Written by: @JenToops
Photos by: Bryan Lewis
The Wilderness 101 is a classic on the NUE National Ultra Endurance Race Series and is know for its rolling hills through amish country, long gravel roads, rail trails, tunnels and rocky east coast singletrack. This year a new Marathon distance was added which is part of the NUE marathon series. W101 is hosted in Coburn, PA and organized by Shenandoah Mountain Tours.
Flooding the previous week had racers wondering if racing was going to be possible, but the high waters receded and the weather was perfect on race day! Camping was provided at the race start/finish which added to the overall race weekend experience.
Johnson gets third NUE win for 2018
In the open men’s division a lead group of Johnson, Bishop, Tanguay and Schworm formed but after, Jeremiah Bishop (Caynon Topeak Factory Racing), had to stop several times for flat tires, Bishop was able to finish in ninth place. Taking the win by about seven minutes was the 2017 NUE race series champion, Dylan Johnson (Leska MTB), crossing the line in 6:39:50.
Finishing strong for second place, Brian Schworm (Think Green Bicycle), came in at 6:47:17.
“The recent weather with the record setting amounts of rain and consequential flooding had me a bit concerned about the condition of the course for the 2018 Wilderness 101; however, with a few reroutes by the race director and a nice break in the weather on race day, the conditions were completely agreeable. The race started out of Coburn to cool temperatures and the excitement began although the pace was moderate at best for the first hour and half. In between aid stations one and two the pace quickened on a few of the climbs and a lead group containing Dylan Johnson, Christian Tanguay, Jeremiah Bishop, and myself formed. We rode together for a while but either a piece of singletrack, or a climb, or mechanical problem would split our group into various combinations with some leading and others chasing but ultimately we would regroup.
I would say the first decisive section was the Sassafras/Pig Pile section of trail. I was already 10-15 seconds behind the others entering the trail where Jeremiah and Dylan took off leaving a gap to Christian and another gap to me. Unfortunately for Jeremiah, he suffered a flat towards the end of this section leaving Dylan on his own. Jeremiah was able to continue but was now behind. He quickly worked his way back up to me and then we rode back to Christian. Us three worked together for a while trying to bridge back to Dylan but ultimately Jeremiah’s tire was still giving him problems. He needed to stop again. Christian and I forged on until the Stillhouse climb beyond aid station 4 (at least, where aid 4 was supposed to be; unfortunately, we beat the delivery leaving us without). Anyway, on the Stillhouse climb I could see Dylan up the hill so I pressed on hard while Christian wisely held back to save some energy for later.
At the top of the climb just before entering the Sand Mountain section there was a “trail angel” with some water. This unofficial aid station was perfect since aid 4 was missing and I was out of water. Dylan was also in need and was taking his time refilling his bottles. I filled up quickly and caught Dylan who was only a few seconds ahead at this point. We rode together through Sand Mountain and the following climbs and descents. I was feeling great at this point and sensed that Dylan was not. I couldn’t have been more wrong! After a little back and forth, Dylan attacked with about 12 miles to go and I had no response. I went from feeling great to feeling a bit sluggish. Very quickly that deteriorated to feeling tired and hungry and then to feeling light-headed and shaky. I was running scared; I had completely given up chasing Dylan and was more concerned about Christian gaining on me. In the end Dylan put almost seven minutes on me and Christian was just 30 seconds back. I was relieved to be finished and even more relieved that I held my second position.
Of course I need to thank my team Think Green – Bicycle Face for their support. Also my other sponsors Sword Energy Drink, Specialized Bicycles, ESI Grips, Schwalbe Tires, and TruckerCo, but as usual, a special thanks to my extraordinary wife Jennifer for her undeniable support and understanding in these adventures of mine. Now time for some recovery and then revamping of the training for my next NUE event, the Shenandoah 100 in about a month’s time.”
Just seconds back from second place, last years Wilderness 101 race winner, Christain Tanguy (RBS Cycling Team), finished in third place, 6:47:47.
Barclay wins Open Women
Local racer, Vicki Barclay (Cannondale, Kenda) took the top step in the women’s open, at 8:10:35.
“This was my first time racing the Wilderness 101 since 2015. After a few years of shorter, one-day races and stage races, plus a few weeks of little racing, I was excited to race this 100 miler to get in a good day of quality training and racing on home turf (I have a house in State College with my husband, Rich). Come race day, I was thrilled to see that the race had brought out some fast ladies; I knew I would have to ride a smart race to take the top step at the end. Lauren Cantwell and I rode mostly together until Aid 1; I let some small gaps open up at times, but wanted to ride conservatively for the first 20 miles (this was my seventh time racing Wilderness and I have made every mistake in the book in year’s past that has cost me significantly!). Once the pace settled a bit after the climb out of Aid #1, I put in some small efforts to gain a gap before a key piece of singletrack. The gap stuck and I managed to stay out in front for the rest of the race, trading places with some men on the course, and enjoying the special kind of pain that 100 mile racing induces. With the recent rain, a lot of singletrack had be replaced with fire roads, so I was happy I chose to run my Honey Badger XC pro 27.5 x 2.2 tires front and rear – excellent traction in the singletrack and fast rolling on the roads. I fueled the race with lots of my favorite race snack – GU Watermelon Chews! With the good feels at Wilderness 101, I am considering racing the Shenandoah 100 in a few weeks!
Sponsors: Kenda Cannondale Women’s Elite Team”
About eleven minutes back, Lauren Cantwell (Deschutes Brewing), took second place at 8:21:21. Finishing third was, Amelia Capuano (Rearden Steel) crossing the finish line at 8:47:03.
“The race was comfortable for me. It was beautiful outside and I really enjoyed the evolution of the day’s riding. I am appreciative of the smiling and joyful riders with whom I rode for portions of the day, they made it a blast. Also very glad that the flood waters receded from the park to make for fun camping. Thank you Chris Scott for taking on the challenge of running classic races.
Sponsors: Myself, My Family, and Great Friends, LLC.”
Wadsworth gets second NUE win of the season
Defending SS NUE Champion and last years Wilderness 101 singlespeed race winner, Gordon Wadsworth, Blue Ridge Cyclery/Pivot Cycles, gets his second NUE win for the 2018 season finishing in 7:14:41.
“My day was pretty swell. We JUST finished relocating a little outside roanoke and so motivation wasn’t high to be honest. Nevertheless as soon as we kicked tires onto the sweet Pa dirt all the stoke came flooding back.
Fifteen minutes back, Ross Anderson (Elevation Zero), finished at 7:35:01. A couple minutes later, James Litzinger (Syndicate cycling) and Don Powers (UPMC Pro Bikes), declared a tie for third place and finished together at 7:37:36.
Powers states, “Well this past Saturday was my 8th time racing the Wilderness 101. I’ve had recent success at this race scoring podiums spots in 3 out of the last 4 years and was hoping for another similar result this year. I knew it would be tough with some strong competition in Gordon Wadsworth, Jim Litzinger and Peyton Randolph all in the mix. The race starts with a 3ish mile / 1000 foot gravel climb. The pace was pretty chill and the big geared guns let us SS’ers set the pace. What surprised me even more was that they let us SS’ers set the pace all the way to aid station 1, which is 19 miles into the race. Normally on the climb out of aid station 1 the intensity picks up and the top geared guys start to flex their muscle. But that was not the case. As we crested the top of the climb I started shouting out to the likes of Jerimiah Bishop, Dylan Johnson, Brian Schworm, & Cristian Tanguey that I was confused by their tactics. On the next rocky descent things started to shake out, Gordon got away and I tried to keep it close to Litzinger. Jim was on his full suspension S-Works SS while I was on a rigid SS. I was able to gap Jim on the next climb and then he proceeded to drop me on the next technical rocky descent. I was able to catch back up on the next climb and then once again he got away on the next descent. After that I did not see him again until later. Going into aid station 4, I was caught by another strong SS’er Ross Anderson. He got away on the big climb out of aid station 4 and I didn’t see him again. So I knew I was sitting in 4th place with about 35ish miles to go. As I rolled into aid station 5, I saw Litzinger refueling and filling bottles. He got a little lost and had to back track a bit, he was off course about 1.5 miles (This is what happens when you climb with your head down and miss arrows). We rolled down the first part of the rail trail together and he said his legs were pretty dead. On the last climb with about 7 miles to go in the race I attacked him and put a decent size gap on him heading down to the technical final single track trail called Fisherman’s Trail. Well my lead didn’t last long as Jim caught back up and then proceeded to attack me. After we got out of Fisherman’s Trail I was able to close the gap on the last part of the rail trail, I was running a slightly bigger gear than him 32X18 vs 34X20. We called a truce and rolled the last 3 or so miles into the finish together. They scored us tied for 3rd SS & 12 overall with a time of 7:37 and change. While Jim is without a doubt my biggest racing rival, he is also a good friend and it was nice to finish tied with him in such a hard race.”
Spaulding repeats at Wilderness
Last years race winner, Russell Spaulding (TFM Racing), repeats again this year coming in at 8:09:12. Spaulding is currently in second for the overall series standings.
“I really didn’t know what to expect this time around at Wilderness. I have been racing hundreds every two or three weeks since Mohican in June. The “Double Hundred” (Miles & Heat) out in South Dakota really left me in a bit of a fog before this race.
After the neutral roll out I found myself stepping out in front of the lead pack on the initial climb. This ended up being my only real contribution to the pack behind me, because I ended up startling a family of deer that ended up crossing the road just ahead of the pack. So you see, that’s really why I was out front on the first part of the climb. Just trying to protect the deer / mountain biker relationship!
Halfway up the climb the lead pack caught me, and I just tucked myself right in behind one of the stronger riders and held on for the top. Once we hit the top the lead pack just cruised along like it was some Sunday ride. I’m tucked in behind a rider just cruising along, and I happen to notice that the entire pack was being led by two single speeders. It’s like all the geared riders are sitting on the couch eating chips, while someone else is doing all the vacuuming!
After aid two the master’s race was just starting to take shape. Johnston was within view up ahead of myself and Masse. The further we got into this race, I realized two things. One, the mountain bike Gods had selected me as part of their amusement during this race. I ended up on the ground a little bit more than I would have liked. Someday I hope to be a real mountain biker! Two, my legs were cramping way too early in this race.
Masse eventually ended up leaving us all behind to fend for ourselves. I was just trying to stay in the mix, and work through the cramping in my legs. By aid three I was hoping for some instant relief for my legs in the form of pickle juice or yellow mustard. Neither were to be found, but fortunately there were some Endurolytes available.
At the bottom of the first downhill after aid three I ended up passing Masse. The rocks in Pennsylvania are just plain mean, and he was working on one of his tires. When I reached the off camber, rocky as hell “No Name” trail I ended up making another mistake and ended up on my back below the trail. It wouldn’t have been that bad if my legs had not immediately seized up. Man that’s painful! By the time I got back up on the trail Stritzinger comes screaming by me to take the lead before we reach aid four.
Aid four is grilling hot dogs! Can you believe it? Bottles of fancy mustard on the table! I pretty much drained one of those fancy mustard bottles before hitting the climb after aid four.
I would assume that most racers despise the climb after aid four, but for some reason I really start to come alive in the last third of a race. My legs were becoming less of an issue. The temperature was heating up, and the climb was taking me into my Zen zone.
Turns out I ended up catching Stritzinger just before the last climb of the race. I knew there were two major climbs after the aid four climb, but there are also a couple of smaller climbs within that mix so I wasn’t sure what lay ahead for both of us.
In the end I got to ride with some very talented riders. I’m grateful, and lucky to have had such an awesome experience. Congratulations to Tom Stritzinger and Roger Masse on their amazing finishes, and a special shout out to John Friel. Way to tough it out John!
Thanks to TFM Racing, G-Assist, Valor House, and Tried and True for sponsoring me this season.
Special thanks to Chris Scott, his crew, and all the volunteers that made the Wilderness 101 such an amazing experience. To the crew at aid four that decided to grill hot dogs. Thank you. That was a most excellent decision!”
Three minutes back, Tom Stritzinger finished strong for second place at 8:12:41.
” I was having a strong race until just before the last climb with about 5 miles to go. Then Russell Spaulding catches me from behind. He says “hello” then drops me like a bad habit. If he used Strava, I am guessing that he would have been the KOM of the day for that last climb! I really enjoyed the first 18 miles where it was like a Sunday morning ride with what seemed like the entire race field riding together, chatting and going at friendly pace. I never see Jeremiah Bishop, Christian Tanguy, Brian Schworm and Dylan Johnson after the opening gun and until the finish. It was unreal to still be riding with and chatting with these guys through the first 18 miles! The course had everything: gnarly single track, two track, gravel, long tough climbs, and a tunnel that was very dark and a bit scary as it was strewn with rocks! Overall, a great venue, phenomenal volunteers, some serious mtn. bike riders and a fun time for all. Wilderness 101 is one of my favorite races in the NUE series so far this year. I hope to be back again next year.”
Rounding out the podium and taking third, Roger Masse (Stokesville, Shenandoah), finished in 8:17:38.
Click here for full results
What’s next on the NUE Epic and Marathon Series? NUE Pierre’s Hole in Alta, WY on August 4th, 2018. Click here for info on Pierre’s Hole.