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

 

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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

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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).

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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).

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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).

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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

 

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Park City Point 2 Point

Keegan Swenson Takes Sprint Victory Over Todd Wells While Larissa Connors Dominates the Women’s Field

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Saturday morning, the backcountry mountain bike spectacle known as the Park City Point 2 Point sounded the start canon. The race that normally ushers in Utah’s colorful fall blasted off but none of the cool temps, changing foliage, or damp hero dirt that usually accompany the event were on hand. Instead, summer conditions were in full force in the Utah high country.

The forecasted temperatures in Park City were hotter than ever but so was the competition at the 9th annual Point 2 Point. With a $2,000 winners purse the Point 2 Point always draws some top talent but 2017 featured a faster-than-ever group of men vying for the top positions. Highlights of that group included former national champions Todd Wells (Scott/Troy Lee) and Geoff Kabush (Scott), defending P2P champion Keegan Swenson (Cannondale), who passed up a trip to the world championships for a shot at defending his title, as well as a host of ultra-endurance honchos like Construction Zone Racing/Scott Sports teammates Kyle Trudeau and Fernando Riveros-Paez, Ben Sonntag (Clif Bar), and Justin Lindine.

Todd Wells cuts through the early morning sunlight. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Right from the gun it was clear this year’s P2P was going to be like no other. An hour in, despite miles of singletrack, no fewer than a dozen riders still occupied the lead group, and they were rolling fast.

Another hour of climbing only managed to dislodge two riders as a pack of 10 powered through the Deer Valley feed led by ’15 P2P champ Robbie Squire. All the top riders were represented with Geoff Kabush biding his time a few bike lengths off the back.

Around the halfway point, Swenson attacked, pushing the pace into the long enduro segment on the Corvair trail. A move that worked for him in 2016, Swenson popped more riders from the lead group but couldn’t shake Wells. By the time he entered the aspen-rooted maze known as John’s Trail, Swenson and Wells established a gap of a few seconds over the rest of the lead group.

Geoff Kabush rode to third place in his inaugural P2P. Photo by: Angie Harker/Selective Vision

The two leaders stayed wheel to wheel and Kabush rejoined the affair as they climbed up and around Shadow Lake, the high-point of the race. As they descended down the 20-minute Crescent Mine Grade trail Kabush would blow a tire before they reached Park City Resort (Support Station #3), dropping him back a little more than 5 minutes.

With just over 20 miles left the lead duo now had a 2-minute gap on Kyle Trudeau and Ben Sonntag and over 5 minutes on Canadian, Geoff Kabush.

Wells and Swenson continued their two-man battle over the final mix of climbs, rocky descents, and unbroken singletrack from Park City Resort to the new finish line outside Skullcandy headquarters.

An unregistered participant spotted on course. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

After 75 miles the race came down to a sprint finish. Wells took the early lead out on the slightly downhill paved bike path that made up the final 200 meters of the Point 2 Point course. Swenson tucked in behind as both riders built up speed all along the finishing stretch. In fact, they were coming so fast that race director Jay Burke had to clear all the spectators from the finishing venue and pull up stakes on the finishing chute to make room for the elbow-to-elbow battle.

Both riders powered out of the saddle in their biggest gears, surging toward the line with Swenson popping out of the draft in perfect slingshot position to nip Wells at the line and take his second Point 2 Point title.

Eric Porter manuals his way to the finish line. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Geoff Kabush made an impressive final surge, posting the fastest time over the final 20 miles, taking minutes out of the leaders but coming up just short only a minute and a half behind at the finish.

Ben Sonntag rolled in for fourth just in front of Kyle Trudeau.

The ladies of the 2017 Point 2 Point provided their own firepower for this ultra-endurance event.

Larissa Connors smiling her way through the 75-mile P2P course. Photo by: Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Past winner Evelyn Dong (Liv) made her return to Park City and the P2P. Hannah Bingham (Eriksen), winner of the Steamboat Stinger, made her debut at the race as did TransSylvania Epic winner Kaysee Armstrong (Liv). Recent Pierre’s Hole 100k champion Caedran Harvey (Fitzgerald’s) was also on hand along with Breck 100 and Lutsen 99er champion Larissa Connors (Twenty20/Felt).

From the start the pace was high as Connors and Armstrong jumped to the front opening gaps early on.

Kaysee Armstrong testing her legs out west. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Connors quickly established herself as the early leader though, pulling away from Armstrong and the rest of the field in the winding one-track of Round Valley. The early climbs certainly didn’t slow Connors either as she steadily opened a gap to the chasers while picking off riders in the open men’s field that started in front of her.

A battle for second was brewing behind the lone leader however, Firecracker 50 winner Marlee Dixon (Pivot/DNA Cycling) was riding just in front of Caedran Harvey as both riders climbed past Deer Valley and Shadow Lake over 50 miles into the race.

Dixon held about a minute lead until both riders entered the Park City feed together. Harvey left the feed just in front of Dixon and despite having several thousand feet of climbing in front of her, Harvey started to feel her best form of the day coming on.

Harvey made the best of it, putting almost 10 minutes into Dixon in the last 20 miles. Despite Caedran’s impressive surge Connors was too far-gone to even think about bringing back.

Larissa Connors had such a good day in fact that at the finish her time would have placed her in the top-20 of a stacked open men’s field.

After just over 7 hours of riding Connors crossed the line to claim another win in her long list of ultra-endurance triumphs this summer. In a surprise move Connors donated her entire $2,000 prize purse to the Summit Bike Club, a local youth mountain bike development team.

Connors took the win by almost 30 minutes over second-placed Caedran Harvey. Marlee Dixon held on for third over past P2P winner Evelyn Dong who finished fourth. Hannah Bingham took the final podium spot in fifth.

Once all the excitement, awards, and money had been dispersed the final finisher was still on course. Although the fastest finishers cross the line in just over 6 hours most riders in the Park City Point 2 Point take much longer to cross the line.

Josh Murphree collects the red lantern award after completing his first P2P. Angie Harker/Selective Vision

Each year the P2P saves a special prize package for the Red Lantern, the final racer on course, recognizing the incredible effort of the rider who spent the longest time on their bike and persevered to the finish. This year Josh Murphree took home the Red Lantern prize who in his second attempt at the Point 2 Point finished the 75-mile course in 12 hours 52 minutes and looked surprisingly fresh doing so.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS

PHOTO GALLERY

 

 

Crotched Mountain 100 Mile

By Ryan O’Dell

In 1809, 81 year old General John Stark, a Revolutionary War Soldier from New Hampshire, declined an invitation to a Battle of Bennington reunion because he was ill. Since he could not make the event, he sent a letter with the quote Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” that was to be read for the toast. New Hampshire later used part of this toast for their State motto: Live Free or Die. The Hampshire 100, now the NUE Crotched Mountain 100, lives on with the same ideals and the same rugged, rocky course racers have come to expect from the Granite State.

Following last year’s retirement of beloved NUE Hampshire 100 founder and race director Randy Whitney, who led the race successfully for a full decade, this year’s race was renamed “Crotched Mountain 100” and moved from Greenfield Park to its new location at Crotched Mountain Resort, formerly an aid station along the same race course.

Under the leadership of new race director, Andy Gendron, this year’s race maintained the same course and divisions but moved from Sunday to Saturday offering free camping at the resort, outdoor showers, BBQ, games, plus two great brews from Baxter Brewing including Stowaway IPA, a new Imperial Hefeweizen, and live music on both Friday and Saturday.

A nonstop soaking rain greeted riders all day on Friday with much conversation centered on what the nearly 2.5 inches of rain in a single day would mean to course conditions.

 

Carla Williams takes another NUE race. Photo by: David Smith

WOMENS OPEN

Williams makes it five in a row this season!

Defending NUE Epic Series Champion, Carla Williams, Joe’s Bike Shop Racing, was the first and only women’s finisher of the 100 mile race at 10:53:03. Following impressive wins at the Cohutta, Mohican, High Cascades and Wilderness 101, Williams has a commanding lead in the Open Women’s division with five straight wins in the NUE Epic Race Series!

“I think CM100 is one of the toughest NUE races out there, especially if it rains the night before. It down poured all day on the Friday before the race, and the trails were pretty muddy and slippery. The course is really fun, lots of technical singletrack riding, lots of punchy climbs, and there is never seems to be a time to recover on the course. I was feeling great for the first two laps, staying upright on all the slippery rocks and roots, and really happy with how I was riding the singletrack sections.

I pulled into the aid station at the start/finish after the second lap and felt completely drained, like the race should be over. Somehow, I managed to get my legs pedaling through the third and final lap but it was definitely a tough one to finish. It was really fun seeing Anne Pike, who won the mountain bike race last year, dominate the ultra-run and win the 100k run this year! Much thanks to HumaGel which powered me through the last lap of the course, Ridge Supply Socks, Joe’s Bike Shop, ESI grips and Maxxis Tires for the all support.”

Last year’s race winner and four-time Hampshire 100 MTB finisher, Anne Pike, Team DNA-Movement p/b Penetron, set out on foot this year winning the 100k Mile Run that was held alongside the MTB races. Pike finished the 100k course on foot in 13:20:00.  Earlier this season, Pike achieved an impressive eighth place finish at the Mohican MTB100 followed by an even more impressive third place podium finish at the 28th Annual Mohican Trail Run 100 mile race, fifth oldest ultra-run in the USA, home of the first ever USATF National Championship for the one hundred mile distance in 2005.

“For the last three years, I have been focusing on endurance mountain biking and raced predominantly in the NUE 100 mile series (finishing third in the series in 2014 and 2016) but I also maintained a fair amount of trail running throughout this time. I had thought that for 2017, I would stick with endurance mountain biking as my focus although was keen to do one or two trail races, a couple in our area early in the year really appealed to me.

With that in mind (along with recently adopting our Border Collie who, of course, became my running buddy) I found myself running more through the winter and early spring. So I raced the 50k in March and won then decided to go for a big jump up and do a 100k race in May which went really well, fourth place in a really competitive field. The plan was to do that and then pretty much shut my running down for the mountain bike season but I was having fun and some good success running and riding so why not combine both and see what might happen? So, knowing that the Mohican 100 mountain bike race is held two weeks before the Mohican 100 mile run I decided, why not go for it and really put myself to the test?

The mountain bike race was not the best for me this year but I didn’t really expect it to be anything special, I had been focusing more on running mileage after all. The run, two weeks later, was a huge undertaking for me especially considering the 100k in May was the furthest I had ever run and, prior to that, the furthest was 35 miles.

Normally, people focus on a 100 miler months out to really prepare; well, I kind of did it on a whim! It wasn’t pretty but I survived and finished third. Again, after that race, I hadn’t any other trail races planned, wanted to see how I recovered, and also, so I could race Crotched Mountain and Shenandoah 100 MTB. Another last minute decision in the week of the race, I decided that I was feeling more excited about the thought of running the New Hampshire trails rather than riding and, since this would be my fifth year of racing there, why not switch it up?! So I did and raced the 100k trail race instead of the 100mile MTB, and won! Next up, I have Shenandoah on the schedule and a trail race in October.

That is how it evolved for me and I really hope I can continue to be successful in both disciplines. I think it will be a test to be able to maintain a balance. Obviously, both are a test of endurance but to get stronger as a runner you need to run a lot and to be a stronger rider you need to ride a lot! Balance will be key long-term… One thing, I believe, will be key for me is the maintenance of my strength, conditioning, and mobility work. As long as I keep enjoying the thrill of the trail riding and fulfillment of trail running, I will be happy :-)”

With just four races remaining in the NUE “best four of fourteen” Epic Race Series, Defending Champion, Carla Williams, Joe’s Bike Shop Racing, appears to be invincible!

 

Tinker Juarez was on hand again for the 2017 Crotched Mountain event. Photo by: David Smith

MENS OPEN

Johnson earns his fourth win, leads NUE Race Series!

In a mirror of 2016, Defending NUE Epic Series Champion, Dylan “The Kid” Johnson, Cameron MTB, earned a narrow win in New Hampshire to finish 8:12:10 but, in doing so, now leads the NUE Race Series with a perfect score of four wins. Johnson, now 22 years old, has completed seven NUE races this season, so far, earning wins at Cohutta, Lumberjack, Tatanka, and Crotched Mountain in addition to second place finishes at True Grit, Mohican, and Pierre’s Hole.

Twenty-three seconds behind the Defending NUE Champion, Hall of Fame Mountain Biker and Two-Time US Olympian, Tinker Juarez, Cannondale Factory Team, took second at 8:12:33 following a hard fought battle that saw a lead pack that stayed together for most of the race. Juarez placed third at last year’s Hampshire 100. Now at age 56, Juarez continues to display amazing strength and stamina as an ultra-racer, often competing with racers young enough to be his grandkids. His passion for the sport he started in as a kid in the world of BMX has been an inspiration to NUE Racers and his many fans worldwide.

Ian Spivak, Cameron MTB, a team mate of Johnsons, took third at 9:24:57 in a near tie with his team mate Mathew Merkel, Cameron MTB, also 9:24:57. Spivak is currently fourth place overall in the NUE Epic Series with fifth place finishes at both Cohutta and Mohican, plus sixth place finishes at both High Cascades and Wilderness 101,

Team Cameron Mountain Bike Racing had three of its six team members participate in the Open Men 100 mile race. I led out the first prologue lap up the mountain with Dylan Johnson closely behind. After about forty minutes of racing, the field was split into a lead group of Dylan Johnson, Ian Spivack, Brian Schworm, Tinker Juarez, Matthew Kesecker (Pivot racer from Canada), and Gordon Wadsworth.

Around mile 15, right before the muddy technical single track, a group of the 100k leaders joined our group. I could not keep up with the lead group through the first lap of the muddy and slick, so I settled back into my own pace. At about this time, I noticed that my left foot cleat was coming lose, so I was careful throughout the rest of the lap so I would not break the cleat off. I got to the end of the 1st lap and swapped out my left shoe and refilled. At this time, my team mate- Matt Merkel caught up and we rode the rest of the second lap together.

At the start of the third lap, Matt was fading a bit so I kept going at a steady pace. About half way through the third lap, my right cleat came loose and I could not unclip easily, so I decided to take it easy throughout the rest of the lap. I got my shoe changed at the final aid stations and, while waiting, Matt caught back up to me. We then rode together to the finish line by keeping a steady pace.

I am glad I kept pushing to finish in third, my best NUE result ever despite having problems with my shoes.”

Mathew Merkel, Cameron MTB, finished 9:24:57 in fourth place. With this finish, Merkel is now fifth overall in the NUE Men’s Open point race.

“Coming off a good race at Pierre’s Hole 100, I was pumped for an NUE race here in New England, but knew I needed to ride smart. Rain the night before made for wet and slippery conditions creating slick roots and large mud holes. My plan was to go out at a comfortable pace dropping back from the leaders early on.

I was able to catch my teammate, Ian Spivack, on the single track where he was having shoe issues. We were in fifth and sixth at the end of our first lap and decided to work together going into lap two allowing us to keep a steady pace. Ian was climbing strong so I dropped back at the beginning of our third and final lap, but ended up bridging the gap rolling into the last aid station.

From there, after a long day, we decided to ride in together crossing the line in third and fourth place. It was awesome being on the podium with my teammates Dylan and Ian, and legend, Tinker Juarez, for my fourth NUE 100 mile race.”

With just four races remaining in the NUE Epic Race Series, Defending Champion, Dylan Johnson leads with four wins with Brian Schworm in second and former NUE Champion, Christian Tanguy holding second in the point race.

 

Gordon Wadsworth took yet another win in the 100 mile event. Photo by: David Smith

SINGLESPEED

Wadworth does it again!

NUE Epic Series Defending Champion, Gordon Wadsworth, Blue Ridge Cyclery/Pivot, earned his third straight win in New Hampshire, to finish 8:17:48, crushing his nearest SS competitor by more than an hour and a half, good enough to place third overall! This is the second NUE Epic Series SS win for the defending champion who also scored a win at the Wilderness 101.

“I had a super race; decided to come and do the CM100 last minute and was glad I did! Lots of rain put a damper on the camping but the pre-race atmosphere was still great. The new venue was super and the new start/finish for the course was welcome as it changed the rhythm of the race nicely.

I had a great start and was pushing the pedals on the Pivot Cycles LES smooth as could be. When we launched into the single rack, we were greeted with the expected muck and east coast snot that rain can bring. New Hampshire trail is quintessentially East Coast with its rocks, roots and tight twisting singletrack. Everything was slick! I was sitting really comfortably in the top five or so as I usually do when we were nearing the final stretches of singletrack in the first half of the course. We had all been cautious because all of the roots and bridges were extremely dangerous. Sure enough, on one of the last bridge crossings I slid out like Michelle Kwan rolling a triple sow-cow.

I sat up on the side of the bridge and took stock. Immediately I knew I had broken and dislocated my pinky finger on my right hand. Perhaps my only muncher when it comes to racing hundred mile events is “don’t stop, and don’t lose the wheel.” So I gave one good tug on my right pinky to reset the break, daintily walked across the rest of the bridge, and hopped back on to Chase the front pack.

We had, by then, joined the one hundred K leaders, three of them; So I knew that that would be affecting our hundred mile race more than a little bit. My biggest concern, at this point, was completing the event. I’ve committed pretty late to the NUE this season so I need finishes and wins whenever possible. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle the bike as good as I normally do, but I expected I could be at least proficient and I raced past pretty quietly the rest of the day. As the one hundred mile participants dropped off and dwindled and the 100k finishers completed their journey, it was down to just me, Dylan Johnson, and Tinker Juarez.

We pitted briefly at the end of lap two, and immediately the duo dropped me heading up the ski climb. I tried to hang tight to their wheels but my broken finger was really killing and preventing me from climbing out of the saddle as well as I normally can. The two slight figures got even slighter and soon I was solo. I spent the rest of my lap suffering solo. I was thinking I might see my Canadian Pivot OTE teammate, Matheu, come up behind me but, nevertheless, stayed alone.

As the trails dried out, my handling on the twisty singletrack improved. My gap to Tinker and Dylan went from two minutes, out to four, and then back down to two as the singletrack concluded. I knew I would not have been able to catch the two of them on the open gravel roads of the second half of the course, so I just rode myself home, content with a third overall and an SS win.”

Peter Bradshaw, Mad Alchemy|Zancon, was second at 9:57:22.

Joseph Stroz, Stroz Physical Therapy, was third at 10:25:49. “I rode a 32:19 gearing for my ss this year, a bit taller than last year.

I was hoping for a drier course with this gear and took a chance before leaving for NH Thursday from PA.  After the hours after hours of rain Friday evening I knew that I was in for a long day. My gearing for this race was a bit tall for the conditions and with a calf injury from earlier in the week; I had to pace myself carefully from the start.

I pulled off from the front group after the second climb from the start. Peter (2nd SS) continued on to challenge Gordan Wadsworth and top open fellows in the front group. I figured Peter would burn out his legs during the first lap trying to keep up with their pace so I decided to pull back and pace myself with Carla Williams, always a sure strong finisher. I stayed with her for the first two laps hoping to catch up with Peter, but I was never able to catch up with his pace. At the end of the second lap, I passed Carla going into the self-support aid station and from there I was on my own.

Towards the last twelve miles of the last lap, I was able to hook up with third place masters racer, David Boyce. We road together drafting and pushing each other, as we both were riding to survive the final lap. I was trying to fight leg cramps and the heat. In the end, both David and I were able to capture third in our classes. I have done this race for four years in a row now, as I love the challenging trails up there. I like more technical riding and NH gives you more than your share. As much as I complain about how brutal this course is every year, I keep coming back; and next year will probably be no different.”

With just four races remaining in the NUE Epic SS Series, defending NUE Marathon SS Champion, James Litzinger, is now leading the NUE Epic Series with 13 points. Matt Crawford is holding second with 17 points, and Peyton Randolph has 25 points and Joseph Stroz in fourth with 35 points. Three wild cards threaten to shake up the standings with Defending Champion, Gordon Wadsworth, John Haddock, and Ben Shaklee each with two wins this season.

 

MASTERS 50+

Blanchet Wins!

With a comfortable lead, 2015 Hampshire 100 Masters winner, 54 year old, Terry Blanchet, Nav-North American, took the top spot once again in the Masters to finish 10:04:00. Blanchet placed fifth at last year’s race that was won by the Jeff Clayton, Georgia Neurosurgical Institute, who would go on to secure his first NUE Epic Masters Series title.

With this win, Blanchet completes his fourth NUE race that includes seventh place finishes at both Mohican and Lumberjack plus a more recent third place finish at the Wilderness 101 moving him up to fourth place overall in the NUE Epic Masters series with 18 points.

“Looking over the pre-registration list of eleven Masters my neighbor, David Boyce just 30 miles east over the MA border, was my most obvious concern, as last year on this same terrain, he beat me out by one position in the finale Hampshire100. Sure enough, early in the first lap, we went back and forth a few times though, after some side-by-side chitchat on the mid-lap Fletcher Farm climb, commiserating about one particularly grumpy runner refusing to cede the line on the preceding narrow section despite our three courteous requests, David decidedly took off over the top and disappeared through the next singletrack-heavy five miles.

I eventually caught sight of him again on the road-heavy section of the first lap beyond the Oak Park Aid Station next to the old Hampshire100 venue at Mile 21, but as he was already moving at a good pace with a Bikeman racer from another field to share the work with, I didn’t burn any matches at that early point trying to bridge up and, as the road gave way back to trail on the descent beyond Muzzey Hill, he again disappeared into the woods.

My next sighting of David wasn’t until this same stretch a whole lap later, with him just heading off from the Oak Park Aid Station as I was rolling in. This time on the road-heavy section to follow, as I was pulling towards him, he was sitting upright hands-off-bars stretching his back, and I passed by with little obvious response from him, only hearing of him again as I was climbing the ski slopes out onto the third lap while his name was being called over the PA during his descent at the close of his second lap.

Of the pre-registered Masters, there were a handful about which I really had no prior experience and, sure enough, wouldn’t it turn out that the racer in the Mathieu Performance jersey with whom I’d gone back and forth with over the first lap was Eric Truchon, one of the other Masters racers. In fact, we’d swapped positions so many times that, once I’d noticed that we’d finally stopped seeing one another midway through the second lap, I’d lost track of who was in front.

Having a suspicion that he might well indeed be another Masters competitor, it was with great relief upon my third-lap arrival at the Oak Park Aid Station to be greeted by a cheerful “Number 50, we’ve been waiting for you, you are the Masters leader!” Spirits buoyed and a couple Coke cups down the hatch, I was energized for one last trip across that road-heavy section, climbing up through the woods jeep trails to follow, and relishing the last roll down the ski hill singletrack to the finish.

It was great to share the podium with Eric and David, though all the while recognizing our opportunity to still hold out hopes for that masters Top Box during our race was but a consequence of our timeless contemporary, Tinker Juarez, remaining in the elite Open field, still so competitive as to come within seconds of challenging for the Open win. It was a great day of racing; many thanks to Andy Gendron and his staff for keeping the endurance MTB tradition going in southern New England, and for such a successful inaugural version of their Crotched Mountain 100!”

Seventeen minutes later, 50-year-old Eric Truchon, Club Mathieu Performance, took second at 10:21:15.

Four minutes later, 56-year-old, David Boyce, State 9 Racing, claimed third at 10:25:07. Boyce placed fourth at last year’s Hampshire 100.

“My race started out well keeping pace with the master’s group and then I settled into my own pace. I felt good and started to pull away from my group; but this was not the right thing to do because the damp trail took its toll early in the second lap.

On one of the dirt roads about midway through the second lap, Terry Blanchet flew by me and pulled away. That was the last time I saw him. Towards the end of lap two, I was feeling pretty gassed, did not stay hydrated or fuel right, and did not want to go back out for lap three. As I came down to the pit area, my State 9 racing team was cheering me on and my wife gave me my bottles and asked if I was ok. I said I no, but I feel better now.

On the third lap, I started up the ski slope. It was hot, humid, and the trail was like a sponge. When I got into the trees I got off, had some gel, drank a bottle, and started again. There was nobody; it was quiet, and I was feeling somewhat better. I got to the luau aid stop, ate some bananas, drank some coke, and continued on. I met up with Joe Stroz on his SS and we rode together in “survival mode”.

Towards the end of the race on a technical climb, Eric Truchon passed us and there was not a dam thing I could do about it but wave. I came down the hill to the finish line to nice applause in third place; It was AWESOME!  I will be doing the Shennandoah 100 in a few weeks and it will be new to me, I can’t wait.”

54 year old Alain Simard placed fourth in 11:17:52 gaining two points in the NUE Masters battle with 52 year old Alan Minor, Banks Bikes Falmouth, who placed sixth on the day.

With just four races remaining in the NUE Epic Masters Series, the battle continues as Defending NUE Masters Champion, Jeff Clayton, with three wins and two second place finishes, sits second to Greg Golet, who has a perfect score with four points, potentially setting up a rematch of the 2016 showdown at the final Championship race that was won by Clayton. The battle for third continues with Russell Spaulding at 16 points, Terry Blanchet at 18 points, Alan Minor at 21 points, and Alain Simard at 25 points.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS

What’s NEXT?!

One September 2, The NUE Race Series heads due south to the only NUE race held outside of the USA; NUE #11, the Volcano 100 on September 2 held in Liberia, Costa Rica. The very next day, NUE heads to Virginia for the granddaddy of them all; NUE#12, the Shenandoah 100 on September 3.  www.nuemtb.com

Crotched Mountain 100k Report

NUE Marathon Race Series #9 presented by Hammer Nutrition

By Ryan O’Dell

In 1809, 81 year old General John Stark, a Revolutionary War Soldier from New Hampshire, declined an invitation to a Battle of Bennington reunion because he was ill. Since he could not make the event, he sent a letter with the quote Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” that was to be read for the toast. New Hampshire later used part of this toast for their State motto: Live Free or Die. The Hampshire 100, now the NUE Crotched Mountain 100, lives on with the same ideals and the same rugged, rocky course racers have come to expect from the Granite State.

Following last year’s retirement of beloved NUE Hampshire 100 founder and race director Randy Whitney, who led the race successfully for a full decade, this year’s race was renamed “Crotched Mountain 100” and moved from Greenfield Park to its new location at Crotched Mountain Resort, formerly an aid station along the same race course.

Under the leadership of new race director, Andy Gendron, this year’s race maintained the same course and divisions but moved from Sunday to Saturday offering free camping at the resort, outdoor showers, BBQ, games, plus two great brews from Baxter Brewing including Stowaway IPA, a new Imperial Hefeweizen, and live music on both Friday and Saturday.

A nonstop soaking rain greeted riders all day on Friday with much conversation centered on what the nearly 2.5 inches of rain in a single day would mean to course conditions.

 

WOMENS OPEN

Toops wins! Leads NUE Marathon Race Series!

OMBC Ohio Race Series Defending Champion and NUE Marathon Race Series points’ leader, Jen Toops, Paradise Garage Racing, demonstrated her strength with a convincing win in 7:04:34. In a bid for the NUE 100k title, Toops has a near perfect score of 5, leading the NUE Marathon Women’s Race Series with wins at Big Frog 65 and Tatanka 100 along with her second place finish at the Mohican 100k in one of the largest women’s fields this season.

“My husband and I loaded up the transit and headed off to NH to ride some new terrain. I wasn’t sure how the race would go after going over the bars last week. My lock out lever punctured my thigh all the way to the muscle earning myself a few stitches.

It rained the whole twelve hour drive, while we set up camp, and while we went to bed. I woke up to a foggy morning which gave way to a beautiful sunny day!

A quick racers meeting at 6:30 and we were off racing. The race started out fast and I settled into my own pace making sure I was out front going into singletrack first for the ladies. I knew it was going to be a long day due to course conditions. This was my first time riding in the New England area. The singletrack was challenging: tight, twisty and rocky with lots of wet slippery roots and very little areas for recovery. I was glad I brought my Pivot Mach 4 instead of the hardtail!

I saw another 100k female at aid 2 as I was leaving, so I picked up the pace and really pushed it on the road. I finished the first lap, switched my pack out, and started the second lap. The soft wet grassy climb out of the ski resort was brutal. Really, all the climbing on lap two was rough. It seemed like it was getting slicker as I wrecked on a downhill and again on a long bridge. Luckily, I wrecked on the side opposite of my stitches and chatted with my new friend Tom for a while which made the miles go down a little quicker.

Then, I pushed a hard pace until the finish line was in sight, thankful I was done. I was very grateful the course was marked so well and I never got lost! My next race will be Marji in MI. See you all there!”

Forty one minutes later, Donna Winters, Cycle Solutions Canada, took second at 7:45:40 for her best NUE Race finish of the season! With this finish, Winters moves up to second place in the NUE Women’s Marathon Series with 29 points in a lowest points wins series. She was 13th at True Grit, fourth at the Big Frog 65, and tenth at Mohican 100k.

Sarah Brown, Honey Stinger, earned her best NUE finish this season at third in 9:11:19. Brown has improved her standing at each race significantly all season. With this podium finish, Brown moves up into third overall in the NUE Marathon Women’s Series standings.

“What a challenging year at the Crotched Mountain 100! I trained longer and harder this year than any other. I have been setting some good PRs at races, and was hoping to get a really good PR at Crotched Mountain. Well, course conditions didn’t allow for that, but I was very happy to get through! I slipped and slid around on the wet trails, got lost and did some extra miles, but I just hung in there, knowing how rewarding finishing would be.

I’ll be at Marji Gesick in September for my 5th NUE race of the season.”

Derek Treadwell leads Gordon Wadsworth. Photo by: David Smith

MENS OPEN

Lightning Strikes Twice! Scott makes it two in a row!

NUE Carrabassett 100k race winner, Andy Scott, Riverside Racing, earned his second straight NUE Marathon Race Series win taking the NUE Crotched 100k win in 5:19:35! With just three races remaining, will Scott take the national series title?

Just over two minutes later, Derek Treadwell, Dr. Naylor Treadwell Training/Kona, finished second in 5:21:58. At age 42, Treadwell is a top series contender this season including his fourth place finish at the Big Frog65 in Tennessee in March.

Three minutes later, NUE Marathon Men’s Open Series leader, John Petrylak, Scott Pro Mtb Team, took third at 5:24:36. Petrylak leads the NUE Series with 13 points including a second place finish at Carrabassett, third place finish at BigFrog 65 and a fifth place finish at Mohican 100k.

“Rain, Rain and just a little more Rain

 The Crotched Mountain 100K race course was getting a significant watering the day and night before the race; I was mentally preparing myself for what was sure to be a wet and muddy adventure in the morning.

Since the race changed venues (formally the NH100), I was curious how the new start/finish area would be. As soon as I walked in to sign up, I was immediately at ease; the new promoters did a great job with all things race related! Thanks for carrying on the tradition of this great race.

We had a 6:48am start time (three minutes) behind the 100 milers. After my usual warm up routine and the brief riders meeting, I lined up and found some familiar New England faces and a local Virginia face nervously waiting for the start of the race.

We all lined up and, after a few seconds went by, we were off! Locals Andy Scott, Derick Treadwell, Dylan McNicholas and myself were all hammering up the 1.5 mile start climb. At the top of the climb, we started catching 100mile riders right away. After the first couple of miles, the 100K group was down to four or five riders; we stayed together and began catching the chase groups of the 100 mile race.

Once we hit the double and single track, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the course handled the rain very well! We definitely had water and mud but nothing like I thought it would be.

The start was seriously fast, even for a 100K race; at around 8.5 miles we caught the lead group of the 100 mile race. The race leaders were Dylan, Tinker, Wadsworth, Brian, Mathieu, and the lead 100k group. This was an awesome group to ride with!

I started having some stomach distress about two hours into the first lap; I tried drinking and that made it worse, so then I tried eating and that made it really bad. So I decided to let the food in my stomach digest. I would resume my fueling shortly but that never happened so I started to dig myself into a bit of calorie deficit.

I was able to respond to constant pace upticks on the short steep climbs but the constant efforts began to take a toll on me. As we came through the start/finish area and started lap two, I grabbed another bottle and started off hoping for the best.

The lead 100k and 100mile group continued on through lap 2; we lost a few guys but mostly everyone was still riding strong through mile 35. As we came up to the first aid station on the second lap, I had to stop and get some Coke to try and get some calories in my stomach. It helped! Why does Coke fix you when you’re broken?

I motored on and started to see the lead group WAY up on the long straight road sections. I ratcheted up the pace in the single track and tried to minimize the damage on the fire roads. At around mile 52, I was two minutes behind the leaders but never could close the gap. The course finishes with a 2.5 mile climb back up to the ski resort and I was not in a good place to get back the time I had lost. I struggled a lot but it paid off and I managed to secure my 4th podium of the season by finishing 3rd.

The Crotched Mountain 100K was organized, well-marked and So much fun! The course has a perfect mix of classic New England single track, double track and just enough gravel roads. Thanks to Andy and Crotched Mountain for hosting an instant classic event!

Eleven minutes later, teammates, Andy Gould and Aaron Miller, State 9 Racing, took fourth and fifth respectively at 5:35:55 and 5:48:35.

With just three races remaining in the NUE Marathon Men’s Open Series, John Petrylak leads with 24 points and Anthony Toops with 101 points is in second as the first two racers completing the four race minimum. Contenders include OMBC Ohio Series Champion, Drew Purcell, and Greg Kuhn, each with three finishes so far. Wild Cards include race winner Andy Scott with two wins, and Andrew Dillman with his second place finish at Big Frog 65 and a big win at Mohican.

 

SINGLESPEED

Giroux wins

Dan Giroux, The BSWC, won the SS division in 6:13:37.

“Having raced the New Hampshire 100 as a 100 miler in the past, it was easy for me to convince myself that with the new venue with the shorter 100k distance was a way better idea. That being said, the thoughts of more fun and less pain had me pretty stoked for Saturdays race. Then the rain came and with it, the realization that the course was gonna be a slop fest to start the day. Luckily, the rain let up and, although there was some mud out there, overall the course was in great shape.

I knew that the race was going to start with a good sized climb up the ski hill so I opted to take it easy and not burn that match right out the gate. This payed off for me and, by about mile 14, I was the lead single speeder. From there, the plan was to ride a steady pace and to keep the bike upright through all those NH rocks, roots, and mud holes. My gearing on the pivot les was 32×19 with some Maxxis ardent race 2.35’s and I was super happy with both. Next up for me, Shenandoah 100!”

Thirty one minutes later, Dominique Avoine, Mathieu Performance, secured second in 6:44:50 riding a 22Tx17 on his Exprezo T29 custom built. “The personal feelings of this race day were not that well. Those days exist and I had a too-short pre-race morning preparation. I went to the starting line without my usual stuff: Bike (SingleSpeed instead of a full suspension and full gearbox bike!), electrolyte (forgot them in the van!) and glasses (wrong pair!). Anyway, I followed the racers to set the pace.

At the quarter of the distance, I started having leg cramps, slowed down, and stopped at the aid station to make a refuel of electrolyte. It was too late, sadly. I managed it and finally found my legs after 70 km finishing strong after having a throttle pace race. This was my second SS race for an endurance distance and I felt okay with second place. I plan to go to Gaspesia100 for the 100 mile race on September 3rd.

With just three races remaining in the NUE Marathon SS Series, no racers have completed the four race minimum. However Eli Orth leads with 12 points and Tim Winters has 22 points each completing three races. Wild Cards include Shannon Boffeli with a win at True Grit plus a third place finish at Pierre’s Hole. With a fourth place at True Grit and second at Mohican, Scott Williams could make a late season run for the title as well.

 

MASTERS 50+

Monroe wins!

57 year old Tyler Munroe, Riverside Racing, was the winner at 6:14:46.

“The race was a mass start as usual, so you never really know who is in front of you or how many. The sorting loop was just that as there was a bit of climbing in it and the Elites were ramping up.

I tried to stay in contact with the top 15 as I did not know who my competition was and thought it best to stay as far forward as I could. After the sorting circuit, I settled into a pace that was just above what I knew I could handle for the whole distance and passed a handful of riders, a few of which were in my class. I settled in to the HR and power I wanted to be at and just kept focused, making sure I made no mistakes.

I had a plan to go hard where it was hard and go easy on the road sections to recover while still carrying speed; this plan worked well all day and I had energy at the end. As for food, I planned to not stop at all as I had a Camel Back and a 20 oz bottle all with 60/40 Gatorade water mix. For food, I can do this distance on Gu alone and that is what I did, eight to be exact. I did have to stop with about ten miles to go for water and Coke.

The course was typical of the area and extremely well marked. The road crossings were well attended and all the volunteers did an exceptional job. Overall I give the race a 10 and I will be back in the future.”

Just two minutes later, team mate 51 year old Paul Richard, Riverside Racing, took second at 6:16:08.

Six minutes later, 50 year old Scott Burrill, Bikeman.com, was third at 6:22:35.

“Crotched Hundred was my fourth NUE of the season and the second time I’ve run this race. Last year, it was wonderfully dry conditions and this year was the opposite.  Friday night’s rain just drenched the woods. My primary strategy was conservative; I just wanted to finish the race with no technicals or crashes as this was my last chance to rank for the series.

The course was super-snotty requiring great focus and caution on the technical single-track of which there is abundance on this race course. The first lap went very well with overcast conditions and good temperatures. The sun came out for the second lap and it was like someone turned the oven on; things got real warm and humid with nary a breeze.

Aid stations were well placed, stocked and manned. The course was marked out extremely well; I was never wondering where to go. After the herd thinned out on lap one, I settled into my own race and just dieseled through, spending the last ten or so miles alone! Overall, I am psyched with my result and super-stoked on my series performance. Thanks NUE!”

With just three races remaining in the NUE Marathon Masters Series, Scott Burrill leads the series with eight points. Defending NUE Marathon Masters Champion, Anthony Hergert, holds second with 23 points, and Nate Cross from Ohio, sits in third with 55 points following his seventh place finish at Crotched Mountain. David Harris remains a wild card with wins at both True Grit and Pierre’s Hole this season.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS

What’s NEXT?!

One September 2, The NUE Race Series heads due south to the only NUE race held outside of the USA; NUE #11, the Volcano 100 on September 2 held in Liberia, Costa Rica. The very next day, NUE heads to Virginia for the granddaddy of them all; NUE#12, the Shenandoah 100 on September 3.  www.nuemtb.com

Stay tuned here for the latest NUEz and information.

 

Pierre’s Hole 100k Report

NUE Marathon Race Series #8

Presented by Hammer Nutrition

Written By: Ryan O’Dell

Grand Targhee Resort has become a cool mountain destination resort for mountain bikers. This is the time of year when the wildflowers are in full bloom and waist high in many places along the single-track.

This year’s race was the largest turn out for Grand Targhee Resort with close to 400 athletes. The morning started at 7:00am for the 100 mile racers and progressed with a staggered start for 100km and 50km racers. The 100 mile race included NUE Epic Series points; the 100k was included in the NUE Marathon Race Series.

“This event continues to grow year after year. It is exciting to see the same racers, as well as new racers. The resort continues to add miles of single-track trails, which makes for a slightly different course each year.” Andy Williams, events manager for Grand Targhee Resort.

Many racers recalled 2016 when world road champion Peter Sagan, who had recently won the green sprinters jersey in the Tour de France, made an unexpected appearance, winning the 50k race and, to the delight of many, sticking around for photos and autographs following the awards presentation.

 

100k women’s winner Caedran Harvey. Photo by: Ryan O’Dell

Women’s Open

Harvey wins with a sub six finish!

Caedron Harvey, Fitzgerald’s Bicycles, was the first and only sub-six hour finish in the Women’s division at 5:57:59.

“Theme of the day: Even if I don’t want to, I Can

Over the days leading up to the race, I had contemplated many forms of mild self-mutilation. I could convincingly twist my ankle in that pothole, come down with the flu the night before, or even poison myself with some substance that would wear off by 9am on Saturday morning; all very valid options. But alas, Saturday morning came, and I was healthy and fit. I guess I am racing.

My mindset going into Pierre’s Hole was different than it had been for any of my prior races in my short career; I had finally come to accept that I can only ride as fast and as well as I can ride, and I need to be proud of whatever that means for me. That may sound obvious, but, as an extremely competitive individual with an unbelievable aversion to individual sports, it was a monumental recognition. That clarity of mind helped me approach Saturday’s race calmly, although the reality that 60+ miles and 7000+ feet of climbing was in my immediate future loomed large.

I had known that I’d face some stiff competition ahead of time, but, it wasn’t until I was standing on my bike at the start line that I realized just how much talent there really was. I enjoyed a brief moment of panic and heightened pulse, but I forced myself to remember my newly-developed mantra: ride your own best race. So, one deep breath and I was ready to roll.

From the get-go, I was out to test myself. In the 90 seconds between recognizing the competition and the start, I had resolved to stick with the wheel of the reigning champ (Karen Jarchow) as well as I could. Within a few hundred yards, I noticed everyone around me dumping gears and spinning at a high cadence, and I was faced with a decision: I could pace myself to the experienced women around me, or I could ride the way that I know best and turn a harder gear. I went for it. I revised my objective, then, to be the first to the top of 38 Special, and try to gain some time on the descent.

With that objective achieved, I enjoyed the long descent down 38 and Mill Creek, as I found greater comfort descending than climbing that day; my legs had felt pretty junky from the beginning, but I figured that the only way out of that pain was to push it. I was going to race regardless of my how my legs felt, so it wasn’t worth succumbing to my body’s whimpiness.

Halfway through the first lap, however, I started to realize what I had done: I had sprinted out of the gates at a marathon, and placed the target on my own back. “Caedran, you are SUCH an idiot,” I thought to myself. I was convinced (for an entire lap and a half) that my competition was more disciplined than I was, and that they were conserving just enough to throw down the gauntlet on the second lap. With that thought on repeat, I rode to defend my position. I had no concept of the time gap, or how spread out the field was, so I just assumed that they would sneak up on me at some point.

Jen Hanks gets a taste of the fine Grand Targhee singeltrack. Photo by: Michael Darter

So, then, there’s that second lap. A real mental sucker-punch, not just because you’re setting out to what you just did again, but that there is more of it. So you ride through the start gate, end of lap 1, and your race is STILL not even halfway over. Hooray.

I was feeling decent heading onto AJ’s trail, but was starting to worry a bit about my stamina. My legs were still giving me grief, but I wasn’t about to let them get the better of me. When I wanted to shift into an easier gear, I stood up instead. For the rest of the race, that was my tactic; since the first climb up Peaked, I had no idea how far ahead of Karen and Megan I was, but I wasn’t really interested in finding out.

Heading up Peaked, I knew that something had to give. I had 30 miles left to ride, and I could not destroy myself on a long climb so far from the finish. Scoping the meadow below and seeing no one, I weighed the options, and decided that I could afford to conserve energy climbing Peaked, thinking that any time that I lost getting up there I could probably make up on the descent. Whether or not that’s true, it was definitely the right decision. Had I emptied myself on Peaked, I’m not sure that I would have been able to maintain a reasonable pace for the rest of the race.

The second Rick’s Basin lap was tough; I knew my nutrition was waning, and was resolved not to lose my position in the final 45 minutes of the 6-hour race. I knew that, the harder I pushed, the less likely that was to happen. So, again, I pushed myself. I stood when I didn’t want to, and powered up the little punches that Rick’s throws at you. After finishing Northwoods, though, I started to feel a little weaker and a little less focused, so I managed to sneak some gummies in on the climb, while squeezing the rest in my grasp on the handlebar during the descents. With a few more calories in me, I just needed to be smart and safe for the remaining 20-or-so remaining minutes. I could almost start counting down the number of times I’d have to pedal uphill, which gave me so much joy and quite literally propelled me through Snowdrift and onto the home stretch.

Before Pierre’s Hole, I had competed in the Pocatello Pedalfest in June, but crashed out and needed stitches in the eye – not super confidence inspiring. Later in June, I competed in and won our local Cache Creek Race, which is just 10.5 miles with 1,500 feet of climbing. Even for that race, I had thought hard about various minor injuries I could sustain the day before (or of…).  Last year, I competed in Grand Junction and Pierre’s Hole, neither of which went particularly well. I finished third and fourth, respectively, but was so new to mountain biking that I didn’t really understand how to ride efficiently (or well), let alone race that way.

One of the biggest differentiating factors between this season and last, for me, is my ability and willingness to hurt. Whereas before, I hadn’t really wanted to tap into the depths of that dark place, I have since embraced it as part of the game and, in some sick way, have actually started to enjoy it.”

Ten minutes later, Meghan Sheridan, Bingham Cyclery Peak Fasteners, was second at 6:07:40. “This was my first time racing at Pierre’s Hole and I believe my first NUE race.

I have done other long races in the past, including Leadville and the Point to Point in Park, City Utah multiple times as I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. I mostly only race locally and places within a short drive. Only twenty women lined up to race and I wasn’t even sure who my competition was. I was feeling good on the first climb and didn’t want to blow up as I passed Karen Jarchow (defending NUE Race Series champ) near the top.

I then started to close the gap on who I thought was the only woman left out front (Caedran Harvey). I followed her close to 38 Special, where her skills surpassed mine and she gained some time on the downhill. I never saw her again. I just stayed steady and tried not to let any men pass me on the downhills for the rest of the first lap – which I succeeded at. I had so much fun on the first lap riding all of the trails, especially More Cow Bell and Perma Grin. Rick’s Basin was beautiful. One guy was following me close the whole time but he never got by.

Coming out of the North Woods, on the last push in Rick’s Basin over Snow Drift, I saw Karen Jarchow creeping up on me. As we came through the start/finish, the announcer commented on how strong I was riding, and then realized Karen was right behind me! I quickly grabbed my other camel back and jumped on the single track right in front of Karen to head out on the second lap. She stayed close for a while, and I pushed where I could up the mountain to try to gain a gap.

Peaked trail was TOUGH that second time. I stayed steady to the top though and didn’t see Karen by the time I got up there, continued to keep my cool on the descents, and push where I could through the rest of the race. One guy finally passed me on the road, a few others tried, but I stayed ahead of them to the finish.

I was feeling decent and wanted to push harder, but just wanted to get the race over with since my right brake hadn’t been working great the whole race and I was having some vision/contact issues out of my left eye. Incredible course, race, aid, organization, finish line fun! Thanks Grand Targhee!”

Twelve minutes later, NUE defending Marathon Series Champion, Karen Jarchow, Team Topeak Ergon, took third at 6:19:07. Jarchow is also the reigning Fat Tire Champion.

 

Rider on course. Photo by: Michael Darter

Men’s Open

Pond defends last year’s win!

Defending NUE Marathon Series Champion and 2016 Pierre’s Hole race winner, Alex Pond, Steamboat Velo, earned his second straight win at Targhee to finish 5:26:17. This was Pond’s first win of the NUE Race season since his fifteenth place finish at the season opening True Grit Epic in March.

“From the start, I found myself watching a handful of riders pull the front of the group up the first road section until I got my legs spinning and, just like last year, went for the solo lead out over peaked and into 38 special. I definitely paid for the hard effort over the climb because slowly going through Perma Grin and Quackie Ridge, two riders were reeling me in pretty quick so I made the decision to let off a little, get fueled up, and battle it out over the second lap.

The three of us made a quick pit stop before the climb back up and Matt Turner of Competitive Cyclist got the lead out, so I settled into his pace and waited out the climb with a local Jackson rider, Davey Mitchell, on my tail. Before we reached the top though, the race started to get interesting.

The local from Jackson made a hard attack over Peaked Trail while Matthew started to fade and I was stuck in the middle, knowing if I went any harder over the climb I would blow up, so I let him go and saved it for the last 16 miles. I made contact with Davey on ski hill road and could tell he was paying for the hard effort at 9000 feet.

Before we hit the next section of singletrack, I made an attack and, the next time I looked back, Davey had dropped off. I rolled past my bag drop, grabbed a fresh bottle, and headed out to Perma Grin for the last time. The climb felt slow and I was sure that I would start seeing other racers making gains, so I kept my focus forward, didn’t go over the top, and rolled in with a comfortable lead over the next competitors.

The race was a clean ride this year with no broken saddles. The Trek Top Fuel was the perfect race bike with a solid lockout on the front and rear suspension, Bontrager XR1 in the front and XR2 in the rear, Stans race sealant, three bottles of CarboRocket (2 of 333 full strength, 1 of Elecrolytes), five Honey Stinger Mango Gels, and two Honey Stinger chews (mixed up flavors) was the winning package.”

Twelve minutes later, Matthew Turner, Competitive Cyclist MTB TEAM, was second at 5:38:37. Ten minutes later, Justin Raynes, Owenhouse Cycling, was third at 5:48:06.

Twenty-Four minutes later, Nathan Collier, Pedal Pushers KIND Racing, finished fourth at 6:12:54.

“The Pierre’s Hole 100km has been on my bucket list for years. Due to the race location’s distance from my home, I never thought I could make it happen. It wasn’t until a last minute family trip, planned in early June, that I could get off work, and luckily there were still spots open.

I showed up on race day with one goal — finish. I knew the race would start with a big climb, so I made sure to extend my race warm up so I was ready to go. This paid off since the race started out fast.

The first half of the race, I pushed harder than what I knew I should, but I just couldn’t help myself with the abundance of outstanding trail the Pierre’s Hole had to offer. I paid for it late in the first lap but, as an experienced endurance athlete, I knew that if I kept up with my fueling it would pass. By the time I finished the first lap, I was ready to attack the climb to start the second lap. It hurt, but I was able to push up the climb while still maintaining some clarity for a big descent down to Ski Hill Road. More amazedly, I still some gas left for the road climb as well.

The last hour of the race was brutal. The mind became foggy. It took everything in me to concentrate on picking good lines on the descents and giving it everything I had on the climbs. When I crossed the line, I had left every ounce of energy on the course —which, to me, defines a successful endurance race!”

 

Single speed

Larrabee earns the W and gets second overall!

Cory Larrabee, Kuhl, earned his first NUE SS win this season at 5:33:44 using 32×20 gearing, second overall behind Men’s Open winner, Alex Pond.

“Pierre’s Hole 100 has now become somewhat of a tradition with me and my support crew of five kids and my wife Amber. This year I decided that the third lap on the 100 miler kinda ruined the fun factor so the 100K was for me. I knew the competition would be great with George Flynn in the mix in the single speed category.

At the start, George was climbing strong and was twenty seconds up on me and a couple other ss riders. At the road climb, George continued to hammer and I was not able to get on his wheel. Eric Melson went up and rode with George and I was again 15 seconds back. On the loop out on the north of the resort, I passed Eric and set my sights on George. I would see him a switch back up from me but could never close the gap. At the aid station, I stopped to get bottles and fuel from my amazing crew and rode through the start/finish.

Going up the hill toward the single track, George was there refueling. We rode together for almost the entire peaked climb and I kept thinking that this could get interesting if neither of us fades. At the road climb, we both refueled and were heckled by the Fitzgerald Cycling crew at the aid station.

At the top of the road climb, we passed another geared rider. Then, going into aid 2, I looked back and didn’t see George. At this point, I thought I had better do what I could to maintain the gap. Just after the aid, I passed another geared rider and was curious where I was in the field. No reason to worry about it I continued, knowing that I had approximately 10-15 miles left.

I pushed as hard as I could and was cheered into the finish by my great wife and kids. I am extremely grateful to my sponsor KUHL Clothing, ESI Grips, Wolf Tooth Components, and Carborocket. I know that I couldn’t race or train without their help. Also, I want to give a big shout to my wife and kids. Thank you for your cheers and support.”

 

Five minutes later, George Flynn, finished second at 5:38:28.

Sixteen minutes behind Flynn, Shannon Boffeli, MTBRaceNews, was third at 5:54:11.

“My race started off a little slower than I would have liked as Corey, George, and Eric took off as we headed up Peaked Mountain the first time. I was riding 34 x 21 Rotor elliptical gearing, which I felt was the right gear for me but may have made the first climb a bit tougher.

By the time we hit the descent, I couldn’t see the three leaders but I was feeling pretty good and having a great time making my way through the singletrack at Pierre’s. This race has such a great collection of trails it’s always one of the highlights of my season.

The second time up Peaked I could see Eric again just a couple minutes in front of me and, by the top, I moved into third but he quickly passed me back on the 38 Special descent. I stayed close and, by the time we started climbing again, I was close enough I could move past and open up a solid gap.

I finished third but, more importantly, had a great time riding the incredible array of purpose-built one-track that Grand Targhee has to offer all the while battling it out with some of my best friends on the race circuit. I’m already looking forward to next season!”

 

Masters 50+

Harris wins Big!

David Harris, LW Coaching, wins the Masters division at 6:03:27, more than a half hour ahead of his nearest competitors.

Thirty-five minutes later, Ben Alexander, Team Rockford, was second at 6:38:34.

Six minutes later, Tim Walker, Non Stop/Sierra Cyclesmith, was third at 6:44:26.

“After pre-riding the course on Thursday, I thought this course and elevation suited me perfectly. At the start, I was eyeing who my fellow 50+ races were. I started out pretty fast but kept within my zone. About ten riders went super hard and I figured they were all 40+ racers.

Going onto Peaked trail, I was behind one guy with gray hair (definitely in my class). He was going really fast but I was wondering if he could keep that pace. He didn’t. Starting down 38 special, I kept my speed up with pushing too hard. Went right by the first aid station and started up the paved road. I didn’t know what place I was in but figured I was at least top three. One 50+ rider passed me up the hill and I went by one also. As I hit the section in Rick’s Basin, I was still going strong.

At the start of the second lap, I picked up my camelback (the first time in 30 years of racing I used one). Just as I left, I heard the announcer say that fourth place was right on my tail. It was time to get going! Going up Action Jackson and Buffalo Soilder, I kept the pace as high as I could and kept a gap to fourth. I rode steadily up to the top of the course and down 38 Special.

On Mill Creek, fourth place caught me and put a few seconds into me by the aid station. I lubed up my chain, asked a volunteer to pour water down my neck, and I was ready to go. Fourth place was still there and I joked to him that he could take as long as he needed eating. I was beginning to feel the effects of the race and needed as much time on him as possible as he was riding really strong. By the top of the road going into Jolly Green Giant, he had caught me and slowly pulled away. I never saw him again.

So I’m thinking now, I’m in fourth and just have to keep the legs turning to stay on the podium. I was riding a little bit slower than on the first lap but kept sipping on the CarboRocket and kept pushing towards the finish. About a mile from the finish, Jeremiah Bishop blasted by me leading the 100-mile race. I was happy to finish in fourth until, about thirty minutes after I finished, I saw that I was actually third. The guy that passed me going up the road on the first lap was vaporized on the second lap and carded a dnf. Overall a great race course and organization. Put this race on your “Must Do” list. My first Marathon podium and I am looking forward to the Grizzly 100k race in Big Bear.

Just one minute behind Walker, Brian Ressa, Utah Mountainbiking.com, was fourth at 6:45:40.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS

What’s NEXT?!

The NUE Race Series heads east to New Hampshire for the Crotched Mountain 100, formerly known as the Hampshire 100, on Saturday, August 19. Visit www.nuemtb.com for more information and stay tuned her for the latest news, photos and results.