Tatanka 50 Race Report

NUE Marathon Race Series #5

Sturgis, SD

Written by: Shana Biese, Ryan O’Dell

On July 8, The NUE Race Series headed to Sturgis, South Dakota, home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally, and now increasingly becoming known as a mountain bike destination.

Tatanka, the Lakota word for Buffalo, is the only point to point race in the NUE Series. At 6am, racers began gathering beneath the shadow of USA National Landmark Mount Rushmore.

Gabby the Goat keeps watch over the riders at Tatanka. Photo by: Jonathan Karol

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 Marathon racer’s rolled out at High Noon, down a short section of pavement connecting them to the Centennial Trail along an 50k course that includes gnarly single track and fast, smooth cruising trail winding all the way to Sturgis. The town of Sturgis is nestled at the base of the northern Black Hills in extreme western South Dakota.

For a second straight year, temperatures reached an unseasonable high of 97 degrees, tempered by low humidity and, at times and in places, cool breezes throughout the day. Tatanka also included an 85 mile race that is stop #5 in the NUE Epic Race Series and a fifteen mile Sprint distance for first timers that included many kids. Racers must complete at least four NUE races to qualify for series awards that includes cash, prizes and a mid-season travel award, complimentary entry into the Volcano 100 in Costa Rica on September 2.

Quarq offered race fans live online tracking again this year and Strider Bikes, located in nearby Rapid City, set up a skills park, offering kids as young as 2-3 years old an opportunity to test their bike skills. In addition to food and beverage stands, racers were treated to local craft brews courtesy of Crow Peak Brewing and The Knuckle Brewpub of Sturgis.

Photo by: Jonathan Karol

Women’s Open

Toops crushes it to earn her first NUE race win!

OMBC Ohio Race Series Champion, Jen Toops, Paradise Garage Racing, claimed her first NUE win at Tatanka with a time of 3:56:58. With this win, Toops now leads the NUE Marathon Race Series at the mid-way point of the season and may compete at the Volcano 100.

“Going into Tatanka I didn’t know what to expect. The terrain was new and it was hot, real hot. The marathon race didn’t start until noon in hottest part of the day, around mid 90’s. The pace finally picked up on the gravel road. I stayed on the tail end of the lead group. No other girls followed and I tried to create a gap early. Going into the singletrack I had a nice lead.

Then, I followed a guy on the wrong trail. We quickly realized our error and turned back but I didn’t know how many girls had passed me. I thought I saw two. I quickly caught one and slowly pulled away on the fire road climb. I kept asking guys around me if there were any other girls’ ahead and got mixed answers.

I kept pushing the pace but never saw another female. I ran out of water about three miles before the aid station, pushing heat exhaustion, when aid station# 5 came to the rescue. They iced you down and even put some down the jersey for the climb ahead. A guy at the station assured me I was in the lead so I felt a little better about my position. The next half of the race was full of tough loose punchy climbs followed by some amazing downhills. I went over the bars into a patch of poison ivy on one downhill but luckily my bike and I were not injured.

Towards the end of the race, I had to stop and tighten my cleat as it almost fell off. I was excited going under highway 90 tunnel because this was the section I had pre-road and knew what was ahead. I kept pushing and, when I hit the bike path, there was no one around as I rode to the finish. The heat mixed with the terrain made for one of the hardest 35 mile races I’ve had in a while.”

Thirty-four minutes later, Heidi Gurov, 9Seventy racing, came in second with a time of 4:30:35.

Photo by: Jonathan Karol

“I raced this event last year and it was a breakthrough race for me where I realized I could actually race over the course of four hours after coming from a traditional XCO and Cyclocross racing background. So I was excited to come back this year and push myself again and hopefully have it work out for a podium result!

Jen Toops and I went back and forth a bit in the first few miles as she had an error and went off course, but eventually she powered away from me. I knew I was coming in undertrained and couldn’t match her power and speed, so I focused on riding steady and smart to maintain my position, especially with the 90 degree temperatures which I’m not very accustomed to.

The course change that gave us a long, extended fire road climb after our first aid station let me settle in after the harder effort of the first five miles and find my legs. I wasn’t seeing any other women behind me, so I continued to just focus on the trail in front of me and keeping the rubber side down. Being familiar with the course helped, and the race really flew by to the last aid station, where volunteers were fast and efficient and I was back on my way.

I had a small mistake coming into the I-90 crossing where I turned off on a side trail because it was marked with tape, but quickly realized it wasn’t the correct way to pass under the interstate and turned around.  The last part of the course, which was different than last year’s course and continued on the Centennial Trail, really challenged me mentally, as I was not prepared for the climbing and powdery, sandy conditions all topped off with hot sun.

I rode the struggle bus to the bike path, where I perked up a lot and was so happy to cross in second place! It was my first “legit” marathon distance podium, and I am still so excited!  I love the course, and thankfully the heat did not affect me too much and my nutrition/hydration plan worked well. I even managed to beat my 2016 time on what I think is a harder course due to the addition of the Centennial Trail sections after the I-90 crossing. I look forward to possibly racing more NUE races in 2018, and of course returning to Tatanka for a third go.”

Fourteen minutes later, Amelia Meyer, took third with a time of 4:44:09.

“The race was literally off to a rocky start when I found myself pushing my bike over small boulders on the way to Dalton Lake and the first aid station of the Tatanka Marathon. The friendly conversation with Jani Schumm helped distract me from the senseless heat. After the aid station, the Centennial Trail reroute put us on a gravel road climb. Pedal. Pedal. Pedal.

I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the 50 teeth on my Eagle cassette as I steadily climbed into the trees and shade! I gasped for breath when a frigid wet bandana was placed on my neck at the aid station at Elk Creek. God bless the volunteers! As quickly as I stopped for water and a banana, I found myself climbing once more. Keeping up with water and food seemed to be key for me. Just when I thought it was all downhill, I discovered a new challenge, sand! I found myself literally laughing out-loud as I maneuvered through the parabolic sand. The race isn’t over until it’s over! This was my first NUE event. I can’t wait for more to come!”


Photo by: Jonathan Karol

Men’s Open

Two Wheeler Dealer, Stone takes the WIN!

Zach Stone, Two Wheeler Dealer, won Men’s Open with a time of 3:19:20. This was his first race for the 2017 season.

Thirteen minutes later, James Loverich, finished second place with a time of 3:32:03. “The race course was awesome as it always is. A few folks had bad luck with mechanicals so I magically ended up in second. Kudos to the organizers for all the hard work that went into this event.”

Eleven minutes later, Bryce Thorman, took third at 3:43:01.


Winters Brews up a WIN

Tim Winters, Southern Brewing Company, braved the course as the only single speeder in the race. He shredded in at 3:46:16.

“My trip to the Tatanka was intended to be a mini-vacation of sorts. I traveled up with seven other folks – most of who were also racing – and spent a couple of days taking in the scenery and adjusting to the surroundings.

The day turned out to be sunny and warm, but not extremely hot. Living in the “Deep South” means lots of hot days plus humidity as a bonus, so the weather never became much of a concern for me. I have to admit that starting a race at Noon felt downright weird, almost awkward, since I was ready to go and sat around anxiously watching the clock for several hours.

The Marathon started out on several miles of flat pavement and dirt roads and with my 34×22 gearing I knew I would never hold on – I watched the lead group and numerous others steadily pull away from me. I kept reminding myself that it wouldn’t be that way forever and that the trail started upward before long. As it narrowed down, I found myself back in a small group of racers and, somewhere below the Dalton aid station; I caught up to two of my Rescue Racing pals from home.

Being ‘amongst friends’ definitely encouraged me to stay on the gas and also served as a great distraction when things got uncomfortable throughout the day. I ended up trading places with both of them for the remainder of the race.  Riding an unfamiliar trail brings challenges sometimes as well, but the Centennial proved to be an extremely satisfying experience – technical in spots, but not so much that the riding was unpleasant so I really enjoyed myself on the course. I was a little concerned about staying hydrated, and did end up racing the last thirty minutes with nothing to drink, but I have to give a huge THANK YOU to the folks manning the Elk Creek aid station – they took great care of me as I came through and having ice cold water available was a nice surprise.

See you at the Volcano in Costa Rica this September!”


Masters 50+

Schoenberner for the win!

Todd Schoenberner, making his NUE Series debut, Snagged a narrow first place with a time of 3:54:35.

Six minutes later, Robert Hermann, Ridge Riders, rolled in second at 4:01:29. Twelve Minutes later, Timother Metz, Central Plains Cycling, was third with a time of 4:13:21.

WHATS NEXT: Two great races, two outstanding venues!  July 15

NUE Marathon Race Series: Carrabassett 100 at beautiful Sugar Loaf Ski Area located in northern Maine.

NUE Epic 100 Mile Race Series: Heads to Bend, Oregon, home of scenic Mount Bachelor and the High Cascades 100!

Click Here for Full Results

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. http://nuemtb.com/series/high-cascades-100-ultra-endurance-mountainbike-race

Click Here for full results from all categories