NUE- Marji Gesick 100k

NUE Series 2021-Marji Gesick 50 mile

September 18, 2021

Written by: @Jentoops

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

Race director Todd Poquette collecting tokens from finishers. Photo credit: Ryan Stephens

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

Photo credit: Ryan Stephens

Racers in the one-hundred mile course finishing under twelve hours for mountain biking, under twenty-eight hours for runners and under twenty-two hours for duathlon, will earn the coveted belt buckle handmade by blacksmith Gordon Gearhart.

Marji Awards hand forged by Gordon Gearhart. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Women’s open- Lowery gets the top step

No stranger to the Marji Gesick races, Carey Lowery of Tennessee, won with a time of 8:14:19. “The 50 started in Marquette at the Ore Dock.  The first two miles were flat, paved, and faster thanI wanted to go so early into the race so I let the front go and settled into a comfortably hard pace.  After climbing Marquette Mountain, I settled into a rhythm of attacking the climbs, recovering on the flats, and finding my flow state on the descents.  I had no idea how many women were ahead of me, but I thought maybe 2 or 3.  I did not chase them, but let my legs and lungs dictate my efforts.  I have done enough of these endurance events to know to be consistent and conserve.  I felt great heading into Jackson Park, where I stopped to grab my hydration pack. I caught Kim Heintz a little ways after the first stop in Jackson.  I elected to keep my GPS screen on the breadcrumb trail and not watch “the numbers.”  I raced more by feel and knew how far I was by distinct landmarks.  I rolled back into Jackson Park, rewarded myself with an ice cold Coke, refilled my nutrition and fluids, and headed back out for the last 15.  I had pre ridden this two days before, so it was comforting to know just how far (both time-wise and distance) I had to go.  As I approached the rock slab hike a bike, I cried out, “My favorite section!,” which helped to stoke the fires for the final miles.  I did not pass any other women.  The last bit of single track was a real bugger, as the fatigue monster was riding piggyback.  I was all smiles going up Jasper Knob, as I was smelling the barn now.  I rolled through the finish line in 8:14, not knowing how I placed.  It wasn’t until after I had gotten cleaned up and changed 15 minutes later that I realized I had taken the win.  That was just icing on a wonderfully delicious Marji Gesick cake! Sponsors:  Rescue Racing, Scott’s Bikes, Industry 9, Chamois Butt’r, Christopher Bean Coffee, Trucker Co”

Women’s 50 mile podium: 1st Carey Lowery, 2nd Amy Schultz, 3rd Kim Heintz

About thirteen minutes back, Amy Schultz from Wisconsin, took second in 8:27:09. “This was my first time racing Marji Gesick 50, my longest mountain bike event ever, and honestly my longest bike ride ever (road, gravel, or mtb!). The longest I had ridden my mtb prior to Marji Gesick was about 5 hours for a non-race ride. I do put in a significant amount of volume on bikes throughout the year, but typically focus on shorter XCO races (such as the WORS series in Wisconsin) and cyclocross races. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I would have fun as I love technical singletrack. And I was right, I just loved the course. It suited me well. I started out near the back at ~200 of 240 racers. I was worried about going out too hard and not pacing myself. So I thought this was a good idea. However, when I reached the first climb, a gravel road, and a lot of people were walking already or riding pretty slowly, I realized I should maybe change my strategy. I decided to push the effort a bit to get ahead of as many people as I could before the first stretch of single track, Off Grade, a black rated uphill. However, I didn’t quite get ahead of enough people. I ended up behind a train of ~30-40 people on the singletrack. It was painful to walk and not rip that stretch at the speed I wanted. But, it allowed me to chat with some local riders, something I never get to do in shorter, hard-effort races. I met Trent and Luke and we eventually hit some double track, passed the rest of the group, and rode the iron ore trail to Ishpeming together. Luke didn’t stop at the checkpoint and I lost track of Trent, but it was so nice having them to ride with! I stopped at the drop bags to eat and refill. I was pretty strict about eating something every 30 min and drinking 1 liter an hour. I caught the wheel of Dan in the next techy section. He asked if I wanted to pass, but I decided it was probably a good strategy to stay with people. Time went by fast when I followed a wheel and chatted, also, when I went solo I tended to go too hard up hills and I was worried about bonking. I really enjoyed loved riding with Dan. He was a good technical rider and I rode some steeper parts I probably would not have otherwise. I eventually passed him and caught a few more wheels. The next guy I rode with told me I was only about 30 min from first place female, and I thought, “no way! I started in the way back and was so slow through the first 12 miles of single track” I decided I couldn’t and shouldn’t push the pace though. I should just ride a comfortable pace. I still had a lot of miles left – about half the race left. At the second pass through Jackson park to get my drop bag for the last time, about mile 40, the lady working there told me the 1st place woman just left the stop 5 min ago. I couldn’t believe I had potentially made up some time.  I sort of wanted to try to catch her, but I was tired and knew I had a long way. I also just wanted to eat and refuel in the moment. Furthermore, I was convinced I was maybe disqualified as I had not seen any checkpoints with tokens, which are needed when you cross the finish line. I carried on and decided I would stop at all remaining aid stations (I had skipped all up until then, except the Jackson Park drop bag stops). I stopped and had brownies, cookies, licorice and even stopped at the beach aid station and took a shot of whiskey with the crew there! I think it was the pick-me-up I needed, because after that stop, I had a second wind and some fast segments on the last single track stretches. Thank you aid station volunteers!  I think next time I will start near the front next time, but who knows, maybe it will help me pace and not fade towards the end! OTherwise, I wouldn’t change much. I really enjoyed the vibe and energy from the volunteers, staff, and riders. I would do Marji again, but would also like to try the Cascades 100 (I used to live out on Mt Hood, Oregon), or Mohican 100. Thanks to Neff Cycle Service (Sponsor and bike shop) and Josh McKinney (friend) for ensuring I have a mountain bike that works well and that I love to ride!”

Women’s open finisher Kim Rudd with masters finisher Diana Munger

Taking the third step on the podium, Kim Heintz from Illinois, finished in 9:17:47. “This year’s Marji 50 was my third time racing it and my first race in exactly two years. The last time I raced was this same race in 2019.I went into this race not knowing what to expect, I was hoping for a top 3 finish. I’ve spent most of this year focused on shorter, harder efforts and also out of practice with racing. The previous two times, I had just come off of racing Leadville, so I had everything dialed.I was assigned bib #666, and normally you’d think you’ve been dealt the worst luck every, but in the Marji, it’s kind of like winning the lottery. That’s their brand – and it definitely got a lot of attention! I was hoping it’d bring some good luck for the day!When we started, we were on a paved path for a couple of miles, and then we took a turn away from Lake Superior and started climbing. It was a long and sometimes steep climb. I saw that I was in second place and worked hard to try to keep 1st in my line of sight.  For most of the first hour or so, I figured I was only about 45 seconds back.  However, I think my lack of practice in racing the last couple of years got the best of me and I think I went out too hard.I didn’t realize it for a couple of hours but then it kind of hit me.I came into Jackson Park the first time, where I had my drop bag, about 6 minutes faster than my best time there. I was still feeling good but about an hour later, I could feel my legs starting to seize up a bit and cramp. My heart rate wouldn’t come down, and that’s when I realized I had gone out too hard. I slowed things down quite a bit for the next hour or two and got a little bit of positive talk from my friend Bryan who was out there with me and tried to get my heart rate under control and to also get my legs to stop seizing up.During this time, several other women had passed me, and I assumed my run for the podium was over. So, I just spent the rest of the race enjoying the super technical trails, fun descents, and insane climbs.

It was an absolutely picture-perfect fall day in the Upper Penninsula, and what a great way to spend it!You’re supposed to pick up hidden tokens along the race course as you go. Usually these are just randomly placed throughout the course. I never saw any this time but just as we did the final climb up, which is always an out and back, I saw the first one.  I kept going up and saw another one and then another.  In total, there were 4 tokens to pick up on this short, steep section.From there, I headed to the finish line, crossing in 9:17. One of the race directors, Todd, came up to me to congratulate me. And I said I’d hoped to have done the 666 number justice by taking a podium spot but I thought I was in 5th or 6th. He said “are you sure about that?” and pulled out his phone to show me I finished 3rd.I was in disbelief and overjoyed! I didn’t know it at the time, but the tokens each had a word on them – and they spelled out “Finish What You Start”.  How fitting for the type of day I had.Marji is such a cool race. Extremely hard and makes you feel all sorts of emotions, but such a satisfying and rewarding experience. Sponsors: PSIMET Racing and Roots Racing”

A couple minutes back, Kim Rudd of Minnesota, took fourth place in 9:21:34. Finished in fifth was, April Beard of Wisconsin, in 9:42:06.

After texting #quitter in 2019, Ella (pictured left), came back more determined than ever and finished the 50 mile course in 23 hours. She is only 13! Photo credit: Ella Clement’s mom.

Men’s Open

Getting his first NUE win of 2021, Anthony Grinnell of Pennsylvania, won with a time of 6:04:30. “I travelled to Michigan’s UP with my teammate Jim Litzinger with one goal in mind- to get Litz another single speed win so he could wrap up the championship.  The race started off at a very reasonable pace on the opening flat 2 to 3 miles.  This was the best possible scenario, allowing Litz to stay on my wheel until we got to the opening climb.  As we started up the first climb, a few overly ambitious riders got aggressive.  I looked down at my Garmin and was pushing over 400 watts as I watched several riders gap Jim and I on the climb.  Two of them blew up before the first climb was even finished, leaving one racer out ahead of us.  Even though we’d never done the Marji race, we heard all the rumors of tough, grindy single track and new better than to overdo it in the early stages of the race.  Single speed or not, Litz is one of the best technical single track riders I know.  All I had to do is pull him through the early flat gravel and paved sections and then follow his wheel as he lit up the single track.  We caught a glimpse of the leader just prior to the second stop at Jackson Park about 40 miles in and I could tell he was hurting.  With 20 miles of mostly super fun, grinder, old school single track left, Jim and I felt right at home and knew we had two wins in the bag, barring any flats or mechanicals.  We ended up pulling a 40 minute gap for Jim to seal up the Single Speed Marathon Championship and for me to take the Men’s Open win.  I’ve done a lot of NUE races, but this is one of my favorites now.  What an awesome event with an excellent course and an unbelievable crew who organizes it all.  If you haven’t done this race, you need to.  Huge thanks to Pirelli tires for taking a massive beating and not even thinking about flatting.  As always, Flow Formulas kept my energy up and legs feeling strong throughout the race.  I’d also like to thank Shorkey Auto Group, Pro Bike & Run, KOO Eyewear, KASK helmets, Extreme Nano Chain Lube, Starlight Apparel, Industry Nine, Wolf Tooth Components, ESI Grips, and Horizon Orthopedics.”

Forty-five minutes back, John Burmeister of Michigan, took second in 6:45:05. “The morning of the race was no different than many other races I have participated in.  I was anxious to start and the nerves were firing.  Being my first Marji event there were a few unknowns that helped fuel the anxiety.  I had heard many stories from previous racers about how grueling the course can be.  Especially near the end..  I had put in a fair amount of training this summer, had a handful of successful races this season, and did some pre-rides of the 2019 course.  I was feeling hopeful to be in the mix for a podium position. With so many names unknown to me I wasn’t sure who the competition would be.  My plan for the start of the race was to go out with a moderately hard effort to see who would give chase.  At the gun we rolled out fairly quick but the pace quickly slowed with no attacks being made for the lead position.  My next plan was to put in a good effort on the first real climb.  We hit the Mt. Marquette road climb and the group quickly broke up. I made it up and over solo and continued on to the first “checkpoint”, Jackson Mine park, with a 5+ minute lead on the 2nd and 3rd position riders. My pace felt good and I felt like I was going to be able to maintain it going forward.Having ridden most of the course I knew things would slow a bit once we got on the RAMBA trails.  With my lead I figured I would save some energy on the climbs and make up time on the descents.  Slowly but surely, I started to get the sense that a rider may being closing in on me.  On occasion I could hear what I thought was another rider somewhere in the woods.  Sure enough the 2nd and 3rd place riders caught up to me just before our return to Jackson Park.  We all stopped for feeds and I was first to leave the park heading for the finish. The other 2 racers caught up to me fairly quickly.  Seeing how well they were still moving along I told them they were looking good and let them by without any hesitation.  At about mile 52 I was starting to feel some real fatigue.  I decided I was going to ride the rest of the race for 3rd and I was OK with that. Things started to get dicey shortly after.. My legs were feeling fine but the rest of my body and mind were suffering.  For the remainder of the race there was a lot of walking on stuff I would normally ride.  (There really is “no free trail” out there. Even the descents make you work!)  At this point I was having lots of self-thought and contemplation about the choices I had made.  The typical thoughts and conversations one has with themselves when they’re deep into a grueling event! I just kept telling myself to “keep moving forward”, and that is what I did.At the end of the race, I finished in 3rd place but ultimately was more pleased with just finishing the event.  It was more than just a race but also a challenge of overcoming physical and mental limits .  There are always things we could have done differently when thinking back on our choices but at the end of the day I can say the outcome would have been the same.  The 1st and 2nd place finishers absolutely crushed it!  Hats off to the 2 of them for an exceptional race and kudos to everyone else who completed the race and to those who simply attempted it.  Easily one of the hardest events I have ever participated in.Thank you to all of the event coordinators, “trail angels”, and my support crew.”

John Burmeister. Photo credit: Rob Meendering

Taking third was, Rick Hatfield of Michigan, with a time of 6:50:59. “I had been looking forward to Marji all year. My wife and I traveled “up-north” several times from the Ann Arbor, MI area to pre-ride some of the course. She had raced Marji in 2019 so I had an idea what to expect. My J-Tree Teammates and I rode the few miles to the starting line from the place we had been staying at in town. The weather was perfect, low/mid 50’s and bright sunshine. At the start its always the same thing, everyone looking around squaring up their competition while trying to look calm while the race jitters set in. I do a final check of my bike feeling pretty confident that Wheels in Motion bike shop had my set up correct on my Trek Top Fuel right. The race starts and it’s a pretty chill start. I stay with the top 5 leaders on the road when we hit the first big climb, Marquette Mountain. The lead rider decides to put in a big effort, the rest of us look at each other decide not to chase. I crest the mountain and enter the trail in 4th place. I am caught by the 5th place rider and we work together pacing to Jackson Park for the first aid station. My wife was my pit crew for the day and had me in and out of aid station faster than a Nascar pit stop. I dropped off my 2 bottles of infinit and grabbed camel bak pre-filled with infinit which worked well. From there is was back and fourth working with the 5th place rider. We eventually caught the third place rider, but I got separated when I second guessed a turn onto a road. At about 45 miles in we hit Jackson Park for the final leg. The 5th place rider and I leave the aid station and begin working together again. With about 10 miles to go the 5th place rider begins to have stomach and cramping issues. He pulls to the side of the trail and lets me lead. At this point I see him start to fall back a little, so I decide to burn one of my last matches and push hard to gap him. The trail is not forgiving whatsoever, you are hit with hill after hill. You think, alright this is the last climb and you are hit with another. With 5 miles to go am I am getting really worried I hadn’t seen any tokens. I pass a few of the 100 mile runners and ask if they had seen any and said no. With about a ½ mile to go the final climb has all the tokens with about 50 yards apart. At the last token is mannequin of Todd holding the last token with his middle finger out – I laughed and rode into the finish. I loved this race! I thought for sure I would get lost with all the twisty turns and on-off-on again trails but it was pretty well marked. The chunky, rooty hilly terrain is not like any other NUE race I have done in the past and Marquette is such a great town to hang out afterwards.”

Taking fourth place was, Paul Fox from Michigan, with a time of 7:02:19. About ten minutes back was, Jason Kloptowsky of Illinois, with a time of 7:12:04.

Singlespeed- Litzinger with the WIN

Placing second overall and taking the singlespeed win by over two hours, James Litzinger of Pennsylvania finished in 6:04:31. ” My first time to the UP did not disappoint.  I really wasn’t sure what to think about the Marji Gesick after reading race reports, watching race video, course reviews, and talking to the few who have earned the coveted buckle.  My gathering was that it was a load of single track that will slow down your average speed and wind you through the punchy climbs of the forest.  I have enjoyed this type of race in the past so I was all set to go.  It started at the Marina in Marquette, at a casual pace, before climbing up a freshly graded climb at 10-12% grade for about 7 minutes.  This is when the race started and there was a flyer of the front, my teammate and friend Anthony Grinnell said he is either a rocket or he will fade back to us.  Anthony and I decided to make it a day by using each other to pace ourselves.  Anthony pulled and worked on the flats and double track then I would jump in the front navigating the fun single track.  These races are so fun but they are even better when you get to have your friend there with you to push you!  Our race was uneventful until I spotted the leader at the top of one of the punchy climbs.  From there Anthony and I reeled him in around mile 38 or so.  From there we kept our pace, while enjoying the trails, which lead us to the finish just over the 6 hour mark.  It was a blast to  The Specialized Epic was the perfect race bike that Pro Bike+Run keeps in tip, top shape for the grueling demands this race has.  Flow formula in the bottles was once again top notch considering fueling was difficult to come by with the rough trails.  Thanks to Jim Shorkey Auto Group and Dr. Bryan Hooks for their support of the Syndicate to make these trips possible.”

Litzinger takes the singlespeed 50 mile win.

Coming all the way from Utah, Benjamin Modic, takes second place in 8:35:28. “After moving from Grand Rapids and living in Salt Lake City for the past 6 years, I had an itch that only the Marji Gesick could scratch. My journey back to Michigan reconnected to me with old friends, introduced me to new ones, and allowed me to ride the trails where my passion for cycling began 12 years ago. This was my first time ever doing a race on a singlespeed, so I felt like to 50-mile race would be enough of a lesson for me. For gearing advise, I turned to community pages, discussing it with previous finishers. There is no perfect gear on a singlespeed so you can’t overthink it. I went with 30×20. I knew the start of the race and paths in between Marquette and Negaunee would be a high cadence punishment, but it made more sense once I got to the good stuff. I felt strong up until the last 10 miles of the race. Shortly after the suicide hill ski jumps, I found myself walking more and more. The last few miles gave me inspiration and overwhelming joy hit me at the finish line. I love this sport. Thanks to all my friends and my family for making this trip so memorable, especially my dad (pictured below) for helping crew for this race and all the previous races while I lived in Michigan. I will be back at some point to try the 100-miler… and I’ll be bringing the singlespeed!”

Ben Modic taking second place.

Taking the last podium spot, Dan Packer of Michigan, finished in 9:47:56. “I was surprised to come in 3rd out of the single speeders.  I rode with my City Bike Shop brother who unfortunately had to text #quitter a few years ago, so the goal was that we get him to the finish.  It was such an awesome day, we were both thrilled to just keep crankin.  I rolled a 30:20 gearing on my mulletted, slacked-out RSD Middlechild.  It was perfect for a long, slow day of spinning pedals through the endless steep, rocky, rooty, ribbons of singletrack.  I can’t thank/blame Todd and Danny enough for the effort they put into these events. Kept the rubber side down (for the most part)!”

Fourth place went to, Samuel Haglund of Michigan, crossing the line in 10:05:51. About an hour back, Cory Christener of Michigan, finished in 11:06:41.

Women’s Masters

First place in the women’s masters category went to, Martha Flynn of Minnesota, with a finish time of 10:09:36.

Taking the second podium spot was, Diana Munger of Minnesota, crossing the finish line in 12:51:30. “High time for some seriously #unfinished business in the Munger household. But first- let’s backtrack – to almost 5 years ago. Our intrepid gang of friends with a peculiar taste for masochistic epic adventures convinced us to sign up for a crazy new race in da UP. Completely self supported, hills upon more hills, upon more more hills, ridiculously hard old school singletrack – what the hell were we thinking? Blame Danny. Blame Todd. What does that even mean?! Well, we trained hard together and were ready to conquer. But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men. My husband, John, suffered a horrible crash with less than a month to go. So we forged on without him. Marji 2017 was a brutal year. Heat, humidity, and endless climbs, mosquitoes and flies. That is, racers dropping like flies left and right. Incredibly, my friends and I all managed to finish. Such relief and happiness to be done but mixed with a twinge of sadness that John couldn’t be there with us to share. Next time, we all wanted him along for the ride. Flash forward four years to the present. John’s injury was slow to heal and his mountain bike mojo took even longer to return. Pandemic and just life in general also slowed our return.Same gang -ready to try it all once more. Miraculously, we were able to snag coveted race entries- ‘cause now, of course, it seems like everyone who’s anybody wants to do Marji. But even after all this finagling, my beloved spouse waffled endlessly and and dragged his feet about biking.Race time drew near. Emails were flying in.  ‘Are you in or out?’ was the question from the race director.I posed this query over and over again to my husband.
‘Maybe’ was the reply. The date to transfer to the shorter race came and went. Wifely nagging was of no avail, yet a single word from a buddy sealed the deal- just two weeks before the race. Too late for Marji camps at this point. With just 14 days to go, a high intensity training plan was instituted. Not easy to accomplish in the flatlands of Minneapolis, but somehow he managed.Race morning dawned spectacularly. Not sure why, but I actually thought it would be easier this time round- maybe because it was about 35 degrees cooler. Sheer hubris. It was much worse, of course – way more gnarly singletrack, sheer drops, hills (mountains?) that never ended. So many more rocks and roots than I remembered- where had they all come from? Lots more runners and bikers. Spectacular views and fall colors popping helped to ease the pain a bit. Not to mention a course that was so well marked, I actually started wondering why I had spent so many hours trying to load the gpx file on to my Wahoo. And at the heart of it all-  still the same race. The same camaraderie and good will out on the trails. Every racer was super friendly- all working towards the same goal- to finish. Every volunteer I talked to had a Marji story they were eager to share. Was I actually hallucinating when I glimpsed the Marji mannequin giving me the finger on the very last climb? How very apropos. The last 5 miles seemed truly endless and somewhat terrifying as night fell. Not quite believing I was finally at the finish with my friends cheering me on. And not long afterwards, my husband also triumphantly crossing the line. How could he possibly ride 100 plus to my 60 plus miles and finish so embarrassing and so damn close to me?! But never mind, we were finally able to experience the legend that is Marji, together (well, sort of, anyway).The very nice race official lady who asked for this report told me to be sure to include my sponsors. Sorry to report that no one wants to sponsor me.  But I do happen to have oodles of amazingly supportive friends and family who nicely look the other way and sweetly pretend that I’m not just a little bit unhinged when I tell them that I worked so dang hard for just four wooden tokens. Blame Danny. Blame Todd. Thank Danny. Thank Todd, and thank all those awesome volunteers and the incredible community who make this ridiculous and over the top race possible.And by the way, both my husband and I had a marvelous time. As I knew he would.Marji Gesick 2021- check.Mission accomplished.”

Diana Munger all smiles at the finish line.

Rounding out the podium and taking third was, Dawn Steinmann of Wisconsin in 14:11:51.

Men’s Masters

50 Mile masters podium: 1st Jeff Adamcik, 2nd Todd Mcfadden, 3rd Dave Jolin. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Taking the win in the masters division was, Jeff Adamcik of Michigan with a finish time of 7:49:06. “It was nice to finally come into a race this year where I felt my left knee was up to the task. I rode most of the race with Dorel Stoia, who at the time was the current points leader. We were tracking with each other until we got to the aid station.  He was always faster than me at the aid station and both times I had some work to do to catch up.  On the last leg of the race I was starting to feel it, only to come out to a small lake where “ Danny “ and his crew were enjoying themselves. One of them asked “why are you smiling?”   I asked “could you share some of your pop?”  The response was that they had diet and by my reaction they knew I wasn’t excited about that. I needed some sugar.  Shortly after I heard, “what about a beer”.  Heck ya!  I felt I was back in my college days slamming down a BlackRocks Pilsner.  Next up, was the Suicide Hill climb.  Definitely energize by the beer … I caught sight of Dorel.  However, he stayed ahead of me and I was losing sight of him in the last few miles.  I came to the finish, thinking I was #2, but to my surprise I was declared the winner.  Dorel missed the last hill climb, thus, the tokens.  Thanks to Kevin Geminder at Bicycle HQ for getting my bike ready and the transfer registration!  Also thanks to Mike and Angi Golisek for housing me for the weekend and cheering me on throughout the race.”

Finishing seven minutes back, Todd Mcfadden took second place in 7:56:07. Taking third was, Dave Jolin of Ohio crossing the line in 7:57:43.

Dave Jolin from Ohio takes 3rd in 50 mile masters. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Fourth place was, Roger Lundsten of Wisconsin, in 8:15:45 and fifth went to James Kauth of Minnesota, with a finish time of 8:32:47.

For full results CLICK HERE

Pictures from the race can be found here: Rob Meendering and Ryan Stephens

Mark your calendars. Registration for the 2022 Marji Gesick is October 15th.

NUE- Marji Gesick 100 Mile

NUE Series 2021-Marji Gesick 100 mile

September 18, 2021

Written by: @Jentoops

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

Racers navigating the Top of the World. Photo credit: Ryan Stephens

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

Celebrating at the finish line. Photo credit: Rob Meendering

Racers in the one-hundred mile course finishing under twelve hours for mountain biking, under twenty-eight hours for runners and under twenty-two hours for duathlon, will earn the coveted belt buckle handmade by blacksmith Gordon Gearhart.

Women’s Open- Toops secures NUE overall win

Former NUE Marathon series winner, Jen Toops from Ohio, took the win in 12:58:22. With this win she secures the overall female Epic NUE title. ” I have a love/hate relationship with this race. How can a race so fun, hurt so bad? After completing the 50 mile Marji twice I decided it was time to conquer the 100. Although it would be awesome to get the buckle, I had one goal. To finish the race. As long as I finished I’d lock up the NUE epic overall win for the season. The start of the race was very busy and reminded me of the La Ruta de los conquistadors. Instead of a helicopter roll out we had an electric guitar national anthem, beautiful paint horse, lemans start and fire works. Just before the start, I got to meet fellow Pivot Cycles rider, Kaityln Boyle, who came all the way from ID for a chance at the buckle. After the lemans start I had no idea what place I was going into the woods. Did it matter? No. A very long day awaited. Even though I had my GPS, I still managed to blow by turns, start up the wrong trails and got turned around a lot at the beginning. Once we were on the single track I was having so much fun and was finding my rhythm. This is the part I love about Marji!

Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Just before the Jackson Park I caught up with Kaityln Boyle. We rode most of the sandy snowmobile trails and bike path together chatting it up! A welcomed mental break. The first loop out of the park I felt amazing and really was having fun on the tech singletrack. This loop went on forever! I was so focused on riding I didn’t eat enough on this loop. That was my downfall of the race and paid for it on the way to the finish. I stopped back at the park to get a back up charger and lights. This is when I saw Kaityln Boyle had DNF due to pain from a pre-ride crash. Kaityln and my support Heidi encouraged me I still might be a buckle contender. I had 15 miles to do a little over 2 hours. Feeling confident I continued to push the pace. After about an hour of riding I did the math in my head and realized a buckle was not in the cards today. My riding started to get sloppy, the fatigue had set in and I was in survival mode. I forgot how hard the last sections of trail were with non-stop punchy climbs, hike-a-bikes and just shenanigans. The last 30 minutes were torture, I wanted to lay down on the side of the trail. I wanted real food. I turned my lights on and navigated those roots and rocks walking what I normally could ride during the daylight. Jasper knob was such a rewarding sight to see on the GPS. The last hike a bike! I walked to the top collected my tokens and gave fake Todd a high five and headed in to the finish. My whole body hurt like it never has with any other race. I laid in the van post race for a couple hours before I could even function. Marji is by far the hardest hundred I have ever completed. I love it but hate it. I’m proud of my effort and learned a lot. Will I be back? You bet and next year I will have a different goal in mind! Calling all Ladies….lets go get this BUCKLE. Thank you Danny and Todd for an amazing event as always! Bike: Pivot Mach 4SL size XS. Sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot cycles, Ergon, Fox, Lazer, Honeystinger, Carborocket, SCC, Stans, Maxxis.” Special thanks to Heidi for the race support!

“That was hard.” Video by: Ryan Odell

Nicky Ruszkowski of New York, took second place with a time of 16:27:54. “Marji Gesick 2021 was my second attempt at this race. In 2019 I dropped out at around mile 85 and so I certainly came at this with unfinished business. I love riding the more technical trails and Marji certainly has plenty of those. The gnarly, rocky descents in this race play to my strengths and are so much fun to ride. I think the cooler temperatures on race day were actually a little deceiving and I don’t think I was alone in underestimating the amount of fluids needed to stay hydrated. Overall this is a phenomenal race and I was delighted to come in second behind Jen.”

About fourteen minutes back from second place, Jessica Nankman of Pennsylvania, finished third with a time of 16:42:44. “For years I have heard about this race with upwards to 70% non-finisher race called Marji Gesick and decided it was time to see what it is all about. I typically race ultra endurance events, 24 hour mountain bike races, thus was looking forward to another way to test my physical and mental fortitude. With my long-distance background I was confident in my ability to cover the miles and being that I live in Eastern Pennsylvania I felt strong about my technical skills, the thing I was most concerned about was the logistics of the race.  I was concerned about the self-supported aspect, it took extensive planning and contemplating on my part about how to carry the hydration, nutrition, and gear needed. Rumors about “trail angels”, volunteers who set-up aid stations along the course, were true and they helped immensely with rider needs .  Another part of the race that takes pre-planning is the point to point factor. Just being my husband (who was also racing) and myself making the trip to Marji, we had no outside help. We opted to stay in the campground located at race start, which made for a very relaxed pre-race morning but we wondered how to get back afterwards.  A friendly volunteer drove us from the finish back to our campsite post-finish.As for the course it’s self…it was a challenging and tough 105 miles.  There were many miles of smiles; fun single track, rewarding rock gardens, flowing berms, and air-time inducing jump lines. But there were even more miles of tough trail that caused much suffering.  Near vertical ups and downs, soul-sucking sand, and sketchy washouts induced a fair amount of walking.  To add to the physical and mental challenge many of the last few miles were ridden in the dark.  Thank goodness for the great cheering and support of the spectators and volunteers along with many friendly fellow racers that kept me going strong.I have never experienced a race like this. Marji Gesick truly is as advertised, it one tough event not to be taken lightly. But the achievement of reaching the finish line, and being on the podium, is an accomplishment that will never be forgotten.Sponsors to please be included in the review: Liv Cycling USA Ambassador, Lupine Lights, Saucon Valley Bikes.”

Nankman pre-riding part of the Marji Gesick course

Taking fourth place was Jenny Acker from Michigan with a time of 17:48:38. Finishing fifth was Christina Peek from Michigan crossing the line in 20:51:19.

Men’s Open Acker takes back-to-back Marji wins

Men’s open podium: 1st Matt Acker, 2nd Kurt Refsnider, 3rd Chad Cannon. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

The 2019 Marji Gesick winner, Matt Acker of Michigan, gets back-to-back Marji wins with a time of 10:36:55.

Just four minutes back, ultra endurance racer, Kurt Refsnider of Arizona, finished second in 10:41:38 “I made the decision to fly up from Arizona for the race just a few days before the race, so eveIrything was a very last-minute affair for me. But I had heard story after story about how technically challenging the Marji is, and that’s hands-down my favorite kind of riding. And I’m so glad I made the trip – it’s been a while since I’ve ridden a race course that was as difficult and fun as the Marji Gesick 100! I had the pleasure of riding with local legend Matt Acker for most of the race, and following his wheel for so many miles sure helped me ride efficiently (especially as I tried to keep him in sight on the longer descents). 100 milers are a bit on the short end of the races I typically do, and my legs started to fade in the final miles after trying to ride fast for 10,000+ feet of punchy climbing. Matt gradually disappeared ahead of me, and I just tried to hold it together after mile 90.I also am especially impressed by how the race organizers have created an incredibly demanding event in which riders openly embrace (and come for) that challenge. Most races with a course of this style would have relatively small fields, but the organizers have created a welcoming and empowering atmosphere around the race that’s truly one-of-a-kind.”

Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Taking third place, Chad Cannon of Wisconsin, finished in 11:34:32. Ryan Goemans of Wisconsin finished fourth in 11:39:28 and Ben Senkerik of Wisconsin took fifth place with a time of 11:43:37.

SinglespeedHolle takes overall NUE SS win

Singlespeed podium- 1st Justin Holle, 2nd Anthony Toops, 3rd Eli Orth. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Justin Holle of Colorado wins the singlespeed division and takes 4th overall with at time of 11:39:15. With this win he has secured the overall Epic NUE singlespeed title and went undefeated this year. “Bike: 34×19 gearing on Norco Revolver HT. The overwhelming sentiment leading into Marji seemed the same from every source, ‘good luck’.  Having never quit a race I didn’t understand the high DNF rate or the fear expressed by such sources. And then…after missing my 4th turn only to see the arrow placement AFTER the turn did I realize these racers quit because, damn, that course just presses your buttons! I jumped out early with fellow Singlespeeders Mark Kransz and Scott Quiring, jockeying 1st to 3rd. Just as I passed the hilltop bagpiper I put in a gap and thought I’d race off the front. No sooner did I see myself careening over the handlebars into a pile of rocks, giving up my position. Through mile 39 we danced positions and at that Aid Station I made haste and passed through without support. Alone until mile 65 Aid at Jackson Park I learned this “race” was more an “adventure”. Staying on course demanded full awareness so race efforts sat second wheel.On the loop from Jackson Park that Singlespeed Monster: Anthony Toops closed in behind me. I guess this IS a race! More friend than foe, we chatted and grunted through the loop keeping tabs on our pace for that coveted sub-12 buckle. Back through the Jackson Park aid we knew we had enough time to finish under 12 barring any issues. We hung together, alternating position, riding, and power hiking the steeps. Near mile 94 I slowly pulled away and looking back didn’t see Toops in sight. The course became more intuitive, sign reading less challenging, and I stayed committed to ignoring my computer data. I relied on looking up to the sun to gauge my sub-7:30PM finish. With 50-milers becoming more frequent on trail I could tell we were close. Feeling confident I looked back and saw Toops! What?!?! He closed in on me AGAIN. Providing that final fire I needed! I drove my pedals, attacked the steep hill holding the precious tokens, and headed back down with enough of a gap. Passing Toops I hollered to my friend and turned onto tarmac to punch it home. I passed a final geared racer and came across the line in 4th overall position with the SS win. Marji is the hardest 100-mile MTB race course I’ve ever done. It attacks you mentally, physically, and, when you blow a turn, emotionally. Fortunately I had a good day and I attribute that to accepting MG as an adventure first, race second. Oh, and the guys making grilled cheese at mile 58, thank you sirs. Thanks to my support: Base Canp Cyclery, Norco, Shimano, Crankbrothers, ESI, and Carbo Rocket.”

Anthony Toops and Justin Holle celebrating at the finish line. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Just a couple minutes back on Holle, Anthony Toops from Ohio, took second place in singlespeed and sixth overall, finishing in 11:41:13. “Marji Gesick is always the biggest test of the year.  This year, my goal was to go sub 12hr and get the coveted buckle on a single speed.  I was able to get a buckle on gears in 2018 but it was a true test for me at the time… so doing it on a single speed had me wondering if it would even happen.  The race started with the traditional 1/2 mile run and from the beginning I was on my own pace.  My goal was the buckle and if this turned into a “race” then so be it.  I could see a few ss racers up ahead but I stuck to my plan and didn’t chase.  I was in a good group with my teammate Jeff Rupnow, who has tons of experience at this race, and I knew he could carry me to a buckle… if I could hang!  At mile 13.5 the group was flying and unfortunately missed the left turn back to Forestville.  We were heading back up to the Top of the World!  Eventually we noticed the mistake but it cost us roughly 12min, which isn’t something you can easily claw back at this race.  This caused some high anxiety until I could get my time splits back on track. Going into Jackson Park I was still up 20min on my previous sub 12 race!  Now the stress was off some but I knew the two loops out of Jackson Park are no joke. This is where the race really starts.   At this point I’m still sticking to my plan and haven’t seen another ss’r in a while.  About 15min later I caught up with Justin Holle and we rode together pretty much the rest of the race, pushing each other to make sure that buckle was ours!  Half way into loop 2 out of Jackson, Justin started to get a gap on me.  I made a mistake with my nutrition on the first loop and ran out of calories and water for almost an hour (rookie!) so I started to fade.  I made sure to get some calories in and started to feel normal again with about 7mi to go.  I would guess Justin was only a couple minutes ahead but I was solely focused on that buckle!  The last 15mi of this race is the true test and every second counts.  It’s a weird experience because this is a race where you are in a battle with the trail and yourself; racing someone else is a bonus.  No matter how well you’re doing, you’re always wondering if you’ll make it.I put my head down and went as hard as I could for that last hour or so. I WASN’T coming up short!  When I could see the last climb to Jasper Knob on my screen, I knew I had it.  BUT where the heck were all the tokens!  Of course they were on the way up to Jasper Knob (blame Todd & Danny) so everyone had that stress all day.  In the end, I finished 2nd by just a couple minutes and the buckle was mine!Marji is one of those races where you always say you don’t need to do it again… but you always want to.  Now that I have a geared and ss buckle, next year will be a new challenge!  Thanks again to my wife Jen for her motivation, my team Evolution Training Cycles/Paradise Garage Racing, and especially Heidi for all her help!  See you in 2022?! Bike Setup:Frame – Pivot LES size large. Fork – Fox Step Cast 32 100mmGearing – oval 32x19Tires – Continental cross king protection 2.3 front and rear.”

Finishing in third place, Eli Orth of Ohio, crossing the line in 12:20:44. “Marji was my fourth NUE epic distance SS race. Going into the race my main goal was to have a clean race and finish with a decent overall time. I ended up finishing 3rd.The race started great getting into one of the lead groups. It took a little hit though when our group made a wrong turn at mile 15. We were repeating a section we had went through around mile 5. Luckily Jeff Rupnow and Anthony Toops realized it once we had climbed all way to Forestville Rd. We turned back and by the time we were back on track we had lost about 14 minutes… and we were battling through other riders that we were previously well in front of. Surprisingly time was made up and by the time hit Jackson Park I was still on track to get under 12 hours. On the first loop through Jackson I was still on pace. On the last trails through the last 15ish miles I was pushing the pace and had a small crash that set me back just a little and seemed to slow my momentum a little. I made it to the finish only to realize I dropped an orange token on my way in. Soooo I had to go back and get the orange token. My finish time was 12hrs 3 min 57 sec. A little frustrated getting so close to the under 12 but falling little short. Overall happy with the race though and finishing Marji without mechanical and any physical issues is always a win. Thank to my sponsors Dean Titanium Bikes, CarboRocket, Kenda, AbsoluteBLACK, ESI Grips.Also thankful for all my family that supported me to do this race from my wife staying and watching the kids to my step-dad that ran support for me!My gearing for the race was 34×20. This was my last NUE points race for the season. My next planned race is the Cruce Del Istmo in Panama to represent the NUE.”

Eli Orth ready for the Lemans run. Photo credit: Ryan Odell

Fourth went to, Nathan Lillie of WI, in 12:45:47. Brent Pontius of MI, took fifth place in 13:37:48.

Women’s Singlespeed-First woman to complete Marji on a Singlespeed

Kristen Wade of Illinois is the first woman to complete Marji on a singlespeed. She finished in 23 hours. ” I hardly feel like I should be writing a race report considering the top female racer crossed the finish line nearly 11 hours before me but this was no ordinary race and I was in no ordinary category. The 2021 NUE Marji Gesick was my first Marji and I competed on a single speed. I was the sole female in the single speed category and much to my surprise I was the first female to ever FINISH the Marji with one gear. I rode a titanium VooDoo Dambala 29er with a 30:22 gearing and my nutrition consisted of a lot of Snicker bars, PayDays, grilled cheese and beef sticks. The Marji Gesick is more than a Hard Day, for some, it is a hard night too. I have no sponsors to thank because I am not a sponsored athlete. However, I would like to thank my husband, Al, for his continued support riding with me and encouraging me when I struggled. Next year I would like to return to race another Marji, with one gear, but faster.”

Kristen Wade is the first women to complete Marji on a single speed!

Schultz of Ohio takes the Masters win

Taking the Masters win, Brad Scholtz of Ohio, finished in 14:24:12. ” Having participated in other 906 events I knew it would be special and epic!   I had not raced Marji before, but I knew lots who had attempted, and a few who had completed the race-  and they made it REALLY clear that this would be the hardest thing you’ve ever done!  “Words can’t do it justice”! I started the race with two of my RBikes teammates as we knew that we should match up fairly well and to have some company at least for a while.   Not having any idea what I was in for, I would have been more conservative at the beginning, but my teammates were pushing a pretty spicy pace- I hung on and tried to settle in and stay on top of nutrition/hydration.  What a challenge it is pay attention to navigation, hydration, nutrition, physical effort and tackle the technical sections was crazy fun and challenging!   When I reached the bag drop(mi 65ish) I was feeling pretty good, but I also had a decent idea that the last 40 mi were the hardest!  And needless to say I was not disappointed!    The scenic views, stupid hard climbs and technical descents were my favorite- make no mistake, the constant punchy climbs really accumulate to break you down.   My secret is really to just “stay present” and enjoy/tackle the section that you’re currently doing.  Don’t even think about what’s yet to come.   The second most critical thing for me is to stay in a “positive“ place- giving and receiving positive energy from/to the other riders.   Positive engagement with everyone I can in contact with.  Thank you to my teammates(RBikes) for the pacing and to the amazing volunteers all over the course!!That was amazing!  I’m proud of my effort, but now I’m completely hooked, and already thinking about next year and how I can go faster!  I Was extremely pleased to take 1st place in the Men’s Master division.”

About fifteen minutes back, John Munger from MN, takes second place in 14:38:20. Vin Dog Mack of MI, takes third place with a time of 15:10:11. Fourth goes to, Scott Cole of WI, in 15:45:44 and fifth place to, Derrick Seys of IL, crossing the line in 16:21:30.

John Munger and Piotr Bednarski on their way to Marji

For full results CLICK HERE

Pictures from the race can be found here: Rob Meendering and Ryan Stephens

Mark your calendars. Registration for the 2022 Marji Gesick is October 15th.

NUE- Shenandoah 100k

The 23rd annual Shenandoah 100 is the oldest race in the NUE Epic Race Series held over Labor Day weekend in Stokesville, VA. Shenandoah now includes a 100k option of racing on Saturday and the classic 100 mile race on Sunday.

100k race start

Held within The George Washington National Forest of Virginia, Shenandoah marks the start of the fall season of the NUE Series with just a few 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 which is included in registration.

Womens Open- Sheldon wins 100k

Women’s 100k podium: 1st Libbey Sheldon, 2nd Carla Williams, 3rd Laura Hamm, 4th Bryna Blanchard, 5th Lauren Zimmer

No one could match the pace of Libbey Sheldon (CSHairs Devo) in the women’s 100k race on Saturday and she took the win with a time of 5:29.

In her first mountain bike race after having a baby, previous NUE epic series winner, Carla Williams (CarboRocket) of Roanoke took second place in 5:38:25.

Just a couple minutes back from Williams, Laura Hamm (Moonstomper) took third place in 5:40:22. Hamm also went on to complete the 100 mile race on Sunday with a third place finish.

Making the trip from New York, Bryna Blanchard (BMB Racing) finished fourth 5:47:37. Taking the last podium spot went to Lauren Zimmer (Bingham Cyclery) in 5:57:15.

Mens Open- Petrylak second 2021 NUE marathon win

Men’s 100k podium: 1st John Petrylak, 2nd Anthony Grinnell, 3rd Will Pfeiffer, 4th Ben Ferguson, 5th Jarod Lawver

After a major setback with course markings, John Petrylak (CarboRocket) fights hard to take the Shenandoah 100k win with a time of 5:25. Petrylak had a previous NUE 100k win at Wilderness.

“After a typical start to the National Ultra Endurance Mountain Bike Race Series Shenandoah Mountain 100K we came to an intersection that I know very well. The course arrows should have pointed LEFT ; however they were pointing RIGHT. We got off course and after an extra 6 mile loop and 37 minutes waisted we climbed back to the original intersection in question and by this time someone came and realized that the arrows were wrong and fixed them.
Later in the day it was suspected that a person or persons maliciously changed the arrows. 
Now at this point I believe we were absolutely dead last or very close to it. Without much thought I just pressed on full gas and set out to pass every rider I could. After 5 and a half hours I managed to catch every rider except masters athlete George Ganoung and take the open men’s win.Also a huge amount of respect for Anthony, Will and Stew for rolling in literally a few minutes behind me as they had just as much additional pain and suffering to deal with and still rose to the occasion. Thanks to: CarboRocket, Molly’s Bikes, ESI Grips, Kenda Tires and Athlos Sports”

Just three minutes back, Anthony Grinnell (Syndicate Cycling) took second with a time of 5:28:32.

“The racing didn’t really start until we began climbing on the initial road sections, but even then, it was a manageable pace.  Shortly into gravel, the top 8 or so guys formed a pretty large gap to the rest of the field.  Heading up the first single track climb, we had a lead group of 4 and pulled a gap on the rest of the breakaway.  But as we got to the top of the climb, we encountered a problem.  GPS said go left, but the arrows pointed right and a tape banner blocked the trail to the left.  We all figured there was an issue with the GPS or a last minute course change since there was both tape and arrows telling us to go right.  Big mistake.  About 5 miles down that trail, we all realized there were no more arrows, too many downed trees, and we should have gone left.  At that point, it was easier to keep going and complete the 9 mile extra loop and re-peat that tough single track climb to make the correct left turn at the top.  37 minutes later, we were back on course and, as Will Pfeiffer so adequately stated “pedaling pissed off”.  The even bigger downside is, while we were adding our extra miles, someone corrected the course marking issue, which ended up putting the entire 100k class in front of us.  We literally had to pass hundreds of other riders as we worked our way up.  I’ve been a huge fan of Flow Formulas products, but wow did it make a difference in being able to maintain energy needed to make up all that lost time.  Big props to Pirelli tires too…they were bullet proof and with all of the sharp rocks on the course, that was a must.  I was shocked, and REALLY happy to see that John, Will, and I were all able to put our heads down and battle our way back up to sweep the podium.  We think a hunter likely changed the markings, but in the end, it didn’t keep John Petrylak from winning his first SMT 100K race, didn’t keep me from getting 2nd, and kept Will Pfeiffer’s title hopes alive for the series.  It was a great day for the Syndicate/Flow Formulas team with Jim Litzinger getting 1st in the 100K Single Speed Class and Joe Frass getting 5th in the 100 mile Single Speed Class. Huge thank you to Shorkey Auto Group and Pro Bike & Run for getting us to these races and keeping our equipment working.”

Will Pfeiffer (Flow Formulas) took third crossing the line in 5:31:37.

“The race started like any other, with a good push up the first climb.  Five of us got away and kept a good pace on Narrowback.  When we came to a T-intersection near the top, an unexpected right turn was marked.  We figured there was some issue with the normal trail and just followed the arrows and tape.  This proved unfortunate, because it turned out there were some people messing with signage on the course.  As we realized what had happened, I’ll be honest, I was not in a good place mentally.  I have been chasing the season standings this year, and I was watching all that effort go out the window in one fell swoop.  John Petrylak, Anthony Grinnel, and Stewart Gross were instrumental in keeping my head in the game and I am very thankful to have been with those guys.  So, one bonus loop later, the lost boys joined back up DFL and all sorts of motivated.

The rest of the race turned into a 50 mile TT trying to fight through the field.  My mom was a massive help, supporting me at each aid station.  Late in the race she told me I was 10th heading into the final climb of Hankey.  I was already deep in the effort and absolutely buried myself trying to catch riders.  Pulling a third in class was a mixture of some effort and a lot of luck.  But I will say this, I’ve had a handful of races over the years that presented some physically and mentally difficult obstacles.  It sounds cliche, but never once have I regretted refusing to give in.  The mindset, challenge, and camaraderie this weekend meant so much more to me than the result.  Huge thanks to Flow Formulas, The Black Bibs, Maxxis, Industry Nine, Kask, Koo, Handup, Ridge Supply, Chris of Shenandoah Mountain Touring, and my awesome teammates who let me be a part of their super inspiring rides on Sunday.  #flowformulasfamily”

Ben Ferguson finished fourth in 5:34:09 and Jarod Lawver fifth in 5:46:37.

Singlespeed– Litzinger leads NUE marathon SS

Singlespeed podium: 1st James Litzinger, 2nd Don Powers, 3rd Kenny Kocarek, 4th Larry Miller, 5th Kasey Clark

With a second place finish at Mohican and first place at Wilderness, James Litzinger (Syndicate Cycling) took the Shenandoah win with a time of 5:32:09. Litzinger now leads the NUE SS Marathon series.

“The backcountry racing at Shenandoah Mountain always is always a blast and this year was no different!  The start and preparation for the race was very smooth and thought out.  We were put in to starting corrals of 5 and I was lined up with some hammer in the corral 50-55, teammate Anthony Grinnell (2nd) and John Petrylak (1st) crushed the course!  Coming out of the campground it was very chill until it hit the road and everyone started to jockey for position.  Dahn Pahrs and I were the only 2 single speeders  spinning and tucking our way to the front with the geared guys.  We were comfortable with the brisk pace of the opening gravel climb and taking some pulls. The biggest deciding factor in the race came at the top of the first single track climb when 2 arrows pointed right and the GPS said to go left.  Decisions, decisions…we went right with the arrows which cost us about 4 miles and 13 minutes.  During the single track I noticed the screw on the top cap of my fork was coming loose so I used my thumb to push down on it and tighten it.  After getting back on course we were faced with the challenge of making our way through a lot of riders on the tight single track.  After getting back out on the road, Dahn and I worked together on our way to the next climb which was a lot of hike a biking.  At the bottom of the climb I noticed my fork was not responding as it should, it was stiff and in the down position.  I decided to put it in the lock position to prevent it from going down but made the descents very challenging.  After the race I noticed that I changed the rebound to SLOW when I was tightening the screw.  After the long, steep, rocky, and rooty climb. 

After the hike a bike we were rewarded with a super fun descent.  To my surprise, I was able to catch a few more riders before poking out onto the dirt road again.  After completing the descent, I looked back to join up with Dahn again and he came back out on the road a few seconds after me. I decided to sit up, get some nutrition, and wait for my buddy since these races are a lot more fun with some company.  After fueling up and spinning down the road a little I thought I heard a car coming so I moved off to the side of the road and looked back to see that it was not a car but John Petrylak.  As a single speeder we are often faced with the decision to burn some matches get dragged along by the strong geared guys or rider your own race and conserve your energy.  Well, I decided to burn some matches for a big increase in speed on the backcountry Virginia road.  I was able to make up some great time spinning and tucking behind John’s wheel.  When we pulled into aid 2, I had to fill my bottles, grab grub, and by that time John was already rolling and there was no catching him.  I continued rolling the course at my own pace until the ripping descent leading into aid 3 when teammate Anthony Grinnell caught me.  It was a blast shredding the descent and getting a big pull on the road with him until I had to let him go before burning up all my matches.  I was glad to be looking at the Hankey climb for the last time before working my way down the mountain to the finish.   Special shout out to the Syndicate Cycling support of Pro Bike+Run Shops, Shorkey Auto Group, Specialized bikes, Flow Formulas, Wolftooth Components, Extreme Nano Lubes, Esi Grips, Pirelli tires, KOO, Kask, Dr. Bryan Hooks Orthopedic, and last but not least my amazing family.”

Previously winning Mohican earlier this season, Don Powers, of Pennsylvania took second in 5:41:27. Don also raced the Shenandoah 100 mile race on Sunday.

Stopping the Pennsylvania podium sweep, Kenny Kocarek (Kobby Side Down) of Ohio finished in 6:12:53. Larry Miller (Team Bikenetic) took fourth in 6:47:32 and Kasey Clark (Velopigs) finished fifth in 7:10:30.

Masters Ganoung takes top step

Masters podium: 1st George Ganoung, 2nd Peter Schultz, 3rd Derek Dagostino, 4th ustin De Leo, 5th Roberts Moore

Winning the Masters category was George Ganoung (Otterhaus) with a finish time of 5:23:37.

” I have a long competitive road and gravel history but this was my first ever marathon mountain bike event. I won the Master 50+ and due to some strange circumstances, I came out the overall winner as well…with a big footnote though.About 9 miles into the race I was 8th in a group of 4 ~30 seconds behind the leaders and we had a pretty big gap on the rest of the field. We came across a major arrow marked intersection, but having pre ridden the course, and having the map on my GPS, they were not pointing in the expected direction. My compatriots followed the arrows so I went with them, about .5 mile in I just felt it was wrong, and told them I am turning around. They agreed and we flipped it, went the other way at the intersection and ran into course tape across the trail, it was broken, but seemed to indicate it’s a reroute. We flipped again and went back further, but with the trail getting significantly rougher and no other markers I told the other guys I think someone mucked it up and I am committing to the GPS track. By then the bulk of the race had caught up and the two way traffic on single track was chaotic and was forced to walk. I told the riders I ran into as I back tracked to make their own call but I am following GPS. It seemed like the majority turned around, and someone else had turned the arrows back by the time I got to the intersection. Fortunately it was the right call and the race markers had clearly been sabotaged. I ended up being about 30th out of the 1st single track after the confusion. Convinced the leaders went the right way and were long gone, and half the race was ahead, I just rode hard out of anger on the next fire road section catching as many folks as I could. It turned out the leaders had actually gone further off course before turning around and after the next big single track climb and descent, I was told I was in the overall lead…and somehow managed to hold on for ~40 miles to the finish. Massively impressive ride by 2nd place John Petrylak who went further off course and came back to win the open class and nearly caught me at the end. Big thanks to @shenandoahmountaintouring and all the volunteers for putting on such a cool event and hats off to the riders who do this stuff all the time, huge respect for the skill/fitness required.
In regards to NUE future, Shenandoah again and maybe Wilderness 101 next year are probably it for me because they are close. This is just a branch out as a new challenge.”

George Ganoung (Otterhaus) 5:23:37

About 10 minters back, Peter Schultz (Team Bikenetic) finished second with a time of 5:32:35. “As we charged up the first climb, I had my coach’s voice in my head to stay within myself. I was doing about 4 W/kg on the double-track climb and thought that’s about the power that would need to be sustained for 5 hours by the overall winner. So, I let about 30 people crank on past, pretty sure that they’d come back.The hitch in this plan came at the top of the first climb where the arrows were pointed in the wrong direction. When we finally got ourselves turned around, I got shuffled backward another 20 spots or so. So, I spent the entire descent in a conga line, as well as most of Lynn Trail. I tried to stay calm and stick to the plan.But things went further sideways on the Wolf Trail descent when I had a 5-minute mechanical due to a messed up jockey wheel. “The Plan” went even further in the crapper on the road to Hankey’s where I’d stashed my two bottles on little stands: someone stole one of my bottles. Whoever did that and whoever swapped the arrows on Narrowback is a complete butthead.“The Plan” started working in second half of the race where I passed dozens of people. I was able to keep my power relatively high (for me) at about 3.6W/kg. My times on the first and second Hankey’s climbs were within a second of each other. I was able to hold it all together on the descents and get back in one piece.I’d like to give a big shout-out to the OGs in this race, with the fastest overall times going to folks over 50. I had a front row seat watching Libby Sheldon (and Laura Hamm) from the rear as she nearly cleaned Lynn Trail. So impressive!I’d like to thank my sponsors — my wife, myself, and Bikenetic – and my coach, Jeremy Powers, for his attention to detail.”

Taking the third step, Derek Dagostino (Molly’s Bicycles) finished in 5:50:13. “While living and mountain biking in Richmond, Virginia, I had always heard about the Shenadoah Mountain 100 but never seriously considered participating in this race because of its difficulty. I participated in local XC races through the year in 2020 while working to improve my fitness. Going into 2021, I was looking for a challenge and made the SM 100 KM my “A” race for the year. New to endurance mountain bike racing I realized that I had a lot to learn before the race. I joined local marathon XC races for training and also to work my hydration and fueling plan. Admittedly I made some big mistakes along the way. 

3rd place Derek Dagostino

The SM was as exciting and challenging as I thought it would be! Race participants were lined up by bid numbers and in rows of five people. I started mid-pack and used the first 7 miles of fire road to move up while minding my pace. From the fire road you jump onto single track which starts the first significant climb of the day. A few miles into the climb, the riders leading the group of 15 or so stopped and mentioned that they thought we were off course. We turned around and back tracked to the proper course and I later found out that a prankster changed the course markings. The little detour added 3 miles to my race and I also found myself in heavy traffic until reaching the fire road at the end of Tilman single track. At this point I really had no idea where I was in the field because of the mix-up. The climb up the Lynn trail was as memorable as it was steep! Once back on the fire road, I was able to pace with some other riders including Eli Drooger who ended up taking 1st in U19 category. The climb up Hanky was tough but I was also able to pass other riders, make up some ground, and stay on track until the finish line! Special thanks to the SM race promoter and volunteers who pulled off the event this year. The event was well organized and not surprisingly will continue into its 24th year in 2022. Also I want to acknowledge my sponsor Molly’s Bicycle Shop and Blind Dog Brewery in Chester, Virginia. The team at the shop has played a pivotable role in supporting me with fantastic equipment (including my Norco Revolver FS1), topnotch service and an occasional beer!”

Fourth place went to Justin De Leo (Blue Ridge Cyclery) with a time of 5:55:46. Fifth place to Roberts Moore (Moore Velocity) crossing the line in 5:56:30.

Written by: @jentoops

Photos by: @Shenandoahmountaintouring

For full results CLICK HERE

Next up on the NUE Marathon Series is the Marji Gesick in Ishpeming, MI on September 18, 2021. See you all there!

NUE-Shenandoah 100Mile

The 23rd annual Shenandoah 100 is the oldest race in the NUE Epic Race Series held over Labor Day weekend in Stokesville, VA. Shenandoah now includes a 100k option of racing on Saturday and the classic 100 mile race on Sunday.

Early 630AM race start

Held within The George Washington National Forest of Virginia, Shenandoah marks the start of the fall season of the NUE Series with just a few 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 which is included in registration.

Womens Open Toops with second NUE win

Women’s 100 M podium: 1st Jen Toops, 2nd Leila Husain, 3rd Laura Hamm, 4th Kaitlyn Maddox, 5th Lynn Faust

Making the trip down from Ohio, previous NUE marathon series winner Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/ Pivot Cycles), took the top step with a time of 9:17:59. Toops now leads the 21 NUE epic series with a win at Mohican and second at Wilderness earlier this year .

” I’ve been signed up for Shenandoah for the past couple years but couldn’t make it for various reasons. I was very excited to finally make it down to VA and see what Shenandoah was all about. My brother Shane Cusick came to cheer and is a Shenandoah veteran so we spent race eve going over the course. Game plan: the “death climb” is tough so save some matches and ride my own race. Some jerk on Saturday threw tacks out on the beginning of course and I got one in my front and rear tires. Luckily Stans sealant did the job and I was still able to run my Maxxis ikons with no issues.

Toops navigates one of many water crossing

All the women were lined up together for start of the race in about 100th position. Julia and I rode most of the beginning gravel together and then I lost sight of her (turns out she had some tire issues and had to DNF). When the race entered the first singletrack there was a lot of Congo lines and hike a bikes. I think this helped in the long run by not burning too many matches in the beginning of the day. I continued to ride a steady pace, keep up on nutrition, and save plenty for the “death climb”. Then the moment of truth…. the so called death climb. Turns out what I envisioned was way worse than it actually was. The 17 mile death climb is long but never super steep and you even get some breaks here and there. I kept looking back and asking at aids if anyone knew time gap and no one knew. I just kept pushing a tolerable pace and ended up taking the win! Super excited to celebrate with my brother and Ohio crew that made it to the event. Sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot cycles, Ergon, Fox, Maxxis, Stans, Scc, Honeystinger, Carborocket, Lazer. Next up in Marji Gesick in MI. ”

Putting in a lot of training this year for Shenandoah led to happy tears at the finish line for Leila Husain. She took second place with a time of 10:11:33.

An emotional finish for Leila Husain taking 2nd in the women’s 100 mile open

Laura Hamm made a weekend out of racing. She completed the 100k race on Saturday and also the 100 mile race on Sunday. Taking the Stan the woman award she finished the 100 mile in a time of 10:32:13.

Laura Hamm completed both the 100k and 100 mile races

Finishing fourth was, Kaityln Maddox with a time of 11:27:26 and Lynn Faust finished fifth in 13:03:03.

Mens Open- Johnson gets Shenandoah win

Previous NUE epic series and Shenandoah winner, Dylan Johnson took the overall 100 mile race with a finish time of 7:29:21.

Johnson leading 100 mile race

About 20 minutes back, Ian Schwing took second with a time of 7:50:34.

“My favorite race of all time had awaited me Sunday. The legs were fired up from the day before having my second collegiate race in UVA. 6:30am start is always majestic at sunrise with hundreds of people riding together in the woods. Fireworks and moves happened early and many people flatted. Worked my way through traffic until finally at the bottom of Tillman, found myself in the lead group, racing through almost 20 places. Dylan was already out of sight and put in what seemed like a death march of an attack for 90 miles, and nobody followed. Dropping into aid 3 only 3 of us were left in our group. On braileys decent, Jake got a flat and I rode passed him. A very very lonely death climb was ahead of me, and lonely it was. I shared a few miles with Bobby Lea before regaining the gap on Chestnut and hammered to the finish to ensure a second place.  Thank you to Flowformulas for all the support and fueling these massive efforts! Next big race on the calendar is a full collegiate season, collegiate nationals, and marathon nationals!”

Taking third place was Bobby Lea finishing about three minutes off second place with a time of 7:53:21. Fourth place went to Jimmy Klose crossing the line in 7:54:40. Hot on his heels was Heath Thumel just one minute back in 7:55:39. Bishop had mechanical issues and finished 14th.

Singlespeed- Holle with 3rd NUE SS win

Singlespeed 100M podium: 1st Justin Holle, 2nd Lance Byrd, 3rd Anthony Toops, 4th Patrick Blair, 5th Joe Fraas

The single speed division put on quite the show with the top three just four minutes apart. Making the trip from Colorado, Justin Holle, took the single speed win with a time of 8:07:51. With previous wins at High Cascades and Lumberjack he now leads the NUE epic singlespeed series.

Holle congratulating Toops after a close race

Just over a minute back, Lance Byrd took second in the singlespeed division with a time of 8:09:09.

“The Shenandoah 100 single speed division went full-dramatic in 2021.  The lineup contained multiple previous winners (Justin Holle and Patrick Blair) and 39 registered single speeders.  With a neutralized socially distanced mass start, the pace remained sane early, keeping every possibility alive.  Justin Holle (current NUE SS series leader) wouldn’t waste his premium starting position and led the entire field up the gravel climbs to the singletrack.  His confidence paid early dividends as Adventures for the Cure teammates Lance Byrd and Pat Blair were trapped behind a pileup that caused the first decisive split on mountain 1.
Furious chasing towards mountain 2 ensued.  Lance, Pat and Anthony Toops were hanging onto geared riders for dear life as those who were held up tried to bridge back to the leaders.  Pat Blair tried eating gravel at speed, with only a chipped tooth and the dust of his competitors to show for it.  He would fall further behind but wasn’t done!  Lance and Anothony attacked mountain 2.  Lance bridged to leader Justin Holle on mountain 2, ripping Wolfe descent.  The race was on.

Just a minute back, Bryd finishes second in SS. Look at those bars!

Lance and Justin joked that it would be a battle the rest of the day.  They marked each other over mountains 3 and 4.  They climbed similarly, Lance hiked and descended a little faster, Justin would repeatedly pedal him down and take control of the race.
Heading to The Death Climb of mountain 5 the stakes were raised… Anothony Toops bridged, Pat Blair (chipped tooth) bridged.  The top 4 single speeders entered The Death Climb together.  In slow motion they tested each other, some were faster on the steeps, others faster in the mud.  But, even another hour of brutal climbing couldn’t separate them by more than a few seconds.
Lance attacked the 5th and most epic descent.  It seemed to work.  There was no one in sight as he turned onto the gravel leading to the finale, mountain 6.  But Justin would not be denied.  He clawed Lance back on the roads, bridging just before the start of the climb.  The two were inseparable and they even discussed how this would play out.  They decided at the same time that Lance would attack near the top.  It seemed scripted, inevitable.  Justin responded to the final surge and then pulled away over the final kicker.  He ripped down the final descent, sealing his Shenandoah 100 and NUE SS series victory.”

Previous NUE marathon SS series winner, Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage) of Ohio took the third spot with a time of 8:12:01.

“What a race this turned out to be!  This was my first SS race since 2019 and I really didn’t know what would happen out there.  I went into the day with no expectations and no pressure other than riding hard and NO CRASHES!
The race started pretty easy and I just focused on my own race.  Justin Holle went off the front going into the first singletrack section and I wasn’t sure if I would see him again.  After I think aid two, I started to see a group up the road and it turned out to be a few geared and SS racers.  I latched onto them on a road section and from then on it was 4 SS racers battling it out for most of the day.
The pace was quick but there weren’t any all out attacks yet, just steady efforts to wear everyone down.  We were all anticipating fireworks on the death climb and everyone was riding really strong. Justin dropped back a little going into  aid 5 (mile 75) at the top and it was Lance, Patrick, and I together in and out of the aid.  I was wondering if he had cracked… but Lance quickly replied “He’s not gone yet. He always comes back!”.  Wouldn’t you know it; by the time  we were almost to the longest downhill of the day, here comes Justin! 
Lance was in the lead by about 25 yards and I had a small slide out in some mud so Justin went by going into the downhill(Chestnut).  I quickly popped back up and caught his wheel.  Patrick was in 4th and taking it easier on the downhills after a crash earlier in the race.  Justin and Lance were absolutely flying on the downhills and keeping their wheel was difficult since I was having some pretty bad hand cramping issues.  The legs were feeling strong but the hands couldn’t safely hold on so I had to back off and would loose some time going into aid 6 (mile 88).
At aid 6 I quickly grabbed a can of coke and got pedaling again.  Justin and Lance were just up the road about 200 yards. I spun like crazy and was closing the gap going into the final climb.  I was all in and went as deep as I could and almost caught them, but they put in a big attack before I could close the gap.  They would again gain some time on the final downhill and at this point I was yelling at my hands they hurt so bad!  At the line we would finish just a few minutes apart. 
This is the best battle and the most fun I’ve had in a 100mi race and couldn’t have asked for better competition on the day. Looking forward to doing it again at the Marji Gesick 100! Sponsors: Paradise Garage. Bike setup:Frame – Pivot LES size largeGearing – oval 32x19Tires – front Maxxis Aspen 3c exo 29×2.25, rear Continental Race King protection 29×2.2″

Rounding out the podium was Patrick Blair finishing fourth in 8:30:58. Fifth place went to Joe Fraas in 8:52:56.

Masters- Weaver gets win

Masters podium: 1st Dave Weaver, 2nd Eric Magnuson, 3rd Amir Matityahu, 4th Keith Papanicolas, 5th Garth Prosser

Taking the win in the Masters division was Dave Weaver (Rapha/Canyon) with a time of 8:43:05.

“Last week my rear hub cracked and a replacement never made it by Friday. My mtb shoes and helmet were still lost in shipping from the Last Best Ride in Whitefish, MT. So I threw my mtb in the car without a rear wheel along with my roadbike, in case I couldn’t race, I was just going to ride Reddish and camp out with  friends. Fortunately, Jeremiah came through with a loaner rear wheel Saturday afternoon! 

I’ve only done one other 100 miler and it was the SM100 in ‘19. I wasn’t prepared for the attrition and pain it took…and my bike setup was all wrong. My goal for Sunday was not to go out too hard on the first two climbs and stay between 10-15th overall hanging close to  Pat, Lance, and Anthony. It’s easy to get caught up in fast starts. The masters guys at this level are all very strong and know how to ride bikes in the backcountry-I knew Amir is leading the NUE Series, kept an eye on him early, and was able to pull ahead on the technical Lynn Trail climb, only to lose time to Dan Atkins on the decent-he’s fast. 

On the flats going into the Death Climb I hear Nathan and Jeremiah charging back calling my name, and was motivated to jump on that train the entire climb as I was seeing some dark moments. It was great to be with two friends on the worst climb of the day. I pulled ahead of Dan again only for him to drop me on the descent again. After a season of flat tires, I took it easy on all the downhills making sure I didn’t flat, or crash. Both are likely at the SM100. Hats off to Chris Scott, who always works hard putting together the best bike racing experiences for everyone! We’re fortunate to have beautiful places to race bikes and volunteers who put in their time to help make the race possible. I’ll definitely be back next year!”

About twenty minutes back was Eric Magnuson finishing second and crossing the line in 9:02:51.

“Taking my son on a college-campus tour through PA, DC, and VA, I figured I’d take a slight detour to race the Shenandoah 100. Glad I did. The course mixes a range of surfaces (rocks, dirt, gravel, and pavement) with suffer-inflicting climbs and smile-inducing descents. The result: a stellar MTB race. I finished where I finished (second place Masters) by pedaling with some luck and sticking to a run-of-the-mill plan, which consisted of going hard at the start; settling down to an all-day pace; and avoiding direct conflict with trees, boulders, and other hazards. There’s a band of people to thank, including family, friends, racers, race organizers, and volunteers. Special shout out to Riverside Cycle for all they do to keep my “lightly used” bikes in working order. Next up: something on the NUE 2022 calendar—perhaps True Grit.”

Only a minute back from second was, Amir Matityahu took third place in 9:04:12. In what looks like a sprint finish fourth place went to Keith Papanicolas in 9:04:14. After a broke derailleur Garth Prosser ran the last few miles finishing in 9:05:53.

Written by: @jentoops

Photos by: @Shenandoahmountaintouring

For full results CLICK HERE

Next up on the NUE Marathon Series is the Marji Gesick in Ishpeming, MI on September 18, 2021. See you all there!

NUE High Cascades 100

NUE #3 Takes Flight with Covid Precautions in Bend, OR

Bend, OR

Ryan O’Dell 

Due to cancellations resulting from Covid-19, The 12th Annual High Cascades 100 became only the third NUE Series race to go forward following True Grit Epic that occurred one day before the Covid-19 lockdown in Utah, and Mohican MTB100 in Ohio, the first mountain bike race to open in the US on May 30. Following these two successful events, Race Director Mike Ripley took similar steps to insure a safe event for both racers and volunteers.  

High Cascades 100 Implements Safety Restirctions Amid Covid-19 Photo by: Harry Apelbaum

Race Director Mike Ripley, “We knew the process was good, the aid stations had process, the online Covid-19 waivers and event waivers were sent, sanitizer and hand washing sinks were placed and masks were required and enforced with a social distancing violation of 15 minutes for riders that ignored our rules which we never had to use. The event featured a remote start and remote finish deep in the Deschutes National Forest. Each rider had a unique start time based on a ride to the start line after 5:30 am. This allowed riders to self-select a start and with 8 miles of double track to kick off the morning and an extra 15 miles of double track overall provided extra passing lanes and a tough first 41 miles. Overall the event was a success, from no injuries on course and more than that the fact that for one day things felt a bit more normal in 2020! 

Women’s Open

Reis gets the Win!

Erin Reis, Hutches Bend, wins the HC100 at 8:42:19. “Being a Bend local, I was super thankful that Mudslinger Events was able to host the High Cascades 100 (COVID edition) this year- the preparation for making it safe for participants, volunteers, and the community was impressive. The format introduced some new challenges to contend with- riding with a mask coming through the aid stations and the time trial start. It was nice to have an untimed 9-mile warm-up, but unfortunately, you have no idea where you are in the pack with this format. 

Erin Reis leads the way in the women’s open category. Photo by: Harry Apelbaum

I rolled out a little after 5:30 and quickly figured out that Julie (Zivin) was my mark for the day when she came from behind at a good pace. She was a bit faster going up, but I kept things in check and fell behind on the first singletrack, making a pass on the downhill. She went by on the next road section, and I just tried to keep her in sight and my speed constant. When we got to Kwohl, we were side by side through the lava sections, suffering together, and at the top. 

I knew I had my only chance to gain some ground since technical riding (and especially descending) is my strength. It did beat me up, though, since I was riding my husband’s hardtail without a dropper (having broken my frame last month!) but I was able to make a gap and just tried to hold it the rest of the race. I never knew how many people were behind me or how far back, and I knew Clarice Sayle was there somewhere (she is a beast on the SS and was third overall last year!) It really made me stay focused the whole time, paranoid that someone was coming from behind.  

The course was typical Bend riding- loose and sandy and lots of lava rock (you can’t live here without being comfortable with a little drift), but I had marked a large section of the course last week, so I had the advantage of knowing the danger spots and also the flow.  I didn’t even know I had won overall until a half-hour before awards when a teammate from Hutch’s Bend Dental sent me a congratulatory text– the website had me listed as second until the 100k results were adjusted.  It felt good to be able to race again, and kudos to Mike Ripley to make it happen responsibly.”

Twelve minutes back, Julie Robertson Zivin took second at 8:59:29. Karoline Droege took third at 9:17:40. 

Photo by: Harry Apelbaum

Men’s Open

Barberi earns his first HC100 Victory on new Kenda Booster Pro Tires! 

Stefano Barberi (Kenda Tire) earned his first HC100 win at 6:21:17.  “First of all, big thanks to Mudslinger Events and all the volunteers for putting on  the best possible experience under the current situation with Covid19 using some creative measures to keep everyone safe. 

Stefano Barberi on his way to his first NUE win. Photo by: Harry Apelbaum

As far as the race goes, one of the safety measures was that we were effectively doing a Time Trial, an 86 mile mountain bike TT. Knowing that, my plan was to kit up in the Starlight Apparel Skinsuit, and ride the first bit in a solid hard pace but without getting into the red at all and then dig a little deeper on the big climbs like Kwohl Wall, FS 45, and Skyliner Ridge to make up time on the competition. 

About forty minutes in I took a wrong turn and ended up adding about six minutes to my time trying to find the corner I missed, but I stayed cool and kept going with my plan and waiting for the Kwohl Wall. There I caught and passed a couple of the riders I knew were podium contenders so I knew I was back on track. 

Edison Lava DH was about being patient and making sure I didn’t crash or damaged something on my Orbea Oiz on the loose lava rocks. This was pretty much the pattern that my race followed, smash the climbs and back off and play it safe on the more techy sections knowing I was always in control of my pace both up and down hill. Legs were good all day even setting most of the fastest uphill times even compared to all previous race editions, and kept my record of ZERO flats in 18 months on my Kenda BoosterPro tires (who also happens to be a NUE Series sponsor). All in all, I’m super happy just to get in a race day, and finally a WIN at the HC100.

Four minutes later, Matt Fox took second at 6:25:01. Ten minutes behind Fox, Evan Plews took third in 6:35:42. “I came to HC100 after many years away with strong ambition to compete for the overall. I felt decent and started fast. By the first feed zone I’d gained time on all the protagonists and had Stefano in sight after his mishap. However, once I started up the Kwol Butte climb I lost my rhythm and never really felt fast again. It was a hard course but a beautiful day! Mike and Andi and their team have always put on a great show and I’ve known Mike since my first mountain bike race in 1992. When I heard they were putting on this event against all odds, I wanted to be there. They crossed every “T” and dotted every “I”—it was an AWESOME job!!!”

Singlespeed

Schafer wins SS

Improving on his third place finish in 2019, Mark Schafer, Eastside Cycles, rolled up to the top step of the single speed division podium to finish in 7:31:15. Brad Herauf took second at 7:53:16. Five minutes later Seth Patla took third at 7:58:01. 

Masters 50+

2017 NUE Series Masters Champion, Golet WINS, now leads NUE Series!

Following his second place finish at the season opener, True Grit Epic, 2017 NUE Series Masters 50+ Champion Greg Golet, took the win at HC100. Golet now leads the NUE Epic Series. “High Cascades is often harder than I expect it’ll be, and this year was no different. But that’s why we go, right?, to face a challenge beyond the ordinary.

A rider navigates the 2020 High Cascades 100. Photo by: Harry Apelbaum

People complained about the lava on Kwhol Butte, but for me it was a highlight. Washboard fire road is what I dread, not techy punchy climbs without obvious lines—that’s real mountain biking and (Race Director) Mike put it early in the course, perfect. I don’t ride road and spend lots of time on trails I built that have steeps which amount to forced intervals. My biggest concern on Kwhol was just trying not to flat, given I was on pretty light tires and forgot my pump. 

This year I didn’t put in as many training hours, unless you count backcountry skiing and yard work. This showed on one of the last little climbs coming out of aid 3 where I slipped out in sand and had to walk a stretch, but couldn’t bend my legs due to cramping. I wasn’t feeling very strong or capable at that moment! Luckily, it was mostly easy spinning to the finish from there. I did miss the (well-marked) left turn onto the last single track, but pretty soon came to an obvious unmarked junction so knew I had better backtrack. 

Photo by: Harry Apelbaum

The TT format was a good call given the situation. From what I saw we all practiced responsible distancing following Mike’s well defined code of conduct. This was all way beyond what you see on the streets, and I am extremely thankful to Mudslinger and all its amazing volunteers for the gift of another fantastic and well-supported day in the woods above Bend!”

Seven minutes behind Golet, Wayne Tonning took second at 7:31:30. Twenty-One minutes later, Tim Phillips took third at 7:52:09. 

WHATS NEXT: Get Stoked! On September 6, The NUE Epic Race Series and NUE Marathon Race Series heads to Virginia for the Shenandoah 100 in Stokesville. Shenandaoh now includes a new 100k option as part of the NUE Marathon Series. From there, NUE Marathon Series heads south to Georgia for the Fool’s Gold 100.    

FULL RESULTS FOR ALL CATEGORIES

Categoryfinish timebib numberFirst NameLast Name
50+ Masters Men7:24:0159GregGolet
50+ Masters Men7:31:30157WayneTonning
50+ Masters Men7:52:09125TimPhillips
50+ Masters Men8:22:2421AaronBoone
50+ Masters Men8:23:00145EdSerrat
50+ Masters Men8:42:4516DemianBailey
50+ Masters Men8:57:2192CortJohnson
50+ Masters Men9:12:0013MattAllen
50+ Masters Men9:13:3325MikeBurris
50+ Masters Men9:13:46116DodiNov
50+ Masters Men9:17:28169BradTymchuk
50+ Masters Men9:39:38105JosephLindstrom
50+ Masters Men9:46:3144DarrellFinlayson
50+ Masters Men9:46:4472MikeHardenbergh
50+ Masters Men9:46:53164RobinWessel
50+ Masters Men9:50:3670TerryHamness
50+ Masters Men9:58:1726ScottBury
50+ Masters Men10:00:3771MattHanrahan
50+ Masters Men10:04:24124DavidPettigrew
50+ Masters Men10:07:1814ErikAnderson
50+ Masters Men10:52:2837EdDaniels
50+ Masters Men11:18:07162WilliamWaring
50+ Masters Men11:26:1090DaveJansik
50+ Masters Men11:34:3681DerekHoenisch
50+ Masters MenDNF29FredericCarrier
50+ Masters MenDNF47MichaelFrank
50+ Masters MenDNF138TonyRuiz
50+ Masters MenDNF54MichaelGaudio
50+ Masters MenDNF78PaulHemson
Open Men6:21:172StefanoBarberi
Open Men6:25:01175MattFox
Open Men6:35:427EvanPlews
Open Men6:37:343LandonFarnworth
Open Men6:40:284CodyPeterson
Open Men6:46:535JeremyTufts
Open Men6:50:52173BrentMattison
Open Men6:52:2310JoshOppenheimer
Open Men6:56:5030EricChizum
Open Men7:02:42167NateYoungs
Open Men7:06:02160MatthewTurney
Open Men7:10:14181KentRoss
Open Men7:13:0043CurtissFeltner
Open Men7:13:028AndrioAbero
Open Men7:22:53185JakeSzymanski
Open Men7:29:00126DavidPilz
Open Men7:31:0757NateGinzton
Open Men7:32:09170ErikHammerquist
Open Men7:36:4976CliffHeaberlin
Open Men7:39:0163CareyGrumelot
Open Men7:41:02128ZachPowell
Open Men7:45:54144JasonSchroeder
Open Men7:53:55171AndyKrueger
Open Men7:54:1417JordanBarber
Open Men7:55:21146SpencerSeverance
Open Men7:55:43180JustinPane
Open Men7:56:12118ErrinOdell
Open Men7:56:2615AaronBailey
Open Men7:57:53179DamonGjording
Open Men7:58:34153BenTaber
Open Men7:58:47174KyleWuepper
Open Men7:59:3523JeremyBrodhead
Open Men8:04:19107MarkMatson
Open Men8:05:32122WillPease
Open Men8:06:2522BrianBowling
Open Men8:07:11111DougMerritt
Open Men8:08:13112JoelMeyer
Open Men8:08:23139JeremyRussell
Open Men8:11:4982TimHolmberg
Open Men8:12:46187LanceWong
Open Men8:13:22114PatrickNagler
Open Men8:16:15140ChrisSarrett
Open Men8:18:4399BillKnudsen
Open Men8:18:49177ChadNelson
Open Men8:18:56152LukeSykora
Open Men8:25:3941LeifEmbertson
Open Men8:33:4749KevinFrederick
Open Men8:34:48156QuinnTirpak
Open Men8:39:4019RobertBautista
Open Men8:46:3742PaulFagan
Open Men8:47:1412AndrewAlexander
Open Men8:48:3251RossFuhrman
Open Men8:49:49127StephenPlomer
Open Men8:53:4796JoshKenyon
Open Men8:57:1852RobertGade
Open Men8:57:50186JordanBoutilier
Open Men9:02:559MikeModica
Open Men9:03:5289RussJackson
Open Men9:12:3539GregoryDufour
Open Men9:16:28165JoelWest
Open Men9:18:4177EricHeinemann
Open Men9:24:25109KeatsMcGonigal
Open Men9:26:02161AdamVollmer
Open Men9:29:2445GrantFinter
Open Men9:41:04176DaltonCharest
Open Men9:42:2433SamConklin
Open Men9:46:4966GeoffGrummon-Beale
Open Men9:52:44119ErikParry
Open Men10:00:5127JulioCabrera
Open Men10:12:05136DavidRosen
Open Men10:14:03106ToddLiphardt
Open Men10:15:42149StewartSouthwell
Open Men10:19:5231BrianCimmiyotti
Open Men10:26:44163DanielWeiland
Open Men10:34:5458AndyGoggins
Open Men10:36:1811EricAldinger
Open Men10:41:17147MichaelShaw
Open Men10:44:0640MattEhrenstrom
Open Men10:49:00101DannyKuntz
Open Men10:58:12133SeanRobertson
Open Men10:58:40132SawyerRobertson
Open Men11:01:52188JakeBiskar
Open Men11:20:18166MikeWilburn
Open Men11:20:2035JordanCusick
Open Men11:20:2418DavidBauer
Open Men11:24:3834AnthonyCree
Open Men11:34:38178HenryDaniels-Koch
Open Men11:47:34183AndersCarlson
Open Men11:53:4495RyanKelly
Open Men11:59:2850NeilFriedrich
Open MenDNF62JayGronemyer
Open MenDNF83KenHolmes
Open MenDNF100JeffreyKoger
Open MenDNF32ChadCoder
Open MenDNF60BrettGombasy
Open MenDNF135JadeRohde
Open MenDNF143DanielSchroder
Open MenDNF56JoelGilrein
Open MenDNF84ScottHood
Open MenDNF102MarcLange
Open MenDNF110ScottMcNees
Open MenDNS24JasonBrown
Open MenDNS73CamHarmon
Open Women 8:42:19131ErinReis
Open Women 8:59:29134JulieRobertson Zivin
Open Women9:17:4038KarolineDroege
Open Women9:22:49172CherieTouchette
Open Women 9:23:0767NicoleGunton
Open Women9:30:566ClariceSayle
Open Women9:31:56117ElizabethOdell
Open Women9:34:2674JenniferHart
Open Women9:58:23108CaitlinMcCarthy
Open Women10:55:57148CassandraSlemmer
Open Women10:56:25141DelaniaSather
Open WomenDNF69KamilaGwiazda
Open WomenDNF53CynthiaGaudio
Open WomenDNF86BobbieHoward
Open WomenDNF123JessicaPeterson
Single Speed Men7:31:18142MarkSchafer
Single Speed Men7:53:16182BradHerauf
Single Speed Men7:58:01120SethPatla
Single Speed Men8:18:32129BlakePrince
Single Speed Men8:27:1720BrandonBentz
Single Speed Men8:29:51104ScottLindbloom
Single Speed Men9:49:56103ToddLawrence
Single Speed Men10:30:38159LoganTrammell
Single Speed Men11:53:2555CharlyGeorge

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