NUE Marji Gesick 50

NUE Series

Written by: @JenToops

September 22, 2018

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

The Marquette Ski Hill climb at the start of the 50 mile.

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

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

Men’s Open

Tries takes the win and leads NUE series

Chris Tries takes the win in the Marji Gesick Marathon race, finishing with a time of 5:38:05. With this win Tries is now leading the NUE Marathon Series.  “I came into the Marji 50 not really knowing what to expect. I had seen the videos and heard the horror story’s of endless relenting single track. My only race plan was making the lead group and see how things shook out from their since I hadn’t ridden any of the course.  I went hard at the first climb and got a gap and never saw anyone the rest of the day. I felt that I was riding well and had good legs all day but still heard footsteps the whole time.  Lucky I had no mechanicals and was able to take the win. The Marji was my favorite race of the year and hope to make it back again.  Thank you to my sponsor Bike Shop for your support.Matt Myers takes second place finishing at 6:33:25. “Still in disbelief that I actually stood on the podium at Marji. Hands down toughest 50 miles I’ve ever endured. I was with Eli Orth most of the race, he won the SS division and finished second overall. Anyways my best story from the race was when Eli and I came up on two riders and we got stuck behind them for a while. Finally on a decent climb Eli went for the pass, moved slightly off the trail, told the guy he was gonna pass, he didnt move over, Eli ended up hitting a dead pine tree that fell over and nearly took the guy out, Eli made the pass and just crushed. I call him Paul Bunyon, that guy is strong! Eli and I came into the final aid station together, but I never saw him again. Those last 15 miles are as much of a mental grind as a physical one. But crossing the finish line never felt so good. Amazing race, Todd and Danny are sick cats.”

Claiming third, Scott Wolfson finished in 6:50:01. “Never had I gone over my handlebars three times during a race until I met Marji. The climbing was extensive and the start straight up a ski hill a little comical, but it was a beautiful day, the trails were dialed, and for the first 30 miles I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

Then I got tied up between a couple trees and went OHB relatively slowly and uneventfully. A mile or so later I went flying over the handlebars on a fast descent after hitting a piece of fencing that was in the middle of the trail. I hit the ground very hard, but, other than a headache, I and the bike were okay. The fall a mile later sucked all the fun out of the day – it was a fast and technical descent but this time I flew onto a rock field and one squarely hit my right knee, gashing it and swelling it to the size of a softball. And my derailleur was bent two ways – I started riding again, but my chain came off four times until I figured out I could not use my two easiest gears. By that time, I got passed by at least five racers while I was repeatedly prying my chain out of my spokes. I pulled in to the 39 mile checkpoint a wreck, hoping and fully expecting my nurse wife Katie to suggest that I DNF — I planned to reluctantly agree. Instead she gave me some food and said, “Get going, you’re still in the top ten!”

A short time later on the luge hill climb I started cramping, especially when I had to get off my bike to walk it on some of the insane rock climbs. I fought like heck to make every hill from then on. With a couple miles left, spectators kept yelling that a group of racers was only 30 seconds to a minute ahead of me. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to finish. I eventually caught them and passed them up the last few climbs to finish a grateful and unexpected third.

The next NUE race I plan on is the Lumberjack 100. Thank you to KLM Bike & Fitness, Cold Stone Creamery, and my Bike Babe Katie Wolfson!”

Women’s Open

Toops gets back-to-back wins at Marji Gesick

Women’s Podium: 1st-Jen Toops, 2nd: Lisa Randall, 3rd-Ronnie Wick

Defending NUE Marathon Champion, Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles), wins Marji Gesick 50 with a time of 7:17:17. She now leads NUE Marathon Series going into the final race at Big Bear, CA next weekend.

“This was my second time racing the Marji Gesick 50 mile and I felt prepared.  I just finished a training block and had previous knowledge of the course. I was ready to race and chose to race my Pivot Mach 4 with Continental Cross Kings.

The race starts out on the Marquette ski hill and positions are sorted out early. It was much colder than last year and the conditions were perfect.  On the first downhill I dropped my 100% speedcraft glasses, but I wasn’t about to stop and get them.  I kept going and tried to stay on pace winding through the singletrack and at one point washing out on some loose sand.

Jen Toops crossing the finish line. Photo by Ryan Stephens

About an hour or two into the race a group of guys caught me and were going at a fast pace.  I tried my best to hang on for the ride up the bike path, knowing that any energy saved here would greatly benefit later in the race.  Eventually most of the guys took off and fellow Ohioan, Chuck Boyle and I decided to work together for a while.

Chuck and I rode over half the race together and helped each other navigate and keep each other sane.  The second half of the Marji 50 is by far the hardest. Any matches burned at the beginning of the race will catch up here.  I continued a moderate pace playing it safe on the downhills and pushing the pace on the uphills. The end of the race has a lot of climbing and I saved enough energy to move up a quite a few placings and ride into the finish taking the win in women’s open.

The Marji Gesick is a race not like any other.  The trails are fun, technical and challenging and that’s why I keep coming back.  It’s an adventure and I can’t wait to see what shenanigans Todd and Danny have waiting for next year.”

Photo by Ryan Stephens

Taking second, Lisa Randall crosses the line with a time of 7:54:02. “I did the 100 in 2016 when I was actually in pretty good shape but I’ve had a hard time the past 2 years with my health/personal life so haven’t been able to really train/race again, nor really get back to even what “normal” fitness was. I love this race though, and wanted to just come up and ride the trails because I really enjoy this type of riding. I didn’t want to push too hard for fear of melting down, however just keeping moving this year was tough for me. I’m hoping I can get my health in order so that I can come back and do the 100 again.”

Just a few minutes back from Randall, Ronnie Wick places third in 7:59:59.  “I’ve only been riding bike for 3 years but long enough to have heard about the Marji Gesick.  After checking out the website and watching a few videos, I wanted to ride it.  And I say ride it because other than what I’d seen on social media, I had no idea what to expect.  My goal was to finish  it – intact.

Ronnie Wick takes third place

I thought the 50mi was a great course.  I rode conservatively all day, unsure of what lay ahead.  I had heard a lot of different stories. I dig most terrains to ride and was happy the Marji had a bit of everything.

I’ll be back next year for sure! Being familiar with the course, I’ll be in race mode and leave it all out there! I’m sure, it being the 5th year anniversary, there’ll be some fun challenges!

I don’t have any sponsors.  I’m married with three kids.  I work shift work in an Emergency room as an RN.  I ride my bike whenever I’m able; it makes me smile.”

Master’s 50+

Lundsten takes the win in Master’s

Lundsten wins the Master’s race.

Roger Lundsten gets the top step in the Master’s category and finished with a time of 7:39:08.  Almost an hour back was Paul Tepp taking second in 8:22:39.  Rounding out the Master’s podium was Robert Zimmermann  with a time of 8:47:43.

Singlespeed

Orth takes the WIN and gets second overall!

Singlespeed Podium: 1st-Eli Orth, 2nd-Joshua Blum, 3rd-Yianni Pimenidis

Eli Orth gets back-to-back wins at the Marji 50 mile and takes second place overall with a time of 6:17:43.

“With Marji Gesick being my last NUE race of the season and one of my favorites i was really looking forward to race day. With cool temps i knew there was a good chance of improving on my time from last year. Up the first fire road climb i was surprised to find myself all alone up front with only Chris Tries catching up and passing me before the single track. During the race a wrong turn was made a few times but i quickly realized it and was able to catch those that had got in front of me.

During one of those passes a very memorable moment was when i was going for a pass on the right and my handlebars clipped a tree. I stayed up and kept going but the tree came crashing down next to us..narrowly missing me and at least one other rider!
The majority of the race i spent it just enjoying the trails and the perfect weather and staying consistent.
At the finish i was actually surprised i was 2nd overall on my single speed.. just like we started the race. My goal going in was sub 6:30 with last years time being a 6:50. I easily got it with a 6:17.
This is my last NUE race this year and this off season I’ll decide if I’m going to race the 100 milers or 100k’s next year. More than likely I’ll definitely be doing 100 mile at Marji Gesick next year no matter what.My bike in the race was a Pivot Les with 32×19 gearing using an Absolute Black oval. It was a little changeup from my normal gearing but it worked out good.

About twenty minutes back, Joshua Blum took second place with a time of 6:37:38.  “Ah the Marji Gesick, perhaps the most feared race in the galaxy, or at least the Upper Midwest. How the race took shape for the Half Marji. Metallica was playing at the start, the National Anthem was belted out via Electric Guitar, and we were off up a steep hill (which is fitting). Eli Orth sprinted his SS to the top of Marquette Mtn. We all then descended and settled in. Knowing the course from 2017, I was reluctant to do anything but ride my own pace in fear of the final 15 miles… (Note, staying redlined in the first 40 miles isn’t wise). Unlike 2017, the weather was perfect. Once stopping at the unofficial aid station (Jackson Park, around mile 40) I was greeted by an awesome group of volunteers, known as the “Suffer Crew” they helped refill water, and then I was off for the final 15. At this point I felt great, and knew I was in position to race the final 15 instead of survive the final 15. Upon leaving the Unofficial Aid Station, I was told that I was in 7th place overall for the Half Marji. Awesome! Time to pedal and push the bike. I was able to pass 3 more people in the final 15, and cross the finish line. Crossing the finish line at the Marji might be the best feeling one can have period. My goals for this race were a top 10 finish, and no mechanicals. Both were accomplished, the bonus was a 4th overall, and 2nd in SS. The gearing that was chosen for this race was a Wolftooth Oval 32 tooth ring, and Wolftooth Stainless 20 tooth cog.Thank You’s go out to my wife Rachel for taking care of our kids while I’m gone, Smith’s Bike Shop in La Crosse WI, NOX Composites for building very durable carbon hoops, and having an awesome crew from La Crosse to travel to this race with.

My next planned NUE race is likely the Marji Gesick in 2019. Time just doesn’t allow for more NUE races, as most of my free time away from my job is spent as a volunteer, building & maintaining local trails, and hanging out with my wife & 2 young daughters. At some point I would like to venture east to do another NUE race, as this style of racing is becoming more appealing than the standard XCO type of racing.”

Taking third was Yianni Pimenidis with a time of 7:24:03.

For full results: Click Here

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

What’s NEXT?!

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

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

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

 

NUE Marji Gesick 100

NUE Series

Written by: @JenToops

September 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

Men’s Open

Jeremiah Bishop goes sub ten and takes the WIN!

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

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

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

Photo by Ryan Stephens

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

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

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

Women’s Open

Williams gets her first win at Marji Gesick!

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

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

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

Photo by Ryan Stephens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Master’s 50+

McFadden takes the top step

Todd McFadden wins Master’s 50+

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

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

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

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

Singlespeed

Fuhrmann takes fifth overall and WINS Singlespeed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For full results: Click Here

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

What’s NEXT?!

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

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

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

 

NUE Tatanka Epic

Written by: Jen Toops

Tatanka Epic stop #5 on the 2018 NUE Race Series

On July 7, 2018, NUE racers headed to Sturgis, SD for the NUE Epic and Marathon races.  Previously a point-to-point race, the new 2018 course consisted of a loop format that started and finished in downtown Sturgis.

The start, finish and neutral aid station.  Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

The new course was made up of loops A, B, and C. Epic riders started at 7AM and completed all three loops, 90 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing. Marathon racers completed B and C loops, 40 miles and around 5,000 ft of climbing. There was also a Sprint loop that only completed the C loop.  The neutral aid station on Main Street also served as the start and finish for all races.  The volunteers helped make sure racers were safe and directed traffic at all intersections.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Sturgis is located in western South Dakota and is home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally.  This area is also quickly becoming popular with mountain bikers. Racers rode on parts of the Centennial trail, which is located in the Black Hills mountain range.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Trails winded through both prairies, cow pastures, and rocky forest single-track. Race day  conditions had temperatures pushing 100 degrees, exposed sunny climbs, fast flowing downhills, sand pits, steep switchbacks, and stunning mountainous views. Racers were also challenged with dodging the occasional fresh cow patty. There was a 50% DNF rate in the Epic race.

Men’s Open

David Krimstock WINS Epic men’s open

Men’s open podium: 1st David Krimstock, 2nd Josh Tostado, 3rd Dylan Johnson

After a long scorching hot day, David Krimstock takes the win in the men’s epic open with a time of 7:19:16.

“I was anxious and excited to race against Dylan and Josh at Tatanka. The two things on my mind going into the race were the high temps forecast and the foreign terrain. I usually get a solid preview of the course, but this time only managed to ride the final loop. I had confidence that my nutrition, namely First Endurance EFS Pro and my Pivot 429 SL would be advantages for me during the race.

Settling in as a group of two with Mark Kransz behind Dylan and Josh, we kept them in sight until we decided to work together to bring them back. Once we caught them, we rode as a group of 4 until Dylan and Josh missed a sharp left turn onto the Centennial trail. I yelled down to them, and when I saw Dylan register this, we waited for him to climb back up the road. He was unable to get Josh’s attention, so we decided to carry on.

On the single track, I felt really good following Dylan on the trail that he had ridden in the past versions of the race. After about 20 minutes, I decided I felt good enough to pick up the pace and took over the lead. Creating a gap, I felt good about my legs on the day, and my reading of the trail. As the day went on, the heat became overbearing and I was taking a refill of my 1.5 liter Camelbak vest and concentrated bottle of EFS pro, along with drinking a bottle or two of water at each aid. Climbing the pavement road at the start of lap 2, it must have been over 100 degrees. I started to unravel a bit, but carried on to the aid station at the top of a long descent. Refueling there, I started to feel the light at the end of the tunnel and the relief that always gives me in an NUE race. I focused on riding smooth, but as fast as possible- thinking mostly about the cold, air conditioned hotel room that awaited me after finishing. The final loop was an out of body experience of sorts- taking 20 minutes less than my pre ride the day before, but with the climbs seemingly dragging on forever. Crossing the finish line in first was a great feeling, but I still had a lot of concern for all the folks grinding out in the heat. It was certainly an epic day out there!

Josh Tostado. Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

Even after a wrong turn, Josh Tostado comes in second in the men’s epic open with a time of 7:41:56. After almost taking a DNF due to heat exhaustion, 2017 NUE epic champion, Dylan Johnson takes the third position with a time of 7:50:17.

Dylan Johnson. Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

Women’s Open

Conners takes second NUE win

Women’s Open podium: 1st Larissa Conners, 2nd Carey Lowery, 3rd Sonia Pond

Coming off a win at the Firecracker 50 just a couple days prior, Larissa Connors gets her second NUE win of the season coming in at 8:50:30. With this win it puts her in the lead for the series.

“That was one of the hardest days I’ve ever faced on the bike, just finishing felt like a huge victory. My body was still wrecked from racing the Firecracker 50 in Breck 2 days earlier, and the heat/humidity was a nice curve ball I did not expect even a little bit.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

For the first time in my ultra endurance career I let the men ride away right from the start and focused all my energy on pacing myself. Despite my best efforts to ride conservative, drink an absurd amount of GQ6 and water, and slam Clif gels every half hour I fell apart before the first lap was over and had serious doubts that I would even finish right around that strange and beautiful ravine filled with cows making birthing sounds.

On the B loop, after that damned road climb brought me to my knees, literally in that spring on the side of the road, there was a point where, convinced I had missed a turn, I stopped to play a solo game of Marco-Polo in hopes that someone would hear me and help me find the correct route. But like most of the race, my solitude rang loud and lonely in the black hills, forcing me to dig out my phone and pull up the map. Yep, all that lost elevation was correct, and just as I dreaded, I would have to climb out of this hole. Fortunately the descents on the second half of each lap were rippin’ fun, and the volunteers at the aid station on Veteran’s hill with the ice towels were like angels on both laps, taking care of my nutrition needs and helping me get my core temp back down to normal-ish.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

A front flat on the final descent of the B loop had me secretly stoked that I would get to drop out (from lack of carrying a tube, like an idiot), but with a shot of C02 the Orange Seal had me rolling again and I had no excuses to NOT start the C loop. It took literally every ounce of brainpower to get me through that last 13 miles, and I stopped more than once just to stand there in the shade of a glorious fir tree contemplating the meaning of life, if I was actually still living, and how I was going to get to the end of the race. Days later I’m still shocked I finished that race at all, but also kinda proud that despite the insane amount of pain in every corner of my body, the Felt Doctrine and I somehow stuck it out and made it to the finish, in first place of all things!”

With a time of 10:12:56, Carey Lowery rides away with second place in women’s epic.

“When I lined up at the start and the temperature was already 82 degrees, I knew I was going to be in for a beat down on the bike. After the neutral roll out, I let many a racer by on the first big climb of the day. “Slow is fast” is my mantra. Over the next 5 hours, I worked my way around the A loop. The Centennial Trail had just enough tech to keep me happy and with the beautiful vistas, I had a permagrin. After fishing out a rock that had wedged itself between my frame and chainring, I began the long arduous climb up to the BullDog aid station. At this point, I was holding second place and not knowing where third was, I did not stop to picnic. With a quick refill of my CamelBak, I was off for the blistering descent back into town. As I dropped in elevation, I felt the temperature rise; by the time I hit the hotter than Hades Gasline Trail climb, it was a real scorcher. I loved the rewarding descents of Peacekeeper and Main back into town. I stopped at my little mini oasis to wrap an ice filled pantyhose around my neck and down my jersey. I had sucked my CamelBak dry once again.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

The second lap, albeit shorter, was brutal. The exposed climb up Volnacker Canyon had me seeing stars. Had it not been for the melting ice in my pantyhose, I may have blown a gasket. Then onto more heinous climbing up Unnamed #1 and Unnamed #2 trails, which I quickly named Little Focker and Mother Focker. The Horse Trail was fresh 1/2 track and had it not been for the previous 60 miles, might have been a hoot to ride. Today was more like a death march: tight, off-camber, rocky, and pitchy, It took every ounce of my being to keep pushing forward. The climb up to BullDog the second time had me crying for my Mommy. I made it though, and repeated the process when I came through 3 1/2 hours ago. Heading down the steep rocky descent, I flatted. For once, I had a NASCAR-like fix and was back on the bike in 2 minutes. I went into autopilot for the remainder of this lap.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Repeating my mini oasis stop, I was hoping that the race would be called after the second loop and I would not have to go out for the third loop. That was not the case. Having been in these low moments before, I knew it would soon pass. As I headed out for my final loop, I knew that I could not chase down Larissa; she is a beast! Not knowing where third was kept me pushing the pedals as hard as I could. As I was climbing up the Centennial Trail to the ridge, my driveside pedal was all wonky. Upon closer inspection, the aluminum insert into the carbon crankarm had come loose. Worried that I might completely lose the pedal, I babied it for the remainder of the 13 mile loop. Fortunately it held up under the stress and I was able to finish on the bike as opposed to running it in or go 1-legged.

With no expectations to finish on the podium, I was stoked with second! That was brutally fun!  Sponsors: Rescue Racing, Scott’s Bike Shop, Chamois Butt’r, Christopher Bean Coffee, Industry 9.

After winning the Tatanka Epic in 2017,  Sonia Pond comes in third place with a time of 11:12:27.

“This was my 3rd Tatanka Epic, though with the course change and heat I knew 2018 would be about finishing, ranking as my longest bike race of any discipline in addition to the massive course elevation.  The heat was already starting to build as I rolled up to the start.  The first climbs I forced myself to take it easy, allowing much of the field to pass and drop me, including many women.  I was thrilled when Chris and I settled into a rhythm together, making a few new friends during the gravel sections.  The temps were already sweltering and my mind was already wandering towards “will I be able to ride in this for 90 miles?”  A good moment to practice positive self-talk as I continued on.
Chris and I eventually parted ways around mile 35.  I saw a few MN friends again as I reached the Bulldog aide station!  The volunteers gave us encouraging words, cool drinks, and a chilled cloth for my neck.  I had been looking forward to ripping down Bulldog, and set off in pretty good spirits.  The next few hours were pretty uneventful, as I just kept moving, eating, and drinking.

Coming into town after the A-loop, I had a really hard time emotionally.  I was hot and my body was already hurting.  Perry Jewett and other friends gave me encouraging words as I cooled off, and I knew I had more in me despite wanting to stop.  Christina Spencer (a friend from MN who absolutely crushes all things bike, including a SS on this course!!) was setting off for the B-loop at the same time, so we were able to roll together.  I had no idea what was ahead.  As a part-time roadie in the summer, I thought “road section, oh yea, I can do that.”  The climb started just out of town, and did not let up for several miles.  My garmin blinked 107 degrees.  I tried to keep my heart rate in zone 3 as Christina moved ahead.  Several other cyclists had turned back and were flying back towards town, and I so wanted to join them.  My body and head felt like it had a fireball attached to it.  We finally made it to singletrack, but the sun, heat, and climbing continued.  Still no cramping so I just focused on breathing and positive self-talk.  If I could just make it to the Bulldog aide station…and I did!  The volunteers here were so, so uplifting (again!). I took the time to sit down and cool off in the shade.  This was the point when I knew I could finish.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

I set off for Bulldog #2, and clouds moved over to block the sun.  I leap-frogged with a few other racers once we crossed the highway.  A few cool raindrops fell and improved my spirits.  Rolling into town, all the volunteers clapped and smiled, and a huge party cheered as I came in!  They checked over my bike, filled up my water and food.  13 miles…I could do this.  I was set off with more cheers and an update that I had somehow moved up to 3rd place. I had serious doubts this was fact, but figured I better get moving just in case.  I saw a few more racers in here as the miles ticked by.  I resorted to pushing my bike up several climbs, but then the final 5 miles were surprisingly enjoyable.  My mind and body felt good, and I so looked forward to sharing a beer with Chris and friends!  Rolling across the finish was a thrill, perhaps my greatest cycling achievement yet.  All in all this event was top-notch.  The volunteers make Tatanka what it is, and even after all the suffering and tears, we will probably be back for more.  Next year looking forward to putting Lumberjack and Mohican on the calendar.”

Singlespeed

Shaklee repeats at Tatanka

Men’s Singlespeed: 1st Ben Shaklee, 2nd Trevor Rockwell, 3rd Kip Biese

Ben Shaklee wins the Tatanka single-speed epic for the second year in a row, coming in at 8:08:54.

“I lined up with only 2 other Single-Speeders in the Epic race; Kip Biese and Trevor Rockwell. I recognized Kip’s name from many past NUE top results, and knew this was Trevor’s home turf with a win in 2016. With the limited SS field I was also looking for good placement in the overall. Trevor and I were each on 34×20 gearing, while Kip was running 34×19.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

After the neutral roll out I settled into 5th place through the doubletrack climbing and was later passed by 2 geared riders on the flat & downhill gravel roads. At Aid 1 I was in 8th, with a quick stop to fill bottles. I blew the L hand turn into the singletrack, adding a couple minutes off course, at which point Trevor and a few other riders jumped ahead. I passed them back in the singletrack and creek crossings before making the climb to Aid 2. I passed a number of riders in the climb to Aid 2, but they were mostly Marathon racers. Trevor caught me at Aid 2 and we left together, but I dropped him in the long singletrack descent and never saw him (or Kip) again. I rode very conservatively the rest of the race to avoid overheating, not getting passed, and not really knowing who was ahead of me. I finished in just under 8:09, good for 1st SS and 5th O/A.

Next NUE race for me is High Cascades 100. Sponsors: Jack’s Bicycle (Bellingham, WA) p/b Pivot Cycles & Stan’s NoTubes.”

With a Tatanka singlespeed win in 2016, Trevor Rockwell takes second place, coming in at 8:51:53.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

“Overall the race was a scorcher. Temps hovered around 103.  First 20 Miles felt great climbing out of Sturgis on open roads with a breeze to keep you cool. Dropping into the Centennial Trail the heat really picked up and so did the climbing.  The first aid station saw about 10 of us trying to cool down in anyway possible. After the aid at the top of Veteren’s Peak it was a blast rocking the down the Three Sisters and Bulldog descents. The open section on the BLM land was very fast but also one of the hottest spots on course as we were exposed to the sun the entire day. I was able to ride with Ben Shaklee the eventual winner of the single speed class for most of the first lap. He open some space coming into town and I never saw him again.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

I suffered up the road climb with the eventual Women’s Champion, weaving all over the roadway from shoulder to shoulder just trying to get up and out of the heat!!  At this point in the race, I wrestled with the same demons that pretty much all of us did in trying to figure out weather to pull the plug of keep going. going through was seemed like the longest 13 or so miles I have ever ridden, I was able to fill my jersey with ice, bottles to and head back into town. By the time I hit town the second time, my legs had returned and off on lap 3 I went.  I was hoping to just finish at this point but coming up to the last climb, I saw Kip B. who had passed me earlier during the long Aid stop in the middle of lap 2.  I thought I might have a chance to catch him for 2nd so I rode as hard as I could up the last climb and once we hit the pavement I could see that Kip was right there. Immediately when I put a push to catch up he stood up and a boom cramps hit and it was game over for him less than a mile away from the finish. I was lucky enough to walk away with 2nd SS and 11th Overall. This course is never easy and always something to make it one of the hardest races on the NUE circuit.  Running the 34×20 gear ration was exactly right and only wished to have a little harder gear on the open fire road and gravel road sections.  Will always be back to the Black Hills for the awesome races put on out there, no matter what the forecast is, even the heat that is far to common.”

Kip Biese, gets the third podium position, missing second place by less than a minute, 8:52:48.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Master’s 

Smith dominates the Master’s class

Master’s podium: 1st Carey Smith, 2nd Russell Spaulding, 3rd Tom Stritzinger

Cary Smith dominates the master’s class, winning with a time of 7:57:32, and taking the fourth overall position.

About an hour and a half back, Russell Spaulding takes second place, with a time of 9:27:12.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Rounding out the master’s podium, Tom Stritzinger, came in third with a time of 9:58:54.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Final results click here

What’s next on the NUE series? Click here to register for the Epic series High Cascades 100 in Bend, OR.

NUE Tatanka Marathon

Written by: Jen Toops

Tatanka Marathon stop #5 on the 2018 NUE Race Series

On July 7, 2018, NUE racers headed to Sturgis, SD for the NUE Epic and Marathon races.  Previously a point-to-point race, the new 2018 course consisted of a loop format that started and finished in downtown Sturgis.

The start, finish and neutral aid station.  Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

The new course was made up of loops A, B, and C. Epic riders started at 7AM and completed all three loops, 90 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing. Marathon racers completed B and C loops, 40 miles and around 5,000 ft of climbing. There was also a Sprint loop that only completed the C loop.  The neutral aid station on Main Street also served as the start and finish for all races.  The volunteers helped make sure racers were safe and directed traffic at all intersections.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Sturgis is located in western South Dakota and is home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally.  This area is also quickly becoming popular with mountain bikers. Racers rode on parts of the Centennial trail, which is located in the Black Hills mountain range.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Trails winded through both prairies, cow pastures, and rocky forest single-track. Race day  conditions had temperatures pushing 100 degrees, exposed sunny climbs, fast flowy downhills, sand pits, steep switchbacks, and stunning mountainous views. Racers were also challenged with dodging the occasional fresh cow patty. There was a 50% DNF rate in the Epic race.

Men’s Open

Easton win’s men’s open

Men’s open podium: 1st Ian Easton, 2nd Ryan Aakre, 3rd Jasper Klein

Winning by only a couple minutes, Ian Easton takes the men’s open win in 3:45:34.

The crew in Sturgis really knows what they are doing. They pretty much have everything dialed from the new course to the volunteers. Who spent all day in the scorching heat stopping traffic at every intersection and getting riders whatever they needed.  Thanks to everyone who had a hand in putting on this killer event.

Sponsors: Burleigh County Bicycle Cult, Dakota Cyclery and Larsons Cyclery”

Ian Easton. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

In a close race, Ryan Aakre, hung on for second place with a time of 3:47:22. Another four minutes back, Jasper Klein came in third coming in at 3:51:22.

Jasper Klein. photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Women’s Open

Walter’s takes her first NUE win

Women’s open podium: 1st Erin Walter,  2nd Jen Toops, 3rd Michelle Stampe

Local rider, Erin Walter, won the women’s open race coming in at 4:04:14.

“First, I want to thank Cranky’s Bike Shop, located in downtown Rapid City. They always hook me up and make sure my bike is dialed and ready to go, even when I procrastinate and bring it in a half hour before they close the night before a race!

I love riding and racing in the Black Hills. We have a fun and supportive bike community, which was much needed this last weekend during the Tatanka race. With temperatures nearly 100 degrees, the conditions were brutal, but I fed off the energy of all our volunteers at aid stations and spectators along the course. THANK YOU, volunteers and race directors for the high-fives, cheering, and buckets of ice to keep us going!

Erin Walter. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

The first loop of the Marathon (loop B) follows some of my favorite sections of the Centennial Trail. I was smiling from ear to ear flying down Bulldog! Thanks to the Wednesday Night Series in Sturgis, put on by Xtreme Dakota Bicycles, I didn’t have any surprises for trail conditions or steep climbs on our second lap (Loop C). This lap was straight survival-mode for me, my goal was to keep my heart rate down and just keep pedaling! After finishing the last climb, I was just so stoked to stay on my bike and to finish the race!

Great job Epic riders! You’re all animals! Maybe I’ll join you someday…”

The 2017 NUE marathon champion, Jen Toops, came in just four minutes back at 4:08:06.

“This is my second year racing Tatanka but the race course was completely new this year. The temps were scorching again and I knew it was going to be a hot day. The marathon race started at 8 and it was already hot! A motorcycle escort took us out of town and then we were let loose on the canyon climb.
Erin and I stayed together for most of the 17 min climb out of town. Having pre-rode a bit, I knew there was more single-track climbing ahead and I slowed the pace so I didn’t burn all my matches on the first climb. On the first downhill the trail was extremely dry and loose. Before I knew it, my front end washed out on a downhill switchback and I lost sight of Erin.
Relieved when I came up on the first aid station, I filled some water and got some ice around my neck. I knew I shouldn’t be stopping at all but I needed to get my temp down. It was scorching and I didn’t dare run out of water here.

Jen Toops. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

I spent the next few hours trying to ride smooth on my Pivot Les and make up some time. Around 2.5 hrs in I started feeling great, hot, but my legs felt good. At the end of B loop I grabbed my pack from the cooler filled with ice cold CarboRocket and a few Honey Stinger gels and set out for C loop.
The beginning of C loop was exposed prairie. I focused on reeling in the next rider I could see across the prairie grass in hopes of catching the Erin. I pushed the pace on the climbs and had fun dodging cow patties and trying to stay upright in the sand mines.  The last climb was unexpectedly steep. The finish line finally came and was rewarded with a ice cold misting machine to cool down.

Thanks to my sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot cycles, Rotor, Xpedo, Ergon, Stans, Continental, Honey Stinger, Carborocket, Kasks helmets.”

About forty minutes back, Michelle Stampe, finished third in 4:48:59.

“Sponsors: Two Wheeler Dealer Cycle and Fitness in Spearfish, SD, and am a Black Hills Ridge Rider.

It was my first time riding the Centennial trail and it was ripping good fun! It’s one of the most sustained downhills in the area, and it doesn’t disappoint. I’m pretty sure race director Kevin Forrester designed and built most of the trail we rode on Saturday, and he seriously knows how to build flow trail. The Centennial takes riders up high for some amazing views and gravel/sand/dirt riding, and then descents through classic Black Hills pine forests with fast turns and well designed water bars to give riders a little lift;). Loop C took us through the prairie, and boasted an incredible view of Bear Butte. The riding on this loop was a little more technical, but the entire course was 100% ridable, which makes for an outstanding 40 miler course. I was really impressed by the riding in Sturgis.
The aid stations were staffed with amazing volunteers–everyone was quick to offer up some ice and fill up bottles. Their was even a mister at the aid station in downtown Sturgis, which was ohhhhhhsogooood. I will absolutely be back to ride the Tatanka next year, despite the weather.”

Michelle Stampe. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Singlespeed

Toops makes it two in a row

Singlespeed podium: 1st Anthony Toops, 2nd Josh Kunz, 3rd Bob Callaway

Coming off a win at the NUE Iron Mountain, Anthony Toops takes another NUE win with a time of 3:54:43. With this win, Toops and Kunz are tied for the NUE overall singlespeed division.

“Tatanka has proven to be one of the toughest races on the calendar for me and this year wasn’t any different!  The extreme temperatures made for a tough day.

Again it was an Ohio single speed showdown! On the initial road climb Josh took the front and set a tough to follow pace. I decided to go at my own pace and was about 30sec or so back going into the first single track.  Josh and I came back together on the climb up before the first major downhill and we ended up riding together into the B loop aid.  On the downhill out of the aid station I got a rear flat and had to pull over to do some repairs. Josh kept going and was out of sight. I managed to pump a little air into the tire and get back on the trail (Initially I thought the tire burped but after the race I found a cut in the tread)

Anthony Toops. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

At this point I was worried I’d never see his wheel again but I decided to squash the negative talk and push on as hard as I could. On the downhill to I90 I made contact with him again which was a huge relief.  We rode together again until the climbing started at the FT Meade trails.  Josh stopped for some water just before the climb but I didn’t need to so I went on. This was where the race started to break up a little although I never let my guard down.

Across the finish line of loop B I grabbed two bottles and asked about a pump. My tire was really low (13psi confirmed post race) and I was worried it would de-bead in some of the fast corners.  No pump was convenient so I made the call to risk it and ride on. I knew Josh wasn’t too far behind because I saw him on my way out as he was coming in to the aid station.  At this point it was all or nothing; ride fast and don’t blow that tire!  Luck was on my side and I was able to cross the line first!
Sponsors: Paradise Garage in Columbus, Ohio

Josh Kunz. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Finishing about ten minutes back, Josh Kunz took second in 4:05:38. Bob Callaway took the third step in 4:28:25.

Master’s 

Llinares takes the top step

Master’s Podium: 1st Mark Llinares, 2nd Mike Young, 3rd Eddy Reimer

In a close race in the master’s division, Mark Llinares beats Mike Young by about three minutes, coming in at 3:50:05. Mike Young took second at 3:53:16.

“I am from Denmark, and we were visiting our family in Denver, Colorado. I wanted to do the Tatanka race, as it looked like a challenge and fitted our plans for the holiday.
From Denmark, I am used to doing mountain bike races in forests. But we have no mountains, and no rocky descents, so I was a bit apprehensive. We also never have it as hot as over here!
So the strategy was: Take it easy, drink a lot and survive! As it happens I found a good group at the front on the first climb, and managed the first descent pretty well. But towards the end of the first loop I was really feeling the heat and started losing time, especially on the descents. The second loop I went into survival mode. And what’s this with the last climb? I didn’t expect that, and I had to ride in my ‘granny’ gear.
Mentally I had this mantra going in my head on the last scorcher of a climb: “Stay on the bike, and don’t even think about walking”.
Brilliant race! I am heading back to Denmark now, where my focus is the local Hot Cup mountain bike series near Copenhagen, Denmark. Thanks to the organizers, and all you good people here in the US for this race experience!
Sponsors: Holte Mountainbike Klub, Denmark”

Eddy Reimer, rounded out the podium and took third with a time of 4:14:10.

Final results click here

What’s next on the NUE Marathon series? click here to register for the Wilderness 101k in Coburn, PA

NUE Mohican 100K

Andrew Dillman and Lara Richards win Mohican 100K

Written by: Jen Toops & Ryan O’Dell

The Mayor of Loudonville, Steve Strickland, welcomed racers to Loudonville before the start of the 16th Annual Mohican MTB100 at 7am sharp. With the downtown blocked off by the LPD, The Kenda Mohican 100 released nearly 600 racers along some of the most popular single track trails Ohio has to offer on a grand single loop, 100 mile and 100k, that spans three of the four counties that make up what is locally known as “Mohican Country”. New Hope Church added 200 volunteers to the nearly 250 volunteers that managed the many course marshal and aid station positions.

Pastor Paterson of New Hope Church, offered a prayer for the safety of racers who left on a slow neutral start this year due to bridge construction on Main Street that presented just one lane across the Black Fork of the Mohican River. The Ashland Sherriff’s Department sounded the siren that would signal the start of the race near the city limits at Maple Heights, traditionally the spot where racers competed for a $200 Prime. Kent Cycle and Spin Bikes were among a team of seasoned professional mechanics that covered all six aid station this year.  The Ohio State Patrol offered assistance to racers at a dangerous crossing on SR97 and Great Lakes Brewing http://www.greatlakesbrewing.com offered 22 kegs of refreshment to finishing riders.

A neutral start due to a bridge out near the start. Photo Butch Phillips

A muddy start! Photo Butch Phillips

Men’s Open

Dillman wins back to back at Mohican!

1st-Andrew Dillman (Think Green) 2nd-Jeffrey Pendlebury (Ride On Wooster) 3rd-Chris Shannon (Think Green-Bicycle Face) 4th-Chris Tries (The Bike Shop) 5th-Andy Scott (Riverside Racing) Photo Butch Phillips

Coming off a win at the 2018 NUE Big Frog 65, Andrew Dillman (Think Green) wins the 2018 Mohican 100K with a time of 4:43:20. This makes back to back wins for Dillman at Mohican!  Second place was Jeffrey Pendlebury (Ride On Wooster) at 4:50:22.

Just thirteen seconds back from second place, was Chris Shannon (Think Green-Bicycle Face) rounding out the podium with a time of 4:50:35.

“My goal for the race was to be the first to enter the single track and ride a consistent and manageable pace. The trails were a bit slick in places, but still a blast to ride. About mile 30 or so I had to make a pit stop and lost touch with the lead pack. The next 20 miles were spent in time trial mode until finally catching Chris Tries and Jeff Pendelbury around mile 50. Jeff and I attacked on a steep climb to establish a decent gap around mile 55. We yo-yo’d back and forth until we entered the final road to the finish side-by-side. He was able to put in a solid effort on the final road to the finish and establish a 12 second gap. I ended up finishing third behind team mate Andrew Dillman who has been on fire all season and Jeff Pendlebury who was able to dig so deep in the final miles. Kudos to the race organizers on another successful Mohican 100. The next stop will be Wilderness 101 followed by Marji Gesik. Sponsors: Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b SWORD, Green Guru Gear, Heine Brothers’ Coffee”

Women’s Open

Richards gets her first Mohican 100K win!

1st-Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles) 2nd-Bryna Blanchard (Barker Mountain Bikes) 3rd Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) 4th-Megan Doerr (McLain’s Race Team) 5th-Erin Necko (J.A. King) Photo Butch Phillips

After a 2nd place finish at the NUE 2018 Big Frog 65, Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles),  takes the women’s open class with a time of  5:44.

” The reputation of this race precedes it. I have some friends who have made the 11 hour trek from Georgia to race this race. But this was the first year I have ever raced the Mohican, and it did not disappoint. It was a great mix of rooty single trek, gravel and some grueling hike-a-bike. It rained the Wednesday before which made the MTB trail ideally tacky with a few slick roots, however the rain made the horse trail a sticky mess. Other than that, you could not ask for a better day on the bike. I really enjoyed the feel of the single trek – super fun. On fun trails like this I do not mind using a little extra energy to zip around corners and pop over rocks. It keeps me motivated. I have to say I even I enjoyed the down hill section of the horse trail. The railroad tressels were a fun obstacle to have in the middle of the course. The route went from trail to gravel then back trail, I liked the mix, it never kept us too long on just road. The day left me a little bloody and tired but definitely all smiles. I went into this race thinking’ with a pool of 56 awesome female athletes signed up that there was no way I could pull off better then 10th but some how I managed the win. I still feel new to this style of EPIC races and To me this is probably the biggest win I have had in my MTB career. I do hope to race more NUE races in the future. I’ll cross my fingers for more podiums but know it will be tough with such amazing competition. My sponsors are Little Fire Cycles wheels, Adventure Cycles of spout springs GA, Rhinohead, and Muc-off. Many thanks to all who made this race possible.”

Bryna and Lara battle for position near the start of the race.

After winning the Mohican 100K in 2014, Bryna Blanchard (Barker Mountain Bikes) beats her previous 2014 winning time by six minutes to take second place this year at 5:48:38.

“Sometimes everything comes together in a way that makes me reflect on a race and feel satisfied that I did my best. With the 9 hour drive under our belts the day before the race and an early 7 AM start I wasn’t sure how my body would feel for the Mohican 100K, my longest race to date this season. I was strategizing to try and get a fast start remembering the long ribbon of tight, flowy fast single track that followed the initial few miles of rolling pavement. The first plan came together and I ended up entering the single track with a group of 8-10 fellow riders, including another woman in my category, setting a pace that felt comfortable and efficient. My legs felt good but the early start and short sleep left me with a bit of a brain fog. I kept my focus, rode clean and even managed to get by a few people on the trail. Once out of the woods and back on the open road, some spectators reported I was riding in 4th, then I got passed by Lara as if I was out for a Sunday recovery ride. I quickly decided against attempting to chase with more than half the kilometers looming ahead of me. At that point I also realized I needed to catch up on hydration and nutrition that I had ignored in the single track. Within half an hour I started feeling really good, legs strong, mind awake, calm and confident, the kilometers and hours passed by. Stopping at a mid point aid station for a refill from the tremendous volunteers, I encountered a few other women heading out as I was pulling in. Jen, who I had expected would be in front of me, and Chase who was racing the full on 100 crazy miles. Jen pulled away quickly while Chase and I rode together on the pavement for many miles until the next section of delicious single track. Even with the majority of her race ahead of her, Chase put in a massive effort on the hilly road, motivating me to push myself harder than I would have alone. We managed to catch and pass Jen which gave me another boost of motivation. I entered the single track and tried to keep the pace high but metered, taking advantage of feeling strong. Enjoying the challenge of slightly slick rocks and roots I was able to make a few more passes on the men in the woods and continue to ride clean until a particularly washed out steepish decent sent me off my line and over the right handle bar. Unable to remount in the baby heads I ran down the rest of the rocks and realized I was beginning to feel the hours setting in. The final road sections consisted of steeper longer climbs, at least that was my perception at the time. Long steady climbs seem to be a strength for me so I settled in and kept reminding myself that this is a race and it is supposed to feel hard. Past the aid station where the 100K and 100 mile courses split I knew I had a good chance of maintaining 2nd, I also knew I wanted to finish strong with nothing left in the tank and try to catch the leader. I was fortunate to share ride company with some of the single speeders along the way who offered encouragement and entertainment. After riding with one single speed man on the final road he politely asked to enter the last single track first to which I replied please do, I’m exhausted. In survival mode I entered the trail which quickly turned my fatigue into joy at the superb quality of track, the bike floated along up the switch backs and around the corners. I managed to make a few more passes on the men, entered the camp ground and felt myself return to race mode as one guy pushed to pass me back. I surged ahead and found the finish line in 2nd place where Lara was celebrating her win. After a few frustrating races this season with mechanicals, it was extra sweet to have a great experience at Mohican. Thanks as always to Barker Mountain Bikes for their amazing support and friendship. Thanks to the race promoters, volunteers, sponsors and vendors for a most memorable day on the bike.”

Coming off a win at the 2018 NUE Big Frog 65, OMBC Race Series Champion & NUE Marathon Series Champion, Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) comes in 3rd at 5:53:51.

” This year I made sure to get a spot up front since the bridge was out.  My plan was to start fast and get a good position into the singletrack after getting in a congo line the previous year.  I was first going into the first singletrack for women 100k and to my surprise rode most of the singletrack loop by myself. My first mistake was listening to my GPS yelling “off course” and back tracking a wee bit thinking I’d missed the hike a bike turn off. Finally a few other riders were coming through and I knew I should have kept going. This is where Lara caught up and we rode together until the hike-a-bike. After 2 years of racing La Ruta, I think I’m starting to get this hike-a-bike thing down. I managed to put a small gap on Lara and caught up to the women’s 100 mile leader Chase. We worked together on the roads leading up to Aid 2 but Lara put it in beast mode and powered up to us!  We all rode into Aid 2 together and I was out of water and fighting off leg cramps. The volunteers did a great job and had my pack ready to switch out. I went to grab a shot of coke and some pickles and noticed Lara rode right on through the aid station. I never saw her again.  As I was leaving Aid 2, I saw Bryna was coming in and I wasn’t sure if any other 100k women were with her.

The wilderness was a dark place for me. I knew I had to eat more but I was so nauseated. I tried slamming a gel and started dry heaving. Then the full on calf and hamstring cramps paid a visit.  I was behind on my nutrition plan.  I kept pedaling knowing stopping wouldn’t fix anything. The cramps finally subsided and I managed to get through wilderness. Once on the roads I was just in survival mode. Mentally I wanted to race but the power and my legs just weren’t there. All I wanted to do was stop, lay in the gravel and throw up! At this point I was wondering if I had a stomach bug and debated taking a DNF. Then Bryna and Chase (100 mile leader) were working together and made a pass on the roads. There was nothing left in the tank to challenge and I rode it on in to the finish.

Some races are good some are bad. Unfortunately the Mohican 100k didn’t go as planned, but I somehow managed to keep it together enough to hang on to a 3rd place finish!  Thanks to all my sponsors, fellow racers/volunteers trying to encourage and motivate me, Anthony Toops for getting the Pivot Les on point, and my parents for coming to cheer me on!”

Masters 50+

Clayton Wins Masters 50+

1st-Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) 2nd-Scott Burrill (Bikeman.com) 3rd-John Lorson (River Day Racing) 4th-Gregory Cimmino (Class Cycle) 5th-Tom Weaver (KSD/Summit Freewheelers) Photo Butch Phillips

Winning the Masters 50+ Mohican was Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) 5:18:22.

“I think the neutral start led to the heavy hitters not punching it quite as hard, so the field stayed together for a while. I was able to hang with the lead group on the road and into the first singletrack, albeit at the back end of a long string of riders. Things were pretty good until I caught a root wrong with my front wheel and I ended up with the wheel jammed in between two roots and my bar twisted pretty good from the sudden stop.  Of course being early in the race probably 10 riders went by…never good for the confidence!  After getting going again, I pulled back a notch and focused on being efficient.  I started to reel riders in, but there was a good sized group that seemed to be holding steady behind and a couple guys right on my wheel.  As it turned out, one of those was Devin DeBoer who ended up winning the 100 mile M50+ category.  I eventually caught up to a guy who was moving through the technical parts well, so I decided to follow him figuring I would make it through the rough stuff better that way.  We chatted a bit and it turned out it was Scott Burrill who had placed 2nd in the Big Frog 65 to me a month ago.  After riding together awhile, I slowly gapped Scott on the gravel road rollers and got in with a small group of single speeders, including my old race buddy Ross Anderson,  and one geared rider.  After the course split at aid 3, I was on my own and was very happy to see the gravel rollers that come so much sooner than they do in the 100 mile race…the end was near!  As I got into the last singletrack, Anthony Toops caught up to me with another singlespeeder chasing hard for their 3rd podium spot.  It was great to use them to keep me charging hard, especially as I didn’t know how far back Scott was or even if there was any other 50+ racers ahead I might catch.  I took the 50+ win, but Scott kept me honest just a few minutes back.  I’ll be racing the Iron Mountain 100k next.”

Clayton wins the masters 50+ 100k

Scott Burrill (Bikeman.com) took the second place spot in 2017 and repeats in 2018 with the same exact time of 5:23:11!

Taking the third podium position was John Lorson (River Day Racing) with a time of 5:52:35.

“After winning the single-speed 100K at Mohican in 2008, 2009 and 2011 (in 2010, I took a wrong turn with 4 miles to go and handed the win to my teammate) I’ve moved further down the ranks and even off the podium in the ensuing 6 years in my past few attempts. The class was getting younger and faster and I was not. Finally, at age 54, I decided to “race my age” and entered the Masters 50+ category. Still, having ridden a single-speed exclusively for the past 10 years (even winning the OMBC Masters 45+ Championship in 2011 and 2012 against geared bikes) I knew what bike I’d be on: my 8-year-old Gary Fisher Superfly Single-Speed, running a 36×20 with my trusty Niner rigid carbon fork up front. (You’ve “gotta dance with who brung ya’,” right?)

I’ve go to admit I was a little worried at the “neutral roll-out” plan for the start. I envisioned a lane-wide flesh pile as four lanes choked to one, but it turned out fine and actually a bit to my advantage because I wasn’t spinning like a hamster trying to keep up as we started into the hill. The problem with the starting route now, as opposed to the course from a few years back, is several miles of road riding before we hit singletrack. It’s a long spin for a single-speed and it sucks the life out of me being passed by tons of geared bikes I had just aced on that first climb.

This year I really let that get into my head and I was convinced I was having another off year until I hit Aid 2 at Buckhaven. There, the I applied the lifesaving elixirs of Coca Cola and watermelon and underwent an on-bike metamorphosis. After leaving the Buckhaven single-track I was overtaken by a pace-line of geared guys just before the infamous Township Road 344 which my buddies and I have dubbed the “Arc of the Moon” climb, because it looms on the horizon like a giant moon with tiny suffering cyclists crawling along its profile. Every one of the pace-liners passed me before the turn toward the climb, including a rider that I knew was in my class. I resolved to attack it as hard as I could up the hill and passed all but two of those guys, which I caught and then pipped on the way up the next roller. It had taken me right around 40 miles to get my grove on.

I ran up on a bunch of bikes in the bottom rock garden of Mohican Wilderness and the scene was like something from a horror film. One of the many “living dead”, I stumbled and struggled through the sweaty rocks like I had learned to ride bike just moments before. This was easily the toughest part of the race for me, but nothing that couldn’t be healed with a few shots of Coke and a handful of watermelon at Aid 3.

Two of my non-racing buddies, Scream and Cappy, were watching the carnage atop the Valley Stream climb and shouted that they thought I might be among the first Masters to come through. That was literally the first moment that I figured I had any shot at a podium finish. I turned myself inside out the rest of the way home, making sure to keep my place. As I crossed the line Ryan O’Dell announced me as “somewhere in the top 5 Masters” and I was blown away to find that I was, in fact, 3rd!

My Masters gamble had paid off and I hadn’t forsaken my single-speed soul in the process. It was another fine day at Mohican, even if I finally had to admit I had somehow finally become an old guy!”

Singlespeed

James Litzinger gets the win and sets new SS course record!

1st-James Litzinger (Syndicate Cycling pwrd by Pro Bike+Run) 2nd-Josh Kunz (KSD) 3rd-Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage Racing 4th-Eli Orth (Queen City Wheels) 5th-David Mrkonja (Silverback Racing) Photo Butch Phillips

Setting a new SS 100k record and crushing the SS Division was James Litzinger (Syndicate Cycling pwrd by Pro Bike +Run), 4:53:13.

“Wow, the Mohican 100k is an awesome race!  With a great mix of trails and gravel it made for a great day on the bike.  The anticipation of 600 plus riders at the start line and trying to navigate through a one lane bridge is a very exciting way to start off the morning!

I was really torn this year if I was going to race the Pivot Les as a Single Speed or the Specialized Epic FS which I have grown to love over the spring months.  I was kind of persuaded into racing the SS since the majority of the riders in the cabin the night before were riding single speed.  After getting all of my race prep and nutrition in line for the next day we enjoyed some time hanging out.  I have felt really good this year since starting to use some GNC products.  My top favorites have been the GNC Mega Men Sport daily vitamins, GNC Turmeric Curcumin 1000mg, and the GNC AMP Pure Isolate protein.

It was a very Single Speed friendly start this year with the controlled start until the bottom of the opening climb out of town.  I was up in the front row churning the pedals pretty casually and since there was no cash money for being the first rider out of town this year the pace was very manageable.  From the top of the first climb to the woods can be a nightmare for SSer’s with the rolling hills and very high speeds.  On that road section though, I was able to link up with John Haddock, of JA King Racing, the 2017 and 2018 100 mile SS winner.  John is a very smart and strong riders.  He and I had a great time racing in the past at various NUE events.  When you have a buddy to ride with it makes the day go so much better!

Once getting into the woods in the top 20 or so we quickly learned that the prior week of rain and humidity were making the trails a little greasy.  I always have the utmost confidence in my Schwalbe Racing Ralphs!  They are truly the jack of all trades!    John and I made our way through the single track picking off only a few riders this year since we had a pretty good start on the road.   We were even able to pick up another riders for the party, Alex Hashem of Shenandoah Mountain Touring.  The three of us had a great time working together!  Alex would give us some help on the roads while John and I would pace the single track and climbs.  It made for the perfect combination!

Getting into aid 3, John and Alex hit the road for the 100 mile loop while I cut off to finish the 100k.  After doing the 100 mile in previous years it was very lifting both physically and mentally to have less than an hour to go.  I held a steady spin along the flat stream road trying to conserve a little energy for the steep Valley Stream road climb.  This year my goal was to clear the entire climb on my Wolf Tooth 30×17 gearing.  The climb seemed to go much faster this year and I felt good the whole way.  After cutting down through the woods and making my way along the stream for the last road section of the day I went through the last aid station right into the final miles of single track.  Once cutting up into the single track it was motivating to see Bubba standing along the trail taking a picture or video.  From there it was party time to the finish!  Having fun in all of the single track back to the finish I looked up to find that I caught a geared 100k rider.  Continuing and pushing on down through the campground is a great ending to a fun day with friend new and old on the bike.

Thanks to my Team, Syndicate Cycling, sponsors, and family for their continued support!  My wife Jenn and 3 boys, Garrett, Cameron, and Mason.  Pro Bike+Run,  Legacy Medical, Schwalbe Tires, Voler, Specialized Bikes, GNC, and Cenacolo all make me feel so fortunate to do something that I love so much.”

Coming in twenty-three minutes back was Josh Kunz (KSD) with a time of 5:16:02. Taking the third podium position was Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage), coming in at 5:18:25.

“All the usual suspects were in attendance this year for the single speed 100k so I knew it was going to be a tough day.  The race started pretty hard up the the first road climb with most of the SS’ers still together.  My goal was to get into the single track as near the front as possible so some huge efforts were required for the first 20min of the race.  This plan worked well and I had a good position behind Josh Kunz and David Mrkonja.  We were riding at XC pace the entire single track section with none of us letting up.  They would make a pass and then I would make the same pass to stay on their wheels.  Eventually I got around David and Josh and tried to up the pace a little more through some technical sections to break up the group.  This seemed to work and it was just Josh and I hitting the road sections.  About this time I looked down and realized I had lost a bottle somewhere.  Thankfully I carried three to get me to aid 2 but this was going to put me behind on nutrition, which wasn’t ideal.  Josh is a super strong climber and started to drop me on the initial road sections before aid 2 and losing that bottle was starting to take its toll.  I just tried to hang onto third for the rest of the race and hope some power would come back so maybe I could catch him.

Through aid 3 and heading towards the finish my right cleat started to loosen up.  I had to stop and tighten it at about mile 48 and this is when Eli Orth passed me.  I quickly hopped back on and made sure to catch him asap.  When I had his wheel I realized my left cleat was now loose but at this point I didn’t have the option to stop.  We rode together until the last single track section and I made sure to take the lead going into the woods.  Somehow I managed to find some legs and hold off Eli until the end to take third.  It was another tough Mohican 100k with close racing all day! My next NUE Marathon Series race will be Iron Mountain in Damascus, VA.”

Click here for full results

What’s Next?

NUE Marathon Series: June 24, 2018 in Damascus, VA  Iron Mountain

NUE Epic Series: June 16, 2018 in Manistee, Michigan (sold out) Lumberjack 100

Cohutta 100: NUE #2

On April 28, 2018 Roost Racing, LLC held the Cohutta 100 (NUE Epic Series), Big Frog 65 (NUE Marathon Series), and Old Copper 20 in Ducktown, TN. This was stop number two on the 2018 National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) race schedule.  These races were held at the Ocoee Whitewater center, a venue that hosted the kayak/canoe slalom competitions at the 1996 Olympic games.  Nestled within the Cherokee National Forest racers traversed through sections of Brush Creek, the Tanasi Trail Systems and miles of fire roads.

The Cohutta 100 had over 12,000 feet of climbing and included a huge gravel loop that was cut out last minute the previous year. Rain the previous day had some racers worried, but the trails were in prime condition. It was a little chilly at the start but the sun peaked out and warmed up to mid 60’s for most of the race. Couldn’t have asked for better racing weather!

Men’s Open

Dylan Johnson makes it a Three-Peat at NUE Cohutta 100

1st- Dylan Johnson (Leska MTB Racing) 2nd-Christian Tanguy (RBS Cycling Team) 3rd- Brian Schworm (Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b SWORD) 4th-John Wiygul (High Point-Rock/Creek-Trek Chatt) 5th-Alex Hashem (Stokesville/Shenandoah mountain touring)

Defending NUE Epic Champion Dylan Johnson (Leska MTB Racing) wins the Men’s Open with a time of 6:43:38.

“My goal for this year was to be as conservative as possible. I knew that I had the edge in the single track over the main players and the course finishes up with 10 miles of single track. If I could stay in the lead group until then I knew that my odds would be good. We finished the first single track with a decent sized group but it wasn’t long at all before Christian Tanguy pulled away. I quickly bridged the gap and the two of us rode together for the majority of the day. Tanguy was fine to do most of the pulling which was fine with me. When we got to the final single track I got to the front and pushed the pace enough to get a gap between me and Tanguy to take the win.”

Christian Tanguy (RBS Cycling Team) comes in second just three minutes back at 6:46:34.

Third place was Brian Schworm (Think Green-Bicycle Face p/b SWORD) coming in at 6:54:40.

“I arrived at the Ocoee Whitewater Center on Friday to beautiful weather. It can sometimes be a bit unpredictable down there with many past races taking place in downpours but this year things looked great. It had rained the previous day but my teammates and I found most of the course to be in primo condition during our preride with the exception of the Old Copper Trail which is always at least a little bit wet. Anyway, we had a great preride, checked in at registration, and parted with our drop bags for the next day’s festivities.

On race morning it was quite chilly but things heated up quickly once the race was underway. We rolled up the opening climb at a modest pace with a mad scramble to the beginning of the singletrack. I found myself in third position which was perfect for this beginning trail section. Once we raced for approximately 90 minutes we popped out at the first aid station and started the 68 mile “Death March” gravel loop. There were approximately 8 or 9 riders together as we started our journey around this loop including Christian Tanguay, Dylan Johnson, John Wiygul, Alex Hashem, Lee Hauber, single-speeder John Haddock, my teammate Nathaniel Cornelius, and myself.

During a “moment of inattention” the paced quickened and I found myself off the back of the group and scrambling to catch back up. I caught the main group but Christian and Dylan were gone. My teammate Nathaniel helped to pace me for a while but then I was on my own to chase them down. With all my might I chased but made no progress whatsoever. After a bit of discouragement and a “bad patch”, John and Alex joined me and we worked together through most of the remaining gravel loop section and we were hearing time gaps of nearly 20 minutes to the leading duo.

Once we joined the Big Froggers on their 65 mile journey I hammered the last couple of gravel climbs and the following singletrack to the finish. I was able to decrease the gap to the leaders somewhat but it was too little too late. I finished third with John and Alex not far behind finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Moving forward I am now looking ahead to Marathon Nationals in Arkansas this weekend and then a nice break until the Mohican 100 for another NUE battle. Thanks to my team Think Green – Bicycle Face and my sponsors SWORD, Native Eyewear, Specialized Bicycles, ESI Grips, Schwalbe Tires, and TruckerCo for making this all possible; and a special thanks to my wife Jennifer Schworm for her continued support and sacrifice in my pursuit of endurance MTB racing.”

Women’s Open

Cantwell gets her first Cohutta 100 win!

1st- Lauren Cantwell (Moonstompers/Stokesville Lodge) 2nd-Britt Mason (The Bike Lane) 3rd-Heidi Coulter (Paradise Garage Racing)

Lauren Cantwell (Moonstompers/Stokesville Lodge)  wins the Cohutta 100 women’s open with a time of 8:04:58.

“First time at Cohutta for me was a great one. First 18 miles of singletrack was a blast! Smooth, flowy, and the dawn mist made for a beautiful way to start the ride. The Death March became a grind towards the end but the views off of the high mountains into the valley were spectacular. I hadn’t examined the route very closely before and was surprised in the best way possible when I found myself on recognized terrain from a bikepacking trip I did last fall with a couple friends. Especially because race day was about 45 degrees warmer and no snow! Finishing the race on more miles of singletrack was an awesome end to the race!”

Second place was Britt Mason (The Bike Lane) 8:46:41.

Taking the third podium spot was Heidi Coulter (Paradise Garage Racing) 9:33:45.

“It was a beautiful day riding through the enchanted Cherokee National Forest. After getting DFL at True Grit in Utah, it felt great to finish strong and step up on the podium. Not too shabby for a grandma!”

Singlespeed

Haddock repeats Cohutta singlespeed

1st-John Haddock (J.A. King) 2nd-Kenny Kocarek (Kobby Side Down) 3rd-Joseph Stroz (Stroz Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab)

Winning the singlespeed division by an astounding 35 minutes was John Haddock (J.A. King) coming in at 7:22:02.

Kenny Kocarek (Kobby Side Down) took the second step with a time of 7:57:31.

“At the start line I was so grateful for cooler temps compared to the heat wave of last year.  The countdown to the start came and the neutral car rolled out and as I stood to sprint out of the gate and spin my singlespeed like a hamster through the parking lot then I nearly ran into the row in front of me!  The start seemed very relaxed even some conversations were going on up the initial road ascent.  I stuck with fellow Ohio SS’r Peyton Randolph and we creeped up toward the middle of the main group and then the first roller hit and we we’re stuck spinning and tucking and as the lead group revved their quads up they put us in our place at the back.

We entered the singletrack slightly behind the main group to a relatively open trail in now we know was 2nd and 3rd in SS.  We kept a good pace until Peyton endoed and flew off the trail like an 1980s metal tipped lawn dart.  I saw him bounce up and say he was ok and kept rolling onto the “river” trail and hooked up with another Ohio rider Michael Gottfried.  His huge legs parted all the water puddles for me and pulled me all the way to aid one where it seemed like we were a little behind the main group.  I was looking forward to having a partner for the massive gravel roads ahead however on the first descent I see Michael pull off the road and starts putting his chain back on his bike (geared bike problems) with all the road I figured his gears would catch up soon enough and I continued on.  Little did I know since this was the first time on this course that I would be climbing for the next 20 miles!!  It was fun until about mile 45.  I started to fall behind on nutrition and slowing up the pace of my grind luckily the drop bag station 3 came up and I reloaded and got my groove back.  From there on I was solo until merging into the big frog course and had carrots to chase.  I got to the last aid station and they informed me I was top fifteen.  Adrenaline kicked in on the singletrack and I enjoyed the ride till thunder chicken and since I did not see anyone pursuing and throttled down because I knew I was in a good spot and did not want a flat tire to ruin it!  At the gravel I was at 750 something and decided sub 8 would be good regardless what position I was in so I pushed it for a finish time of 7:57 and found out 2nd place which is a huge improvement on my 13th place the prior year!
Huge Thanks to Knobbysidedown for putting up with me and all our sponsors Schwalbe Tires, HandUp gloves, Infinit Nutrition, Dumonde Tech Lubricants, Portman Mechanical and Swiftwick socks”

Third place was Joseph Stroz (Stroz Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab) 8:08:09.

Master’s 50+

1st-Brad Cobb (Motor Mile Racing) 2nd-Roger Masse (Stokesville/Shenandoah Mountain Touring) 3rd-Russell Spaulding (TFM Racing) 4th- Tom Stritzinger 5th-Alan Miner (Rescue Racing-Banks Bikes Canada)

Winning the Master’s 50+ Cohutta was Brad Cobb (Motor Mile Racing) 7:20:21.

Following a second place finish at Cohutta in 2017, Roger Masse (Stokesville/Shenandoah Mountain Touring) finished second again in 2018 in 7:51:48.

The third spot went to Russell Spaulding (TFM Racing) 8:05:04.

“What a beautiful day! Not your typical “Cohutta” weather of past years. This race flew by for me, and I enjoyed it a bit too much! I spent a good amount of the race riding with two talented riders. Lauren Cantwell (1st women’s open), and Joseph Stroz (3rd single speed). Congratulations to Bradd Cobb (1st masters), and Roger Massee (2nd masters). Brad really laid down a blistering pace during this race. I really appreciate Justin and Amy Mace of Roost Racing for putting on a great race. I know that last year’s foretry service approval process was really frustrating for them, and well beyond their control.  I am so glad they didn’t give up and stuck with it! Also a special thanks to Josh at “Tried & True” for keeping my 2014 Superfly patched up this year. I’m pretty sure the bike has more miles on it than my old orange truck. Nex up, we”ll be heading to Ohio where it’s FLAT. Well….except for Loudonville!”

Photo credit: Gretta Spaulding

 

For full results click here

The next NUE race is Mohican MTB 100 on June 2, 2018 in Loudonville, Ohio. Hope to see you there!

Written by: Jen Toops

Big Frog 65: NUE Marathon Series #2

On April 28, 2018 Roost Racing, LLC held the Cohutta 100 (NUE Epic Series) , Big Frog 65 (NUE Marathon Series), and Old Copper 20 in Ducktown, TN. This was stop number two on the 2018 National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) race schedule.  These races were held at the Ocoee Whitewater center, a venue that hosted the kayak/canoe slalom competitions at the 1996 Olympic games.  Nestled within the Cherokee National Forest racers traversed through sections of Brush Creek, the Tanasi Trail Systems and miles of scenic fire roads.

The Big Frog 65 packed over 8000 feet of climbing in just 65 miles.  Rain the previous day had some racers worried, but the trails were in prime condition. It was a little chilly at the start but the sun peaked out and warmed up to mid 60’s for most of the race. Couldn’t have asked for better racing weather!

Women’s Open

1st-Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) 2nd-Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles) 3rd-Danielle Slaton

Toops gets her second consecutive NUE Big Frog 65 Win!

The  2017 NUE Marathon winner Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot Cycles) wins the women’s open in 2018 with a time of 5:23:24.

“This was my second time racing the Big Frog 65.  The weather was perfect for the race in the Mid 60’s, much better than last years humidity. From racing the previous year, I knew starting position and powering up that first road climb could make or break the race.  Going into the singletrack I was second, making sure I had the leader in  sight. The group I was with quickly became a congo line as we all rode each others wheels having no where to pass.  In hindsight this probably gave my legs the warmup they needed. It also allowed  some time to get used to my new Pivot Les 27.5 as we just finalized the build two days prior.  As we entered the first gravel climb I was now leading and worked hard on the ups and downs to maintain that lead.  I worked with several other racers through out the day and had a 40 minute PR from last year!” Next NUE race will be Mohican!

Finishing second was Lara Richards (Little Fire Cycles) 5:32:01.

“I have raced the Big frog 65 for past two years.  Both years I really enjoyed the race and thought the race officials did a great job.  This year the weather was perfect and condition of the trail was mostly good with an exception to trail by the river which was muddy and wet.  Tanasi trail system offers some great rooty single trek. And the graveI flows good with some steep climbs and pretty views. My goal was to get 5th or better and was not expecting to get 2nd at all. I beat my previous years time by more then an hour.

I think preriding, fitness and my new bike contributed to my improvement from the previous year. I had no significant mechanicals and only wrecked once with no injury.  I started the race fast but feel like I did slow down to a steady pace during the second half.  All the racers were friendly and made the race even more enjoyable.  Even though it was a grind, it was still just overall just a great raceday!”

Just a couple minutes back from second was Danielle Slaton 5:33:54.

“I stayed in the second group on the road climb and went into the singletrack as the 3rd female behind Jen and Mary. I was by myself which was unusual and wasn’t pushing too hard since I knew it was a long race. Lara and Hallie caught me and the 3 of us rode together though the end of the first singletrack and across the bridge. I stayed in 5th place for the Bear Paw climb and Riverview singletrack, conserving energy where I could and staying behind Hallie (we could still see Lara about 10 seconds up). Once we hit the forest roads, I managed to pass Hallie but could no longer see Lara. Eventually, I caught Mary and rode with her until she flatted on the big frog loop. That put me in 3rd with only Lara and Jen ahead. I kept riding hard since I didn’t know how long it’d take Mary to fix the flat. The result was better than I’d expected, after training for only 14 weeks with Jeremiah Bishop. I was hoping for at least a top 5 and exceeded my expectations! My best result in this race previously was 9th in 2016 and I cut 20 minutes off my time!

Sponsors: My education and full time job, haha :) And my husband who’s the best mechanic in the world! I’m a Vanderkitten VIP too.”

Next NUE Race: None, doing BC Bike Race in July!

Men’s Open

1st-Andrew Dillman (Think Green) 2nd-Elliott Baring (Pivot Cycles/Baring Performance) 3rd-Chris Tries (The Bike Shop) 4th-Thomas Turner (Jamis Factory Team) 5th-Chris Shannon (Think Green-Bicycle Face)

Andrew Dillman wins NUE Big Frog 65!

After a second place finish in 2017, Andrew Dillman (Think Green) wins the Men’s open in 4:16:56.

Thirteen minutes later, last years winner, Elliott Baring (Pivot Cycles/Baring Performance) took second in 4:30:41.

Chris Tries (The Bike Shop) finished third in 4:32:16.

“I race for The Bike Shop in Johnson City and Industry Nine. I ended up 3rd in the open men Big Frog after having a slow start. At the start I got popped of the front group and was 15th or so going into the first singletrack. As I sat in the back of the group watching the leaders roll away from me, with nothing I could do because the singletrack was too tight for passing; I accepted I was not making a podium today.  In that group I made my way to the front on the first climb and got away from eveyone on the first decent.  After that I was solo for while until John and Spencer caught me in the big frog loop. This gave me some rest and allowed me to attack the big climb coming back and start my bridge to the guy in 4th who I thought was a world away until other racers coming the opposite direction started saying ” you can catch him”. I started seeing the 4th place alone and up from him 2nd and 3rd midway from aide station 3 to aide 4 and thought “shit I am back in the game!”  but did not make contact until the finial  5 to 10 miles of singletack where I came through 4th and 3rd place.I plan on making it up to the Mohican 100k after MTB marathon nationals this week where I hope to defend my 35-39 title from last year.”

Singlespeed

Crawford takes the win in singlespeed

1st-Matt Crawford (UPMC/PRO Bike+Run)  2nd-Josh Kunz (Knobby Side Down) 3rd Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage Racing)

Matt Crawford (UPMC/PRO Bike+Run) wins Big Frog singlespeed in 4:56:40.

“My recent move to Asheville made this race an easy trip from my new home soil. I’ve raced the Cohutta 100 the past couple of years so the course was very familiar. I decided to start off fast this year vs pacing the single-track in the 100-mile version. Entering the woods in top 20 really allows for a fast and flowy ride. Once the single-track opened up to gravel roads the race was on. I put in a coupled digs up the beautiful TN gravel. To my surprise, 1st place was in sight after the first summit. We continued to ride together for the next 10 or so miles. I would create a gap during all the climbs but Josh quickly made up ground on the flats. My trusty 34×20 gearing was once again a good choice as the miles added up. However, the legs began to fatigue around mile 50 heading into the last 10 miles of punchy single-track. I put one last effort into the big climb up to Aid #1. The gap to 2nd place was about 30 seconds into the single track. I kept looking back for any sign of life behind me. I didn’t see anyone for the last 10 miles. Making the turn and entering the Whitewater center was a pleasant feeling.

 This was my first NUE win after a couple 2nd and 3rd  finishes last year. Heading to PMBAR and Pisgah 111k this month. Time to get gnarly! Big thanks for Pro Bike +Run for dialing in my SS each year.”

Just a few minutes back Anthony Toops (Paradise Garage) finished in 5:05:07

“This was my first ever single speed endurance race and it was tough!  My 32×19 gearing seemed a good balance for the day.
The day started out with some big efforts jockeying for position up the road climb. I managed to just get ahead of Eli Orth and into 3rd place just before the first single track. At the time I thought I was at least 2nd but I didn’t see Josh Kunz sneak past in the pack up the road climb. Apparently he was pulling on the front like a beast!
Most of the day I was racing by myself (around geared racers) until midway through the “lollipop” area of the course. Eli had closed in and was looking strong so I made sure to at least stay on his wheel, which wasn’t an easy task. Eventually I was able to get a gap on the gravel downhills and maintain it through the flat section and all the way until the finish line. It was a tough day and I’m pumped to end up on the podium!  Thanks to Paradise Garage for the support!
Looking forward to Mohican 100k SS!”

Masters 50+

Clayton gets the top step in Masters 50+

Jeff Clayton (left) wins Big Frog 65 in Master’s divison. Race director Justin Mace (Center). Roger Masse (right) placed 2nd in Cohutta Master’s

Coming in first, 2016 NUE Master’s champion, Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute) in a time of 4:57:46.

“With a lot of rain forecast Thursday before the race I was expecting muddy trails and roads.  So, I was pleasantly surprised when taking a hike with my wife on a trail from Thunder Rock campground Friday that the trails and roads were in great shape.  A short pre-ride of some of the course later confirmed that.  I had an ok start to the race, sticking with the second group heading into the first trail. Unfortunately about 10 minutes in I clipped a pedal and crashed pretty hard.  Several racers went by, and more importantly my rhythm/confidence was shaken and knee bruised.  By the time I got through the only messy part of the course on the old copper road trail a few more racers had come around.  Things started to improve for me and by the time I exited the trails onto the gravel I was feeling better.  From there on, I started catching racers consistently.  Passing Jorge Cortez gave me a boost as he is a strong Masters racer.  I traded some strong pull on the flats/downhills with Jesus Galindez up to the 3rd aid station and from there summoned my reserves to catch a few more racers on the road up, up ,up to the return of the trails.  Feeling pretty strong as I entered the singletrack I relished the fact that I wasn’t in the 100 mile race this year and could really enjoy the trails!  I figured Matt Hammond was still ahead in the Masters category, and I wasn’t sure about anybody else including Scott Burrill, who won Masters in 2017, so I gave everything I had all the way to the finish line.  It turns out Matt had gone off course on the gravel, so was behind me and I’d already passed Scott so I was chasing a ghost!  I really enjoyed returning to the Big Frog race after three years of surviving the Cohutta.  The race was very well run and who could ask for a more beautiful day in a more beautiful setting!”

About twelve minutes back was Scott Burrill (Bikeman.com) coming in second at 5:10:20. Rounding out the top three was Matt Hammond in 5:14:01

“Was leading the race more than halfway through and took a wrong turn that cost me about 20 minutes. This occured on the lollipop portion between sag 2 and 3. It would have helped tremendously to have a marshall at this area. I was just following blue tape like we were told to do…. It was my first attempt at this race and it was well attended with may recognizable faces in the cycling community. All in all, I enjoyed the day 😊

For complete results click here

The next NUE race is Mohican MTB 100 on June 2, 2018 in Loudonville, Ohio. Hope to see you there!

Written by: Jen Toops