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.

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

Masse makes it three in a row with Masters win.
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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.

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

 

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.

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

Tanguy Opens Season with 2nd Place Finish at Cohutta

Roger Masse second in Masters.
CohuttaPrizes
April 25, 2015, Ducktown TN. National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series race #2 commenced with the Cohutta 100 in pouring rain and 50 degree temperatures in south eastern Tennessee this past weekend. The 2015 edition featured a different course from past editions that took racers over the Big Frog mountain and then west into the Cherokee Forest on undulating gravel roads near the Ocoee river. The new course was designed to be slightly gentler than the courses from recent years, but the pouring rain overnight and at the start all but wiped out hopes for faster times.
CohuttaMap
Rare Disease Cycling riders Christian Tanguy and Roger Masse suited up and braved the elements in their respective categories to try and notch some early season points.

Men’s Open

Despite the rain, the pace was brisk up the pavement towards the opening single track at the top of a one mile climb, as riders vied for position entering the woods. Dylan Johnson (Scott Pro Mountain Bike Team) set the pace up the first climb out the gate. Keck Baker (Cannondale/Carytown Bikes) jumped at the top to get the hole shot into the woods. RDC’s Christian Tanguy was in the lead group that included Baker, Johnson, Westley Richards (Clemmons Bicycle), single speeder Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery) and Brian Schworm (Think Green-Pedal the Planet), with several other top contenders. “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” recalled Tanguy sighting lessons learned from the 2013 Cohutta race which opened in similarly rainy conditions.

Baker lost the lead briefly, but retook it on the “roots” section by the river just before the bridge ending the first loop of single track. By mile 15 the front group had solidified a gap. “I think at first it was about 8 of us and we started riding along pretty well together.” recalled Baker about the early elite selection. “All but Brian Shworm and a few others were unwilling to put in any work.”

Your top three overall (from left) Gordon Wadsworth 1st, Christian Tanguy 3rd, and Brian Schworm 2nd
Your top three overall (from left): Gordon Wadsworth 1st, Christian Tanguy 3rd, and Brian Schworm 2nd

The rain stopped an hour or two into the contest and Tanguy was in the mix. “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?” wondered Tanguy. “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.”

Not much happened until mile 70, when Keck Baker accelerated. “I attacked and Dylan Johnson answered and bridged up to me and at this point we started to roll up a climb.” said Baker about his decision to shake things up. “I looked back and saw the group had shattered and there was a group in chase.”

Tanguy was one of those chasing riders playing it smart and conserving his matchbook. “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” recalled Tanguy “I wished them well with a nice ‘Goodbye’. I was already satisfied with my effort.”

But Tanguy wasn’t finished just yet. Baker dropped back and started working with the two chasers Wadsworth and Richards letting Johnson go. Dylan Johnson, now in the lead, continued solo.

Soon Shworm caught the Baker/Richards/Wadsworth trio and immediately attacked. Only Wadsworth followed.

Mens Open Podium
1st Brian Schworm,
2nd Christian Tanguy (not pictured),
3rd Dylan Johnson,
4 Westley Richards,
5th Keck Baker,
6th Andrew Dillman,
7th Michael Simonson,
8th Nathaniel Cornelius
Photo credit SARAKRISTEN.COM

Soon after Tanguy caught the Baker/Richards group. “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.” remembers the RDC rider. Tanguy rode through and Richards tried to follow.

Meanwhile at the front, Schworm and Wadsworth were together coming up the pavement to the finish. Wadsworth lead over the bridge and aggressively hit the final left hand turn after the bridge to set up the sprint. The sprint never happened. The aggressive turn opened up a slight gap and Schworm did not challenge. The overall went to Wadsworth.

Tanguy persevered finishing 2rd place in men’s open behind men’s open winner Brian Schworm and the remarkable performance by the 1st single speed racer Gordon Wadsworth who took the overall win. “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.” Tanguy reflected.

Johnson crossed in 4th and Richards in 5th after both were able to pass Baker on the last bit of single track fixing a flat. Baker, who had hoped for a top-3 after his win at True Grit, had to settle for 5th.

Open Women

Cohutta Open Womens Podium
1st Amanda Carey,
2nd Carla Williams,
3rd Linda Shin,
4th Simona Vincenciova,
5th Danielle Musto
Photo credit SARAKRISTEN.COM

Just as exciting as the men’s race, the top three open women were all within minutes of each other entering the final single track and the last nine miles of the race. Luca Sunscreen rider and NUE veteran Amanda Carey entered the single track first and used her abundant technical skills to enlarge her gap to the finish. “I’ve ridden behind her enough to know her technical riding is really solid.” recalled Rare Disease Cycling rider Roger Masse, referring to the large skill set of the Cohutta Women’s winner. Joe’s Bike Shop rider and up-and-coming star Carla Williams finished 2nd just ahead of a hard charging Linda Shin (Blacksmith Cycle). Hammer Nutrition rider Simona Vincenciova finished 4th and rounding out the top-5 was Grand Rapids Bicycle Company/Salsa rider Danielle Musto.

Single Speed

Cohutta SS Podium
1st Gordon Wadsworth,
2nd Brian Patton,
3rd Daniel Rapp,
4th peat henry,
5th Ernesto Marenchin
Photo credit SARAKRISTEN.COM

2014 NUE Single Speed champion and Blueridge Cyclery Rider Gordon Wadsworth continued his impressive assent in the cycling world by not only easily winning the single speed category, but also being the first rider OVERALL!
Winning an NUE race on a single speed against other elite riders on geared bikes is an impressive feat in NUE endurance racing, a feat that has only been accomplished two other times: once in 2013 by former Rare Disease Cycling rider Gerry Pflug at the Mohican 100 and that same year by legendary Kona Mountain Bike Team rider Barry Wicks when he outsprinted Christian Tanguy and Mike Simonson two years ago at Lumberjack.

Military Endurance rider Brian Patton tipped his hat as to his expected fitness level earlier in the season by finishing 1st overall in the non-elite wave at Monster Cross in Richmond… on his single speed. Patten finished an impressive 2nd place in the SS Cohutta contest. Dan Rapp (Team Noah Foundation) was 3rd, Peat Henry (Team Noah Foundation) 4th, and Pivot Cycles Ernesto Merenchin having to stop for a lengthy chain repair late in the race, rounded out the single speed podium in 5th.

Masters

Coming off an early season win at NUE #1 True Grit Epic, RDC’s Roger Masse etched a solid second place finish heeding the win to incoming Masters class freshman Jeff Clayton (Super Sport Athletic Wear) of Lizella GA. Clayton, who’s earned success as a solo rider in timed lap events in the 8-12 hour range and who has been on the podium for the Cohutta 100 sister event the Big Frog 65, has made a shift into the longer epic loop endurance racing of the NUE with this appearance and win at Cohutta. “I didn’t know who he was or if there were any Masters racers in front of me until the finish” declared Masse of the surprise win of the new arrival. “He’s obviously an experienced rider and this result is probably not a fluke”.

Other than David Jolin (Stark Velo) and 2013 Cohutta Masters winner Mark Drogalis (Toasted Head Racing), Masse was not sure of where the challenges would come. “But I knew they would come. They always do.” said the RDC rider and 2014 NUE Masters Series champion.

Masters podium (from Left): David Jolin 4th, Roger Masse 2nd, Jeff Clayton 1st, Tom Kruse 3rd, and Alan Miner 5th
Masters podium (from Left): David Jolin 4th, Roger Masse 2nd, Jeff Clayton 1st, Tom Kruse 3rd, and Alan Miner 5th
Photo credit SARAKRISTEN.COM

“Despite a solid warm-up the day before the race, I really felt weak at the start and pretty quickly started dropping behind the fairly large front group up the first climb.” recalled Masse. “I latched onto the chasing group for a while but was really hurting, as a result, my position in the single track was not so good.”

Masse settled in and rode tempo through the single track and Aid 1 trying to regroup. Soon Masse found himself riding in a small group that included fellow Masters rider Tom Kruse. The group was passed by Blackwater Bikes rider Daniel McPeake and Masse latched on leaving Kruse behind. “I rode with McPeake through Aid 4 until we encountered Andy Rhodes” said Masse. “They started attacking each other on the climbs and I didn’t want to and really couldn’t match those efforts for long.”

Masse crossed the line at 8:28 and was surprised to find that Super Sport Athletic Wear rider Jeff Clayton had won the category in an impressive 8:11. “Jeff Clayton won fair-and-square. Hat’s off to him. I admit to not knowing who he was until after it was over or that there were any Masters racers in front of me, but that’s the beauty of Masters… new freshman every year can be a surprise. I certainly know who he is now!” said Masse. “Congrats to all racers who were brave enough to show up in challenging conditions and welcome to the Masters incoming class!”

Full results here.

Swan 4th at Michigan’s Barry Roubaix

Rare Disease Cycling rider Stephanie Swan rides to a 4th place finish at Michigan’s “Killer Gravel Road Race”.

BarryRoubaixLogo

March 28, 2015. Hastings, MI. With nearly 3000 entrants for 2015, the Barry Roubaix is described by promotor Rick Plight as: “The largest gravel road race in the world”. Like the classic it’s named after, Barry-Roubaix tests riders against 80% rolling ravel roads, pavement, rocks, sand, mud, and a mile of rough double track. This early season event, marks the start of the racing season in Michigan, where snow and ice on the course are not uncommon at this time of year.

There are three race distances to challenge riders of all abilities. The 24 mile “chiller” has 1200 feet of climbing. The 36 mile “thriller” climbs 2200 feet. But the marquis event and the most challenging is the “killer” 62 mile course with 3600 feet of climbing.

RDC's Stephanie Swan (left) celebrates with the open women
RDC’s Stephanie Swan (left) celebrates with the open women

This race is fast. A successful racer must be able to navigate fast cornering on loose surface and be at or near threshold the entire race. The cutoff for racers reaching the 2nd aid station at mile 42 requires an average speed of nearly 15mph! The leaders will average considerably more.

Last year’s open women’s winner and Rare Disease Cycling rider Stephanie Swan returned to defend her 2014 title against multiple-time Barry-Roubaix champion McKenzie Woodring (Foundry Cycling), and 2015 USA World Cyclocross Team member Crystal Anthony (Riverside Racing). Fresh off her win just four weeks ago at Monster Cross, Stephanie was ready to test her mettle against a larger field and more seasoned competitors.

The podium with Stephanie Swan in 4th. Photo credit to Crystal Anthony.
The open women’s podium with Swan (left) in 4th. Photo credit to Crystal Anthony.

The 200 rider combined women’s, Masters 40+, and single speed field started fast and quickly strung out into single file. Swan found herself on the wrong side of a crucial separation early on. “After the third roller, our field was strung out double, then single-file. A gap formed about 10 riders ahead, and I hung on to the wheel in front of me. The gap widened, and it was clear: I was on the wrong side of a crucial split.” said Swan about the early selection. “McKenzie, Crystal, and Kelli (Richter) were on the other side of the gap.” remembered Swan. In the end all three women that made the lead group crossed the line in separate splinter groups off the original lead pack, but the early speed differences in speed between the lead and chase groups created an early time gap that would not be overcome.

Swan chased hard, but as a member of the chasing group, she had to work harder than she’d hoped in the early portions of the contest. In the end, Swan earned 4th place, behind winner Woodring, 2nd place finisher Anthony, and just 3 minutes behind 3rd place finisher and Chicago Series Cyclocross favorite Kelli Richter (PSIMET Racing). 5th place went to Kae Takeshita (Verdigris-Village CX).

With her 4th place at Barry Roubaix and her win at Monster Cross, Stephanie Swan is off to a strong early season start with two UltraCross podium appearances in a month.

RDC opens 2015 NUE Series with a Win

Roger Masse triumphant in Masters race.

March 14, 2015, Santa Clara, Utah. The 2015 National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series began it’s seven month, thirteen race journey across two countries with the True Grit Epic in the desert of south western Utah. By the series finals at the September Fools Gold in Georga, the series will crown four champions for this grueling 100-mile mountain bike race format: Men’s and Women’s open, Single Speed, and Masters. TrueGritLogo600x158 With six east-coast and six west-coast events, the 2015 series has more balance rather than the slight east-coast bias that has been present in recent years. New for 2015 is the first ever non-US NUE event: the Ricon Challenge in Costa Rica. Racers are scored on their best four finishes with all ties being broken at the final race.

True Grit is a difficult race by many measures. The terrain is technical and challenging. There is roughly 12 thousand feet of climbing. The race date is early spring when many northern racers are still digging out from winter. The weather is hot and there are no trees for shelter on the 88 mile course.

Rare Disease Cycling rider and 2014 NUE Masters Series champion Roger Masse began his 2015 endurance campaign with a bang, taking the win over California rider Greg Golet (Team Chico) and third place rider David Jolin (Stark Velo) in the Masters race.

True Grit Masters Podium with (from left) John Lauck, Greg Golet, Roger Masse, and David Jolin
True Grit Masters Podium with (from left) John Lauck, Greg Golet, Roger Masse, and David Jolin

Golet started strong, dropping Masse on the early climbing of lap one of the two lap race. “I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or lack of a full recovery from my last weekend’s race at Monster Cross, but I felt like I wasn’t really running on all cylinders.” said Masse about his early efforts. “(Sonya) Looney and (Gordon) Wadsworth were setting a brisk pace for the second wave start that I could not match for very long.”

Masse soon fell victim also to fellow Masters competitor Greg Golet who rode strong during the early climbing. “I watched Greg slowly disappear off the front for what seemed like an eternity.” recalled Masse about the initial Masters class ordering. “I ended up settling in, riding first in front of then behind the 2nd place women Amanda Carey, who was riding the techie sections with the confidence of a local.” said Masse about his first trip through the more technical parts of the course.

“I didn’t see Greg again till just before the beginning of the Barrel Rolls section near the end of the first lap.” remembered Masse. “He was riding pretty slowly so I just rode on by and managed a decent gap and pushed it further through the features till he was out of sight.”

But the drama was not over. As Masse settled in for the 2nd lap climbing with a couple of open guys, the more relaxed pace allowed Golet to catch back on. He wasn’t going away without a fight. “As he went by I grabbed his wheel and we rode together for the tail end of the early climbing.” remembered Masse about the catch. “It was harder than I wanted to go at that point, but I couldn’t let him go again.”

Golet and Masse were still together near the start of the most technical part of the course on lap 2. “I attacked him at the start of Barrel Ride trail and using my newly acquired local-line knowledge from riding with Amanda on the first lap, I rode the big Waterfall drops and got a decent gap.” said Masse. “I kept the pressure on by riding a clean and faster pass of the Zen loop and with that, the final lead with a winning gap was mine.”

Masse picked up his last feed in the Checkpoint at the bottom of Zen where he caught single speed rider Dan Rapp. “Dan and I rode together for most of the rest of the race.” said Masse. “We must have passed (eventual Women’s winner) Sonya Looney in the feed. We were both surprised when she came by us at mile 65 with authority.”

Despite a big fade in the final 15 miles, Masse was able to hang onto the lead for the Masters win.

Post race DirtWire.tv interview with Roger Masse
Post race DirtWire.tv interview with Roger Masse
Dirtwire.tv highlights of the 2015 True Grit Epic
Dirtwire.tv highlights of the 2015 True Grit Epic

Full results here.

Full DirtWire.tv post-race coverage here.

Single at Monster Cross

MonsterCrossStartMark Junkerman and the folks from run-ride-race supported by Groundforce IT do an incredible job with this early event. Held in Pocahontas State Park just south of Richmond, the 48 mile Monster loop is where the action is at. Not really a mountain bike race nor really a cross race, Monster Cross walks that fine line of UltraCross the long distance moderately techie, mostly-dirt-or-gravel fast paced brand of racing. The timing for this race makes it the first competition of the year for me and an opportunity to test out early season fitness. I signed up for the Single Speed mountain bike category, cause I love racing the Single Speed and most of the rest of the year I’m racing a geared mountain bike AND I have an awesome Specialized Carbon Stumpjumper Single Speed with a Chisel rigid fork that weighs 17 pounds that is perfect for UltraCross.

I raced the Single Speed Mountain Bike category at the 2014 Monster Cross and was very fortunate to win against the 2014 National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) Single Speed champion and arguably the best endurance single speeder in the country, Gordon Wadsworth. How, you might ask is that possible? Well, at last year’s event, only minutes into the race Gordon’s furious pace had force an elite selection that I did not make. But as luck would have it, he suffered a chain tensioning problem that forced him off the bike for a lengthy repair. Gordon chased valiantly after the repair catching the entire single speed field except for yours truly.

I’m certain Gordon is waiting for the right moment to exact his revenge and I thought the 2015 edition would be the place… but a conflict with the new rescheduled date kept him away.

My job was not going to be much easier as also entered in Single Speed mountain bike was Toasted Head Racing’s Mike Montalbano, who has won both the Mohican 100 and the Shenandoah Mountain 100 on single speed… but he too sat out this year’s Monster Cross with a conflict.

So with two of the best single speeders in the country not in attendance, the door was open. I drove down to Richmond from DC with my frequent winter training buddy, DC Velo rider Paul Mica. Paul is super-strong and has great mountain bike skills. With a solid ride, he could be on the podium in the pro-elite category in which he was entered.

MonsterCrossSSMTBPodium2
I lined up right at the front of the huge 2nd wave for the start. Bang! Two minutes after the pros, we were off. As soon as the pace vehicle waved us on, a 10-20 rider front group quickly formed. Within 10 minutes it was down to about 8 riders that included single speeders Igor “Piki” Danko and Brian Patton. Both were riding very strong.

We soon caught and passed my Rare Disease Cycling and eventual pro women’s winner Stephanie Swan who was digging deep… but she was not in the lead at that point. I got gapped once on the first lap due to Brian’s strong effort up the long soft climb on the southern loop section but was able to close it back down on the descent. By now the group was 4 or 5.

Soon after we passed eventual 2nd place pro women’s finisher Erin Wittwer and finally we caught up with last year’s pro women’s winner and my RDC teammate Selene Yeager who was able to latch on our group and ride with us for half a lap or so. Selene later got off course and was forced to abandon. Bummer!

By the second lap, Piki finally started to appear tired and was dangling off the back. Finally! Brian smelled blood and upped the pace and Piki was dropped. This time I was sure to stay with him. By the time we got to the southern section again for the 2nd lap, it was just Brian and I (two single speeders) leading the non-pro wave. Wow! We got held up at the road crossing by police due to car traffic and a 3rd rider (eventual Mens CX winner) David Sellars was able to catch us. I got caught between David and Brian when we were allowed to proceed and David allowed a gap to open up… Brian astutely noticed and promptly drilled it. He was taking his shot. By the time I got around David, Brian had a solid lead. I chased but could not catch the now leader of the non-pro wave and ultimately had to settle for 2nd overall in the non-pro wave by 30 seconds, but because Brian was on a cross bike, I was able to capture the win in the Single Speed MTB category again!

Unfortunately for Paul, an early snapped chain and the subsequent lengthy repair took him out of contention. Next time my friend.

But the race of the day was the sprint finish between my RDC teammate Cole Oberman and legendary Pro Mountain Biker and Topeak/Ergon rider Jeremiah Bishop where Cole missed the win by the width of a MTB tire 😮 Well done sir!

I’m super pleased with my result and even more with my early season fitness.

Next up, the NUE opener True Grit in Utah next weekend!

Full results here.

Rare Disease Cycling Decorates Podium In Salute To Final Michaux Iron Cross

in the Open Men at Iron Cross
Jeremiah Bishop in 1st, RDC’s Cole Oberman 2nd, David Flatten 3rd, Justin Lowe 4th, Aaron Snyder 5th, Brian Patten 6th, Calvin Hoops 7th, Francis Cuddy 8th in the Open Men at Iron Cross

Yeager wins women. Oberman second overall. Pflug second single speed.

October 5, 2014. Michaux, PA. Quite likely the final edition of this event at the Michaux State Forest venue, the twelfth running of the Iron Cross Race did not disappoint. Part of the American UltraCross Series, the original high-speed gravel road/mountain-bike-light format of racing covers 68 miles consisting of gravel road, dirt road, pavement, run ups, and short stretches of relatively tame mountain bike trail. Promoter Mike Kuhn and his crew at the Outdoor Experience, have been incredible stewards of this event for many years. “The park is just too popular now.” said Kuhn referring to the increase in usage the Michaux State Forest has undergone in recent years. “We have to look at different venues for 2015”.

Rare Disease Cycling riders showed up in force to contest three of the four divisions of racing. In the end, five podium positions were earned, far exceeding earnings of any other team.

Senior Men Under 40

The race was won by long time Iron Cross participant Jeremiah Bishop (Alpine Loop Grand Fondo). “I was there for the early editions and I love the mash up of drop bars vs flat bars.” reminisced Bishop following the race. “So much fun to have the drafting and the run up.” Bishop said referring to the steep 10 minute Wigwam hike-a-bike that is one of the iconic features of the race. “Its a wacky event but challenging and has that Michaux vibe that kicked off my racing career. Its an honor to win this race especially after the Mini Munga on SDS.”  concluded Bishop referring to his heavy training load in preparation for the Million Dollar Munga in December.

Second place and first man on a cyclocross bike, Rare Disease Cycling rider Cole Oberman prompted a pivotal attack attempting to achieve an small elite group at the front. “I sat in for the early part of the race, just making sure I wasn’t caught out on any potentially decisive course features. Around the 15 mile mark I made my move.” recalled Oberman about the early setup for his attack. “I went to the front and forced the pace as we approached the infamous Wigwam run up. I kept the pace hard as I quickly stepped my way up the 10 minute incline. I managed to open a one minute gap on the rest of the field.”

“I eased the pace a bit and let Jeremiah Bishop (Alpine Loop Grand Fondo) and David Flaten (Giant Mid-Atlantic) come up to me. We quickly went to work trading pulls and extended our lead.” described Oberman of the moments following Wigwam.

“Eventually Jeremiah, riding a mountain bike, launched an attack in a single-track section.” said Oberman describing the technical section leading up to the Larry’s Tavern “Aid” station. “I chased as hard as possible but my Crux was no match for (Jeremiah riding a mountain bike in) the semi-technical trail. Dave and I chased for the rest of the race, eventually battling for second on the climb to the finish.” Oberman won that battle.

“Iron Cross is one of my favorite late season races. It’s beautiful, gritty and just plain hard. I’m more than stoked to come home with a solid 2nd place!”

Third place finisher David Flatten (Giant Mid-Atlantic) describes the Wigwam selection that whittled the front group to three. “The cool thing about racing with Cole and JB is that we train and race each other all year. We know our strengths and weaknesses. I put in a dig before the last rideable climb before the field leading to the long run up. Cole and Jeremiah quickly responded and when I looked over my shoulder it was just the 3 of us. Cole encouraged us to put in a solid dig leading to the run up to create separation. Cole looked like the road runner, his feet were moving so fast. He was taking quick light steps all the way to the top and was out of sight in a short amount of time. Jeremiah and I made contact going up the next run up as we were able to ride halfway up it with out mountain bikes. That was the selection, and we never saw anyone again.”

RDC’s Andrew Dunlap experienced a flat tire not 500 yards into the prolog and eventually ended up briefly working with teammate Selene Yeager on his way to a 21st place finish.

The Open Men’s top-8 consisted of Jeremiah Bishop in 1st, RDC’s Cole Oberman 2nd, David Flatten 3rd, Justin Lowe 4th, Aaron Snyder 5th,  Brian Patten 6th, Calvin Hoops 7th, and Francis Cuddy in 8th.

Open Women

RDC's Selene Yeager in 1st, Ruth Sherman in 2nd, Katrina Dowidchuk 3rd, RDC's Stephanie Swan 4th, and Nicole Dorinzi 5th in the Open Women at Iron Cross
RDC’s Selene Yeager in 1st, Ruth Sherman in 2nd, Katrina Dowidchuk 3rd, RDC’s Stephanie Swan 4th, and Nicole Dorinzi 5th in the Open Women at Iron Cross

Top honors went to Rare Disease Cycling rider Selene Yeager. Her Iron Cross win, combined with her season opening win at Monster Cross, framed an incredible season of success on both the cross and mountain bike with two UltraCross bookend wins. “I knew there was a pretty strong field and that I’m in good form.” Yeager recalled about her chances. “I really wanted the win so I just went from it from the gun. I actually nearly vomited and it was COLD!” said Yeager referring to the 38 degree starting temperature. “This year, they stared us nearly 10 minutes behind the men so it took me 10 miles to find some dudes to work with while the chase women were working together to reel me in. But I managed to stay away.” remembers Yeager. “I never looked back. So hard tho, that last 10 miles….”

Finishing forth, Rare Disease Cycling teammate Stephanie Swan remains in the mix for a high UltraCross Series finish for 2014. Early in the race, last year’s winner Ruth Sherman (Corning No Tubes), Pathfinder of West Virginia’s Nicole Dorinzi, and Swan formed the Selene chase group. “Ruth turned into Lippencote trail ahead of Nicole and me and got a slight lead.” recalled Swan about the first single track test. “I got a gap on Nicole toward the bottom and then I saw a Rare Disease Cycling jersey and a friendly face whiz by – Andrew Dunlap!”

Andrew had flatted at the start of the race and was catching riders quickly. “He towed me back to Ruth’s group on the fast asphalt stretch after Lippencote and paced me all the way to the extended rocky (Wigwam) hike-a-bike section.” recalled Swan of the temporary alliance. “I trudged up the steep trail right behind Ruth, but she hopped on her bike a little faster at the top. The little gap she got, combined with me going slightly off-course heading back onto the gravel road, put just enough distance between us that I could not catch her. She was in my sights until around mile 30 of the 68 mile race.”

Read Stephanie’s full race report here.

RDC’s Mary Boone finished 22nd among the women.

The Open Women’s top-5 consisted of RDC’s Selene Yeager in 1st, Ruth Sherman in 2nd, Katrina Dowidchuk 3rd, RDC’s Stephanie Swan 4th, and Nicole Dorinzi 5th.

Senior Men Over 40

Garth
Garth Prosser is first, George Ganoung 2nd, Nathan Goates 3rd, Stephan Kincaid 4th, Rob Campbell 5th and Dean Smith 6th in the Senior Men Over 40 at Iron Cross

Specialized SRAM rider Garth Prosser made his usual strong Iron Cross appearance by winning the 40+ division and going toe-to-toe in an exciting sprint finish with single speed winner Mike Montalbano. Montalbano won the sprint. Second place went to George Ganoung a multi-time Iron Cross veteran. Nathan Goates was third, Stephan Kincaid forth, and Rob Campbell finished fifth rounding out the top-five.

Single Speed

Past Shenandoah Mountain 100 and Mohican 100 winner in single speed, Toasted Head rider Mike Montalbano showed the Iron Cross field of strong single speed riders that he is still a force to content with in this unusual discipline.

“After playing it super conservative at Shenandoah and Fools Gold, I was ready to throw down at Iron Cross.” recalled Montalbano about his relatively conservative pace he started with during his final two hundred-mile mountain bike races. “I was amped at the start and found myself with a 100 yard gap on the entire field after the prolog loop. Knowing there was a really long downhill to recover on shortly after, I wasn’t worried.” recalled Montalbano about the start.

Montalbano was soon joined by the large front group. A bit of climbing came next followed by the Lippencote trail. “I knew Gerry Pflug had done this race last year. Besides a few people telling me what to expect, I had no clue what was coming up, so when Pflug surged I followed.” remembered Montalbano about the first single track section. “I passed as many as I could because to sit behind someone might mean missing a good wheel on the roads to follow.”

in the single speed at Iron Cross
The Iron Cross single speed podium consisted of Mike Montalbano in 1st, RDC’s Gerry Pflug 2nd, Ethan Frey 3rd, RDC’s Roger Masse 4th, and Alan Royek in 5th

After a few miles on the road section between Lippencote and Wigwam, Montalbano attacked. “I was able to get a small gap on Gerry and held it till the run up on Wigwam. Here I gassed it knowing I could open the lead a bit on the steep run up.” said Montalbano of the separation from the Rare Disease Cycling rider and 5-time NUE single speed champion Pflug. “I made it a point all day to make sure, that if I’m not riding it I’m running, no walking. The rest of the day I continued to push but with an eye over my shoulder. You can’t count a multi time NUE champion out. I never came unglued and even caught quite a few more on the run in to the finish, sprinting it out with Garth Prosser for 5th overall. I had fun on the course and am saddened to hear this is the last Iron Cross at this venue. I’d definitely come back.”

Rare Disease Cycling rider Gerry Pflug finished a tough day in the saddle as the second place single speeder.

“I always look forward to doing Iron Cross. It’s a fun late season endurance race to do and also an important stop on the American Ultra Cross Racing Series.” said Pflug about the race. “After my string of bad luck at the race last year with having two flat tires, I decided to race on my single speed mtb this year, instead of a cross bike. Unfortunately, I had another type of bad luck occur during the race when I was involved in a crash, after being hit by another rider. I suffered some deep road rash and had some hip pain from the crash, but managed to keep pushing hard and finish as the second placed single speed rider. The winner of the single speed race, Mike Montalbano, had an excellent ride and I’m sure he would still taken the win even without my crash. It was a tough day of racing, but still fun to do nevertheless.”

RDC’s Roger Masse, fresh off his 2014 NUE Series win in the Masters division racing geared bikes, contested Iron Cross on his Specialized single speed mountain bike. “I really like racing the single speed. It’s such a different riding experience.” said Masse about his choice of racing category. “I knew with Monty and Gerry in the mix, unless either of them had a major problem, I was racing for 3rd” recalled Masse about his chances. “I was, however, also concerned about Joe’s Bike Shop rider Ethan Frey.”

“My fitness is good right now, so I decided to run harder gearing than I have in past editions.” said Masse about his 36×17 gear choice which was functionally the same as Montalbano’s winning combination of 34×16. “I was able to ride all the same sections as last year… they were just harder.”

By the halfway point, Masse, as he had hoped was in 4th position behind Montalbano, Pflug, and Frey. “I thought it was over, but my luck changed when I passed Ethan on the mid point of the final climb just as he was finishing up a flat tire change.” recalled Masse of the late contest for single speed third. “It’s a hard climb and I was already near my limit. Ethan caught me after 3 or 4 minutes and made his move on one of the steeper pitches. I had no response and had to settle for 4th by 30 seconds.”

The single speed podium consisted of Mike Montalbano in 1st, RDC’s Gerry Pflug 2nd, Ethan Frey 3rd, RDC’s Roger Masse 4th, and Alan Royek in 5th.

Full results here.

Masse wins Fools Gold Masters, captures NUE Series Title

Pflug earns NUE Series 3rd in both open men and single speed.

September 20, 2014. Dahlonega, GA. The small north Georgia town that nobody can pronounce ( “Dah-lahn- e-ga” ), famous for being the site of the first major U.S. Gold Rush and for being the heart of Georgia wine country, was once again the final destination for racers competing in the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series. The Fools Gold 100, the mountain bike race named after a brassy yellow mineral (usually pyrite) that can be mistaken for gold, starts and ends at the beautiful Montaluce Winery. The 92 mile course opens with one long gravel road climb and some ridgeline gravel, followed by a fast gravel descent. Much of the singletrack is newly re-constructed and flowy, with an assortment of fast gradual climbs to short grunts. In the end, riders climb 12,000 feet. The weather was perfect, dry and mostly overcast with a high in the seventies.

JB
Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) finished first, teammate David Tinker Juarez (Sho-Air/Cannondale) was second, Brian Schworm (Pedal Power) third, Keck Becker forth, and Gerry Pflug (Rare Disease Cycling) was fifth in the 2014 Fools Gold 100

For 2014, the Fools Gold occupied the final and tie breaking event in a 13 race year for the NUE series. It’s the Fools Gold that would determine the 2014 series winners for each of the four NUE categories: Open Men, Open Women, Single Speed, and Masters. Riders are scored on their best 4 races. Four wins that include a win at the Fools Gold guarantee racers a series championship. Along with a shared cash purse and free entries to all 2015 NUE races, each NUE series winner is also awarded an all expenses paid trip to La Ruta de los Conquistadores, a three day mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica on November 6-8.

Open Men

Winning this year’s Fools Gold and the NUE series in the Open Men’s division was Sho-Air Cannondale rider Jeremiah Bishop. “I am super excited to land the NUE over all series for a second time.” exclaimed Bishop who, in addition to doing La Ruta, is planning on participating in the Munga, a 620 mile unsupported mountain bike race across the continent of Africa that boasts a million dollars in prize money to be shared among winners.

RDC's Rob Spreng at mile 70, one minute behind Gerry Pflug
RDC’s Rob Spreng at mile 70, one minute behind Gerry Pflug

“The race was hard from the start and Tinker (Juarez) took off in search of his own pace at the top of winding stair pass” remembers Bishop about the early separation from his Sho-Air teammate soon after the climbing started in earnest. “I was tired from a huge week of training for the Million Dollar Munga. Because of this I had to play it safe and use the large group to save some energy.”

On the last big climb of the race when everyone was tired and slowing down, Bishop made his move. “It took several attacks to get separation and initially, Keck Baker brought me back with Tinker hot on his wheel.” recalled Bishop about the final race-deciding selection. It was not until the 3rd attempt that Bishop was able to gain meaningful separation. “I (finally) got full power down I was glad to get a gap!” said Bishop recalling that pivotal moment. “I pushed hard and got a solid lead but suffered a bit because I had lost a bottle in the last hour.”

“Its been a fantastic adventure at every race and it’s always super cool to start with all the amateur riders in one big group, you don’t get that at the Pro XC’s.” Bishop reminisced when asked about his thoughts on the NUE and the 2014 NUE Series. “This weekend is my Alpine Loop Gran Fondo so there will be a special toast to the win in the National Ultra Endurance 100 Series.”

Splitting his NUE Series race time between both the Open and Single Speed categories, Rare Disease Cycling rider Gerry Pflug grabbed the fifth and final Fools Gold Open Men’s podium spot earning himself NUE series podium finishes (3rd place series finishes) in BOTH Open Men and Single Speed, an accomplishment that has never been achieved before.

“With having third place locked-up in the singlespeed class for the 2014 NUE Series, I decided to race in the open category at the Fool’s Gold 100 to do my best at securing a second podium position in the series.” explained Pflug about the decision to race in the Open for the Fools Gold. “I had a blast racing on the flowing single track trails and the perfect hero dirt that made up the awesome Fool’s Gold race course.”

“Racing in both the Open and Single Speed classes this year made 2014 an exciting endurance race season for me and it felt great to do well in each category.” reflected Pflug on the 2014 NUE season.

Rare Disease Cycling rider Rob Spreng capped off an impressive endurance mountain bike season with a seventh place finish in the Open Men at the Fools Gold. Rob was well positioned for a top-five NUE series placing but was forced to abandon the Shenandoah Mountain 100, one of his four planned races.

“The pace started high on the first climb. I stayed with the lead group for about 30 minutes but soon fell off and a chase group formed.” remembers Spreng about the early throw down. Spreng, Pflug, (single speeder) AJ Linnell and a two other Single Speed riders finished out the first climb together. “I got away from that group on the first long gravel descent. Gerry was the only one of the group to bridge back to me.” recounted Spreng.

Pflug was first out of Aid2 at the bottom of Bull Mountain. “I did bridge back but he took off again on the Bull Mountain climb. I ended up passing him a while later as he was pulled over for a minute. He eventually rode back to me and pulled on a climb again.” Spreng remembered of the back-and-forth with his friend and teammate. “I would see Gerry off and on for the next couple hours, but never really did ride with him again. I spent the rest of the day cruising through the GA clay alone.”

The Open Men’s podium for the 2014 Fools Gold had Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) finishing first, teammate David Tinker Juarez (Sho-Air/Cannondale) second, Brian Schworm (Pedal Power) third, Keck Becker forth, and Gerry Pflug (Rare Disease Cycling) in fifth.

the Fools Gold 100
Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop Racing Team) finished first, Brenda Simril (Motor mile racing) second, Rachel Millsop (Vikings) third, Anne Pike (Blue Ridge Cyclery p/b Reynolds GM/Suburu) fourth, and Jennifer Moos (Pink Siren Sports / Z Bike Shop) was fifth in the Open Women at the Fools Gold 100

Due to the birth of his second child, 2013 NUE Series Champion and this years Mohican 100 and Lumberjack 100 winner Christian Tanguy had an abbreviated 2014 racing season. He did not have enough races to compete for the series championship.

Open Women

No one was going to take away the NUE series title for Open Women from Motor Mile Racing’s Brenda Simril. Simril, who had competed in eight series races, and had locked up the title before the Fools Gold even started. Simril’s effort was good enough for 2nd on the day, but the win went to long time Baltimore native and recent Chapel Hill North Carolina transplant Carla Williams. William’s sent a clear message to the woman and 2014 NUE Series champion who had beaten her twice in the early races of the 2014 NUE series. “I can win too.”

Open Women's winner Carla Williams at the finish of the Fools Gold 100
Open Women’s winner Carla Williams at the finish of the Fools Gold 100

“I started out at a strong pace with Tom Haines (Design Physics / Coqui ). We looked down at our watches after what felt like 30 mins of riding, and were surprised to see that we had been racing for 2 hours already. That was a good feeling!” recalls Williams about the early parts of the race. Williams, a gifted climber, was rewarded by the layout of the Fools Gold course. “I felt like this was a course I could really attack. The singletrack sections which usually make me nervous were fast and smooth without too many rocks or roots to slow me down. The climbing definitely added up by the end, but the individual climbs were shorter compared to some of the other NUE races, and I felt I could charge up them without burning too many matches.” said Williams about her strategy.

“Before the race, I was thinking that I have just one last long slog before I can start racing my cx bike and the fall fun really starts. But during the race, I was having such a good time that I’m sad I have to wait until April of next year to do this again.” reflected Williams on her final (and best) 2014 endurance achievement.

The 2014 Fools Gold Open Women’s podium had Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop Racing Team) finishing first, Brenda Simril (Motor mile racing) second, Rachel Millsop (Vikings) third, Anne Pike (Blue Ridge Cyclery p/b Reynolds GM/Suburu) fourth, and Jennifer Moos (Pink Siren Sports / Z Bike Shop) fifth.

Multi-time NUE Series winner and Rare Disease Cycling rider Cheryl Sornson won the 2014 True Grit Epic but then changed her focus to shorter Cross Country distance events. Leadville 100 podium finisher and 2014 Shenandoah Mountain 100 winner and Rare Disease Cycling rider Selene Yeager did not have enough races for a 2014 series contention.

in the Single Speed division of the 2014 Fools Gold
Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing) is 1st, AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald’s Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/American Classic) second, Bob Moss (Farnsworth Bikes/Crank Arm Brewery) third, Dwayne Goscinski (Team Noah Foundation) fourth and Ernest Marenchin (pivot cycles) fifth in the Single Speed division of the 2014 Fools Gold

Single Speed

In the Single Speed division, only A.J. Linnell (Fitzgerald’s Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/American Classic), could keep Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing rider Gordon Wadsworth from his first NUE series title. Wadsworth came into the Fools Gold with 4 wins, but Linnell, who had beaten Wadsworth in the Pierre’s Hole 100, could spoil the party with a win at Fools Gold by virtue of the tie break rule. But it wasn’t to be, the Roanoke VA rider dominated from the start and rode with the geared bike leaders for most of the early racing to secure his first ever NUE series title.

When asked if the Fools Gold represented a peak performance for 2014, Gordon responded “Peak? Sort of hard to tell. I think I just forced myself to keep riding extremely hard because that was the safe thing to do strategically.”

“AJ may be strong, and he is, but NO ONE can bridge up to a group of Tinker, JB, Keck and Brian Schworm. So the sooner I got them moving and the longer I stayed with them the better.” elaborated Wadsworth on the early decision to ride with the geared leaders. “I ended up staying with them a lot longer than I had though I might.”

“I dont know if I could Identify a peak during this season. I think I felt the best at Shenandoah. I know Lumberjack was a good early season peak for me. I think I managed to have two solid peaks this year between those two races.”

The single speed podium ended up with Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing) finishing 1st, AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald’s Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/American Classic) second, Bob Moss (Farnsworth Bikes/Crank Arm Brewery) third, Dwayne Goscinski (Team Noah Foundation) fourth, and Ernest Marenchin (pivot cycles) fifth.

Masters

Masters division at the Fools Gold 100
Roger Masse (Rare Disease Cycling) wins, Anthony Hergert (Reality Bikes Ambassador Team) is second, Mark Drogalis (Toasted Head Racing) third, Monte Hewett (peachtree bikes) fourth, and David Jolin (Stark Velo) fifth in the Masters division at the Fools Gold 100

Rare Disease Cycling rider Roger Masse came into the Fools Gold with three prior wins, but could have been defeated for the NUE Series Masters title in an upset by 2013 Masters Series winner Marland Whaley.

“I came into the Fools Gold with the full weight of the series championship on my shoulders. I was in the lead but could loose the series in a tie break if Marland Whaley were to win.” explained Masse about the contest for the title. “I saw that he was entered and so I had to show up to force a showdown. I’ve been racing well during the last month and so liked my chances.”

North Carolina native Alex Hawkins (Back Alley Bikes), who had defeated Masse at this year’s Cohutta 100 was also signed up. “I figured I would have my hands full.” recounts Masse. “I lined up on the front row and was 2nd wheel to the rider who took the hole shot. I remained in the top-5 for the first 8 miles or so until the sustained climbing began and the strong riders tested one another while establishing a very high pace. Within ten minutes of climbing, near the Army Ranger station and the cooler drop, the lead group of about twenty had ridden through me. There were a lot of watts being thrown down!”

With a solid lead at mile 70, RDC's Roger Masse is all smiles as he picks up some fluids
With a solid lead at mile 70, RDC’s Roger Masse is all smiles as he picks up some fluids

Alone for a bit, Masse soon connected with Toasted Head rider Mike Montalbano who had decided to not try and match the pace being set by the early leaders. “I rode on Mike’s wheel till just shy of the top of the lap 1 Bull’s Run climb. He was keeping a lid on his early pace but he dropped me there.” recalls Masse of his early alliance. “Mike’s is a good wheel to have and I know we were making good time even though his effort was probably only 80%”

“I felt good and rode solidly through the bottom of Bull’s Run for lap 2 and Aid5 but started losing my A-game.” recalls Masse. “I learned I had a comfortable lead and I had missed Aid Station 1 and had fallen behind on my fluids. I was content to throttle down and cruise the final twenty miles in for the win!”.

“I’m really looking forward to Iron Cross on Single Speed and the LaRuta 3 day stage race in Costa Rica.” exclaimed Masse when asked what’s next. “Gordon and I are going to room together. It will be the experience of a lifetime representing the U.S. and the NUE in Central America!”

Masse’s win at Fools Gold gave the Bethesda Maryland native 4 NUE wins on the year and the series title. In the end, even though Hawkins and Whaley were entered, they did not start. The final Masters results for the Fools Gold were Roger Masse (Rare Disease Cycling) in first, Anthony Hergert (Reality Bikes Ambassador Team) second, Mark Drogalis (Toasted Head Racing) third, Monte Hewett (peachtree bikes) fourth, and David Jolin (Stark Velo) fifth.

CyclingNews.com coverage and results here. Final NUE standings here. Thom Parsons post race dirtwire.tv video summary and interviews here.

Yeager and Masse Earn Wins at Shenandoah Mountain 100

Pflug second in single speed. Kelly rides to the race from Philly and finishes 14th.

RDC's Selene Yeager is 1st, Laura Hamm 2nd, Kaysee Armstrong 3rd, Trish Koerber 4th and Carla Williams 5th in the Women's category at SM100
RDC’s Selene Yeager is 1st, Laura Hamm 2nd, Kaysee Armstrong 3rd, Trish Koerber 4th and Carla Williams 5th in the Women’s category at SM100

August 31, 2014. The penultimate race of the 2014 National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series, the Shenandoah Mountain 100, has long been the best attended and most popular race of the series. With 12,500 feet of climbing and many long, loose, rocky descents, the SM100 demands a lot and only rewards riders who can present their climbing A-game for the entire day and who are comfortable pushing the limits of sliding tires on high-speed descents filled with marbles. While the course is epic, the festival-like atmosphere provided all weekend long by Chris Scott and the folks at Shenandoah Mountain Touring, provides the perfect backdrop for spending a bit of non-race time with friends and competitors reflecting on a great season and celebrating the sport that brings us together.

Selene Yeager is rolling in the lead in the 2014 SM100.
Selene Yeager is rolling in the lead in the 2014 SM100.

Rare Disease Cycling riders earned three podium positions, this with 500+ riders on the starting line and enormous competition in every category. Selene Yeager and Roger Masse each came away with victories in their respective Women’s and Masters categories as Gerry Pflug raced on single speed to a 2nd place finish.

Women.

Yeager, who competing in her first Shenandoah 100 this year had zero idea what to expect. “I’d heard it was a great course—the best of the series many said. I knew there were big climbs and equally big descents.” said Yeager. “I really didn’t know much else but that I was in for a long, challenging, and hopefully very rewarding, fun day.”

Yeager planned to stick with the leaders, women who had raced and done well there in the past, to feel things out. “I wanted to see how I felt and not burn too many matches early on in what I’d heard is a day that gets harder as it goes.” remembers Yeager about her planned strategy. On the first dirt climb, however, that strategy was tossed to the wind…

Selene Yeager excited to finish and win the 2014 SM100.
Selene Yeager excited to finish and win the 2014 SM100.

“One of the race favorites Laura Hamm (Moonstompers) came around pretty much immediately.” recalls Yeager. “I got on her wheel and started thinking. I’d heard she was fast on the descents. It was dry and sketchy—not my favorite descending conditions. And I was totally new to the place. If I stuck with her wheel I might end up chasing out of my element all day. I felt like I could probably climb a bit faster, so I made an early pass and didn’t look back, making a revised game plan to climb my heart out and let it rip on the descents where I felt comfortable, but be conservative when I didn’t.”

Selene Yeager’s revised plan worked. She ended up with her first NUE win at the 2014 Shenandoah Mountain 100. “I didn’t let myself believe it or celebrate until I saw the tents leading into camp and heard the cheers of the crowd.” recalled an excited Yeager about the finish. “I still really can’t believe it. It’s a very proud, happy way to wrap up the main season. Shenandoah is a special—very hard—race. It means a lot to me to now be part of its history.”

Read Selene’s full blog post about here experience here.

Masters.

If Selene Yeager’s win was the result of a line-of-scrimmage audible, seven-time SM100 participant and 2012 SM100 Masters winner Roger Masse had some strategy revisions of his own. “I’ve never had a complete race here.” lamented Masse about past editions. “I always seem to loose my A-game during the Soul Crusher climb”. referring to the long 20 mile stretch of climbing between mile 60 and 80. “I know the course and never drink enough, so this year I left my GPS in the car and rode with a CamelBak for most of the day” said Masse on his strategy change for the 2014 edition.

RDC's Roger Masse wins, Henry Loving is 2nd, Alex Watkins 3rd, Anthony Hergert 4th, Mike Ramponi 5th, Thierry Blanchet 6th and Mike Boyes 7th in the Masters division of the 2014 SM100.
RDC’s Roger Masse wins, Henry Loving is 2nd, Alex Watkins 3rd, Anthony Hergert 4th, Mike Ramponi 5th, Thierry Blanchet 6th and Mike Boyes 7th in the Masters division of the 2014 SM100.

“My main rivals, or so I thought, were Jim Matthews and Alex Watkins. I managed to get a gap on Jim and Alex going up the steep Lynn trail climb at about mile 20.” recalls Masse about the start. Jim Matthews was far from finished as he used his impressive descending skills off of Wolf Ridge to bridge back up to Masse. The two remained together till about half way up the first Hankey climb until Matthews got some separation. “He was attacking and has some impressive threshold power. Just like at the Wilderness 101, I didn’t want to go that hard to stay with him so he got a gap.”

RDC's Roger Masse and Toasted Head's Jim Mayuric relish the finish of the 2014 SM100.
RDC’s Roger Masse and Toasted Head’s Jim Mayuric relish the finish of the 2014 SM100.

But Matthews must have stopped for fluids after the Dowells Draft descent, as Masse was able to regain contact on the road section after aid3 (Rt 250). “We were working together well in a rotating pace line with about 8 guys going up 250” recalls Masse. “I knew what was next and was able to get into the single track first for the technical Bridge Hollow climb and this time I got the gap. I pushed my advantage and my lead stuck through the Braileys descent and aid4.” said Masse who thought he was finally the front runner.

But Masse was not in the lead. “I got in a good group of 6 out of aid4 to start the Soul Crusher section containing Jed Prentice, Kyle Lawrence and two strong climbers one of which was Chris Tries.” remembers Masse. “Once we turned off of North River onto Pitt Rd where the real climbing begins, the two climbers jumped ahead, but I could see that Chris had gapped the other guy and was riding away. Just before aid5 I caught the other guy, and after a short conversation, I realized he was Masters rider Henry Loving!” said Masse about the realization that his race was just beginning. “I made sure he knew I was racing Masters as well and that I thought we were in the lead… Oh yeah, It was on! I got out of aid 5 before him and with a big surge of adrenaline just drilled it to the top of Chestnut and really pulled out all of the stops on the long, loose rocky descent. I didn’t stop at aid6 and just gave it everything I had up Hankey 2 and held on for the win!”

Single Speed.

Gordon Wadsworth is 1st, RDC's Gerry Pflug 2nd, Ernesto Marenchin 3rd, Dan Rapp 4th, Donald Powers 5th, Dennis Baldwin 6th, Dwayne Goscinski 7th, Watts Dixon 8th, Todd Ace 9th and Peat Henry is 10th in the Single Speed division of the 2014 SM100
Gordon Wadsworth is 1st, RDC’s Gerry Pflug 2nd, Ernesto Marenchin 3rd, Dan Rapp 4th, Donald Powers 5th, Dennis Baldwin 6th, Dwayne Goscinski (not pictured) 7th, Watts Dixon 8th, Todd Ace 9th and Peat Henry is 10th in the Single Speed division of the 2014 SM100

RDC’s Gerry Pflug has made no secret that his goal for 2014 is to stand on BOTH the Open and Single Speed series podiums at the Fools Gold, the final race in the 2014 NUE series. Gerry inched his way closer to that goal by earning second place to Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery) at this year’s SM100. Gordon had an amazing day, setting a new course single speed record 7:45:57 earning 7th place overall.

My goal going into the Shenandoah Mtn 100 was to take the singlespeed win and set-up a showdown between Gordon Wadsworth, AJ Linnell and myself for the overall SS series win at the Fool’s Gold 100.” explained Gerry about his plans, but Wadsworth was too strong for Pflug to challenge him for the win at this years SM100, so Pflug called his own line-of-scrimage audible. “Knowing a second place finish at Shenandoah would give me a lock on taking third place overall in the series, I began riding a steady and more conservative pace during the race to protect my lead over the other SS racers.” recalls Pflug about his revised strategy. “I had a blast doing the SM100 this past weekend and scored a big bonus towards the end of the race when I saw a black bear and her two cubs while descending down Chestnut Ridge. With a lock on third place in the SS division, I will now be racing Fool’s Gold in the open class for a chance to stand on both the SS and open class NUE Series podiums.”

Open Men.

The day was ruled by local Sho-Air Cannondale rider Jeremiah Bishop who rode to the event and re-rode several difficult sections of the difficult course as training for The Munga, a 1000K race across South Africa. Technical riding master Sam Koerber finished 2nd.

RDC’s Rob Spreng made it to Aid Station 4, where he was forced to withdraw due to illness.

RDC riders Gerry Pflug and Jesse Kelly moments after completing the 2014 SM100
RDC riders Gerry Pflug and Jesse Kelly moments after completing the 2014 SM100

RDC’s Jesse Kelly competed in this year’s SM100 after riding his bike to the venue in Stokesville, VA from his home in Philadelphia. His finishing time of 8:09 was good enough for 15th in the open men. “Thanks to being fed all day Saturday by everyone around the campground I was feeling pretty good considering the long ride down and 3 nights sleeping on the ground.” recalled Kelly about his adventure. “I went for a pre-ride with Mike Montabano and though I was sore at first within a few minutes I felt pretty good.”

Jeremiah Bishop is 1st, Sam Koerber 2nd, Brian Schworm 3rd, Keck Baker 4th and Cameron Cogburn is 5th in the Open Men of the 2014 SM100.
Jeremiah Bishop is 1st, Sam Koerber 2nd, Brian Schworm 3rd, Keck Baker 4th and Cameron Cogburn is 5th in the Open Men of the 2014 SM100.

“I felt pretty strong from the get-go but figured I’d eventually fall apart. Fortunately I didn’t and was able to ride strong from start to finish.” remembers Kelly about his ride. “There were moments of course, but thanks to being able to stock up at each aid station with the help of many incredible volunteers I just kept feeding and drinking. I ended up having the race of my life, riding single track as good as ever, and feeling like I was climbing really well. I also got lucky on many sections of road where I ended up with two more more riders to work together.”

“I especially enjoyed the company during the race of Garth Prosser, Dan Rapp, John Petrylak, teammate Gerry Pflug, and the most incredible downhill skilled riders, David Reid and Chad Davis. Considering the caliber it’s probably my best race to date.” reflected Kelly. “I don’t think the ride to Stokesville helped, but it didn’t hinder the race either.”

Full results here. DirtWire.tv coverage here. Race promoter Chris Scott’s Dirtwire.tv race report here. CyclingNews.com coverage here.

Yeager Soars at Fair Hill

Oberman 2nd in XC Open Men. Harding, Thiemann go two, three in XC Open Women.

RDC's Selene Yeager on her way to victory at Fair Hill Classic
RDC’s Selene Yeager guides her Specialized Epic on her way to Endurance race victory at Fair Hill Classic

RDC's Selene Yeager wins the Women's endurance race at Fair Hill Classic
RDC’s Selene Yeager wins the Women’s endurance race at Fair Hill Classic

August 23, 2014. The fact that vacations are concluding and school is starting signals that not only is summer over, but so too is Mid Atlantic Super Series (MASS) racing for 2014. In one last final salute, over five hundred and fifty racers showed up this past weekend at the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Fairhill MD to give it one last go at earning MASS series points in both Cross Country and Endurance events. Hosted by Trail Spinners, the Fair Hill Classic has long been a popular race due in part to the long 23 mile loop format and fun twisty fast trail. For 2014, endurance race participants were treated to one giant 40 mile loop, a remarkable feat, considering the relatively small land mass of the Fair Hill park. Rare Disease Cycling riders Selene Yeager, Cole Oberman, Kathleen Harding, Nikki Thiemann, Jesse Kelly, Andrew Dunlap and Shane Pasley threw their hats in the ring, and in what has become a habit for Rare Disease Cycling, podium appearances were made.

FairHillSeleneRidingCropFeature
Leading the way for Rare Disease Cycling was Selene Yeager who came away with the win for the Open Endurance women. Normally endurance racers do two a short prolog followed by two 23 mile laps. This year’s edition featured a single 40 mile loop. It’s a long race and a lot can go wrong. Yeager, who’s never really ridden to her full capabilities at the Fair Hill endurance event, finally put together a performance to be proud of. “I love riding at Fair Hill and have always done fairly well at the early XC race there.” recounted Yeager following her win. “But the endurance race has been a bit of a nemesis for me. I generally manage to pull out a good result, but not without a fair amount of misery. I’ve botched my nutrition. I’ve botched my hydration. I’ve gotten dizzy on that Crackhead Bob trail. I’ve made bad passes and almost taken out my own teammates. This was the first time I managed to put together a good day start to finish. I also felt monstrously good. Maybe it was Leadville sinking in or having all that wonderful oxygen to breathe, but I was able to finish as strong if not stronger than I started.”

RDC's Cole Oberman digs deep in the Cat 1 / Pro Open Men's race at Fair Hill Classic
RDC’s Cole Oberman digs deep in the Cat 1 / Pro Open Men’s race at Fair Hill Classic – Photo credit PJFreemenPhotograpy.com

Yeager’s winning time of 3:25 had a comfortable margin over second place and was good enough for 11th overall in the Endurance distance. Katrina Dowidchuk (Mid Atlantic Colavita Women’s Team) finished 2nd, Jennifer Tillman (Joe’s Bike Shop) 3rd, Missy Nash (Toasted Head Racing) was 4th, and rounding out the podium was Joanne Abbruzzesi (Bike Line).

NoTubes Vicki Barclay is 1st, RDC's Kathleen Harding 2nd, RDC's Nikki Thiemann 3rd in the Cat 1 / Pro Open Women at Fair Hill Classic.
NoTubes Vicki Barclay is 1st, RDC’s Kathleen Harding 2nd, RDC’s Nikki Thiemann 3rd in the Cat 1 / Pro Open Women at Fair Hill Classic.

In the men’s Cat1 / Pro Open event, RDC’s Cole Oberman finished 20 seconds behind winner Cameron Dodge (PURE ENERGY / SCOTT BICYCLES). “After a long and painful start drag, I led the group into the woods.” describes Oberman of the start of the Cat1 / Pro Open Men’s race. “My forte at the front quickly came to an end as I smashed my front wheel into a hole in the bottom of the first stream crossing. After ejecting onto the far shore and collecting myself, I began the chase back to the front group.”

Oberman remade contact and sat in to recover behind Aaron Snyder (STAN’S NOTUBES TRANSSYLVANIA EPIC ELITE MTB TEAM) and Cameron Dodge. “I let Cam set the pace for the first half of the race and tried to recover the best I could.” recalls Oberman. “With about 40 minutes remaining I went to the front and began hitting both the climbs and descent as hard as possible in hopes that I would force an error. In the end it wasn’t to be, I bobbled in the last section of single track and gave Cameron a 20 second gap which he held to the line.”

Dodge finished first, Oberman 2nd, and Aaron Snyder squeaked out 3rd just ahead of Andrew Freye.

replace
RDC’s Nikki Thieman (#535) smiles as Trail Spinners Ricardo Gomez prepares the Cat 1 / Pro Open Women for the start of the Fair Hill Classic – Photo credit PJFreemenPhotography.com

“All in all it was a great way to end the XC mountain bike season.” said an excited Oberman at the finish. “Now its time for some cyclocross!”

RDC’s Jesse Kelly finished 12 in the Cat 1 / Pro Open event, 10 minutes back. RDC Philly Regional rider Shane Pasley finished 23rd.

In the women’s Cat 1 / Pro Open event, RDC’s Kathleen Harding and Nikki Thiemann finished second and third respectively behind NoTubes Elite Women’s team racer Vicki Barclay.

RDC DC regional rider Andrew Dunlap finished 12th in the Open Endurance Men.

Full results here. PJFreemanPhotograpy.com event photos here. Ty Long NoFilmPhotography photos here.

Pflug Back On Top With Single Speed Hamphire 100 Win

Spreng takes second overall. Masse second place in Masters.

August 17, 2014. National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series racers converged on Greenfield NH this past weekend for the Hampshire 100 Ultra Endurance mountain bike race. With just a few races left in the series, this is the time of the year where series division contenders try to gain a points advantage heading into the Shenandoah Mountain 100 and the Fools Gold, the final races in the series. Rare Disease Cycling teammates Gerry Pflug, Rob Spreng, and Roger Masse exemplify series competitors in this situation and in the end came away with some solid performances.

Gerry Pflug wins Hampshire 100 Single Speed with Ernesto Marenchin 2nd, Dan Rapp 3rd, Paul Simoes 4th and Will Crissman 5th
Gerry Pflug wins Hampshire 100 Single Speed with Ernesto Marenchin 2nd, Dan Rapp 3rd, Paul Simoes 4th and Will Crissman 5th
Jeremiah Bishop wins the Hampshire 100 with RDC's Rob Spreng in 2nd, Dan Timmerman 3rd, Matt Merkel 4th, and Jim Mayuric in 5th
On the platform, Jeremiah Bishop wins the Hampshire 100 with RDC’s Rob Spreng in 2nd, Dan Timmerman (cowboy hat) 3rd, Matt Merkel 4th, and Jim Mayuric (far left) finished 5th

Leading the way was Gerry Pflug with a win in the single speed category. Pflug, who is a five-time NUE series winner in single speed, is also a 2014 series podium contender in the open category. With the single speed win at Hampshire, “the Pflug” took a big step towards achieving his goal as being the first person ever to earn an NUE series podium in both single speed and open in the same year.

“Since I’ve done the Hampshire 100 the past two years, I knew it would be a hard 100 mile race, but I didn’t realize how much harder the race would be with the new course layout.” explained Pflug referring to the large number of new and difficult trail added to this year’s edition. “Most riders had finishing times about an hour slower than previous years.”

The new difficulty was due to the removal of about 10 miles of early rail-to-trail replaced with some very freshly cut trail that involved soft loamy climbing. The fact that the course receiving about 3 inches of rain a couple of days before the event did not help matters.

“At the beginning of the race, Dan Rapp was able to get into the single track a head of me and put a little time between us, but eventually I was able to catch him with the help of another singlespeed racer, Will Crissman.” remembers Pflug about the early positioning of his single speed rivals. “From that point, the three of us worked together until we were caught by a group of geared riders that also contained singlespeed rider Ernesto Marenchin.” explained Pflug about the growing chase group by the end of the long rail-to-trail section. “Upon getting caught by this group, Dan Rapp and I increased the pace and only Crissman followed.”

On the powerline climb, Crissman fell from the pace set by Rapp and Pflug. “From that point until the aid station at mile 48 I rode with Dan at a fairly steady pace.” recounts Pflug. “I was able to leave the aid station a bit quicker than he did, which gave me an opportunity to put distance between my fast singlespeeding friend and competitor.”

“I was certain Dan was going to bridge back up to me, so I kept my speed at a high pace and eventually moved into fourth place overall.” said Pflug of the miles of trail just after the mile 48 aid station. “I never saw any other singlespeed racers after leaving Dan.”

Rob Spreng is happy to finish the hardest Hampshire 100 to date.
Rob Spreng is the 2nd man across the line at the hardest Hampshire 100 to date.

Pflug managed to hold-on to his lead to take the win at 8:57. Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles/Twin 6 Labs) crossed the line in second 14 minutes later. Daniel Rapp (Toasted Head Racing) followed in third 5 minutes behind 2nd. Paul Simoes (Bikeman.Com) was 4th and Will Crissman (B2C2 P/B Boloco) rounded out the single speed podium in 5th. “After doing the past five NUE Series Races on a geared bike, it felt good to be back on a single speed.” said Pflug after the event. “Like they say, variety is the spice of life!”

Rare Disease Cycling’s Rob Spreng, competing in the men’s open division, had an awesome race, adding a solid result to an already stellar season. Finishing ahead of all but Sho Air Cannondale rider Jeremiah Bishop when the day was done, Spreng puts himself into position to compete for a very high 2014 NUE series ranking.

“Once we all got going in the singletrack there was some changing front positions for a little while.” recalled Spreng about the start. Once everyone got settled in, it was Spreng, Bishop, Tinker Juarez (ShoAir Cannondale), Dan Timmerman (Nalgene P/B Mt Bora) and Mike Barton that formed the front group. A short while later, Spreng recalled seeing Mike off of the trail with a mechanical issue, reducing the lead group to four.

Alec Petro wins Masters with RDC's Roger Masse in 2nd, Odd-Aage Bersvendsen 3rd, Mike Ramponi 4th, and Thierry Blanchet  in 5th
Alec Petro wins Masters with RDC’s Roger Masse in 2nd, Odd-Aage Bersvendsen 3rd, Mike Ramponi 4th, and Thierry Blanchet in 5th

“I’m not sure when, but Tinker was the first to fall off.”  Spreng recalled. In the single track following the mile 48 aid station where Gerry Pflug would shortly get separation from fellow single speeder Dan Rapp, Dan Timmerman was losing contact with the leaders. “The remaining three of us were together until somewhere around mile 50.” remembers Spreng. “From there I think JB and I started putting a little gap on Dan Timmerman.”

Spreng and Bishop were together through the start-finish area at mile 62 and for about 10 miles after that. “He starting turning up the pressure around mile 65 and I stayed as long as I could.” recalls Spreng about the final separation with the eventual winner. “I had to eventually let him go and ride my own race from there to the finish. From then on I kept my gap on third place and rode the rest alone. I had a ton of fun finishing! My Specialized S-Works Epic World-Cup was loving the last 10 miles of awesome trails.”

Bishop won the day with a time of 8:22, nearly one hour slower than his 2013 winning time. Spreng finished 2nd 16 minutes later. Dan Timmerman finished 3rd, Matthew Merkel (Riverside Racing) 4th and Toasted Head’s James Mayuric rounding out the top-five. With 2 second place finishes and a 4th, Rob Spreng is well positioned to vie for a top-3 series finish in the open men.

Rare Disease Cycling rider Roger Masse briefly challenged Masters winner Alec Petro (Corner Cycles) with a catch at the mid-way point. It didn’t last. The same single track section where Dan Timmerman lost contact with Spreng and Bishop; and where Dan Rapp lost contact with Pflug; Masse also lost contact with the Masters race leader.

Roger Masse cross the line in Masters Division 2nd after a brutal day at Hampshire 100
Roger Masse cross the line in Masters Division 2nd after a brutal day at Hampshire 100

“I jumped ahead of Alec into the Prolog single track at the start, but he caught and passed me on the first pavement climb” recalled Masse of the early test of his rival. He wouldn’t see him again till the half way point. “Rolling out of the aid station at mile 48, I nearly regained contact with Alec again, hanging about 30 feet off his wheel for a mile or so.” remembers a surprised Masse. “I thought he was gone… but there he was. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capitalize. I had just finished 25 relatively fast-paced miles of single track with Jeff Mandell (Finkraft Cycling Team), Crystal Anthony (Riverside Racing) and eventual 6th place open finisher Ross Andersen (Pure Energy – Scott Elite Cycling). At that point in the race, I needed to settle down a bit so he slipped away.” Meanwhile, Petro jockeyed back and forth with the eventual Women’s 100K winner Crystal Anthony all the way to the start-finish, out-of-sight and together gaining time on Masse. Petro hung on for the win with Masse crossing in 2nd 23 minutes later. “I was hoping to be a bit closer to Alec in the end, but I’m happy with the second place finish.”

Masse, who had taken over the Masters series lead following a mechanical-filled day which landed him a disappointing 6th place at the Wilderness 101, lost the series lead for 24 hours to Marland Whaley as his rival won the Masters race at Pierre’s Hole in Wyoming. Masse’s 2nd place at Hampshire replaces the 6th place finish from Wilderness 101 and moves him back into the series lead setting up a winner take all showdown with Whaley at the Fools Gold in September.

In the open women, Elizabeth Allen (Danielson Adventure Sports) finished first at 11:30, followed by Anne Pike (Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing) three minutes later. Third place went to Lenka Branichova (Lapdogs Cycling Club).

Full results here. CyclingNews.com coverage here. NUE Series standing through Hampshire 100 here.

Podium for Yeager at Leadville

RDC’s “FitChick” earns age-group third at the “Race Across the Sky”.

Selene Yeager pilots the new Specialized S-Works ERA, a new women's specific full suspension 29er for 2015
Selene Yeager pilots the new Specialized S-Works ERA, a new women’s specific full suspension 29er for 2015

August 9, 2014. Approximately 2,000 racers converged on the small historic Colorado mining town of Leadville, essentially doubling it’s normal population of roughly 2,500, to compete in the 21st edition of the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. In 2009, the race became known as the “Race Across the Sky“, after a short movie with that name was released chronicling Lance Armstrong’s win of the event and his improbable setting of a new course record that year. The 103 mile course takes riders from a starting elevation of approximately 10,152 feet to the Columbine’s elevation of 12,424 ft, where riders are turned around to head back to Leadville. Leadville never seems to hold much attraction to the typical National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series mountain bike racer, in part due to it’s reputation as a minimally-technical “roadie” course that is held at altitude. Despite this, the Leadville 100 has attracted many super-stars of our sport to contest it’s peaks over the years, so much so that the race has evolved to iconic state, virtually on every endurance riders bucket-list.

Rare Disease Cycling rider Selene Yeager threw her hat in the ring for this year’s event on the brand new not-yet-in-production 2015 Specialized ERA, a women’s specific full suspension 29er.

“I’ll confess that I’ve never really had any interest in doing Leadville.” recalls Yeager about past thoughts of including Leadville as a race in her season. “I just didn’t really believe the hype. It also has a bit of a reputation as a “roadie course,” so I didn’t think it would be interesting. Plus it’s an out and back, which never really appeals to me. So yeah. Leadville. Whatever.”

RDC's Yeager leads a group of men down one of the many descents at Leadville
RDC’s Yeager leads a group of men down one of the many descents at Leadville

“I was wrong. Really wrong.” confesses Yeager. “Leadville is actually all that it’s hyped to be and maybe then some—brutally hard, amazingly beautiful, very humbling, a bit of a road race, more of a mountain bike race than you think, and the kind of experience that seeps under your skin and becomes a little part of you.”

“It’s the only race I’ve ever done that has a downhill start, which is as sketchy as it sounds, and always leads to a crash or two that can take you out before you even start.” remembers Yeager about her start. “Survive that, and before you know it, you’re onto the first climb and the day is on in earnest.”

RDC's Selene Yeager finished 3rd behind Stan's Notubes Elite Women's Team riders Jennie Smith and Nina Baum in the Women's 40-49 event
RDC’s Selene Yeager finished 3rd behind Stan’s Notubes Elite Women’s Team riders Jennie Smith and Nina Baum in the Women’s 40-49 event

Despite disciplined pacing, Selene feeling as though the climbs were endless, started to come unglued at around mile 85. “I was convinced I had blown my sub-9 goal and as everything started to hurt and shut down, I wasn’t sure I cared.” recalls Yeager of that dark final hour. This is around the point where Selene found Rebecca Rusch, Specialized Bicycle sponsored athlete and her 2013 Brazil Ride partner. “She rolled up and I was transported back to Brazil where we’d pushed so far beyond our limits day after day.” recounts Yeager. “Suddenly 7 or 8 more miles seemed easy. We hit the pavement and I could see it… the red carpet and the finish line. I wanted nothing more than to hit that red carpet and be done.”

Yeager finished the brutal day in eight hours and thirty nine minutes, good enough for 3rd place in her 40-49 age group for women, the age group of most of the top women finishers.

When later asked about how the new women’s specific Specialized ERA performed, “It was awesome. Very light and responsive.” Yeager remembers about the bike. “It’s women’s specific geometry. More like a Fate than an Epic.”.

The ERA, which comes with a Brain equipped version of the new inverted Rock Shox RS1 suspension fork, is apparently very good on small-bump compliance. “I LOVED it. Very, very supple.” exclaimed Yeager about the fork. “Reacts perfectly to the ground without transfering any unwanted feedback into the rider.”

Despite being extremely prepared for the event and riding an awesome bike during it, Yeager was completely spent at the finish. “I stopped dead and slumped over my bars as depleted as I’ve ever felt…and as satisfied too.” said Yeager. “I did it. I finished the race and got the big belt buckle.”

Read Selene’s full blog and race report here. CyclingNews.com coverage here.

Kelly Tames Rattling 50

Jesse Kelly wins 45+. Harding second in women’s race.

August 9, 2014. The Mid Atlantic Super (MASS) Series endurance competition resumed this past weekend near Lynkens PA as the Ratting 50 took center stage. Known for it’s rocky challenging terrain, the 50 mile course in Weiser State Forest was once again the place where riders brought their biggest tires and and their biggest game to tackle what is likely the most challenging technical course in the MASS series. Rare Disease Cycling rider Jesse Kelly brought home the gold in the Masters 45+ category after a tough back-and-forth battle with Joe Johnston and Rolf Rimrot.

RattlingMastersPodium
Jesse Kelly is the Masters 45+ Marathon champion, Joe Johnston 2nd and Rolf Rimrot 3rd

“I was a bit jaded beforehand having looked up my strava from last year and seeing I’d described it as ‘five hours in a tumble dryer'” said Kelly about his thoughts before the race.

The Rattling 50 course starts with an immediate 10 minute climb up 800 feet to the single track in the Weiser State Forest. “I wanted to battle it out with the big boys in the open including traveling partner Francis Cuddy, but he and the top dogs left left the field in the dust from the start.” recounts Kelly. “The course looped differently this year and I was confused pretty much the entire race. After the first long climb the singletrack quickly showed its character and I was no match for the numerous rock gardens.”

Nutrition strategy is important at the Rattling 50. As an August race with stops at mile 10, 20, and then a long skip to mile 40, It’s easy to run out of water. “It was not as hot as last year but a 20-mile section with no stops meant at least two hours with no refills.” remembers Kelly. “Nutrition was vital. Fortunately the Specialized S-Works Epic holds two bottles in the frame, but I still grabbed an extra for the jersey pocket. I’m very glad I did as even some of the riders with hydration packs ran out! Even drinking plenty I finished dehydrated. It was just so tough at times to attempt to drink in all the singletrack, and when doubled track appeared it was still too tiring to let go of the bars!”

The Masters 45+ race played out as a battle between Kelly, Joe Johnston (BLACK BEAR CYCLING / FASCAT COACHING) and Rolf Rimrot (Bike Line). “I would make headway on the tamer trails and continually be hunted down and often passed in the rocks.” said Kelly about the early back-and-forth. “I mostly stayed near Joe running first or second, but Rolf sailed by about half way leaving me in 3rd for a long while.”

Vick Barclay is 1st, RDC's Kathleen Harding 2nd and Jessica Nankman is 3rd  in the Women's Marathon event
Vick Barclay is 1st, RDC’s Kathleen Harding 2nd and Jessica Nankman is 3rd in the Women’s Marathon event

Kelly was also duking it out early with open rider Jeff Mandell (FINKRAFT CYCLING TEAM) who eventually rode away to place fifth in the Open Men, and Jamie Huber (TOASTED HEAD RACING), who went on to take the single speed win. Also with Kelly was the young Andrew Bobb (MOUNTAINSIDE RACING) who’s had a stellar year. “Andrew’s technical abilities are unbelievable!” recalls Kelly. “He invited me to follow his lines in the rock gardens but sadly I could only wish to do so! All these guys were so powerful through the toughest sections, and fighting back up to them time and again was taking a toll.”

Jesse's sträva file shows the course complexity at the Weiser State Forst
Jesse’s sträva file shows the course complexity at the Weiser State Forst

“After collecting myself at the final aid station and with the wonderful encouragement from the volunteers, I was ready to rocket home.” recalls Kelly about the final 8 miles to the finish. “Sadly, Rolf had a hard fall at some point, but he still hung on for 3rd. And I was able to get some space in front of Joe. I screamed down the last doubletrack descent along with Brian Shernce (CYCLE CRAFT/BULLDOGS) to the finish. That was the most thrilling part of the race, with my primary motivation at the end to just satisfy the cravings for hoagies and cola :)”

RDC’s Kathleen Harding placed second in the women’s open event behind Vicki Barclay (NoTubes Elite Women) and ahead of third place finisher Jessica Nankman (GIANT NORTHEAST GRASSROOTS TEAM). “Endurance racing is rough.” recalls Harding, who primarily focuses on shorter cross country distance events. “Probably should’ve had more hay in the barn before taking on the Rattling 50. On the upside, got to check out some incredible trails.” When a teammate asked how the course was, Harding was overheard to say “it felt like riding a jackhammer for 50 miles with a sandpaper saddle. Ha!”

The overall winner and Open Men’s division winner was Ryan Serbel (CREATEX COLORS – BENIDORM BIKES) followed by Scott Gray in second, and Andrew Freye (Bike Line) in 3rd.

Jamie Huber (TOASTED HEAD RACING) won the Single Speed, followed by Scott Green in second and Dan Bonora in third.

Full results here.