True Grit Epic 100 Mile

A Day of Firsts for True Grit

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

Riders enter the Zen trail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He had this to say at the end:

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

Click Here for full results from True Grit Epic 2019

Riders were treated to food a live music after the finish

Park City Point 2 Point

Larissa Connors Repeats and Alex Grant Makes Crushes in his Return to the Point 2 Point

Written by: Shannon Boffeli @pearlizumi_pivotmtb_team

Saturday saw the 10th edition of the Park City Point 2 Point endurance mountain bike race in Park City, Utah.

In it’s tenth year, and ninth consecutive sellout, the Point 2 Point reached new heights in racer satisfaction and competition. With a field of 350 hearty souls and some the North America’s best mountain bike racers toeing the line, the Point 2 Point got rolling just as the sun crested the mountains; seventy-five miles of endless singletrack and over 10,000 feet of climbing lay ahead.

Riders come from all over to enjoy and suffer on the miles and miles of Park City’s gold certified mountain bike trails capping off the racing season and hopefully taking home some cash and prizes too.

The sun rises on the 10th edition of the PCP2P. Photo by: Jay Dash

Giving away almost $12,000 in cash for podium finishers and thousands more in prizes, the Point 2 Point gives riders everything they could imagine and more. And once they throw in unique prizes like the “I am Somebody Prize,” a free Scott bike that goes to a randomly selected race finisher and the Red Lantern prize package, every participant has a chance to come away with more than just an exceptional singletrack experience.

This year’s event saw top-notch riders like Geoff Kabush (Yeti/Maxxis), teammates Ben Sonntag and Russell Finsterwald (Clif), Aussie Ryan Standish (Orange Seal/Merida), 6-time P2P winner Alex Grant (Cannondale/Gear Rush), Jamey Driscoll (Pivot/Maxxis), and youngster Zach Calton (Spry/Legacy).

The leaders started off on what seemed a leisurely pace for the first hour before Jamey Driscoll heated things up getting off the front and creating the first selection of the day.

The chase group made contact with Driscoll around mile 30, with all the top talent still represented in the group. Rob Squire briefly gave it a go trying to break things up on the long Corvair and John’s trail descents but couldn’t shake the top talent.

Alex Grant rolls through the aspens on his way to a win. Photo by: Jay Dash

On the subsequent climb Finsterwald, Grant, and impressive 21-year-old Zach Calton began their rise to the top of the race.

At the Park City feedzone, mile-53 in the race, this trio attacked the final big climb of the day wheel to wheel. The climb up Armstrong trail is over 1,000 vertical feet of winding singletrack and unrelenting elevation gain. It has also been the location of the decisive attack in each of Alex Grant’s six previous P2P wins.

“We we’re rolling up Armstrong at a pretty good pace,” Grant shared after the finish. “Russell was leading and seemed to be feeling strong. I could feel Zach suffering a little bit and suddenly Russell said ‘I gotta stop’. I wasn’t sure what was up.”

After a few soft pedals to see if Finsterwald would continue on, Grant decided this was his time to go. The Cannondale rider flexed his climbing muscles and quickly opened a gap on his breakaway compatriots.

Behind the leader, Calton moved into the runner-up spot as Finsterwald was forced to dismount to negotiate a natural break of a secondary nature.

Sonntag, Standish, Driscoll, and Kabush were chasing hard behind.

Calton started to feel the first 55 miles in this final stretch and drifted back to the chasers with the Clif duo of Finsterwald and Sonntag shuffling Calton into the four spot.

In the end, no one could bring Alex Grant back. After missing several years because of injury and family life, Grant was back on the top step of the Park City Point 2 Point taking the win by over 4 minutes. This time greeted by his wife and daughters at the finish line.

Grant, the lone leader, was followed by Russell Finsterwald who was just seconds in front of his teammate Ben Sonntag.

Zach Calton looked poised to take the final podium spot. He put his head down sprinting toward what he thought was the line. In heartbreaking fashion however he missed the final turn into the finish. Calton was in sight of the finish line arch as dozens of spectators yelled, waived, jumped up and down and did anything they could to get his attention.

Sadly for the youngster, by the time he had corrected his route Jamey Driscoll and Geoff Kabush had snuck in to take the final step on the podium. Calton, recent winner of the Crusher in the Tushar, would have to settle for sixth.

Kabush had put in his familiar fast finish over the last 20 miles of the race. The former Canadaian national champion passed Standish on his way to the finish before disaster struck almost within sight of the line.

“I was on the final rocky descent and things were going really well until they weren’t.” said a bruised and battered Kabush at the finish. “I felt like I was downhilling really fast until I hooked a tree and ended up on the ground.”

Unfortunately for the Canadian, he went down on the Iron Bill descent which has almost no actual “ground’ as it is mostly just rocks piled on top of rocks. Kabush limped in for the final podium spot with torn up shorts, a bleeding hip, deep abrasions down his back, and a deep laceration on his left elbow that would require stitches to close.

One of the most talented women’s field ever assembled for the Park City Point 2 Point took the start Saturday morning. Defending champion Larissa Connors (Twenty20/Felt) would be challenged by previous P2P winner Evelyn Dong (Spry Cycles/NoTubes), Singletrack 6 winner and Canadian Jena Greaser (Gear Hub Sports/Rocky Mountain), Aspen Power of 4 winner Marlee Dixon (Pearl Izumi/Pivot), and 23-year-old Luna rider Hannah Finchamp.

As she did last year, Larrisa Connors got off to a fast start already opening up a big lead by the first feed zone at Deer Valley resort. Not far behind was Evelyn Dong and Marlee Dixon  who followed in third after getting past Greaser and Finchamp.

Larissa Connors flashes her characteristic smile on course. Photo by: Jay Dash

Connors appeared to be on a tear as she crested the first big climb before the Corvair descent. Dong continued to occupy the runner-up spot followed by Dixon with Finchamp closing in.

Dixon was able to hold off her challenger through the aspen-tree-maze of John’s trail but on the subsequent climb Finchamp’s climbing legs kicked in and she caught and passed Dixon opening up a several minute gap before the next descent where Dixon closed down the advantage to mere seconds before Finchamp dealt the final blow on the Armstrong climb.

All the action behind did nothing to bring back the sole leader as Larissa Connors’ lead continued to grow reaching just over 10 minutes by the finish.

Evelyn Dong rolled in second followed by Finchamp and Dixon in fourth.

The final podium spot of the day went to KC Holley (Kuhl) who is a veteran of the P2P and turned in one of her best rides overcoming Greaser, Meghan Sheridan (Bingham’s), and Nicole Tittensor (Scott) on her way to the podium.

Open women’s podium. Photo by: Jay Dash

As impressive a win as it was for Connors, what she did after the race was perhaps the highlight of her performance.

For the second year in a row, Connors, a school teacher, donated her $2,000 winner’s check to the Summit Bike Club junior development program. And after 75 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing Connors took her turn on the podium, grabbed a bite to eat and went out to ride another 28 miles. Why? Because she wanted to get over 100 miles in for the day.

Congratulations aren’t hard to find for P2P finishers. Photo by: Jay Dash

With all the podiums done and most the riders on their way home one prize was left for Jay Burke and the Park City Point 2 Point staff to hand out: The Red Lantern Prize Pack. An annual recognition of the final rider to cross the finish line, the red lantern is a special acknowledgement of the rider who pushed themselves the most to earn the title of Point 2 Point finisher.

This year’s lantern went to open women’s rider Lucie Kayser-Bril. Kayser-Bril dug deep and persevered to finish with a time of 12 hours and 45 minutes. Crossing the finish line just before dark with her husband and children cheering her in.

Over six hours after race leader Alex Grant finished, Lucie Kayser-Bril marked a successful end to the tenth edition of Utah’s premier mountain bike event; the Park City Point 2 Point.

Click Here for full results from the Park City Point 2 Point 

Larissa Connors prepares to chow down on a well deserved post race meal. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

 

 

 

 

 

 

NUE Wilderness 101

Written by: @JenToops

Photos by: Bryan Lewis

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

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

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

Open Men

Johnson gets third NUE win for 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Women

Barclay wins Open Women

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

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

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

Sponsors:  Kenda Cannondale Women’s Elite Team”

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

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

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

Singlespeed

Wadsworth gets second NUE win of the season

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

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

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

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

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

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

Masters

Spaulding repeats at Wilderness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for full results

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

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

Carrabassett Backcountry Challenge

Anthony and Daigle Conquer Carrabassett

Written by: Ryan O’Dell

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

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

 

Women’s Open

Anthony Wins!

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

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

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

Bacon with chocolate drizzle to power riders on course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Men’s Open

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

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

Custom syrup bottles for race finishers!

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

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

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

 

Singlespeed

2018 Kramer wins the SS Race!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Masters 50+

Golet gets his first NUE Win of the 2018 Season!  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next up Pierre’s Hole!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Mitas 4 Islands Stage Race – Croatia

4 Islands Mountain Bike Stage Race: Racing from the New World to the Old

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Just over a year ago Jen and I finished our last mountain bike stage race, Titan Tropic Cuba, two weeks ago we went from what felt like a developing civilization in Cuba to racing in the earliest expanse of western civilization; I can’t imagine a greater contrast from out last stage race to the Mitas 4 Islands mountain bike stage race in Croatia. From racing in the untouched interior of Cuba we transitioned to racing on trails built in the Roman era; the start of stage one traverses through castle ruins for shit’s sake. A castle built well before discovery of the Americas, when the earth was still thought to be flat. How’s that for a contrast.

Despite the differences in location there were several constants shared between this and other stage races we’ve done, the most important being: incredible trail riding.

Riders roll through the ruins of castle Baska – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

The 4 Islands organization know they have a special gem in their hands and they want to share it with all their mountain bike friends. From the opening climb through the castle Baska ruins on day one to the seaside trails and beach finish on the final day in Losinj, 4 Islands serves up an all-you-can-eat feast of dope singletrack, breathtaking views, rowdy descents, and steep steep steep climbing. This is an amazing race but you best be ready to throw down because 4 Islands will test you in everyway.

The 4 Islands stage race follows a course through historic Croatia hitting 4 of the over 1,000 islands in the Eastern European nation. Tucked just across the Adriatic sea from Italy, Croatia is a beautiful country with a rich mixture of old world charm, modern European comforts, and post-Soviet culture.

Riders are never far from coastline and port cities at 4 Islands – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

Each stage of 4 Islands begins on a new island starting with Krk then moving on to Rab, Cres, and finally Losinj. Participants have a choice of staying on a yacht, the race hotel package, or arranging their own lodging.

The race is a team event so each racer needs a teammate. Teammates have to stay within 2 minutes of each other throughout each stage. The race hosts roughly 300 teams during the 4-day race.

Jen Hanks and Shannon Boffeli ride in the Mixed category at 4 Islands stage race – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

4 Islands is a UCI event so it’s guaranteed some of Europe’s fastest riders will be in attendance. This year accomplished UCI riders like Fabian Geiger and Esther Suss were pushing the pace up front and although you won’t be starting with them, unless you have your UCI license, the men’s and women’s times will definitely be measured against these superstars.

There is no doubt 4 Islands will provide what you are looking for in a European adventure. Incredible scenery featuring everything from hidden inlets and secluded coves bathed in the pristine turquoise waters of the Adriatic, towering mountain scapes of jagged, jostled limestone, to medieval cobblestoned villages seeping with old world charm. 4 Islands will not disappoint.

Team Ghost navigates the rocky singletrack in Croatia – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

And if challenging yourself on the bike is your goal well you’re in for a real treat with this race. Without a doubt Croatia offers up some of the very best riding I’ve seen in all of Europe. And I don’t mean groomed flow trails. I’m talking about narrow, rough, rowdy singletrack that never lets up from the start of stage one to the final beach on Losinj.

Unlike some other European stage races, 4 Islands is a real mountain bikers race and you won’t do well if you can’t ride your bike. Croatia’s unique geology leads to a land covered in baby head, limestone rocks and when I say they are everywhere, they are literally everywhere. The porous limestone on the Croatian islands, called karst, allows water to seep through the rock rather than run off in streams and rivers. This slowly erodes and dissolves the top layer of sediment exposing an ocean of baby heads. Over centuries the Croatians have used these stones to build their paths, trails and endless stone walls that line everything, the only clear land visible is because some intrepid Croat cleaned away all the rubble using it to create an endless maze of rocky ramparts (thank you Les Brown, professor of geology and 4 Islands finisher.)

Riders cross the Moonsurface on stage 1 -Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

What I’m trying to say is riding in Croatia is a blast! The difficulty level of riding at 4 Islands was a real treat. Each day you are being challenged not just by distance, fatigue, and competitors but by the trail itself. Full suspension is a must and even a dropper post would be a welcomed addition for most riders who find themselves hurling their way down rock strewn descents with 5-foot stone walls on each side funneling the riders through 10 to 20 minute descents that feel like one never-ending rock garden.

Despite having 600 racers on course at the same time and an abundance of singletrack riding, the racers rarely encountered bottlenecks or slowing on course because of slow moving riders. The 4 Islands crew does an admirable job of dividing riders into 4 different starting waves and because racers start most days right from the ferry it means you often face a brutally steep climb right out of the gate that does a great job of stringing out the pack and allowing riders to attack the singletrack when they approach it. A real treat in any big stage race.

4 Islands climbs are steep steep steep – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

Outside of the racing activity the 4 Islands staff are nice as hell, as were all Croatians we encountered, they will bend over backwards to help you out even if what you actually need may get lost in translation a bit. The food provided on course and at the race hotels is fantastic and plentiful with a wide variety of meal options that made it easy even for a gluten-free and vegetarian racer to stay well fed throughout.

 

Our Experience

Mitas 4 Islands stage race is our fifth stage race competing as a mixed team, male and female partners. We arrived in the start village of Baska on the island of Krk two days before the race. Just enough time to get bikes built, pick up our registration, ride some of the opening stage, and take a quick tour of the Baska harbor.

Baska harbor

One of the more exciting aspects of racing in an international event is having no idea who you will be facing out on the trail or how high up in the race you’ll be. It’s all a mystery until the start.

Day one began with a big climb of about 1,200’ right out of the gate. The pack spread out quickly and we found ourselves surrounded by about five other mixed teams heading up the long first climb that empties out onto a rubble-strewn mountain top called the “Moonsurface”. The riding gets tough here as you weave your way through fields of baby heads. Jen surged ahead through the rough riding and moved us into second place for a bit before settling back in to fourth.

4 Islands offers up some of the best singletrack Europe has to offer. Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

We spent the rest of the day chasing a Belgian duo who would give up time on the techy parts but make up time on the roads using a cable that allowed the male rider to tow his partner in the open sections.

We crossed the finish pretty happily in fourth place not far behind the Belgians. We had spent about four hours weaving our way around Krk. All the talk at the finish line focused on the abundance of gnarly descending throughout the day as I think everyone was happily surprised by the quality of the trail riding.

 

Day Two

The morning immediately had a different feel. It was raining. An early transfer to the island of Rab offered no respite from the rain as it was coming down in sheets by the time the race started.

cold, wet, and muddy was the name of the game on day 2 – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

We were instantly drenched from a combination of the persistent rain and water pooling on the road and trails. Once again we opened up with steep climbs but the rain and cold deadened our legs a bit. Once again we were battling with the Belgian squad but without the tow cable this time.  As it turns out, towing is illegal and they were given a 30-minute time penalty after stage 1. They seemed to have a bit more juice than us and, I’m going to presume, perhaps a bit more experience with cold and rainy conditions coming from Belgium.

About an hour in, the second place team (MT Zoom) were on the side of the trail with a mechanical and despite not feeling our best we were excited to be in third again.

Rab was one the most scenic days of riding in 4 Islands as the trail skirted along endless miles of shoreline within inches of the sea offering riders views of the incredible hidden coves and inlets around the island. Enjoying the scenery was tough as water, mud, and more water poured over us all day long. The stage finished with a massive descent into the resort town of Lopar which our drenched bodies were unable to enjoy; as the descending just made us colder.

Riders begin the final rainy descent into Lopar on day 2 – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

After crossing the line most riders quickly retreated back to the port where dry clothes were waiting. Recovery was critical on this stage.

We were excited to finish third again but lost over 18 minutes to the Belgians. Things could always be worse though as we later found out that Ant White from the MT Zoom team had broken a crank arm and, incredibly, rode over half of the race with one leg! Mountain bike stage racers are a tough bunch.

Mixed team leaders Thomas Weschta and Rebecca Robisch power through the rain to win stage 2 – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

As difficult as the day was the aftermath was almost as bad. Cleaning bikes, cleaning bodies, cleaning clothes, getting warm, eating, cleaning bikes again, replacing brake pads and cables, drying shoes, and preparing for the next stage left very little time for recovery and rain was, again, in the forecast.

 

Day Three

Mercifully we woke to clear blue skies and much warmer temperatures the morning of stage 3. We prepared for another ferry transfer to Cres. The location of the day’s stage. As we boarded the ferry we were told the race mechanics had run out of brakepads overnight and anyone needing new pads would have to wait until we landed at the port to get them. The exhausted race mechanics had been working until 5 in the morning getting bikes ready for riders the next day but a shortage of brakepads meant either you would be going without or frantically work some of your own bike magic when we hit shore.

Riders enjoy the return of sunshine on stage 3 -Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

Luckily, I used the 2 pairs of pads we had with us on Jen’s bike the night before. That meant I only needed stoppers for my bike.

We hit the shore with about 50 minutes before the start. After navigating a long line of distressed racers I finally got my pads and had just enough time to change the front set of pads while we waited on the start line; only having front brakes is better than no brakes at all and there were plenty of people who would be going without.

We started off the ferry deck and immediately up a 1,200-foot leg-burner. After that we were dumped again into fabulous Croatian singletrack flowing through vineyards and fields of olive trees, lined with rock walls of course. The warm weather and sun helped to fuel us to a strong start sitting comfortably in third on the stage in front of the Belgians this time.

Race leaders bounce between another of the many stonewalled descents in 4 Islands – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

Midway through we hit a long stretch of two-track hugging the Cres coastline. A breathtaking track but wide and flat enough that it allowed our rivals to catch up just as we hit the base of the day’s steepest climb. About a mile long and well over a 20% grade for long sections the Belgians attacked early. We were able to close the gap back down and when it kicked up again we countered their attack and briefly got a gap of our own before they brought us back. They launched to final counter attack just as the climb crested and that was it. We were in damage control mode again.

We rode strong the rest of the day enjoying the dry trail, tacky dirt, and endless Croatian singletrack.

Race leaders charge through the cobbled alleys of Osor – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

We finally finished the stage charging down a long section of cobblestoned streets and narrow passageways through the medieval town of Osor.

Despite losing more time to our rivals we really enjoyed the day and felt good about our performance on the 4 Island’s queen stage on Cres. Finishing in Osor was icing on the cake. Cobblestoned streets, canals, a rusty old drawbridge, all in the shadows of centuries old steeples and facades made an amazing stage that much more memorable. With big smiles, we boarded the bus for our final transfer to our finishing hotel on Losinj.

 

Last Day

Another warm day and no transfers made for a more relaxing feel to this final morning of 4 Islands. We were a bit nervous though wanting to hold onto our second place in the GC and knowing we only had just over 5 minutes to work with. With a shorter stage on tap it seemed possible especially if we could get off to a quick start like we had the previous day.

The start of stage 4 in Mali Losinj – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

After a mile or two cruise to the day’s start venue in Mali Losinj we found ourselves right in the middle of a perfectly picturesque scene in the quaint port city. Imagine the most idyllic European seaside town square and that’s Mali Losinj. Cobblestone streets lined with cafes and coffeehouses, majestic sailboats resting in crystalline blue waters set the scene for the final day’s start.

The last stage was the shortest but featured two very steep climbs at the start and a long flat run into the finish line following the coastline.

The start was fast and our Belgian rivals managed to get in front of us as the climbing started. It was tough to enjoy another warm, clear day as we pushed hard to limit the time gap.

One big climb down, we reached the bottom of the final big ascent of the race. A beast of a mountain that starts hurting before you even start. It’s so steep you can see the final climb for a half kilometer before actually getting there. The climb itself is so steep they recently had to pour two parallel ribbons of concrete running from top to bottom to help the 4×4 trucks get up. Pick one ribbon at the bottom and stay on it if you hope to have any chance of riding your way to the top. You need every bit of your 50 tooth eagle rear cassette to get up this thing.

Most riders are forced to walk on the epically steep final climb of stage 4 -Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

As painful a climb as this was it lifted our spirits a bit as we could see the Belgian duo in front of us and they were off walking.

We crested the climb and attacked the usual mixture of rock-strewn singletrack, walled descents, and seaside walkways literally giving everything we had to get to the finish line.

We spent no time enjoying the incredibly scenic final kilometers, running just feet from the Adriatic, we were pushing with all we had for the finish line. When we finally crossed, it was a mixture of accomplishment and disappointment that waited for us as we were so happy to be on the podium but lost second place but just 21 seconds!

Riders celebrate the final day at Losinj – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

The disappointment quickly faded as we enjoyed another great post race meal and shared our stories with the new friends we made throughout the week.

4 Islands is an incredible race. It gives riders everything they could possibly want from a multi-day stage race; unrivaled scenery, tough competition, challenging course design with loads and loads of singletrack, friendly staff, and excellent food and sleeping accommodations. My two tricks for making your 4 Islands experience the best would be: pay the extra coin to stay on the boats during the race and take advantage of the race mechanics to service your bike each night (your legs will thank you for the extra time to recover).

Final podium of the mixed category with Jen Hanks and Shannon Boffeli in third – Photo courtesy of 4 Islands

 

Click Here for Full Results from All Categories 

 

Whiskey Off-Road – Prescott, AZ

Keegan Swenson Wins in a Sprint on Whiskey Row While Annika Langvad Out Duels Chloe Woodruff

Keegan Swenson (Stan’s NoTubes/Pivot) closed down a gap on Howard Grotts (Specialized) in the final approach to Whiskey Row before out sprinting the US national champion to win by a bike length.

Previous marathon and cross country world champion Annika Langvad (Specialized) took a solo win in Prescott after handling challenges from past Whiskey champion Chloe Woodruff (Stan’s NoTubes/Pivot) and Erin Huck (CZ Racing).

Photo by: Kenny Wehn

Click  Here for Full Results from All Categories

Moab Rocks: Stage 3

Kabush and Sears Win Moab Rocks with Payson McElveen and Jenny Smith Taking the Mag 7 Stage Win

 Written by: Marlee Dixon

The third and final day of Moab Rocks is as exhilarating as it is exhausting.  After two days of physical XC racing, most racers wake up tired; their bodies aching.  Todays’ course wasn’t going to provide any relief as it was just as challenging and demanding as the previous two days.

Photo courtesy of Moab Rocks

At 8:30 the shot goes off and competitors head out onto Gemini Bridges road.  The starting pace was mellower this morning due to a stiff headwind on the road.  Today is the day to finalize positions with most people looking to push hard to try and gain position.  The lead men waited until off of the first flat road and onto the steep climb to make their attack.  From there everyone spread out, pushing as hard as they could up the first 500’ climb.  Next is a loose quick dirt road descent followed by a fast flat road before climbing up Gemini Bridges road.  After the first 6 miles of dirt road; the course veers onto the Getaway single track, a moderately technical climb with some flowy dirt single track.  It’s a six mile climb up Getaway and then everyone is rewarded with the screaming descent; Bull Run.  It’s rocky, it’s fast and it makes the climb worth it.  The descending continues after Bull Run with more rocky, adrenaline-charged singletrack including the trail, Great Escape.  After descending what feels like forever, the course turns back on Gemini Bridges road where riders climb up and over the 500’ hill before sprinting down to the start.  Today’s course is a tough 2500’ of climbing over 28 miles.

Payson McElveen doesn’t have much time to enjoy the view as he heads for a stage win. Photo courtesy of Moab Rocks

Almost all of the climbing takes place in the first 15 miles making the rest of the course pure joy.  If you haven’t fallen in love with the trails in Moab yet, today will leave you smiling ear to ear as you remember the thrill of the course.  Moab Rocks encompasses three very different trail systems, each with their own unique challenges and rewards.  It’s a perfect start to the race season as you’re sure to leave Moab tired and sore, with memories and experiences you won’t forget.

Josiah Middaugh leads on the opening climb. Photo courtesy of Moab Rocks

Coming into day 3, Geoff Kabush (Yeti/Maxxis) had a 9 second overall lead over 2nd place Payson McElveen (Orange Seal).  3rd place Justin Lindine (Apex/NBX) was only 30 seconds back.  Today all racers started off cautious on the flat windy road, but once off of the flat road, McElveen attacked and right behind him was Kabush.  McElveen pushed the pace the entire first half of the race, maintaining a 30 second lead on the climb.  Once on the single track descent, Kabushwas able to make up time and catch up to him.  On the final road, McElveen again pushed ahead but was only able to get a 5 second lead on Kabush.  McElveen won stage 3 in a time of 1:57:26 but Kabush keeps the overall GC by 4 seconds with a 3 day ride time of 5:26:59.  McElveen finishes 2nd overall (5:26:55) and in 3rd is Justine Lindine (Apex/NBX) (5:30:34).

Sparky Moir Sears takes second on the day but wins the GC. Photo courtesy of Moab Rocks

For the women’s pro race, Sparky Sears (Pivot/MRP) was in the lead to start.  She pushed the pace up the road trying to distance herself from her competition.  Not far back was Jenny Smith (Kenda/Cannondale) and behind her, Marlee Dixon (Pivot/Pearl Izumi).  Once on the singletrack climb, Smith caught Sears and the two rode together for a little while before Smith was able to gain the lead and distance herself.  Smith won the stage in a time of 2:28:13 but it wasn’t enough of a lead to win the overall.  Sears wins the overall in a 3 day ride time of 6:54:44, followed by Smith in 2nd (6:59:38) and Dixon in 3rd (7:05:28).

Click Here for Full Results From All Stages 

Photo Gallery

Moab Rocks: Stage 2

Kabush Repeats as Jenny Smith Takes Her First Stage at Moab Rocks

Get ready for a completely different racecourse in Stage 2 (Klondike Bluffs) of Moab Rocks!

Payson McElveen leads Justine Lindeen through a maze of rocks on stage 2. Photo courtesy of Moab Rocks

The day started out similar to day 1- a beautifully cool, slightly overcast morning as racers warmed up for the day. At 8:28 the now familiar “Highway to Hell” rif blasted from the sound system and at 8:30 the shot rang signaling the start.

But today racers took off from the start, climbing quickly up the first 4 miles of rolling dirt road as each person was chomping at the bit to be first on the singletrack.

It’s a fast rolling climb up the road before racers cross onto a double track and into the trail system.   Once in the trail system, racers are heading up the rocks on rugged one track.  The Klondike Bluffs trail system is marked by paint spots on the rocks and although the rocks are gigantic and can be ridden in numerous directions, the painted trail markings keep cyclists from getting lost and off unrideable terrain.

Marlee Dixon on course at stage 2 of Moab Rocks. Photo courtesy of Moab Rocks

Today’s course was filled with punchy climbs/descents, technical rocky areas, loose dirt and is overall a cross country racers favorite course.   With 3,000’ of elevation in 25 miles, today was a challenging course that tested fitness and technical skills.

For the pro men Jeff Kabush (Yeti/Maxxis) led the men for most of the race.  With him was Payson McElveen (Orange Seal), Justin Lindine (Apex/NBX) and Chris Baddick (Boulder Cycle Sport).  Thirty minutes into the race Baddick fell back and the top three men rode together for the entire race.

In the final push, Kabush (1:50:29) and McElveen (1:50:32) rode ahead finishing 3 seconds apart with Lindine another thirty seconds back (1:51:09).  For the overall, Kabush remains 1st (3:29:23) with McElveen nine seconds back (3:29:32) and Lindine moves into third (3:31:05).

Spark Sears leads Jenny Smith on stage 2. Photo courtesy of Moab Rocks

For the pro women Jenny Smith (Kenda/Cannondale) took the lead on the road climb followed by Marlee Dixon (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) and Sparky Sears (Pivot/MRP).  A few miles into the trail system, Sears moved up, passing Dixon and challenging Smith.

Smith and Sears rode the remainder of the race together until Smith took off in the last 5 miles for the win finishing in 2:19:04.  Sears finished 2nd (2:20:07) and Dixon in 3rd (2:24:07).   For the overall Sears remains first (4:24:12), Smith moves into 2nd (4:31:24) and Dixon in 3rd (4:32:40).

Click Here for Full Results From Stage 2 & GC

Photo Gallery

Moab Rocks: Stage 1

Geoff Kabush and Sparky Sears Kick Off Moab Rocks with a Win

 

It’s 8:10am and racers are congregating at the local high school, music is playing and the energy is high.

The 2018 Moab Rocks stage race is about to start in downtown Moab, Utah; a town known as a world class mountain biking mecca.

riders: Geoff Kabush wins Stage 1 of the 2018 Moab Rocks. Following him is Chris Baddick who took second place. – Photo by: Gibson Pictures

With the familiar TransRockies starting song, “Highway to Hell”, bursting from the loudspeakers, racers lead out on a neutral road ride behind the local police escort.  After a few minutes, once climbing Sand Flats road, the police car pulls away and it’s go time.

Racers begin a fierce 14-mile climb up Sand Flats road.  It’s an undulating 3,300’ climb with steep sections, sandy areas, rocks, some headwind, sun, and an overall grueling climb to Lower Porcupine Singletrack trail (LPS).

– Photo by: Gibson Pictures

Once finished with the long road climb, racers veer right on to LPS and hit some fun windy singletrack, and the beginning of one of the most epic trails!  Porcupine Rim starts as a pedally descent, with large rocks, chunky sections, drops and specific lines to follow.  At several points racers are riding only a few feet from the 1000 foot cliff ledge.  If you have time, the views and scenery are spectacular.  For those racing, it’s a very physical descent where you have to be on point, paying attention to each turn and rock and watching the lines.  It’s technical and fast, a descent that will make you forget you are racing and leave you smiling; loving Moab. After descending 2,200’ racers finish on Porcupine Rim proper, smiling, exhausted and exhilarated about the first day of Moab Rocks.

– Photo courtesy of Jean McAllister

For the pro men, Josiah Middaugh (Midaugh Coaching) pulled away from the lead pack of men on the road climb.  The rest of the men worked together while he had a minute lead.  On the top of Porcupine Rim Middaugh crashed.  From there, Geoff Kabush (Yeti, Maxxis), Chris Baddick (Boulder Cycle Sport), and Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) rode together down Porcupine Rim finishing only seconds apart.  Kabush won in a time of 1:38:53, following right behind him was Baddick (1:38:58), and only another 30 seconds back was McElveen (1:39:00).

Sparky Moir Sears takes 1st Place Open Women/Stage 1 Moab Rocks. – Photo courtesy of Jean McAllister

For the pro women, the lead four women worked together, quickly pulling away at the start up the road climb.  Sparky Sears (Pivot), Jenny Smith (Kenda/ Carbondale), Chloe Cross (Whistler Mountain Bike), and Marlee Dixon (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) rode together, often leap-frogging each other for the first half of the road climb.  At one point, Sears pulled ahead and jumped up with a few guys, within eyesight she maintained a lead on the other girls.  With a headwind, today was a tough day to be out riding alone on Sand Flats road.  Riding in groups, the next three women rode close to each other.  Around mile 11, Dixon pushed ahead on a steep paved section.

Not long after, Cross blew up and Smith maintained a strong third place.  Once on the singletrack, Sears, a fast enduro racer, maintained her lead and finished first (2:04:05).  Behind her, Dixon took second (2:08:33) and Smith third (2:12:20).

Click Here for Full Results

Photo Gallery

True Grit Epic – Santa Clara, Utah

Fast Times Posted at NUE Series Opener in Southern Utah with Biggest Ever Field

Saturday’s True Grit Epic saw it’s biggest-ever field with over 600 racers taking on the treacherous, rock-strewn course tucked in the south west corner of Utah. The record-setting participants were rewarded with some of the best race conditions possible with calm winds, temperatures in the low 60s and overcast skies keeping the sun at bay.

All this allowed racers to post some of the fastest times around the notoriously techy True Grit course.

Gwendalyn Gibson (Norco) had some fun while destroying the marathon event. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

The NUE opener experienced a youth infusion with riders like Gwendalyn Gibson (Norco) and Hannah Finchamp (Clif Bar) who just recently left the junior ranks. 50 miles was not too much for these youngsters though as the powered away from the outset battling each other most of the day.

Gibson took the win with Finchamp just minutes back. It wasn’t all about the kids though as Jenni Smith (Kenda/Cannondale) who just turned 45 rallied all day and finished just behind in 3rd. Nicole Tittensor (Scott) and Liza Hartlaub (GU Energy Labs) finished off the podium in 4th and 5th.

Nicole Tittensor (Scott) leads Jen Hanks into the Waterfall. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

The men’s marathon was a showdown between Justin Lindine (Apex) and another youngster testing out the long distance scene, Zach Calton (Spry/ LPB Sotheby’s).

The two rode wheel-to-wheel through the most technical first half of the race before Lindine opened a gap and took the win after just missing it last year in a sprint finish.

Justin Lindine (Apex) showed his early-season form taking the men’s marathon title. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

Former winner Alex Grant (Maybird/Cannondale) took third followed by Nic Beechan (Trek) and Clayton Otto (Giant).

The kids came out in force for the 2018 True Grit. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

Dave Harris won the 50+ marathon event but had to leave part of his face on the course to do so proving that even living in St. George and riding these trails everyday doesn’t give you a free pass on the True Grit course.

Local speedster and 50+ marathon champ Dave Harris left some blood on course. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

100 Mile 

Taylor Lideen charges toward the finish. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

100-mile winner Taylor Lideen (Pivot/DNA Cycling) turned in one of the most impressive rides at the True Grit taking the win just three weeks after winning the solo race at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. When asked if he considered doing the 50 mile event instead he said, “Never, I don’t have that kind of fire in my legs right now – my goal was just to set my pace and see how it went.”

Lideen was challenged throughout the opening lap and a half by Pete Karinen (Broken Spoke Racing) before a flat, on the second pass through Zen trail, sent him back in the pack and Brazilian Stefano Barberi (Team Barberi) took up the chase. He couldn’t catch Lideen as he finally finished second followed by David Krimstock (Pearl Izumi/Pivot). Pete Karinen rallied after his flat to finish fourth with Coulton Hartrich in fifth.

2017 NUE marathon champion Jen Toops (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) traveled out from Ohio the NUE opener. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

Larissa Connors smashed the True Grit course winning by 30 minutes over Sparky Sears (First Hand MTB) and Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop). Connors was so fast she would have placed just off the podium in the open men’s category in 7th.

Chase Hansen (CZ Racing) finished 4th followed by Lauren Cantwell.

Hannah Finchamp (Clif Bar) making an impressive debut at True Grit. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/ MTB Race News

By far the most exciting part of the 2018 True Grit Epic despite the great weather, amazing views, brutally fun course, and fantastic volunteers and staff was the number of young racers on hand.

The number of participants under the age of 21 was truly impressive and a testament to the success of the NICA high school racing league in the southwest. Dozens and dozens of kids strapped on their helmets and conquered one of the toughest endurance events in the country with many even contending for race wins. It was an exciting development I hope we continue to see for years to come.

Riders have to decide between riding or taking in the incredible views at True Grit. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli/MTB Race News

 

CLICK HERE FULL RESULTS FROM ALL CATEGORIES

Photo Gallery