Fool’s Gold 60 – NUE Marathon Finale

KENDA NUE Series #10

Fool’s Gold 60

Dahlonega, Georgia

Ryan O’Dell

For the first time this year, Fools Gold offered a 60 Mile option. This was another challenge for the Marathon Racers, providing a final opportunity 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 $6,000 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.

Women’s Open

Nielson Takes the Win!

Jen Nielson, South Paw Cycles/Liv, won the race with a time of 5:11:15. “Fool’s Gold 60! 60 miles of pavement pounding, gravel grinding, flowing single track fun! No issues with illegal day-of registration this time around. I was prepared(ish). From the detailed website, to the email updates, to the extensive race guide, this event was clearly going to be well managed down to the finest of details.

The extreme organization stressed my somewhat naturally chaotic and unorganized self…just a bit. Packet pick up no later than 06:20? Race starts at 07:45? Deadlines. So early! I hustled to get out of work on time Friday, so as to finish the race day packing. Erik busily wrapped up shop duties, ultimately making for yet another late travel night. No sooner than our heads hit the pillows, it was time to be up and moving. Packed up, bikes loaded, bodies fueled, race packets secured, port-a-potty trip in the dark…check! Back in the comfort of the Element, I was quick to announce pre-race nap time and get multiple alarms set. Good luck 90 mile racers, we Nielsons need our beauty rest! Thirty minutes of glorious sleep, plus hitting snooze x1, and it was show time. I won’t lie, this was my first time enforcing pre-race nap time and I wasn’t sure whether or not the effects would end up being most regrettable.

The mass start was indeed massive as everyone jockeyed for positions in front of the timing mat. I was among the many racers fanned out on the outskirts of the gravel road and into the grass, well outside of timing mat territory. As I tried to inch closer and closer to the gravel road, not wanting to risk any sort of timing penalties, a lady on a BMC calmly reassured me that we would all eventually make it across the mat. Unfortunately, that did little to reduce my anxiety or desire for a good start. A car horn announced the start of the race and I squeezed in with the rest of the racers, making it over the mat with a foot to spare. Whew! Go time for real now!

The Lust was locked out and ready to go, so we jumped to the outside of the pack and made quick work of getting up to the front before tucking back in for some drafting. Big sigh of relief. It was sketchy going, surrounded by the sounds of brakes squealing and tires rubbing other people’s tires. I was just hoping that the results of those sounds would not include me being on the ground. I found myself mostly spending time with a couple of riders behind Erik, who was a couple of riders behind Thomas Turner. Wise? I’m not sure, but I wasn’t about to give up what I had. Neutral start completed, the pack was getting friskier, with random attacks off the front. As things ramped up, my thoughts simplified, focused on things that I had survived and had prepared me for this…TNR @ Pendleton, TNR, TNR, TNR, Tabata, Tabata, Tabata (thanks Brian Sheedy)! Well, I don’t know if those things really made a difference, but they were pretty much all I could think about.

The first climb was long and chunky. The rhythm I had hoped to carry was quickly lost. At times, it felt like everyone was passing me and there wasn’t a wheel I could manage to hop on. After the climb, was a long, fun descent. I was totally awake and ready for it. I was ready to chase some of those carrots that had passed me on the up. The Lady Lust and I made amends after Black Bear Rampage, getting in some quality bonding time over the last week, and were finally finding our groove. It was exciting!

When we hit single track, it was fast and flowy. The Lust and I were ready for it. There were certainly some “oh $#*t” moments, coming into corners hot, not realizing the trail was no longer directly in front of me. Guys were caught and others passed me. I tried to grab wheels where I could, hoping to pick up the pace for some sort of meaningful impact on the competition. I guess it wasn’t all fast and flowy. There were some punchy hills in there that made the down to up transition hard on the legs. At one point, I hopped off the bike to hike behind a line of others hiking, and realized I was looking at some long slender legs that couldn’t possibly belong to a guy, right? I checked her out closely. Yup, definitely not a guy. I debated asking the burning question that was on my mind and finally decided to let my mouth win. Much to me relief, she was racing the 90. I passed with some words of encouragement and continued on, wondering who was really behind me in pursuit.

Lesson learned from Black Bear, I was conscious to be eating every time I hit a fire road. Food, food, food was another overriding simplistic thought for this race. Even if I wanted to forget eating, the volunteers at the aid stations were on it, chastising me for not getting nutrition, despite my reassurances that I was eating what I packed. Other thoughts that generally preoccupied me while I was out there were, surely there is a Carey Lowery out there on the prowl….Carey, Carey, Carey….and as I hit the downhills, surely there is a ripper like Kaysee Armstrong behind me…Kaysee, Kaysee, Kaysee! Much to my amusement, I wasn’t the only one thinking Carey.

The final ascent was a long steady fire road climb of about 3.6 miles. This climb I liked! My happy rhythm was ready! While grooving on up the climb I passed a guy I had been going back and forth with and he jumped on my wheel. Not long after spending a little time together, he asked “Are you faster than Carey?” I responded with an, “I don’t think so.” “Are you sure?” is what I got in return. “Well, she beat me last weekend.” was the best I could do for him. “Oh.” It felt like disappointment, which for some reason had me laughing a little. After a little longer, he asked how much further the climb was. I could only answer that I didn’t know for sure, but thought it was seven miles from the top to the finish (thank you Jerry McClung). He debated hanging on my wheel or catching me on the descent. His final words were that if we could rejoin by the end, he would give me a good draft in to the finish. Who could refuse an offer like that? So, I climbed on and he settled into his pace.

When I reached the top of the climb, I was greeted with a sign that indicated eight miles to the finish. Damn you Jerry! An extra mile?! 61 miles! Up until then, my mind had been racing with thoughts of excitement at the awesome descent that would await me. I was ready to rip. Or so I thought. Not long after starting down, my right calf started to cramp up. I never get leg cramps! I sat down on the sections I could, trying to shake things out. This wasn’t happening! After a shorter time than I expected, my friend came tearing by me, yelling that this was my opportunity to jump on his wheel for my lead in. Everything in me snapped to attention. It was go time! Forget your cramping legs, forget your aching hands, forget your throbbing feet, and forget everything else. I worked hard to stay on his wheel, but ultimately lost him. It was ok though, because I was finally on and catching other people.

I hit the final section of pavement, grabbed some nutrition, and set to work. I managed to get into a group of three guys. There were suggestions of working together, there was attacking and definitely not working together, there were words of encouragement that gave me extra boosts I didn’t know I had, and there were look backs to ensure others were dropped (including me). The final drag to the finish was a grass field that felt a lot like trying to ride through thick, deep sand. It felt like going nowhere. It didn’t seem to matter if you were standing up or sitting down. It was all the same slow arduous progress trying to reel in that finish line banner. Boy did it feel good to finally make it! Well, nothing felt good then, but it sure does now. 1st overall/women’s open. Erik Danger Nielson rocked it into 5th overall/men’s open, in a tough field of men.

Lisa Randall and Mountain Goat Adventures put on a great event! One of the best organized, most well marked, and well supported races I have been to. The amenities, post-race food, and awards/payouts were definitely something to brag about. It was a fantastic experience!

A surprise arrived for me on the Thursday before the race, meaning that this was the last race the Lady Lust and I would be doing together. It did have me on the verge of tearing up at one point during the race (endurance races will do that to you). I am glad this is the way we got to finish together!”

Tiffany Ballew, Peachtree Bikes, came in about fifteen minutes behind Nielson, with a time of 5:26:16. Having just finished with a first place win at Rincon, this was her fourth NUE Race of the season and her second place finish also moved her into second place overall in the NUE Series.

Beata Wronska, City Bikes, finished third with a time of 5:42:50. This was her second year racing at Fool’s Gold. She won first place in 2015. “This was not my first take at the Fool’s Gold since I had an opportunity to race it year ago and was fortunate enough to take the win. I was looking forward to come back on this challenging course and have some fun. Making the drive all the way from South Florida makes for quite a trip, but I and other Floridians find it well worth it.

Just two weeks ago, I raced in Val Di Sole, Italy in the Cross Country Masters World Championship where I can proudly say I podiumed and shared the stage with an Olympic medalist and 3-time World Champion and other top European riders. I felt already accomplished but realized that this endurance event would be a good aid to clear my mind and enjoy the quite different scenery to our local bike scene as well as a good moment to finish my season on a good note.

The truly off-road part of the course was pretty spectacular, especially the flowy single track and super tough and fun Bull Mountain. I had a wonderful time riding those sections and tackling the small creeks, steep uphill’s filled with roots which were so tough that only strong riders could make it all the way up, as well as having a blast on the super-fast and technical downhills. It was all so enjoyable that often I was forgetting that I was actually racing. There were times where I was battling my competition and swapping spots but also times when I felt like I was on my own in the whole forest and could hear only the trickling of water, rustling of leaves and my own breath.

I don’t think I will ever forget how I felt on the final rocky descent coming back to the finish line. The descent was so loose, rocky and bumpy that I experienced at the same time pain and almost complete numbness in my hands and feet. For sure my body was not used to descents like this and it made it more of a challenge for me than anything else. Coasting to the finish line after that was quite elevating and I had a brilliant time going back and forth with a few male riders and giving one rider a sprint finish which made if fun for both of us as well as spectators.

Finishing third and still placing on the podium this year leaves me completely content and satisfied, especially knowing the field was deep and stacked with talented riders. Now I just wish we had more races like this closer to home. I hope one day I will be able to focus solely on endurance racing and hopefully compete for the overall NUE series points.”

Laura Booth, City Bikes, finished in third place with a time of 5:42:50 jumping up to fourth place overall in the NUE Series.

Overall for the NUE Marathon Race Series, Karen Jarchow, Team Toepeak-Ergon, earned her first NUE Marathon Series Championship, sweeping the series with a perfect score of 4, winning ALL of the NUE races that she participated in.

Tiffany Ballew placed second overall and Becky Edmiston, Steamboat Velo, earned a final ranking of third overall in the NUE Series.


Men’s Open

Mendez takes the win in his first NUE Race!

Gabriel Mendez, Team 706P, won the Men’s Open with a time of 4:18:16. “The morning of the Fool’s Gold 60 and 90 mile endurance races, everyone was on their bikes in anticipation for the starts. At 7:15 sharp, we watched the 90 mile racers take off down the gravel road to embark on the grueling task. By 7:30, many of the 60 mile racers were already hanging out in the staging area, making small talk to pass time until the neutral rollout at 7:45. At the whistle, a couple hundred mountain bikers rolled out behind the lead car for the first portion of the race.

The pace remained tame for miles, even onto the first ascent of Nimblewill Gap, where Phil O’Donnell and myself rolled off the front (being roadies who could probably use a cushion on the twisty downhill) and established a small gap on the pack. By the end of the descent of Nimblewill, freshly graded and thus riddled with overturned rocks and potholes, we were joined by three others, Thomas Turner included.

The first upset in the top positions was caused by Erik Nielson and my stop at the 21 mile aid station; my bottle had been bucked out of its cage on the descent. This caused the two of us to have to chase up to O’Donnell and Turner, the race leaders. After some amount of time, I rejoined Phil and we pursued the charging Thomas Turner, who I was told was dropping the hammer at a hopefully unsustainable rate. At the 30 mile checkpoint, we were told that we were about two minutes behind the leader.

It wasn’t until the vicious ascent of Bull Mountain that I regained sight of Thomas. This was undoubtedly the toughest section of the entire race: the combination of mangled roots and gradients consistently in the double digits had me (and I would assume Thomas as well) hugging my granny gear and wrenching my bike simply to stay upright. However, the descent almost compensated in enjoyment for the suffering we endured up the mountain; it took all I had to hang on to Thomas’ wheel as we screeched and skidded down the single track and dirt roads at speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour.

Following the descent, there was a stretch of road and a small amount of trail left before the 7 miles going up the backside of Nimblewill. At the base of the climb, I upped the tempo a bit in hopes of opening a small gap by the top of the climb, which lasted nearly 30 minutes but felt like an hour of switchbacks. Upon cresting the mountain, I realized I had to take all the risks on the final descent of Nimblewill to keep Thomas Turner at bay, as I had found he was significantly more competent at descending than I. Unfortunately, these risks earned me a cracked rear rim after the fact, but they also maintained my gap to the bottom of the downhill. From there, I knew it was a matter of elbows-on-the-bars time trialing against the headwind to the final stretch of gravel and grass.

The turn onto Big Bear Lane was a huge relief, although I did not realize we were to be routed down into the valley to be made to climb back out to the finish. As immensely painful as it was at the end of such a long race, hats off to the people who made this decision as anything less would have been unfitting to finish the brutal course (which was nothing short of epic) and it made you give everything you had left in the tank. All in all, I must say this was one of the best organized, most challenging races I’ve ever had the opportunity to compete in, and alongside multiple highly respected figures of the sport nonetheless.”

Just six minutes back, Thomas Turner took second at 4:24:40.

Fifteen seconds later and following two reported flat tires, Andrew Purcell, Wooster Bikewerks/Y-Not Cycling, in his fifth NUE Race of the season, took third with a finish time of 4:24:25.

In the NUE Race series overall for Marathon Men, Alex Pond earned his first NUE Marathon Race Series title. In point battle that was determined at Rincon in Costa Rica, Andrew Purcell placed second overall. David Pike, DNA-Movement p/b Penetron, took third overall in the point series.


Betz comes out strong in second NUE Race, wins first place!

After finishing in fourteenth place at Big Frog earlier in the season, Jason Betz, Raising Cane’s Racing, grabs the win with a time of 4:47:15, just seconds ahead of second place.

Fifteen seconds later, at 4:47:30, Bradly Cobb, Motor Mile Racing, took second in his first NUE Series Race, the closest finish in the Fool’s Gold 60.

Cobb’s teammate, Justin Mace, Motor Mile Racing, took third with a time of 4:52:24 in his second NUE Race of the season. He raced earlier in the year at season opener, True Grit, placing 37th.

Overall, James Litzinger, Napoleon Elite, become the first NUE Marathon Series Champion undefeated with a perfect score of 4. Litzinger’s teammate, Scott Williams, Napolean Elite, finished the season ranked second overall in the NUE Marathon Series.

Ernesto Marenchin, Pivot Cycles/Twin 6/Was Labs, ranked third overall just one point behind Williams earning early season wins at both True Grit Epic and the Bailey Hundito.


Masters 50+

Turner on top!

In his first NUE Marathon race of the season, Greg Turner, Cartecay Bikes, wins Master’s 50+ with a time of 4:51:57.

Nineteen minutes later, last year’s race winner, Jorge Cortez from team JOVACO, finished second with a time of 5:10:41.

One minute later, Matt Hammond, Team Engine, completed the podium, finishing third with a time of 5:11:56. Along with his fellow podium dwellers, this was Hammond’s first NUE race this season.

Overall in the NUE Marathon Standings, 52-year-old Anthony Hergert, Rescue Racing, became the first NUE Marathon Masters Champion. Herget placed fourth at Fool’s Gold 60 this year, nine minutes behind Hammond at 5:20:06.  In route to his first series victory, Hergert,  completed in five of the ten NUE series races this season, including a first place finish at Rincon Challenge in Costa Rica.

NUE Webmaster, 61-year-old Dan Mock, finished 16th on the day at Fool’s Gold, moving into second place overall in the NUE Marathon Master’s division. 51-year-old Jim Thacker, Queen City Wheels ranked third overall in the NUE Standings.


WHATS NEXT: Stay tuned for the 2017 NUE Marathon Race Series schedule to be announced in early November.

Fool’s Gold 100 – NUE Series Finale

KENDA NUE Series #14

Carla Williams and Dylan Johnson Wrap Up NUE Titles in Georgia

Dahlonega, Georgia

Ryan O’Dell

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, . 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.

Carla Williams descends on Jake Mountain. Photo by: Dashing Images LLC

Carla Williams descends on Jake Mountain. Photo by: Dashing Images LLC

Women’s Open

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 stands on top of the Fool's Gold podium. Photo by: Dashing Images LLC

Dylan Johnson stands on top of the Fool’s Gold podium. Photo by: Dashing Images LLC

Men’s Open

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.

John Haddock on his way to a win in the SS category. Photo by: Dashing Images LLC

John Haddock on his way to a win in the SS category. Photo by: Dashing Images LLC


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.

50-plus winner Jeff Clayton makes his way over Jake Mountain. Photo by: Dashing Images LLC

50-plus winner Jeff Clayton makes his way over Jake Mountain. Photo by: Dashing Images LLC

Masters 50+

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.

Click Here for Full Results From Fool’s Gold 100

2017 NUE Race Series Top Five

Women’s Open:

1st Place- Carla Williams

2nd Place- Christy Olson

3rd Place- Anne Pike

4th Place- Chase Edwards

5th Place- Simona Vincenciova


Men’s Open:

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


Singlespeed Open:

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!

KENDA NUE Finals – Georgia

Fool’s Gold 100

Carla Williams Repeats at Fool’s Gold and Keck Baker Locks Up NUE Title

Dahlonega, Georgia

Written by: Ryan O’Dell

The Fool’s Gold 100, the final stop of the Kenda National Ultra Endurance Series, became pivotal for many racers taking this final opportunity to improve their national ranking.

In addition to race day awards, the top five NUE Division winners, top 10 in the larger Men’s Open division, will receive a share of the $12,000 cash purse. Each of the four division winners will also be rewarded with complimentary entry into All NUE races in 2016, a custom made NUE Champions Jersey by Voler, along with an all-expense paid trip, including airfare, to Costa Rica to represent NUE at the La Ruta del los Conquistadores November 5-7, . La Ruta is a UCI sanctioned 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.

2015 was the first year that all divisions were decided before the championship race. Three of the four NUE Race Series Champions successfully defended their titles this year. For racer’s who had already completed three NUE races this season, needing just one more finish to become ranked and eligible for prizes, Fool’s Gold marked the final opportunity to meet the four race series minimum. All NUE Series finishers, who do not receive cash awards, receive prize packages from NUE Series sponsors.

Brenda Simril on her way to another NUE series title - photo by H&H Multimedia

Brenda Simril on her way to another NUE series title – photo by H&H Multimedia

Women’s Open

And the winner is, Carla Williams!

Carla Williams, Joe’s Bike Shop Racing Team, took top honors for a second straight year at the Fool’s Gold 100 finishing 8:55:55 moving her into second place overall in the NUE Series rankings, “I love the Fool’s Gold course. It was great to be back this year and the trails were even more fun and fast than I remembered. The course was a bit longer this year. We climbed Cooper’s Gap twice which was challenging but I like the ups and tried to set a strong pace from the start. I will definitely be back to do the NUE series next year. See you at Cohutta!”

Brenda Simril, Motor Mile Racing, finished second on the day at 9:20:45. Simril completed eight of nine races this season including first place finishes at the Bailey Hundo, Tatanka 100, and Big Bear Grizzly 100. Over many years now, Simril has completed more than 50 NUE Races and successfully defended her NUE Race Series title this year.

“This season started out very different for me due to illnesses and injuries but finally got kicked into full gear by Bailey. To repeat as the NUE Champion this year is a huge honor and something I’m extremely proud of. The women who competed in each race are super strong and competitive. It’s great to meet new folks as well as build on the friendships over the years.

Fool’s Gold is a great way to cap off the season and (race director) Lisa does a fantastic job pulling everything together. We had incredible weather and the trails were in great condition for a fast course. This year was fun because (husband) Lee is competing in the Master’s category so I had inspiration to ride hard with him even though the series overall was wrapped up for me.

Carla is incredibly strong so I knew it would take superhuman effort to beat her, which I obviously didn’t have :) Kudos to her and the great season she’s had as well.

As for La Ruta, Lee and I are absolutely thrilled to be going back. What a fantastic adventure it was last year! (race director) Roman and his staff put on an amazing event so I couldn’t be more excited to return. I can’t think of a better way to end the season.”

Fourteen minutes behind the defending champion, Liz Carrington, CRC Janitorial-Cannondale p/b Hassle Free Sports, took the third spot on the podium at 9:34:39.

Keck Baker took the open men's race and the series title in Georgia. Photo by H&H Multimedia

Keck Baker took the open men’s race and the series title in Georgia. Photo by H&H Multimedia


Men’s Open

Baker gets the win and the NUE Race Series title!

Keck Baker, Cannondale/ChampSys pb Harley Davidson, was the first to cross the line at Fool’s Gold in 7:32:41 earning a perfect score of four in the NUE Race Series that also included wins at the True Grit Epic, Wilderness 101, and the Hampshire 100. Baker earned his first ever NUE Race Series title and will travel to Costa Rica to join the three other NUE Champions who successfully defended their titles.

“I was excited to be able to toe up to the line this year healthy. With the beautiful weather, perfect trail conditions, and a stacked field there was no question that this would be a very fast and demanding race, and a perfect end to the NUE season. I showed up fully prepared to fight for a win so I could end the season proving to myself that I really deserved that NUE overall title of which I had already been crowned.

As usual, the race started when Bryan Lewis attacked at the start of the first big climb which was right after a neutral roll out. I decided to answer just for fun and, afterwards, was questioning why I did that. The field answered very quickly and the tone of the race had been set right from the start.
Up and over the top we had a modest group and then we screamed down the backside to arrive at some super-fast and, what I consider, extremely buff single track. I was able to gain the hole shot and just had a really good time carving through the forest. All day we pushed the single track about as fast as our tires would allow, especially when Bryan Lewis decided to get on the front and smash it for a good hour. We only let off the pace while out on the dirt roads that followed each section of single track.

At the start of the second lap our group was now down to just three riders, Dylan Johnson, Bryan Lewis, and me. Brian Schworm had suffered a flat into lap one dropping him and his teammate out of our group. Up the start of the big gravel road climb (second time up) we settled into a very welcoming casual pace where we were able to relax and take in some much needed calories preparing ourselves for the single track to follow. As we crested the top we were joined again by Gordon Wadsworth who was mashing a huge gear in single speed fashion.

We stopped at aid 5 to refill our bottles and I was hoping to be able to pull a few rocks out of my shoes when, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Brian Schworm flew by us going at least 25mph.  One of the best and most chilling memories of the whole ride was him looking over smiling and giving us a cheerful, “hey guys” as he blew past. I just turned to everyone and said, “I told you so”, finished my bottle fill, and then rocketed off after Bryan Lewis who was already in hot pursuit of Schworm.

Bryan and I were able to make contact with Schworm again shortly into the next single track section. Schworm was riding like a man on a mission and was hard on the throttle. The race was getting very interesting. Gordon and Dylan were not so quick through the feed zone and were never able to make contact again due to the pace setting by Schworm. I would say a little over midway through the second lap, Lewis suffered a flat at which point Schworm took the pace up one more click. He was a man determined to win and, at the least, get the second place finish he needed to move up in the NUE overall standings. He knew what he had to do and he was doing it. I was just along for the ride.

I pulled a little here and there but, deep down; I really wanted Lewis to make contact with us again for a few reasons. He is young and has the possibility for a profitable future in the sport so I would have been really happy to see him take the win. But, although he said he only messed with his flat for about a minute, the blistering pace that Schworm had decided to set was just a little too fast so I started focusing on how I might be able to best Schworm.

I had a plan in place and decided to stick with it until I sensed that Schworm needed to recover from the previous pace. I figured that my plan must change so, sensing the opportunity; I attacked on some double track rollers and was able to get clear.  It was earlier than I wanted to start an attempt at a solo march due to the nature of the course but I set off on a move that proved to be the right one.

I had a great day of racing.  I luckily suffered no flats thanks to the protection tires I was running and, while they are heavier than others, nothing can slow you down like a flat. Kudos to Conti for making a tire that is a great compromise in regards to performance and protection and another  big thanks to Cannondale for crafting the scalpel which slices through the trail with precision as its name suggests, and cliff nutrition for keeping the tank full. All of this put together by the Championsystem/Cannondale mtb team, my local shop Carytown Bicycle CO and one of my faithful sponsors of many years, Battley Harley Davidson. I am very aware that none of this might have been possible without having such great sponsors/products.

Now that I will be representing the NUE series at La Ruta, a new challenge awaits, one of adventure and suffering like I have never experienced. I had best stop typing as typing is not training and, from the looks of the event, I have no time to waste. Adventure awaits!”

Less than four minutes behind Baker, Brian Schworm, Think Green Pedal the Planet p/b Sword, finished second at 7:36:34. Schworm led the NUE Race Series through the first five races, winning both the Cohutta 100 and the Lumberjack 100 and, as a result, earning an all-expense paid trip to NUE’s newest race, The Rincon Challenge near Liberia, Costa Rica where he finished in the top fifteen.

“At the start of the race I knew I had to get second in order to secure second place in the NUE Series (Keck had a lock on first place in the overall standing) otherwise I would have been, at best, fourth place. The race started off well, we had a nice group of about seven or eight and we were going at a nice moderate pace.

Once we got to Bull Mountain I had a few issues. First, I noticed my front tire was a little low so I stopped to air it up. Complications with my CO2 inflator caused that to take longer than I expected. Secondly, on the decent I was trying to catch back on and was probably pushing it too hard because I hit a rock and completely flatted. My hopes for second were completely dashed but I wanted to continue on anyway.

After I got going, I was in tenth place and six minutes behind the leaders. I pressed on and caught two riders at the bottom of the descent and two more in the singletrack before starting lap two. Once I got to the big gravel climb, I caught Chris who was initially in the top five. That gave me a second wind because I thought the remaining four might not be too far ahead. I hammered that climb and actually caught them at the very top. From there Keck, Bryan (Lewis) and I were riding well until Bryan also flatted. I was trying to keep the pace high since it was now looking good for a second place finish in the NUE series.

Keck attacked up Bull Mountain and I was unable to respond. Fortunately, I was able to maintain a good pace to secure a second place finish in the race and second place overall in the NUE Series. I am very pleased with my second place finish in the NUE Series. I couldn’t have done it without a great team (especially my teammate Nate Cornelius), my amazing sponsors, and most importantly, my wife. I’m really looking forward to the 2016 NUE Series and giving it another go.” Four minutes behind Schworm, Bryan Lewis hung on to finish third at 7:40:42.

One of the youngest ever NUE contenders, Twenty-year-old Dylan Johnson, Scott Pro Mountain Bike Team, finished just four minutes later at 7:44:18 to place fourth. In doing so, Johnson improved his score in this “lowest point’s wins race series” to fourteen, moving his series standing up to fifth place overall in the NUE Race Series.

Ten minutes behind Johnson, defending NUE Race Series SS Champion, Gordon Wadsworth, Blue Ridge Cyclery Pivot Cycles/i9, having already successfully defended his NUE SS title, registered in the Open division riding his singlespeed Pivot, to place fifth in 7:55:43. With this finish, Wadsworth also completed four races in the Men’s Open, garnering eighth place overall in the Men’s Open Division. “


Moss First at FG100, second overall in the NUE Race Series!

Following big wins at the Mohican MTB100 and Wilderness 101 earlier this season, Bob Moss, Farnsworth Bikes/Crank Arm Brewery, put it down at the final race to finish in 8:07:53! With this victory, Moss finished the NUE Race Series second overall including second place finishes at both the Hampshire 100 and Shenandoah 100 in addition to his three wins.

Next was Peat Henry, Team Noah Foundation/Dogfish, placing second in 8:46:19. Henry’s finish moved him up to third overall in the NUE SS Series Standings following second place finishes at both the Mohican MTB100 and Tatanka 100.

Jonathan Hicks took the third spot on the podium finishing 10:10:53.


Masters 50+

Clayton puts an exclamation point on an amazing race season!

50-year-old Jeff Clayton, Super Sport Athletic Wear, smashed the competition by fifty minutes to finish in 8:03:21. Clayton, when adding this win to his wins at the Cohutta 100 and Shenandoah 100, plus his second place finish at the Mohican MTB100, moved up to second place overall in the NUE Race Series.

Although Clayton had twice gotten the best of the defending NUE Race Series Champion, Roger Masse, Rare Disease Cycling, Masse was able to successfully defend his title with a perfect score of four points that included early season wins at True Grit Epic, Mohican MTB100, Lumberjack 100, and Wilderness 101. As a result, Masse will once again represent the NUE Race Series at the LaRuta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica.

“While I was disappointed that Masters 50+ leader (winner) Roger Masse would miss the race, I was still very motivated.  I’d done the Fool’s Gold five or six times in years past, so I knew the course well. I raced well at the Shenandoah 100 and felt like I had a good idea of how to pace myself now and proper nutrition after having done a few hundies. I didn’t think I would stay with the lead group long at all up the initial long Coopers gap gravel climb but, since I wasn’t suffering too badly, I managed a good twenty minutes or so before easing up and watching the ten or so in the lead pack pull away.  From there it was a matter of coalescing with a few guys who also fell off the pace. Most of my first lap was spent back and forth with Bob Moss, he being quicker on the descents and me slightly faster on the steeper climbs.

After the first loop of the course I was feeling pretty good and led Bob and Nick Bragg up much of the second Coopers gap climb. They were busy chatting away so I guess I made a pretty nice pace for them!  We eventually caught up with Jesse Kelly and Nick decided it was time to fly and left us in his dust.  Jesse turned up the pace a little and Bob came off. We passed a couple of other “first group” guys and were making good time along the ridgeline road mostly thanks to Jesse. Jesse and I (both being older guys) descend at about the same level of sanity which helped keep us together.  I gapped him on most of the Bull mountain climb, but he fought back and caught me right at the top of the tricky Bare Hare portion.

After descending Bull Mountain together, we entered the flowy Jake mountain section and I mentioned that Bob Moss was just coming into the double aid station as we left…basically I was saying/thinking, “I don’t want that damn single speeder beating me!” so, summoning whatever I had left in my legs, I shifted up as high as I could to take on every climb and pulled away from Jesse. The last twelve miles or so were a solo ride though Jesse stayed strong and I only beat him by a couple of minutes, and held off Bob too.  I missed you Roger Masse!”

59-year-old Greg Turner, Cartecay Bikes, was next to cross the finish line at 8:53:36. “The course conditions were excellent.  The single track was fantastic.  I knew I could not ride with Jeff Clayton, so I just kept it steady. It was a long day.”

51-year-old Anthony Hergert, Rescue Racing, took third in 9:16:12. Hergert finished five out of seven NUE races this season, ending his season strong with his best finish of the year!

Four minutes later, Lee Simril, Motor Mile Racing, completed the course in 9:20:48 in fourth place. Simril had the best season of his ultra-racing career, completing eight of ten NUE races, the most of any Masters racer this season! Simril also posted his first every NUE win at the Tatanka 100 and finished in the top six at every race he completed. As a result, Simril ranks fourth overall in the NUE Series, just behind Greg Golet, Team Chico, who placed third overall.

Sixteen minutes behind Simril, David Jolin, Stark Velo, ended his season strong to finish fifth at 9:36:01 in a Masters field that has become increasingly talented and competitive since the NUE Series began in 2005. Overall, Jolin finished seven of the eight NUE Races he entered, dropping out of Hampshire only after missing a turn and getting off course. As a result, he finished the NUE Race Season in the top five overall. “Today was a perfect day for racing at Fools Gold. The course was in great shape and well-marked. I had a great start to the race with pretty much the majority of the master’s racers. Jeff Clayton, over the past few races, has been at a another level than the rest of the field (hats off). As for me, all was going well until about mile 65 when some digestive issues plagued my efforts costing me about three places and slipping to 5th place for the day.  Hat’s off to all that completed the two laps of the course. Right now, I just wanna sit back, de train and enjoy the fall season of riding at a recreation pace. The NUE series continues to be a great set of venues to go and ride mountain bikes with upwards of 600 friends. I have nothing but total respect for the winners of their respective divisions this year. Congratulations to all!”

Just one minute behind Jolin, sixth place went to 53-year-old Mark Drogalis, Toasted Head Racing, in 9:37:26, his best finish this season.

WHATS NEXT: For the last two 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 for the complete overall standings and follow the Kenda NUE Series Champions as they compete with racers from all over the world at the LaRuta this November!

Click Here for full results of the 2015 Fool’s Gold 100