Transylvania Mountain Bike Epic 2016

Ever since the Transylvania Mountain Bike Epic, also known as Singletrack Summer Camp came into existence about seven years ago, I have had the itch to race this beast. Every June, I would tune into social media and track who was in the lead for each stage and follow along with videos and photos posted. This just seemed so out of reach for me, but it would happen, eventually.

TSElogo
Transylvania Epic Logo

Fast forward to this past November and I reminded my husband, Jack, about how badly I wanted to race the #TSEpic (it’s almost second nature to hashtag it now). Jack was supportive about it and decided to help make this happen. The entry fee is sort of a hefty one, but through the support of some family, friends and Jack, as a surprise Christmas present, I was able to register for TSE.

A little information about TSE; it is a five day mountain bike stage race that is similar to what the Tour de France is, but with mountain bikes and way cooler. Mike Kuhn is the brainchild behind this amazing event and other events as well. www.outdoorexperience.org       In each stage, there are also endure segments that are timed and racers can get enduro points and possibly podium for this separate classification.

Training began early January with Coach Jonny Gabor and I knew immediately, this would be tough work, but it would pay off. Months passed and after many hours on the trainer, road, mountain bikes and time in the gym, it was MAY!!! TSE was merely a week away and we packed and prepped and the nerves settled in.

My family and friends were so kind to say that I would win it or be in the top three. Granted, I have been on the podium many times in the past, but I knew this would be a different scenario. I was going to be racing against pro women and women who have done stage races before. The goal for myself was at least top ten or better and to complete all five days successfully.

Last Saturday, we hit the road with our borrowed pop up camper and we were packed to the brim. We arrive, unpack, set up, get our bearings and the “tent city”, see Mike Kuhn, who was setting up course marking for Monday. Mike seemed to be in good spirits and was ready to get things started. My nerves were getting the best of me, but I prepped for Monday and thankfully, had Sunday to spin my legs and relax.

STAGE 1: COBURN 36.9 miles 4,015’ climbing

All smiles before the week begins!
All smiles before the week begins!

Today’s choice was my Cannondale Fsi, as there were a lot of dirt roads in the first stage. Sporting my Rare Disease Cycling kit on the line, checking my Garmin, realizing I forgot my sunscreen, I was ready to roll and get things started. Neutral roll out from camp and then instantly shot into windy singletrack around the camp and back onto dirt. I remember thinking how great my bike choice was once on the dirt roads. I felt okay throughout most of the stage, but started experiencing bad leg cramps around mile 27. I was hydrating, getting nutrition, but they still appeared. I had to hop off the bike once to stretch them out and let out a little yell because of the pain. This allowed for two girls to scoot past me, but it’s the first day, don’t panic.

I managed to get out of the singletrack and finish up for the day in 12th place. I was not very satisfied with this finish, but again, it’s the first day and I needed to stretch and focus on the upcoming days.

STAGE 2: TUSSEY RIDGE 36.9 miles 3,921’ climbing

Tussey Ridge has to be, by far, some riders favorite stage. The ride/race up to Tussey is not an easy one, but it is well worth it. I decided to switch over to the Cannondale Scalpel as today would be more singletrack and technical.  I felt pretty good, cramps were lingering, but nothing to stop me. I downed a water with a ton of sodium in it at the aid station, which helped. I felt great in the singletrack and was right behind some girls who finished up in the top ten the day before. Not sure what my deal was on the dirt roads, but either my legs or mind was not pushing. I never stopped on the climbs, but my speed was not there.

After accomplishing a successful ride across the ridge (my best ever time on Tussey), it was a long fun, enduro segment that was flowly, filled with berms that just naturally took you around and shot you to the next turn. I could have ridden that all day. Onto some more roads, knowing I was maybe close to top ten, I pushed on and finished up feeling happy and satisfied with my day. I ended up in 11th place, still not happy, but inching closer to top ten.

STAGE 3: GALBRAITH ENDURO DAY!! 29.5 miles 4,377’ climbing (5 timed downhill segments)

Enduro day! The buzz for today was how “relaxed” the day is compared to the others. With five timed downhill segments that are used for the day’s results, I was confident that I could possibly do a little better than the previous days. I was again on my Cannondale Scalpel to best tackle the downhills. I saw everyone else on their big travel bikes with dropper posts, knee pads and baggy shorts and there I was in my lycra, no knee pads, but just as ready to get the day going.

The rollout was from State College and it was a long ride, hike and wait at the top of the first segment. The first three segments seemed pretty tame and I thought my times were decent. The climbs in between were long, but it was a day to spin up them and keep the heart rate lower. The vibe of the day was definitely different, as racers would gather at the bottom of segments to compare their runs and strategies. I moved along without too much stopping because I was afraid that if I stopped much, those silly leg cramps would come back.

Segment four was lined up and I was being warned by the guys in front of me how rocky and steep it gets. They were not trying to scare me, but reassuring me that if I just “let it roll” I would be fine. I made it down that famed “Wildcat” trail and survived, as I just “let it roll”. I did take a moment to just let my arms hang by my side, once at the bottom. I got my arms alive again and completed segment five.

Photo credit: N. Thomas "Letting it roll" at the bottom of Wildcat.
Photo credit: N. Thomas
“Letting it roll” at the bottom of Wildcat.

Results were posted that night and finally I was in 10th place. I was kind of satisfied with this, but wondering what I could have done differently, but there were two more days to go.

STAGE 4: R.B. Winter 35.2 miles 4,515’ climbing

This stage was also said to be pretty technical with a lot of climbing on dirt roads as well as singletrack climbing. I was nervous, knowing I only had this day and the last day to put up better results. Off we go!! Straight up a massive hill and I was slowly losing sight of the women in front of me. They were all climbing so great all week and for some reason, I could not find my normally strong climbing legs. I kept on rolling and made it into the singletrack, where It started to drizzle, then rain heavier, then it turned into the heaviest downpour. My glasses were completely fogged, so I took those off and chanced my contacts falling out, just to be able to see the trail.

I had a “dark” moment at one point early in the race when I almost wanted to cry. I felt like I have never raced before and feared not catching anyone ahead of me. This tough moment passed pretty fast as I was not going to feel sorry for myself mid race. I kept rolling and it was absolutely pouring. Some people were walking their bikes up the greasy singletrack trail, but I was able to keep pedaling as my tire choice was perfect for these conditions (Ignitor on the rear and Rampage in the front).

The aid station was approaching and I saw some girls standing there in the rain. I was not sure who they were or what class, but I knew if I wanted to make any time up, I had to just roll through and keep moving. I did just that, but pretty soon, Karen did catch me. I was able to hang with her on the singletrack, but once we hit that dirt road climb, she rode away from me and I had trouble making up that difference.

I was not sure what place I was in, but thought maybe I had managed to pass a few more at the rest stop. The rain continued to come down until a few miles from the finish. Covered in mud, soaking wet and a little chilly, I crossed the line and went right to the bike wash to get the mud off of the Scalpel.

Today’s results, 10th place. Again, happy to scratch the top ten, but slightly disappointed that I did not end up better than this. I would have ended up in either 11th or 12th place if I did not stop at the rest stop, so I was happy I made that decision.

STAGE 5: COOPER’S GAP 34.5 miles 5,466’ climbing

The rain rolling in.
The rain rolling in.

Last day and I reminded myself to make the most of the day. We started at a remote location, but finished up at base camp. This day was again a mix of long dirt road climbs, singletrack climbs and fun technical singletrack sections. We knew there was a chance of showers, well, it showered for sure. It poured again for a few hours of the race and at one point, the aid station was just about under water. Drop bags were sitting in a “river” and volunteers were covered with umbrellas still making sure racers got what they needed as they rolled through.

There were times that the rocks on the singletrack were under water and finding the right “line” was tricky, but I was able to manage good riding in the rain. I was back and forth most of the day with singlespeeder, Karen Brooks. I am not sure how people can do this on a singlespeed and I praised every one of them that I saw.

The rain stopped in time for the final climbs of the day and became muggy and humid too. The final climb came with a warning from a fellow racer. He said, “This climb sucks. I’m not trying to scare you, but just being honest.”

It didn’t scare me, but I knew I had to ride up it the whole way as I was sure I had at least another 10th place position. The climb was quite awful as it did not seem to end, ever. I get to the top and there was a guy there and he says, “all downhill from here.”

I knew this couldn’t be true, as there was still some more elevation to gain. After some more climbing on doubletrack and then a little greasy singletrack, camp was finally in sight. I could hear people and I shot out below our “tent city” and around to where the big, Stans NoTubes finish line was. Dave Pryor was there to give finishers a hug and high five and Jack was also there, taking photos and cheering me on. I was covered in dried mud, I was tired and a little in disbelief that after so many months of planning and training, TSE was over, just like that. 175 miles and 21,000 feet of climbing later and it was all finished.

DONE!!
DONE!!

My results for the final day, 9th place! I was satisfied with this finish and secured 10th overall in the solo women general classification.

We spent that evening, as we did previous evenings, recapping the day by watching Firespire Photography’s photos and Thom Parson’s video of the day. It was amazing to have completed five days of racing in such a fantastic area. Mike Kuhn and Dave Pryor kindly recognized all 150 racers as they gave finisher awards, jerseys and called the raffle numbers. It was a fun way to end such a fun week. Everyone was tired, but in good spirits. Jack had a great week too, helping out at aid stations and lending any helping hand he could when Mike or Dave needed him.

I will be racing this again next year and of course, will be hoping for continued improvement with my results. I am happy though. I successfully raced all five days, I rode hard, I pushed myself and made top ten. I learned a lot about myself as a rider and a racer. It’s not always about the podium, although it’s pretty nice to be up there sometimes. Every race, every ride is a learning experience. Learning from what we do helps us grow and hopefully, teach others in the future. The support I received from friends and family were amazing and greatly appreciated before, during and after the race. I truly could not have done this without my husband, Jack, who supported me every second of the way.

This write up might have been long, but it is merely a glimpse into what the week really was about. I was proud to represent Rare Disease Cycling/Keswick Cycle and will continue to do my best throughout this season.

2016 Cohutta 100 and Old Copper 20

This past weekend Renee and I decided to take a little road trip from Philadelphia down to Ducktown, TN for the second stop in the National Ultra Endurance Series, The Cohutta 100.Cuddy_Cohutta1_med

Renee, having no interest in spending the better part of a day on a bike decided to race the Old Copper 20. This was the first year the promotor, Trail Head Outdoors, added the 20 miler on top of the tried and true 100 and 65 miles distances.

Not holding anything back, Renee hammered the competition. She had a great day handily taking the win. The trails were flowy and the gravel climbs suited her strengths. Afterwards she took to relaxing and lounging about the Ocoee White Water center while I sold my soul in the Cohutta 100.

I managed 10th overall, surprising myself a little on such a climbing intensive course. It was a 100 mile race and we raced every bit of that 100, it was no joke! It was really exciting to be a part of.

I didn’t catch the break with the front group into the single track at the start. I didn’t think it was too big of a deal at the time but looking back now, it was. Around mile 20 the single track ended and the gravel forest roads started. It was endless climbing and white knuckle descents on very loose, dry gravel through fast sweeping turns.

As I started up the gravel, I bumped into local Pennsylvanian, Stewart Gross. We teamed up and quickly got to work trying to catch the front group and amassed a decent sized following of other riders. I stopped at an aid station around mile 27 to grab a bottle and was informed that the lead group was only a few minutes ahead. I caught back up to the chase group and stiffened the pace for the next 10 miles. It took some time but the work paid off, I could see the lead group up through the trees! I was excited but a little concerned that I may have burned a few too many matches pulling the chase group to the front of the race.

Towing up my new found friends made the lead group about 30-35 racers deep. We were rolling in a really solid peloton through the forest, 37 miles into an NUE race. There would be a good amount of drama involved in pairing this group down before the end of the day.

Cuddy_Cohutta2_medAround mile 46 we came to an aid station, a total gaggle with so many guys. A few racers bypassed it and attacked the climb coming out of the aid station. This shattered the group. I managed to grab two bottles and get to work chasing. It was vicious but I managed to get back on after a few minutes of hard work. At this point, 8 to 10 racers didn’t make it back, the group was now a little smaller.

This was the start of a 32 mile loop (roughly mile 46 to 78) which entailed a lot of punchy climbs. As the miles wore on, the group got smaller and smaller. Every climb there was a push and another rider would pop off, usually never seen again.

As we finished that loop we came back into an aid station around mile 78. I refilled my bottles and found myself the last rider out. Luckily we went into a descent and I caught back up. The group was down to around 10 riders at this point.

Around mile 80, we took a left hand turn onto a steep climb. Dylan Johnson attacked and the group shattered. I was in no condition to match the pace at that point. I found myself in no mans land pretty quick but didn’t worry much. I was still climbing well and stayed focused. The next 10 miles were some of the biggest climbs of the day. I passed droves of Big Frog 65 racers throughout the next hour. Those were some hard miles and they let me know.

The single track started around mile 90. I spent a few minutes getting into the flow of things but couldn’t hide from my legs as they started tightening up and cramping. I ate a snack, drank some water and took it easy for a few minutes. I got myself back together but not before I was passed by another racer named Anthony. I didn’t let it get to me, I have been a racer for years and thought to myself, “It’s not over until it’s over!”

As I came out of the mountains and dropped onto the highway heading towards the finish, I could see Anthony a few hundred yards ahead. I buried myself, full on time trial trying to reel him in. Unfortunately he looked back and saw me coming. He was frantically pedaling trying to hold me off. The yards were closing fast but I ran out of time and we finished only a few lengths apart with a time of 6 hours and 55 minutes.

It was an aggressive weekend but also a great adventure. Tennessee was beautiful, my Cannondale FSi worked flawlessly, the racing was epic and I am really glad that we all get to enjoy racing and riding our bikes for fun. Life is good!

That’s a wrap – Shenandoah Mountain 100

Second place finisher Christian Tanguy congratulates 2015 SM100 winner Jeremiah Bishop just after the winner's course record setting performance
Second place finisher Christian Tanguy congratulates 2015 SM100 winner Jeremiah Bishop just after the winner’s course record setting performance

The trails at Shenandoah 100 suit me pretty well, so it is actually the race where my results have been the most consistent. However, with Keck Baker, Brian Schworm and Jeremiah Bishop in attendance (just to name a few), a podium finish felt a little further away from my reach than usual.

The dry conditions and the mild temperatures in the morning made for a fast start. This year again, few handlebars came into contact in the short downhill leaving the campground but we kept it under control and made it safely to the paved road. The pace was pretty high but the group stayed together such that when the course brought us to the forest access roads. It was a little sketchy between racers that try to stay near the front and those who would like to be there.

My legs felt good, so a quarter of the way up Narrowback Mountain; I took the lead and rode my own tempo with an open jeep road in front of me. It was probably the best move I made all day. When we turned into the single track trail climb, I really started to enjoy myself. Riding single track up or down is the reason why I love mountain bike so much. Except for a few tricky spots, the climb has no difficulties and before I knew it, it was downhill time. My lead must have extended during the climb as I could not hear the noise of a close by bike in addition to my own.

I am not much of a jumper over bumps but I could not help it to go over a few of the doubles even if I kept the wheels firmly on the ground if I deemed the jump would have sent me too high in the air. Only on the dirt road at the bottom of the valley, I peeked behind me. Jeremiah was 30 yards behind closely followed by a group of ten or so.

During the transition from the first downhill to the next climb, the group doubled in size but I managed just fine to position myself behind Keck in first place and Jeremiah in second place up the tight and steep single track climb. To be honest, I wished Keck would have ridden a little faster just because I wanted to have a higher cadence but could not shift down since I was already using my smallest gear (32 in the front, 42 in the back).

Nonetheless, at the top I was really feeling the effort and indeed just the three of us were still together. Jeremiah took the lead, then Keck and I followed. Thanks to few areas where the trails goes up and thanks to the trail not being ridiculously steep or rough, I managed to stay close to Keck the entire length of the downhill. It was all good fun and once again on the transition roads at the bottom of the valley, we had a little pace line going.

This is where I noticed how incredibly great shape were both Keck and Jeremiah. I could not believe the speeds on my computer. Over 30 mph each time the road was pointing down even if so slightly. Of course, nobody bridged back and the three of us started the climb up the third mountain of the day. Keck and I shared the lead until the intersection with the trail leading to the start/finish line. Jeremiah would lead us to the very top of the mountain at the same climbing tempo.

Jeremiah had some special plans for us. Having better handling skills than Keck and myself he opened gaps even on the shortest downhill section. Then Jeremiah pushed hard on the next uphill portion to make any racers wanting to stay within reach to make an extremely violent effort. I have experienced this technique first hand on many occasions. Should I have been alone with Jeremiah, I would have let him go away right there but I thought that if I could keep up with Keck, I would have a very strong partner on the transition roads at the bottom of the valley. Meanwhile Keck was certainly thinking that if he could stay with Jeremiah and drop me before the bottom of the valley; the chance of me bridging back were lower.

The only winner in that situation was Jeremiah. Keck and I were completely out of breath and the long downhill had not even started yet. Jeremiah was almost already out of sight and Keck was a good 20 yards in front of me when we hit the steeper part with some large steps/drops. I can ride this trail fine but I cannot ride it nearly as fast as Jeremiah or Keck. I just burned a big match for a failed attempt to keep up with Keck…

Later on, when the trail is far less steep, I noticed Keck on the side of the trail working on his bike. Shortly after, I was at aid #3, in no man land transitioning between mountain #3 and #4. Of course, Jeremiah was nowhere to be seen. The fourth mountain is a nice climb, this year I was not as smooth as previous editions but except for a couple times where I put a foot down, I made it to the top in pretty decent shape.

The downhill from there is my favorite of the day; it is fast and not too dangerous. I was just not looking forward to the very long flat roads leading to the soul crusher climb. At aid #4, I just had a longer stop to get the reach of my front brake lever adjusted. I rode down the 4 previous downhill with my lever almost touching my grip.

My legs were really sore and I kept looking behind hoping not to see a raging Keck Baker closing the gap at incredible speed. The miles to the finish were trickling down and that is the only good thing about these flattish roads. Finally, I reached the real climb and the heavy soreness in my legs transformed into really pain. In one of the steeper pitch I was at the verge of cramping.

At aid #5, at the top of the mountain, my old teammate Harlan Price was there. It was great to see him. He asked what I needed: my mind had the perfect answer: “Could you please ride my bike to the finish for me?” But I said I was fine, and I was off.

Being under the constant pressure of thinking that Keck would bridge back in the long downhill did not allow me to really enjoy the trails between aid 5 and 6. The body was in great pain. I realized that I was really fatigued and intentionally rode a bit slower in the downhill.

The entire day, I was thinking about the last long uphill before the finish line. Being there was a relief and somehow I even had a second wind. I climbed the second time around almost just as just than the first time with Keck and Jeremiah. Despite my really good effort in the climb, I was getting extremely nervous to see Keck storming back on the downhill forest road leading the finish. However, my efforts were good enough to cross the finish in second place. I was delighted and improved my time from 2013 by an impressive 12 minutes.

Once again the Specialized bike and components were flawless. Some people asked me if the SWAT box holding my tire lever, tube and tire inflator comes open under the rough riding. Let me assure you, it did the job perfectly both at Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah 100.

Tanguy/Masse Earn 2nd at SM100

Masse locks in NUE Series win for Masters, earns trip to LaRuta

September 6, 2015. Stokesville, VA. The 17th annual Shenandoah Mountain 100 mountain bike race with it’s associated weekend of camping and socializing happened last weekend under perfect weather. Roughly 500 racers converged on the Stokesville Campground to test their mountain bike skills and endurance for this popular event. The race course has something for everyone: fast gravel road traverses, gravel climbing, technical climbing, and amazing technical single track descents. Chris Scott and the folks at Shenandoah Mountain Touring spend months preparing for this, their marquis event. Sadly, their amazing work, the perfect weather, and huge attendance for 2015 edition was shrouded in sadness. A tragic accident occurred approximately 50 miles into the route just over the crest of Bald Ridge. Masters rider Ross Hansen collided with a tree and suffered a fatal injury. Endurance mountain biking events are exciting and challenging, but unfortunately also carry risk. On behalf of Rare Disease Cycling, our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Mr. Hansen.

Rare Disease Cycling riders Christian Tanguy and Roger Masse threw their hats in the ring in their respective categories, Open Men and Masters, each earning second place finishes. Details about these category contests as well as the top Open Women and Single Speed riders are described below.

SM_JB_Christian
Jeremiah Bishop and Christian Tanguy

Open Men – New course record for Bishop

With multi-time Shenandoah winner Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak Ergon) in attendance, many of the top contenders figured they would be racing for 2nd. Rare Disease Cycling rider Christian Tanguy for one was ready for a battle. He’s had close contests with Jeremiah before and is a past NUE series winner. Other favorites included: NUE Series leader Keck Baker (Champion Systems), Cohutta mens open winner Brian Schworm (Think Green-Pedal the Planet), Matt Bailey (Bicycle Riding FOOL!) and Jamie Lamb (Cyclesmith – Oakley) just to name a few.

Tanguy took the early lead 2 miles into the rolling gravel of the opening climb up Narrowback and maintained his lead through the opening single track climb up Festival Trail. Tanguy was caught by Bishop leading a train of about 10 riders near Tillman road at the bottom of Tillman West. A lead group of 10 or so grew on the pavement leading up to Lynn trail where things blew apart. By the top of Lynn the lead group was whittled down to three: Bishop, Baker and Tanguy. The three stayed together across Wolf Ridge and down the single track descent back to Tillman. The three transitioned together feeding at aid2. Bishop and Baker were making Tanguy work even to stay in the draft on the relatively flat pavement and gravel leading up to Hankey1. “This is where I noticed how incredibly great shape were both Keck and Jeremiah.” recalled Tanguy. “I could not believe the speeds on my computer. Over 30 mph each time the road was pointing down even if so slightly.”

The trio climbed Hankey1 to the intersection where Hankey1 continues right and Hankey2 goes left (when racers return later in the race). As the pitches got steeper near the top of the climb, Bishop pushed hard on the last uphill portion.

“Jeremiah forced any racers wanting to stay within reach to make an extremely violent effort.” remembered Tanguy of the attack. “I experienced this technique first hand at many occasions. Should I have been alone with Jeremiah, I would have let him go away right there but I thought that if I could keep up with Keck, I would have a very strong partner on the transition roads at the bottom of the valley. Meanwhile Keck was certainly thinking that if he could stay with Jeremiah and drop me before the bottom of the valley; the chance of me bridging back were lower.”

The multi-time SM100 winner Bishop wanted the lead down Dowels Draft. “Usually In a 100 it’s better to ride with a group but I was excited to ride fast on the dowels decent since I had on a dropper post.” said Bishop of the attack. “The gap was large so I went for it!”

Tanguy was 3rd man of the now shattered group descending Dowels. Tanguy passed Baker on the side of the trail near the bottom working on his bike and rode the remaining 60 miles solo. In the end Bishop went on to set a new course record of 6:49. Tanguy finished 2nd in 7:07. Baker had to drop out having suffered an unfixable flat tire on Dowels. Jamie Lamb was 3rd, Matt Bailey 4th, and Brian Schworm 5th.

With Bishop taking the win, Baker has a lock on the NUE series for the Open Men. “After Brain Schworm put that choke hold on me and nabbed that pre season Ricon de la Vieja priem, then looking at Christian and how he was on form mid-season, I had become a little doubtful that I would be able to pull it off.” said Baker reflecting on the accomplishment. “It was hard fought and not once all season did I loose focus on my training and diet. It took a lot of work thats for sure! Looking forward to La Ruta!”

Bishop was pleased with the win. “After being a worker for a lot of races this season it felt good unleashing my best for SM100.” said Bishop. “Being on the number one team in the world for Endurance mountain biking has upped my game.”

Christian Tanguy finished his season with his 2nd place performance at SM100 earning him a tie for 2nd with Josh Tostado in the series. “I was delighted and improved my time from 2013 by an impressive 12 minutes.” said Tanguy in conclusion.

In terms of NUE series championship points, despite not finishing the SM100, Keck Baker has a lock on the series with 3 wins and a 2nd. He will represent the USA and the NUE at the LaRuta de los Conquistadores 3-day mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica in November.

Open Women – A win for newcomer Tae

Kaarin Tae
Kaarin Tae

With past SM100 champions Sue Haywood, Cheryl Sornson and Selene Yeager not in attendance, many in the women’s field looked to try to step up and through the open door. Among the favorites were 2014 NUE Series champion Brenda Simril; 2013 Canadian Elite Women’s Marathon National Champion but new to NUE racing, Kaarin Tae; up-and-coming young rider Kaysee Armstrong; NUE veteran and multi-time podium finisher Simona Vincenciova; Laura Hamm (Moonstomper); Cohutta 100 winner Linda Shin, and Fools Gold 100 promoter Lisa Randall to name a few.

By the halfway point and Aid4 two riders appeared in position to challenge for the win, Tae and Simril, with Tae having the lead by a small margin. After becoming aware of one another’s proximity, they both gave it their all to try and capture the win. In the end it was Tae holding on for the win and Simril taking second. Afterward, we asked both riders to describe a pivotal moment in their race.

Brenda Simril
Brenda Simril

Kaarin Tae: “It’s hard to pinpoint a pivotal moment out of 8 hours and 51 minutes of racing…but perhaps it was after AS5… I had just ridden the “Death Climb” solo from AS4 to AS5, and I had noticed a small group approaching from behind. About 5 minutes after leaving AS5 a rider informed me that the second woman had arrived at AS5 just as I was leaving, and they had told her that I had just left so he thought it was only fair to tell me that she was just behind me. This lit a fire in me when I thought I had no matches left. I attacked every climb along the ridge to the knob and descended with complete focus and determination. I was still in the lead at AS6 and hit Hankey take 2 at a solid pace, steadily increasing as I approached the ridge. I forced myself into a deep suffer zone along the ridge, determined to have nothing left when I finally reached the Stokesville descent. Focus focus. Hitting the campground I knew I would win it and allowed myself to start celebrating inside. What a great feeling to ride through that field and across the line!”

Brenda Simril: “I knew the competition was going to be totally stacked so I was surprised to find that there was only one woman still ahead of me at the bottom of the death climb. She was totally unknown to me so I was hoping that she would do me a favor and blow up on the climb. Unfortunately for me, she’s a total machine and held me off even though I got within sight of her and was absolutely chasing my guts out to catch her. Total hats off to Kaarin because when they told me at Aid 5 that I was only 90 seconds back, I thought for sure I could make it up on the downhill into Aid 6. I was amazed and humbled when I got there only to find out the deficit was now 5 minutes. So from there to the end the first goal was to hang on to 2nd and the next goal was to break 9 hrs, both of which I did!”

In terms of NUE series championship points, despite the 2nd place finish, Brenda Simril has a lock on the Series with 3 wins and a 2nd. She will represent the USA and the NUE at the LaRuta de los Conquistadores 3-day mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica in November.

See the Dirtwire.tv interview with Kaarin Tae here and Brenda Simril here.

Single Speed – Powers is back

Don Powers
Don Powers

The Shenandoah 100 started off like any other NUE race usually does for the SS class, with 2014 NUE champion Gordon Wadsworth off with the lead geared guys and a small group of single speeders in the chase group. After the first climb that chase group was comprised of Don Powers, Brian Patton and Bob Moss. On the road section leading to the Lynn trail climb the pace laid down by the geared riders in the chase group put the single speeders in difficulty. First Bob Moss fell off the pace, then Powers fell off with another geared guy. Patton survived the best. As the group began the ascent to Wolf Ridge along Lynn trail, they were surprised to see Gordon Wadsworth looking exasperated and moving slowly.

Bob Moss
Bob Moss

“As I hit the 2nd climb I saw Gordon.” said Powers recalling the moment. “He explained he wasn’t feeling well after getting sick during the week.” That moment flipped a switch inside Powers, knowing this may be one of the only chances to get a win on one of the NUE 100 milers.

By the top of the climb Powers caught back up to Brian Patton. “He got a little gap on the descent”, said Powers. “but I kept him in sight leading into aid station 2. At that point I did a quick bottle swap and I was out of the aid station before him. From that point on I didn’t see another SS’er the rest of the day.”

Powers did his best to grab geared guys wheels on the road sections to make sure he held onto the lead. “I basically spent the last 70 miles of the race convincing myself that Brian or Bob were right behind me” recalled the eventual winner. “and that I needed to keep my pace up even though I was cramping pretty bad on some sections. I was in and out of every aid station in less than 20 seconds with the help of the awesome volunteers!”

In terms of NUE series championship points, despite not finishing SM100, Wadsworth has a lock on the Series with a perfect score of 4 wins. He will represent the USA and the NUE at the LaRuta de los Conquistadores 3-day mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica in November.

See the DirtWire.tv interview with Don Powers here and a Bob Moss interview here.

Masters – Clayton seeks redemption

Jeff Clayton and Roger Masse
Jeff Clayton and Roger Masse

Rare Disease Cycling rider Roger Masse was looking for a repeat performance of his 2014 Shenandoah 100 Masters win in 2015. The only rider in attendance to beat Roger in 2015 was Super Sport Athletics rider Jeff Clayton. Clayton won the Masters contest of the 2015 Cohutta 100 with Masse taking second. Also in attendance were David Jolin (Stark Velo), Tom Kruze (Team Bulldog) and Tatanka 100 winner Lee Simril (Motor Mile Racing). In the end, Clayton was the best on the day with Masse settling for second. Tom Kruse finished 3rd, Jolin 4th, and Lee Simril 5th. Masse shared his thoughts on the day:

“I had a decent start but Jeff Clayton was hungry and he passed me about 4 miles in on Narrowback. I didn’t chase, thinking I’d see him later in the race since he often goes out too hard. I had an early nutrition issue due to mistakenly sending my drop bag to the wrong aid station which meant I had to take time to fill a CamelBak (after much searching) and loosing the good group I was with in the process. That and having to stop for a bike mechanical late in the race combined to make it difficult for me to reel back Clayton. In the end, I had to be content with 2nd which could have been much worse considering the big fade I had late in the race due in part to the early nutrition problems.”

“Hats off to Jeff for putting together a great day despite having a few problems himself.” concluded Masse.

In terms of series championship points, despite the 2nd place finish, Masse has a lock on the Series with a perfect score of 4 wins. He will represent the USA and the NUE at the LaRuta de los Conquistadores 3-day mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica in November.

See the Dirtwire.tv interview with “Masters Danger Man” Jeff Clayton here and Roger Masse here.

View full results here and NUE Series standings here.

White knuckles time – Wilderness 101

The Baker chase group: Tanguy, Blair, Tredwell - photo credit Tomi McMillar
The Baker chase group: Tanguy, Blair, Tredwell – photo credit Tomi McMillar
This year again, I made the pleasant trip from south east Michigan to Central Pennsylvania. The weather was just perfect to spend 6-7 hours on the bike. I have done this race 7 times so I pretty much know what is in store for the day.

Despite riding a good tempo on the first climb, the size of the group reaching the top was still larger than any previous editions. Now a lot of riders are much better prepared and can challenge more established riders. With the dry conditions, I left plenty of space between me and the rider in front of me during the fast downhill on the dirt road. Few years back I witnessed a rider crash at top speed and I just wanted to be ready to avoid the pile up should this event happen. It was not necessary in that particular downhill but it proved a smart move when a rider washed out just before aid #1.

By now, some riders started to feel the effort and the lead group trimmed down to a dozen riders. The following downhill was uneventful except for the snake the lead guy and myself, in 2nd place, almost rode over. I heard the leader yell something, when I looked down my first thought was: “Please people, pick-up your old tubes…” and as I came closer I realized it was a large black snake with gold patterns. All this happened in a flash as we were riding well over 20 mph.

Approaching the Three Bridges single track trail, I rode harder and found myself in the lead. I made a good push in the trail and by the time we came out on the dirt road, the lead group was fragmented. I continued with the fast pace going up the road and finally it was just 2 of us at the top. We rode together until aid #2 where the chasers finally closed the gap.

I hope they had to commit some effort to join back to us because I felt as though I put in a good effort myself. Shortly after aid #2, there is a long climb and I was getting tired. We were 4 riders at the front and Keck Baker increased the tempo towards the end of climb allowing him to enter the rough single track downhill first. I came down in 4th position just behind Dereck Treadwell. Dereck and I were riding pretty much the same speed where Keck was gone in a flash and 2nd place rider put a 30 second gap on us. Shortly after the descent Gordon Wadsworth bridged back.

The three of us chilled out on the flat/down roads leading to the next big climb. I was really tired by then and decided to ride my own pace. Dereck followed me as we reeled back the 2nd place rider. We lost Gordon in the process and entered the 2nd stretch of rough single track downhill. Just like the previous time, I came last of our group of three. My hands and arms were still not fully recovered from the firm grip needed during the first downhill. I was looking where I could stop and rest my upper body. It was really rough trail and another couple miles of that riding would have forced me to stop and rest.

The three of us reached aid #3 and we rode the uphill right after that. Only Dereck could follow this time. I thought I made a great tempo but Keck was nowhere to be seen. His time gained in the rough trails was just too great to overcome in the climbs especially when he climbs extremely well himself.

On the previous rough section I noticed that I could ride a tiny bit faster than Dereck. At the top of the mountain I sped up to enter the flat rocky single track first. In a few hundred yards, I already had a sizable gap and it was probably the most enjoyable stretch of the race for me. My Specialized Epic was riding great. Despite all the vibrations, the SWAT case stayed closed and the tires were holding well on the sharp stones. I came down the 3rd very steep single track downhill. With my bike skills, I feel that all I can do is slow down; should I need to come to a complete stop I would have to find a spot where crashing will hurt me the least. My arms and hands were to the verge of cramping but also my legs from balancing me around the bike.

When I indeed put the roughest section behind me (without falling), my legs cramped in places I never experienced before. The downhill smacked me and I was in total distress mode. Somehow the single track riding along the creek was a good distraction for the mind instead of focusing on my hurting legs.

I reached aid #4, still in 2nd place but any desire to chase was out the window. I stopped for a long while especially knowing that course goes back up on long jeep road. Very strangely, I was able to pick up the pieces during that climb. I even forced myself to ride harder well knowing that I would lose my advantage on the flat/downhill dirt roads after that.

As expected, the dirt roads were just a nightmare; the legs were cramping every two minutes and I had to stop pedaling to loosen up the muscles… At least the volunteers at aid #5 had some good news; the finish was only 6 miles away.

I followed closely the arrows marking the course. I came to the bank of a river. There was a trail going left and one going right but no arrows. I turned back thinking I missed a course marking but the only arrow I could see was the one pointing straight. I scanned the other side of the river for a piece of tape when I finally noticed the arrow on a rock above the water in the middle of the river. This river crossing was a blessing. Of course, walking waist deep in running water comes with some challenges but my legs loved the cooling effect. Now 5 miles from the finish, I felt I came too far to lose my second place by not trying hard enough.

The legs were as tense as they could be without completely locking up. It was a very, very painful last five miles but it was all worth it after I crossed in 2nd place. Congrats to Keck for an awesome ride. I hope to come more prepared to Shenandoah to challenge him until the end.

Full results here.

The Open Men's podium with Keck Baker on top.
The Open Men’s podium with Keck Baker on top and Christian Tanguy in 2nd, Dereck Treadwell 3rd, Ryan Serbel 4th and Gordon Wadsworth 5th

Tanguy Assumes NUE Series Lead With 2nd Place Finish at Wilderness 101

Masse makes it three in a row with Masters win.
Wilderness101
July 25, 2015. Coburn, PA. East coast racing in the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series resumed this past weekend in the mountains of Pennsylvania with the fifteenth running of the Wilderness 101. Known for it’s relentless gravel and forest road climbs and technical rocky descents, the course for “the 101” rewards the rider with a balance of skills. Rare Disease Cycling riders Christian Tanguy and Roger Masse joined a list of top competitors to try and win a podium spot and series points in their respective categories.

Worth noting about the 101, is how long a relatively large front group tends to stay together. This year, the elite group at the top of the opening gravel climb gradually grew on the subsequent fast rolling gravel and forest road as chase groups burned matches to rejoin the leaders. By the time riders hit the first single track at mile 27, the peloton, that included the top riders in each category, had swollen to 60 or 70 riders with an average moving speed of nearly 16 miles per hour.

Carnage ensued. The single track trifecta of Longberger Path, Spruce Gap Trail and Three Bridges Trail, shattered the huge group. Riders were again forced to burn matches up the Laurel Run Rd and Little Shingletown Road Trail in a futile attempt to rejoin the now much smaller front group. Riders that weren’t back in contact with by the time Little Shingletown started pointing downhill, formed small chasing groups on the subsequent pavement of Pine Swamp and Laurel Run Roads. Smaller more elite front groups encouraged cooperation and high speeds to mile 40 and Aid Station 2.

Open Men – Baker unstoppable

Race leaders at the top of Croyle. Baker leads Blair, Treadwell and Tanguy - photo credit Chris Scott
Race leaders at the top of Croyle. Baker leads Blair, Treadwell and Tanguy – photo credit Chris Scott

Some of the fastest endurance riders in the country threw their hats in the ring to contest the Open Men at the 101. Some of the contenders in attendance were: 2015 True Grit champion Keck Baker (ChampSys/Cannondale p/b Battley Harley), 2015 Mohican 100 winner Christian Tanguy (Rare Disease Cycling), former college All-American running star Dereck Treadwell, Toasted Head Racing’s Ryan Serbel, and 2014 NUE Single Speed champion, riding a geared bike, Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery p/b Reynolds GM Subaru), and previous Wilderness 101 single speed winner Patrick Blair (Adventures for the Cure) also riding a geared bike.

The Baker chase group: Tanguy, Blair, Tredwell - photo credit Tomi McMillar
The Baker chase group: Tanguy, Blair, Treadwell – photo credit Tomi McMillar

Leaving Aid Station 2 riders quickly turn left onto Greenlee Road to start of the first major climb of the day. An elite group formed led by Baker that also contained Blair, Treadwell and Tanguy. Wadsworth and Ian Spivack (BIKE DOCTOR p/b North Tek) were not far behind.

“We were 4 riders at the front and Keck Baker increased the tempo towards the end of climb allowing him to enter the rough single track downhill first.” recalled Tanguy of action at the top of the Greenlee climb.

At the top, Baker had indeed surged to maintain his lead into the rocky single track section of Croyle. “I hit it hard on the flat section and got a little gap and then hit the decent.” recalled Baker of the moment of separation. “I noticed I had a gap so I pushed the decent a little harder than planned.”

By the end of Croyle, Tanguy was in 4th position just behind Dereck Treadwell. “Dereck and I were riding pretty much the same speed where Keck was gone in a flash.” said Tanguy. Patrick Blair was alone in 2nd place with a 30 second gap and Baker was out of sight.

Keck Baker had no idea how much damage he had done. “At the bottom I started riding expecting to be caught but then thought that the group might be shattered and unorganized so I figured this was it.” said the front runner.

On the pavement, Wadsworth bridged back to Tanguy and Treadwell and the group eventually reeled in Blair. A chase group had formed but the Bear Meadows climb had Wadsworth off the back. By Aid 3 and the subsequent Rag Hollow climb, of the chase group, only Treadwell and Tanguy remained. Tanguy was able to slip away from Treadwell in the rough single track before Aid #4.

The Open Men's podium with Keck Baker on top.
The Open Men’s podium with Keck Baker on top and RDC’s Christian Tanguy having to settle for 2nd

“I thought I made great tempo but Keck was nowhere to be seen. His time gained in the rough trails was just too great to overcome in the climbs… especially when he was climbing extremely well himself.” remembered Tanguy of his thoughts about catching his rival.

Baker had his own fears about the RDC rider. “I was always looking over my shoulder on the remaining climbs expecting to see Christian motoring up to me.” said Baker about the eventual 2nd place finisher. “It was a long extremely hard day on the bike. No doubt one of the hardest days I have ever logged on the bike… no doubt.”

In the end, it was Keck Baker’s day, taking the win in 6:27, Christian Tanguy earns 2nd in 6:37, Dereck Treadwell 3rd in 6:43, a late charging Ryan Serbel outsprinted Gordon Wadsworth for 4th in 6:45. Tanguy’s 2nd place finish moved him into the NUE series lead in this hotly contested and competitive field.

See Keck Baker’s Dirtwire.tv interview here.

Open Women – Barclay dominates on home turf

Women's 2nd place finisher Carla Williams - photo credit Tomi McMillar
Women’s 2nd place finisher Carla Williams – photo credit Tomi McMillar

Among the favorites in a strong women’s field were: Past Wilderness 101 winner Vicki Barclay (Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women’s Team), 2015 Mohcian 100 winner Linda Shin (Blacksmith Cycle), 2015 Cohutta 100 2nd place finisher Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop), Fools Gold promoter Lisa Randall (SuperSport Athletic Wear), and the ever-present Simona Vincenciova (Hammer Nutrition) having notched 2 NUE 4th place finishes in 2015.

Vicki Barclay at the finish - photo credit Dirtwire.tv
Vicki Barclay at the finish – photo credit Dirtwire.tv

Barclay and Williams found themselves in a chasing group by the top of the first climb that eventually rejoined the peloton of 70 riders at the front of the bike race. They were the only women to make that initial selection. Williams struggled a bit in the first single track and Barclay got a gap and would never look back. “I was pleasantly surprised and happy with how well I was riding from the start.” recalled Barclay. “I rode a lot of the race with (riding buddy, work colleague and teammate) Matt Ferrari, so it was nice to have good company along the way.”

“As soon as I heard Vicki was going to be there, I figured it would be a race for 2nd place” confessed Williams about the prospect of racing the NoTubes rider. “I did catch up to a group of riders which included Vicki after the first climb and stayed with them until 3 bridges. As soon as we started on those rocks, I didn’t see Vicki again. I rode so much more of the rocky trails than I did 2 years ago and I took 2 hours off of my previous time, so all in all I had a great day. I still have a lot I can get better at, but it is cool to see big improvements like that.”

Your Women's podium
Your Women’s podium

Vicki Barclay was in a class by herself, knocking on the door of the top-10 overall. “Not racing 100 milers has made me faster at 100 milers.” joked the NoTubes rider. “I had no idea that I finished just outside the top 10 men.” Barclay finished in 13th place overall easily taking the women’s win in 7:13. Carla Williams used her strong climbing skills to hold onto 2nd with 7:59. Lisa Randall finished 3rd with 8:27, Linda Shin was 4th in 8:42, and rounding out the top-5 was Simona Vincenciova in 8:49.

See Vicki Barclay’s Dirtwire.tv video here.

Single Speed – Moss gets second NUE win

Bob Moss on the attack - photo credit Tomi McMillar
Bob Moss on the attack – photo credit Tomi McMillar

Since he was trying his hand in the open for the 101, the Single Speed division was missing the NUE Single Speed Series leader Gordon Wadsworth. The category was stacked with talented riders eager to step through the door left open by Wadsworth. Among them: 2015 Single Speed Mohican winner Bob Moss (Farnsworth Bicycles/Crank Arm Brewing/Torrenti), Many time Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah Mountain 100 2nd place single speed finisher Matthew Ferrari (Freeze Thaw Cycles – Stans NoTubes), Past single speed Shenandoah Mountain 100 winner Mike Montalbano (Toasted Head Racing), the 2014 Mohican 100 Single Speed champion Don Powers (Pro Bikes), Peter Haile (The Pisgah Tavern), Watts Dixon (The Revolting Cogs) and Brain Patten (U.S. Army Racing), to name a few.

Bob Moss celebrates his win
Bob Moss celebrates his win

Moss jumped out to an early lead. “This race was very similar to the Mohican 100 for me. I jumped ahead for about 20-30 miles, then fell back to settle in.” reflected Moss “I watched the other single speeder’s surge ahead and I really wanted to go, but I couldn’t, so I just settled in and hoped for the best for the remaining 60 or 70 miles.”

At roughly 30 miles in Moss was riding a rocky descent led by fellow single speeder Watts Dixon pushing the pace. “There was a big group and several single speed riders together packed tight. We crossed a dip with a sharp rock.” recalled Moss “I had just enough time for me to clear it.”

2nd place single speeder Matt Ferrari - photo credit Tomi McMillar
2nd place single speeder Matt Ferrari – photo credit Tomi McMillar

With no time for Moss to announce the hole, Watts hit hard and bent his rim. His race was over. “This was about the time when Matt Ferrari, pulled ahead.” remembered Moss.

Ferrari seized the opportunity, milking his lead over Moss till just about the half way point. “Bob caught me on the Ruff Gap descent into Aid 3.” recalled Ferrari of the catch. “We climbed out together and came across the top of Sassafras. He came around me when I stopped to eat – I knew there was a bunch of single track ahead where eating would be tough.”

That turned out to be the critical move. Ferrari wouldn’t see Moss again, but only 2-3 minutes separated the eventual winner and Ferrari the entire time.

In the end Bob Moss took the win in 7:14 followed closely by Matthew Ferrari in 2nd with 7:16, a late surging Mike Montalbano was good enough for 3rd in 7:18, Don Powers 4th in 7:19, and Peter Haile finish 5th in 7:35.

See Matt Ferrari’s Dirtwire.tv video interview here.

Masters – Masse makes it 3 in a row

Defending Masters champion Jim Mathews - photo credit Tomi McMillar
Defending Masters champion Jim Mathews – photo credit Tomi McMillar

Rare Disease Cycling rider Roger Masse won the Masters division over rivals Jim Matthews (Toasted Head Racing) and Mike Ramponi (Shenandoah Mountain 100) in convincing fashion. “I just tried to make up for last year’s flat-fest” said Masse, referring to his 4 flat tires resulting in a 9+ hour finishing time for the 2014 edition. “I carried extra tubes and air this year and fortunately didn’t need any of it.”

Mike Ramponi - photo credit Tomi McMillar
Mike Ramponi – photo credit Tomi McMillar

Masse was in one of the several chasing groups after the opening climb that eventually rejoined the huge peloton prior to Aid 1 and any single track. “I was worried about Jim the most, but didn’t see him at the start nor up the first climb. I wasn’t even sure he was there.” remembered Masse. “I went pretty hard but still got detached from the leaders up the first climb, but like many others, was eventually able to get to the back end of what seemed to be the main field working with other stragglers. Didn’t have great legs at the start but things improved as the day went on.”

Masse never saw Mathews, and was instead caught by long time friend and Bike Doctor rider Jed Prentice on the trail called No Name shortly before Aid 4. “It was only then that I knew where Jim Matthews was” remembered Masse. “Jed said that he had passed him at Aid 3.”

With the pressure off, Masse was content to ride with Prentice to the finish. “It was great to ride with Jed for the last couple of hours” said Masse. “He picks good lines and he’s really good in the tech. I always learn something when I follow him.”

This year's Masters winner Roger Masse - photo credit Tomi McMillar
Roger Masse – photo credit Tomi McMillar

Masse crossed the line with Open rider Prentice taking the Masters win in 7:32, Matthews finished 2nd in 7:56, Mike Ramponi finished 3rd in 8:17, Keith Button (CCB racing) and Henry McCullough (Team Trappe Door) were 4th and 5th respectively with 8:18.

Masse’s win at the 101, his 4th for 2015, firmly places him in the NUE series lead in the Masters category.

See Roger’s Dirtwire.tv interview here.

Full results here.

NUE Series standings here.

Yeager takes the win at Curse of Dark Hollow. Thiemann and Harding on podium at Granogue.

Yeager on her way to the win.
Yeager on her way to the win. Photo Credit: Tomi McMillar

Yeager takes the win at round 2 of the Michaux Endurance Series.

Overcoming both extreme heat and a technically challenging course, Selene Yeager rode a text book race to take the victory at the Curse of Dark Hollow, round 2 of the 2015 Michaux Endurance Series. The fabled trails of Michaux State Forest are known as some of the most difficult and rocky in the country. This years race was made even more challenging with heavy rains the night before making for slick conditions on the relentless and rocky trails.

Curse of Dark Hollow

“The thermometer read 99 degrees in my Ford Fiesta when I finished Curse of the Dark Hollow in Michaux State Forest this Sunday. And I felt every last one of them during the final 5 miles of mostly technical climbing back to the start/finish staging are. Fortunately, I felt good for the bulk of the day. The race kicked off with a LeMans start, which is my very least favorite way to start an event. But I’ve been running regularly again, so put those skills to use and got a good position right out of the gate and raced hard to get to the pointy end of the field and into the rocks ahead of the majority of the field because I knew it was going to be a slick mess. I was right! I just kept it light and loose and was able to clear mostly everything. The heat got to me here and there. But mostly I was able to stay on top of my hydration and nutrition to get a win on the day”.

Yeager is now poised for overall victory with a massive 1 hour lead on second place. The 2015 Michaux Offroad Series concludes with round 3, The Terror of Teaberry on Sunday, September 27th.

Harding and Theiman in 2nd and 3rd behind Arley Kremmerer.
Harding and Thiemann in 2nd and 3rd behind Arley Kremmerer.

Harding and Thiemann go 2nd and 3rd at Granogue.

XC racing returned to the Granogue Estate in Delaware with round 5 of the Mid-Atlantic Super Series, To Granogue and Bach. The only thing hotter than the nearly 100 degree temperatures was the battle for the women’s Pro/Open win. Elite team riders Kathleen Harding and Nikki Thiemann sparred with Arley Kremmerer on the fast and twisty Granogue trails. In the end it was Kremmerer who came away with the win, Harding and Thiemann finishing less than a minute back.

Tanguy Second at Lumberjack

Masse tops Masters field.
LumberjackLogo

June 20, 2015 Wellston, Michigan. Michigan’s first 100-mile mountain bike race, the popular Lumberjack 100 always takes place on the third Saturday in June and always fills it’s 450 available spots within hours.  Promoter Rick Plite and his cast of helpers put on a great event that utilizes a 33-mile loop through Michigan’s beautiful Manistee National Forest and the Big-M Ski Area. The Michigan style single track is composed mostly of hard pack trail, occasional sandy sections, and fast rolling terrain offering twists and turns that demand constant power, and total concentration as the trails quickly turn to nothing more than green blurs of forest. Ninety percent of the 33-mile, 3-lap race is comprised of this single track that will eventually push racers over 9,000 feet of total elevation gain.

Open Men – Schworm last man standing

Christian Tanguy leads Jorden Wakeley, Brian Schworm, and Tinker Juarez
Christian Tanguy leads Jorden Wakeley, Brian Schworm, and Tinker Juarez
Keck Baker leads early
Keck Baker leads early

Rare Disease Cycling rider and 2014 Lumberjack champion Christian Tanguy hoped to defend his title from last year but ultimately had to settle for second. Challenging Tanguy for the overall would be Brian Schworm (Green’s Toyota), Tinker Juarez (Ridebiker Alliance), Keck Baker (Champsys/cannondale P/b Battley Harley), Michigan native and 2013 Lumberjack 2nd place finisher Michael Simonson, and 2013 2nd place finisher Jorden Wakeley (Quiring Cycles) riding a 29+ fatbike.

The fact that the mile rollout on the pavement was somewhat tame was more than compensated for once riders turned into the Big-M parking lot with Baker leading the way. “I just got nervous” recalled Baker “I went into crit-mode. I wanted to ensure good position in the single track”. Baker lead a strong group that included Schworm, Juarez, Wakeley, Simonson and a huge train of followers up the opening climb and subsequent rollers. The lap-1 pace was high, with the lead 13 riders coming into the start/finish at 2:12. As the lead group was starting to gel, Chicago rider Mike Phillips (Adventure 212 / Specialized) moved to the front and kept up the pressure with a pace that seemed un-sustainably high. Phillips lead through the lap-2 run-up section followed by Juarez, Simonson, Baker, Tanguy, Wakeley and Schworm. Single speeder Gordon Wadsworth was also in the mix, having recovered from an early crash in the lap-1 first climb traffic.

Rare Disease Cycling's Christian Tanguy pilots is Specialized S-Works Epic World-Cup to a 2nd place finish at Lumberjack
Rare Disease Cycling’s Christian Tanguy pilots is Specialized S-Works Epic World-Cup to a 2nd place finish at Lumberjack
Mountain Bike legend and two-time olympian Tinker Juarez rode strong all day
Mountain Bike legend and two-time olympian Tinker Juarez rode strong all day

When the rollers near the end of lap-2 began, Tanguy moved to the front. “I took over the lead for the last 8 miles of the second lap and continued the fast pace.” remembered the RDC rider.  “More riders fell off of the lead train and we were a much smaller group when we reached the aid zone at the start of lap-3”.

Schworm was content to let others do the pace-making. “About two-thirds of the way through lap-2, Christian started the attacks on the repeating steep hills which reduced the group to 6.” recalled the eventual winner. “At the beginning of lap-3 I hammered the initial section and two more were gapped. One of the victims was Keck Baker. “Six came into the start/finish area together.” said Baker. “but just as I had my cooler open reaching for my bottles, the others were already flying by!”.
LumberjackOpenPodium

The lap-3 lead group was reduced to Tanguy, Wakeley, Juarez, and Schworm with Tanguy setting the pace. “I led our small group again thru the road Monkey section.” said Tanguy. “We were riding at good speed and lost Jorden and Tinker.”.

Brian Schworm celebrates his Lumberjack win with his family
Brian Schworm celebrates his Lumberjack win with his family

Two riders left, Schworm and Tanguy. “Shortly after the mid lap aid station, in a short uphill both my legs cramped.” remembered Tanguy of the decisive moment. “We were about one hour from the finish but I had to back off the pace or I wouldn’t see the finish line.” That moment opened the door for Brian Schworm.

With Christian stuggling, Schworm made his move. “I then attacked on the run-up to the fire tower, the following road section, and the first few hills when we hit the trail again.” recalled Schworm. “I saw a had a gap at this point so I quickened the pace a bit and hammered those repeating steep hills and was able to hold the gap from there to the finish.”

Tanguy would do all he could to just finish without losing any spots.

In the end it was Brian Schworm hanging on to win in 6:27:39. 2nd RDC’s Tanguy 6:29:52, 3rd Wakeley 6:31:29, 4th Juarez 6:31:32, and Keck Baker would finish in 5th 06:39:55.

Full results here.

Open Women – Chandler finishes strong

With many of the NUE favorites opting instead for Colorado’s Bailey Hundo, the door was opened for some new talent to emerge victorious in Michigan. Among the favorites taking their shot was Rhonda Stickle (Bike Zone Racing), Mari Chandler (Dart Nuun / Tecnu Racing) and local Michigan rider Jill Martindale (Grand Rapids Bicycle Co.).
LumberjackWomensPodium
Stickle set an impressive lap-1 pace getting back to the start/finish area in 2:36:38. Martindale was 3 minutes back and Chandler sat in third two minutes behind Martindale.

By the end of lap-2, Stickle lead Chandler through the start finish by 13 seconds.  Martindale was third, 7 minutes back having fallen off the pace of the leaders.

But Chandler was in control. The Nevada rider rode lap-3 in 2:41:15, just 30 seconds slower than her lap-1 split!

In the end, Chandler wins in 7:59:03, Stickle is 2nd with 8:04:56, and Martindale holds on to 3rd in 8:14:44.

Full results here.

Single Speed – Wadsworth back on top

Gordon Wadsworth rode with the leaders of the open men for half the race
Gordon Wadsworth rode with the leaders of the open men for half the race

With wins in the first two 2015 NUE Single Speed contests that included an overall win at Cohutta, Blue Ridge Cycling rider Gordon Wadsworth raced in the open at Mohican on a geared bike. But Wadsworth got behind nutritionally on a hot Ohio day and eventually fell off the pace of the leaders. Looking for redemption, Wadsworth returned to the Single Speed category for the the 2015 Lumberjack 100. “It’s just SUCH a good single speed course” said Wadsworth. “Doesn’t get much better than racing 100 miles on beautiful single track.”

Jan Roubal would be Wadsworth's nearest single speed challenger
Jan Roubal would be Wadsworth’s nearest single speed challenger

Challenging Wadsworth would be Ontario rider Jan Roubal (Velorution), Bloomington Cycle And Fitness rider Aaron Fader and local rider Mike Bernhard (Twin Six Metal).

Wadsworth’s win would not be without drama. Having fallen off of the pavement pace of the very top geared riders, Wadsworth was passing riders to the left of the line on the first climb when he went down hard. “I didn’t see what happened, but I saw Gordon picking up his bike out of the woods on that opening climb” recalled Masters winner Roger Masse about the early racing.

Wadsworth was back on his bike and burning jet fuel. He was immediately passing his single speed rivals and was soon in contact with the leaders.  LumberjackSSpodium By the end of lap-1, Wadsworth crossed the line in 2:12:56 with the leaders of the open men.

The man they call “Quadsworth” rode with the elite front group till a particularly steep climb on lap-2 where he got bogged down and had to dismount. A gap formed and he was not able to close it.

Detached from the open leaders, the NUE Single Speed series leader rode tempo for the remainder of the race and took the single speed win handily in 6:48:32, good enough for 8th overall. Jan Roubal was 2nd with 7:07.39, and Aaron Fader 3rd in 7:12:41.

Full results here.

Masters – Masse makes it 2 in a row

RDC's Roger Masse played his cards well enough to repeat his Masters win at Lumberjack
RDC’s Roger Masse played his cards well enough to repeat his Masters win at Lumberjack
Jeff Wittbrodt challenged Masse all day
Jeff Wittbrodt challenged Masse all day

Fresh off his Master’s win at Mohican 100, RDC’s Roger Masse hoped to make it two-in-a-row with a repeat of his 2014 Lumberjack Masters win. With 80 Masters starters, this would prove to be a tall order. In attendance was 2015 Cohutta Masters winner Jeff Clayton (Georgia Neurosurgical Institute), Stark Velo rider David Jolin, and a slew of fast local Michigan riders including Jeff Wittbrodt (Specialized), Jack Kline (McLain Race Team), and Racing Greyhounds riders Mark Donakowski and Chris Torrance.

“The pace really started moving fast once we were in the Big-M driveway” recalled Masse about the start. “I slotted in a rider or two behind Clayton. I watched him ride for the first several minutes and eventually decided he looked tired from the early effort. So I punched it at the top of an early climb to pass.”

After that initial surge around Clayton, Masse settled into a fast group that included Jeff Wittbrodt and Open rider Jeff Mandell (Finkraft Cycling Team). “Wittbrodt lead for much of the first lap” remembered Masse. “I could see he was a confident descender but was keeping the climbing pace reasonable. At that point, I had no idea he was racing Masters.”

Cohutta Masters winner Jeff Clayton was so close, but never in contact with the leaders. He had to settle for 3rd.
Cohutta Masters winner Jeff Clayton was so close, but never in contact with the leaders. He had to settle for 3rd.

LumberjackMastersPodium
At the beginning of lap-2, Wittbrodt began to slow, perhaps in an effort to conserve for what lay ahead. Jeff Mandell took over the pace making. “Jeff picked up right where (the other) Jeff left off on lap-2” said Masse. The lap-2 group started with 6 or 7 riders and ended with only Mandell and Masse. Wittbrodt was not in contact. Mandell and Masse began to slow towards the end of lap-2 but were rejuvenated after the final stop for bottles and the start of lap-3. Mandell eventually fell off the pace with 20 miles to go leaving Masse alone.

A resurgent Wittbrodt caught Masse shortly after Mandell dropped off. “I asked Jeff at that point if he was Open or Masters” said Masse. “When he said Masters and I told him I was too and that I thought we were leading, it was on!”. With a surge of adrenaline, Masse stepped up the pace and lead Wittbrodt through the 1/2 way aid station and into the climbs leading up to the hike-a-bike section. “I noticed he was falling off the pace a bit at the top of the longer climbs, so I notched it up even more. I had a gap at the bottom of the run-up and I went totally anaerobic up the run-up, barely recovering on the gravel descent that followed.” The effort was enough. Wittbrodt was out of sight.

With 10 miles to go and the lead, Masse spent the rest of his match-book and held off Wittbrodt for the win in 7:19:23, Wittbrodt would finish 2nd with 7:22:29, and Jeff Clayton 3rd in 7:24:38. Just 5 minutes separated the top-3 Masters racers after nearly 7 1/2 hours of racing.

Full results here.

Photo credits Jack Kunnen Photography and Rob Meendering Photography

 

Lumberjack 100 Report

It was the ninth time I’ve put my bike on the start line for this race. If I were playing the odds at Vegas, I might have put some money on me, as I’ve never finished below 5th place in my 8 previous attempts. Nonetheless, the lineup of serious competitors was giving me the chills…

I don’t know how I messed up my preparation, but I forgot my favorite GU gels at home, then I did not put my “racing” prescription glasses, and kept my regular glasses that have the tendency to slip down my nose, plus the cold temperatures had me wonder if I should wear a sleeveless wind jacket or not during the first lap. I opted for the latter and I glad I did, otherwise I would have overheated in no time.

The start on the pavement was maybe not faster than previous years but way more nervous. A lot of fast competitors were fighting for a good spot to enter the single track. Anyway, I managed just fine and then we were off for a quick first lap in the Manistee forest. And quick it was indeed! Even with the roll out on the road we completed the lap in 2 hours and 12 minutes. That is not completely surprising but what was is how many racers were in the lead group. We were over a dozen riders!

All of us were riding strong leaving no gaps between riders. However, I started to feel the effort and I guess I was not the only one. At the front, Mike Phillips was pushing a great pace thru the Road Monkey trail section: a flattish single track quite twisty at times forcing anyone to be on the gas at all times. Then I took over the lead for the last 8 miles of the second lap and continued the fast pace. More riders fall of the lead wagon and we were a much smaller group to reach the aid zone at the start of the lap.

In the succession of small hills up and down, Brian Schwarm was on a mission drilling the up hill so much so that I was wishing I was wishing for a slower pace. I got my wish granted but we were only 3 that could hold on to Brian’s rear wheel: Tinker Juarez, Jorden Wakeley and myself.

RDC's Christian Tanguy leads Jorden Wakeley, Brian Schworm, and Tinker Juarez
RDC’s Christian Tanguy leads Jorden Wakeley, Brian Schworm, and Tinker Juarez – Photo credit Rob Meendering

I led our small group again thru the road Monkey section. We were riding at good speed and lost Jorden and Tinker. Shortly after the mid lap aid station, during a short uphill, both my legs cramped. We were about one hour from the finish but I had to back off the pace or I wouldn’t see the finish line.

Now, really tired and looking for my path around the trees thru a veil of fog, every pedal stroke was a struggle. The dust I was riding through all day finally impeded my vision by scratching the front surface of my eyes.

Despite the cramps, the foggy vision and the less than optimal nutrition from the get go, I managed to reach the finish line in under 6 hours 30 minutes. That was 2 minutes off the pace of Brian but I am satisfied by my 2nd place result.

Like at every race, I gave it all and I could not have gone any faster given the circumstances.

LumberjackOpenPodium

Harding on the podium at Kenda Cup East #3

Harding takes 3rd!
Harding takes 3rd!
Harding 3rd at a muddy Millstone Grind in Websterville, Vermont.
The 3rd round of the new Kenda Cup East XC series saw some of best riders on the East Coast take on a muddy and challenging Vermont course. Continuing to build momentum in an already successful comeback season, Kathleen Harding put in a solid ride to finish 3rd behind winner Ellen Otter (Bicycle Express) and Karen Potter (Pivot / Epic Brewing).
“The preride on Saturday was dry and dusty and with rain in the forecast, I knew the next day we’d see an entirely different course. 12 hrs later it was 40 degrees cooler, and Sunday’s race was just what we expected. It was muddy, slick and cold. I was ready for the challenge nonetheless”. Harding was able to make the most of the deteriorating conditions, and after a strong start stayed focused on riding a consistent race.
“I fought to get into a decent place before the technical single track and continued to make up time as I picked my way through the greasy roots and slick rocks. It was a true picture of New England racing”. Harding battled for the entire second half of the race with Karen Potter. An untimely last lap crash gave Potter a slight edge with Kathleen finishing 3rd.
Harding, satisfied with her performance celebrated in fine Vermont fashion with a Heady Topper (one of Vermont’s finest, most sought after brews) compliments of the promotor. “It was the perfect way to end the day”.

Tanguy Victorious at Mohican 100

Masse wins Masters.

Mohican 100 race director Ryan O'Dell
Mohican 100 race director Ryan O’Dell

Loundonville, Ohio – May 30, 2015. National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series racing resumed this past weekend for race #3 of this popular format of endurance mountain bike racing, the 100 mile distance. Roughly 600 racers converged on this rural central Ohio town both for the shorter 100K version and for the Mohican 100 miler, the race that gave birth to the NUE.

Despite the rumors, central Ohio is not flat. The 100 mile loop takes riders over roughly 12,000 feet of climbing along mostly single track, double track or dirt roads, that spans four counties and careens through some of the most remote and scenic areas in the rolling hills of Mohican Country. The terrain at the Mohican is difficult to categorize due to the wide variety of conditions riders can expect to navigate throughout the day including fast flowing single track, rock gardens, streams, mud and roots. Race promoter and NUE Series director Ryan O’Dell and his team do a great job bringing racers a top-notch riding experience followed by a festival celebration that keep the Mohican 100 among the very best in mountain bike racing events.

The coveted "Axe-pipe"
The coveted “Axe-pipe” prize for division winners

Rare Disease Cycling riders Christian Tanguy and Roger Masse threw their hats in the ring in their respective categories both hoping to improve on their dual runner-up finishes last month at the Cohutta 100. Tanguy, who won the 2014 Mohican 100 and who was the 2013 NUE Series champion, hoped to improve on his 2nd place finish behind Brian Schworm (Think Green-Pedal the Planet) last month at the Cohutta 100. Masse, the 2014 NUE Masters Series winner and 2014 Mohican 100 Masters division winner was also looking for redemption following his 2nd place finish to newly minted Masters rider Jeff Clayton (Super Sport Athletic Wear) at the Cohutta. Rare Disease Cycling regional rider Shane Pasley also made the trek from his home in Delaware to compete against the other registered 150 open men.

Open Men – Tanguy & Baker Last Men Standing

RDC's Christian Tanguy in the lead in the early single track
RDC’s Christian Tanguy in the early single track

RDC’s Tanguy lined up with strong field that included Keck Baker (ChampionSystems/Cannondale), Schworm, Dylan Johnson (Scott Pro Mountain Bike Team), Tinker Juarez (ShoAir Cannondale), Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz, Swiftwick), 2013 Mohican 100 winner Michael Simonson, Cory Rimmer (Kona), 2014 Lumberjack 2nd place open finisher Jorden Wakeley (Quiring Cycles), and 2015 Cohutta overall winner Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery) riding a geared bike in the open division.
MohicanChristianCornering
With a $200 preem on the line for the first rider up the opening climb at the city limit sign, Tanguy was very near the front and in the mix to possibly take the preem. “From experience, I know that energy saved early might be decisive at the end”, recalled Tanguy. “So I did not take my shot at the town-line preem”. Tanguy did, however, spend that energy shortly after that on the road section leading into the opening single track, “To make sure I was not going to be stuck behind a slower rider”. That effort allowed Tanguy to lead the huge field through the early single track.

Keck Baker leads Christian Tanguy, Gordon Wadsworth and Brian Schworm down the waterbars section at mile 20.
Keck Baker leads Christian Tanguy, Gordon Wadsworth and Brian Schworm down the waterbars section at mile 20.

Tanguy settled in and a large group latched on which was still together when the leaders reached aid station 1. As the race progressed, Tanguy’s pace making at front position began to take a toll. Rimmer, Wadsworth, Tostado, and Simonson began to lose contact with the leaders. By aid station 2, an elite group of five riders remained: Tanguy, Baker, Schworm, Johnson and Juarez.

Dylan Johnson navigates the water bars
Dylan Johnson navigates the water bars

35 miles in with the early Mohican State Forest single track complete, the Mohican takes racers on a combination of pavement and gravel roads. Tanguy continued to ride at the front in an effort to keep the chasers at bay. After a while, the elite group of 5 were riding in a brisk pace line and this is where Tinker was dropped. “Tinker was climbing strong in the early parts of the race.” remembered Baker of the ShoAir rider and 2-time Olympian. “He started looking tired when we began rotating on the road.”

Down to four and out on the open roads with no shade, Tanguy started to feel the effort. “Reaching aid 4 was a struggle, I was out of water for a good 20 minutes.” remembered Tanguy. “By now it was obvious that Keck and Brian were the strongest on the open flattish roads, Dylan was the fastest on the technical single track and I was the most at ease when the course was pointing upwards.”

Five hours into the race, Tanguy was still doing the most work riding at the front. The elite group of Tanguy, Baker, Johnson and Schworm worked together on the rail-trail section though mile 72 and aid 4 and remained together past the suspension bridge at mile 82. That’s when they reached the steepest and most difficult dirt road climb of the day.

Christian Tanguy rides the swinging bridge at mile 82
Christian Tanguy rides the swinging bridge at mile 82

With little climbing remaining it was here that Tanguy took his shot, burning some matches to try and gain some separation over, or at least to tire, his rivals. The gamble appeared to pay off. “By the top I had quite a large gap on Dylan and could not see Brian or Keck. With 10 miles to the finish I saw my chance to reach the single track first.” remembered Tanguy of the decisive attack. “I rode hard on the flat road and was only a mile or two away from the single track entrance when I spotted a rider in aerodynamic position charging at me.”

Baker had indeed been dropped on the climb but refused to concede. “When Christian attacked and blew our group apart, Brian and i caught up to Dylan who had tried to go with Christian.” said Baker of the attack. “Brian put the pressure on the next roller and Dylan fell off and I struggled to stay on.”

At roughly mile 89, Baker lead Schworm during the final single track descent before aid 5. “Then it dropped down into a pit of mud at the bottom.” recalled Baker. “I muscled through it and i think that is when Brian fell off the pace.”

Christian Tanguy wins the 2015 Mohican 100
Christian Tanguy wins the 2015 Mohican 100

 

Christian Tanguy1st, Keck Baker 2nd, Brian	Schworm 3rd,  Dylan	Johnson 4th, 	Anthony	Grinnell	5th, Dereck	Treadwell 6th, Ronald	Catlin 7th, and josh	tostado	8th in the open men
Christian Tanguy 1st, Keck Baker 2nd, Brian Schworm 3rd, Dylan Johnson 4th, Anthony Grinnell 5th, Dereck Treadwell 6th, Ronald Catlin 7th, and Josh Tostado 8th in the open men

Baker, with his road racing and time-trial background, started burning the remainder of his matchbook to reel in Tanguy.

On that pavement before the final aid station, Tanguy saw the chaser in in aero-pursuit. “He was way too fast for a 100k racer.” thought Tanguy. “In no time, the rider reached back to me, it was Keck.”

By the time the first rider passed the final aid station, the Mohican 100 had a new leader. “I caught Tanguy before the bridge and attacked immediately.” remembered Baker. “I got a small gap getting in the woods first then eased up because Christian had caught up.”

Tanguy had regained contact with Baker near the bottom of the final single track climb. If Baker could remain in front to the top, he would have a better shot at the win.
An opportunity arose and Tanguy made his final move. “The single track widened up with two good possible lines. That was the opportunity I was looking for.” recalled the RDC rider. “I passed Keck and gave every thing I had. I know that I am not the fastest single track rider but I also know that after six and half hours of high intensity effort I can hold my own.”

It was enough. After over 7 hours of racing, Tanguy held off Baker in the single track to finish with a 1 minute margin. Brian Schworm finished 3rd, Dylan Johnson crossed the line in 4th, Anthony Grinnell was 5th, Dereck Treadwell 6th, Ronald Catlin 7th, and Josh Tostado 8th.

Shane Pasley split the huge 153 registered starters in the men’s open division earning 75th place.

Open Women – Third time’s the charm for Shin

Linda Shin is your women's open winner of the 2015 Mohican 100
Linda Shin is your women’s open winner of the 2015 Mohican 100

With multi-time Mohican 100 winner and Rare Disease Cycling rider Cheryl Sornson not quite able to squeeze enough time out of her full-time work commitments to make the trip to Ohio and with Motor Mile Racing’s Brenda Simril recovering from broken ribs suffered in a vehicle accident, Linda Shin (Blacksmith Cycle) stepped through the open door and emerged as the winner in her third run at the Mohican 100.

Shin’s win would not be without drama. Breckenridge Colorado rider Marlee Dixon (Mtbracenews.com / epic brewing) was first into the woods. Dixon proceeded to use her abundant single track skills to increase her advantage through the first third of the contest.

Brinda Simril and Linda Shin are happy to be finished
Brinda Simril and Linda Shin are happy to be finished

Linda Shin notched her first ever NUE win with a steady ride outlasting competitors Marlee Dixon (Mtbracenews.com / Epic Brewing) and Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing).

“When I got into the first single track with Brenda and (husband and Masters rider) Lee, goal was to stay with them for as long as I could.” said Shin about the start. “We rode together pretty much for the rest of the day which was really fun and motivating! We were told Marlee was 9 minutes up after Aid 3.”

The Shin/Simril train had grown to 5 riders by the rail-trail section. “We had an awesome group in the rail-trail and we worked hard.” recalled Shin. “I was on the verge of blowing up but tried to stay with Brenda and Lee.”

From left Marlee Dixon is 3rd, Linda Shin 1st and Brenda Simril 2nd at the 2015 Mohican 100
From left Marlee Dixon is 3rd, Linda Shin 1st and Brenda Simril 2nd at the 2015 Mohican 100

As the group rolled into aid 4 at mile 72, Dixon was just leaving. “We were pumped!” said an excited Shin. “My legs felt really good so I picked up the pace on the road to try to catch her. Brenda was feeling it in her knee so she backed off a bit.”
Shin made the catch with about 20 miles remaining. “We went back and forth for a bit where I would catch her on the climbs and she would drop me on the descents.” recalled Shin.

On the last descent before the last road section, Dixon crashed. “I made sure she was okay and she told me to ride so I went and just kept thinking that Brenda would be on my heel.” remembered the Blacksmith Cycle rider and now new women’s leader. “I got into the last single track and felt awesome and couldn’t believe that I was going to get the win and the super sweet trophy! I literally had shivers as I crossed the finish.”

First Simril then Dixon both rolled in less than 2 minutes later. “It was such a tight race, which made it so much fun!” concluded Shin.

Masters – Masse Back On Top

RDC's Roger Masse rides into Aid 3 with Toast Head's Mike Montalbano
RDC’s Roger Masse rides into Aid 3 with single speed rider Mike Montalbano

With a 2nd place finish to new Masters incoming freshman Jeff Clayton (Super Sport Athletic Wear) at last month’s Cohutta 100, Rare Disease Cycling rider Roger Masse had his work cut out for him. Ohio local and Stark Velo rider David Jolin who has notched some impressive rides in recent NUE contests was also entered. Newly minted Masters racer Tom Kruse (Cycle Craft/Bulldogs) who rode with Masse during the early parts of last month’s Cohutta was also counted in the mix of the 31 pre-registered Masters racers.

Jeff Clayton leads in the early single track
Jeff Clayton leads in the early single track

Clayton lead up the opening climb and rode incredibly strong maintaining contact with the leaders of the open men. The Super Sport Athletic Wear rider maintained an impressive top-20 position overall during the opening single track through Mohican State Forest. Local rider Jolin also had a strong start trailing a few minutes behind Clayton in the woods. Masse lagged behind in 3rd or 4th position. “With 600 riders all fighting for position to get into the woods, it’s easy to loose track of the top Masters competitors.” said Masse about the start. “I was carrying a lot of fluids at the start. I was at best the 3rd place Master going through the first 25 miles”.

As the day grew warmer and single track widened into road, Masse began passing people. “I must have passed 10 guys on the first hike-a-bike section.” recalled Masse. “People were really starting to slow down.”

Masse caught Jolin just after Aid 2 on a gravel climb. “I was surprised he didn’t try to stick to me for awhile.” remembered Masse about the catch of the Stark Velo rider. “I’m not even sure where I passed Jeff.”

David Jolin was steady all day.
David Jolin was steady all day.

Starting to run on all cylinders, Masse emerged out of aid 3 with Tim Carleton (The 11 Inc / Pearl Izumi) and RBS Cycling Team teammates Kelly Sugg and Dan Kotwicki.

Roger Masse is 1st, Jeff Clayton 2nd, David Jolin 3rd, Mark Donakowski 4th, and Tom Kruse 5th in the Masters Division
Roger Masse is 1st, Jeff Clayton 2nd, David Jolin 3rd, Mark Donakowski 4th, and Tom Kruse 5th in the Masters Division

In the very next single track section, the group was surprised to catch Gordon Wadsworth and Cory Rimmer (Kona) recovering from early efforts of trying to stay with the top men. “Gordon was definitely at a low point there. Normally I would never see him at all.” said Masse.
Wadsworth, Rimmer, Masse, Carleton, Sugg, and Kotwicki rode together for most of the remainder of the race. “It was really getting hot and we just dialed it back a bit.” remembered Masse about the 2nd half of the race. “We spent a long time at every aid station taking on fluids, even the un-official ones, between aid 3 and aid 5. The heat and previous efforts had taken it’s toll so the 2nd half felt really more like a long hot ride with friends than a race. The pace was mostly very conversational. We really had some fun!”

In the end, Rimmer faded on the closing climbs. First Sugg then Carleton were dangling off the back in the final single track. Wadsworth cruised around Masse when he bobbled a rocky corner in the final mile leaving Kotwicki and Masse to finish together.
The “hot ride in the woods” was good enough for Masse to win Masters. Clayton finished 11 minutes behind Masse after fading badly after his early strong single track riding. Jolin continued to ride steadily crossing the line for 3rd 9 minutes after Clayton. Mark Donakowski (RACING GREYHOUNDS) finish 4th. Kruse was 5th.

Single Speed – Will Christman can’t close the deal

From Left James Litzinger is 5th, Will Crissman 3rd, BobMoss is 1st, Peat Henry 2nd, and Merwin	Davis is 4th in the Single Speed division
Bob Moss is 1st, Peat Henry 2nd, Will Crissman 3rd, Merwin Davis is 4th, and James Litzinger is 5th in the Single Speed division

 

Peat Henry finishes 2nd
Peat Henry finishes 2nd

Blue Ridge Cyclery rider Gordon Wadsworth had already notched two 2015 single speed NUE victories heading into the Mohican 100. He won single speed at the opener True Grit Epic. He also won the single speed *and* the overall (on single speed) at the Cohutta 100 ahead of Brian Schworm. For the 2015 Mohican100, Wadsworth decided to try his hand on a geared bike against the top men in the open. This left the door open for one of the many super-strong single speed riders that have been perhaps overshadowed by Wadsworth.

In the end it was Bob Moss (Farnsworth Bicycles/Crank Arm Brewing/Torrenti Cycles) who would take the single speed win over Peat Henry (Team Noah Foundation) by 4 minutes. Will Crissman (B2C2 p/b Boloco) who lead the single speed class for 80 miles, suffered badly from his early effort and the mid-day heat faded to 3rd. Only 7 minutes separated the top-3 single speed racers after over 8 hours of racing. Merwin Davis (pathfinder of wv) would finish 4th and James Litzinger (Specialized Bicyles & Components, DirtyHarrys.net, Highland Training, SWORD Hydration) rounded out the single speed podium in 5th.

Photos by Butch Phillips.

Full results here.

Thom Parsons DirtWire.tv video coverage here.

Listen to Mark Stover’s account on MountainBikeRadio’s The Last Aid Station Mohican edition.

A Battle to the End

Dylan Johnson leads Keck Baker, Christian Tanguy, and Brian Schworm over the "Bridge of Dreams"
Dylan Johnson leads Keck Baker, Christian Tanguy, and Brian Schworm over the “Bridge of Dreams”

I came to the Mohican 100 with confidence as I could finally log some quality rides outside. Every year, I wonder if I should go for the $200 prime for the first rider to reach the city limit. The road leading out of the city is steep, than get steeper to finally be a gentler grade. If I really wanted, I had an opportunity to be in the mix for a shot at the prime but it was a big match to crack. From experience, I know that energy saved early might be decisive at the end.

Christian leads Gordon Wadsworth and Brian Schworm down the "water bars" section
Christian leads Gordon Wadsworth and Brian Schworm down the “water bars” section

I actually spent more energy on the road leading to the single track to make sure I was not going to be stuck behind a slower rider. I managed just fine as I actually was first for a while. Then a large group latched on. When we reached aid station 1, we were still all together. As the race progress, I maintained myself in the front position and I don’t know the specific but the group started to whistle down. By aid station 2, there were only 5 persons left in the group: Tinker Juarez, Keck Baker, Brian Schworm, Dylan Johnson and myself.

Now on more open roads, I rode to the front in an effort to keep the chasers at bay. After a while, we had a little pace line going and this when Tinker was dropped. The four of us had fun but being on the open roads with no shade, I started to really feel the effort. Especially reaching to aid 4 was a struggle, I was out of water for a good 20 minutes. By now it was obvious than Keck and Brian were the strongest on the open flattish roads, Dylan was the fastest on the technical single track and I was the most at ease when the course was pointing upwards.

Brian Schworm in the early single track
Brian Schworm in the early single track

5 hours into the race, I was the one ridding the most at the front and I was not sure how it will play at the end. I knew that the one entering the last stretch of single track will have a great chance to win the race. We reached the steep downhill leading to the suspension bridge over the river. All four of us managed to make the right turn at the bottom of the trail. I don’t know for the others but in all the previous editions I went straight right into the bushes.

Tinker Juarez was with the leaders though the single track
Tinker Juarez was with the leaders though the single track

Then we reach to the steepest most difficult dirt road climb of the day. Over the years, I learned to be humble to this climb; one time I had to dismount and push my bike. For this edition of the Mohican 100, I had much more energy and decided to ride tempo. My goal was to get my lead group companion tired rather than distancing myself. However, by the top I had quite a large gap on Dylan and could not see Brian or Keck. With 10 miles to the finish I saw my chance to reach the single track first. I rode hard on the flat road and was only a mile or two away from the single track entrance when I spotted a rider in aerodynamic position charging at me.

I could not be Dylan (as the rider was not riding a white helmet) and he was way too fast for a 100k racer. In no time, the rider reached back to me, it was Keck. Shortly after he entered the single track in front of me. It let me wonder what I could do, but then the single track widens up with two good possible lines. That was the opportunity I was looking for. I passed Keck and gave every thing I had. I know that I am not the fastest single track rider but I also know that after six and half hours of high intensity effort I can hold my own.

Keck Baker carves a corner in the early single track
Keck Baker carves a corner in the early single track

All the 100k racers did a great job leaving me good opportunity to go around them. I was getting a little anxious to get a flat when I heard several times the tires making loud noises on the stones. However, the equipment held on just fine and I kept my lead to the finish line. I could not be happier with my race as it took every bit of energy I had to separate myself from the group and then attack in the single track.

Christian Tanguy celebrates his Mohican 100 win with a podium shower
Christian Tanguy celebrates his Mohican 100 win with a podium shower

See more RDC coverage of the Mohican 100 here.

Photos by Butch Phillips.

Full results here.

Thom Parsons DirtWire.tv video coverage here.

Listen to Mark Stover’s account on MountainBikeRadio’s The Last Aid Station Mohican edition.

Swan Fights for 2nd at Mountain State Dirty Double

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RDC's Stephanie Swan is so passionate about the Dirty Double, she wrote and performed a theme song for it!
RDC’s Stephanie Swan is so passionate about the Dirty Double, she wrote and performed a theme song for it!

Rowlesburg, WV, May 16 – 17, 2015. “This is not a road race.”, reads the first sentence on the registration page. No, the Mountain State Dirty Double Roubaix presented by Pathfinder of WV is a two-day gravel racing stage race. The routes are comprised of paved roads, tar and chip roads (most of these have numerous pot holes), gravel roads (sometimes deep gravel, sometimes large gravel), dirt roads, unmaintained county roads, and steep downhills. If this sounds like fun, then the Dirty Double is for you. The rules are simple: General Classification (overall) scoring is based on the total time of both days. Lowest time wins. Riders must complete each day’s stage on the same bike they started the day on. However you can use a different bike on day 1 verses day 2. No outside support is allowed, so riders must carry what they need apart from nutrition available at aid stations. Cyclocross or Mountain bikes are highly recommended.

Dirty Double - Day 1
Dirty Double – Day 1

Rare Disease Cycling rider Stephanie Swan looked to improve on her 2nd place GC performance at the 2014 inaugural event where she placed second among the open women. Swan would have her work cut out for her with multi-time Iron Cross winner Ruth Sherman (Stan’s NoTubes/Corning Race Team) and host team rider Justine Pagenhardt (Pathfinder of West Virginia) in attendance.

For the Saturday stage, the weather was overcast with the possibility of rain (which never materialized), leaving racers with perfect 70 degree temps and comfortable racing conditions. The Day 1 early pace was brisk and Swan was separated from the women’s leader Sherman up the first selective climb. Fortunately for Swan, she had a nice group to work with for the remainder of the stage and was able to hold off the rest of the women for second place on the day.

With a 10 minute lead over 3rd place Pagenhardt and only 6 minutes down on GC leader Sherman, Swan was well positioned to have an impact on Day 2.

Things went downhill in a hurry.

The heavy rain that hit after the stage on the first day had been steady enough to leave some large puddles at the top of the first climb of Day 2. Some of these stretched across the entire width of the dirt road which had become soft, muddy and slow. It was over this muddy section at the top of the hill where Swan lost contact for the 2nd time with the GC and Day 2 leader Sherman. Chasers Pagenhardt and 4th place rider Carryn Purdon were not far behind.

Stephanie Swan descends with riders from her Day 1 group.
Stephanie Swan descends with riders from her Day 1 group.

Swan was left riding alone as rain continued to fall during a long, twisty technical descent. “My hands were slipping all over my handlebars from the water coming down.” remembered the RDC rider.

“At the bottom of the first descent, I was by myself, and over the next six miles I passed about five riders, as I time trialed on the rolling flat section of the course.” recalled Swan about the miles after her Day 2 separation from Sherman. “This effort really wore me out and I must have lessoned my pace. I heard voices behind me about half way through from a group of about five riders including a woman.”

It was Carryn Purdon, who was conserving energy, working together with other riders to maximize her advantage and to regain contact with Swan. This race was not over.

“I presume she had had other riders to work with on the flats because she seemed pretty fresh.” recalled Swan of the catch.

Dirty Double - Day 2
Dirty Double – Day 2

The group, which now included Swan, stayed together until mile 26. During this temporary alliance, Purdon had shown herself as an expert descender. Since the last part of the course is a fast twisty technical gravel descent, Swan decided to take her shot on the final climb before the run in to the finish. “I dug deep and put in as much time into her as I could on the climb, hoping I could hold her off on the descent.” remembered the RDC rider.

The strategy worked. Swan held just enough of a gap she was able to get to the finish of Day 2 ahead of Purdon and Pegenhardt for second place on the day and a second place overall.

Full results here.

Photos courtesy of abraracing.com.

2015 Dirty Double Open Women's podium: 1st Ruth Sherman, 2nd Stephanie Swan, 3rd Justine Pagenhardt, and 4th Carryn Purdon
2015 Dirty Double Open Women’s podium: 1st Ruth Sherman, 2nd Stephanie Swan, 3rd Justine Pagenhardt, and 4th Carryn Purdon
Swan is all smiles despite being temporarily caught by the 4th place rider
Stephanie Swan is all smiles despite being temporarily caught by 4th place rider Carryn Purdon halfway into Day 2

Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships

Cheryl Sornson on the podium after a fierce battle.
Cheryl Sornson on the podium after a fierce battle.

Sornson 2nd, Harding 5th at the USA Pro Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships.

Team RDC took a road trip down south this past weekend for the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships held just outside of Augusta, Georgia. The course was a relatively flat affair with a heavy dose of tight and twisty single track. With near endless high speed corners and a lack of descents on the course allowing for little recovery, riders were taken riders to their technical and physical limits.

Sornson charging across one of the many stream crossings on course.
Sornson charging across one of the many stream crossings on course.

Cheryl Sornson finished in second position after a nearly 5 hour long battle for the win with Rose Grant (Stan’s NoTubes). Early on in the race a trio of riders made up of Sornson, Grant and Ally Stacher (Ally’s Bar) broke away from the field and immediately established a large gap. A mid-race crash from Stacher left just Sornson and Grant at the front of the race. The two riders battled tooth and nail through the more technical second half of the course with Grant gaining her winning margin within the closing miles of the race.

Harding rolls to the line.
Harding rolls to the line.

Kathleen Harding was next across the line for RDC, finishing in 5th place just behind Serena Gordon (Live Co-Factory). Harding is enjoying a killer comeback season, proving yet again that she is capable of competing with the country’s best.

Michaux Maximus

The Michaux Maximus Women's podium (from left) Lindsey Carpenter 3rd, Selene Yeager 1st and Jennifer Tillman 2nd
The Michaux Maximus Women’s podium (from left) Lindsey Carpenter 3rd, Selene Yeager 1st and Jennifer Tillman 2nd
Photo by Joe’s Bike Shop Racing Team

It was an unseasonably hot one at Michaux Maximus, the first stop on the Volvo Michaux Endurance Series. I hadn’t raced Michaux for a couple of years, but wanted to get a hard rocky race on my new S-Works Epic 29 World Cup that I’d just gotten built up the Friday before. So, I packed plenty of GU Brew with me as I loaded up the car 5 a.m. Sunday morning for what promised to be a great adventure.

And a great adventure it was. Perennial Michaux favorite and RDCRacing teammate Cheryl Sornson who had been crushing it down in Marathon National Championships in Georgia the day before was missing in action, and I hadn’t checked the start list ahead of time, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured I would just line up behind some of the familiar faces who always toe the line at the front of the pack in Michaux and hope for the best.

We got the 10 second countdown and I gunned it behind Brandon Draugelis and Aaron Albright—two fast and steady wheels I’ve clung to (albeit for short stretches) at other events. We throttled behind the lead moto for just over a mile before hanging a right into the woods and starting our day in earnest. I decided to not look back for the first 5 to 10 miles and just race with eyes forward and see if I could establish a healthy gap.

It worked. I felt pretty strong all race and only put a foot down twice, which is unheard of at that place, so it was indeed a good day. I started to see spots about 24 miles in, when I ran dry on Brew and the aid station I’d been anticipating actually ended up being 3 miles further into the race. But a quick refill and dump of water over my head revived my spirits and I was able to pick it up again for the final home stretch. Ended up keeping my lead and getting the win for the day.

My Season Opener – Cohutta 100

Gordon Wadsworth, Christian Tanguy, and Brian Schworm are the first three racers across the line at the 2015 Cohutta 100
Gordon Wadsworth, Christian Tanguy, and Brian Schworm are the first three racers across the line at the 2015 Cohutta 100
To cut to the chase, this was a brutal race opener. For the last year and a half, the training has been very erratic and significantly less in volume and in intensity as I was able to do during my 2010 to 2013 seasons. The last time I raced was the 2014 Wilderness 101 and it was also the last time I rode my bike for more than 2 hours in one shot.

Of course, this year, I tried to squeeze as much training as possible but it is never more than one hour at a time. I make it count by replacing volume by intensity. This is a poor substitute but well, it will have to do…

The morning of the race, the rain was coming down pretty good and I actually had to re-park my car as a giant puddle was forming underneath my car. I was thinking that could be a really long day on the saddle with a real chance to get hurt in the process. I was in deep thought weighting the pro and cons of racing in those conditions. I came pretty close to drive home before the race even started but I got ready and it was not that bad. In any case, the course allows for an easy bailout about 1 hour after the start when the trail comes back to the start/finish area.

Despite the rain, the trail was not too muddy and more amazingly I could see fine as I did not get much projections from the tires landing on my glasses thanks to a little fender on my fork (lessons learned from the 2013 Cohutta race)

I started to enjoy myself on the trails and the rain stopped. Wow, could it be that I could get the opportunity for a good ride? I was in the lead group and feeling ok. I was bracing for the later hours in the race where each pedal stroke is accompanied by pain.

This edition of the Cohutta 100 has a very large amount of dirt road so much so that one of us in lead group joked that a cyclocross bike would be more appropriate. I must admit it went thru my head as well. I thought that the 2013 edition was much better as there was more variety.

By mile 50, Single Speeder Gordon Wadsworth asked me if I was fine; my answer was quite short: “No, I am tired”. He was obviously feeling better than any of us as at some occasions he would sing… How can this guy do that and ride a single speed???

Not much happened until mile 70, when Keck Baker accelerated. I was really hurt and the legs did not wanted to spin any faster. I was so sure I would not see any of those guys; I wished them well with a nice “Goodbye”. I was already satisfied with my effort and I my entire focus was to reach the finish line rather than coming up with a plan to move up a spot in the classification.

I kept pedaling and I must say I was very surprised to reach back to some very tired riders. As usual for me during those 100 miles race, my heart was feeling fine but my legs were just quitting. In some sense, I did not feel very tired (no cramps, no blurred vision,…) just the extremely painful legs!

When I reached the last aid station, the cheerful volunteers shouted “Just 15 miles to the finish!”. They meant well but it crushed my spirit. All I wished was to stop and cool my legs in large bucket of ice water! Like everybody else, I had to endure. I kept telling myself that the final downhill to the finish was near but when I finally reached it I was not satisfied: The trail was slick with mud and I almost crashed twice.

Somehow, I finished 3rd place behind the 1st place open men (Brian Schworm) and the 1st single speed racer (Gordon Wadsworth). It is an incredible result especially when in one race I double up on my mileage for the year. I hope the legs will hold a little longer during the Mohican 100 next month.