KENDA NUE Series #14
Carla Williams and Dylan Johnson Wrap Up NUE Titles in Georgia
The Fool’s Gold 100, the final stop of the Kenda National Ultra Endurance Series, was the last opportunity for racers to improve their national ranking. Besides being the final race, Fool’s Gold also served as the NUE Series tie breaker. This year’s Fool’s Gold moved to a beautiful new location at Anderson Creek Retreat near Elijay, GA, that included camping. Racers and spectators were treated to amazing views, including Springer Mountain, the southernmost point of the Appalachian trail.
In addition to race day awards, the top five NUE Division winners will receive a share of the $10,000 cash purse. Each of the four division winners will also be rewarded with complimentary entry into All NUE races in 2017, a custom made NUE Champions Jersey by Voler, along with an all-expense paid trip, excluding airfare, to Costa Rica to represent NUE at the La Ruta del los Conquistadores November 3-5, http://www.adventurerace.com/ . La Ruta is a three day stage race that stretches across Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Caribbean along an amazing course that includes two volcanoes, two oceans, Jungles and high-mountain passes.
And the winner is, Carla Williams!
Carla Williams, Joe’s Bike Shop Racing Team, took top honors for a third straight year at the Fool’s Gold 100 finishing 7:42:09. This year Carla won first place in the NUE Series after taking second last year! Congratulations! “Fool’s Gold has some of the most fun and flowy singletrack in the NUE and it’s one of my favorite races. I was in a good position overall in the series leading up to this race and since Christy Olsen wasn’t at the start line, I could pretty much relax and just have fun out on the trails which is what I did. I pushed hard up the climbs and really enjoyed all the downhills. I was able to take 1st overall and win the women’s series! It’s been such a fun season traveling to new places, seeing old friends and making new ones, and I couldn’t be more excited to be heading to La Ruta in November.”
Simona Vincenciova, Hammer Nutrition, finished second with a time of 8:52:17. This was her fourth NUE race of the season. Anne Pike, DNA-Movement p/b Penetron, took the third spot on the podium at 9:35:38. She raced five NUE races this season and moved into third place overall in the standings. Although not present at the final race, Christy Olsen, Fat Fish Racing/Crazy Pedaler, took second place overall in the series and Linda Shinn, Blacksmith Cycle, finished fifth overall! Congratulations to all of the women’s series finishers!
Dylan Johnson battles to get the win and takes the NUE Series!
With a winning time of 6:37:30, Dylan Johnson, Giant Co-Factory Northeast, fought his way to a Fool’s Gold finish, and took first place in the NUE Series! “I came in to the NUE final at Fool’s Gold with the lead in the series but by no means did I have it locked up. Brian Schworm, who’d been on my heels all season, was in a position to take the series win from me if he won at Fool’s Gold. I knew it would be a tough final and that Schworm would throw everything he had at me. Sure enough, the pace started very high and it didn’t take long before Brian and I found ourselves off the front in a one on one battle.
For the most part I stayed on Brian’s wheel knowing that I would have the advantage on the long gravel climb ten miles from the finish. Brian didn’t make it easy for me though. He charged every section and at times got a slight gap on me but luckily I was always able to reel him back in. We made it to the base of the final climb together and as soon as the grade got steep I made a move and put a little distance between myself and Brian and was able to hold it to the finish. It’s been an amazing season and I still can’t believe I pulled of the series win. I’d like to congratulate all the NUE series competitors this year, putting together 4 good races is no easy task. I can’t wait to represent the series at LaRuta!”
Six minutes later, Brian Schworm, Think Green VO2 Multipsort p/b SWORD, finished second with a time of 6:43:48. With this finish, Brian also placed second overall in the NUE Series. “The Fool’s Gold 90 mile race was the final of the NUE series and was decisive in determining the overall winner. There were three racers with a mathematical chance of winning: Dylan Johnson, Taylor Lideen, and me, and all of us were preregistered. I knew I needed to win and felt good about my chances.
The course is one of my favorites with great flow on fast trails with lots of climbing plus I had my teammate Nathaniel Cornelius to help out. When we lined up for the start of the race, I noticed Taylor was not present. Of course, Dylan was there with other contenders Tomasz Golas, Heath Thumel, Stewart Gross, and my teammate Nate. Soon into the first big climb these racers with singlespeed extraordinaire Gordon Wadsworth established a bit of a gap on the others. As we started descending the other side, I noticed that Nate and I, with Tomasz close behind, had a small gap on the others so I pressed the pace. I knew this wouldn’t be a decisive move but I thought we could make Dylan burn a match to bridge back up. Once at the bottom, Nate took over and with his road background, put the hammer down. Tomasz and I could barely hold on and we had a small gap.
Apparently behind us, Dylan, Heath, and Stewart joined forces and were able to catch back up before we hit the trail section of the course. Once on the trails, Nate continued to lead with a strong pace with the rest of us in tow until we reached aid station two. There some of us stopped, but some didn’t. This busted up the group and I found myself in the back due to a “natural break”. It took nearly thirty minutes but I worked my way back to the front with Dylan and Tomasz. We then rode together until the top of Bull Mountain.
Once we created the summit I went full-throttle to try and distance myself with my full suspension Specialized Epic versus Dylan’s hardtail. A couple times I gained a bit of a gap but Dylan was always able to close it down. On the next lap we rode quickly but nothing significant until will we reached the steep climbs before and ascending Bull Mountain. I felt very strong up these climbs but was uncertain about Dylan. It seemed like I may have a gotten a couple small gaps but, again, he closed them down quickly. On the following descent I tried again, in vain, to get away. Dylan was always right there.
Now it was down to the final and largest climb over Nimblewill Gap. Dylan and I approached he hill slowly, even conversing about riding and such, but the moment we hit the climb, Dylan accelerated like a rocket ship. I wasn’t even able to hang with him for a minute. I was impressed! Anyway, I still carried on up the hill to secure my second position in the race and second in the series. I knew I gave it all I had and was aggressive during the race but Dylan was simply faster. Of course I am very happy with my NUE results this year with two wins and four seconds. Dylan is an incredible racer and person. I am very happy for him winning the overall and for myself for finishing second. Thanks to my team and my supportive wife, Jennifer. Now, it’s time for some R&R and then start thinking about next year!”
Tomasz Golaz, DRT, completed the race in third place with a time of 6:54:30 at Fool’s Gold. Taylor Lideen, Pivot Cycles/92fifty, finished third in the overall NUE Series.
Haddock First at FG100, moves up to third overall in the NUE Race Series!
Racing in his sixth NUE of the season, John Haddock, J. A. King / Farnsworth Bicycles, achieved the top spot! He came in with an impressive time of 7:25:50. “I’d heard great things about the trails and scene down at Fool’s Gold, so I thought I’d head down to North GA and check it out! Plus, a bunch of buddies were going and my wife would join, which made the call even easier. My overall impressions of the race were as expected: a really cool course with a good mix of climbing, gravel, road, and a good helping of generally buff singletrack. Onsite camping was superb, the aid stations were great and course markings were perfect.
The race started out fairly tame but kicked up a notch once we hit the first climb. I saw the lead group pull away and settled into a fast, but manageable pace, with Gordon ahead and Scott close behind. On the rough Nimblewill descent, I was caught by some geared riders and eventually worked my way into a group on the road consisting of a now-injured Gordon Wadsworth, Greg Golet, Nick Bragg and Carla Williams. I entered the trails first and gradually pulled away from the group. I would find out at Aid 4 that Gordon pulled out due to injuries from a bad spill. After distancing the group, I rode by myself for the rest of the day, enjoying the woods and feeling good overall. The scene at the finish was excellent, with tasty food, great beverages, bathrooms and shady seating. Thank you to Race Director Lisa Randall for hosting a wonderful final event of the 2016 NUE season. Also, huge thanks to J. A. King and our team sponsors for all of their support this year.” With his win at Fool’s Gold, John Haddock improved to third overall in the NUE Series.
Scott Rusinko, Nox Composites, took second place at 8:00:12. Joseph Stroz, Stroz Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab, P.C., came in third place with a time of 8:15:05.
Overall for the NUE series, Gordon Wadsworth achieved first place for the third year in a row! Kip Biese, KJCoaching/Old Town Bike Shop, who completed eleven of the twelve NUE races, the greatest of any racer this season, took second overall in the series. NUE newcomer, Steven Mills, 22 years old, claimed fourth overall in the NUE Series including wins at both the High Cascades 100 and first overall at the Big Bear Grizzly 100.
Clayton wins FG two years in a row, and takes the NUE Series victory!
Jeff Clayton, Georgia Neurosurgical Institute, finished in 7:39:38 which was significantly faster than his finish time last year. Tied with Greg Golet with four wins each in the NUE Series, Clayton also claimed his first overall victory in the NUE Series! “When I heard that Greg Golet had been in an accident at Rincon and probably wouldn’t be able to race at Fool’s Gold for the series tiebreaker showdown, I was disappointed…I was really looking forward to the challenge. Then came the news first from the promoter, and then from Greg himself that he would be able to race after all!
With a neutral rollout for the first few miles I took advantage, along with defending NUE Champion, Roger Masse, of riding on the front of the peloton—not something I can normally manage! It wasn’t long into the race proper before Greg came by me and slowly pulled away out of sight up the gravel road climb…damn! I figured that I could/should make up time on the descent, with Greg being somewhat mobility limited with his injuries. Sten Hertsens, another strong Master’s racer came flying around me and I was happy to follow his quicker lines to the bottom, Greg still out of sight.
I did my best to lose Sten in the singletrack leading up to aid station 2, which I eventually succeeded in doing, and also reeled in Greg. After following Greg up to aid 2, I decided that I would need to put time on him in the twisty singletrack, especially the descents. This tactic worked, albeit slowly, as he gradually receded further into the distance. By aid 3,4 at the base of Bull Mtn, he was out of sight. That is pretty much how the race between Greg and I settled in.
I was somewhat worried going into the climb back up the gravel road toward the finish as I knew Greg would probably be out-climbing me there again. That said, I figured if I had at least a ten minute gap, short of me having a complete meltdown or mechanical, I’d hold him off. Once I hit the last few miles of pavement, I went full speed ahead all the way until the finish.
I finished under blue skies in beautiful northern Georgia, with my teammates Van and Cody cheering me on…a great victory to cap off a very fun NUE race series. I managed to win 6 of 7 series races, each venue with its own unique characteristics and challenges. My thanks to my Master’s competition for joining me in the series as well as the many other racers I suffered with. Also, thanks to the promoters and volunteers for putting on great races, my family for their support, my sponsors including title sponsor Georgia Neurosurgical Institute, and finally, Scott Sports for producing such a capable and durable race machine, the Scott Spark 900RC.”
Greg Golet, Team Chico, fighting to get back after an injury suffered at Rincon in Costa Rica, arrived next in the tie breaker showdown with a time of 7:36:49. For the season, Golet finished second overall in the NUE series. “It’d be dishonest of me not to admit that I have pretty mixed emotions about how my NUE season ended. I feel joy and gratitude in being able to race in the finals, experience the beauty of the Georgia trails, and share fun times with others, but also frustration from having to race while injured. I had a head-on collision with a vehicle driven by a reckless driver two weeks earlier at the Rincon de la Veija Challenge (Volcano 100) in Costa Rica. This left me with a fractured scapula, and considerable soreness on the front and backsides of my ribcage. I didn’t expect to be able to race; however, I started to feel better as the event approached, and anyway, was committed to the trip east given that I had a conference to attend in North Carolina immediately afterwards.
On the day before the race I did a long pre-ride of the Jake and Bull mountain loops of the course (first time my tires touched dirt since CR), and found that I was able to ride fairly well, as long as I didn’t have to absorb jolts of the trail with my left arm, or larger hits or twists with my torso. The ride got me really psyched up! The single track was amazing, and I was thinking about this Abby Wambach interview where she was talking about how pro athletes compete all the time while injured. I stopped feeling sorry for myself, and realized that I just needed play the hand I’d been dealt. It would be better to race and not do well, then to not race and wonder how it would have turned out if I did. Plus if I won this one, I would take the series title!
Pretty early in the first big climb I passed Jeff and Roger (my main competitors), and was feeling great on the relatively smooth mostly hard-packed dirt road. The decent off the back was rough in spots, and I was perhaps a bit more cautious than I needed to be, but I didn’t want to crash (like Gordon did!). Mid-way through the Jake Mountain loop, Jeff caught and passed me. I stayed with him long enough to admire how well he was ripping the single track, but eventually he got away from me. My trail riding was OK, but I was stiffer than I needed to be, especially on the rougher descents, such as off Bull mtn. Realizing this bummed me out a bit (which was somewhat self-defeating), but I knew it was a long race and hoped that my endurance would pay off later on. Well, it didn’t; at least not enough for me to make up the deficits I suffered in the middle part of the race. Jeff finished about seven minutes ahead of me. I don’t know if I would have won if I wasn’t injured, but was pretty disappointed crossing the line. So it goes with racing some times. I’m glad that I gave it a try and am truly happy for Jeff. We hung out for quite a while after the race and he’s a great guy.
My compliments to Lisa on running a fantastic race. Everything was really professionally done. Also huge thanks to NUE Series Director, Ryan O’Dell, for putting on the best series imaginable. He always has the best interests of the riders in mind and it shows in so many ways. Thanks too to my amazing wife Debbie and my three kids for supporting me in pursuit of my dreams. I love you guys so much!”
Two-Time NUE Defending Champion, Roger Masse, Rare Disease Cycling, took third place with a time of 7:45:58 edging out Carl Reglar, Verge Sport/Test Pilot, in the battle for third place overall in the NUE Series. Reglar, who was not at the NUE Final, finished the season fourth overall.
2017 NUE Race Series Top Five
1st Place- Carla Williams
2nd Place- Christy Olson
3rd Place- Anne Pike
4th Place- Chase Edwards
5th Place- Simona Vincenciova
1st Place: Dylan Johnson
2nd Place: Brian Schworm
3rd Place: Taylor Lideen
4th Place: Christian Tanguy
5th Place: Tomasz Golas
Men’s Master’s 50+:
1st Place: Jeff Clayton
2nd Place: Greg Golet
3rd Place: Roger Masse
4rd Place: Carl Reglar
5th Place: Sten Hertsens
1st Place- Gordon Wadsworth
2nd Place- Kip Biese
3rd Place- John Haddock
4rd Place- Steven Mills
5th Place- Scott Rusinko
WHATS NEXT: For the last four years, NUE Champions have a perfect record of first place finishes at LaRuta. Can they maintain such a high standard against some of the best stage racing ultra-competitors in the world?! Stay tuned right here and follow the Kenda NUE Series Champions as they compete with racers from all over the world at the LaRuta this November! www.nuemtb.com