Baker, Simril, Wadsworth, and Masse All Headed to La Ruta as NUE Champions
Fool’s Gold 100
Carla Williams Repeats at Fool’s Gold and Keck Baker Locks Up NUE Title
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, http://www.adventurerace.com/ . 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.
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.
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.
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! www.nuemtb.com
Keck Baker and Sonya Looney Dominate in the Desert
Great Day for the New-Look True Grit Epic
With a new start venue and key course redesigns the 2015 True Grit Epic provided a first-rate race experience to go along with the high-powered course appropriate for the 374 racers gathered to take the start.
The field included riders from all across the U.S. including many National Ultra Endurance regulars like Keck Baker (Cannondale/Carytown Bicycle), Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery), Josh Tostado (Swiftwick), Amanda Carey (Luca Sunscreen), and 2014 series champ Brenda Simril (Motor Mile).
Ultimately it was a rider from Virginia that made the biggest impact in the desert of St. George. Keck Baker showed amazing early-season fitness despite enduring a brutal winter on the east coast. Riding smart and clean throughout the race he managed his efforts in the most difficult technical sections and gave full gas on the climbs and open desert singletrack to cut down his rivals.
Baker had never ridden in southern Utah and due to shipping problems the Cannondale rider’s bike didn’t even arrive until Friday before the race. “My plan was to follow some of the local guys in the technical stuff the first lap” the eventual race winner said, “but I got stopped once on the Zen Trail and when I got back on the guys I was with were gone.”
Josh Tostado and Cary Smith (The Hub), both veterans of the True Grit Epic, had gotten out front in the slickrock gardens of Zen Trail and worked hard to keep their advantage but with just over half of the first lap gone by Baker had worked his way back to the front and took control of the race.
The second pass through the Zen Trail went much better for Baker sacrificing some time on the ledges and jarring downhills but not enough to let second placed rider Cary Smith make contact.
After Zen the remainder of the race went by in a flash as Baker took his first NUE win over 5 minutes up on Smith at the finish as Tostado finished in third.
Taylor Lideen (92Fifty) turned in a strong performance at his first True Grit experience taking fourth followed by North Carolina’s Barnabas Froystad.
The women’s race was a showdown between multi-time NUE series champion Amanda Carey, ultra-endurance superstar Sonya Looney, defending NUE champ Brenda Simril, and newcomer Marlee Dixon (Pivot/Epic Brewing).
Having just returned from the 6-stage Andalucia Bike Race, Sonya Looney wasn’t sure how her legs would respond. It didn’t take long for her to find out as she moved to the front in the opening miles and never looked back.
After a mechanical tanked her 2014 True Grit Epic Looney was determined to improve her 2015 result. Indeed it seemed her Andalucia effort only strengthened her fitness as she was simply unstoppable throughout the 90 miles of desert riding.
Amanda Carey settled happily into second place enjoying the warm weather and opportunity to put miles under her wheels both of which have been hard to come by in her home just outside Jackson, Wyoming.
Marlee Dixon followed Carey throughout the first 45-mile lap. Halfway through lap two the 80-degree heat started to catch up with the snowbound Breckenridge racer. After suffering through a second trip around Zen Trail with an uncooperative stomach Simril overtook the Pivot rider to move into third.
Riders stayed in this order until the finish.
Sonya Looney was elated with her win and enjoyed her time riding the challenging True Grit course.
At the finish riders were treated to live music and food as they cheered in the remaining riders on course.
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