NUE Tatanka Epic

Written by: Jen Toops

Tatanka Epic stop #5 on the 2018 NUE Race Series

On July 7, 2018, NUE racers headed to Sturgis, SD for the NUE Epic and Marathon races.  Previously a point-to-point race, the new 2018 course consisted of a loop format that started and finished in downtown Sturgis.

The start, finish and neutral aid station.  Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

The new course was made up of loops A, B, and C. Epic riders started at 7AM and completed all three loops, 90 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing. Marathon racers completed B and C loops, 40 miles and around 5,000 ft of climbing. There was also a Sprint loop that only completed the C loop.  The neutral aid station on Main Street also served as the start and finish for all races.  The volunteers helped make sure racers were safe and directed traffic at all intersections.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Sturgis is located in western South Dakota and is home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally.  This area is also quickly becoming popular with mountain bikers. Racers rode on parts of the Centennial trail, which is located in the Black Hills mountain range.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Trails winded through both prairies, cow pastures, and rocky forest single-track. Race day  conditions had temperatures pushing 100 degrees, exposed sunny climbs, fast flowing downhills, sand pits, steep switchbacks, and stunning mountainous views. Racers were also challenged with dodging the occasional fresh cow patty. There was a 50% DNF rate in the Epic race.

Men’s Open

David Krimstock WINS Epic men’s open

Men’s open podium: 1st David Krimstock, 2nd Josh Tostado, 3rd Dylan Johnson

After a long scorching hot day, David Krimstock takes the win in the men’s epic open with a time of 7:19:16.

“I was anxious and excited to race against Dylan and Josh at Tatanka. The two things on my mind going into the race were the high temps forecast and the foreign terrain. I usually get a solid preview of the course, but this time only managed to ride the final loop. I had confidence that my nutrition, namely First Endurance EFS Pro and my Pivot 429 SL would be advantages for me during the race.

Settling in as a group of two with Mark Kransz behind Dylan and Josh, we kept them in sight until we decided to work together to bring them back. Once we caught them, we rode as a group of 4 until Dylan and Josh missed a sharp left turn onto the Centennial trail. I yelled down to them, and when I saw Dylan register this, we waited for him to climb back up the road. He was unable to get Josh’s attention, so we decided to carry on.

On the single track, I felt really good following Dylan on the trail that he had ridden in the past versions of the race. After about 20 minutes, I decided I felt good enough to pick up the pace and took over the lead. Creating a gap, I felt good about my legs on the day, and my reading of the trail. As the day went on, the heat became overbearing and I was taking a refill of my 1.5 liter Camelbak vest and concentrated bottle of EFS pro, along with drinking a bottle or two of water at each aid. Climbing the pavement road at the start of lap 2, it must have been over 100 degrees. I started to unravel a bit, but carried on to the aid station at the top of a long descent. Refueling there, I started to feel the light at the end of the tunnel and the relief that always gives me in an NUE race. I focused on riding smooth, but as fast as possible- thinking mostly about the cold, air conditioned hotel room that awaited me after finishing. The final loop was an out of body experience of sorts- taking 20 minutes less than my pre ride the day before, but with the climbs seemingly dragging on forever. Crossing the finish line in first was a great feeling, but I still had a lot of concern for all the folks grinding out in the heat. It was certainly an epic day out there!

Josh Tostado. Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

Even after a wrong turn, Josh Tostado comes in second in the men’s epic open with a time of 7:41:56. After almost taking a DNF due to heat exhaustion, 2017 NUE epic champion, Dylan Johnson takes the third position with a time of 7:50:17.

Dylan Johnson. Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

Women’s Open

Conners takes second NUE win

Women’s Open podium: 1st Larissa Conners, 2nd Carey Lowery, 3rd Sonia Pond

Coming off a win at the Firecracker 50 just a couple days prior, Larissa Connors gets her second NUE win of the season coming in at 8:50:30. With this win it puts her in the lead for the series.

“That was one of the hardest days I’ve ever faced on the bike, just finishing felt like a huge victory. My body was still wrecked from racing the Firecracker 50 in Breck 2 days earlier, and the heat/humidity was a nice curve ball I did not expect even a little bit.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

For the first time in my ultra endurance career I let the men ride away right from the start and focused all my energy on pacing myself. Despite my best efforts to ride conservative, drink an absurd amount of GQ6 and water, and slam Clif gels every half hour I fell apart before the first lap was over and had serious doubts that I would even finish right around that strange and beautiful ravine filled with cows making birthing sounds.

On the B loop, after that damned road climb brought me to my knees, literally in that spring on the side of the road, there was a point where, convinced I had missed a turn, I stopped to play a solo game of Marco-Polo in hopes that someone would hear me and help me find the correct route. But like most of the race, my solitude rang loud and lonely in the black hills, forcing me to dig out my phone and pull up the map. Yep, all that lost elevation was correct, and just as I dreaded, I would have to climb out of this hole. Fortunately the descents on the second half of each lap were rippin’ fun, and the volunteers at the aid station on Veteran’s hill with the ice towels were like angels on both laps, taking care of my nutrition needs and helping me get my core temp back down to normal-ish.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

A front flat on the final descent of the B loop had me secretly stoked that I would get to drop out (from lack of carrying a tube, like an idiot), but with a shot of C02 the Orange Seal had me rolling again and I had no excuses to NOT start the C loop. It took literally every ounce of brainpower to get me through that last 13 miles, and I stopped more than once just to stand there in the shade of a glorious fir tree contemplating the meaning of life, if I was actually still living, and how I was going to get to the end of the race. Days later I’m still shocked I finished that race at all, but also kinda proud that despite the insane amount of pain in every corner of my body, the Felt Doctrine and I somehow stuck it out and made it to the finish, in first place of all things!”

With a time of 10:12:56, Carey Lowery rides away with second place in women’s epic.

“When I lined up at the start and the temperature was already 82 degrees, I knew I was going to be in for a beat down on the bike. After the neutral roll out, I let many a racer by on the first big climb of the day. “Slow is fast” is my mantra. Over the next 5 hours, I worked my way around the A loop. The Centennial Trail had just enough tech to keep me happy and with the beautiful vistas, I had a permagrin. After fishing out a rock that had wedged itself between my frame and chainring, I began the long arduous climb up to the BullDog aid station. At this point, I was holding second place and not knowing where third was, I did not stop to picnic. With a quick refill of my CamelBak, I was off for the blistering descent back into town. As I dropped in elevation, I felt the temperature rise; by the time I hit the hotter than Hades Gasline Trail climb, it was a real scorcher. I loved the rewarding descents of Peacekeeper and Main back into town. I stopped at my little mini oasis to wrap an ice filled pantyhose around my neck and down my jersey. I had sucked my CamelBak dry once again.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

The second lap, albeit shorter, was brutal. The exposed climb up Volnacker Canyon had me seeing stars. Had it not been for the melting ice in my pantyhose, I may have blown a gasket. Then onto more heinous climbing up Unnamed #1 and Unnamed #2 trails, which I quickly named Little Focker and Mother Focker. The Horse Trail was fresh 1/2 track and had it not been for the previous 60 miles, might have been a hoot to ride. Today was more like a death march: tight, off-camber, rocky, and pitchy, It took every ounce of my being to keep pushing forward. The climb up to BullDog the second time had me crying for my Mommy. I made it though, and repeated the process when I came through 3 1/2 hours ago. Heading down the steep rocky descent, I flatted. For once, I had a NASCAR-like fix and was back on the bike in 2 minutes. I went into autopilot for the remainder of this lap.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Repeating my mini oasis stop, I was hoping that the race would be called after the second loop and I would not have to go out for the third loop. That was not the case. Having been in these low moments before, I knew it would soon pass. As I headed out for my final loop, I knew that I could not chase down Larissa; she is a beast! Not knowing where third was kept me pushing the pedals as hard as I could. As I was climbing up the Centennial Trail to the ridge, my driveside pedal was all wonky. Upon closer inspection, the aluminum insert into the carbon crankarm had come loose. Worried that I might completely lose the pedal, I babied it for the remainder of the 13 mile loop. Fortunately it held up under the stress and I was able to finish on the bike as opposed to running it in or go 1-legged.

With no expectations to finish on the podium, I was stoked with second! That was brutally fun!  Sponsors: Rescue Racing, Scott’s Bike Shop, Chamois Butt’r, Christopher Bean Coffee, Industry 9.

After winning the Tatanka Epic in 2017,  Sonia Pond comes in third place with a time of 11:12:27.

“This was my 3rd Tatanka Epic, though with the course change and heat I knew 2018 would be about finishing, ranking as my longest bike race of any discipline in addition to the massive course elevation.  The heat was already starting to build as I rolled up to the start.  The first climbs I forced myself to take it easy, allowing much of the field to pass and drop me, including many women.  I was thrilled when Chris and I settled into a rhythm together, making a few new friends during the gravel sections.  The temps were already sweltering and my mind was already wandering towards “will I be able to ride in this for 90 miles?”  A good moment to practice positive self-talk as I continued on.
Chris and I eventually parted ways around mile 35.  I saw a few MN friends again as I reached the Bulldog aide station!  The volunteers gave us encouraging words, cool drinks, and a chilled cloth for my neck.  I had been looking forward to ripping down Bulldog, and set off in pretty good spirits.  The next few hours were pretty uneventful, as I just kept moving, eating, and drinking.

Coming into town after the A-loop, I had a really hard time emotionally.  I was hot and my body was already hurting.  Perry Jewett and other friends gave me encouraging words as I cooled off, and I knew I had more in me despite wanting to stop.  Christina Spencer (a friend from MN who absolutely crushes all things bike, including a SS on this course!!) was setting off for the B-loop at the same time, so we were able to roll together.  I had no idea what was ahead.  As a part-time roadie in the summer, I thought “road section, oh yea, I can do that.”  The climb started just out of town, and did not let up for several miles.  My garmin blinked 107 degrees.  I tried to keep my heart rate in zone 3 as Christina moved ahead.  Several other cyclists had turned back and were flying back towards town, and I so wanted to join them.  My body and head felt like it had a fireball attached to it.  We finally made it to singletrack, but the sun, heat, and climbing continued.  Still no cramping so I just focused on breathing and positive self-talk.  If I could just make it to the Bulldog aide station…and I did!  The volunteers here were so, so uplifting (again!). I took the time to sit down and cool off in the shade.  This was the point when I knew I could finish.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

I set off for Bulldog #2, and clouds moved over to block the sun.  I leap-frogged with a few other racers once we crossed the highway.  A few cool raindrops fell and improved my spirits.  Rolling into town, all the volunteers clapped and smiled, and a huge party cheered as I came in!  They checked over my bike, filled up my water and food.  13 miles…I could do this.  I was set off with more cheers and an update that I had somehow moved up to 3rd place. I had serious doubts this was fact, but figured I better get moving just in case.  I saw a few more racers in here as the miles ticked by.  I resorted to pushing my bike up several climbs, but then the final 5 miles were surprisingly enjoyable.  My mind and body felt good, and I so looked forward to sharing a beer with Chris and friends!  Rolling across the finish was a thrill, perhaps my greatest cycling achievement yet.  All in all this event was top-notch.  The volunteers make Tatanka what it is, and even after all the suffering and tears, we will probably be back for more.  Next year looking forward to putting Lumberjack and Mohican on the calendar.”


Shaklee repeats at Tatanka

Men’s Singlespeed: 1st Ben Shaklee, 2nd Trevor Rockwell, 3rd Kip Biese

Ben Shaklee wins the Tatanka single-speed epic for the second year in a row, coming in at 8:08:54.

“I lined up with only 2 other Single-Speeders in the Epic race; Kip Biese and Trevor Rockwell. I recognized Kip’s name from many past NUE top results, and knew this was Trevor’s home turf with a win in 2016. With the limited SS field I was also looking for good placement in the overall. Trevor and I were each on 34×20 gearing, while Kip was running 34×19.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

After the neutral roll out I settled into 5th place through the doubletrack climbing and was later passed by 2 geared riders on the flat & downhill gravel roads. At Aid 1 I was in 8th, with a quick stop to fill bottles. I blew the L hand turn into the singletrack, adding a couple minutes off course, at which point Trevor and a few other riders jumped ahead. I passed them back in the singletrack and creek crossings before making the climb to Aid 2. I passed a number of riders in the climb to Aid 2, but they were mostly Marathon racers. Trevor caught me at Aid 2 and we left together, but I dropped him in the long singletrack descent and never saw him (or Kip) again. I rode very conservatively the rest of the race to avoid overheating, not getting passed, and not really knowing who was ahead of me. I finished in just under 8:09, good for 1st SS and 5th O/A.

Next NUE race for me is High Cascades 100. Sponsors: Jack’s Bicycle (Bellingham, WA) p/b Pivot Cycles & Stan’s NoTubes.”

With a Tatanka singlespeed win in 2016, Trevor Rockwell takes second place, coming in at 8:51:53.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

“Overall the race was a scorcher. Temps hovered around 103.  First 20 Miles felt great climbing out of Sturgis on open roads with a breeze to keep you cool. Dropping into the Centennial Trail the heat really picked up and so did the climbing.  The first aid station saw about 10 of us trying to cool down in anyway possible. After the aid at the top of Veteren’s Peak it was a blast rocking the down the Three Sisters and Bulldog descents. The open section on the BLM land was very fast but also one of the hottest spots on course as we were exposed to the sun the entire day. I was able to ride with Ben Shaklee the eventual winner of the single speed class for most of the first lap. He open some space coming into town and I never saw him again.

Photo Credit: Randy Ericksen

I suffered up the road climb with the eventual Women’s Champion, weaving all over the roadway from shoulder to shoulder just trying to get up and out of the heat!!  At this point in the race, I wrestled with the same demons that pretty much all of us did in trying to figure out weather to pull the plug of keep going. going through was seemed like the longest 13 or so miles I have ever ridden, I was able to fill my jersey with ice, bottles to and head back into town. By the time I hit town the second time, my legs had returned and off on lap 3 I went.  I was hoping to just finish at this point but coming up to the last climb, I saw Kip B. who had passed me earlier during the long Aid stop in the middle of lap 2.  I thought I might have a chance to catch him for 2nd so I rode as hard as I could up the last climb and once we hit the pavement I could see that Kip was right there. Immediately when I put a push to catch up he stood up and a boom cramps hit and it was game over for him less than a mile away from the finish. I was lucky enough to walk away with 2nd SS and 11th Overall. This course is never easy and always something to make it one of the hardest races on the NUE circuit.  Running the 34×20 gear ration was exactly right and only wished to have a little harder gear on the open fire road and gravel road sections.  Will always be back to the Black Hills for the awesome races put on out there, no matter what the forecast is, even the heat that is far to common.”

Kip Biese, gets the third podium position, missing second place by less than a minute, 8:52:48.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell


Smith dominates the Master’s class

Master’s podium: 1st Carey Smith, 2nd Russell Spaulding, 3rd Tom Stritzinger

Cary Smith dominates the master’s class, winning with a time of 7:57:32, and taking the fourth overall position.

About an hour and a half back, Russell Spaulding takes second place, with a time of 9:27:12.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Rounding out the master’s podium, Tom Stritzinger, came in third with a time of 9:58:54.

Photo Credit: Ryan O’dell

Final results click here

What’s next on the NUE series? Click here to register for the Epic series High Cascades 100 in Bend, OR.

NUE Tatanka Marathon

Written by: Jen Toops

Tatanka Marathon stop #5 on the 2018 NUE Race Series

On July 7, 2018, NUE racers headed to Sturgis, SD for the NUE Epic and Marathon races.  Previously a point-to-point race, the new 2018 course consisted of a loop format that started and finished in downtown Sturgis.

The start, finish and neutral aid station.  Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

The new course was made up of loops A, B, and C. Epic riders started at 7AM and completed all three loops, 90 miles and 12,000 feet of climbing. Marathon racers completed B and C loops, 40 miles and around 5,000 ft of climbing. There was also a Sprint loop that only completed the C loop.  The neutral aid station on Main Street also served as the start and finish for all races.  The volunteers helped make sure racers were safe and directed traffic at all intersections.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Sturgis is located in western South Dakota and is home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally.  This area is also quickly becoming popular with mountain bikers. Racers rode on parts of the Centennial trail, which is located in the Black Hills mountain range.

Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Trails winded through both prairies, cow pastures, and rocky forest single-track. Race day  conditions had temperatures pushing 100 degrees, exposed sunny climbs, fast flowy downhills, sand pits, steep switchbacks, and stunning mountainous views. Racers were also challenged with dodging the occasional fresh cow patty. There was a 50% DNF rate in the Epic race.

Men’s Open

Easton win’s men’s open

Men’s open podium: 1st Ian Easton, 2nd Ryan Aakre, 3rd Jasper Klein

Winning by only a couple minutes, Ian Easton takes the men’s open win in 3:45:34.

The crew in Sturgis really knows what they are doing. They pretty much have everything dialed from the new course to the volunteers. Who spent all day in the scorching heat stopping traffic at every intersection and getting riders whatever they needed.  Thanks to everyone who had a hand in putting on this killer event.

Sponsors: Burleigh County Bicycle Cult, Dakota Cyclery and Larsons Cyclery”

Ian Easton. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

In a close race, Ryan Aakre, hung on for second place with a time of 3:47:22. Another four minutes back, Jasper Klein came in third coming in at 3:51:22.

Jasper Klein. photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Women’s Open

Walter’s takes her first NUE win

Women’s open podium: 1st Erin Walter,  2nd Jen Toops, 3rd Michelle Stampe

Local rider, Erin Walter, won the women’s open race coming in at 4:04:14.

“First, I want to thank Cranky’s Bike Shop, located in downtown Rapid City. They always hook me up and make sure my bike is dialed and ready to go, even when I procrastinate and bring it in a half hour before they close the night before a race!

I love riding and racing in the Black Hills. We have a fun and supportive bike community, which was much needed this last weekend during the Tatanka race. With temperatures nearly 100 degrees, the conditions were brutal, but I fed off the energy of all our volunteers at aid stations and spectators along the course. THANK YOU, volunteers and race directors for the high-fives, cheering, and buckets of ice to keep us going!

Erin Walter. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

The first loop of the Marathon (loop B) follows some of my favorite sections of the Centennial Trail. I was smiling from ear to ear flying down Bulldog! Thanks to the Wednesday Night Series in Sturgis, put on by Xtreme Dakota Bicycles, I didn’t have any surprises for trail conditions or steep climbs on our second lap (Loop C). This lap was straight survival-mode for me, my goal was to keep my heart rate down and just keep pedaling! After finishing the last climb, I was just so stoked to stay on my bike and to finish the race!

Great job Epic riders! You’re all animals! Maybe I’ll join you someday…”

The 2017 NUE marathon champion, Jen Toops, came in just four minutes back at 4:08:06.

“This is my second year racing Tatanka but the race course was completely new this year. The temps were scorching again and I knew it was going to be a hot day. The marathon race started at 8 and it was already hot! A motorcycle escort took us out of town and then we were let loose on the canyon climb.
Erin and I stayed together for most of the 17 min climb out of town. Having pre-rode a bit, I knew there was more single-track climbing ahead and I slowed the pace so I didn’t burn all my matches on the first climb. On the first downhill the trail was extremely dry and loose. Before I knew it, my front end washed out on a downhill switchback and I lost sight of Erin.
Relieved when I came up on the first aid station, I filled some water and got some ice around my neck. I knew I shouldn’t be stopping at all but I needed to get my temp down. It was scorching and I didn’t dare run out of water here.

Jen Toops. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

I spent the next few hours trying to ride smooth on my Pivot Les and make up some time. Around 2.5 hrs in I started feeling great, hot, but my legs felt good. At the end of B loop I grabbed my pack from the cooler filled with ice cold CarboRocket and a few Honey Stinger gels and set out for C loop.
The beginning of C loop was exposed prairie. I focused on reeling in the next rider I could see across the prairie grass in hopes of catching the Erin. I pushed the pace on the climbs and had fun dodging cow patties and trying to stay upright in the sand mines.  The last climb was unexpectedly steep. The finish line finally came and was rewarded with a ice cold misting machine to cool down.

Thanks to my sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Pivot cycles, Rotor, Xpedo, Ergon, Stans, Continental, Honey Stinger, Carborocket, Kasks helmets.”

About forty minutes back, Michelle Stampe, finished third in 4:48:59.

“Sponsors: Two Wheeler Dealer Cycle and Fitness in Spearfish, SD, and am a Black Hills Ridge Rider.

It was my first time riding the Centennial trail and it was ripping good fun! It’s one of the most sustained downhills in the area, and it doesn’t disappoint. I’m pretty sure race director Kevin Forrester designed and built most of the trail we rode on Saturday, and he seriously knows how to build flow trail. The Centennial takes riders up high for some amazing views and gravel/sand/dirt riding, and then descents through classic Black Hills pine forests with fast turns and well designed water bars to give riders a little lift;). Loop C took us through the prairie, and boasted an incredible view of Bear Butte. The riding on this loop was a little more technical, but the entire course was 100% ridable, which makes for an outstanding 40 miler course. I was really impressed by the riding in Sturgis.
The aid stations were staffed with amazing volunteers–everyone was quick to offer up some ice and fill up bottles. Their was even a mister at the aid station in downtown Sturgis, which was ohhhhhhsogooood. I will absolutely be back to ride the Tatanka next year, despite the weather.”

Michelle Stampe. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen


Toops makes it two in a row

Singlespeed podium: 1st Anthony Toops, 2nd Josh Kunz, 3rd Bob Callaway

Coming off a win at the NUE Iron Mountain, Anthony Toops takes another NUE win with a time of 3:54:43. With this win, Toops and Kunz are tied for the NUE overall singlespeed division.

“Tatanka has proven to be one of the toughest races on the calendar for me and this year wasn’t any different!  The extreme temperatures made for a tough day.

Again it was an Ohio single speed showdown! On the initial road climb Josh took the front and set a tough to follow pace. I decided to go at my own pace and was about 30sec or so back going into the first single track.  Josh and I came back together on the climb up before the first major downhill and we ended up riding together into the B loop aid.  On the downhill out of the aid station I got a rear flat and had to pull over to do some repairs. Josh kept going and was out of sight. I managed to pump a little air into the tire and get back on the trail (Initially I thought the tire burped but after the race I found a cut in the tread)

Anthony Toops. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

At this point I was worried I’d never see his wheel again but I decided to squash the negative talk and push on as hard as I could. On the downhill to I90 I made contact with him again which was a huge relief.  We rode together again until the climbing started at the FT Meade trails.  Josh stopped for some water just before the climb but I didn’t need to so I went on. This was where the race started to break up a little although I never let my guard down.

Across the finish line of loop B I grabbed two bottles and asked about a pump. My tire was really low (13psi confirmed post race) and I was worried it would de-bead in some of the fast corners.  No pump was convenient so I made the call to risk it and ride on. I knew Josh wasn’t too far behind because I saw him on my way out as he was coming in to the aid station.  At this point it was all or nothing; ride fast and don’t blow that tire!  Luck was on my side and I was able to cross the line first!
Sponsors: Paradise Garage in Columbus, Ohio

Josh Kunz. Photo credit: Randy Ericksen

Finishing about ten minutes back, Josh Kunz took second in 4:05:38. Bob Callaway took the third step in 4:28:25.


Llinares takes the top step

Master’s Podium: 1st Mark Llinares, 2nd Mike Young, 3rd Eddy Reimer

In a close race in the master’s division, Mark Llinares beats Mike Young by about three minutes, coming in at 3:50:05. Mike Young took second at 3:53:16.

“I am from Denmark, and we were visiting our family in Denver, Colorado. I wanted to do the Tatanka race, as it looked like a challenge and fitted our plans for the holiday.
From Denmark, I am used to doing mountain bike races in forests. But we have no mountains, and no rocky descents, so I was a bit apprehensive. We also never have it as hot as over here!
So the strategy was: Take it easy, drink a lot and survive! As it happens I found a good group at the front on the first climb, and managed the first descent pretty well. But towards the end of the first loop I was really feeling the heat and started losing time, especially on the descents. The second loop I went into survival mode. And what’s this with the last climb? I didn’t expect that, and I had to ride in my ‘granny’ gear.
Mentally I had this mantra going in my head on the last scorcher of a climb: “Stay on the bike, and don’t even think about walking”.
Brilliant race! I am heading back to Denmark now, where my focus is the local Hot Cup mountain bike series near Copenhagen, Denmark. Thanks to the organizers, and all you good people here in the US for this race experience!
Sponsors: Holte Mountainbike Klub, Denmark”

Eddy Reimer, rounded out the podium and took third with a time of 4:14:10.

Final results click here

What’s next on the NUE Marathon series? click here to register for the Wilderness 101k in Coburn, PA

Tatanka 100 – NUE #6

Jamie Lamb and Brenda Simril Take the Open Titles in South Dakota

By Ryan O’Dell

On Saturday, July 11, The Kenda NUE Series headed to Sturgis, South Dakota, home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally. This year, Tatanka also became the first point to point race in the NUE Series with the start line located within the shadow of USA National Landmark Mount Rushmore.

Beneath the magnificence of mammoth rock sculptures representing four of our nation’s greatest presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, NUE racer’s made their way down the Centennial Trail along a mix of gnarly single track and fast, smooth cruising trail all the way to Sturgis, nestled at the base of the northern Black Hills in extreme western South Dakota. Due to the added difficulty of this year’s race course, Race Director Kevin Forrester opted to shorten the race distance from 100 miles to 80 miles.

Due to an unusual amount of rainfall leading up to race day, some small portions of the trail were rerouted. Temperatures this year reached an unseasonable high of 93 degrees but were tempered by low humidity and strong breezes throughout the day.

Riders line up for the start with open men's winner Jamie Bush (#73) on the front - photo by John Bush

Riders line up for the start with open men’s winner Jamie Bush (#73) on the front – photo by John Bush

Women’s Open

Simril makes it two straight at Tatanka, and leads the NUE Series!

Following her most recent win at the Bailey Hundo in Colorado, defending NUE Race Series Champion, Brenda Simril, Motor Mile Racing, notched her second straight win at Tatanka by a large margin to finish 8:53:19. Simril now leads the NUE Series this year with back to back wins plus a second place finish at the Mohican 100 in Ohio and a third place finish at True Grit Epic in Utah.

Following her third place finish at the Lumberjack 100 in Michigan, Jill Martindale, Grand Rapids Bicycle Co., finished second at Tatanka in 10:47:36. Martindale has also moved into second place overall in the NUE Race Series. “I knew going into the race that the course was going to be hilly, a lot rockier than I had ever experienced, and really hot. Since there were a lot of unknowns during this race, my top priority was to just finish!

I knew if I crashed in the beginning it would hurt me for the long haul, so I rode within my limits and safely through the rocks at the start of the race. I entered the single track a decent ways back from Brenda and didn’t actually think I’d see her again, knowing she was used to the heat and the terrain. Before the first aid station, on a rocky downhill, I was passed by Beverly from Hammer Nutrition. It looked like the rocks were giving her as hard of a time as they were giving me, and I tried to stick close behind her, but also paid attention to my body and let back on the gas when I felt like the heat was getting too intense. The last thing I wanted was to overheat and to burn all my matches!

Once I hit the midpoint of the race, I knew I had a decent amount of energy left and was able to pass some racers who had burned out at the beginning of the race. When I passed a friend who had gone out too hard at the start of the race, he tried to shout that I was in second place, but I didn’t hear him. So I actually kept chasing Beverly, hoping to catch her! It probably lucked out in my favor, having a rabbit to chase, because it kept me focused. Beverly had taken a wrong turn and wound up coming through the finish a little while after me. The heat didn’t get to me as bad as some other racers I passed. I made sure to stay extra hydrated and drank a lot. If I started feeling exhausted, I just took it back a notch until I felt better. I paced myself really well for this race.

The highlights of the race for me were the shuttled start to Mount Rushmore, the free-roaming cattle (riding over the cattle guards was so much fun!), and all of the incredible views! The course was absolutely beautiful and the downhills made the climbing entirely worth it. I’m pretty sure every race should have river crossings. On the second crossing I dunked my entire head, helmet and all, into the river. IT WAS AWESOME! I had a really great attitude the entire race, thoroughly enjoyed every part of it, and will definitely be back!

I saw a lot of people out there with flats and was so happy to be riding with my Velocity Blunt SS wheels and tires with a durable sidewall.”

Beverly Enslow, Team Hammer Nutrition, took the third spot on the podium at 11:48:30. Former NUE Race Series Champion, Amanda Carey, Luna Sunscreen, was registered to race but an unresolved bike issue reportedly prevented her from being ready for Tatanka. Carey, who won the Cohutta 100 and placed second at True Grit Epic earlier this season, is expected to defend last years win at the High Cascades 100 in Bend, OR next weekend.

Riders stop to take in a truly unique experience at the base of Mount Rushmore - Photo by John Bush

Riders stop to take in a truly unique experience at the base of Mount Rushmore – Photo by John Bush


Men’s Open

Lamb gets his first NUE win at Tatanka!

Jamie Lamb, Bicisport Calgary, started strong and finished strong gaining his first win in the NUE Series at 7:11:13. Early in the race, Lamb stuck to the wheel of Kelly Magelky, Honey Stinger, breaking away from the pack to build a significant lead. Late in the race, the heat would take its toll on Magelky who dropped out at Aid four.

Jesse Kelly, Toasted Head Racing, moved up to place second at 7:51:53. Six minutes later, Nathan Collier, Pedal Pushers Racing, worked hard to take the three spot in 7:57:56.

The next several racers jockeyed for position throughout the race but in the end it was Rob Batey, Feedback Sports, claiming fourth at 8:22:55. Just five seconds separated fifth and sixth place with Kevin Campbell, Spokes-n-Skis, arriving at 8:26:20 and Tim Lutz, 92Fifty Cyclery, finishing sixth at 8:26:25. Two minutes later, Brian Roggeveen, Momentum Racing, took the seventh and final spot in 8:28:51.

Two-time Tatanka winner and local favorite, James Meyer, Quark/SRAM, from nearby Spearfish, SD placed thirteenth at 9:02:21. Two-time US Olympian and Hall of Fame racer Tinker Juarez, who placed second overall in the NUE Series last year, was on the start list but sidelined following a bad crash at a recent race in Mexico suffering a cracked pelvis. Juarez is improving now but expected to be out for at least five weeks. He was scheduled to compete at the upcoming High Cascades 100 and Big Bear Grizzly 100.



Trent earns his first NUE win at Tatanka!

Richie Trent took a decisive victory in the SS, finishing in 8:01:45, placing fourth overall! “After leaving Mt. Rushmore, the short “climb” that was more of a false flat, that led into the first section of trail almost immediately, did little to spread the field out. Almost immediately there would be deep mud pits which had most riders getting off of their bikes. This would be the theme of the day, an adventure mountain bike race at its best. No watered down flow trail here.

I worked my way up in the first 5-10 miles to try and get some clear air. The first hour was mostly heinous, rocky, hike-a-bikes. On and off the bike constantly, I rode into aid one with Jesse Kelly. We had no idea what position we were in. After aid one I was caught by a few others on the flats that had the benefit of gears! Once the climbing started back up, I was quickly back and onto Jesse Kelly’s wheel again. We rode together for some number of miles, at one point blowing past a turn in the trail, which led us into a meadow and up a big hike-a-bike. At the top the trail fizzled out and we saw no course markings, so were forced to double back, losing around ten minutes.

Once we were back on the trail, I passed Kelly and spent the next hour regaining a few lost positions. At aid two, I was told the next guy was only a minute or so ahead. It was Nathan Collier, and I would find and pass him within a few miles. Reaching aid three I was really beginning to feel the heat. Water was a hot commodity at this point, and I was depleting my reserves much quicker than usual. I was told Magelky was only a few minutes ahead, which really surprised me.

Collier caught me at aid three and took off before me, but I was back on his wheel and passed within a mile or so. I could tell that he was focused and intent on making this a race. The middle 30-40 miles of the course involved a lot of fast double track and mud! With so many mud-pits and water, I was really enjoying the adventure aspect of this race. Unfortunately, at around hour five (mile 55), I began to really feel the heat and was out of water for a solid hour. Coming into aid four there were at least four knee-deep stream crossings. Completely out of gas and overheated, I was loving walking through the cool water.  At the last stream crossing, Jesse Kelly caught me and said Collier was close behind. We reached aid four together and were told we were in 2nd and 3rd.  I had no idea we were that far up.

Jesse took off and had way more steam than me. From this point the trail mostly pointed down. Miles and miles of super fun, sometimes flowy, sometimes steep and rocky and fairly technical singletrack, the entire way back to Sturgis. I had been running on fumes and dealing with massive leg and body cramps for hours at this point, and with about three miles to the finish, Collier caught me to take back third place. After not having raced in a year, I was super excited to take 1st SS and fourth overall. The Tatanka course was one-of-a-kind and a phenomenal experience.”

Thirty-six minutes later, Pete Henry, Team Noah Foundation, claimed second place dedicating his finish to two-time Tatanka winner and NUE Race Series contender, A.J. Linnell, Fitzgerald’s Bicycles/Pivot Cycles, of Victor, ID who died tragically earlier this year in a plane crash. Henry finished the race in 8:37:25, moving into first place in the NUE Race Series point standings.

Thirteen minutes behind Henry, Tyler Huber, BCBC/Larson’s Cyclery, took third in 8:50:09. Thirty minutes later, Ernesto Marenchin, Pivot Cycles, Twin 6, WAS Labs, took fourth at 9:20:21 moving up to fourth place overall in the NUE Race Series point standings.

“Last year’s race course was nothing but spikes in elevation with very little flat spots. This year’s course had approximately 10,000 feet of vertical according to my profile. After a short transport from Sturgis, we arrived at Rushmore. It was awesome having the entire Mount Rushmore monument open just for our start as it was not open for visitors at the early time of day. There were a few rollers on the road before we hit the single track and the first and highest climb of the day was roughly around 5800 feet.

I ended up running a 35×20 based off of last year’s profile and was soon debating if I had picked the right gear. It had some hike and bike on the first climbs but the temps were cool and it was early, so I hoped the steepness would back off a little and it did. I started to pick off a few riders here and there and soon I was riding alone starting around mile 25 or so. I would ride with riders not for very long as either the descent was too fast for me to keep their pace or the steepness was too great and I had to keep the pace rolling.

The views on course were awesome and coming from the Ohio area and not getting to see these areas often, I have to admit I slowed my pace to take in the view on more than one occasion. Soon, the heat started bumping up and I slowed my pace a bit to avoid getting overheated as it rose to just over 90 degrees. Four deep and cool water crossings had me feeling awesome again coming into aid station three sitting in third place. I ended up taking a wrong turn, but got back on track right about the time the heat hit me pretty hard. I would end up fourth on the day, a tough and epic day!”

Singlespeed finisher Jason Zoll may have missed the podium by a few spots on Saturday but was fortunate to be chosen as the winner of a new Lauf Fork. Lauf is offering a fork to one lucky singlespeed winner at each NUE race this season. Weighing in at just 4.3lbs, Lauf Forks have been ridden to victory by five-time NUE SS Champion Gerry Pflug and NUE Series contender A.J. Linnell.


Lee Simril reaches into his back pocket in the shadows of Mount Rushmore - Photo by Jennifer Bush

Lee Simril reaches into his back pocket in the shadows of Mount Rushmore – Photo by Jennifer Bush

Master’s 50+

Simril gets his first NUE Race win!

50 year old Lee Simril, Motor Mile Racing, husband and coach of defending Women’s Champion Brenda Simril, took his turn in the spotlight by earning his first ever win in the NUE Race Series at Tatanka at 8:53:23. With his win at Tatanka, Simril has moved into third place overall in the NUE Race Series point standings.

“If you like mountain biking on rugged single track this race is for you. I have come to somewhat loath the term “flowing singletrack”. Do not concern yourself that you will OD on flowy singletrack on this course, you will not. On the other hand if you like physical, rocky, technical trails, this course is for you. The course requires you to concentrate the whole race. You will have little to no time to sit up, stretch your back and eat. Brenda and I are lucky that this is the type of riding that we love, because we accidentally “trained” for this course by going out and having fun on the weekends.

This would be our third Tatanka 100. From the comfort of my couch this year’s revised course looked amazing. The new course would have basically no pavement or gravel! Before the race I wondered about time cutoffs and whether or not it was even possible to ride 100 miles of singletrack before the sun sets. I did learn that the course would be more like 85 miles, which seemed reasonable because of the amount of singletrack.

The idea still sounded great, but I knew it would be hard. I also knew it would be hard to eat and drink. Brenda and I tend to eat “normal” food during races. Stuff like PBJs, crackers, etc. This type of food makes my stomach and brain happy, but it was a real challenge to eat on this all singletrack course.

The race start was typical; it always seems so damn fast. We all fight for seconds during the first hour but give up minutes like they are meaningless in the last hours. Before the race I knew the last few hours of the new race course could make or break your day. It is one thing to lock into survival mode on a rail / trail but it is another thing to just ride along in survival mode on singletrack. I knew that if we could charge during the last few hours of the race we would have a good day.

Brenda and I have each been participating in endurance sports for the last 30 years and the NUE series for the last 7 years. If we have not learned a thing or two we would not be very smart. We now have a pretty good idea of what we need to do during the fall, winter, and then spring to be best prepared for an NUE season. That said this season has been different. I will not bore you with the details because we all have issues of one type or another. I will just say this year has been one of starts and stops.

Before the 2015 Tatanka I felt like we were pretty well good to go. We had strung together a few good weeks of riding and combined that with a couple of hard races. This combination of riding and racing is what we feel like is the best prep for a race like Tatanka. All of this said I still honestly am scared of NUE racing and always just hope to survive the day. The races are so damn hard I never feel capable of racing the course. Maybe it is just my way of dealing with what I know will be a hard day.

As Brenda manages to get faster through the year it pushes me to get fitter. We could just strike a deal and agree to ride an hour or two slower, but she does not seem interested in such a deal. This is my first year in the 50 plus category. The new category does bring a fun element to the year, but my biggest goal is still to hang on to Brenda for the whole race. I do not yet know all of the guys in my new category, so this year has been fun meeting and trying to ride with them. The 50 plus category is fast. I still do not know what Roger Masse looks like in his race kit, he is always showered and in his loafers by the time I finish.”

Former NUE Masters Champion, 54 year old Doug “The Hulk” Andrews, Rock N’ Road Cyclery, had a commanding lead early and throughout much of the race before making a wrong turn between aid 3 and 4 that cost him precious time. Andrews, nicknamed the Hulk for repeatedly crushing the masters field at many NUE races by as much as two hours, dropped back into the three spot. It wasn’t until sometime after aid four that Andrews made a late pass on John George to move up to second place at 9:21:21. Andrews plans to compete at the upcoming Big Bear Grizzly 100 July 25.

Just two minutes behind Andrews, 60 year old John George, Mountain Wave, hung on for third place at 9:23:44. 23 minutes later, 50 year old Alan Minor, Banks Bikes-Outdoor Gear Canada, took fourth in 9:56:01 and now sits in fourth place overall in the NUE Point standings behind Simril.

NEXT: The KENDA NUE Race Series heads due west for The High Cascades 100 near Bend, Oregon on Saturday, July 18. Like most of the NUE Races this season, The HC100 is sold out but racers can get on a waiting list to enter.

Click Here for full results from all categories