written by: Shannon Boffeli
In the deep woods of the Manistee National Forest over 300
hearty mountain bike souls attempted to race 100 miles of classic northern
The Lumberjack 100 is the third round in the National
Ultra-endurance (NUE) series and for the first time this season weather did not
play a significant role in the outcome of the race. Skies were clear blue
Saturday morning with moderate temperatures and low humidity.
The race started with a 2-mile paved road before entering
the tree –lined singletrack. Last year’s winner Jeff Schalk pulled the group
along the road as all the other competitors marked the two-time Lumberjack
Once on the dirt Schalk was joined up front by perennial NUE
contenders Michael Simonson (Gary Fisher 29er Crew), Christian Tanguy (Team
CF), and Michigan rider Derek Graham (Bissell).
With no long climbs and limited technical sections the
Lumberjack course usually produces a fair amount of pack riding. Past years
have ended in close sprints for the win. Things started out that way but
Graham was the first to lose contact as a mechanical on the
first of three laps dropped him well back in the field. Next, Simonson was
struck by a punctured tire around the halfway point.
Schalk continued to push the pace at the front and, with
about 50 miles to go, found himself alone out front. The Trek Co-Op rider had
gapped Christian Tanguy and kept on the gas. So much so that his second lap was
actually his fastest at an incredible time of 2 hours 8 minutes for 33 miles of
Although Graham had dropped out of the top-20 after his
mishap he was now mounting a furious comeback. He charged through the field
knocking off groups of riders at a time. Moving past Simonson and into third
place just behind the steady Tanguy.
At the front Schalk stayed on the gas not knowing what his
time gap actually was. He assumed his challengers were just behind him.
In the end Schalk had built a tremendous lead finally
crossing the line over 15 minutes out front. After the race a satisfied Schalk
said, " I was just happy not to be riding in the mud.”
Behind in the leader Tanguy did enough to hold onto second
while Graham concluded his comeback in third place. Simonson moved his way into
The final podium spot went to Aussie Andrew Fellows (Ay-Up
The women’s event packed just as much excitement. A battle among two former Lumberjack
winners, last year’s runner-up, and a 100-mile first-timer quickly shaped up.
2008 winner Cheryl Sornson led the charge into the dirt.
She was followed closely by ‘08/’09 runner-up Karen Potter (iRide
Adventures/MTBRaceNews.com) and 100 mile first-timer Jen Hanks (Revolution/Peak
Sornson asserted herself early getting a good margin and
logging the fastest women’s lap time of 2 hours 32 minutes.
Meanwhile, Salt Lake City rider, Jen Hanks moved into second
place overtaking Potter halfway through the opening lap.
The positions remained steady throughout the second lap with
Sornson leading followed by Hanks, Potter, and two-time Lumberjack winner
Danielle Musto (Salsa) with less than 5 minutes between 2nd and 4th.
Musto, who chose to ride a singlespeed, had paced herself
perfectly and immediately started to apply pressure. She bridged up to Potter
halfway through the final lap. Potter, who just off a second place finish at
the Transylvania Epic, tried to stay with the Salsa rider but didn’t have the
Next Musto set her sights on Hanks and finally closed the
gap with just 4 miles left. That was as close as she would get to overtaking
the Revolution rider. Hanks immediately attacked gapping the singlespeed rider
on one of the short steep climbs. Once clear she emptied the rest of her tank
holding off her challenger and pulling over a minute ahead by the finish.
In the end Sornson took her second Lumberjack win with an
impressive show of strength fighting through cramps on the final lap. Hanks
took second followed by Musto and Potter.
Namrita O’Dea took the final podium spot, a nice treat after
traveling up from Atlanta for the race.