Mohican 100-Mile

The 19th Annual KENDA 

Mohican Mountain Bike100

NUE Epic Race Series #2

June 10, 2020 Written by: Ryan O’Dell

Following two months of lockdown, racers were beyond ready to head outdoors and back to real, not just virtual, racing; many wondering whether the 2020 season would be a wash following Covid-19 lockdowns nationwide. On May 30, Mohican MTB100 became the first mountain bike race in the USA to re-open the mountain bike race season, picking up where the NUE Series left off in early March with the True Grit Epic season opener in Utah. The day after True Grit Epic, Utah and most of the nation were on lock down for the first time in our nation’s history. 

Start of the Mohican 100 Photo by: Butch Phillips

Following the latest federal and state guidelines, Mohican MTB100 put together a mitigation plan that was shared with ODNR, EMS, and the local health department requesting their input and suggestions. The plan included changing the typical mass start downtown in favor of a time trial format beginning and ending at Mohican Adventures. At least ten years ago, Mohican developed a well thought out rain route as an option to protect local trails in case of heavy rains leading up to the event. This plan had never been necessary until May 30.  

Just two weeks before race day, ODNR confirmed that it was opening campgrounds statewide but cancelling existing special use permits including the Forestry permit obtained by the Mohican MTB100. ODNR also confirmed that it would not be issuing any new special use permits for special events through July 15. 

After careful consideration, including the short time frame racers would have to change travel and lodging plans on such short notice and the impact on local businesses including restaurants, camp grounds, and motels that had just opened, Mohican opted to implement an optional rain route that would circumvent the top rated trail in Ohio, an IMBA epic trail system around the gorge located in the Mohican State Forest. The rain route removed 25 miles of pristine singletrack plus the five mile prolog from downtown Loudonville shortening the 100 mile race to just 65 miles with 6394’ elevation gain and the 100k to just 33 miles. Local businesses welcomed Mohican racers in a community largely driven by tourism and suffering from the extended lockdown period.  

Photo by: Butch Phillips

Although the race had the support of the State Highway Patrol, the rain route along SR3 is a posted bike route that did not require police support. To avoid putting any strain on local emergency services, Mohican organized its own volunteer medical team and employed a plan that racers and volunteers agreed made everyone feel safe.

After offering deferrals to 2021 for any reason, including international racers, racers from states still in lockdown, and racers whose flights had been cancelled, just 230 remained from what would have been a record turnout estimated at 600-700 before the pandemic arrived. Local landowners, Mohican captains and volunteers supported the decision. There were no injuries reported and for the first time in its 19 year history, every racer who started finished the race.       

Women’s Open

Sabin wins by a huge margin

Elizabeth Sabin, Honey Stinger, wins by a huge margin to finish at 6:16:31. Sabin is now tied for points with former NUE Series Champion, Carla Williams, who won the True Grit Series Opener in March. “Well, three weekends ago was a wild one for me – my first every NUE race – and my first every big race win! I raced in the Mohican 100 in Loudonville, Ohio it is one of the first races to actually happen nationwide due to Covid-19, but I felt the race director and his team did a great job making an effective mitigation plan! The race ended up being about 70miles instead of 100 due to permits and Covid-19. 

Photo by: Butch Phillips

It was a wild first NUE, but it was a blast overall and all my spring training as well as the awesome support and help of my boyfriend (fellow racer Jamison Sheppard) definitely contributed to a super successful race! The scenery was beautiful and we had perfect weather (a little cooler would have been nice)! Due to the virus they changed the start of the race from a mass start to a time trial format which made it very interesting as I was pretty much on the course alone or with men, I only saw two of my women competitors at the very beginning of the race so I had to just keep pushing myself and I didn’t really know what to expect as it was my first longer mileage race ever! 

It was muddy and wild, with some steep hills and super fun long descents, but I just kept pushing even after my body started to struggle a bit at about mile 55. At the second to last aid station they told me I was in first for women, but I didn’t really want to believe them, nor did I think it could be true I was like they don’t really know for sure with the time trial format, but thanks for the encouragement!  I just wanted to finish. Then, sure enough when I crossed the finish line 45 minutes ahead of the next woman, they told me I had done it – I could not believe it, not only had I finished (something I was honestly hoping I could do, but not sure of going in as prior to this race my longest race mileage wise was 40 miles with much less elevation gain!) and I had WON! Thank you again for such a fantastic race and opportunity!” 

Mindy Mitchell, Momentum Racing, was next getting a sub 7 at 6:57:19 with Paula Baake, Bike Pro Shop, taking third at 7:42:22. For all three women, this was their first time racing at Mohican and the first time in 19 years that the podium consisted of all first time Mohican racers. 

Photo by: Butch Phillips

Men’s Open  

Kasper wins BIG in come from behind fashion

Logan Kasper. Flow Formulas Starlight, ESI Grips, Hand up Gloves, took the win in the Men’s Open to finish 4:09:55

“First off, I want to start by saying thank you! I’m sure you guys have heard this a million times but it was a great to get back to normality. You guys went above and beyond on all the hoops you had to jump through. Hats off to you! I guess you wanted me to describe what led to the win? Well lots of hard work, simple as that! (Laughing) 

Just because the world stops doesn’t mean training has to. Since I had never done the race before, I was placed into the 19th wave. Some call that a disadvantage, I viewed it as I have eighteen waves ahead of me to chase and use as a carrot. Since I was on my own the majority of the race, I could pick the pace. I could really call the shots without any repercussions. If I wanted to hammer up a hill, I could without fear of not being fresh for an attack. I could ride pretty much any line I wanted without interrupted flow from others. Also, no one could use me for drafting. That being said I couldn’t use anyone either. 

On most of the long road stretches I just put my head down and cranked away keeping the pace comfortably uncomfortable. I viewed the race as a 100k plus because no one knew the actual mileage so I raced it at a 100k pace. (Actual mileage was 65 miles). At the last aid station I asked how far ahead the leaders were and they said a few minutes. At that point, I knew as long as I kept the pace steady and rode smart the race was mine. Coming across the line confirmed that! Once again I was super impressed on the whole event and can’t wait to do it again next year!

When asked, who is Logan Kasper? Logan replied, “I have been getting that a lot the past few years. I’m not on people’s radar. In New England I am though. I’m from Massachusetts and have become dominant in the New England scene these past two years. Last year I smashed the Vermont 50 and the Freetown 50. I also was the elite series champion for the bubba burger race series. I was in the top ten of the 0z50 pro-race in Bentonville last year as well but a slashed sidewall landed me in 18th. I have done the Carrabasset several times all with top five results and I did the Shenandoah last year. My goal for this year was to take the NUE Marathon Series and then next year the NUE Epic 100 mile series. Obviously, a wrench got thrown into those gears but I will race as many as I can. I’m looking forward to what comes next! Shout out to the bike shop that helps me out as well, Tomten Biketown in Leominster, Mass. Hope you guys are enjoying the weather and able to get out on the trails!”

Three of the top five finishers this year hailed from Michigan, including the GIANT from Grayling, Michigan, Jorden Wakeley, GIANT Bicycles/Northbound, who took second at 4:22:03 leading the starting pack of Pro racers right out of the gate, attacking early, and setting the pace at the front. One minute behind Wakeley, Scotty Albaugh, Base Media/ Cycle Therapy, from Michigan, snatched third at 4:23:30.

Photo by: Butch Phillips

Three seconds later, Two-time USA Olympian and Hall of Fame racer, Tinker Juarez, Cannondale, at age 59, proved he still has what it takes to remain in the hunt with his younger Pro competitors as he took fourth at 4:23:33. “I was very happy to travel to Ohio to race the Mohican MTB100 with the world in panic mode. I felt happy and comfortable with the racers and felt nobody was in fear of touching or shaking your hand. This was a positive to all the races that are thinking of having their race!” 

Alexander TenElshof, Base Media Racing/Giant Bicycles, from Michigan placed fifth following a missed turn late in the race at 4:23:34. Although he finished just ahead of Juarez, the time trial format allowed the Hall of Famer to place ahead of TenElshof by one second. 

Photo by: Butch Phillips

From his interview with at the Dirty Chain Podcast, “Jordan was pushing the pace right away! The climbs were tough but the four of us stuck together most of the way. The real separation started on the infamous Valley Stream Road climb, the first climb after the suspension bridge at aid 4.5. Valley Stream had like a 7% grade and Jordan attacked! Two guys go with him but Tinker didn’t move. The grade then gets steeper and Jordan attacks out of the saddle and Scotty goes. All three of us separate but then I keep looking back and here comes Tinker. Jordan was thirty seconds ahead then Scotty, me and Tinker came back together. 

Tinker attacks on the last climb and Scotty is left behind. Then, I attacked Tinker knowing where I was and got some separation. One the last turn, I missed it and Scotty took the lead with Tinker behind him. What an experience it was just to ride with that guy! For a 59 year-year-old, man he’s strong! Overall, The race did a great job of getting you the plan and keeping you up to date.”  You can hear the full story from TenElshof in his interview on the Dirty Chain Podcast at  https://soundcloud.com/dirtychainpodcast/episode-30-katerina-nash-professional-cyclist Three young racers placed well including 17-year-old Joseph Urbanowitz, Chainbuster-Pactimo Race, who placed ninth in a strong field. 16-year-old Luke Gunnett, UPMC Pro Bike + Run placed 17th. The youngest finisher was 12-year-old Jared Smith at 5:47:36.   

Singlespeed

Paunovich wins his First SS, 11 Overall! 

Thad Paunovich earned victory with five minutes to spare at 4:55:12.

First off, I couldn’t have been more excited to race in this year’s Mohican MTB 100 Miler (modified version; 65 miles). It was an incredible feeling taking the starting line knowing that this race was the first race to be held nationwide since the Coronavirus outbreak and for most of us racers; this was our first race of 2020. The atmosphere was filled with excitement at the start line. I want to sincerely thank the race director, Ryan O’Dell and all of the awesome volunteers that helped put on this year’s Mohican 100! The extra effort and work that they put in to allow this event to happen safely is to be highly commended!

Photo by: Butch Phillips

Onto the race, due to this year’s circumstances, it did not end up being a 100 miler. The modified course excluded the 25 miles of Mohican singletrack but still included the 15 or so miles of single/doubletrack on private land and all of the other gravel/paved roads and the 10 miles of rail trail that usually make up the Mohican MTB 100 miler. 

With that being said, I thought bike choice was going to be critical for the race. Being that I knew there was going to be about 15 miles of singletrack and 50 miles of road/gravel, I decided to take a little bit of a gamble (especially for a bigger guy that flats often) and ride my flat bar Niner One Rigid SS setup more for gravel with 2.0 tires on the front and 45mm tires on the rear. I was geared 32×17 which is a bit lighter than I would typically run for gravel but definitely harder than the 34×20 gearing that I typically run for singletrack. While parts of the 15 miles of singletrack were very rocky (yes, I did some walking) and were slow on my Niner, for the other 50 miles of the course, my Niner felt like a rocket ship and climbed like a gazelle.  

At 7:05, off I went. The race started off on a little section of double track and soon turned into gravel/road for a while. I felt pretty good early on and knew I had to attack on all of the gravel/pavement sections with the bike setup I was running and that is what I did. I caught some people that went out before me and latched on for some miles until the rocky singletrack came. The rocky singletrack put me in the hurt locker riding slowly and sometimes walking my bike. 

SS legend from Pittsburgh and fellow UPMC Pro Bike & Run team rider, Dahn Pahrs, who I often ride with back home, was in attendance, but he decided to come out to heckle everybody through the rock gardens this year. After getting heckled by Pahrs, I made it through the rocky singletrack losing some time but without a flat or major crash which was a win in my book. 

I got back out on the gravel and made up some ground. I caught SS contender Simon Clark right before we hit the 10 mile rail trail around mile 32 (maybe). We worked together until hammer Ryan Johnson, Cannondale, caught us and basically pulled us the rest of the way down the rail trail along with two other SS contenders and another geared guy. The six of us got to an aid station and three of us, including myself and Ryan, took off. 

I knew there was one more SS contender to catch; defending NUE SS champion Eli Orth. We ended up catching him right before the big and steep Valley Stream climb, which at this point was less than ten miles to go I believe. Of course Dahn Pahrs shifted his heckling position to be at the top of that climb. As soon as I heard him, I kicked in the afterburner and turned it on for the rest of the race knowing that there was a solid chance I could win the race if I held on. I felt like I was climbing Valley Streams full of 93 octane fuel as former Olympian Tinker Juarez likes to say who also raced and was in attendance from California.   

To sum things up, the 93 octane fuel did not run out. I finished the race at exactly 12 noon, finishing in 4 hours and 55 minutes, which was good enough to put me on the top podium spot in 1st place for the SS class and was good enough for 11 O/A. Of course I had to rock my UPMC Pro Bike & Run cycling team shirt and jorts on top of the podium. 

My win at the Mohican MTB 100 was my first National Ultra Endurance (NUE) SS win and my first major win to date. I had a blast like I always do racing my bike amongst some of my favorite people, the cycling community. I saw the entire day as a win for our country and for the cycling community! It ended up being an awesome weekend spending time with the cycling community and racing bikes! Thank you again to race director Ryan O’Dell, all of the volunteers, and of course the racers that came out to race to make this event a success!”

Five minutes behind Paunovich, True Grit Epic SS race winner, Justin Holle, No Ride Around, placed second at 5:00:23. Holle now leads the NUE Epic SS Series with three points in this lowest point’s wins format. 

Seconds later, David Taylor, Team HB Hilltop, took third at 5:00:51. Following his second place finish at the True Grit Season Opener, The Defending NUE Series Epic SS Champion Eli Orth, Team Stages Cycling, was fourth at 5:01:31. Simon Clark, Sponch, rounded out the top five to finish 5:06:59.  

Masters 50+

Card takes the Masters 50+

56-year-old Jonathan Card, Mariner Cycling/Spoke Life, wins the Masters 50+ with the only sub five hour time at 4:59:05 and is now tied with defending NUE Series Masters Champion, Carey Smith with one point apiece. “I first want thank Ryan O’Dell for taking the lead and putting on the event under stressful circumstances. As a promoter myself, I know that it couldn’t have been easy. As far as my race, I felt that the race went well and I had no mechanicals or major dilemmas.  

Photo by: Butch Phillips

I went off in wave three with another rider and a teammate and we made good time during the early portions of the race. I hadn’t ridden some segments of the course, so I tried to remain conservative early in the event for fear that I would run into a part of the course that would be unmanageable.  My teammate and I rode with a group of 7 or 8 riders up until about mile 25 when we climbed to the trailhead which accessed the first major difficult section. This was the trail which encompassed the technical rock garden which then led into the difficult single track climb which was substantial in length and time.  I had been lucky to have ridden this section prior to race day and knew that being in the first or second place entering this section would be paramount.  My teammate took the lead and I followed him into the terrain.  

By the time we departed the single track the group had fallen apart and it was just us two.  He and I pretty much rode the remaining 35-40 miles trading pulls to keep our pace solid while focusing on our nutrition and safety. Our ride allowed us to finish together in 12-13 places overall with my taking the 50+ category. All in all, as good as day as I could have wanted being able to win and have a great time out with a good friend.”

Less than ten minutes behind Card, 51-year-old Jason Urckfitz, Full Moon Vista, took second at 5:09:43. 52-year-old Bruce Stauffer, Cycle Works/Performance Bicycle, was third at 5:26:17. Three minutes later, Ohio native Rodney Reed got fourth at 5:29:07 with Keith Papanicolas, del-ray, in fifth at 5:43:55   

 Next Stop for the NUE Epic Race Series: On July 18, The NUE Series heads to Bend Oregon for the High Cascades 100 that will be an entirely self-supportive race this year following all Federal and State guidelines for social distancing. For more information, visit http://nuemtb.com/

Click Here for Full Results

Mohican 100k

The 19th Annual KENDA 

Mohican Mountain Bike 100

NUE Marathon Series #2

June 10, 2020 Written by: Ryan O’Dell

Following two months of lockdown, racers were beyond ready to head outdoors and back to real, not just virtual, racing; many wondering whether the 2020 season would be a wash following Covid-19 lockdowns nationwide. On May 30, Mohican MTB100 became the first mountain bike race in the USA to re-open the mountain bike race season, picking up where the NUE Series left off in early March with the True Grit Epic season opener in Utah. The day after True Grit Epic, Utah and most of the nation were on lock down for the first time in our nation’s history. 

Start of the Mohican 100 Photo by: Butch Phillips

Following the latest federal and state guidelines, Mohican MTB100 put together a mitigation plan that was shared with ODNR, EMS, and the local health department requesting their input and suggestions. The plan included changing the typical mass start downtown in favor of a time trial format beginning and ending at Mohican Adventures. At least ten years ago, Mohican developed a well thought out rain route as an option to protect local trails in case of heavy rains leading up to the event. This plan had never been necessary until May 30.  

Just two weeks before race day, ODNR confirmed that it was opening campgrounds statewide but cancelling existing special use permits including the Forestry permit obtained by the Mohican MTB100. ODNR also confirmed that it would not be issuing any new special use permits for special events through July 15. 

After careful consideration, including the short time frame racers would have to change travel and lodging plans on such short notice and the impact on local businesses including restaurants, camp grounds, and motels that had just opened, Mohican opted to implement an optional rain route that would circumvent the top rated trail in Ohio, an IMBA epic trail system around the gorge located in the Mohican State Forest. The rain route removed 25 miles of pristine singletrack plus the five mile prologue from downtown Loudonville shortening the 100 mile race to just 65 miles with 6394’ elevation gain and the 100k to just 33 miles. Local businesses welcomed Mohican racers in a community largely driven by tourism and suffering from the extended lockdown period.  

Although the race had the support of the State Highway Patrol, the rain route along SR3 is a posted bike route that did not require police support. To avoid putting any strain on local emergency services, Mohican organized its own volunteer medical team and employed a plan that racers and volunteers agreed made everyone feel safe.

After offering deferrals to 2021 for any reason, including international racers, racers from states still in lockdown, and racers whose flights had been cancelled, just 230 remained from what would have been a record turnout estimated at 600-700 before the pandemic arrived. Local landowners, Mohican captains and volunteers supported the decision. There were no injuries reported and for the first time in its 19 year history, every racer who started finished the race.       

Women’s Open

Lowery takes the top step on the Mohican Podium

Following her fifth place finish at the True Grit NUE Series opener, Carey Lowery, Rescue Racing/Scott’s Bike, led all Women in the marathon women’s open finishing in 2:29:39

“Because of the time trial format, I had no idea where my competition was.  Therefore, I just made it a point to keep the hammer down the whole time.  Knowing that the course was shortened, I was able to burn quite a few matches on the short punchy climbs. I chose my hardtail as the course was gravel road heavy. I also ran a less beefy tire than usual and rode a bit more cautiously through the single track since I had “skinnies.”  

I drafted when I could to conserve some energy, but since I started towards the back, I was mostly on my own.  I kicked it up a notch as I entered the Mohican Adventures property and laid it all out in the final mile.  I surprisingly ended up winning the Open Women’s race against a small, but competitive field.  I am grateful to Ryan for making this happen as it was good to get back to some sense of normalcy. It was as much a mental benefit as a physical one.”

Four minutes behind Lowery, Janet Edwards, Road Apple Roubaix p/b Do, placed second at 2:33:29. Eight minutes later, Mary Penta, Think Green-Bicycle Face, took third at 2:41:31 with Lara Richards, Chainbuster Racing, a minute back at 2:42:53.   

Men’s Open

Messer wins the Men’s Open

Andrew Messer, Be Real Sports, took the W in the Men’s Open at 2:03:40. One minute later, OMBC Ohio Series Champion, Troy Chipka, Ashland Bike Company, placed second at 2:04:49.     

Perhaps the youngest ever podium finisher at 17 years old, Wyatt Rodgers, Syndicate Cycling Team, rolled in a minute later at 2:05:55. “Leading up to the Mohican 100 this year, there were a lot of doubts and concerns for me regarding the race. Because of Covid-19, although concerned, my Dad and I decided we were going to race it no matter what. It turned out that there were a ton of changes to the race format, the awesome mass start was no longer going to happen and the race distance was cut in half with more road than trails. With these major changes, I was concerned how this would affect my results because technical mountain biking is my strength, not gravel racing. I was pleased to find out that the race was still a ton of fun. 

Photo by: Butch Phillips

I was very happy with the mix of trails and road. With the time trial start, it was hard for me to tell what place I was in. Around mile 8 of 30, I was caught by a fellow racer, Troy Chipka that was in my class, the men’s 100k open. Troy and I decided to work together and put up the fastest time we could by working together on the road. We knew we were racing at a good pace and somewhere towards the front of the race. We played our cards right and were very pleased to find that when we finished, we placed second and third despite making a wrong turn that cost us about two minutes. Being just 17 years old and placing third at an National Ultra Endurance event, I am super happy with my result. I’m also very proud to say I was the youngest ever to podium at an NUE event after missing the podium last year by two places. Overall, I was very happy with how well the race was ran and directed. A huge thank you to Ryan O’Dell for putting on another amazing race!”

Dorel Stoia and Burgess Gow rounded out the top five at 2:09:31 and 2:12:10 respectively. 

Two young racers entered the competition and finished their first BIG race including 15-year-old Bryce Thompson, Ashland Bike Company and 14-year-old Alex Mesarchik, Shenanigans Cycling, who finished at 3:25:15. 

  

Singlespeed

Kunz gets the win defending his NUE Series title

Defending NUE Series Singlespeed and OMBC Ohio Series singlespeed Champion, Josh Kunz, Evolution Training Cycles, took another step toward defending his title following a second place finish at True Grit by getting his first win of the season at 2:14:06. “It was an all-out effort. Starting in wave # 2 with a relatively long flat roll out on a SS is tricky. I grabbed whatever geared racers wheel I could on the road and took off up every steep road. Then, once in Mohican Wilderness singletrack, I kicked it up knowing I can make time on the tech climbs and the rock garden. The time trial aspect was actually a lot of fun. I’d like to thank Jeff Rupnow from Evolution Training Cycles and CarboRocket for keeping me firing!” 

Nathan Grubbs was second at 2:26:14. 

Dan Fausey, Trailer Park Racing, placed third at 3:00:48. “As the stay-at-home order dragged on, I was starting to bounce off the walls. I had enough “family time,” and hadn’t raced since March. I missed seeing my bike friends! So, I was super stoked to learn that the Mohican 100 would still be happening. As I started to share this news with my friends, I learned that a few people were loudly criticizing the decision to conduct the Mohican 100 this year (on social media, natch). But, since none of the complainers were medical professionals, or government officials, I decided to go ahead and ride. Plus, Ryan O’Dell had put a thoughtful mitigation plan in place and made changes to the race. So, I was excited about it. 

Photo by: Butch Phillips

Hadn’t raced since March – seemed like all of our races seasons were sidelined by COVID! Race day showed up with perfect weather, sunny, but not too hot. I picked up my timing chip and race plate in a drive-through line, and got ready for my six-person start wave. I was racing singlespeed again – for the first time this year! On the course, I did nothing but smile. 

Around mile twelve I realized that there’s no substitute for a live race! There were folks heckling and cheering as usual on the rock gardens and at Valley Stream. And nothing is as motivating as chasing down that rider in front of you. After the race, the festival was a little subdued (with no food) but we enjoyed our free beers at social distance anyway. I’ll admit, it was weird having podiums six feet apart. But at least I couldn’t smell Josh’s (Kunz) sweaty pits! Overall, it was a great race and a thoughtful blueprint for race safety in the pandemic era!”

Once second behind Fausey, Scott Albaugh, Cycle Therapy, took fourth 3:00:49.  

Photo by: Butch Phillips

Masters 50+

Grimm victory in the Masters

In the Masters, 55-year-old Erik Grimm, Park Ave Bike Shop, led all men for the victory at 2:13:29. 53-year-old Tom Weaver, Summit Freewheelers, was next taking second at 2:21:00.

Four minutes later, Tom Arlinghaus, Crooked Creek, was third at 2:24:39. 

Among the Masters finishers this year were five 60+ racers including Ohio Series Masters 60+ Champion, 66-year-old Steve O’Bryan who placed fifth, 60-year-old Tim Shepherd, Knobby Side Down, 60-year-old Doug Fanta, Hudson Velo Club, 65-year-old Charles Patterson, Dirty Harry’s bike shop, and 61-year-old Tim Bonifant,  Orrville cycling club.

Next Stop for the NUE Epic Race Series: On July 18, The NUE Series heads to Bend Oregon for the High Cascades 100 that will be an entirely self-supportive race this year following all Federal and State guidelines for social distancing. For more information, visit http://nuemtb.com/

Click Here for Full Results

True Grit Epic 100 Mile

A Day of Firsts for True Grit

This year’s True Grit Epic in Santa Clara, Utah, represented an exciting new chapter for the southern Utah race. 2019 was it’s first sellout year with an impressive 800+ riders taking the start. It also represented the first year of the True Grit gravel grinder.

Riders enter the Zen trail

As race morning broke it seemed to be following a now-familiar pattern, early forecasts of cold temperautres and rain turned into pleasant skies and ideal riding weather. Rain throughout the week had left some puddles on the trail but nothing a seasoned True Grit rider couldn’t handle.

The hundred milers start first just as the sun rose over the cliffs of Zion.

True Grit defending champion and endurance-veteran Taylor Lideen (DNA Cycling/Pivot) was a heavy favorite for the men’s category as fellow Arizona rider Chase Edwards (CZ Racing) was favored for the women who was determined to improve on her fourth place from last year.

As the riders rolled out a puddles and standing water from the previous rains splattered the field until they exited the opening wash and the climbing started. At the front Lideen moved to the front with Pete Karinen.

Karinen kept the heat on the defending champion ensuring he wouldn’t ride away for an easy win. The lead duo rode together throughout the opening 50-lap and the early climbs of lap two.

It wasn’t until the steepest climb of the day up to the dreaded waterfall descent that Lideen was able to open a gap. A small advantage was all Lideen would need as his riding skills took control on the highly challenging Barrel and Zen trails.

It certainly wasn’t an easy day for the defending champion. At the finish Lideen said, “some days you feel great and just ride away and other days it feels like you really have to work for it. Today was one of those days.”

But despite not feeling his best Taylor Lideen was able to control the day and finish the 100 miler in just over six and a half hours. Nine minutes in front of challenger Pete Karinen.

After the race the repeat race winner had this to say:

It was a blast riding with Pete throughout the day as he is a super talented and skilled rider. I was able to make my move on the longer climb up to the waterfall early into the second lap. You never know how the day will go on such a rough and technical course out there but I was fortunate enough to grab the win. I am always blown away by how awesome and friendly every racer is out there no matter the distance they are competing in. It’s always a pleasure to race in this event. Mary (Mrs. Lideen) of course was my everything with her aid in the pits. I am one lucky dude to have her in my corner. Big thanks to all of the volunteers out there as well! Races like this wouldn’t happen with great people like that!

Timon Fish (Sticky Racing) finished in third with a time of 7:00:12 after a close battle with Stefano Barberi (Serious Cycling).

Chris Alstrin (Carborocket) grabbed the final podium spot in fifth.

With the win Taylor Lideen takes the lead in the NUE series but will not likely feature in the final series picture as his goals for the season are outside the NUE leaving the door open for others to challenge for the NUE title.

The women’s race appeared to be starting as expected with Chase Edwards opening an early lead through the big climbs on the opening lap. She held the lead heading into the technical slickrock jungle of Zen trail but St. George local Shirley Leydsman (Team Redrock) closed things down in the rocks and pulled ahead.

Once out front Leydsman stayed focused on riding her own race and erasing the disappointment of crashing and badly injuring her wrist in last year’s True Grit.

Her motivation showed as she opened a big gap finally crossing the line over 30 minutes up on Edwards who had this to say after the finish.

True Grit is a brutal NUE season opener! Shirley, the local gal who won, caught me at Zen, took a line I was unfamiliar with, and dropped me on the first lap. It was a great warm-up to the season as the techy sections on the course forced me to keep my head in the game and to also acknowledge skill sets that got a little rusty over the winter. I’ll be chasing other NUE races this season while representing Construction Zone Racing. I’d also like to say thanks to Paragon Athletics for helping to keep my body strong and injury-free, to Coach Kata for continuing to work with me on this ongoing journey of balancing work stress and training, and Honey Stinger for fueling all the adventures. 

Julie Thumel (Race Pace Bicycles) finished in third place followed by Becky Edmiston (Steamboat Velo) in fourth.

In the singlespeed group, Mark Schafer improved on his bronze medal from 2018 with a race win at this year’s True Grit. Schafer dominated for most of the race finishing almost a half hours clear of runner up Johnathan Ciampa (DRT/Cycological).

Ciampa put together a strong race chasing down Nathan Whipple after the opening 50 miles and opening a gap in the second half of the race. Whipple started out strong but a tall gear and a long New England winter effected his performance. The third place rider had this to say about his day in Santa Clara:

Early season weather in New England didn’t let me get out on the SS as much as I’d have liked. Just days before the race, Boston got a fresh 18” of snow even.  Add in an optimistic gear choice for the race and I did a great job setting myself up for an Epic amount of hurt. It was hardly noticed though, what with the amazing trails and spectacular vistas constantly trying to one-up each other. 

The gear choice did help early positioning, but by the start of the 2nd lap the damage from the low cadence grinding started to show. I found myself forced off the bike to avoid having the wheels fall completely off. I had nothing to counter with when the second place finisher caught me and I watched him motor away from me up the first climb on Zen. I rode by myself for the majority of the second lap after that and soaked in the views and amazing trail. 

The men’s master group saw Cary Smith once again crushing the hopes of all competitors. Smith, who had the fifth fastest finishing time of all the 100 mile riders dominated from the starting gun leaving no doubt he was going to repeat as master’s champion short of major catastrophe.

But Smith avoided any complications to his race and finished a full 2 hours clear of runner up Gerry Hatcher (Santa Cruz).

Hatcher turned in a strong effort in his first True Grit experience and had this to say after the finish:

The Santa Clara/St George area has intrigued me for a while and I’ve never ridden in Utah so learning of the “True Grit Epic” race gave me the push I needed – Road Trip!  I brought my 2018 Santa Cruz Highball CC 29’r hardtail.

Having never ridden in the Santa Clara area before, and my introduction to it being the most gnarly sections of the True Grit rattled that confidence and made me immediately re-calibrate my race strategy. 

I dialed everything back from “go fast” to “just make damn sure I finish.”  Having fitted relatively thin walled & fast rolling tires thinking because I’m a small framed lightweight rider it was “probably worth the risk”, didn’t help with my anxiety. Sidewall tearing, rim & tire destroying geology was lurking everywhere! It wasn’t until I got through Zen Trail on my second lap that I relaxed a bit. Until then I had to constantly remind myself to stay focused, keep good lines, and to not take unnecessary chances.  I used my cyclo-cross skills to shoulder the bike and trot over, around, or down more sections than I’m proud of, but hey I finished! And, un-expected icing on the cake, with a respectable second place too!

Jim Miller finished third after enjoying his day and improving after a broken frame almost ended True Grit in 2018.

He had this to say at the end:

It was a great day, I love this race and plan to come back again and again.  The trails are nearly 100% sweet single-track, the race vibe is competitive but fun and friendly, the event is well run, the volunteers are great, and the setting is so very beautiful! Thanks to Joe’s Bike Shop in Baltimore for having my Trek Fuel EX in tip-top shape.

Click Here for full results from True Grit Epic 2019

Riders were treated to food a live music after the finish

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

2019 National Ultra Endurance Series Released

Breckenridge Returns for 2019 with Big Bear, California

“Celebrating more than TEN YEARS as the nation’s premier XXC Race Series”

The 13th Annual National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series www.nuemtb.com announced the 2019 race schedules this week featuring a balanced schedule, east and west.

The NUE Epic Race Series Schedule is comprised of races at or near 100 miles in length. Big Bear Grizzly in California will again host the NUE Series Championship race where all ties are broken. The Breckenridge 100 returns for 2019 bringing the total number of Epic Series races to twelve in this best four of twelve series.

The NUE Marathon Race Series schedule is comprised of races at or near 50 miles to 100k in length. In 2019, The Breckenridge 100k returns bringing the total number of races to 11 in this best four of eleven series.

Photo by Ryan Stephens

“On behalf of The NUE Race Series, I would like to thank all of our sponsors, many who have been with us for up to a decade now, for believing in our vision and supporting NUE. We are proud to promote our NUE sponsors including Kenda Tire, Hammer Nutrition, Sigma Sport of Germany, Darn Tough Socks of Vermont, KMC Chain, Lauf Forks, Voler apparel, Squirt Lube, and Chris Eatough Coaching, for providing training plans for NUE Racers, many tailored to specific NUE race courses based on his success with NUE.” Ryan O’Dell, NUE Race Series Director.

Born in 2006 to fill a need for XXC racers, the NUE Series began with just six races before growing over the last eleven years to now include a total of twenty three races held within twelve different states.

The NUE Marathon Race Series will be made up of eleven well known races including the newest Iron Mountain 100k in Damascus, Virginia. Distances will vary ranging from 50 miles to 100k. Like the NUE Epic 100 Mile Race Series, the NUE MARATHON Race Series will be governed by the same rules and will require the same number of races (BEST 4) to become eligible for series awards and recognition. It is important to note that the NUE Epic and NUE Marathon are two separate race series. Points will not transfer between the Epic 100 Mile and Marathon Race Series. Marathon Series finishers will receive a national ranking and qualify for series awards, Custom Voler NUE Champion Jersey or discounted NUE finisher jersey plus prize packages for ALL NUE Race Series Finishers.

To claim the NUE Race Series Epic 100 Mile title, racers best four finishes will count. NUE requires a minimum of four races to receive a national ranking. ALL racers who complete four of the NUE 100 Mile distance races will receive a national ranking and qualify for series awards, Custom Voler NUE Champion Jersey or discounted NUE Finisher Jersey plus prize packages for ALL NUE Race Series finishers.

Additional Travel awards for NUE Division leaders include an NUE Epic Series Champion travel package to compete in The LaRuta de los Conquistadores, a three day stage race across Costa Rica recognized as one of the toughest races on the planet. Details will be announced publicly soon.

All Epic and Marathon series ties will be broken at the Big Bear Grizzly in California. An attractive feature of the NUE Series is that there is NO LICENSE REQUIRED in order to participate. Everyone is welcome to compete on a level playing field alongside top Pro’s. ALL finishing racers receive a score based on their race finishes with a “lowest points wins” formula. The best possible score is 4.

Nearly ALL NUE Race Series events sold out again in 2018, some within mere minutes. The Marji Gesick 100, the first race to open registration has already sold out. True Grit, High Cascades and Mohican have recently opened registration and are also expected to sell out.

NUE is currently soliciting the support of additional partners interested in promoting products and services that racers can use. Potential sponsors can receive more information by contacting Ryan O’Dell at nolimit@mohican.net

 

What’s on tap for each event for 2019?

Both, the NUE Epic Series and Marathon Series will roll out on March 9 in the southwest at the True Grit Epic and True Grit Epic 50 in sunny Santa Clara, Utah.  According to Race Director Cimarron Chacon, “The True Grit Epic is long, tough, and technical. The first twenty miles are along rocky and steep terrain that requires excellent bike handling skills and upper body strength. This course is a roller coaster of desert riding with over 70% of the 89 miles on single track and slightly over 13,000 feet of elevation gain. We are adding a 15 mile challenge ride this year to include those who may not have trained enough to take on a series course but would like to experience a little bit of True Grit. True Grit Registration is already open and nearing capacity.”

On April 27, NUE returns to Ducktown, Tennessee for the Cohutta 100 and Cohutta Big Frog 65 under the new direction of Lisa Randall at Mountain Goat Adventures, who also produces the Fool’s Gold 100. The course has reverted back to the original Cohutta 100 course from a decade ago, using the singletrack section of Brush Creek and the Tanasi trail systems, and an intense gravel loop known as “The Death March”.  Staging for the race takes place along the banks of the beautiful Ocoee River — site for the 1996 Olympic White Water Events.  The 100 miles of race course traverses the mountain terrain by world class single track and fire roads. The single track is fast and flowing, but can get tight and technical in spots. The fire roads are demanding but rewarding with long ascents, fast descents, and spectacular mountain views.

Out of the gate, the race makes about a three mile climb on pavement up highway 64.  This warm-up serves as a good field displacer and pole position before entering into the fast and flowy single track for the next twenty miles. Next is a challenging loop on beautiful mountain fire-roads.  Road texture alternates between hard-pack gravel and smooth moist dirt. Expect tenacious climbs (over 12,000’ of elevation gain overall), hundreds of curves, and peaceful mountain streams.  Upon return, racers will re-enter the single track for about nine final miles of the best trails in these mountains.

The weather in Southeastern Tennessee in late April ranges in expression. Expect a chilly morning for sure on race day, but a quick warming up in the early miles.  Six Aid Stations provide supplemental support throughout the course and a delicious meal and coveted “Finisher” mug await finishers at the Finish Line.

Next up is the 18th Annual Mohican 100 and Mohican 100k on June 1 that hosted nearly 600 racers in 2018. Like the Leadville 100, Mohican features a downtown start in Loudonville with plans to continue the neutral start that started in 2018. From there, the course covers several miles of double track before treating racers to a recently recognized IMBA Epic trail of pristine, flowing single track within the 5000 acre Mohican State Forest along a single loop spanning three of the counties that make up what is known as “Mohican Country”. Due to tremendous growth, The Mohican 100 mile and 100k imposed a limit of 600 racers. This race may sell out quickly so it is recommended to register soon. 100 Mile Race finishers receive a custom Mohican finisher growler to be filled and refilled with a truckload of microbrew provided by award winning Great Lakes Brewing of Cleveland.

From the Buckeye State, racers will head north into the Great Lakes State of Michigan for the Lumberjack 100, on June 15. Located deep within the Manistee forest in Wellston, Michigan, The Lumberjack will cap off the spring portion of the series.  If you like fast flowing, mostly non-technical single track, and Founders Brewing, this is your race. Perhaps that is why this event always sells out early, sometimes within minutes.

One June 24, Iron Mountain 100k, located in Damascus, Virginia returns to the NUE Marathon Race Schedule. Damascus is called “Trail Town” because the Appalachian Trail and the Creeper Trail pass right through the historic downtown. Bicycle advocates are also creating a Great Eastern Trail Bicycle Route that passes through Damascus too. This route is under development and utilizes the Iron Mountain Trail and the Highlands Horse Trail in the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. The GET Bicycle Route links to the New River Trail and onto Blacksburg where it gets back on singletrack and joins the existing GET at the southern end of the Shenandoah Mountain Trail.

As summer arrives, The NUE Race Series returns to the Black Hills of Sturgis, South Dakota on July 6 for the Tatanka Epic and Tatanka Marathon. The Tatanka introduced a brand-new course and format in 2018. Starting and finishing on the legendary Sturgis Main Street, in the middle of downtown in the “City of Riders”, racers will duke it out as they race through town between unique loops in a clover-leaf format. The new course covers dozens of miles of newly constructed trail and keeps the best trail from past events. The Tatanka Marathon will share its main loop with the Epic and represents many hardcore locals favorite “BIG ride”.

One week later, on July 13, NUE Marathon Series heads northeast to Maine. The Carrabassett 100k located in the Carrabassett Valley adds some northeast flavor to the NUE Series. Carrabassett, located near Sugarloaf Ski Area, has spent approximately $500,000 building mountain bike trails in the Carrabassett Region.  The goal is to construct an iconic mountain bike trail network that is on everybody’s “must-ride” list.  To date there is approximately 100 miles of riding for all abilities.  This includes miles of super flowy, machine-built singletrack and old-school style trails that have been carved out with hand tools and sweat.  The Carrabassett Backcountry Cycle Challenge (CBCC) is your chance to experience some of this outstanding riding in a true point-to-point style race through the western mountains of Maine!  Profits from the race go towards construction and maintenance of new trails.

Also on July 13, The Breckenridge 100 mile and 100k races return to the NUE Series Schedule. The Breckenridge 100 mile and 100k in Colorado can take your breath away, literally, as it begins at an altitude of 9000 feet before crossing the continental divide three times, eliciting jaw dropping views throughout in a three loop Clover shaped race originating from Carter Park in downtown Breckenridge.

2018 NUE series marathon champion Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot)

On July 20, think Big Foot and Volcano’s as Mudslinger Events hosts The High Cascades 100 in Bend returning for its tenth year to represent the state of Oregon. The Trails around Mt. Bachelor are truly epic and racers are treated to quality craft brews from Deschutes Brewing. With just 350 spots available, racers are encouraged to register as soon as possible.

Also on July 20, The Wilderness 101 and the Wilderness 101k, directed by Chris Scott, is located in the Rothrock and Bald Eagle State Forests just outside of State College, Pennsylvania, home of the Penn State Nittany Lions. If you enjoy technical backcountry single track and hair raising downhill thrills, nothing rocks quite like PA! W101 was one of just six races included in the inaugural NUE Race Series.

The final four races will occur within a two month period and, as usual, has a tendency to create some chaos in the series standings before the final tie breaking event.

First up is the 11th Annual Pierre’s Hole 100 and Pierre’s Hole 100k located near Alta, Wyoming on August 3. Pierre’s Hole, a mountain valley tucked up to the Wyoming border on the western side of the Tetons, was once known as the strategic center for fur trade in the Northern Rockies. Today it is known as the strategic gathering place to ski unfathomable deep powder and ride some of the best known single track in the nation.

According to race director Andy Williams, “The Pierre’s Hole 100 and Pierre’s Hole 100k at Grand Targhee Resort  newest course layout adds even more new single track without the nasty climb down to the ranch from the early years of the race that many old timers may recall. The 2019 course will take racers through fields of wild flowers, aspen trees and old growth forest right in the shadows of the Tetons.”​ The “Grand Loop” which is all a part of the Pierre’s race course was recently named as an IMBA Epic trail!”

The next day, on September 1 over Labor Day Weekend in the USA, the 22nd Annual Shenandoah Mountain 100 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will send up to 650 racers into the George Washington National Forest. Shenandoah is the grand-daddy of them all, and the largest strictly 100 mile race in the NUE Race Series! Shenandoah not only has a great reputation for amazing trails but is also well known for the outstanding support of volunteers and aid stations that many racers would agree sets the bar for excellence.

One September 21, NUE shifts north to the upper peninsula of Michigan to Ishpeming for the Marji Gesick 100 and 50 mile races.  100 miles and 13,000 vertical feet armored with rocks, roots, drops, jump lines, flow trails, grueling climbs, dangerous technical descents and a final fifteen miles designed to push riders to their mental and physical limits. This year’s Marji Gesick with a limit of 666 already sold out, in a single day!

Pierre’s Hole Alta, WY

Over its twelve year history, the NUE Race Series has alternated the Championship race from east to west several times in an effort to keep the playing field level for racers. In 2019, the final NUE race will break most ties and determine the new NUE Champions on the west coast of California at the Big Bear Grizzly 100 and Grizzly 75k in Big Bear Lake. Big Bear has attracted racers from nine countries and eighteen states!

Directed by Derek Hermon, racers familiar with the 100k Grand Fondo course will be treated to an extended portion of trail along a ridgeline with amazing views and an altitude beginning at 7000′ and reaching 8500′ with enough single track racers will beg for a fire road.

The NUE series schedule subject to change as race organizers are still in the usual process of procuring forest service permits and other logistical race planning details. Stay tuned here for upcoming information about NUE Series Sponsors, Prize Money, Potential travel awards, and other race details. www.nuemtb.com.

 

2019 NUE Epic 100 Mile Race Series

Race Date Location Limit Reg. Open
True Grit Epic March 9 Santa Clara, UT 700 November 11
Cohutta 100 April 27 Ducktown, TN 275 December 1
Mohican 100 June 1 Loudonville, OH 700 November 15
Lumberjack 100 June 15 Wellston, MI 430 January 5
Tatanka 100 July 6 Sturgis, SD 300 January 1
Breckenridge 100 July 13 Breckenridge, CO 500 January 15
High Cascades 100 July 20 Bend, OR 350 November 24
Wilderness 101 July 20 State College, PA 400 December 1
Pierre’s Hole 100 August 3 Alta, WY 550 February 1
Shenandoah 100 September 1 Harrisonburg, VA 650 December 1
Marji Gesick September 21 Ishpeming, MI 666 October 13
Big Bear Grizzly 100 September 28 Big Bear Lake, CA 500 January 1

2019 NUE Marathon Race Series

Race Date Location Limit Reg. Open
True Grit 50 March 9 Santa Clara, UT 700 November 11
Cohutta Big Frog 65 April 27 Ducktown, TN 275 December 1
Mohican 100k June 1 Loudonville, OH 700 November 15
Iron Mountain 100k June 23 Damascus, VA 250 December 1
Tatanka 50 July 6 Sturgis, SD 300 January 1
Carrabassett 100k July 13 Carrabassett, ME 600 February 1
Breckenridge 100k July 13 Breckenridge, CO 500 January 15
Wilderness 101k July 20 State College, PA 400 December 1
Pierre’s Hole 100k August 3 Alta, WY 550 February 1
Marji Gesick 50 September 21 Ishpeming, MI 666 October 13
Big Bear Grizzly 75k September 28 Big Bear Lake, CA 500 January 1

NUE 20th Anniversary Shenandoah Mountain 100

NUE Epic Series

The 20th Anniversary Shenandoah Mountain 100

By Ryan O’Dell

September 2, 2018

The Shenandoah 100 achieved a major milestone in the history of endurance racing celebrating its 20th Anniversary as the oldest race in the NUE Epic Race Series. Held within The George Washington National Forest of Virginia, Shenandoah marks the start of the fall season of the NUE Series with just two races remaining that will determine this year’s champions. Shenandoah is a highly anticipated showdown showcasing top level talent in a festive atmosphere with most racers choosing to camp out at the Stokesville Lodge and campground. This year, rain leading up to race day made course conditions slick and treacherous at times although race day weather was warm and mostly sunny.

Women’s Open

Hamm posts a sub 10 for the win!

Women’s Open Podium

Following third place finishes in both 2016 and 2017, Laura Hamm, Moonstomper/Blacksburg Janglers, stepped up to the top of the podium with a winning time of 9:35:36. Shenandoah was Hamm’s first NUE win although she also posted a third place finish in the NUE Marathon Series at Iron Mountain 100 earlier this season. “Going into the race, my main strategy was to hang on to Lauren Cantwell’s wheel until I could no longer keep pace (likely around mile 20). I executed this plan expertly until mile 4, when Lauren’s sidewall was sliced by something mysterious, likely a trail gnome.

Laura Hamm- Photo credit: Jess Daddio

My only setback was getting stung by a stinging creature going up Lynn. Sam Lindblom was kind enough to stop and help me make sure that the stinger was out. I took a Benadryl to prevent a Michelin man-like reaction and carried on a bit sleepier than before. AJ Mooney pulled me through many of the road sections. I owe him a beer. The highlights of the race were my quick bathroom break with Victor “Little Wolf” Guevara, the costumed Charlottesvillle-ites, and beating Jon Rugh, my neighbor and nemesis. As always, Chris Scott put on a fantastic event on a course with endless smiles and world-class aid station volunteers.”

Amelia Capuano- 2nd Women’s Open

Following a third place finish at the NUE Series Wilderness 101, Amelia Capuano, Reardon Steel Fab, finished 10:00:02, taking second at Shenandoah. “I had a fun day and started off quickly, trying to stay towards the front. I settled in on the chill climb up Lynn trail and it was mostly steady going from there. I really loved the nice rip down Chestnut and lack of brakes to go with it after slopping through some WV-esque mud holes. Thanks to whoever made me eat a Sammy and chug some coke at aid 6!! Really, thanks to all the folks at aid stations – so helpful with chain lube, grabbing food, and making me laugh! I love these races and Chris Scott knows what is up!! Also, shout out to the legend, Cheryl Sornson, (former NUE Series Champion) for helping me learn the ropes of 100-mile racing.

Lauren Cantwell- 3rd Women’s open

Twelve minutes later, Lauren Cantwell, Deschutes Brewing/Stokesville Lodge, claimed third at 10:12:30. Cantwell is now ranked second with 10 points in the NUE Series behind series leader, Larissa Conners. In addition to her first win at Cohutta this spring, Cantwell also posted a second place finish at Wilderness 101 plus fourth at Pierre’s Hole 100 in Wyoming and fifth at the NUE Season Opener at True Grit in St. George Utah.

Men’s Open

Anderson goes sub Seven to get his first ever win at Shenandoah!

Newcomer, Eddie Anderson, Hagens Berman Axeon, surprised many taking first at 6:57:14 in a stacked field that included former and current NUE Series Champions.

Eddie Anderson-Photo credit: Jess Daddio

Coming off his first NUE win at Mohican in June, Two-time NUE Series Champion and Shenandoah course record holder, Jeremiah Bishop, Canyon Factory Racing, came in at 7:14:03 to claim second. “I would call it an off day. I can do some amazing things sometimes but I struggled to find my rhythm today. I felt lucky to pull myself back together and hold of Dylan for second.” 2017 Shenandoah race winner, Bishop, finished second overall in the NUE Series Men’s Open in 2017 and posted a ninth place finish at Wilderness 101this season.

Jeremiah Bishop- Photo credit: Jess Daddio

Eight minutes later, NUE Series Defending Champion, Dylan Johnson, Leska MTB, finished third at 7:22:46. Johnson leads the NUE Series with 6 points that include wins at the Cohutta 100 in Tennessee, Lumberjack 100 in Michigan and Wilderness 101 in Pennsylvania plus a third place finish at Tatanka in South Dakota. Johnson finished fifth last year and second in 2016 behind Jeremiah Bishop at Shenandoah.

“Shenandoah, as always, brought out some of the toughest competition in the series. Eddie’s pace up the second climb was too much for me and he and Jeremiah rode away. I rode hard to minimize my losses in hopes to catch up but I knew they would be a strong pair on the road sections. After that, Christian and I rode together to the base of the third climb after aid 2 and he dropped off there. The entire rest of the race I was by myself. It wasn’t a great position to be in given all the road and gravel that was still left but I had no choice. I was happy to hold off the group behind me to get third.”

Dylan Johnson finishes in 3rd place.  Photo credit: Jess Daddio

David Flaten, Otterhaus Racing/Coaching, was fourth at 7:41:08 with former NUE Series Champion, Keck Baker, Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing p/b Reynolds GM/Subaru, just two minutes back at 7:43:40 finished fifth.

2016 Shenandoah race winner and former NUE Series Champion, Christian Tanguy, RBS Cycling Team, was sixth in the Men’s Open at 7:45:46, just one second behind SS winner, Gordon Wadsworth. Tanguy is currently ranked second in the NUE Epic Series with a score of 11 that includes a second place finish at Cohutta plus third place finishes at Mohican, Lumberjack, and Wilderness 101. In 2017, Tanguy place second behind Jeremiah Bishop at Shenandoah.

Singlespeed

Wadsworth repeats at Shenandoah!

Defending NUE Series Singlespeed Champion and 2017 Shenandoah SS race winner, Gordon Wadsworth, Blue Ridge Cyclery/Pivot Cycles/Industry Nine, took the win at 7:45:45, including placing sixth overall! For 2018, the Defending NUE Series Champion now has three wins with wins at both True Grit Epic and Wilderness 101 this season.

“My SM went really well. The conditions were about average for VA in hurricane season, slick and snotty, with periods of good hot sunshine. The past two years at SM have been record breaking conditions and so it was nice to see a classic VA race shaping up. As always, I knew my mission was get into a fast group and STAY there!

A lot of flats early in the game on a bonier than average Narrowback trail precipitated a chase group early. The rain made the normally rocky but manageable Narrowback/Tillman trails full on carnage of riders with mechanicals and flat tires. My K2N Stage Race teammate Thomas Turner and I bottomed out on Tillman Rd to see Chris Michaels in the distance. We chased up to Chris and as a group got the lead quad in our sights; nearly joining them before Lynn trail. On Lynn, we each rode our own paces (mine with a dash of walking) as we bridged up to Keck Baker. Now four riders strong, this group rode well together until Baker attacked on Hankey Mtn. We dropped Chris Michaels and eventually bridged up to a flagging Christian Tanguy.

Wadsworth and Tanguy battle it out in a sprint finish. Photo credit: Jess Daddio

This new grupetto never set a chase worthy pace but stayed consistent in our effort to stay clear of any other riders. With Thomas barely sneaking away by a few seconds on the Braley’s Pond downhill, I led a pace back up to

Thomas and then we set out towards the Death Climb. On the approach into the climb, we were joined by our friend David Flaten. I asked Flaten if he had seen the always strong John Haddock recently and he replied that he had not. Flaten added a component of motivation to the mix and he and Baker attacked not long into the steepest part of the climb; separating Thomas and I from them and Christian farther off still.

Thomas and I rode together in our good old duo mix until nearly the top of the death climb up Reddish Knob. Near the top my SS pace dictated a little harder effort and I was sure he would join me on the Chestnut DH. A rider did but it wasn’t Thomas, it was Christian Tanguy. Christian and I have pedaled a few miles together over the years and I was glad for someone to share the line down a really grade A descent! Christian and I bottomed out together and then leapt out of aid 6 headed for the final ascent up Hankey Mtn.

On Hankey we climbed well together with Christian even offering to let me roll ahead. I had no interest in that as, at this point, I felt pretty comfortable in my lead. I got a little distance on Christian and then POW my chain derailed from my Pivot LES Singlespeed. Really unusual, but a chain stretched from 90 miles of VA steeps and gritty trail conditions made the unusual possible. As Christian passed I resigned myself to 7th overall. I re-set the chain and jumped aboard.

However, near the top of the Hankey climb, I saw Christian again and passed him just as we headed into the singletrack. I got a little more distance on him but, as we bottomed out on the gravel before the campground singletrack, I again heard Christian. He was clearly gunning for another position on the results sheet. He dove into the singletrack just ahead of me, doing a little blocking and, no doubt, aware of the charging that could happen at any moment. I let Christian lead all the way to the line before a hard corner and a half-hearted bike throw landed me that sixth position.

The Shenandoah Mtn 100 is a real deal mountain bike racers course. Full of everything that makes America great it’s my all-time favorite day on the bike and this year was no exception.”

John Haddock- 2nd Singlespeed

2016 SS Race Winner, John Haddock, J.A. King, finished second at 8:32:18, utilizing 34/19 Gearing. Haddock currently leads the NUE SS Epic Series with wins at Cohutta and Mohican plus a second place finish at True Grit Epic.

“As always, the much anticipated Shenandoah 100 was a blast this year. Conditions were tough, but that made finishing all the more rewarding. This would be the 4th race of the series for me and with school back in full swing, my plan was to ride my own race, hope for a good finish, and stay healthy. I got off to a good start and exited Narrowback with a group, but unfortunately they got away on Lynn as I went for an extended hike.

For the remainder of the race, I kept a steady effort, often time’s yo-yo-ing with some geared guys, but mostly by myself. The climbs rolled by and the descents were rejuvenating. I’m super happy with my race this year. Not my fastest time ever, but the course was slow and I felt great at the finish line. Congrats to everyone who raced and especially to my singlespeed amigos!”

Seven minutes later, Don Powers, UPMC Pro Bikes, took third at 8:39:13. Powers finished second at Mohican and third at Wilderness 101 this season. Powers also finished third at Shenandoah in 2017.

Don Powers- 3rd Singlespeed

Masters Men 50+

Cobb wins the Masters!

Bradley Cobb, Motor Mile Racing/SCV, was first in the Masters at 8:36:46. Cobb is currently ranked second in the NUE Epic Masters Series, behind Carey Smith, with a score of 8 that includes his win at Cohutta plus a second place finish at Lumberjack and fourth place finish at True Grit Epic.

Brad Cobb- 1st Masters

Former NUE Series Masters Champion, Roger Masse, Stokesville/Shenandoah Mountain Touring, took second at 9:01:51. Masse is currently ranked fourth in the NUE Epic Masters Series with a score of 11 including his second place finish at Cohutta, fourth place at Mohican and third at Wilderness 101.

Roger Masse- 2nd Masters

In his first NUE Series race this season, Jed Prentice, Team Bike Doctor, took third at 9:27:51.

For full results CLICK HERE

What’s NEXT?!

On September 22, the NUE Epic Series heads to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the Marji Gesick, one of the most difficult courses in the NUE Series.

From Michigan, The NUE Championship race at the Grizzly 100 in Big Bear, CA is slated for September 29, 2018. All four Division winners will receive complimentary entry into all NUE Series races in 2019, Custom Voler Champion Jersey Kits, plus a share of the $10,000 NUE Series cash purse.

As an added travel bonus, NUE division winners are invited to represent the NUE Series at The LaRuta de los Conquistadores, a three day stage race across Costa Rica November 1-3, 2018. There is still time to register for anyone that would like to join NUE Champions on this incredible journey from the Pacific to the Caribbean.

ALL NUE Series finishers who do not qualify for prize money will receive prize packages courtesy of NUE Sponsors Kenda Tire, Hammer Nutrition, Sigma Sport, KMC Chain and Darn Tough Socks.

Stay tuned here for the latest news and information on the Marji Gesick and NUE Series Championship Race!

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

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

NUE Pierre’s Hole 100K

Written by: @JenToops & Marlee Dixon @graciedaze

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

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

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

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

Open Men

Brown takes the top step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Women

Harvey defends title on home turf

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

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

Singlespeed

Toops gets four back-to-back NUE wins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masters

Local racer Llinares takes the top step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full results click here

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

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

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

 

NUE Pierre’s Hole 100 Mile

Written by: @JenToops and Marlee Dixon @graciedaze

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

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

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

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

Open Men

Lewis gets second NUE win of the season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Women

Conners gets fourth NUE win on Kenda Tires!

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

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

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

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

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

Singlespeed

Fischer gets the Singlespeed win

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masters

Smith leads NUE masters series

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

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

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

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

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

Full results click here

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

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

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

 

NUE Wilderness 101

Written by: @JenToops

Photos by: Bryan Lewis

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

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

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

Open Men

Johnson gets third NUE win for 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Women

Barclay wins Open Women

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

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

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

Sponsors:  Kenda Cannondale Women’s Elite Team”

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

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

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

Singlespeed

Wadsworth gets second NUE win of the season

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masters

Spaulding repeats at Wilderness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for full results

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

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

Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge

Anthony and Daigle Conquer Carrabassett

Written by: Ryan O’Dell

Located in the beautiful Carrabassett Valley of Northern Maine at Sugar Loaf Ski Area, The eighth annual (CBCC) Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge 100k joined the NUE Marathon Series in 2017 witnessing tremendous growth. According to race director, Warren Gerow, “the event has evolved a lot since 2011 when the 100k was a two lap course that was stitched together with mostly old single-track and double track. We’ve seen tremendous growth in the past few years; 2015 187 people registered online, this year, the race has grown to about 500 racers.” In addition to the NUE 100k distance, CBCC also includes shorter distances of 50k and 25k plus kids races.

During the past seven years, approximately $750,000 has been spent building mountain bike trails in the Carrabassett Region. The goal is to construct an iconic mountain bike trail network that is on everybody’s “must-ride” list. To date, there is approximately eighty miles of riding for all abilities. This includes miles of super flowy, machine-built singletrack and old-school style trails that have been carved out with hand tools and sweat. Profits from the race go towards construction and maintenance of new trails.

 

Women’s Open

Anthony Wins!

Crystal Anthony, Liv Cycling, won the Women’s race finishing in 5:44:59, her first NUE win of the season!

Following her second place finish at Cohutta and her first NUE win at the Mohican 100k this spring, Lara Richards, Little Fire Cycles, finishes second in 6:11:19. “This year has been a great year of racing for me. I have really enjoyed doing the NUE series. It seems that every race the weather has been wonderful and each location seems to be more beautiful than the last.

However, since having to DNF due to a mechanical at Damascus, I was definitely not going into the Carrabassett Challenge with much confidence.  And after the 20 hour drive from Georgia to Maine, I was contented with just enjoying my race, doing my best and finishing where I may.

Bacon with chocolate drizzle to power riders on course.

At the start of the race Kaitlyn and Crystal both took off fast and I thought I was sure not to see either of them again. I was not too far along when Bryna passed me strong on a climb of rocky switch backs putting me in 4th. I was able to keep her in my vision for the first 18 miles or so and was able to pass her, while charging down a steep downhill. But not for long, she passed me back soon after and this time I was not able to keep up.

At this point I found myself riding with the same group for several miles. I road chill and paced myself accordingly. I did not think I would make it onto the podium. But even still I was having a crazy fun time on the trails and the ever changing terrain. Even if I finished last, I would not have regretted this race at all.

The Carrabassett Maine trails offered a more challenging course than I expected and kept me engaged throughout. I enjoyed the twisty sections, moving in out of the rocks. I enjoyed getting to ride up the Widowmaker to and through the ski resort. There were longer and steeper climbs than I anticipated. The downhills were also a blast and so much of the single trek was fast, fun, and flowy.

I was picking up speed in a level area of single trek, just enjoying my ride, when I noticed a female rider ahead of me. I could not believe it!  I told the male rider just in front, “to the left”.  I was going to catch my competition. At that point, the race became a race to me again.  I was off and was able to catch and pass Kaitlyn before exiting that section of single track but I knew I had to keep pushing. I could tell she was a strong rider and knew if I slacked off at all she would be right on top of me. I think I was able to put a little distance between us after a long climb through a clearing.

After this came Birthday Hill which I bombed down fast as I could and it was here I unknowingly passed Bryna as well. She road in behind me from the aid station from on top of the hill. I only noticed her as we exited on to the gravel. She got in front of me at the u-turn and, from there, we road together for many miles passing each other now and then. I still, at this point, thought she would get away from me before the race was over and I would finish third but I was able to break from her after a short stretch of gravel and then the last climb of single track switchbacks. It was hard for me to keep a decent pace at this point, I was getting very tired and was waiting for her sneak behind me. I gained some speed on some fun downhill which was a nice break and helped push to finish the race and take the second spot.

I did not see Cathryn at all during the entire race and I am proud to finish second to someone so strong. I am also grateful to be able to race with such amazing female athletes as Bryna and Kaitlyn.

NEMBA and the volunteers did a terrific job setting up this race.  Many thanks to Little Fire Cycles and Adventure Cycles for making sure my bike and wheels are race worthy and Rhinohead for my awesome gloves. See everyone soon at the next NUE race!”

Four minutes later, last year’s race winner, Bryna Blanchard, BMB Racing, was third at 6:15:06. Blanchard is a top contender for the NUE Marathon Series title with second place finishes at both Mohican and Iron Mountain this year. “Another fantastic NUE race happened last Saturday, this time in the Carrabassett Valley wilderness of Maine. The weather and trail conditions were perfect, much different from last year’s mud and pouring rain on the start line. The level of competition had also taken a step up from last year.

Two very accomplished women from the west coast, Crystal Anthony and Kaitlyn Boyle, pushed the pace from the start. I love racing this course, the constantly changing terrain, long climbs and descents keep me engaged and distracts from the exhausting number of hours it takes to complete. I raced hard and felt good, passing Kaitlyn on the long exposed midpoint climb to move myself into second. Super strong Lara Richards and I rode together on and off, trading places back and forth for much of the race until she dropped me for good and rode away on the final long double track climb. The highlight of my race was riding with Lara, trying to capitalize on my strengths and minimize my weaknesses to stay ahead or in contact with her. Not sure if I went out too hard or didn’t fuel properly but the last five miles were absolute survival, suffering and going nowhere fast.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with finishing third in such a strong field of women. While my good friend and world class racer Crystal easily took the win, less than eight minutes separated 2nd through 4th place. At the end, I was spent, all my strength, mental focus, and strategizing was left out on the course. Every race is a learning experience and I have two weeks to makes some tweaks and prepare to the next one in PA. This was my most challenging day on the bike so far this year, and quite possibly the most fun!”

 

Men’s Open

2018 Marc-André Daigle wins, setting a new course record!

37-year-old Marc-André Daigle, Garneau/Pivot Cycles OTE Canada, was first overall, earning his first NUE win completing the 100k course in 4:54:15, setting a new course record, the first racer to finish sub five hours!

Custom syrup bottles for race finishers!

Four minutes back, Mathieu Belanger-Barrette, Pivot Cycles OTE Canada, gets second at 4:58:03. “I wasn’t expecting such a fast start especially knowing that we were about to shred singletrack for 5+ hours. The pace was sustained and even exaggerated for a while and we finally got settled around km 60. Marc-André and I were in front and we couldn’t see the chase group. I was starting to see double when Marco pulled a big attack. It was way too much to handle. As I tried to catch him back, I clipped my pedal on a hidden rock and crashed quite hard on my ribs.

I was able to keep my second place untouched even though I slowed down quite seriously after the crash. The course was insanely good, not too much climbing but a lot of technical section to distance the riders.”

Two minutes later, 2017 Race Winner, Andy Scott, Riverside Racing, took third at 5:00:08, sixteen minutes faster than last year.

 

Singlespeed

2018 Kramer wins the SS Race!

Shane Kramer, Placid Planet/Barkeater Trail, won the Single Speed race to finish 5:35:29. “After hearing several of my friends talk about how great the riding was in Carrabassett Valley, I knew I had to add this race to my calendar. I’ve always been a slow starter and showing up to the line late didn’t help me any this past weekend. I was probably in 100th place leaving the start and maybe 80th by the time we hit the tight singletrack. Patience was the name of the game while I waited for every opportunity to pass. As we got to the condos on Sugarloaf I heard someone counting off riders as we went by “…48, 49, 50…” making up ground but still a long way to go. I finally caught up to a group with Peter Bradshaw and Matt Sousa just after the 1st aid station on the climb up Buckshot.

I was racing on a borrowed frame from Solace Cycles that I just built up on Wednesday before the race. The frame fit and rode great but didn’t have any water bottle mounts. I don’t like riding with a hydration pack so I only had one water bottle in a fanny pack. This meant I had to stop and fill bottles at every aid station. Not the best race tactic.

I yo-yoed for quite a while with Peter and Matt. Matt told me that Doug Thorp was still up ahead somewhere. I don’t know Doug but heard he was a strong racer and figured he had 1st place already wrapped up. So, after finally getting a gap from Matt and Peter, I was pretty surprised to come up behind Doug a couple of miles before the 3rd aid station. I made a pass but he passed me back as I stopped to fill my only water bottle. I caught and passed him again on the fast gravel out and back section. I think mainly because I was pushing a bigger gear, 34×19. This section also allowed me to see that Peter and Matt were still right there. So, although, my legs were showing signs of cramping I tried to keep the pace up and decided to skip the water refill at the last aid station and push through to the finish. I’m so stoked to come away with a win at such a great event.

Four minutes later, Peter Bradshaw, Mad Alchemy/Zanconato, took second at 5:39:28. “Start was quick into singletrack and super fun. Lots of people but it moved well. Weather was cool and just got a few sprinkles right as we got going. Doug seemed to have a great start and was well ahead. I was riding just behind Sousa for the open miles through all the fun stuff. Once the race opened up to the gravel climbs we were joined by Shane and a bunch of people from other categories. We kept a pretty large group until maybe halfway up the large climb in the middle of the race and Shane rode away.  Sousa and I rallied pretty well to the top but split. I connected with another rider and he pulled me along for a long way along a great river trail. I saw Doug and Shane riding together at the turn around, then later caught Doug and tried to chase down Shane but he was flying. Fun day, singletrack we rode looked great, monster climbs, sketchy skimobile descents, and a river crossing! Gearing was 30×18 and I was pretty happy with that.”

Three minutes later, Doug Thorp, Colonial Bicycle Company, finished third at 5:42:21. “To fully understand why I ended up on the podium you need to understand two things; I’m addicted to cycling and I’m broke. This was my second NUE single speed race, and truly my third SS marathon mountain bike race ever. My journey began in Pisgah in April where I was JRA and ended up bashing my carbon wheel and squishy bike just days before Big Frog for which my girlfriend was registered and I was still only toying with the idea. With my squishy bike in the emergency ward, I only had one option. I had to race my cobbled together SS which was an old On-One 456 26” setup like a dirt jumper. So with the option to race Open off the table I was more inclined to race but still unsure if I was up to the task of slogging for 65 miles in Tennessee. I did some reconnaissance the day before with a few friends who had flown in for the race and felt it was within my ability to finish. The race started slow and ended well with me getting stronger throughout and moving from 13th to 7th in the last 10 miles. I ended up losing a sprint for 6th, but was elated that my first marathon SS race went so well. The only question I had was could I do better? I was hooked.

Brimming with confidence I registered for my local race the Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge knowing full well that this race was full of both Backcountry and challenges. My race morning got a little thrown off since I had forgotten my 2toms chamois sheets; I was desperately searching for anything that would keep me from destroying my undercarriage. I found my Shimano bleed kit in my trunk and slathered on some green mineral oil and was hoping for the best. I rolled up to the starting line late and found a friend that let me squeeze in. He told me he just applied his own sheet, and was worried his hands were now too slippery to hold his bars. “5 minutes to start.” ~Announcer. I sprinted over to his car and went full sloppy seconds on his 2toms sheet, rolled back to the start line at peace and waited for the gun. Right there my race was saved.

“Bang” we were off! The first couple turns are important at every race but hitting that single track before the rest can save you minutes in the overall. I fell back to somewhere in the high 30s or low 40s before making it to the first real climb. After the first 10 miles I was only 6 minutes back on the open leaders. I was feeling great and kept just spinning up the climbs and letting her buck on the descents. I was sitting in the 20s overall and was really feeling the flow.

Across the 30k mark at the aid station I was told I was in the lead just before heading out on the 5 mile climb. I felt strong and was forcing myself to keep up on my nutrition. Greg Jancitis who was recovering from an early mechanical went by me on a power section like a freight train. I was baffled by his speed; he was kind enough to let me know I had a solid lead over the next single speeder. Little did he know I was four miles away from the “Lake Placid Kid” (aka Shane) from blowing my doors off.

The course had some great water crossings and the last one had an un-rideable log at the top of the bank which was about 4 feet wide. Looking back and watching four riders hurdle the log and seeing the absence of a rear derailleur on one was disheartening. It was now a race or so I thought at the time. Shane and I rode together for the next few miles until I went past him at the aid station. Shane quickly filled a bottle and gave chase. The best and worst part of this course is around mile 44. It’s an out and back power section on a dirt road, where you can see 5 minutes ahead and 5 minutes behind you. As I found out the hard way my cadence of 120 couldn’t match the gearing and legs of Shane. I then was doing damage control wondering if all these other hammerheads that saw me spinning my wee little legs could see how much I was hurting. Turns out one other did and also had the legs and will to do something about it. Bradshaw caught me after mile 50, somewhere in the willywacks on some OG single track. For the most part I kept up to him, until I didn’t.

I had one last trick up my sleeve, a trail called Crommet’s which is a half an hour climb at mile 60 (Yeah, 60! If you’re quick at math you’ll realize this was not as billed; a 100k.) I kept going the best I could with will and legs starting to fade I finally hit the last aid station just before the climb and started pushing my way by the masters racers up Crommet’s. At the top I was truly hurting with my stomach turning sour, my Garmin reading 65 and my legs all but spent. Heading down Oak Knoll, a heavily armored trail which I did my best to vibrate my way down, I didn’t manage to catch Bradshaw and believe he stayed strong. The last piece of this course has you cross the mighty Carrabassett River via a small footbridge. However this year’s big spring storms took it out and we were forced to ford the Carrabassett on foot. Running with my bike in knee deep cold river water was the highlight of the day. I finished better than I could have hoped and raced my hardest with limited mental mistakes.

If you’re not from around here and want to disprove the local colonialism “You can’t get there from here.” Mark your calendars for the hardest NUE in the Northeast.

 

Masters 50+

Golet gets his first NUE Win of the 2018 Season!  

NUE Epic Series Champion, Greg Golet, Team Chico, earned his first win of the season now competing in the NUE Marathon Series.  Golet completed the 100k course in 5:34:26. “This trip was a homecoming of sorts for me having spent many of my vacations as a kid alpine skiing at Sugarloaf and hiking in the Bigelows. And with my mom still living on nearby Eustis ridge, the race was the perfect excuse for a visit. The plan also made sense for my brother and best childhood friend who came from Alaska and Colorado.

I’m terrible at pack starts and group riding in general, and had a pretty bad start jamming a stick in my derailleur trying to pass in a brushy area, and otherwise wasting energy being spastic when I should have just been patient and waited for the course to open up. On the first sustained climb I got past my friend/rival Jeff who I’ve battled with the last couple years in the Epic series.

After traversing the resort we hit a section of steep narrow trail where a wrong line choice sent me flying over the bars. My bike cartwheeled, but somehow I landed on my feet. With no apparent bike issues or injuries I was able to ride on.

All day I was blown away by the varied terrain and trail conditions. Coming from dry California, it felt so good to ride in the moist forests.

On the out and back I saw Jeff was riding fast with a group just a few minutes back, and so kept pushing, skipping aid stops even though I was low on water and out of food, but then wondering if the little bits of time I saved would be lost from slowing down if my intermittent leg cramps worsened, which didn’t seem unlikely given how dehydrated I was.

But on the last long climb I felt good, and the oak knoll descent was pure joy. However, at the bottom I relaxed too soon and went off course. Luckily a guy not far behind me figured it out quickly and soon we were back on track.

Before the race started, the guy who set up the course welcomed us there “as family”. That resonated with me, and I felt lucky to have so many friends and family there to share the experience with. Maine rocks, and it’s awesome to see such a vibrant and quality mountain bike  scene developing in Carrabassett Valley.

Next up Pierre’s Hole!

Three minutes later, 2016 NUE Epic Series Masters Champion, Jeff Clayton, Georgia Neurosurgical Institute, now competing for the NUE Marathon Series title, finished second at 5:37:21. “My wife Jodi and I arrived at Carrabassett Valley on Thursday afternoon after several days of spirited hiking in Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia and Acadia NP. I was looking forward to riding some rugged trails, but unsure how my tired legs would do. My potent rival, Scott Burrill, graciously offered to share his slope side condo minutes from the race start….it is not at all unusual in mountain bike racing for the fiercest competitors to become great friends.

On Friday morning race director, Warren Gerow, gave Scott and me a riding tour of some of the course, which was very helpful because it covered some of the more technical single track and sketchy “rake and ride” sections. Race start was pretty typical sprint for the trail, with the usual silly risk taking for very little gain. Not wanting an early crash or quick burn out, I was content to settle in behind the large front pack.

About 15 minutes in, Greg Golet came cruising by and I got on his wheel. I managed to stay on his wheel for about 15 minutes while he passed several riders. Just after we passed Scott, Greg kicked the pace up, I fell off and Scott passed me back. For the next couple of hours I plugged away, my technical riding getting more comfortable and pushing a big gear on every road climb.

I finally caught Scott on the Esker trail but he was having none of that and gunned it dropping all but a few of a train on riders I’d brought up. Barely hanging on through the poplar stream trail, I knew I needed to drop him (and have any chance of catching Greg) on the road and/or Crommets trail after aid 4. I was never sure I had dropped him because I was passing many of the 50k racers and it was hard to see who was behind.

The lady who let me know five miles to go put a smile on my face, and I made sure to have fun but be cautious on the switchback descent to the narrow gauge trail. From there it was a nice cool river crossing and hammer up the final single track, never giving up hope of catching Greg. I really enjoyed the race and appreciate the effort and hospitality of the CRNEMBA crew and my new Mainiac friends.”

Seven minutes later, NUE Marathon Series defending champion, Scott Burrill, Bikeman.com, finished third in 5:44:25. “This was my fifth or sixth time riding the Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge and by far the best. The race organizers really nailed it this year and we were graced with perfect racing weather and trail conditions!

Coming into the race after two weeks of nursing a summer cold, my strategy was to go in slow and steady and to keep an eye on Jeff Clayton. The first 20 miles or so went well. I got ahead of Jeff after the first gnarly downhill from West Mountain. I knew, though, that he’s a steam roller and gets faster as the race goes along.

Through aid 2 I saw no sign of him and kept on trucking up the notorious 4 mile dirt road climb.  When I made the turn onto the Esker trail I was feeling good and maintained a fast steady pace toward aid 3 at “Birthday Hill”.  Looking over my shoulder on a long power line stretch, I saw no one behind and felt fairly secure; surely I had a big lead on him by now? Nevertheless, a couple miles later, a group caught me including Jeff; so much for the gap. We left aid 3 together and headed out.

The group worked together on the out and back and then into the “Sticky Trail”, a technical stretch of ST I know well. I led the group and we whittled it down to three quickly. Unfortunately, I blew a lot of energy in there and felt it climbing to the Poplar Hut. I followed Jeff and another racer into aid 4 feeling pretty blown and knowing I had the very long climb up “Crommets” to the Stratton Hut area. Sure enough, I had no gas going up and watched as the two rode away from me, so, another lesson in the never ending course of XXCM racing.

The race was blast with fantastic competition, amazing turnout, stellar management and killer conditions! The aid station crews were, as always, simply awesome. Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen!”

 

WHATS NEXT: NUE Epic Series heads to Bend, Oregon on July 21 for the High Cascades 100, a race around the volcano of Mount Bachelor. One week later, NUE Marathon and Epic Series racers will head for the challenging hills and rocks of State College, PA for the Wilderness 101.