NUE Wilderness 101- Coburn, PA

Written by: @Jentoops

On July 24th, 2021, Shenandoah Mountain Tours held the Wilderness 101 ultra and marathon races in Coburn, PA. The Wilderness 101 is part of the NUE National Ultra Endurance Race Series. This east coast course takes you through the Bald Eagle and Rothrock state forests of Pennsylvania, and is know for pristine mountain streams, old growth forests and rocky backcountry single track.

101 Sunrise
Photo credit: Chris Merriam

Sunny skies and temps in the mid 80’s made for a near perfect race day. The gravel was fast, trails were dry, and racers put down some blazing fast times. After a hard days work, racers were greeted at the finish line with well deserved tacos and beer included with entry fee.

Post race tacos included with registration

Camping was also included with registration in Coburn Park. This is the staging area making for a trouble-free race morning and celebration at the finish line.

Thank you to the volunteers that came out to support the Wilderness ultra and marathon races!

Women’s OpenTSE winner Britt Mason gets 101 WIN

Coming off a win at the 2021 TSE, Britt Mason (Knobby by Nature) of Maryland, proves she can still navigate those PA rocks taking the win in 8:23:26.

Britt Mason fueling up at aid station 4 for the Stillhouse climb.

The 2019 Wilderness 101 women’s winner, Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) finished 2nd with a time of 8:31:04.

“Coming into this race I felt tired after a week long family reunion full of activities and wondered how my legs would feel. I knew Britt would be tough one to beat, especially after just racing TSE and the powerhouse she is. There was also quite a few other fast lady shredders signed up I had my eye on. I decided to take it steady on the first climb and feel it out. I found myself in a manageable pace and holding Britt’s wheel, we settled into the 2nd peloton for the first LONG gravel section. The pace line entered the first grassy downhill and I made the mistake of being 4-5 riders behind her in the pace line. There was no room to safely pass and this is where we got separated. I was told all day it was only a 3 min gap but could never quite shut it down. Around mile 45 was my dark place and I wanted to pull the plug as I was quite a bit nauseated but I’m stubborn and battled on. Still wondering if my racing legs were ever going to show up, I tried to rally on Stillhouse and closed some time. My back and arms couldn’t handle the beating of the PA rocks anymore on the downs. After I clipped a pedal at one point, went sideways over the bars I luckily managed to somehow land on my feet in a bush. This is where I decided to pedal it on in for 2nd and I was more than happy with a 30min PR from 2019! Congrats to Britt on her well deserved win! It was fun chasing all day :) I plan on hitting up Shenandoah next on the NUE tour. Bike: Pivot Mach 4SL live valve. Sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot Cycles, Ergon, SCC, Honeystinger, Carborocket, Stans, Fox, Maxxis, Xpedo, MTBracenews.

The 2019 wilderness 101 winner Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/ Pivot MTB) gets the number one plate. Thanks Shenandoah Mountain Tours for supporting women’s racing and equal payout! Photo credit: Bryan Cusick

Taking third place, Libbey Sheldon finished in 8:50:27 “So great to get back to the Wilderness 101, especially with the great conditions. I was coming back from a hard landing on my tailbone a couple of weeks back, so I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to do out there. Britt and Jen took off from the start on the road sections, and it was clear that I wasn’t going to keep up with them, so I settled in at what I hoped would be an all-day pace. The trails and double track were in great shape, and the temperature never got too high, so I mainly focused on enjoying my favorite sections and seeing friends out on course. Congrats to Britt and Jen for smashing it at the front, and to everyone out there—it’s so great to be back to racing!”

Fourth place was, Tina Severson, from Connecticut with a time of 8:54:14 “No stranger to the endurance scene having done events such as Breck Epic, Dirty Kanza, Gravel Worlds and Maah Daah Hey, I was looking for something new and challenging on the mountain bike. Wilderness 101 was just that! This was my first time riding in this area and I didn’t know much about the course. It had a good amount of fast gravel sections, some chunky, rocky descents and even pitch black tunnels! At times it had a real adventure feel to it, which I loved! My goal was to charge hard and steady for the duration of the day, keep the nutrition and hydration in check and finish strong to land on the podium. I had a really great experience and look forward to trying other NUE events in the future. Sponsors: Orange Seal, Specialized, Schwalbe Tires, Voler Apparel, Pedro’s, Wolf Tooth Components, Julbo, DeFeet”

Taking the fifth step was, Julia Thumel, crossing the line in 9:07:09.

Photo credit: Bryan Cusick
Women’s 101 podium: 1st Britt Mason 8:23:26, 2nd Jen Toops 8:31:04, 3rd Libbey Sheldon 8:50:27, 4th, Tina Severson 8:54:14, 5th Julia Thumel 9:07:09

Men’s Open 101 mile- Inger gets back to back NUE wins

Coming off a NUE Carrabassett 100k win the previous weekend, Jake Inger (Ride the Whites) took home the 101 WIN with a time of 6:53:23.

Ian Schwing (Flow Formulas) rode to a second place finish, coming in at 7:06:07. “Saturday morning started off great and I was fully prepared on the starting line. As all 100 milers I’ve done, the race started up the first climb like we were full gas racing. But there was no dropping off the peloton since I knew there was still a lot of gravel and flat road before any singletrack where some big separations could happen. My good friend, Jimmy Klose and one other rider broke off the front and we lost sight of them before any singletrack. Going in 6th wheel on Lonberger trail, I wasn’t able to pass riders and front and was getting frustrated seeing riders ride away, so much so I wasn’t paying attention to the trail and hit a huge boulder, endo-ed and by some miracle pulled off the ninja move of my life and landed flat on my feet. Got back on my bike, and somehow nothing was broken, headed back up the gravel road to catch the group again. Riding into aid 2 our group of around 10 riders got split up pretty quickly with the technical trail right afterwards, to about 6 of us. Team mate, Will Lovener, didn’t stop at aid 4 and broke away from our group on the following climb. Decided to chase and Jake Inger followed and we caught him on the singletrack at the top of the climb. I would find out later his wrist was still bothering him from his insane effort at Unbound XL. Jake and I rode the next 2 hours together and caught the break of Jimmy and the other rider close to the 60 mile maker. Descending into aid 4 there was nobody to be seen but Jake. Jake dropped the hammer at a water station around the 75 miler marker and I couldn’t quite keep his pace. All I could do as a smaller guy the last hour was get as aero as I can, fight off the lingering cramps, and pray there wasn’t a strong group of riders working together to catch me. Once I hit the tunnel close to Coburn, I was stoked to know I would be crossing the line in second. Shenandoah 100 is definitely on the schedule and huge shout out to flow formulas for fueling and sponsoring me”

Men’s 101 Podium: 1st Jake Inger 6:53:23, 2nd Ian Schwing 7:06:07, 3rd Jimmy Klose 7:08, 4th Heath Thumel 7:16:10, 5th Will Loevner 7:17:15

Just two minutes back, Jimmy Klose, finished third with a time of 7:08. Fourth place was Heath Thumel 7:16:10 and fifth Will Loevner 7:17:15.

Not racing in 3 years, Ron Harding, finished 6th place with a time of 7:19. ” About 10 years ago, my wife (Kathleen Harding) and I focused (and by focused I mean raced enough races to qualify for the series, which at the time was four, I think…) on the NUE series for approximately two seasons.  Back then I rode and raced exclusively on a single speed.  I look back on those days wistfully and wish with all of my heart that someone with more age and experience had pulled me aside, explained to me how stupid I was being, and encouraged me to ghost ride my single speed off the nearest highway overpass.  Racing a single speed for 100 miles is akin to beating your head against a cement wall for 8 hours, only the wall never breaks and neither does your head.  As I sit here in 2021 with the benefit of 10 more years of life experience under my belt and the relative wisdom that comes with it, I offer this to all of the single speeders out there – there is a good reason that gears were invented.

Anyway, I’ve never raced a 100 miles on gears before and didn’t know what to expect.  I got roped into this race about 1-2 months ago by a long time buddy of mine who was going to be visiting from AK the weekend of the W101.  He asked me if I was interested in racing it.  In my head and my heart, I said “no”, but I heard myself tell him “yes.”  And I’m glad I did.  The weather was perfect (which was novel in itself as 9 of 10 previous NUEs I participated in suffered from rain the day before or the day of the event), the trails were in great shape, and the aid stations were operated by the kindest and most accommodating Pennsylvanians a guy could meet.  Chris Scott puts on a top-notch event.

Regarding the race, the lead group crushed the first climb to create separation and rocketed down the first descent at warp speed to the point where I feared for my life.  I spent the first ~33 miles of the race riding in the top 10 wondering what I was doing there.  I knew a handful of people in the race but only two other people in the group at that point, Stewart Gross (who is local to me in southeast PA and a semi-regular riding buddy), and  Christian Tanguay, (who needs no introduction).  On the climb up to Aid 2, the elastic snapped and I had to let the lead group go.  I defaulted to riding my own race.  Around mile 44 I pulled Stewart back and Christian caught us.  We rode together for a bit.  They stopped at Aid 3 and I kept going.  Riding largely by myself for the next 50 miles pulling in three more riders and finishing 6th.  I saw 5th at the bottom of Old Mingle, but was unable to pull him in.  Having since learned of the insanity that is his riding life, I understand why I saw only a glimpse of him.  Who the f*** voluntarily does three laps of the W101?  Aside from witnessing one of the Flow Formula racers go OTB, cartwheel off the trail two wheels in front of me, and land on this feet like El Gato, the race was largely uneventful. Lessons Learned – (1) you can brake all of the cardinal rules of endurance racing and still do well, (2) having no expectations is a huge asset to racing, (3) people tend to come back to you late in an NUE if you don’t overdo it early.Next Planned NUE Race – N/A – I didn’t really plan to do this one and at this point I don’t plan to do any others this year but you never know…stranger things have happened.Sponsors – Full-****ing-retail brought to you by gainful employment.  I’m 42 years old.  Who am I kidding seeking after sponsors?  Ain’t nobody got time or energy for that.  I don’t race for a team anymore, because I don’t really race anymore.  That said, shout out to Trestle Bridge Racing (if I raced for a team, they’d be it) and Twisted Cog and Shirk’s bike shops; two shops I frequent if I need something for my bicycles.”

Master’s 101 mile- Kogelmann wins

Newly minted 50+, Chip Kogelmann (Bikeflights.com) coming off a 50+ win in the EX2 Exterra off road triathlon, won the Masters race with a time of 8:03 (15th overall).  Multi-time Wilderness 101 winner Roger Masse who finished 8:07 (16th overall) lead the race for much of the day and was reeled in only in the last 10-miles after the final aid station.   Kogelmann lost touch with Masse in the Dutch Alvin section of single track about 45 miles in. Kogelmann, a State College local on his 12th Wilderness 100 struggled to stave of intermittent cramps which kicked in around the 55-mile mark.  Kogelmann recovered after some pickle juice at Aid 4 and made a late charge to catch Masse thanks in part to a few 101k riders who he was able to work with on the gravel sections.

The 2019 Master’s 101 winner, Roger Masse, took the 2nd step crossing the line in 8:07:36 “After a one year hiatus for this event due to Covid, I showed up this year to defend my Stokesville Team Masters win from 2019 without knowing too much about the now two new classes of “incoming freshmen” into Masters 50+. Early in the opening climb, led by Chip Kogelmann (BikeFlights), several of the top Masters guys started inching away. They were going hard. Chip was climbing strong and seemed like the early favorite. I lost sight of Chip until mile 15 or so when the chase group that I was in caught the larger group that he was in which was what remained of the peloton. Then at the bottom of Thickhead, Chip again just laid down some climbing power and opened up a sizable gap. Hours later, after emerging from New Laurel Run, I was again in a chase group that together closed the gap on Chip as he was riding solo. Together again.  I managed to climb up Bear Gap with the group that now included Chip which was encouraging. At the top of Bear Gap, out of the group of 5 or so, I dove into the Croyle single track first and tried to work some separation in the woods thinking the slower single track riders might delay his chase. The effort seemed to work as we started getting into more of that amazing Rothrock knar. Dutch Alvin, Chestnut Spring, Sassafras, Sassy Pig, Pigpile, Shiitake, Beautiful and No Name all went by with none of the original group containing Chip. Sweet! Riding solo up Stillhouse, Sand Mountain, Panther Run all the way to Poe Paddy and the last aid, I started to feel like I might be able to hold on despite being pretty tired… Alas, it wasn’t to be, Chip came rolling by me with authority on the rail trail with about 7 miles to go. He spoke some words of encouragement, but I didn’t have the legs to respond. In the end he had put 4 minutes into me and I settled for 2nd. But wow, great course and great racing! Congrats to Chip on the win and a hearty welcome to you and all the newcomers to the Masters family!”

Finishing twelve minutes back, Bruce Stauffer, grabbed third place, 8:19:44 “What a great weather day for Wilderness 101!  This was my 3rd race of the NUE series this year.  If I complete Shenandoah as planned it will be the first year that I will be eligible for series points, so I really wanted to do well but also to finish.  I figured there was probably a sharp rock out there somewhere with my name on it, so I packed two tubes and a pump instead of just the usual CO2 inflator.  Fortunately it all stayed in the saddle  bag.  I started conservative on the first big climb, but by the technical signal track descent right after the 2nd aid station I was in a pretty good rhythm.  I enjoyed the mix of gravel and single track.  Riding thru the final tunnel at the very end is super satisfying as it’s the last challenge before banging the gong and collecting the finishers pint.”

Fourth place went to Rob Campbell in 8:30:46 and fifth place Donovan Neal in 8:34:46.

Master’s 101 podium: 1st- Chip Kogelmann 8:03:49, 2nd Roger Masse 8:07:36, 3rd Bruce Stauffer 8:19:44, 4th Rob Campbell 8:30:46, 5th Donovan Neal 8:34:46. Photo credit: Chris Merriam

Singlespeed 101 mile- PA’s Vorberger gets the W

Taking the single speed win, John Vorberger (Syndicate Cycling/Flow Formulas/Sweetwater Bikes,) from Pittsburg, PA finished in 7:35:27. “Friends told me the W101 normally starts off pretty mellow for the first 25-30 miles, but right from the start of the first climb this year, some open geared guys took off and hammered. I stayed with them and by the top of the first climb, I was in the lead group of only 10-15 or so riders, and the only SS’er in the group. A couple teammates on the Flow Formulas team were in the group with me – Will, Ian, and Caleb – so it made for fun riding as we cruised along the gravel roads. The second climb was also super hot, thanks to Will Loevner pushing the pace. I hung on for that climb also but got spun out on my singlespeed on the gradual downhill after it and lost the geared guys around mile 25-30. Oh well, I was hoping I put a lot of time on the other SS’ers, so my plan changed to just keep riding hard but smart to keep my lead. I rode the rest of the race mostly solo, but occasionally with a couple friends. Toward the end I got caught by a geared teammate and another geared friend doing the 100k race. I drafted them for a little on the rail-trail, but I got spun out and went solo again. Right near the end of the race I caught back up to my buddy Ryan Johnson, who got 3rd in the 100k open, and we crossed the line together. It was a fun way to end the race. The whole day and trip to State College was a lot of fun, it’s hard to beat heading out to a race with a friend and having a good day on the bike! I used 34×20 gearing, but next year I think I might switch to 34×19. Next up is the Shenandoah 100. Thanks to Flow Formulas for race-day nutrition, Syndicate cycling for the support, Sweetwater Bikes, and Extreme Nano lubricants for keeping my chain quiet and smooth the whole race. Also, thanks for Chris Scott for another great event!”

Coming in second was, David Taylor, with a time of 8:33:12. “Wilderness 101, I came in with a new outlook and it worked out this time. I have been racing the 101 since 2016 and love every bit of Chris Scott’s events. I had a bit of redemption for my poor performance at the Mohican 100 last month thanks to a nutrition mixup and the scorching heat. I dnf’d that race. I decided to focus on a couple things this race. Do an easy but consistent taper week, mix my nutrition properly and to go out easier. This worked exceptionally well. I paced with my buddy Jesse for most of the race and just let it come to me. I was back and forth with Joe Worboy but he went pretty hard up the third climb and I refused to chase. After aid station three I caught Thad and Joe again and managed to put a good gap on the long climb. I came up on Matt Ferrari in the new singletrack section and he didn’t seem to put up a fight. I just continued nice and steady and at the last aid station I came up on second place Stephen Schwarz. He quickly took off and I followed about a minute behind. I definitely had more gear than him and caught him about a mile later and never looked back.Despite some cramping on the final stretch I was happy to PR on Stillhouse and the final climbs. By the end I had gapped third place by about 12 minutes and gained a couple more positions on the geared guys. If you haven’t raced the W101 make sure to do so. It’s my favorite of all the courses I have raced. Thanks to The Peddler of Long Branch, Rescue Racing and Hilltop Bikes for all they do for me.”

Taking the third step, Steve Schwarz, crossed the line in 8:46:30. “The Wilderness 101 was really a phenomenal experience for me all around.  To give some background, I have been away from racing for probably 10 years, and this was my first race back with any real kind of training under my belt.  Coming into the race I knew I felt pretty good, but I didn’t know what to expect as far as results. I’m also not a regular on the single speed circuit, so I didn’t really know who was who as far as the competition goes. I know Chris Scott mentioned a few names on the pre-race report, like Thad, Ivan, and Matt Ferrari, but besides that I didn’t really know who to look for.
The race started out beautifully. I had a great nights sleep with a belly full of delicious food and yummy beers from Elk Creek brewing.  I knew once we turned on the first climb that I was going to ride well, but I didn’t know where my limits were, so I told myself I’d ride my own pace and let a number of the single speeders go by. Kept feeling well as the day went on, making sure to stay on top of my hydration and fueling, and things kept going great.  I kept wondering to myself when things were going to go sideways, but they never really did.
I passed a couple single speeders right before or after aid station two and noticed I was riding the trails pretty well.  Sometime around aid station three, I passed Thad Who is walking his bike on the technical single track and seem to be in a bit of distress. That was the first time I thought things might be going OK for me. Then I passed another couple single speeders coming into aid station four, I made it a point to bust a move out of there.  On the nasty climb out of aid station four, I came across Ivan Who was  now shirtless But hilarious as always. I chatted with him briefly, but wrote a way up the hill and he yelled out “looking strong,” which gave me a boost.  I ground myself a bit to make it up to the top of that nasty climb, and then settled in with a bunch of gearies who helped me pass the next 15 or so miles.  At that point I figured I was probably sitting in a pretty good spot. I didn’t know if I was in first third fifth or what, but I suspected things were going well and just road steady and hard to the finish. The finish line came a little sooner than I expected and I was glad to be done. I didn’t know where I had finished until about 45 minutes later when I decided to roll down to the keg for a beer and I saw Ivan standing up for the podium awards and I realized I better get my butt over there for the presentation. Really good to be back in the mix in some serious racing, and no place Better to do it then at one of Chris Scott’s events.  I’m thinking more NUE events are in my future for next year.”

Fourth place was Ivan Temnykh in 8:54:00 and fifth place Scott Rath in 9:04:39.

Photo credit: Chris Merriam
101 Singlespeed podium: 1st John Vorberger 7:35:27, 2nd David Taylor 8:33:12, 3rd Steve Schwarz 8:46:30, 4th Ivan Temnykh 8:54:00, 5th Scott Rath 9:04:39, 6th Joe Worboy 9:19

Women’s 100K- Laird’s 1st NUE win

After a 2nd place finish at both Mohican and Carrabassett 100k, Teresa Laird, from Richmond VA took the 100k win finishing in 6:36:45.

Taking second place was, Abigail Snyder, finishing in 7:16:36 “This was my first time at the Wilderness 101k, and only my second NUE or 100k race. I was both excited and nervous coming into race day, having never ridden in PA before, but having heard stories about how rocky the trails in the area could be. The mass start allowed me to settle into a moderate pace for the first climb. I soon realized that I really didn’t feel strong at all, but that being a 70+ mile race, I could still just diesel on. So I kept a steady pace and didn’t get too bothered by seeing riders pull away from me on the climbs. I approached the unknown singletrack cautiously, not wanting to risk a fall. I was pleasantly surprised by being able to ride the majority of the trails, only walking a few especially technical sections. As a whole, the gravel and trails were absolutely stunning—what a gorgeous course!! Many thanks to the amazing volunteers at each aid station who helped find my drop bags and fill water—that was a lifesaver! When I finished, I really had no idea where I had placed; it was such a fun surprise to realize that I was second! Sponsors: Ronin Velosport; AMP Human; OSMO Hydration; Cardinal Bicycle Next Race: Shenandoah Mountain 100k”

Tanya Campbell finishes in third place in the 100k

Taking the third step was, Tanya Campbell, with a time of 7:56:33. “HARD HARD HOT and HARD! In 2020 the Wilderness 101 race was cancelled. I still set a goal to see what The Wilderness was all about. I like pushing myself to try new challenges. That summer I rode the Wilderness 101 unsupported, with a little help from my friends Brad Fey, Mary Ann, Bri and Nikki. I also supported a fellow rider Will Lovner on his 300 mile tourture fest when he tackled  the Wilderness 101 three times in a row this past spring. Last weekend at an after party from Mid-State Gravel Mary K and I decided that we were going to race the 101. One week out all we basically had to do was rest and recover for our next race.. Chris Scott was more than generous to us. I volunteered with registration and picked up 50 liters of cokes from Wall-Mart for the aid stations. Then this past Saturday was my very first attempt at the Wilderness 101 Marathon 75 mile distance. My performance was not spectacular but I did manage to keep moving forward all day. I was not trained for the distance. At one point I pedaled by the course marshal, a Mom and her small daughter. Her daughter said look a girl. The Mom said look women are doing it too, see you can do this too! That kept me going out on the course all day. Mary and I found each other riding the single track together which was nice. At this point it was hard to tell who was doing the full or the sort course. Evan and Helena were amazing at the last Support Station! This was the only station I stopped at all day. I also had some coke and a pickle. (THANK YOU) I really wanted hot dogs, roasted avocado and whisky but, I know what not to do during a race from experience. I caught up to my friend Ryan and It was nice to chat and ride with him up Stillhouse. The rest of the ride I was suffering. My back hurt and my ankle were killing me. The tunnel was scary and the fishermans path sucks! If you want to know more about the 101 you should just go race it! I finished third on the podium of open women. My friend Mary was actually in front of me. She registered in the 50 and over so she ended up taking 1st in her class. “

Just a few minutes back Kat Brady took fourth 7:59:50. Paula Baake finished fifth in 8:42:36.

Women’s 100k Podium: 1st Teresa Laird 6:36:45, 2nd Abigail Snyder 7:16:36, 3rd Tanya Campbell 7:56:33, 4th Kat Brady 7:59:50

Men’s 100K- Petrylak takes 100k

Taking the men’s 100k win was, John Petrylak, (CarboRocket, Athlos, Kenda, Molly’s Bikes, Norco Bicycles) finishing in a blistering 5:28:35. “It was great to see Coburn park full of NUE racers! The W101K (which is closer 120k🥵) started on a bright beautiful Saturday Pennsylvania morning. Right away I could feel the energy as the peloton moved down the road towards the first big gravel climb of the day. The pace going up the climb quickly escalated until the elastic started to stretch and I found myself in a small group with Will Pfieffer and Ryan Johnson. We all equally shared time on the front and quickly established a lead over the chasing pack. For the first 25 miles we swiftly made our way through Rockrock State Forest towards the first piece of single track. I was first into the single track and proceeded to have an absolute blast!! After some twisting and flowing though the PA single track I got a little space on my breakaway friends; Ryan and Will.Almost immediately after the single track it was AS(1) and a quick refill of a few bottles of CarboRocket. As I began to climb up the gravel road away from the AS Ryan caught back on and reported Will had a little trouble in the single track. Ryan got on the front and both of us started up yet another Pennsylvania gravel road climb. This climb was a little different as it pitched pretty good at the top. Once we got to the steepest part I couldn’t hear Ryan tires crunching through the gravel so I threw caution to wind and just went for it. At the top I established a nice gap; this was mile 30. For the next 45 miles I proceeded alone and did a LONG TT; holding off the chasers to finish in first. Next up SM100K”

About six minutes back, Anthony Grinnell, finished second in 5:34:17. “The race started at a manageable pace and picked up a bit on the last 3rd of the opening climb.  I decided I didn’t want to push my power that early in the race so I maintained my power.  Three riders pulled a small gap by the top of the climb, but I made a very big mistake in thinking they’d slow down a bit or I could pull them back.  I spent the next 40 minutes solo’ing trying to bridge until I finally gave up and decided it would be wiser to slow down and work with the chase group behind me.  Even though I burned a few matches solo’ing, that decision to wait and work with the chase group paid off.  I saved enough energy to feel somewhat fresh heading into the single track.  I caught 3rd place half way through and caught my buddy in 2nd place, Ryan Johnson, on Sandy Mountain.  Ryan and I decided to ride together for the rest of the race, which was a lot more fun than riding the next 2.5 hours solo!  All in all, it was a fun day with some great single track and good friends.  I was happy to finish in 2nd place, considering the judgement error and resulting solo effort early on.  Huge shout out to Flow Formulas.  Their products have made a big difference for me this year in keeping fueled up and hydrated.  Big thanks to Shorkey Auto Group for financially helping the team get to the races and Pro Bike and Run for keeping our bikes going.  With a SS Marathon Win, a SS Epic Win, a top 5 in Men’s Epic Open, and a 2nd in Men’s Marathon Open, the Syndicate Cycling team had a great weekend.”

Only a minute back from second, Ryan Johnson, took the third step with a time of 5:35:28. Will Pfeiffer took fourth in 5:39:42 and Philip Maynard finished fifth 5:42:20.

Photo credit: Chris Merriam
Men’s Marathon podium: 1st John Petrylak 5:28:35, 2nd Anthony Grinnell 5:34:17, 3rd Ryan Johnson 5:35:28, 4th Will Pfeiffer, 5th Philip Maynard 5:42:20

Master’s 100K- Hagen gets master’s WIN

Mark Hagen (Charm City Cycling (C3 P/B Wagner Roofing) took the masters’s 100k win crossing the line in 6:16:57. “This was my first MTB 100k of the year, first time racing the W101 and my longest ride of the year thus far. Eyeing up the pre-reg I saw some familiar names including some of the mid-Atlantic legends such as the Thummels, D Atkins, Tanguy, Masse and Rob Campbell to name a few. Getting beta on the course was surprisingly tough but settled on my Yeti SB100, running Schwaby RaRa 2.5’s on a 34 tooth front with a 9-48 in the rear, running 2 bottles, couple of gels and 2 expired/very hard Shot Blocks I found in the bottom of my race bag. My strategy was going to be like any other MTB race and try and get a good start and hang as long as I could with the lead group. The 9am start was civil compared to our 101m compatriots (7am) and the temps were in the mid 70’s, which was welcomed as this race is notorious for being about 10 degrees hotter. My strategy worked on the first 4+ mile/1,100-virt. ft. climb until about ¾ of the way up the lead group of about 12 splintered off into a chaise group with myself the eventual single speed winner Litzinger, Josh Coffman, Sunny Gil, one other Bike Doctor guy and a smattering of others from the open podium. It was a friendly but focused group and we traded pulls leading up to the first single-track which I entered last and I never saw most of them again. The first 2 sectors of ST were pretty slow going and technical with sweaty PA rock in full effect. We met up with the 100m groups at around mile 35ish which gave me (and them) riders to trade pulls with. The two middle ST sectors were fun maybe not flowy but good singletrack and each gravel section was welcomed reprieve from the pounding PA rock gardens and used the gravel zones to refuel and lick my wounds. Eventually on the second-to-last long super fast fireraod DH I caught up with the Bike Doctor guys again and we met up at the last aid station, which I left first, and thought that they would me on the final climb but never did. On the final flat trail, through a rather dark and scary tunnel, I traded pulls with fast young-gun Chase Caughey and we both worked together in hopes to drop the BD guys on the final 3-mile climb. We hit the last ST sector at the which I knew from pre-riding the final 5-miles on Friday, so I just knew to get off, shoulder my Yeti and run much of it. Super happy with my first W in a while and huge thanks to the support from the volunteers at the aid-stations (well stocked) and Chris Scott at SMT for this and the other great MTB and Gravel events he throws down on. Also shout out and thanks to my team C3 PB Wagner Roofing and Charm City Cross…cross is coming people.Next up for me is the Breck Epic and can’t wait for the Shenandoah 100!”

Six minutes back and finishing second, Dorel Stoia, finished in 6:23:35. Ohio riders, Bob Sowga (PG racing), finished third in 6:51:51 and fourth went to, David Jolin (Rescue Racing) crossing the line in 6:54:06. Jeff Adamcik took fifth in 7:10.

Masters 100k Podium: 1st Mark Hagen 6:16:57 2nd Dorel Stoia 6:23:35 3rd Bob Sowga 6:51:51 4th David Jolin 6:54:06 5th Jeff Adamcik.
Photo credit: Jen Toops

Masters 100k Women

Mary Kowalski crossed the line in 7:44:50 taking the women’s masters win.

Women’s Masters podium: 1st Mary Kowalski 7:44

Singlespeed 100K

Pennsylvania’s very own James Litzinger (Syndicate cycling) took the singlespeed win and sixth overall finishing in 5:44:01.”

Who would not like the Wilderness 101? Loads of the finest gravel in Pennsylvania with east coast rock gardens and beautiful single track. On the first climb after the neutral start the race heated up with about five riders separating themselves as the lead group.  I thought it would be a good race move to conserve some energy and continue the climb at my own pace. When I got to the flat section at the top of the climb, I jumped on the chase group of three riders who meant business.  They were putting in big pulls making it difficult to hold on with all the spinning on the flat roads. I was able to hang on for 6 miles or so before deciding it would be best for me to conserve some energy for the big climbs later in the race.  After all my spinning, I could not wait for another climb and that came were the 100-mile racers joined the course. This is the point in my race where I felt steady and strong. The race just kept getting better, at the top of the climb I was able to put my Specialized Epic to work on the Dutch Alvin trail. It was a blast! From here I started to build confidence as I began passing more 100 and 100k racers. As I worked my way through the field it was great to run into some old friends and make some new ones. 

I had a bunch of support that made this race possible to do my best. Excellent support and friendship from the team shop, Pro Bike + Run. I was using Extreme Nano Lubricants which kept my chain incredibly happy in the harsh conditions. My nutrition and hydration were on point with flow formulas. My Perelli tires were fast and durable. My Wolf tooth 34 x 20 gearing was strong and flawless. As always, I would like to give special thanks to my Syndicate family for always supporting me and pushing me to do my best.  Next up is Shenandoah!! “

Matthew Doyle took second with a time of 6:42:02.

For full results CLICK HERE

Next up on the Epic and Marathon NUE series Pierre’s Hole in WY on August 7th, 2021

NUE Mohican 100K

Written by: @jentoops

The 20th annual Mohican MTB 100k/100m kicked off on June 5th, 2021. Hundreds of racers from around the country gather in Loudonville, Ohio each year to tackle this tough course. A new course for 2021 would eliminate gravel and add more private single track sections making it quite possibly the toughest course yet.

Start of Mohican race from Mohican Adventures campground. Photo: Butch Phillips

The 100k race took off at 9AM and started/finished at Mohican Adventures campground. It was a full sun, scorching hot, and humid day with temperatures reaching mid 80’s. Due to a short run out before the singletrack, a mass start wasn’t possible this year and race director, Ryan O’dell, sent racers off in 5 min waves by category.

The racers quickly jockey for position going into the 25 miles of fast flowing single track in Mohican State Park.  After the single track is a mix of mostly gravel roads with some technical sections and the newly added Mohaven single track. The famous Mohican Wilderness rock garden was included where racers are heckled as they try to maneuver this technical section. Being in Ohio, most assume this course is relatively flat.  What the race lacks in elevation it makes up for in dozens of steep, punchy climbs strewn throughout the entire distance and eventually climbed over 8000 feet.

What makes this race special is the amazing group of volunteers from New Hope Church that run the aid stations. Ryan O’dell stated, the church has been helping for 10 years now. The New Hope volunteers bring a unique excitement and enthusiasm to the event that makes racers feel welcome and appreciated. I can’t thank them enough.” No matter if you are leading the race or in the back the volunteers make signs, are out cheering racers on and have a “Nascar” style to get you in and out of aid stations quickly.

One of seven fully stocked aid stations. A huge thanks to volunteers from New Hope church for helping with the event! Photo: Butch Phillips

Finishers cross the line and grab a pint glass(100k) or a growler(100m) and can enjoy the post race atmosphere.  Families and friends gather food from Grants Guac and Roll and beer from Great Lakes Brewing all while cheering racers on as they cross the finish line.

Men’s Open

Taking the men’s open 100k win and finishing fourth overall was local, Andrew Purcell (Purcell Construction), with a time of 5:55:12.

Andrew Purcell-Men’s open 100k winner. Photo: Butch Phillips

“I rolled off the start line and entered the single track about 6th place.  I live in the mohican area and know these trails really well.  After a few miles i decided to head to front to up the pace.  We split off into a group of three. Not going to hard but using the flow of the trail to our advantage.  100 yards from the first road section coming off the horse trails one of the riders went over the bars pretty hard and that left two of us to get after it.   We rode together to wilderness and i thought for sure he had the better legs on the day.  I let him go on back side of wilderness climb.  I knew we still had a good bit of riding left. Rode solo till heading back home out of mohaven when i came up on Ryan.  He said his legs were cramping and just wanted to get home.  I tried to encourage him and said this is the only way home.  We are so close. We rode together until climb up to back side of suspension bride where i pedaled on and basically crawled home to the finish. Home field advantage was a huge bonus.   Bike worked flawless all day. Lucky win– Sponsor is Purcell Construction”

Men’s open 100k podium: 1st Andrew Purcell, 2nd Ryan Johnson, 3rd Will Pfeiffer, 4th Christopher Cain, 5th Joseph Williams

Taking second place was, Ryan Johnson (Cannondale) of PA, finishing in 6:02:27. About seven minutes back, Will Pfeiffer (Flow Formulas), took third place in 6:09:31.

“During my Friday recon, I saw that a narrow, metal bridge led into the singletrack about half a mile after the start.  This looked like trouble so, as soon as the race began, I went to the front and made sure to lead across the bridge.  This turned out to be a good choice, as there was some chaos farther down in the field through that area.  I ended up staying on the front for about 5 miles, dragging a group of seven of us away.  At this point, I let eventual winner Andrew Purcell move through.  He was climbing harder than was reasonable for me and I quickly let the other five through as well to go chase him.  Then I just settled into my race.

Joe Williams bridged up and we rode together for around 40 miles, slowly catching guys who had popped off that front group.  I was focused on keeping some pace while not overextending the legs and staying well hydrated.  Coming out of the third (and what I thought was the final) rest area, we navigated the last significant portion of singletrack before the course opened up into a series of gravel and fire road climbs.  I was starting to increase the tempo and knew that Chris Cain was staying within about 20 seconds of me with third place on the line.  Given that I had unknowingly lost track of the course, when we crossed the plank bridge into a campground I thought we were about to hit the finish.  I was full gas, absolutely giving it the beans for half a mile, making sure to keep Chris behind me…just to realize that we were merely coming into the *actual* final rest area.  With another 12 miles to go.

This was a tough mental and physical blow.  My legs were cooked so I backed off and waited for Chris to see what kind of pace he was rolling at that point.  Neither of us were going super hard, so it was a good chance to recover for a bit.  Around eight miles to go, I started climbing to the power numbers again and hoping my legs wouldn’t completely crump after my mistimed effort.  I was able to pull away through a few of the steeper sections and really buried myself holding high tempo to the finish, securing the podium.  This was a great course.  Definitely challenging.  Lots of variety and far punchier than I thought it would be.  Glad I came to Ohio and fortunate to have linked up with some awesome riders throughout the day! Sponsors: Flow Formulas, The Black Bibs, Starlight Apparel, Industry Nine, Maxxis, Kask, Koo Eyewear, Handup Gloves, Ridge Supply”

Rounding out the podium was, Christopher Cain (Yellow Springs Dirt Syndicate) from OH finishing fourth in 6:13:20. Taking the last podium spot was, Joseph Williams (Blenman-Elm Racing), from AZ finishing in 6:15:09.

Women’s Open 100k

100k Women’s podium. Photo: Butch Phillips

Thirty-two racers showed up for the Mohican women’s 100K. It was UCI racer, Kelly Catale (Seven Cycles), making her first NUE appearance and winning the 100k with a time of 6:22:19. “The 2021 Mohican 100k was my first ever NUE race, and the longest marathon MTB race of my elite cycling career, so I truthfully had no idea what to expect. I started the morning with eggs, pancakes with real maple syrup, and coffee, and then we rolled out to the race venue. During my warmup, the sun was already blistering hot and the air was equivalent in thickness to chamois butter. For the first of what would become hundreds of times, I tried to convince myself that this weather was better than rain. 
When the race began, I took the lead into the campground singletrack. Patience has never been my strongest virtue, so I decided to put some distance between me and the pack by crushing the first of what would be many climbs akin to a wall on this course. From there, we ventured into the Mohican State Park singletrack, which was a perfect combination of climbing and bumpy roots — so bumpy that I lost one of my bottles, which signaled the beginning of my inevitable dehydration saga. I reduced my pace slightly to avoid overheating too much and, thankfully, my amazing aid station crew (my husband) was prepared with plenty of fluids at aid station #1.   
The race progressed somewhat uneventfully for many miles of singletrack, horse trails, gravel roads, and hills. While trying to stay focused and hydrated, I kept myself company by singing songs out loud. The soundtrack for the day included some Queen, Van Halen, Justin Timberlake, and Bon Jovi (honestly, who doesn’t sing a little “Halfway there…WOOOAAAAHHH” when they pass halfway in a race?). I found myself drinking much more water than I expected (and I never cramped up, thanks to the Flow Formulas drink mix in my bottles!), and was passing many suffering, cramping competitors along the sunny and exposed gravel roads of doom. 
Throughout the entire race, I was most impressed by the positivity and energy of every volunteer, course marshal, and race staff that were positioned at the intersections, aid stations, and start/finish. These folks made the ride a bit more enjoyable and tolerable in the crazy heat. Overall, the course and competition did not disappoint!
My next NUE race will be the Carrabassett 100k in July. A huge thanks to my husband, Joe, for preparing my bike for race day and for being the world’s most organized aid station crew; my race success would be just a dream if it weren’t for you. Thanks to Seven Cycles for the amazing KellCat SL race machine, Industry Nine for the fancy and light wheels, Vittoria for the grippy and fast rolling rubber, and Verge Sport for the spiffy kit. Thanks also to Flow Formulas for keeping me fueled and cramp-free all day and Gold Medal CBD for helping me recover and sleep.”

Kelly Catale-Women’s open 100k winner- Photo: Butch Phillips

About twenty minutes back was, Teresa Laird (RVA Racing), finishing second with a time of 6:44:03.

“On our long drive from Richmond, Virginia nerves were setting in, the start list of 35 women was larger than any race I have done before. I’m relatively new to mountain biking and have been doing well locally but I was really questioning whether I was going to be competitive with this large field of women. And then I heard something on Leadville: The 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race Podcast, it was “You are better than you think you are, you can do more than you think you can”. Great, I had my race mantra!

The singletrack started within the first quarter mile and I knew I needed to be towards the front, I pushed harder than I normally would and I ended up going into the woods 3rd, Kelly in 1st and Julie in 2nd. Kelly immediately opened up a gap on Julie and me but I was working hard and knew it would be a long day if I tried to follow. I passed Julie around 3 miles in and then we were together for most of the first 20 miles. I pulled away from her just before getting out of the first section of singletrack. 

25 miles in coming out of the woods onto the road, I was ready to increase my pace, but that was short lived and we headed back in for some rocky trails. This was probably my favorite part of the race. I was still feeling great and I love some techy riding! 

About 4 hours in, it was starting to sink in that this race was going to take about an hour longer than I thought. I had looked at previous times on the course and hadn’t fully appreciated the changes made to the course when I was determining my race plan. Luckily, I had enough food in my drop bag. I went back to my mantra and kept on pushing.

The rest of the race went by slowly, the heat was starting to get to me and I probably pushed a little too hard in the beginning. One day I will get my pacing right, but luckily I was able to hold on to 2nd.

Mohican 100k was a well organized and challenging race. I am grateful for all the volunteers on the course. Aid station support was top notch! Also, my bike was having shifting problems right up until race week and Carytown Bikes in Richmond went above and beyond to get it right and it shifted flawlessly the whole race. I’m excited for the next race in the series. Next Race: Carrabassett 100k”

Taking the third spot was, Julie Medema (Founders Racing) traveling in from MI finishing with a time of 7:01:18.

“Mohican is my first nue series race besides Lumberjack100. I was excited to test the legs and ride some new trail. I asked some friends who’ve done the race in the past for advice and they said the first half is slow going/difficult trail but the second half is gravel/road and goes by quick. Needless to say about mile 45 I realized the fast miles weren’t coming.. I settled into a steady pace since I’d been on my own from about mile 20 and didn’t anticipate being able to work with anyone since the course was a constand climbing and descending pattern. 
Turned out the course was challenging the whole way through! First 25 miles of Mohican State Park trail were fast despite being rooty and had great flow. The remaining mix of trail/two track and small sections of gravel then the additional what I’d call ‘adventure trail’ were relentless steep climbs and descents that kept you on your toes between mud sucking puddles, washed out rutted descents, ravines and many creek crossings. Needless to say that was one of the biggest adventure races I’ve done and the scenery was spectacular throughout the entire course! 
I credit my 3rd place spot to sheer stubbornness to not wanting to walk my bike on the numerous climbs and having good technical skills through the roots, slippery rock gardens and fast descents. Also my husband was at aid stations with ice cold drinks which was a lifesaver due to the 90 degree temps and the fact that it was hard to eat with the heat and lack of easy miles to take in much nutrition. 
Thankful for the stability from my Velocity Blunt SS Wheels and Founders Racing teammates to always help me push the limits!”

Completing the podium was, Abigail Snyder (Ronin Velosport) from IN crossing the line fourth in 7:13:09, and Beth Desanzo from PA finishing fifth with a time of 7:17.

Singlespeed

100k single speed division podium. Photo: Butch Phillips

The singlespeed division was all business this weekend as the top three took the fastest times of all 100k racers including gears. Taking the overall 100k and singlespeed win was, Dahn Pahrs (UPMC Pro Bike Run) of PA finishing with a blistering fast time of 5:47:15.

“Due to changes in the course they were starting people in waves.  They were sending out the Pro / CAT 1 racers at 9am, then Open Women at 9:05 and then SS’ers at 9:15.  I was worried every open class racer was going to say he was CAT 1, but only about 30 of the 200+ open riders lined up.  Off they went and then about 30 women went off at 9:05. Then at about 9:17 the SS’ers went off.  I was able to ride with Jim Litzinger and Anthony Grinnell for about 3 or 4 miles until they dropped me.  I settled into a pace I could hold and worked my way through the women’s field.  They all let me pass with no major issue in the tight single track but this would allow Josh Kunz to keep it pretty close to me.  About 12 miles in we hit the covered bridge climb and I went at it hard to distance myself from Josh.  Pushed it a little too hard and puked on the climb but was able to keep riding.  Learned after the race that Josh backed off some because the pace to the covered bridge was too fast for a 100K race, he said we got to the bridge in the same time it takes him for the normal 25 mile XC race held there.  So for the next 25 miles I was pretty much riding alone and passing people who started in front of me.  Occasionally someone would tell me Jim was a minute or two ahead.  Coming into aid station 3 you passed the people coming out of the aid station and that is where I saw Jim and Anthony for the first time.  I could see they were less than 2 minutes up on me.  I made quick time getting out of the aid station and went on to chase them.  New this year, they had the 100K racers head to some new trails at a location called Camp Mohaven.  This new stuff made this year’s race 69 miles rather than the normal 60ish.  There was some tough climbing into the Mohican Wilderness part of the course and then a brutal climb up to Camp Mohaven.  At Camp Mohaven they had aid station 3.5 and that was when I caught up to Jim and Anthony.  We left the aid station and rode the entire 6 miles of trail there together still pacing other riders.  Then it was off on some gravel roads.  We chatted and I just sat on their wheels.  No way I was going out front against the two of them.  With about 12 miles to go I recognized a tough gravel climb was coming so I went to the front.  It started gradually and I was seated climbing it.  I would look over my shoulder every couple seconds and I could see a small gap forming, then it started to get steep and I basically said to myself “it’s go time” and stood up and just hammered it out.  The gap instantly grew and they just let me go.  I passed a very fast geared guy, Brian Schworm, on the climb.  He looked to be hurting but I was also worried he could pull Jim and Anthony back up to me.  So I just kept hammering.  I found out later that Brian had to DNF shortly after I passed him from dehydration and he was of no help to Jim and Anthony.  With a couple miles to go in the race I caught up to Ryan Johnson on a paved road and he told me he was in 2nd place in the Open Class and that 1st place was only a couple minutes ahead.  It was at that point I realized I was in 1st place overall.  I had no idea until then.  In the end I finished in 5:47 and won overall.  Jim and Anthony finished in 5:51 to finish 2nd and 3rd overall.  The top Open class rider finished in 5:55.  Definitely was not expecting to do that well after all that racing I did the 2 weeks prior, Whiskey Rebellion 200K & TSE.  I used 34X20 as my gear for the race.”

Crossing the line together and finishing second and third were teammates James Litzinger (Syndicate Cycling) and Anthony Grinnell (syndicate Cycling) both finishing in 5:51:33.

“The Pittsburgh Single Speeders showed the geared field how it’s done this past weekend at the NUE Mohican 100K by taking all 3 top spots on the overall podium.  Jim Litzinger and I had a strong start and pulled a few minute gap over multi-time Mohican winner Don Powers.  The course was in great shape with a few slick spots, but the Pirelli tires hooked up phenomenally.  At aid 3.5, Don pulled back the gap and the three of us rode together for the next 15 miles or so until he pulled away on one of the long grinder climbs.  With the heat and humidity, Jim and I should have watched our pace a little better in the first half of the race.  I remembered conditions being similar in 2016 and watching guys drop like flies in the later miles of the race and that certainly seemed to be the case this year as well.  Using Flow Formulas drink mix has been a huge help in those types of conditions.    Jim and I were happy to cross the finish line together for 2nd and 3rd and were even happier to find out the single speed guys swept the overall.   Overall, the Syndicate Cycling team had a great week with John Vorberger getting 2nd in the 100 mile SS class, Wyatt Rodgers winning the under 30 Open Men’s 100K, Jim and I getting 2nd and 3rd in the overall 100K, and Will Loevner getting 2nd in the 357 mile Unbound race in Kansas, even after suffering a broken hand and lacerated arm.  Big thanks to Jim Shorkey Auto Group and Pro Bike and Run for helping us get to the races.”

Josh Kunz (Trans-Sylvania Production) finished in fourth place with a time of 6:42:30. James Knott (Nocterra Trek MTB) took the fifth spot in 7:04:19.

Masters 50+

Masters 50+ podium. Photo: Butch Phillips

Traveling in from IN, Paul Arlinghaus (HMBA), took the masters win finishing in 6:32:45.

“With all the other age group waves starting in front of us, the first hour and a half of 50+ race was action packed.  We started catching riders 7 minutes into the race.  I think that later, we all paid the price for the extra effort required to pass so many riders.   Dorel Stoia and I were in 2nd and 3rd coming out of the Mohican State Forest and we worked together on the gravel roads to the Mohican Wilderness.  We were together until just before the double track climb in the Wilderness, this is where I got away from Dorel.  After Sag 3, I caught the lead rider just before top of the Wilderness climb.  

The addition more trails in the Wilderness and the new trails in Mohaven, made the 100k race harder than past years.  I was riding the technical single track well and felt that I was gaining time.

Paul Arlinghaus-Masters 100k winner

From Mohaven to the finish, it was just survival mode, I conserved on the flat and downhill sections and just focused on steady power on the climbs.  I sprinted up the climb back into the Park, mostly because I was ready to be done and was happy to be finished.

I think that one of the keys to winning was having sag support. Heather Arlinghaus was at Sag 1 and 3 to support me.  I left every sag station with 2 full water bottles.  With temperatures in the mid 80’s many riders paid the price for passing by sag stations early in the race.”

Second place went to, Dorel Stoia of OH, crossing the line in 6:55:17.

“This was my 4th Mohican 100k and my first time in Master’s class. Mohican is my absolute favorite trail and love everything about it. The race was very hard because of the tough competition,  the tough course, and the heat. I was in the lead before the Wilderness when I started to have cramps and had to slow down the pace. After that it was just holding up to maintain the second spot of which I am very pleased with. Thanks to the organizers for putting together such an amazing race. Now is time for recovery and  getting ready for the next NUE race, which is going to be Wilderness on July.”

Third place was, David Jolin (Rescue Racing), 6:59:08, fourth place, Robert Goetz, 7:10:47 and fifth place went to, Ali Arasta, with a time of 7:16:32.

For full results CLICK HERE

Mohican 100 photo album by Photographer Butch Phillips CLICK HERE

Next up on the NUE series is the Lumberjack 100 mile June 19th, 2021 in Manistee, MI

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