Kenda NUE Series #8
Presented by Hammer Nutrition
High Cascades 100 Race Report by Ryan O’Dell
The fifth annual High Cascades 100 rolled out under sunny skies but considerably warmer temperatures than previous years in the low to mid ninety’s. The extreme heat took its toll on many racers with a record 60 DNF’s although the overall finish rate was still a healthy 85%. Beginning and ending at Bachelor Village, the sold out event treated finishing racers to grilled burgers with all the fixin’s along with plenty of local brew that included the award winning Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Twilight Summer Ale courtesy of Deschutes brewing.
Wallace gets his first ever NUE Series win!
Thirty year old Cory Wallace, Kona, from Ferndale, BC got his first ever win at an NUE Series race completing the 100 mile course in just 7:39:54. “The NUE series is something I’ve always intended on being part of so it was nice to finally get down to one of the events!
The race started with a shocking event as race favorite, teammate, and last year’s winner, Barry Wicks, Kona, crashed hard on his collarbone and abandoned the race. We had both been racing on the road at the Cascades Cycling Classic all week and had been looking forward to riding together on this day. Too see him go down sucked, and it was hard as hell not to stay there with him, but he’s a tough guy and I knew he would be all right.
It took a while to get back into race mode after the accident as my teammate Sean Babcock and I road together for the first couple hours in the fifth and sixth positions. I was tired and suffering but when I thought of Barry, probably back in the hospital at this point getting his collarbone reset, it gave me a huge boost of motivation to try and make the most of the day for both of us.
Getting a time gap of five minutes on the leaders just after the first aid station set off an alarm and the chase began. For the next three hours, I would pick off riders one by one but could never get the gap below two minutes to race leader, 2011 NUE Champion, Christian Tanguy.
Finally, at the fourth aid station, 70 miles in, the time gap had come down to 1:30 and I knew I was in business. Pushing hard up the climbs coming out of Lava Lake I still couldn’t see Tanguy, but on the back decent I started seeing whiffs of dust on the trail. From there, I let go of the brakes and slowly gained on Tanguy, which was evident by the increasing levels of dust.
Twenty miles from the finish, I latched onto Tanguy and he immediately pulled over to let me by which was a bit of a surprise and showed just how great of a sportsman he is. Coming out of the last feed station, I pushed hard up the climb to get a gap on Tanguy, who was riding really well, and then cruised the descent at a conservative pace to avoid crashing or having mechanicals. It was a hard and hot day on the bike but the trails were unbelievable and made the ride fly by. Huge thanks to the organizers for putting on a great event! I have my fingers crossed that I will be back next year to rip these trails again!”
Barry Wicks, Kona, the hometown boy from Bend, earned a trip to the ER that confirmed a broken collar bone, but returned later to congratulate his teammates and race finishers.
Just four minutes later, 38 year old Christian Tanguy, Team CF, following a fifth place finish last year and leading most of the race this year, improved to finish second at 7:43:26 with his wife and young son there to greet him in at the finish line.
Tanguy reported, “Following the paved roll-out, the speed increased significantly as the trails were extremely dusty and everybody was trying to get into those first spots. I managed to enter the single track in third position. With the sun quite low and the dust kicked up in the air, it makes for quite surreal conditions. After Barry Wicks crashed, Evan Plews was making tempo and I was glad to follow.
By the time we reached aid #1, a group of four had formed. My teammate, Cary Smith, took the lead up the jeep road. At the rare occasions when the road was going down- hill, the gap between each of us was greater due to the extremely dusty conditions. Closing the gaps was difficult because of the high elevation (for a Michigan resident) but I was still feeling energized and was second wheel to Cary. At this point, I stopped wondering what was happening behind.
After about 3.5 hours, I increased the pace because I noticed Mike was losing some ground on the climbs. Soon after, I was on my own. The trails were awesome, especially when in first place, with no dust over the trails. The trails to the Lava Lake were very enjoyable but I could tell I was not as smooth as the racers behind me so I decided to give a good effort climbing out of the lake and back to Bend.
On the following descent, I started to hear braking noises from behind so I pulled over to the side and Cory flew by. Yeah, I am really not that fast going downhill. The next two hours it took to get to the finish was a real struggle but I did not fall apart, pushing all the way to the line. I had a great time and hope I will have the opportunity to race here again.”
50 year old Michael Tobin, G-Fit, from Boise, ID finished third in 7:56:09. Five minutes later, Carey Smith, Team CF, from Jackson, WY passed under the Kenda arch fourth at 8:01:35. Evan Plews, Reall Racing, from nearby Salem, OR suffered a flat tire that set him back to fifth place at 8:03:57 with the British National Marathon Champion, Neal Crampton, Torq Performance, from Leeds, UK rounding out the top six at 8:12:34.
Perhaps the most amazing finish of the day was 13 year old Brian Hart Jr., Hapi-Go, who finished 12:57:33 riding his 26” full-suspension Giant Trance X. Hart Jr. became the youngest NUE finisher ever coming in 150th out of 230 starters in his division. Both of his older sisters also entered the race, 18 year old Sharon and 16 year old Susannah, who become the youngest girl ever to complete the 100 mile race.
“This was my first 100-mile race but it was more like a training ride than a race for me. The longest one I had finished until today was a 62-mile race two weeks ago. It also had over 11,000 feet of climbing. My only goal was to finish. I got tired but it was fun.
I stopped for about ten minutes at some of the aid stations and ran out of water once, during the 16 miles (41 to 57) between the Skyliner and Dutchman aid stations. The hardest part was after Lava Lake, (mile 69) where there was about a five-mile rocky climb, and it was hot. I had to make myself eat! My favorite part was a trail called Tiddlywinks within 14 miles of the finish. It was very flowey with big berms and gaps. I could have cleared some of those gaps if I was fresh.”
Gordon returns to winning form!
Serena Bishop Gordon, All Access Racing, a local favorite and past winner of the HC100, is having her best year ever following her win at Nationals and now another big win in Bend. Following losses to Alice Pennington the last two years, Gordon admitted that she really wanted this win and it certainly showed as she crushed the field by nearly forty minutes to finish 9:02:53.
“We were all together until we got to the first dirt section, and then there was just like a plume of dust. I saw Alice and I passed her and then I never saw her again. I took a spill coming around Bachelor which kind of hurt and my chain jammed. I was freaking out but I got that fixed. Then, at about mile 75, my stomach really started feeling bad but I rolled into Edison, got some coke and some food, and from there on it was pretty much survival.”
Following her fourth place finish last year, Jana Repulski, Broken Spoke Cycling, from Boise, ID improved to finish second this year in 9:40:14 and then, ten minutes later, Jennifer Shultz, Balance Point Racing/Fresh Air, from Kelowna, BC came in at 9:51:59, among just three to finish in sub ten hours.
“Four of us from Balance Point Racing, based out of BC, Canada made the long journey to the HC 100. Balance Point Racing specializes in coaching and physiological testing for triathlon and endurance sport. A 100 Miler has been on my bucket list for the last five years and I finally decided to make it happen this year. I have been racing for over 15 years, Road Cat 1/2 and MTB, and more recently decided to focus on mostly Mountain bike Endurance Racing including Endurance Single Day Events, six hour events, plus 100 Milers, a more recent passion.
I am also passionate about mountain bike stage racing including the BC Bike Race (2011-1st Solo) and Trans Rockies 3 (2012 -3rd place Solo Women). I had a great season of racing last year including several Marathon single day events and stage races. However, my season came to an abrupt halt last August, after a bad spill on my road bike, which resulted in shattering both bones in my right forearm during my last training ride before I was scheduled to race the Breck Epic. I have since made a full recovery and was very motivated to train all winter that included lots of Epic XC skiing and indoor cycling.
I had a blast at the HC 100! It was the ultimate test for all my endurance training and this was my longest race ever! I was definitely more nervous about the magnitude and challenge of this new experience. My goals for the race were to ride smart and use my knowledge of physiology, thanks to the Balance Point Racing Coaches – Luke Way, Andrew Sellars, Ginny Sellars, and my experience with endurance racing. Nevertheless, this was my first 100 miler and nothing can replace such an awesome opportunity to learn more about my own physiology, pacing and nutrition.
This race was very challenging with the extreme heat and I definitely learned a lot about pacing and nutrition. I rode hard and reminded myself to smile and enjoy the experience. I am definitely pumped about a third place finish and can’t wait for my next 100 miler! The Pierre’s Hole 100 looks absolutely awesome but may have to wait until next year due to my upcoming busy race schedule.”
Shultz shared her packed upcoming schedule that includes the Trans Rockies 3 stage race (July 27-29), Canada Cup Finals (Whistler, BC – mid August), JABR Marathon MTB Race near Whistler, BC in mid-August, and the Mongolia Bike Challenge in September where she will compete with three other team mates.
Alice Drobna, Webcyclery, CycleSoles, of Bend improved to finish fourth at 10:02:45 following her fifth place finish last year. Twenty-five minutes later, Nicole Dolney, Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club, from Sacremento, CA finished 10:27:54. Last year’s race winner, Alice Pennington, Team S&M/Kona, from Hood River, took sixth this year in 10:41:19.
Although she was not among the top finishers this year, 16 year old Susannah Hart, Hapi-Go, from Washougal, WA, finished her first 100 mile race becoming the youngest girl to complete an NUE Series race. Adding to the wow factor, she chose a 29” hard-tail Redline Monobelt single-speed with a Gates Carbon belt-drive and 39/22 gearing!
“Approaching this race, I debated whether I should ride my geared bike or single-speed. I decided to ride the single-speed because I got the idea that this race didn’t have as much climbing as other races I have done. It had 11,400 feet climbing over 100 miles, just about the same elevation gain as in the 100k race I did two weeks before. I switched out my 1.9” rear tire for a Kenda Nevegal 2.2 for better traction the day before the race.
For me, this race was not as hard as I expected it to be. The one thing I didn’t like was how often I had to eat in order to avoid bonking (every 45-60 minutes). I don’t usually eat much during a normal 20 to 30-mile, two to four hour mountain bike race. My favorite part was from Swampy aid station to Skyliner (mile 30-41). There was a nice long downhill were I had a good opportunity to sing some hymns. I enjoy doing this. It makes me very happy and helps keep my mind off the race.
From Skyliner to Dutchman (mile 41 to 57) was one of the most beautiful parts of the race. It was along a mountain with mountain flowers and creek crossings. This is also where I had to stop due to a bloody nose from the heat.
Lava Lake was so beautiful! The best part about these long races is the camaraderie you get from riding with other people. From Lava Lake to Edison (mile 69-80) was the hardest part and where I ran out of water. I figured I did not need to refill my water at Lava Lake since it was only 10 miles to Edison. I am so thankful to God for sending the roving sweep along and for the water that she gave me. After not having any water, I didn’t want to eat, so I bonked pretty badly until I got to Edison (mile 80) where I stocked up on food and water.
From Mile 80-100 on, I mostly just wanted to finish, crossing the finish line with yet another bloody nose. Although my legs were not particularly tired after the finish, one thing I noticed from riding the SS was that my knees were sore, so the SS is not something I would try again for a while in an endurance race.”
Single Speed Open
Linnell makes it two straight at the HC100!
AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald’s Bicycles/Misfit Psycles) of Victor, WY, made it two in a row as he took the top spot on the podium finishing 8:42:39! Adding this victory to his win at Tatanka and a second place finish at True Grit earlier this season has made Linnell the greatest challenger to reigning NUE Series Champion, Gerry Pflug, team CF, who has earned a commanding lead in the NUE series with four wins and just one second place finish behind Linnell at Tatanka.
“The HC100 hurt more this year! It was not my greatest day in the saddle, but not my worst either with a slightly longer course, more elevation gain, and hotter weather. Maybe I was just feeling wimpy but, whatever it was, that was a tough race! My 34×19 gearing really hurt on the bigger climbs but it was spot-on for the fast, rolling singletrack that makes up most of the race.
Through the whole thing I wasn’t even sure whether I was first among the single speeders. The neutral mass roll out at the start was so big and chaotic that I had a hard time keeping track of who was who and then there was all that time riding blind in the dust cloud once we hit the dirt. I wasn’t sure who I had passed or who had passed me. I didn’t get any info from anyone on the course either, so I just stayed on the gas and told myself I had to ride my race and it would all shake out in the end.
And in the end, I did get the win, but Joe (Santos) wasn’t that far behind me. One thing I’ve learned from racing with Gerry is that you have to stay focused and keep pushing through the whole race. There’s no room to soft-pedal and space out and that is hard to do in an 8.5-hour event! Thankfully I managed to stay on it today.”
Ten minutes later, Joe Santos, Cyclepath, from Portland, OR finished second at 8:53:10 on his 32/19. Eight minutes later, 2011 NUE Master’s Champion, 52 year old Doug “The Hulk” Andrews, geoladders.com, took third, 9:01:04, riding rigid on his monster gearing, 28 x (top secret?).
Nine minutes later, 20 year old Steven Mills of Redding, CA finished fourth in 9:10:57 riding a Specialized Carve SL single speed with 32/19 gearing. “I enjoy mountain biking to see the outdoors. The toughest part of the course for me was at the start of the dirt trail that was a complete dust out! I couldn’t see what was in front of me until a split second before there was a huge boulder that I had to swerve around. During the entire race I was coughing up black junk and the trail was squirrelly. I was fish tailing around the entire course through loose, deep sand. It was hard to keep my front tire from washing out but I will definitely be back next year to race!”
47 year old Will Sullivan from Lake Oswego, OR took fifth at 9:27:34, then, four minutes later, Dejay Birtch, Ride for Reading, Maxxis, Stans, Pivot, marked his return to the NUE Series with a sixth place showing in 9:38:47.
Masters 50+ Open
Phillips narrowly gets his first NUE Series win!
Fifty year old Tim Phillips, Broken Spoke, from Eagle, ID captured a very narrow victory finishing 9:23:47, just one minute ahead of 55 year old Marland Whaley, Red Barn Bicycles, who placed second at 9:24:50.
Phillips broke it down this way, “This was my second time racing the HC100. Last year I rode in the single speed class but this year I decided to run with the gears. The climb out of Lava Lake at mile 70 would, hopefully, not be as brutal.
After bonking hard from a fast start at 9 to 5, I had been using a slow start strategy that worked very well at Soldier Mountain (7th place overall) and at Marathon Nationals (4th place). However, after talking with Brent Gorman and Zach Powell the night before about the horrific dust for the first 20-30 miles, my race strategy significantly changed. With lingering moon dust, the thought of being behind 30 pro level riders who are pulling away versus 80 riders, 40 of which you are trying to pass seemed like a huge difference.
I decided a fast start was in order; I worked my up as close to the front as possible without getting the WTF look from the Pros. When we hit the dirt two-track I was in a group of 10 just off the front of the 20 or so pros. We were close enough that the dust had only risen waist high. When we hit the single track, I got to the hole-shot of the group and the air was fine.
I was riding with a good friend, Mark Schafer. I knew if I could hang with him, a good race was in the making. The plan was working and I was actually pulling away from the group when I made a wrong turn, had to double back, and dropped to the back of the group. The only sign of Mark would be the lies his wife Sarah would tell me about how close I was to catching him. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek)
I started the race with water bottles and at Aid 2 (Swampy) switched to a camelback for the technical single track sections. From Aid 2 to Dutchman, I ran out of water six miles before the aid station. I wasn’t too concerned since I quickly calculated I had consumed 100 ounces up to this point, still had cool temps and I was just over four hours into the race.
I rolled into Dutchman picked up a fresh camelback and headed for Lava Lake. As I rode the downhill section from Dutchman to Lava Lake (10 miles) with fresh water to drink I felt great, much better than last year. I crashed on this section the year before and was looking for the rock that got me. About three miles from the Aid Station, I felt the first twitches of the quads cramping. Then, with a few hundred yards to the Lava Lake aid station, my handlebars clipped the edge of a tree at the same time the wheel was pinched between two rocks twisting the bars sideways. I tried to straighten them but the stem was on too tight so I decided to ride crooked to the aid station and have the mechanics fix them.
Since there was a $99 prime for first racer to Lava Lake, I asked if I was in first. They told me I was, gas money, very cool! While at the Lava Aid station gorging myself on Hammer Gel, Coke, etc. the mechanics noticed fishing line wrapped around my front hub. Fishing line? Are you kidding me?! I thought it was fine to leave it but they (wisely) thought otherwise. As I continued to gorge, they clipped and untied the line. Meanwhile, the racer in second place, Marland Whaley, went through the aid station unnoticed by me.
Quickly, I headed out of the aid station and up the 2000 foot four mile climb out of Lava Lake but it didn’t seem much better on gears versus the single speed. It seemed like I walked about the same amount. By now, the quad cramps were starting to get serious with, still, 30 miles to go. I kept moving, spinning, and made it to the top of the climb hoping to recover on the downhill.
After the downhill, just before the final aid station, there are a few short rocky climbs. Those rocky sections sent both legs into some of nasty cramps and this time spinning didn’t help. I limped into the final aid station, picked up some Hammer Endurolytes, water, and ice as it was now hot. I did not wait long before I headed out on the last 1500 foot climb with local rider, Corey Bolen, whom I had raced with last year. No doubt, riding with Corey gave me a boost. Corey let me lead out but I warned him I had been cramping. Surprisingly, I felt great and soon Corey was no longer behind. I caught and passed two other riders, then, near the top of the final climb, I caught Marland and he just stepped aside and let me by. I did not notice he was in my class.
About 50 yards farther, I promptly laid it over on a loose corner. As I lay there, embarrassed because I was still clipped in, my right calf went berserk and locked up in a nasty cramp! Marland and a single speeder went by and paused for a moment to make sure I was ok. I said I was fine and they took off.
Still thinking I was in first place and tired as hell, I decided to back off, race clean, and try to keep the rubber side down. I made it clean the last eight miles to the pavement. Wahoo! That meant the race is just about over but now there’s a headwind and I don’t remember the road being uphill. Soon, my left calf was continually cramping but the pain wasn’t unbearable. I quickly caught up to the single speeder and gave him my sympathy on his choice of gears for the situation. I was coming up fast on Marland but did not recognize him from earlier.
Into the head wind, I decided that when I got on his wheel, I would take a breather and draft a bit before the final push to the finish. As I approached, I noticed the number on his calf and realized I was in second place! Instantly, without thinking too much, I grabbed two gears and hammered by. From my earlier racing days, we had a motto for these situations, “Pass with authority, Leave no doubt”. As I went by, I laughed to myself in disbelief that, after riding for 9 hours and 20 minutes without seeing anyone in my class for 99 miles, the race was going to come to a sprint to the finish. Luckily for me, Marland did not give chase and perhaps his goose was cooked. He and I spoke at length after the race. Marland is a great guy, from Montana near where I grew up. He is interested in the trails of Boise, so I gave him my phone number and hopefully he will look me up next time he is in town.”
According to Whaley who placed second last year as well, “I had a good day despite losing my front brake at mile 65 or so, which made me a little more cautious on the many rock filled down hills. There are many demons lurking in the shadows and dust in Bend so I had to enter any downhill, that either had rocks or rollers, like Tiddlywinks, a little slower than I would have liked. However, that may have saved me from many crashes that some other racers suffered.
Tim came up behind me right after Edison and I let him by but shortly thereafter, he crashed on a turn. I checked to see whether he was okay and didn’t see him again until the pavement where he passed me just a short distance from the finish. I was cooked by that time. The climb after Lava Lakes in the heat took its toll!”
Whaley, an NUE Series contender from Hamilton, MT, won the Tantanka 100 in South Dakota and is planning to compete at the Pierre’s Hole 100 and the Park City Point to Point this year.
51 year old Jerry Lentz, Hutchs of Bend, took third place in 10:06:54. Less than a minute later, David Saurman, Fitzgerald’s Bicycles, from Wilson, WY rolled into fourth place in 10:07:00. 52 year old Kelly Smith, Broken Spoke, from Boise, ID and 52 year old David Caplan, Webcyclery.com, from Bend, OR, rounded out fifth and sixth place.
Next up for the NUE Series: The rocky goodness of the Wilderness 101 in State College, PA.
Photos by Shane Young, Oregon Velo