schwarm, Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b Sword, wins the Men’s Open in a time of 5:40:48. With this win Schwarm leads the NUE Marathon series.

“The Wilderness 101K is one of my favorite races for many reasons. That area of Pennsylvania is breathtaking, the trip to get there (through Cumberland, Maryland) is extremely scenic, and of course the race course is marvelous with the big climbs and rocky singletrack. However, the main topic of discussion among all the racers was the heat. It was hot!

The race started as usual heading out of Coburn and up the Siglerville-Millheim gravel climb. Erik Neilson, Josh Kunz (on a singlespeed), and I rode mostly together until the ridge where Josh bid us farewell and Erik and I took off with our gears. We rode the following gravel sections together, often chatting, and enjoying the slight overcast before things started heating up (both figuratively and literally). 

Once Erik and I hit the trail sections the effort intensified. This was due to the trail itself but also we were catching some 101 mile racers once the courses linked back up. They provided extra motivation to keep going fast. So Erik and I were catching riders and railing the trails. We continued this until the Stillhouse Hollow Climb just past Aid Station 4 where I was able to slide away on the climb. From that point on I was riding by myself but I was running scared since Erik is such a strong racer. I kept an eye behind but was able to roll in for the win. 

Thanks to my amazing wife Jennifer for her continued support. I am very fortunate that she is often willing to travel with me, meet me at aid stations, and take care of me at the finish! In addition, thanks to my team Think Green – Bicycle Face and other sponsors SWORD, ESI grips, Native Eyewear, Maxxis Tires, and Specialized Bikes. Next on the agenda is the Shenandoah 100K over Labor Day weekend for my final stop in the NUE Marathon series.”

Marathon men’s open podium: 1st Brian Schworm, 2nd Erik Nielson, 3rd Thad Paunovich

Taking second place was, Erik Nielson, SouthPaw Cycles, Industry Nine/Giant, finishing in 5:56:54. In third place was, Thad Paunovich, coming in at 7:02:21

Women’s Open

Sheldon gets TOP STEP

Getting her first NUE win of 2019, Elizabeth Sheldon, Cxhairs Devo: Trek, wins the women’s marathon race in, 6:44:12.

“The Wilderness 101 marathon was a real challenge this year!  I’ve done the full distance a few times previously, but was hoping to spend a bit less time in the saddle (and a bit less time recovering after!). Race day started great, with cool-ish temperatures, a bit of overcast and even some breeze when the 100-milers started at 7 a.m.  The marathon racers roll out at 9, which makes sense for the logistics, but had us nervously waiting as the late-July temps started to creep up. Once we got underway, Bryna Blanchard and I were together for the early road climbing sections, but I was riding by myself or with small groups by the time we were at the first singletrack.  At the start of the singletrack, we were sharing the course with the 100-milers after their longer start loop, so there was more company. Aid Station 1 was up to Davidson standards (thanks!). 
After the aid station, the humidity went up and my recollection gets a bit foggier.  The rocks were much greasier, and the heat kicked up a notch, and by the time I got through the second aid station and on to the Stillhouse Hollow climb I was definitely feeling the effort. The kind souls handing out ice bags at Sand Mountain parking lot saved me and after more pedaling I was ecstatic to see the Stan’s finish arch in Coburn. Many good stories from the finish area (including from my husband, brother-in-law and nephew who all rode that day), but my favorite was from my son Jonah who broke his fork at the top of Stillhouse, rode back down, and then finished the full 100 mile course on a borrowed bike.
Thanks to Chris Scott and all the volunteers for a great day on the bike.”

1st Elizabeth Sheldon, 2nd Bryna Blanchard, 3rd Brittany Spangler

About 7 minutes back, Bryna Blanchard, BMB Racing, finished second in a time of 6:51:37. Brittany Spangler, Sacred Cycle, finished third, 7:34:34.

Singlespeed

In the single speed class, Josh Kunz, Knobby Side Down, takes the win in a time of 7:13:45. Jason Zollinger finished second crossing the line at 9:53:06.

Masters

Getting his first NUE win of the season, Carroll Thumel, LRC, wins the Masters division with a time of 9:13:34. Taking the second step, Dan Mock, finished in 9:29:06.

“The 2019 Wilderness 101k can be summarized in just one word, HOT! The prediction for 93 degree temps, prompted me to create a new, one of a kind, Garmin screen with just two stats, temp and mileage. I could feel my head exploding as I watched the degrees tick higher. The 80 plus mile course does have much needed relief, if you take advantage of a dip in one of the extremely cold creeks, well worth the time penalty. Special thanks to Chris Scott for supplying lots of ice at the aid stations. It may not sound like a big deal, but that ice and the many creeks along the way, kept me going.
My usual Tortoise (that’s me) and the Hare race strategy proved to find me on the podium for third place. I’ll take it! Chris has a way of making them tough, so congratulations to ALL who finished. Surviving the heat, extra distance and hours of climbing, is more than most 50/60 year old’s could ever dream of accomplishing. Next on the bucket list, good times at Shenandoah.”

Coming in third was, Richard Hultstrom, with a time of 9:55:47.

Click Here for full results

Next up on the NUE Marathon series is Pierre’s Hole August 3rd in Alta, WY

NUE Mohican 100K

Written by Jen & Anthony Toops

Photos by Butch Phillips

Racers assembled at 7am in downtown Loudonville for the mass start.

The 17th annual Mohican MTB100 kicked off on June 1st at 7am sharp.  Hundreds of racers from around the country gather in Loudonville, Ohio each year to take on the deceptively tough course.  Before the start riders were given some encouraging words from the Mayor of Loudonville, Steve Strickland, race director Ryan O’Dell, and a duo rendition of the National Anthem. 100mile and 100k racers then proceeded with a neutral rollout lead by the Ashland Sheriff’s Department to the steep paved climb out of town, where the race officially starts.

The first 7 miles are a fast paced paved section where racers jockey for position going into the 25 miles of single track in Mohican State Park.  After the single track is a mix of mostly gravel roads with some technical single and double track sections thrown in.  Being in Ohio, most assume this course is relatively flat.  What the race lacks in elevation it makes up for in dozens of steep, punchy climbs strewn throughout the entire distance.  The 100k and 100m course splits after aid station 3, where the 100k turns left and completes the last sections of the course and the 100mile turns right to add in the extra miles (and tough climbs!).  

100k SS podium finisher Josh Kunz, making easy work of the new rock garden.

This year, a large technical rock garden located at Mohican Wilderness, was brought back thanks to some dedicated trail crew.  This section hasn’t been included since the first race, 17 years ago.  There are also Tree Frog canopy tours, zip lines, and platforms directly overhead enjoyed by racers families. Also added was a new “secret trail” that removed a notorious hike a bike that had become known as “Big A** Climb”. Only one racer in our 17 year history has ever ridden it during the race. That racer was Jeremiah Bishop, who went on to win in both 2017 and 2018.

The water bar downhill was extra sloppy this year.

Finishers cross the line and grab a pint glass(100k) or a growler(100m) and can enjoy the post race atmosphere.  Families and friends gather for food from Smokin’ Bros BBQ, beer from Great Lakes Brewing, and live music.

Race Director Ryan O’dell.

“The biggest improvement at this year’s race was added safety for Mohican racers. The Mohican100 formed a new partnership with University Hospital of Ashland that included a much more detailed medical plan, including a med-evac helicopter at the race, medical room and doctor on call at the finish line, medical staff and tents at each aid station, and quads permitted to go anywhere necessary for rescue of injured racers. The racers who were injured this year had great reports about the speed and helpfulness of our new UH team of professionals.” Race Director, Ryan O’Dell 

Part of the medical crew on hand.

Men’s Open

1st Brian Schwarm, 2nd Eric Nielson, 3rd Jack Perry,
4th Jamie Babcock, 5th Ross Clark

Schwarm takes TOP STEP

Brian Schwarm tackling one of the many Wilderness area rock gardens.

Brian Schwarm of Think Green Bicycles took the Men’s 100k Win finishing in 4:39:28. After taking second place at the NUE Big Frog, Schwarm is now leading the 2019 Marathon Series.

” The weather leading up to the Mohican 100 was very wet with rain every day, which had me very concerned about the trail conditions.  In fact, it rained for most of the drive up to Ohio from Kentucky but as I got closer, the rain stopped and the sky cleared.  Very quickly upon my arrival, I heard the chatter that the trails were actually in great condition.  This relieved my anxiety and I was ready to roll.

The race started with the usual scramble out of Loudonville on some back roads to the singletrack.  I was sitting in a good position in the top ten once we hit the trail.  It was a brisk pace initially with everyone together except one brave soul who attacked from the beginning.  Soon, however, Dylan Johnson, Christian Tanguay, and Jeff Pendlebury (all in the 100 mile race) left our group in pursuit of the lone rider out front.  I stayed with the others for about half of the singletrack and then I lifted the pace in hopes of catching the lead riders before the road section.  I chased hard and caught the lead group on the horse trails just before the road section.  Just as I caught the lead group, the initial pacesetter, who was in the 100k, dropped from the group so it left me with Dylan, Christian, and Jeff all from the 100 mile in the lead group.  Oh, and we put on quite a show at the water bar descent…someone slipped in front of me, I fell on him, then another fell on me.  With all the spectators (and hecklers) present it made for a “memorable” experience.

Anyway, we hit the road section together and shared the workload taking turns pulling and drafting.  I made sure I did more than my fair share since I actually had the most to gain being the only 100k racer in the group.  We were hearing time gaps of three to five minutes until we entered the Mohican Wilderness section just before aid station three.  Jeff attacked just before entering the trail and Dylan gave chase.  This broke up our group and left me to ride solo through the trail, into aid station 3, and the final gravel road and trail to the finish.

It was amazing to pull off the win at Mohican especially with my family (who live nearby) present to watch the race.  Thanks to them for their support and to my amazing wife Jennifer for her continued support.  In addition, thanks to my team Think Green – Bicycle Face and other sponsors SWORD, ESI grips, Native Eyewear, and Specialized Bikes.  Next on the agenda is the Wilderness 101k in Pennsylvania in late July.”

Eric Nielson keeping it upright on the tough water bar downhill.

About ten minutes back, Erik Nielson of South Paw Cycles took second place in 4:48:05.

“The Mohican 100k was my first venture into Ohio and it did not disappoint! I had no idea what the trails would be like or the number of people doing the event but both exceeded my expectations! We had what I would consider an early start for a 100k (not so much an early morning race person) but that was due in large to combining both the 100k and 100mile start times. 600 plus riders strong, we began the race and immediately hit what would be one of many wall like hills littering the race course. I was warned ahead of time to get a good position into the woods because that could make or break your day once on the singletrack, so up I punched it entering the trails in the top 10.

From here the pace was blistering whittling down the field to 4 riders off the front including Brian Schworm, the leader of my race. and my group of 5 in chase a few minutes back. After a few hours of some seriously fun singletrack we got to the business end of the race which included the water bars of doom, a rock garden not nearly as big as that one from Last of the Mohicans but infinitely more slippery, some hike a bike, gravel, pavement, and some more of those walls mentioned earlier. At the 100k/100mile split the riders went their separate ways with the 100 milers seemingly envying my left turn to the shorter distance and me being relieved I was not making a right turn for more hours of pain. 

I settled in with my new found friend, Jim Litzinger the winner of the SS 100k class and second overall, and knocked out the last gut busting gravel climb to the final singletrack. At this point Brian had checked out and was most likely showered and changed at the finish, and Jim was schooling me again on the art of standing up and laying down the hammer. I crested the last major climb for the day and enjoyed a smooth finish to 2nd place in Men’s Open 100k and 3rd overall. 

My next NUE race was going to be Iron Mtn. Unfortunately this race is no longer happening this year but instead they are adding a 100k to Shenandoah, so here I come! Thanks to Industry Nine for keeping those big wheels rolling, Giant Bicycles for making carbon sweetness for the those big wheels to roll under, Fox suspension for making my ass not hurt, and SouthPaw Cycles for keeping all those bits together!”

Jack Perry on the heels of 2nd place.

Finishing only about one and a half minutes back, Jack Perry of La Vie Alpo took the third step in 4:49:44.

“My experience at this year’s Mohican 100 was amazing. The energy invested by everyone involved was impressive and helps put this event into a class of it’s own. The bulk of my day was spent chasing by myself which allowed me to manage my effort without having to put tactics into the equation. It also gave me the opportunity to enjoy the incredible trails that Ohio has to offer. Do yourself a favor and put this one on the calendar. 
Team: La Vie Alpo Sponsors:Miles Perry CoachingMaple WheelsSan Pellegrino”

Open Women

1st Jen Nielson, 2nd Allison Arensman, 3rd Emily Payonk,
4th Sydney Wenger, 5th April Beard

Nielson gets first NUE marathon win

Getting her first 2019 Marathon win, Jen Nielson of South Paw Cycles finishes in 5:47:35.

Jen Nielson holding the lead through Mohican State Park.

“The lore of the Mohican 100 is not to be taken lightly. It is wrought with tales of a wall of pavement littered with carnage. Its survivors tell of impassible water bars so slick with slime that no racer can ride them. There are stories of horse trails so deep with mud, all are forced to tread by foot. Slick rock gardens and webs of roots taunt the brave souls who dare to pass, as do the steep wall-like gravel climbs. So with that, the long journey was made to Loudonville, Ohio in order to discover the truth…. 

The mass start was indeed massive, with somewhere around 600 racers lining up. The women’s open field was well over 30 deep. Impressive to say the least. Pre-race jitters hit me hard that morning. Harder than normal. I lined up off to the left side of the field within the first couple of rows. My goal was to try and stay safely away from the chaos that was about to ensue. 

A “neutral” start took us out of town where we were quickly greeted by, dare I say it, a wall of pavement. It was a steep climb and as the pace ramped up I felt myself getting pulled closer and closer to the center of the pack. I tried to ride smart and focus on myself. This was a long race and I didn’t need to burn all of my matches on the first climb or risk bumping rubber with another rider. A wreck off to my right claimed several racers. I pushed on. 

Breathing heavily, I crested the climb barely hanging onto the back of the lead group, which was still fairly large. Another steep, albeit shorter, climb left no room for recovery. The leaders were hammering and the group was starting to become strung out over the next flat to rolling sections. I looked around and caught sight of a guy coming up fast from behind. I tensed up ready to jump, and grabbed his wheel as soon as he came by. In no time at all I was safely nestled back in the front group. There was no recovering though. 

A gravel climb, then on into some slick grassy singletrack. There was bottlenecking as racers break checked to avoid boggy sections and back wheels fishtailed through the wet grass and mud. Gravel, a narrow metal bridge, and then a super steep short trail. With so many women, and most being unfamiliar to me, it was hard to know where anyone was in all of the chaos. I looked back in time to see one of them about 3 riders back. I pushed the pedals hard, not wanting to get caught before the next round of single track. Up and over, across gravel, and into a line of hikers up another short steep pitch. My slow awkward remount was proof that I am no cyclocrosser. 

I pushed across the open gravel, fighting to get a few more riders between myself and the next girl before ducking into the next stretch of flowing single track. I found myself in the middle of a train of guys. The trail was fast and fun, and I knew I was pushing harder than I probably realized. I sincerely hoped I wouldn’t pay for it later. This was an incredibly challenging section of the course to do any passing on, so I knew I had to make it count if I wanted to keep as much distance as I could between myself and the others. I stayed safely tucked into the train pushing harder up some climbs than I wanted to before getting caught by the slinky effect and hitting other climbs at an alarmingly slow pace. After a super fun descent, we hit some pavement and few antsy guys from the rear of the train made their move. I jumped on and was quickly dropped by them up the next single track climb leaving me in no man’s land. 

As I approached the first aide station, a male racer warned me that another lady was not too far back. I pulled in to grab a swig of Coke and an orange slice. She slid by me without my ever seeing her. Sneaky! I continued on getting periodic time checks letting me know I was anywhere from 1-3 minutes behind her and holding steady. 

Somewhere between the first and third aide stations I found the infamous water bars. The water bars themselves were fairly dry and unintimidating. It was the deep mud in between that made things tricky. I made it about half way through before being forced to dismount and fight having my shiny new shoes totally engulfed in mud. I eventually found the muddy horse path that was not only impossibly deep, but incredibly steep. Hike-a-bike it would be for this girl and the surrounding dudes. 

There was a lot of gravel and pavement mixed in there. I feared that those ahead of me and behind me might be bigger power houses than myself, so I dug deep and was pleasantly surprised to find more engine than I expected. I reeled in several guys creating my own train before two of us broke away. The gravel climbs were steep, but relatively short when compared to Pisgah riding and racing. 

I did find a slimy rock garden that forced me off the bike, choosing my steps wisely. They made our wet rocks at home seem grippy and tame in comparison. It was at the rock garden I learned that I was the leader of the lady pack. The woman in front of me was racing the 100 mile, while I was racing the 100k. 

Aide station three was filled with all the best treats, which would be much needed before the final significant gravel climb. I had a little chuckle to myself as I slowly reeled a dismounted single speeder hiking his bike up the climb, marveling at how it seemed to take forever to finally reach him and pass, even with the advantage of gears and being able to remain on my bike. 

I was caught by a power house of a guy on the last section of pavement and pulled to the final aide station. I thought a draft was what I needed until I jumped in it and realized just how much extra work it was taking to hang onto that wheel. He was hauling! I was most grateful for it though. The final aide station was at the bottom of a long single track climb that marked the last 4 miles or so in to the finish. I offered a pass to a guy on my rear wheel, but he insisted my lines were just fine. They didn’t feel fine. They felt awkward as the fatigue set in. I enjoyed having the company, commentaries, and laughs on the way in. 

Cruising in on the final stretch of the gravel and into the finish line was a relief. What a race and what a course! A total surprise in every way and all for the best. Without a doubt, this will not be the last Mohican. 

Perhaps one of the biggest surprise was the amount of support I had on and off the course. I felt like I was hearing my name and words of encouragement all through the woods! I don’t know who all was out there (a few familiar faces and a lot of faces/voices I didn’t have time to process), but I am incredibly thankful for the boost and support. It made this race feel like home! 

As always, I couldn’t do it without the support of the best mechanic and partner in crime a girl could ask for or without a brilliant coach who also has the patience of a saint. I absolutely couldn’t do it without the amazing gear and support provided by Industry Nine, Maxxis Tires, and Giant/Liv. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of those families. 

Allison Arensman eyes up through the first 20 mile singletrack section.
Emily Payonk in the hunt.

Allison Arensman of J.A. King finished second, 6:33:22 and Emily Payonk rounded out the podium finishing third, 6:36:56

Singlespeed

1st Jim Litzinger, 2nd Peyton Randolph, 3rd Scott Williams, 4th Aaron Grabor, 5th Josh Kunz (2nd and third had a podium mixup)

Litzinger goes sub 5 hours

Jim Litzinger having a blast through the new rock garden.

Taking the single speed win and finishing second overall was, James Litzinger of Syndicate Cycling, finishing in a time of 4:47:02.

“I always get excited to head to the start line in downtown Loudonville with 600 plus riders all geared up to leave it all out there on an amazing course. I was sitting back in the 2nd or 3rd row of riders on the first time waiting for the rollers to start the chaos of wheel sucking trying to make it to the woods in good position. It was an unusually slow start for the mass of riders heading out of town. I expected the pace to pick up after the first climb like it has in the past but this year the pace just seemed to stay pretty calm until the last descent going into the gravel. I shot up the left side getting in a tucked position taking over the front of the lead group waiting for the rest of the riders to pass me. About 7 or 8 riders passed me going into the woods and I was very happy about that starting position. I was really stoked to ride with a lot of the annual winners in the 100/100k distance. I knew if I could keep their pace for a while I would in good position to win. Dylan went off the front and Bryan joined him and I knew that pace would be too fast for me to manage the rest of the race. I then joined the chase group for most of the single track. They had a pretty fast pace going too. I actually let them ride away for a little knowing that I did not want to push that hard. I wanted to ride my pace. To my surprise, I ended up catching back on to the chase group shortly after letting them ride away. I was super pumped to link up with this group of 4 and myself going into the gravel roads. After popping out onto the roads we all did a little inventory to see who all we were riding with. I was the only SS’er in the group and there was one other rider for the 100k, Erik Nielson. The rest of the riders were set up for the 100 miler. Adam Hill who came down to Ohio from Canada was a huge help! Adam and Erik were awesome to work with. Those guys would make some monster pulls on the rollers and I would pace us up the climbs and in the single track. It was a perfect storm for a fast and fun day on the bike! Going into the 100k/100 split I was riding alone after feeling pretty good about my fitness. When I rolled through aid station 3 I quickly grabbed some water and a piece of banana. Instead of rolling onto the finish alone I would it would be a good idea to spin the flat road along the river as Erik caught up. Great company really makes these races! Once Erik caught up we shared some positive comments about our positions and set a plan to finish the race strong. Valley Stream Road climb is bitter sweet. It’s a bear of a climb with the steep turn and the loose gravel which make it difficult on a single speed but once you clear it you are almost home. Since I could not down shift into an easier gear I put a small gap on Erik. Once rolling over the top he was not far behind so we quickly got back together. Erik continued his strong pulls on the road leading us to the final section of trail where I was able to set the pace. I always feel that I get an energy boost for the super fun finishing single track knowing that the finish is just over the hill. 

I was riding my Specialized Epic Full Suspension set up 30×17 and wow, did it fit the bill! It was so plush and sporty in the woods and light and responsive on the gravel climbs. Pair that bike up with my Schwalbe Racing Ralphs and it was the ultimate ride! My family, Syndicate Cycling, and PRO BIKE + RUN work just as hard to get me to the finish line!”

Peyton Randolph heading into the water bar downhill.

Peyton Randolph of Cyclist Connection finished second in 5:11:45.

“I knew it was going to be a good day when I entered the MSP single track behind 100m ss’er Dahn Pahrs. A few miles in, I felt fresh so I moseyed on by Dahn and tried to push the pace. Hearing Dahn cough, hack, and make all sorts of disgusting noises back there, I thought perhaps he was hurting a little? Unfortunately, I blew up on the covered bridge climb and Dahn blew right by before the first aid station. Fun while it lasted. Water bars this year were sloppy but so entertaining with the Ohio Knobby Side Down and Trailer Park hecklers present with mega phones and insults. Fun race made even better thanks to those guys and gals. Wilderness trails were once again in the best shape of the year. Rock garden was a sweet addition this year. Already looking forward to next year! A huge thank you to my wife Kayla, grandparents, and our puppy Nino who drove up to meet at certain points along the course to cheer us on! Thank you to Chumba USA who shipped me the sweetest USA-made titanium frame I’ve ever seen or ridden! Thank you to Ric at Cyclist Connection for ordering us up an endless list of parts/bikes and Ryan at Wheelie Fun bike shop for providing the best bike fit. 

Scott Williams in the Mohican Wilderness rocks.

Finishing in third, Scott Williams of Dirt Rag Magazine, crossed the line in 5:22:04.

Masters

1st Kevin Simms, 2nd Thomas Franek, 3rd Paul Cooney,
4th David Jolin, 5th Chris Torrance

Simms takes the Masters WIN

Kevin Simms in the lead early.

Kevin Simms of Sound Solution takes the Masters win with a time of 5:10:01.

“Thank You Mohican 100 for the epic race event! Travelling south from Canada to complete the race proved to be worth our while and then some! Glad to represent my sponsor ‘Sound Solutions – Architectural Products’ at this race! 

I lined up right behind the pace truck and loved the hilly road start to spread us out. Although there were a few tire taps and handle bar rubs, I think everybody stayed upright. I moved with the front group, dropping into the single track in top 15 riders to secure some good flow with quality riders. Lotza positive morale among the racers and the park Loop was amazing!”

After 40–45 km, I Hit the gravel section hard, knowing Lots of people would use it to try and recover. Unfortunately I didn’t have a soul to work with, spending lots of time in ghost bar position on the flats and steady on the climbs. Dropping back into the single track proved tough, especially the rock garden but amazing fans seems to keep you going! 

The final single track was a solo mental battle, hoping I had stayed on course and fighting the fatigue of a long day. Rolled across 5:10 and was welcomed with a super fun atmosphere including beer, music and awards! Love the plaques! A race to remember and highly recommend it to anybody.”

Thomas Franek flying through the Mohican singletrack.

Thomas Franek of Team Lake Effects finishes in second place, 5:15:34. Paul Cooney of Spoke Omotion gets the third spot in 5:28:05.

“This was my first time racing the Mohican. I talked a couple of other Ontario boys from the Toronto area into registering, and we drove down in my RV to check out the trails (hills !) around Loudonville.  Its one of my goals to get to all the races with the coolest names like “Mohican 100” ! 
We all get a bit stale racing local multi lap XC races on trails we have been memorizing for the last 30 years – so travelling and riding a big 100K loop on trails I’ve never seen before is exciting.  Flying around blind corner after corner and just trusting you can read, react and trust your skills to keep the bike upright is such a fun way to race.
I started Mohican a bit harder than I should have ….  but I was hoping that some fast wheels early on would help me get through the first couple hours with a good pace.  After hour 3, I was it was all about pace management.  Climbing steady, eating and drinking as much as I could to keep the cramps at bay.  Thanks to all the awesome volunteers for managing feed stations and helping me restock bottles and food in under a minute at each aid station.I had no idea what place I was in…I just kept pedaling, suffering, drooling and hallucinating until I crossed the finish and heard the announcer saying “3rd place”.  I had to go back and high 5 him !! Sponsors: Spoke O’Motion bicycle shopPeter Kraiker photography”

Paul Cooney excited to hear he finished third.

For full results CLICK HERE

Butch Phillips photo gallery CLICK HERE

Next up on the Marathon NUE Series is on July 13th in Carrabassett Valley, ME. CLICK HERE to register.

Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike EPIC- Stage One

After the TSEpic was canceled in 2018, the race has been brought back thanks to the new race director Ryan Fulton of Trans-Sylvania Productions. The TSE is held in Spring Mills, PA at a local scout camp aka “Single track Summer Camp”, where the trails are know for their rugged east coast rocks. Racers can choose between a 5 or 3 day race and are allowed to camp for free.

Stage one of the TSE was Poe Valley and started from camp. Racers climbed 3208 feet in 30 miles. The weather was a perfect cool sunny day until the skies opened up on some of the racers. It was a mix of rocky old school singletrack and gravel roads with beautiful vistas.

Men’s Open

Brian Lewis made several strong attacks on stage one.

In the open men category a leading group formed of Kerry Werner (Kona/Maxxis), Bryan Lewis (Cutaway), Jeremiah Bishop (Team Topeak) and John Petrylak (Endeavor Cycles/ESI). Bryan Lewis made several attacks throughout the stage. Jeremiah Bishop was able to bridge the gap on the last attack near the finish. Lewis and Bishop rode the last several miles together until it came to a sprint at the finish. Bishop took the stage win with a time of 2:08:54:26, Lewis came in second at 2:08:54:38, and Werner took the third spot in 2:09:21.

Jeremiah Bishop (Team Topeak) on the hunt for the stage win.

Women’s Open

Carla Williams (CarboRocket) taking the win for stage one of TSE

In the open Womens category, Carla Williams (CarboRocket) took the lead from the start and continued to gap the other women on the first climbs and gravel sections . She held the lead until the finish crossing the line in an impressive 2:28:36. Behind her, Marlee Dixon (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) pushed hard but had some mechanical issues on the technical singletrack finishing 2nd in 2:39:43. Just a minute back and taking third place, was Julia Thumel at 2:40:36. Britt Mason (Joes Bike Shop) started strong but after a flat she finished 4th in 2:41:18. This is a very competitive field with 4th-6th place all within minutes of the podium and should be an exciting race to follow this week.

Marlee Dixon (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) on her way to 2nd place.
A rainy end to stage one.

For full stage 1 results click HERE

Written by: @jentoops

Photos: Bruce Buckley

NUE Cohutta 100 mile

“The 2019 event was hosted by Mountain Goat Adventures, who recently took over promotion of the event from Roost Racing, LLC.  Race day weather at the Ocoee Whitewater Center could not have been more perfect with temperatures in the mid 70’s.  Similar to prior years, the race was well attended and had sold out by the Monday before the race.

One change we immediately made to the course was to make the final singletrack section nearly all downhill to the finish.  I had raced in several past editions of this event in both the 65 and 100, and every time I returned from the gravel road loops, I wished that we could just bomb down to the finish instead of winding around on 8-12 more miles of rolling (and sometimes steep) singletrack.  While the gravel road loops of the course remained the same from the 2018 edition, we configured a course that included nearly all of the Tanasi singletrack on the front end, while riders were fresh.  After leaving it all out on the course for the gravel road loops of the 65 and 100 mile, riders were treated with a nearly all downhill 4 mile mile run into the finish.  

A very close race in the singlespeed class Left Eli Orth 3rd, Center Dan Pahrs 1st, Right Anthony Toops 2nd.
Photo: Ryan Odell

Another change we made was to offer more swag to our event participants.  Big payouts are great if you can manage to land on the podium, but that only accounts for a very small percentage of our riders so it is important to me to make sure we are taking care of the other 95% of our participants as well by offering them nice swag, a well-marked course, good support at the aid stations, and overall a great race experience that they will remember.  We saw riders from all over the US and Canada, so it was great hearing how much riders from other regions enjoyed the course (albiet a tough one!)  While the race overall went very smoothly, we learned a lot in our first year of production that we can take with us moving forward to make this event even better in 2020.” -Lisa Randall (2019 Race Director)

Men’s Open  

Johnson gets FOURTH consecutive Cohutta WIN

1st-Dylan Johnson, 2nd-Christian Tanguy, 3rd-Matt Acker, 4th-Spencer Whittier, 5th-Lee Hauber. Photo Credit- Dashing Images LLC

Taking the win in the Men’s Open class for an impressive fourth year in a row was Dylan Johnson, FBS Racing, with a time of 6:57:09. Christian Tanguy, RBS Team, took a close second just two minutes back, coming in at, 6:59:08.

Matt Acker grabbed the third spot with a time of 7:05:15. Sponsors include: Salsa Cycles, Velocity USA, Industry Nine, and Grand Rapids Bicycle Company based out of Michigan.

Matt Acker 3rd place
Photo Ryan Odell

“The weather was perfect for race day and the pace started out modestly from the whitewater center. As we got out onto the highway roll out there were some attacks and Dylan and Christian got out in front. I settled in behind them with another gentleman. Their gap slowly grew through the first 30 miles of trails and 4th place and myself stayed together. Once we hit the big gravel loop we could no longer see 1 and 2. The 4th place rider pushed a hard pace and rolled ahead of me for quite some time on the gravel loop while i focused on staying true to my pace. About halfway through the event i caught him again and we rolled into the 59 mile aid together to re-supply. They told us that 1 and 2 were almost 5 minutes up the road so it became a race between us. We worked together a bit back and forth until just over 80 miles and when 4th stopped to get bottles and nutrition i kept rolling. I kept the effort smooth but hard until the last singletrack descent and rolled in for 3rd. Great event, awesome volunteers and fun course.”

Women’s Open

Toops gets first NUE Epic Win

1st-Jen Toops, 2nd-Mary Penta, 3rd-Anne Pike, 4th-Laureen Coffelt, 5th-Angela Graziosi.
Photo credit: Dashing Images LLC

Taking the win in the women’s race, 2018 NUE Marathon Champion, Jen Toops, Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles MTB race team, finished in 8:33.41.

“This was my first 100 mile race so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew Penta was a strong gravel rider from her finish at the Barry Roubaix, so I went hard on the first climb and made sure I was ahead of her going into the singletrack. Having some fun on the downhills and pushing the pace a few times uphill, I was able to make a gap before entering into the gravel. My legs were feeling good and I continued to ride my own pace. The changes to the course this year were a pleasant surprise ending the race with so much downhill. I rode my Pivot Les 27.5 and am always reminded how well this bike climbs! My next NUE race will be Mohican 100!”

Taking second was Mary Penta, Think Green/Bicycle Face, crossing the line at 9:17:51. Third place was Anne Pike with a time of 10:03:38.

Singlespeed

Pahrs takes top step

1st-Dahn Pahrs, 2nd-Anthony Toops, 3rd-Eli Orth, 4th-Chris Blakenship, 5th-Joe Worboy
Photo credit: Dashing Images LLC

Winning the singlespeed class was, Dahn Pahrs of UPMC Pro Bike, crossing the line in 7:30:07.

Anthony Toops, 2018 NUE SS Marathon series Champion, racing for Paradise Garage took second place, 7:43:12.

“Cohutta was my first big test of the year so I was ready to get this one in the books.  The race started with the usual effort up the road to get to the single track as near the front as possible.  Pahrs led the pack up the climb initially until the spring over the top into the trail. I made sure to get into the singletrack as the 1st single speeder so I could hopefully use my full suspension to my advantage. This year 95% of the single track was at the beginning of the race unlike previous years where it was 50/50. I should’ve done more homework here as the full suspension wasn’t really needed due to the course changes.
Pahrs was on my wheel the entire singletrack section and with a few riders ahead, passing was difficult. He eventually passed me and we hit the first road sections together.  He started to pull away some on the climbs but I was making up time on the descents. Eventually he got a gap around mile 45 I think that would grow for the rest of the race.  I struggled some in the potato patch section of climbs, trying not to lose time because I had a feeling Eli Orth wouldn’t be far behind. Around mile 65 or so Nick Bragg caught up to me and we rode together for a while. Some good conversation made the time pass faster as we kept turning over the pedals. He would pull ahead out of aid 5 and I just kept the power down to bring home 2nd place… only around a minute ahead of Eli Orth!
This was the first race with my Pivot 429sl set up single speed. After some initial setup issues the bike was performing great. My bike selection was overkill for this course, but I kinda knew that going in. Next time will be the hardtail. 
Another great event put on by Mountain Goat Adventures. The crew and staff did an amazing job!  Looking forward to some more NUE racing coming up! Gearing 34×20″

Taking the third spot was, Eli Orth of Team Hungry, with a time of 7:44:30.

“Cohutta was my first NUE race of the year. The weather for the race couldn’t have been better. It was a little cool in beginning but quickly warmed up with the first long climb. I played it safe in the beginning on the first climb but also made sure i was in top 3 in ss going into the single track. I got into single track with Michael Gottfried and we kept a good pace but got slowed down in several areas by slower traffic. We called for the pass and started to pick up the pace. Once we got into the death march gravel loop I was hoping i was still within striking distance of “Dahn Pahrs” and Anthony Toops. I picked up the pace on the gravel loop trying to make up time if possible. Everything was going great and I still felt great but got a puncture flat on my rear tire at mile 80.. after we joined up with big frog racers. Of all places it was on gravel and i didn’t even see what caused it. I felt the tire going down so i jumped off and grabbed my plug kit from my jersey pocket. I initially put in small plug but it didn’t hold. So i put in big plug and after stans sprayed out for a few seconds it stopped leaking and sealed. A fellow teammate that was racing big frog stopped and gave me one of their co2’s to take just in case i would need it. Fortunately i didn’t need it. Unfortunately though having the plug in there and what seemed to be barely holding i started to race conservative, so i wouldn’t rip the plug out and flat again. I knew i could hang onto 3rd as long as i kept everything together.I was really surprised at the finish to find out Anthony came across the line only a minute ahead of me. Once again it was a close race between us after over 7.5hrs of racing. It was a great race and I look forward to more. I ran 34×19 gear. The gearing made some of the climbs a little tough but overall it was the perfect gearing for me on that course. My next big race will be the TSE 5 day stage race in May followed by Mohican 100 5 days after that. Thanks to my team, team mates, and sponsors Team Hungry and Absolute Black. “

Masters

Hammond gets first Cohutta win

1st-Matt Hammond, 2nd-Zdenek Fiebinger, 3rd-Rodney Reed, 4th-Alan Miner, 5th-Jeff Chalmers. Photo Credit: Dashing Images LLC.

Matt Hammond took the Masters win with a time of 8:11:34.

“My experience with the Cohutta 100 this past Saturday was fantastic! The course was well marked and overall production was great! Could not have asked for better weather and conditions for a bike race.I’m a veteran bike racer but first time winner of a 100 mile race. I will very likely participate in this event again next year. Not sure that I’ll do any more of this years series. I’m not sponsored currently but would entertain any offers!

Taking the second step was, Zdenek Fiebinger of Sonic Cycling, 8:44:16.

“After racing Big Frog few times in the past and recently turning 50, I decided that is time to try the big boys distance. I did many different races around Ocoee and love to return to this area. Plus, mountaingoatadventures.com is always guarantee of perfectly organized race. My race started slower as my old diesel needs little more time to warm up. Once in the single track, I moved up several places and felt good until about mile 30 miles when I had to back of the pace little bit after my lower back started to remind me that as rest of me it is also 50 years old. Few riders came from behind and we formed nicely working group For rest of the race I was yo-yo ing around few younger riders, passing and getting passed. I was happy to see my teammate RJ and was able to ride with him for some distance later in the race. I was hoping to see the finish line sooner but was happy with the result under the circumstances. It was hard but great race. Well organized with many super friendly and helpful volunteers. Cohutta definitely found a permanent place on my race calendar.” 

Rodney Reed finished third in a time of 8:50:08.

“This was the 8th time I’ve lined up for the Cohutta 100.  The difference this year is it was my first time competing in the masters category.  The day couldn’t have started off more perfect weather wise – high 40’s to start and getting up to mid 70’s by the finish.  Although the course was similar to last year, there were a few course changes early in the race that left me with some uncertainty but off we went.  I felt really good headed into the first bit of single track with good position and good pacing.  After the first aid station I began having some stomach issues which would come and go the rest of the day.  I had one minor mishap when I miscalculated my bunny hop over the off camber pine on Riverview Loop causing me to go over the bars.  I picked myself up and continued.  Once onto the gravel section I was caught by a couple guys who were “not racing, just riding” then they dropped me!  Probably about 5 1/2 hours in Jen Toops caught up with me and we chatted for a few minutes exchanging positions on the climbs before she took off.  After the merge with the Big Frog riders I knew I only had a few moderate climbs left so I gave it all I had to the finish.  Very much appreciated the downhill sections after the last aid stations.
A special thank you to my wife Amy and daughter Emma for putting up with my long weekend away and supporting the countless Sunday’s spent gravel grinding in Ohio.  Shout out to the Sunday Gravel Church gang – Rick, Matt, Terry, Mike and Benton for pushing me all winter!  Special thanks to Rick’s Bicycle Service and HWB Cycling for keeping my Santa Cruz Tallboy in tip top shape year after year for these grueling races.  Next up, Mohican 100.”

Click here for full results

What’s up next? Click here to register for the NUE Mohican 100 mile & 100 K in Loudonville, OH.

Written by: Lisa Randall & @Jentoops


NUE Big Bear Grizzly 100k

NUE Big Bear Grizzly 100k

Written by @JenToops

The NUE series headed to the San Bernardino mountains in sunny Southern California for the Grizzly 100k, 75k races and Grand Fondo. This was the final NUE race of the 2018 season and determined the NUE overall titles.

Starting around 7000 feet above sea level in Big Bear Lake, CA, racers were challenge to a high altitude course with technical singletrack, loose descents, and the all famous 5 mile Radford climb.

Open Men

Trudeau takes the WIN

Open Men’s Podium: 1st-Kyle Trudeau, 2nd-Bryan Lewis, 3rd-Nic Beechan

Getting his first NUE win of 2018, Kyle Trudeau, CZ Racing takes the win with a time of 4:35:32.  

Bryan Lewis finished about a minute behind Trudeau taking second place with a time of 4:36:59.  In a battle for the overall NUE series title, it came down to this race for Lewis and Johnson.  With this win, Lewis secures the 2018 NUE Epic series title and Johnson, who finished 6th at Big Bear, takes second in the overall standings.

Claiming third was, Nic Beechan, Trek Test Team finishing in 4:41:25.

Open Women

Connors secures the NUE Epic series with her FIFTH win

Women’s Open Podium: 1st-Larissa Connors, 2nd-Hanna Muegee, 3rd: Marjie Bemis

Taking the win in the 100k was Larissa Connors, Sho-Air Cycling Group, coming in at 5:27:29.  With this win she takes the overall NUE Epic series with 5 straight wins.  

Taking second place was Hanna Muegee crossing the line in 6:26:35.

“I know little to nothing about racing mountain bikes, but after a busy pro road season racing for DNA Pro Cycling Team, I signed up for the Grizzly 100 to throw myself into my next challenge–learning how to mountain bike. Thanks to the encouragement from my boyfriend Chris Cain and my entire family, the steady support from my colleagues at the Monterey Bay Air Resources District, the steady race prep check-ins from team director/team co-owner Lee Whaley, the trust from my friend Steve Jones for letting me borrow his badass bike, and for soaking up some last minute racing tips from cycling legend Micah at Peninsula Bike Works; I hit the road running at the fun yet grueling 100k race at Big Bear, CA. I loved every moment of the race, and quickly realized how much I was out of my elements. But this is how you learn. Racing very conservatively on every technical section of the course, and trying to make up time on every uphill section, I made it across the finishline in 2nd place! There is still a lot to learn for me especially when it comes to proper nutrition for these ultra-endurance races, as well as learning how to handle a mountain bike. My Thule hydration pack filled with Asend Nutrition  electrolyte mix were a lifesaver, though I did run out of fluids and food in the critical last 6 miles and bonked terribly hard. Congrats to Larissa Connors on the win and for showing us all how it’s done! Coming into the race without any expectations, a podium finish was definitely a great reward to a wonderful solo roadtrip to Big Bear. I’d like to give a huge shout-out to all the racers and volunteers for showing me what mountain bike racing is all about and a big thank you to Derek Hermon and the Big Bear community for making this one of the most memorable races I have ever done. I will be back!”

Taking the third spot on the podium was, Marjie Bemis, Socal Devo/CCMTB in 6:31:45.

Master’s 50+

Niedringhaus gets the top step

Master’s Podium: 1st- Paul Niedringhaus, 2nd-Jiri Kozesnik, 3rd-Tom Stritzingert

In the Master’s division it was, Paul Niedringhaus of Hammer Nutrition taking the win with a time of 6:04:47.  Just about four minutes back was Jiri Kozesnik taking second place with a time of 6:08:17.  Tom Stritzinger took third place crossing the line at 6:14:30 and ends up 4th in the 2018 overall standings

Singlespeed

Wadsworth gets 4th NUE Win claiming NUE series

Singlespeed Podium: 1st-Gordon Wadsworth, 2nd-Marc Engelhardt, 3rd-Chad Davies

Crushing the competition and taking his 4th NUE win for 2018 was Gordon Wadsworth, Blue Ridge Cyclery/Pivot Cycles with a time of 5:00:25. With this win Wadsworth takes the 2018 NUE Epic Singlespeed series with a perfect score of 4.  

About forty-eight minutes back was, Marc Engelhardt, Tasco-MTB, taking the second step at 5:48:17.  Rounding out the podium claiming third place was Chad Davies at 6:16:22.

Full results CLICK HERE

What’s NEXT?!

Click here for the 2019 NUE schedule

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 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,