Haley Batten’s Trail to Tokyo

Haley Batten photo: Etienne Schoeman

Haley Batten is the youngest US Mountain Bike racer on the 2021 Tokyo Olympics long-team, although she is by no means a long shot. In our interview, Haley shares how she arrived at the top of the sport, the importance of mentorship, and basically just a whole bunch of wisdom for such a young athlete. We are grateful to Haley for taking the time to be interviewed by us while she is preparing for the final Olympic qualifying event in a few short months.

Haley Batten donning the #3 plate at 2020 U23 World Cup races Photo: Michal Cerveny

MTB Race News: Briefly summarize your cycling resume. 

Haley Batten:

  1. 4 x junior US national champion
  2. 2017 U23 US national Champion and fourth in U23 World Cup Overall
  3. 2019 U23 Pan American Continental champion
  4. In 2019 I landed my first two U23 world cup podiums and World Cup win.
  5. Silver medal in the 2019 World Championships Team Relay with team USA.
  6. 2020 Swiss Epic overall win with teammate Annika Langvad
  7. 4th U23 world Championships 2020
A very young Haley Batten winning her first National Championship in 2012. Photo courtesy Haley Batten

MTB Race News:  When did you know/how did you decide to pursue mountain biking as a profession? Why and how did you choose to balance it with attending college? 

Haley Batten: I can clearly remember the moment I decided that I wanted to compete in mountain biking at the Olympics. It was 2012 and I had just won my first national championship in Sun Valley, Idaho. The US Olympic team had recently been announced and they called the selected athletes onto the podium for photos. Todd Wells, Sam Schultz, Georgia Gould, and Lea Davison all stood up there, ready for London. Each one of them a humble, kind, and hard-working individual. I decided then, watching them stand on that stage, that I wanted to see what I could do in this sport. That year, for the first time, I watched the cross-country Olympic event on TV and I realized that the sport I loved was something that I could pursue at a high level. From a young age, I had the confidence and belief in myself that I had the ability to chase after any big dream. I think my parents instilled that in me and my bike helped me find the independence and passion to fuel my pursuits. Now, as we begin the 2021 season, I’m getting closer to making that vision my reality.

I couldn’t have predicted that both Georgia and Lea would become my teammates on the Luna Pro Team (Clif Pro Team) years later, when I began my professional career.

Haley’s first Pro contact was with the Luna Pro team. Pictured here with teammate, mentor, and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, Georgia Gould Photo courtesy Haley Batten

They would help guide and inspire me, along with the many other incredible women on that team including Catharine Pendrel and Katerina Nash that I am grateful to call my mentors and friends. I think that having the guidance of this team in my first years on the world cup stage were fundamental to the rider that I have become. I learned the ins and outs of travel and race preparation, as well as the type of environment that I need to be in the right mindset come race day. Plus, I was surrounded by an all-women’s team and THAT was empowering because it made professional cycling a feasible opportunity to me.

The Luna Pro Team evolved into Team Clif Bar. Haley is pictured here with teammates Lea Davison, Catharine Pendrel, Maghalie Rochette, and Katerina Nash. Photo courtesy Haley Batten

From a young age biking was something I absolutely loved. It gave me freedom, adventure, and adrenaline and it became an important part of my life early on. Although I always dreamed big and poured my energy into cycling, school, or anything that grabbed my attention, I don’t think racing professionally became my reality until I got on my first pro team. It wasn’t until then that I really started to bring my youthful joy for the sport and the career possibilities together. I had the support to begin to put the pieces together to not just dream, but do.

Although most of my energy and drive is pursuing professional cycling, attending university has created an important balance in my life. Not only has it connected me with a special community, but it has also helped me find my passions off the bike and reminds me that being a professional athlete is a unique opportunity. As an athlete, it is often easy to get caught up in the ‘biking bubble” where everyone shares a  similar lifestyle. Stepping outside of that has allowed me to find perspective on racing and results, but also makes me appreciate the journey even more. I love learning and I think that challenging myself in new ways, while growing my knowledge base and skill-set is beneficial for being both human and athlete. Yes, it’s very hard to have a high workload for both school and training, but once I can embrace struggle as something that stimulates growth, I often surprise myself with what I am capable of. What I’ve learned is that it’s easy to work hard at something you enjoy. I study what I find meaningful, break up those study sessions with my favorite thing in the world… biking :), and surround myself with great people that will support me and smile through it all. And that, is my recipe for success!

At Quest University Canada, we have a Question as our major and build-your-own degree. My Question is “How can education be optimized to inspire?” I’m really interested in the research surrounding how people learn most effectively. In the future, I hope to help implement effective teaching and learning strategies into the educational system, so that more students can find meaning in their educational experience. I want to help inspire our youth to engage in their education, their own physical and mental health, and apply themselves to the environment and global issues! 

MTB Race News: Tell us about your new 2021 team, Trinity racing. How will your bike be spec’d? Anything special/unique about your set-up?

Haley Batten pictured with 2021 Trinity racing teammates Christopher Blevins and Luke Lamperti photo: Jimmy Smith

Haley Batten: I am thrilled to be on Trinity this season. While I will continue to be on the same great equipment with Specialized bicycles and Sram components, the support behind the scenes will look a little different in 2021. The staff supporting the athletes on this team have experience helping young athletes make the leap into the elite field and I think this guidance and support is what I need to become the rider I hope to be. I’m happy to continue to be teammates with Christopher Blevins, a good friend of mine and my teammate during our junior years on the Whole Athlete development team, while also building new relationships with athletes from all over the world. Plus our bikes will be DIALED!! Last season Specialized launched the new S-works Epic and wow does this bike know how to go fast. It’s spec’d with a RockShox Sid SL fork and RockShox-Specialized rear shock, both with the BRAIN-controlled travel. This, along with my SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS, keeps my cockpit extremely clean. I believe this setup has been a game-changer for allowing me to keep my focus on the race moment, not on the buttons on my handlebar. I have also added the RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post for training and most racecourses. This is another game changer that has improved my riding position on the downhills and overall skill level. In addition, I run the Roval Control SL carbon wheels with 29mm rims and choose between the Specialized Renegade, Fast-Track, and Ground Control tires. All my bikes have the Specialized Women’s Power Pro saddle with Mimic and Wahoo Element Bolt head-unit. The final touch are my sparkling gold Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11 pedals. This bike is light and made for fast racing, but it’s also extremely capable! I’ve tested my limits on the Squamish trails and have been blown away with what this bike allowed me to ride. Having confidence in my equipment is really important to me and this bike can really do it all. Hands down the best xc bike I have ever raced on.

MTB Race News: You coach with Olympic Gold Medalist, Kristin Armstrong. What is your training plan like? 

Haley Batten: It has been such an honor to have Kristin Armstrong on my team. Not only is she one of the most successful cyclists in the world, but she is also an incredible mom, coach, and entrepreneur. What she has taught me goes far beyond the workouts she loads to training-peaks, including a mental-toughness, confidence, and perspective that has allowed me to train and prepare for racing at a new level. Our perspective is QUALITY not quantity. I train smart, rest smart, and race smart. Our plans are very focused for the races we want to perform well at and we prioritize the training that will help us get there. With Strava and social media it is becoming more and more common for people to compare their numbers (power, hours, distance, elevation) to others. Although this can definitely be a great motivator and way to create community, it’s important to keep in mind your unique circumstances and what your goals are!! Kristin and I don’t add extra hours that, although they may feel like extra-credit, are really a distraction from what we want to prioritize. Every season I take about a month off the bike and during this time I prioritize my school work, add a variety of sports into my routine, and ride with friends and family I don’t usually get to. This is SO crucial for bringing a fresh and excited mindset back onto the bike when it’s time to get back to training. Kristin’s training approach also focuses on making the process FUN!!! Pursuing mountain biking professionally is something I am so grateful to do, so every day I’m out on my bike I enjoy it. Some days are hard, that is no doubt, but even the hardest days are what make the outcome that much more rewarding.

MTB Race News: What is your biggest strength as a MTB racer? 

Haley Batten: What is so cool about MTB is that there is endless room for progression, from technical skill or physical strength to your mindset. No doubt, growing up in Park City with the incredible Utah cycling community really helped me advance quickly and grow to love the sport. I did a lot of racing and group rides with my friends (mostly guys) and I think this really helped me develop my skills early on. Moving to Squamish, BC for university was a whole different level of technical riding!!  I’ve SO enjoyed being there in the winter to ride and train, although it does get a little wild out in those woods! I’ve always loved the adrenaline and technical riding aspect of mountain biking, so I think that has allowed me to excel on the more technical courses. This is why I’m not much of a  roadie! I love the trails too much! Overall, I think I have a range of skill sets and I try to use that to my advantage. I don’t often consider one race course being better for me than another and I train to perform at any World Cup that is thrown my way. What I have found to be helpful is that I am a very adaptable and positive person, not much can “phase” me. When it comes down to it, you can train as much as you want, but all the travel and chaos of racing at such a high level needs to be enjoyable, not stressful! I focus on the things that I can do to help me perform, since the things that are out of my control aren’t worth worrying about. Although it’s easy to get caught up with how someone else is riding, or what the weather is, or if the airline lost my baggage, it really doesn’t do me much good! So I try to put my energy and focus on the aspects of racing that fuel my passion and prepare me for the incredible journey ahead!

In 2020, Haley Batten was teammates with former World Champ, Annika Langvad. The duo teamed up and subsequently won the Swiss Epic stage race. Photo: Sebastian SebShiek

MTB Race News: There are currently six US women on the long list for the Tokyo Olympics. Kate Courtney has already qualified for the team. How will the remaining two spots be determined? Do you have a game plan to make the team? 

Haley Batten: The second world cup race in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic will be our final qualifying event. Until then, it’s all about dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s to make sure I am the best rider that I can be on that day and the events prior. I am confident that I have what it takes to perform during my first year in the elite category.  My eyes are also on 2024, so I think doing everything that I can to be at the start line in Tokyo is a huge step for my career. I am confident that there is a good chance one of us can meet the second spot through the selection criteria, but after that it will come to discretionary selection. We have a talented group of US women working for those slots and I think it will be a thrilling year to be a part of!

MTB Race News: Can you tell us a bit about Outride? How are you involved? 

Haley Batten pictured with fellow Outride ambassador, Christopher Blevins Photo: Etienne Schoeman

Haley Batten: Outride is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of youth through school-based cycling programs and grants. Their programs are evidence-based with the goal of improving social, emotional, physical, and cognitive health of young students. The Outride mission is to make these benefits accessible and sustainable!!  Bikes are such an incredible vehicle to empower individuals, beyond the race-course. What Outride stands for aligns with many of my values and working with them has allowed me to speak out about what I value. All that Outride does is supported by research and has had a positive impact on so many children, schools, and communities. I have witnessed the power of the bike first-hand and I’m glad that I can share this journey with Outride to help make the benefits accessible to more people! As an ambassador I work to spread the word about Outride to get more cycling programs into schools. I have not yet been able to get involved with a school visit or more hands-on work as a result of Covid-19, but I am so looking forward to when that becomes a possibility again!

2020 GRO Extreme Grit Stage Race

Written by: Jen Toops and Anthony Toops

Stage race sponsors include: Lauf, Enve, TrustCache, and Giordana

New for 2020, the Extreme Grit Stage Race, was an event most won’t forget any time soon.  The three day event put on by GRO races took place March 12th-14th near St. George, Utah and provided some tough conditions for racers.  Stage 1’s sunshine quickly turned into heavy overnight rain showers for stage 2’s gravel race that lasted until the morning of stage 3.  

Stage 1- Self supported untimed MTB or gravel ride

Jeff Rupnow (Evolution training cycles) excited to get the stage race started

Stage 1 was a self supported 45 mi gravel/mtb route which left from Red Rock Bicycle shop in St George.  Riders were required to check in before and after the stage to get a 10 point credit towards the overall general classification. The route climbed north-east of town on gravel roads with breathtaking views and some fun single track at the end if you chose.  The weather was perfect… but not for long

To watch stage 1 video CLICK HERE

Marlee Dixon and Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot MTB race team) enjoying the desert views and non-competitive stage 1

Stage 2- True Grit Gravel 84 mi course (shortened to 44mi due to weather)

With the lots of rain overnight and into the start, stage 2’s gravel race was slated to be a brutal day on the bike.  Temps in the 40’s and not a dry track anywhere to be found; racers had to harness their grit and determination to get this one done. Due to the weather, Fortunately (or unfortunately) the stage was shortened to 44mi for rider safety.  The portion cut out would’ve had racers heading into some remote areas near Motaqua and with the conditions, the race director decided to shorten the stage. The diversoin had racers head down HWY 91 back to Santa Clara.  After seeing frozen finishers come in, I don’t think anyone was complaining about the mileage cut.

A cold wet start on stage 2. Photo credit: Janet Hansen

A close race in the women’s pro/open gravel epic with stage racers taking the top three spots and only 3 points separating them going into the final stage. Allyson Sepp took the win with a time of 3:59:08 and earning 600 points for the overall. Sparky Moir finished only 26 seconds back taking the second step with a time of 3:59:34. Rounding out the gravel podium was Suzie Livingston coming in at 4:12:10.

A break in the rain as races turn onto pavement and head for the finish in Santa Clara, Utah.

Stage racers in the open/pro men’s division, dominated stage two taking the top seven positions. A close finish between the top three but taking the win was, Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette, finishing in 3:16:02. Second place went to Spencer Johnson, 3:16:05. Timothy Rugg 3:16:08. This will be a very close race heading into the final stage with only 3 points separating the top three.

Men’s open/pro stage 2 podium.

Singlespeed stage racer Josh Kunz took the gravel win with a time of 3:52 and putting him in the lead going into the final day of the stage race. Aaron Label, who wasn’t in the stage race, took second with a time of 4:29:15. Stage racer Dominic Cilento took third with a time of 5:02:39.

Josh Kunz wins singlespeed. Photo credit: Janet Hansen

A large field of masters men started the gravel epic. Two races not in the stage race took the top two steps on the podium. Taking the win was Preston Edwards finishing in 3:22:22 and Daniel Hoopes taking 2nd with a time of 3:32:01. The only stage racer to make the podium was Todd Tanner crossing the line in 3:37:00 and earning 598 points. Mark Llinares was the next stage racer to finish placing 5th and Jeff Sumsion took the 6th place spot. Only a few points separate the racers heading into the final stage.

Master women’s-Kathy Judson (yellow jacket) wins the gravel stage

Kathy Judson from Colorado finished with a time of 5:31 taking the lead for the women’s masters division.

A shortened course had racers heading to the finish on pavement.

Stage 3- True Grit Epic 50 mile MTB

Saturday was stage 3 and the original True Grit MTB course was on tap.  There was plenty of debate about trail conditions before the start but the race director reassured everyone that the single track was in great shape, but there was mud on some road sections in the first 10 miles.  Some mud was right!  Those that decided to try and ride though the quagmire they soon found themselves grinding to a halt.  Their wheels and bikes were completely packed with a concrete-like mud that snapped off a few derailleurs and cause some dnf’s before the race really even started.  The best option was to pick your bike up before getting into the mud and just walk (and find a puddle soon after to wash your shoes). 

Concrete-like mud on fire roads at the beginning of the race left some racers carrying their bikes and scooping mud out to get moving again. This section of trail is soon to be a housing development in the near future (No damage done to the trails).

The singletrack on the other hand was in primo shape!  There were a few puddles here and there but nothing like what was expected in the pre-race debates.  Race director Cimarron is a local and knows the trails well so her info about the singletrack conditions was accurate.  Everything was fast and hard back and if you could get past the mud roads, you were rewarded with one of the best days out there.

Marlee Dixon leading the women’s pro/open race through the Zen aid station.

Stage racer, Marlee Dixon (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles), pulled out of stage 2 due to weather conditions to focus on Saturday’s 50mile MTB race. Unfortunately this took her out of the running for the overall stage race, but paid off as she took first place in the women’s pro/open division, with a time of 4:42:09. Taking second place, was non-stage racer, KC Holley, finishing 2nd at 5:03:20. Stage racer, Sparky Moir (Pivot Cycles/MRP/Ergon) started second place in the overall stage race standings and finished stage 3 with a time of 5:08:29. Allyson Sepp (Black Diamond Apline Lodge) was the next stage racer to finish crossing the line in 8th place with a time of 5:24:48.

Women’s 50 mile Pro/Open podium

In the men’s pro/open division it was non-stage racer Brennon Peterson who took the 50 mile MTB win an impressive time of 3:33:20. After a win in the gravel race yesterday, stage racer Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette took 2nd place finishing in 3:56:01. Taking the third place spot, was non-stage racer Spencer Glasgow crossing the line in 3:59: 02. Stage racers Anthony Toops finished 4th and Spencer Johnson finished in 6th place.

Men’s 50 mile Pro/Open Podium

Taking the singlespeed win was stage racer, Josh Kunz (KSD), finishing in a time of 4:38:25. Non stage racers Driz Cook and Stve Ipsen finished 2nd and 3rd place. Stage racer Dominic Cilento finished stage 3 in 5th place.

The masters men’s race was close with non stage racers taking 1st and 2nd. Mike Gaertner took the win, 4:14:30 and Andy Compas finished 2nd, 4:18:06. Stage racer Dave Harris took the 3rd position finishing in 4:20:06. Other top stage race finishes include: Todd Tanner taking 5th place and Ted Peddy finishing in 7th.

Taking the top three steps in the masters women’s division were non-stage racers. 1st place Donna Winters 6:03:06, 2nd Christine Graham 6:20:03 and Third Theresa Morningstar 7:44:46. Stage racer,Kathy Judson, from Arvada, CO finished in 4th place with a time of 8:08:15.

Overall True Grit Epic stage race results

Out of the 9 registered to start the women’s open/pro division only two ladies finished all 3 stages. Taking the overall win was Sparky Moir with a 2nd place on stage two and a third place on stage 3 totalling 1207 points. Finishing a close second was Allyson Sepp with 1203 points.

Sparky Moir (Pivot Cycles) shows her true grit and wins the extreme grit stage race. Photo Credit: Janet Hansen

In the men’s open/pro division, it was Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette taking the overall win, with a 1st place on stage 2 and a 2nd place on stage 3 totaling 1209 overall points. Timothy Rugg took second with combined points of 1196. Stewart Goodwin was a close third totaling 1192 combined points.

Josh Kunz pulled away with the singlespeed win, taking a 1st place finish in both the gravel and MTB stages earring a perfect score of 1210 points. Dominic Cilento took 2nd place with 1204 points.

In a stacked master men’s field, Todd Tanner finished 1st, totalling 1204 points with a 3rd place on stage 2 and a 5th on stage 3. Dave Harris finished 2nd overall with 1199 points, and Jeff Sumsion 3rd with 1196 points.

Kathy Judson was able to finish all three stages earning the win in the masters women’s division.

For full stage race results CLICK HERE

2020 True Grit Epic Preview

Written by Jen Toops

The 2020 True Grit Epic put on by GRO races takes place March 12th-14th near St. George, Utah. Southern Utah offers up some world class desert mountain biking and for many, a chance to get away from the winter blues. This destination has no shortage of magnificent desert views, rock gardens, sand, technical climbs, and challenging descents. As always, True Grit serves as the NUE Series opener with the 50 mile (marathon) an 100 mile (epic) options along with some new categories for 2020.

New for 2020 is the Extreme Grit Stage Race.  It’s for those looking for the ultimate challenge and includes 3 days of back to back riding.

Day 1: A self supported 40 mile ride (MTB or gravel)
Day 2: True Grit Gravel course
Day 3: True Grit Epic 50 mile MTB

If gravel is more your style, the True Grit Gravel Epic doesn’t fall short of grit either! The course is 84 miles, 80% off road, with 9000 ft of climbing.

Not up to the challenge of racing 3 days or skinny tires? There are plenty of other options to choose from: NUE Epic 100 , NUE Epic 50, Relay (25), or the Challenge 15 mountain bike events. There are lots of vendors set up at the finish and fun for the whole family!

Want to join in on the fun? Get registered HERE 

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

True Grit Epic 50 Mile

This year’s True Grit 50 miler started an hour after the 100 milers allowing the trail a bit more time to soak up the previous day’s rain and the 100 milers to disperse some of the standing water.

The trip out of Santa Clara was warmer than the last several years and the racing heated up quickly too.

Utah powerhouse Evelyn Dong (Pivot/Stan’s Notubes) surged into the lead of the women’s open race early on. Being known as one of the most talented technical riders in the US Dong was near unstoppable in the rocks and ledges of the True Grit course.

Riders navigate the loved and hated rocks of the Zen trail

After sailing through burly sections like the Waterfall and Zen trail Dong spent the day challenging many of the top open male riders out on course. Even a crash out on course couldn’t stop Evelyn Dong from taking a win in the NUE series opener. After the race she had this to say about her first True Grit experience.

“2019 was my first time racing True Grit, which is a bit shameful having lived in Utah for years now. The Green Valley and Santa Clara trails are some of my favorite trails to ride so I figured I had no excuses not to race this year.

I was pretty excited to race and just to ride on dirt because the winter has been pretty brutal this year. My race experience included going back and forth with a few men for the entire race which made it fun, and one crash which fortunately bang me or my bike up too much. Favorite part? Zen is always a sweet spot and going down Barrel Roll is a good reward near the end.”

After the lone leader it was local legend Lynda Wallenfels (LW Coaching) putting together a stellar effort on her home course proving she’s back on form after a few years away from racing. Her second place finish was a welcomed upgrade from her 2018 True Grit experience which saw her suffer a catastrophic mechanical. Ride back to her house for a fix and then return to complete the 50-mile course.

Behind Wallenfels, Nicole Tittensor (Scott) and Jen Hanks (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) battled for third with Tittensor opening a lead on the early climbs and holding pace for the first 30-plus miles of the race.

Hanks stayed close and late in the race closed the gap on the Rim Reaper trail and moved into third before the final singletrack on Barrel Roll.

Ami Stuart (Upcycle) took the final podium spot in fifth.

Riders wind through a wash in the early morning sun

The men charged off the start line with Cannondale rider Alex Grant looking to improve on his third place finish the last two years.

Defending champion Justin Lindine wasn’t on hand to defend his title as a water leak at his home forced him to return home instead of riding the trails in Santa Clara.

Grant got off to a good start joined by local contenders Drew Free (Kuhl), Chris Holley (Kuhl), Bryson Perry (Rouleur Devo), and Clayton Otto (Pivot, TRP, Rotor).

Grant shed his competition once and for all in the red rock maze of Zen trail and powered solo to the finish line. He had this to say after the race.

“I was able to break away from the front group on the climb up to the waterfall descent, and then hold the gap in to Zen where I increased it to a couple minutes. 

From there is was steady eddy all the way and I rode solo for the rest of the race.  I rode the Cannondale Scalpel-Si with the Lefty Ocho and it was the perfect setup for the course. 

I was really happy to take the win and want to say thanks to the promoters, volunteers and city of Santa Clara for putting on another awesome event!”

Chris Holley stayed close to the loan leader but not close enough to challenge. A gifted rider in the rocks, Holley used his skills to hold off a strong challenge from Clayton Otto.

Drew Free crossed the line in fourth barely a minute in front of Bryson Perry.

The two closest races of the day came from the singlespeed  and 50-plus riders. Both coming down to sprint finishes deciding the race winners.

In singlespeed, Preston Edwards (Zone Five Racing) took the early lead cresting the opening climbs in first place. But after being forced to dismount on the Waterfall drop he lost his spot to Shannon Boffeli (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) and defending champion Christopher Heinrich (The Path Bike Shop).

Boffeli took the lead into Zen and holding Heinrich off throughout the remaining course. The gap never reached more than a handful of seconds with Boffeli pulling away on the climbs and Heinrich closing it down on descents.

“I did everything I could to drop Chris once I knew he was back there,” Boffeli said after the finish. “I thought I had gotten clear but as soon as we popped back onto the road just a mile from the finish he was right there.”

“I hit the pavement with maybe 10 seconds in hand and I felt pretty confident. I lowered my dropper post a tiny bit to make it easier to spin on the flats back to the finish and right when I did that both legs completely cramped.”

“I was lucky enough to get my legs moving again but by that time Chris was right on my wheel and he timed his sprint perfectly to pip me just before the line. It was a great race on an exceptional course and Chris fought hard for the win.”

Both riders collapsed at the finish with a very happy defending champion in Christopher Heinrich.

Past race winner Corey Larrabee finished in third in front of early leader Preston Edwards.

Brent Cannon took fifth.

The 50-plus men’s group saw Jeff Jacobson (UCC/JW Floors) taking an early lead pulling away through the Waterfall drop and Zen trail before Matt Crowley (LW Coaching) bridged up to the leader around the halfway point.

From Stucki Springs on, the lead duo matched each other move for move surging back and forth through the Rim Reaper and Barrel Roll trails before entering the final stretch into Santa Clara wheel to wheel.

Just feet from the line both riders unleashed their sprint with Crowley only just getting the better of Jacobson at the line.

Andy Compas (VeloLove) was thrilled with his third place finish after crashing on his face over the Waterfall drop in 2018. His sub-4 hour time was a big improvement over the previous year.

Mike Hileman navigated his way through a successful True Grit finishing fourth in front of fellow Nevada racer Richard DeYoung.

The 2019 True Grit Epic saw the addition of a completely new category to the NUE series. The women’s 50-plus category put forward a strong showing in their first event as an official NUE category with seven riders taking the start and all but one completing the gnarly 50-mile course.

Joanne LaBelle (Peaked Sports) was the winner in the inaugural True Grit for 50-plus women. The Driggs, Idaho, rider logged a time of just over five hours.

Gayle Olpin took second as Laura Shaw and Jennifer Kruleski duked it out for third with Shaw crossing the line just seconds in front of Kruleski.

Danita Ritter (WomenMTB) took the final podium spot in fifth.

Next the NUE series moves east to the traditional east coast opener, the Cohutta Classic in Ducktown, Tennessee on April 27th.

Click Here for full results from all categories

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 100

NUE Series

Written by: @JenToops

September 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

Men’s Open

Jeremiah Bishop goes sub ten and takes the WIN!

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

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

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

Photo by Ryan Stephens

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

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

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

Women’s Open

Williams gets her first win at Marji Gesick!

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

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

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

Photo by Ryan Stephens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master’s 50+

McFadden takes the top step

Todd McFadden wins Master’s 50+

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

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

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

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

Singlespeed

Fuhrmann takes fifth overall and WINS Singlespeed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For full results: Click Here

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

What’s NEXT?!

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

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

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

 

NUE Pierre’s Hole 100K

Written by: @JenToops & Marlee Dixon @graciedaze

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

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

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

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

Open Men

Brown takes the top step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Women

Harvey defends title on home turf

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

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

Singlespeed

Toops gets four back-to-back NUE wins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masters

Local racer Llinares takes the top step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full results click here

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

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

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

 

NUE Pierre’s Hole 100 Mile

Written by: @JenToops and Marlee Dixon @graciedaze

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

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

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

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

Open Men

Lewis gets second NUE win of the season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Women

Conners gets fourth NUE win on Kenda Tires!

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

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

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

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

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

Singlespeed

Fischer gets the Singlespeed win

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masters

Smith leads NUE masters series

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

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

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

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

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

Full results click here

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

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

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

 

NUE Wilderness 101

Written by: @JenToops

Photos by: Bryan Lewis

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

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

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

Open Men

Johnson gets third NUE win for 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Women

Barclay wins Open Women

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

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

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

Sponsors:  Kenda Cannondale Women’s Elite Team”

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

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

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

Singlespeed

Wadsworth gets second NUE win of the season

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masters

Spaulding repeats at Wilderness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for full results

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

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