Big Frog 65 Race Report
The inaugural Kenda NUE Marathon Race Series was added in 2016 to include 50 mile and 100k race distances held alongside existing NUE 100 mile races. This year, Cohutta Big Frog 65 is race #2 in this best four of ten race series. Marathon Race Series Winners will receive a share of a $5000 cash purse plus comped series entry for 2017, Custom Voler Champion Jerseys, along with possible travel awards, TBA.
Women’s Open Big Frog 65
Blandford gets the W
Jenna Blandford, Women´s Project Pedal p/b VO2, from Louisville, KY took the top spot by just three minutes at 5:14:32. “My teammate, Mary, actually won this race last year (came in second this year) and gave me a lot of advice on how to pace.
I made it a point to get into the single track as close to the front as possible and go hard as I could through that section. Then I dialed it down a bit for the fire roads and just kept it steady. I’m usually a strong climber and that seemed to be where I made the most ground. When I hit the last section of single track, I basically rode like my head was on fire because I really didn’t know how much of a lead I had. This was really my first “A race” of the year.”
Three minutes later, last year’s race winner, Mary Penta, Women´s Project Pedal p/b VO2, placed second at 5:17:26.
Seven minutes later, Lisa Randall, SuperSport Athletic Wear, captured third place. Randall is also the race director for the NUE Series Championship at the Fool’s Gold 100 in September.
“It was a pretty straightforward race – the girls that were 1-2 were able to get away with the lead men up the initial climb, never to be seen again. My teammate Carey Lowery and I were both on the slow and steady approach but unfortunately for me, but it wasn’t enough to catch the leaders. I sat in third for much of the race until my teammate Carey Lowery and I ended up coming back together on the Thunder Rock descent so we rode in together for 3-4.”
Tiffany Ballew, Peachtree Bikes, from Atlanta finished 5:43:52 to round out the top five.
Men’s Open Big Frog 65
Collegiate National Champion Dillman wins!
Andrew Dillman, Think Green, took top honors with eight minutes to spare to finish 4:16:35. Dillman is the current Cyclocross Collegiate National Champion and raced on the collegiate US world team.
Michael Danish, NOXcomposites, rolled in at 4:22:45 placing second on the day. Dillman’s teammate, Ben Richardson, Think Green Toyota-V02 Multisport p/b SW, arrived nine minutes later taking third place at 4:31:15.
Singlespeed Big Frog 65
Litzinger wins with a comfortable margin of victory
James Litzinger, Napleton Elite Cycling pwrd by Dirty Harry’s, from Beaver Falls, PA took top honors in the SS by nearly twenty minutes finishing 4:32:16.
“Seven of us came down from Pittsburgh for the Cohutta or Big Frog race. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be ready to race after an off season knee surgery. I ended up on the naughty list because of my last minute decision to go down to the race. I’m sure glad I did. With the flowing fast single track, great climbs, amazing views, and fast descents, it was nothing short of amazing! It was super exciting to see a coyote cross the road in front of me. Everyone around the podium looked at me like I told them I saw a Sasquatch! It was really entertaining.
The race started pretty mild up the first climb, picking up intensity the closer it got to the top. I was able to jump on the rear wheel of the last geared rider to head into the fast, flowing, and fun single track in the lead group. The geared guys were flying through the single track so I decided to let a few ambitious riders past me, in hopes of catching up to them later in the race. Before the end of the single track I was able to catch three of the geared guys on the climb before the first aid station.
I had to stop at the first aid station for some air in my back tire. I had a few rim strikes in the earlier rock gardens. It was like a NASCAR stop, “25 in the back please!” The young man at the aid station was on it! All of the aid stations were fast and organized!
Once on the road, I was back and forth with the three geared guys after catching back up from my air fill up. Eventually, I worked my way past them. I wasn’t sure that was a good move at the time. They can be a great asset on the roads and it’s nice to have some company.
I loved the gravel! The fast grinding climbs with the white knuckle descents made the fun race fly- by so fast! I managed to ride briefly with some geared guys on my way to the last aid station. Once I hit the last aid station, I knew that I was in a good position to rail some single track back to the finish! The trail was wide open and just as fast and fun going back to the finish! I was smiling the entire race. I’m very thankful for my family and teams support getting me ready for the race. The guys on my team and shop, Napleton Elite Cycling team powered by Dirty Harry’s know how to get you prepared for your best! I will be at Mohican! I would also like to try Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah. We are also looking into the Hampshire race.”
Peyton Randolph, Trek Store Columbus, took second at 4:51:59. “The first twenty miles of single track was dusty and loose. With the train of riders, we were eating dust for a while. I rode almost the whole day with Brad Rodgers. We had fun swapping positions. The single track was really fast and punchy with very little climbing. When we exited the single track and rode by the first aid station, I was amazed my Garmin read over 20 miles already.
The gravel roads to follow had perfect rollers especially for the single speed. The down hills were screaming fast and the climbs were long and tough. I was so glad to finally hit the last nine miles of single track full of fast flowy down hills and a few short climbs. Overall, the single track was great and the weather could not have been more perfect. I am looking forward to (OMBC) Ohio Series race at Great Seal State Park and the Mohican MTB100!”
Four minutes later, Aaron Shelmire, from Pittsburg, PA claimed third place finishing 4:55:10. Six minutes behind Shelmire, Scott Williams, Napleton Elite Cycling Team p/b Dirty Harry’s, took fourth with NUE SS contender, Ernesto Marenchin, Pivot Cycles, Twin 6, WAS Labs, from Stow, Ohio taking the five spot three minutes later at 5:04:26. Marenchin finished ninth overall in the NUE 100 mile SS Division in 2015.
Masters 50+ Big Frog 65
Railey rails it for the W
55 year old James Railey from Oakland, MD was first in the masters completing the course in just 5:11:13.
Thirteen minutes later, 56 year old, Jimmy Karp, from Palm Bay, FL rolled in to capture the two spot in 5:24:04. Seven minutes later, Chris Ready, VeloSports Racing Team, of Arden, NC took third finishing in 5:31:40.
50 year old Matt Rouse, from Fishers, IN took fourth at 5:40:11 with Lou Cataland, Pave Cycling, from Atlanta getting fifth in 5:43:26. Just eleven seconds back, 59 year old Brian Davis, Compass Cycling Racing Team, from Orlando, FL got the sixth spot in 5:43:37.
NEXT UP: The KENDA NUE Race Series heads deep into the backcountry of the Mohican State Forest in Ohio for the 14th Annual Mohican Mountain Bike 100k, a single loop 100k race spanning the four counties that collectively make up what has become known as Mohican Country. For more information or to register, visit www.mohican.net