Kenda NUE Series #10
The Pierre’s Hole 100
Presented by Hammer Nutrition
Recap by Ryan O’Dell
Grand Targhee Resort, a full service ski resort offering abundant lodging located in Alta, Wyoming, has become well known for regular and abundant waist deep powder in the winter. However, with lift service and high end rentals available for both XC and DH riding along miles of pristine singletrack with more being added each year, Targhee is fast becoming a cool mountain destination resort for mountain bikers. This is the time of year when the wildflowers are in full bloom and waist high in many places along the singletrack. Mild weather in the low eighties, along with gentle breezes, made for near perfect race day conditions.
The Fifth Annual Pierre’s Hole 100 featured a challenging race course with amazing descents showcasing jaw dropping views of the Tetons and surrounding mountains. Instead of the four lap course with 16,000 feet of vertical climbing racers have struggled through in previous years, miles of new singletrack were added this year, reducing the number of laps to just three for the 100 mile race, two for the 50 mile and one for the 50k race. Plans are already underway to add even more singletrack, sharply reducing, or even eliminating what some refer to as, the “death climb” out of Pierre’s Hole, from next year’s race.
Simril achieves her first ever NUE Series win
After 36 NUE Series races, including nine second place finishes, Brenda Simril, Motor Mile Racing, from Chattanooga, TN was elated to earn her first ever NUE Series win at the Pierre’s Hole 100 coming in at 10:30:04.
“I think one word sums it up best: FINALLY! It’s taken 36 NUE races and 9 second places finishes to get to feel what it’s like to stand on the top of the podium. I’m 46 years old so I didn’t really expect to ever get one and it feels great.
The funniest thing about it is that, because of the 50k and 50 mile races going on at the same time, I didn’t realize I had actually ridden into the lead on the descent into the ranch at Aid 3 on the second lap. I caught two other women short thereafter on the climb back out and convinced myself that they had all been 50k racers. Lee, my husband, was riding with me at the time and knew exactly what happened, but he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to make me nervous.
I rode away from Lee on the start of Lap 3 so I rode the whole race thinking I was in second. I think it really helped to not know because I just continued to ride my own pace with the only intent on just finishing since this course is so brutal.
I was at the finish waiting for Lee when they started a raffle prize give away. When I won one of the prizes, they said ‘Oh, this is our overall women’s winner too.’ That was the first I knew I’d won. What a great surprise! Everyone out on the course was really friendly and supportive too. The only trouble I had passing anyone was when a grouse jumped in front of me on the tight trough-like single track in Rick’s Basin and it wouldn’t get out of the way.. I kept yelling ‘Rider back, rider back!!’ but it just didn’t seem to care.”
Simril is currently ranked second overall in the standings behind the seemingly unstoppable NUE Women’s Champion, Cheryl Sornson, Team CF.
Alice Drobna, Webcyclery, CycleSoles, from Bend, OR finished 11:12:47 to place second following second place finishes this season at the True Grit Epic and the Tatanka 100 plus a fourth place finish just three weeks ago at the High Cascades 100. Her finish on Saturday moves her into third place overall in the NUE standings. Drobna had just these few words to sum up her race, “It was hard today”. Niki Milleson from Alpine, WY placed third in 11:50:34.
After facing down a bear in route to her win in the 100 mile race last year, the four-time NUE Series Champion, Amanda Carey, Kenda/Felt, who lives in nearby Victor, Idaho, won the 50 mile race this year, fortunately, without any bear interactions to report.
Cary Smith gets his first NUE Series win
Following a third place finish last year behind Evan Plews (Ibis Cycles) and Ben Melt Swanepoel, Squirt Lube, 44 year old Cary Smith, Team CF, crossed the line in 8:06:01, forty minutes ahead of the field, moving him into fifth place overall in the NUE Series.
“Nate Miller and I moved to the front of the lead group as the double track climb narrowed into singletrack. We were followed closely by AJ Linnell, cranking out BIG watts on his singlespeed. It stayed like this down 38 Special, named for all its switchbacks, which actually number 42. Once onto the Mill Creek descent, Nate and I could pedal on the lower angle descent and opened up a gap on AJ.
Nate and I traded pulls the rest of the first 29 mile lap. I got out of the first feed zone slightly ahead of him and, surprisingly, held a gap up Lightning Ridge. I knew that he was climbing well and, he’s always a strong descender, so I was trying to carry speed on the rocky Lightning Loop when I sliced a sidewall on a rock. I was able to put a tube in, but Nate was long gone.
When I got to the bottom of 38 Special for the second time, Nate was there, standing next to his bike. He had broken his frame in a seemingly innocuous tip-over. His day was done, except for the long walk back to the start area. For the next 50 miles, I just tried to ride a steady pace, slowly pulling away from the ever-consistent AJ.
The field for the 100 mile race was small this year. I think that some racers are scared away from the race’s reputation, altitude, and remoteness. This year’s course was definitely more in line with other NUE races around the country. Yes, it is challenging, but (Race Director) Andy Williams is planning to have even more trails built for next year’s event, making it a flagship event for the Rocky Mountain region.”
29 year old Travis Mullen from Salt Lake City, UT claimed second in 8:48:23. “Prior to the start, I’d spoken with a few teammates who had raced here before and their unanimous response was, “It is extremely difficult” and “pace yourself”. With those thoughts in mind, I followed the others up the road leading away from Grand Targhee Resort. The pace up the service road climb was tough, but not impossible and, knowing what lay ahead, my goal was to stay well within my comfort zone.
I was able to stay within sight of the leader as we hit the first of the switchbacks on 38 special. An ejected bottle left me out of sight of the leader so, at that point, I settled into a comfortable pace and enjoyed the 6+ mile decent down into mill creek. I enjoyed every bit of the second lap, keeping the pace as steady as I could on the long single track climb and trying my best to keep it smooth on the descent. I managed to move into second and, although I was feeling decent, I was dreading the long two track climb up from the sheep ranch. I kept telling myself, “You’ve never had to give up on a climb before so you can ride this one too.”
Joy, fatigue, and jubilation awaited me at the top. I knew I was safe in second place and I did my best to keep it together on the last few miles of wildflower blanketed alpine single track, coasting into the finish and looking forward to returning next year! And oh, if, for some reason, the climb up from the sheep ranch is missing next year, I will not feel slighted in the least.”
44 year old Dale Cook, Two Wheeler/Specialized, from Spokane, WA in third at 9:09:35. Cook also has a 17th place finish at the High Cascades 100 this season.
Fourth through eight place finishers, Gabe Klamer, from Jackson, WY, Ross Delaplane, from Golden, CO, Dave Byers from Boise, ID, Chris Phenicie, from Lakewood, CO and John Malloy, from Boise, ID finished in sub 10.5 hours and were among the select racers who were awarded the coveted Gold Pierre’s Hole Buckle.
Linnell gets his third straight NUE Series Victory
Last year, AJ Linnell, Fitzgerald’s Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/American Classic, the local favorite from Victor, ID, was forced to drop out after experiencing stomach flu like symptoms. This year, Linnell crushed the field by nearly an hour, good enough for second place overall, and the SS win in 8:28:58.
With three first place finishes this year, so far, that include the Tatanka 100 and High Cascades 100, plus a second place finish behind NUE Series Champion Gerry Pflug, Team CF, at the True Grit Epic, Linnell needs just one more win before he can challenge the four time reigning champion at the Fool’s Gold 100 on September 7 where all ties will be broken.
To achieve that goal, Linnell is planning to compete at the upcoming Park City Point to Point on August 31, just one week before the tie breaker. He will need to win both races if he hopes to thwart Pflug’s attempt at five straight NUE Series titles this year!
In this best five of fourteen race series, Pflug has already racked up five wins but Linnell clearly made a statement by winning the Tatanka 100, eleven minutes ahead of Pflug making Tatanka is the ONLY race the champ has not won this season.
Linnell commented afterward, “This race rocked! Totally amazing, varied course that required technical riding skills, comfort with flat-out speed, lungs and legs for long climbs, and the ability to spin a high cadence on pavement, awesome! We spread nice and thin early-on (the cat-track climb right out of the gate was good for that) and I found myself riding with Carey Smith and Nate Miller at the front of the pack for the first climb up Peaked. They gapped me on the endless descent to Teton Canyon and I fell in with three geared riders to work up the pavement to the Bustle Creek descent. Then we entered the day’s first climb up Dry Creek together, but I pulled ahead and, before long, had opened up my own gap.
I spent the rest of the race chasing Carey (Nate wrecked and broke his frame), wondering if my singlespeed climbing could make up for his ability to shift up on the descents. I almost caught him midway up our second Peaked climb but, once he saw me, he crushed the 38-Special/Mill Creek descent and was gone for good. After that, I just focused on riding smart, turning the cranks smoothly, and getting myself across the finish line. In the end, I finished 22 minutes back from Carey–damn, he’s fast!”
For a second straight year, Trevor Rockwell, Team Noah Foundation/Decorah Bicycles/Twin Six, placed second, finishing 9:38:51 this year. “This race is the toughest of the NUE’s that I do all year. The start this year was extra grueling. With the addition of the Peaked Trail, we ended up climbing around 1500ft in the first five miles of the race.
The race for the top step of the single speed podium was pretty much over on this opening climb as A.J. showed ever impressive late season power and rode away, right away, with the top three on this climb. I settled in for a long day knowing, if I tried to follow, I would blow myself up in the first five miles of the race and never recover.
For the first lap, I was able to hold a modest distance off the front runners coming through around ten minutes back for the first lap. From there the climbs became cumulative and the altitude started taking its toll on my recovery from large, long, intense climbs. I started rapidly dropping off pace and just tried to hold on to the second position in the single speed category. I would swap places with 5-6 other geared riders over lap 2. On Lap 3, I bonked severely, chowing down on whatever I could at Aid 1 and every Aid after that. I was able to keep pushing the climbs over Lap 3 and held on by about twenty minutes for the 2nd Singlespeed and 8th overall.”
Referring to Linnell, Rockwell commented, “The guy is riding at another level here late in the season and is only getting better. Look for some fireworks if he can pull one more win to take on “The Pluginator” in an epic battle at the tiebreaker.”
Jason Brown from Park City, UT took the third spot on the podium finishing in 9:58:46. “This was my first race that consisted of a few laps and, after the first lap, it was nice to know what to expect and where I could relax (road climb), have fun (38 special), and just power through it (climb out of the Ranch). The aid stations had a good food selection and the volunteers were helpful and positive. I came with four other friends who all competed in different classes, and everyone was happy with the whole production from registration to awards.”
Fourth place went to Tim Lucking, Gates Carbon Drive/Spot Brand bikes/TRP brakes/Manitou/Crank Brothers/Lazer/Primal, from Broomfield, CO, “From the gun, a large group took off up the first climb. I knew it would be a long day, so I maintained a steady pace and settled into 5th, hoping to pick off racer’s later in the race. Heading into the final lap, 4th place was just a few minutes ahead. I kept my pace high and caught him halfway through the last lap, and we stayed very close until the last climb. It was there that I buried myself to open a gap – and to ensure that I finished under 10.5 hours to receive the belt buckle.”
Whaley crushes the field becoming the only NUE Master with more than one win!
Last year, just seven minutes separated Marland Whaley, Red Barn Bicycles, from race winner Mark Hershberger, Hoback Sports. This year, 55 year old Whaley crushed the field by forty five minutes finishing in 9:31:04.
Overall this season, so far, the NUE Master’s division is in total disarray and remains up for grabs with no clear leadership. However, with this win, Whaley is emerging as an NUE Series leader following his win at the Tatanka 100 and second place finish to Tim Phillips, Broken Spoke, at the High Cascades 100.
According to Whaley, “Pierre’s Hole once again delivered on being a quality event run by quality organizers and volunteers. However, my start yesterday was anything but quality. Trying to keep up at or near the front was killing me. When I arrived at 38 special I thought, “I’ll get a break and a chance to settle into a groove. Not so! It only got worse. I had no rhythm and was generally out of sync so I had to let riders by even more. I knew the pavement was coming and actually looked forward for a chance to gather my thoughts and try to bring back some mojo. It worked once I was able to ignore what everybody else was doing and get back to what I do best on a good day and that is to put my head down and “energizer bunny” my way around. It seems I am never brilliant, just seamlessly consistent.”
51 year old Gary Gardiner, from Centerville, UT placed second in 10:16:05, eleven minutes ahead of 57 year old John Lauk, from Bountiful, UT who finished third in 10:27:50. Lauk summed it up this way, “I was feeling pretty good about my ride until Amanda Carey blew past me on her final lap on her way to an impressive win. It was like I was standing still!
The addition of the Peaked Trail and 38 turns, along with the new 3 lap format versus 4 created an awesome course resulting in new records. I was able to take three hours off last year’s finish time as a result of the shortened course and better training. Now if they can just find a way to eliminate the death crawl out of the Pierre’s Hole!”
54 year old David Jolin, Stark Velo, from Bellville, OH, who is currently second place overall in the NUE Standings, finished fourth in 10:32:55. He will be competing in the Leadville 100 next weekend. Fifth place went to 50 year old Jesse Ferrer of Star, ID who summed it up this way, “The beauty of the Tetons, the hospitality of Grand Targhee, and 13,000+ feet of climbing, Priceless!”
The Kenda NUE Series shifts hard east to New England for the Seventh Annual Hampshire 100 on Sunday, August 18. The race benefits the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center (http://www.crotchedmountain.org/) and consists of a 100 kilometer and 100 mile course that wind’s through the beautiful and varied terrain of Southern New Hampshire. Stay tuned here for the updates, results and photos. Visit www.nuemtb.com for more information.
Men’s Open Results
- CARY SMITH 8:06:01.6
- TRAVIS MULLEN 8:48:23.0
- DALE COOK 9:09:35.8
- GABE KLAMER 9:10:41.5
- ROSS DELAPLANE 9:22:32.5
- DAVE BYERS 9:46:22.7
- CHRIS PHENICIE 9:48:48.7
- JOHN MALLOY 9:52:31.3
- YURI COOK 10:30:44.6
- ROBERT THOMAS 10:34:11.5
- ALEX SCHULTZ 10:42:10.7
- LEE SIMRIL10:52:22.1
- COOPER FOWLER 11:21:59.5
- DARRELL FINLAYSON11:41:03.4
- MICHAEL BELSER 11:43:47.1
- BRADLEE HERAUF 12:07:35.4
- MATTHEW JENNINGS 12:41:40.7
- AJ LINNELL 8:28:58.9
- TREVOR ROCKWELL 9:38:51.3
- JASON BROWN 9:58:46.1
- TIM LUCKING 10:17:01.5
- LOREN GARD 10:19:25.0
- TREVOR BAIN 11:13:35.8
Women’s Open Results
- BRENDA SIMRIL 10:30:04.8
- ALICE DROBNA 11:12:47.1
- NIKI MILLESON 11:50:34.8
Masters 50+ Results
- MARLAND WHALEY 9:31:04.3
- GARY GARDINER 10:16:05.9
- JOHN LAUCK 10:27:50.4
- DAVID JOLIN 10:32:55.9
- JESSE FERRER 11:08:01.0
- BOB GROVER 11:44:43.4
- ROBERT ADAMS 13:15:16.6
Top photo by Jake Hawkes, all others by Josh Denny