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Fool's Gold report, results, and photos

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |August 21, 2010 5:54 PM
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NUE Series #7

Fool’s Gold 100 Race Report

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Extreme weather strikes the Fool’s Gold 100!

Perhaps it’s a bit ironic that fools’ gold would have such an impact on racers at The Kenda NUE Series on Saturday?

Home of the Fool’s Gold 100, the first major U.S. gold rush took place around the Dahlonega, (pronounced Dah-luh-nay-guh) Georgia area in 1828, nearly twenty years before the better known California Gold Rush. In addition to the coveted metal, there coexists a less valuable metal known as "fool’s gold”. It is shiny, like real gold, however, unlike real gold, fool's gold (pyrites or mica) is known for its crystalline structure, which makes it usually glittery. Mountain Bike racers often notice the shiny mica on their bodies after a race but at NUE #7, they experienced just how abrasive these little metal flakes can be.

After wet and muddy conditions earlier this season at the Cohutta 100 and then again at the Mohican 100, no doubt, racers were praying that the Fool’s Gold would be dry and warm as usual. However, beginning just after midnight, it struck!

A powerful line of thunderstorms moved through Camp Wahsega, start/finish, unleashing seemingly nonstop lightning strikes followed by booming thunder and heavy rains. The local news issued flood warnings on race morning, the result of stationary storms that were dumping as much as one inch of rain per hour on some areas.  Although the electrical storms moved through well before the start of the race, the steady rains remained to take their place. Thus began the 2010 Fool’s Gold saga.

Men’s Open Division:

Early in the Men’s Open race, as expected, last year’s Fool’s Gold winner Christian Tanguy (Team CF) and NUE reigning champion, Jeff Schalk (Trek Mountain CoOp) lead the way up the first large gravel road climb with Schalk edging out Tanguy to take the King of the Mountain award that included a growler from Yazoo beer. Schalk described conditions as, "the worst conditions of the year. I lost my rear brake completely at mile thirty”. This was true of most racer’s as the mica, better known as fool’s gold, ground brake pads down in as little as 20-30 miles in the soaked red Georgia clay.

In the end, 4:15:26 was the winning time as Schalk edged out last year’s winner by just two minutes before both pleaded with race director, Eddie O’Dea, to call the race. "Both racer’s told me they were willing to continue on and had spare brake pads, however, even a spare set of brake pads might only last for 30 miles” according to O’Dea who called the race largely for safety concerns. "Witnessing the fear in the eyes of the Pro’s that came in sealed the decision to cut the second loop.”

Schalk later commented, "I won by two minutes because he (Tanguy) had mechanicals. A dry battle might have been different. Today was more about survival.”  

More than a half hour later, Michael Simonson (Gary Fisher/SRAM/NoTubes), Robert Marion (American Classic/Kenda/Tomac), and Ernesto Marenchin (, rounded out the next three spots, coming in within minutes of each other.


Women’s Open Division:

In the Women’s Open Division, Fool’s Gold became a pivotal race for contenders Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) and NUE Series leader, Cheryl Sornsen (Team CF). Carey, needing a win, set the pace from the start, winning the King of the mountain award. At 5:02:20, Carey’s impressive finish was thirteenth overall, men and women! For Carey, this is her third win in the Kenda NUE Series setting up a women’s showdown at the final event, The Shenandoah 100, just two weeks away. The winner will likely claim the title of 2010 NUE Champion.

According to Sornsen, "For me, I had a rotten day.  I was sent in the wrong direction and then corrected but as conditions worsened and I lost brakes I felt it best to stay safe and pulled out before the last 8 miles of trail.  I was mentally done and mechanically hampered and it was a good decision for me.  Bummed, but the season has been so great that this one race does not sour it for me.”

Retired former national champion, Sue Haywood, rolled in 28 minutes behind the leader with Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) less than a minute back. Simril has improved her scores all season, moving up the ranks on this year’s circuit.

Singlespeed Division:

According to NUE Singlespeed reigning Champion, Gerry Pflug (Salsa/SPK/Pro Bikes), "I had a great start going up the first long climb, riding with men’s open leaders, Schalk and Tanguy.  I soon discovered that their pace was too much and I settled into my pace.  Harlan Price (Team CF) and Mike Simonson then caught me a mile or so before the top of the climb.” 

Price did not feel his best that day. "It was raining, I was late dealing with a lost dog I picked up on the freeway and knowing that I had to beat beat Pflug or at least get second. I had just put my bike together Thursday and realized that the bottom bracket was loose so I attacked two miles before Aid One. I also realized that in my haste that morning, I had forgotten my multi-tool so I was hoping they would have one there.”   

Pflug continued, "At checkpoint one, Matt Ferrari (Hubcap/Freeze Thaw cycles) caught Price and I as we were searching for our stuff there.  I left the checkpoint first, but was soon caught by Price and Ferrari in the super muddy single track.  Price and I then put a little time on Ferrari, but I had to drop off Price's pace on the descents because I could tell my brakes were starting to go.  By checkpoint 2, Ferrari had caught me again.  We rode together for a short while, but soon my brakes were completely fried and I had no choice but to walk the downhills leading down to checkpoint 3.  With no way to repair my brakes out on the trail, I had to abandon the race.  I guess now the SS series title will come down to the outcome of the race between me and Harlan at Shenandoah.”

Price went on to win the race but a paid a price as well. "Just Before Aid Four I caught Tanguy who was having cassette issues. I had no rear brakes from about mile twenty forward and resigned myself to modulating the front brake.

After Aid four, there was a straight, nasty, steep descent. I was fully into it before realizing that I had NO BRAKES. I decided to try to ride it out, reaching speeds up to 30-40mph, scard sh**less, and jus’ holdin’ on! It was then that I realized I wouldn’t make the upcoming turns and had to dump it. The bike was in the trees and I slid thirty feet downhill suffering bruised ribs and requiring eight stitches.

Tanguy asked if I was ok and then went on. In the process I lost the bead on my tire but quickly made the repair and moved on. After crossing the finish line, I pretty much broke down upon learning about the 50 mile cut. I was gonna do it but it wouldn’t have been good.”

Men’s Open racer, Theo Procopos (Engin Cycles) confessed that he had bailed on the same descent, gashing his elbow in the process. Keith Dyarmett (Team Bear Legs) who completed the 50 mile race, commented, "I thought I’d only have to push on "Bear Hair” trail, about 20 miles into the race, but I’ve been pedalin’ for 9 hours! At one point, I thought to myself, I hope they are serving breakfast tomorrow morning because I’m probably not going to get in before then!” Little wonder than many racer’s crossed the line doin’ the cramp dance.

Peter Rajcani, of Dallas, TX, who walked away with the last place award at 9:56:32, a case of Terrapin Hopsolution, commented, "I heard about the race being called at Aid Four and thought to myself, now I can just ride and enjoy the rest of the race.”  Rajcani enjoyed the rest of the race and finished, an achievement in itself given that out of a record 300 starter’s, 120 did not finish. "O’Dea’s decision to call the race likely prevented more injuries and fortunately, there were no life threatening injuries that day. All racers who registered for the 100 and completed the first 50 mile loop will receive series credit and points” according to NUE Series Director, Ryan O’Dell

Master’s 50+ Division

Finishing 19 minutes ahead of his nearest challenger, 5:42:40, Robert Herriman (Trek 29er Crew/WSC/ACFSTORES.COM), from Royal Oak Michigan has returned late in the season to dominate the field,  capturing his first NUE Master’s Series Championship in the red mud of Fool’s Gold. Herriman, with wins at Cohutta, Mohican, and Lumberjack earlier this year has a lock on the series with four wins and will take the podium at Shenandoah to receive cash and prizes.

Second place went to Erik Lenzing (Freeze Thaw Cycles) who finished in 6:01:50, nineteen minutes ahead of David Grauer (Orthopro) and James Wilson (Team CF) who finished 6:40:27 and 6:49:17 respectively.

Among the buzz around the finish line after the harrowing race, Clay Combs shared his experience about taking some time to cool off in a nearby creek. "That sit in the creek did wonders for me. It rejuvenated me!” Laughing about his experience over a cold draft sweetwater 420 Pale Ale, Charles Nahas (GATR) commented "I’m gonna have nightmares about that ride!” however, most, including Nahas, admitted they would likely be back next year too!

Pro Men

1, Jeff Schalk (Trek Racing Co-Op)
2, Christian Tanguy (Team CF)
3, Michael Simonson (Trek 29er Crew)

Pro Women

1, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt)
2, Sue Haywood
3, Brenda Simril

For full results click here:
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