Written by: Ryan
The Dry and
mild temperatures racers welcomed last season were nowhere to be found on
Saturday for the 400+ registered racers at The Trailhead Bicycle Company Cohutta 100. The race was held at the
Ocoee whitewater center near Ducktown, Tennessee, host of the 1996 Olympic
hosted race number two of an expanded (NUE)KENDA National Ultra Endurance Seriesschedule that now includes fourteen mountain bike races in thirteen different
states this year. The race was sold out again this year. However, many who
registered failed to make it to the start line.
As a result
of dropping temperatures, cold winds and soaking rains that saturated the race
course overnight and intermittently throughout the day, 80 racers, including
those registered for the Big Frog 65, failed to show up at the start line. Start
time temperature hovered around 49 degrees under pouring rain. Even fewer
racers were able to endure to the finish along this challenging race course
boasting more than 13,000 feet of vertical elevation within the Cherokee
NUE Women’s Open
"Sornson wins her second straight
2008 NUE Series Champion and race winner Cheryl Sornson, Team CF, who finished 9:32:21,
"It was a tough day. Staying focused on survival was my main
objective. Wanting to redeem myself from the slow start at True Grit (NUE
race #1) I stuck to the first group into the single track. There were no
other women who were with me at that point, so I put it in a manageable gear
and safely negotiated the slippery singletrack. My Specialized Fate was a
dream out in those conditions and it performed flawlessly.
first few hours my spirits were high and the conditions were not so bad.
As time wore on though, things deteriorated. It got really cold for a bit
which made going down the fire roads in the wet an awful experience. I
kept it reigned in and never took a chance by going too fast. Once the roads
or trails went up I used the effort to bring myself up to a manageable
temperature. Keeping warm was a motivation to keep going.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard you went, it felt like you were almost going
and trails were saturated and muddy which made it a slow go. I was
demoralized as the time ticked away and I was still not finished with the
course. I would come in an hour slower than last year but I was not the
only one. This realization allowed me to be easier on myself and
understand that I was not the only one suffering this day. Cheers to all
who attempted, double cheers to those that persevered, and triple cheers
to my CF teammates who found themselves on the top podium as well.”
Simril, Motor Mile Racing, who finished third overall in the NUE Series last
season, splashed into second place on the day at 10:41:40. Getting her best NUE Series finish ever
following a fifth place finish at the Mohican 100 last year, Linda Shinn, Crankskins/Blacksmith
Cycles, finished third in 10:52:45. Jennifer Moos, Bike Tech Miami, was next up
at 11:22:58 and Mary Rosser, CahabaWeb, from Columbiana, Alabama placed fifth 11:29:37.
Among women finishing sub 12 on the day was Priscilla Baltz, Arkansas Cycling
& Fitness, followed just two minutes later by the reigning Ohio Series
Pro/Expert Champion, Shannon Tenwalde at 11:57:32.
NUE Men’s Open
"Tanguy gets his first W of the NUE
The 2011 NUE
Men’s Open Champion, Christian Tanguy, TeamCF.org, got off to a solid start on his
race season following a big win on Saturday. Many may recall that last year, it
was 36 year old Jeremiah Bishop, Cannondale, of Harrisonburg, VA who blistered
the newly designed course in 7:01:07 with Tanguy forced to settle for second place
in what would result in a herculean effort to retain his title and fend off
Bishop throughout the season. In the end, It all came down to the final showdown
in Georgia at the Fool’s Gold 100 where Bishop managed to edge out the reigning
champion to gain his first NUE Series title. However, in 2013, the day would
belong to Tanguy as he placed first among all contenders in just 8:00:47.
Gripped Racing p/b Dogfish Head Ale House, from College Park, MD placed third
last year but moved into second place this year just seven minutes back of the
former champ in 8:07:40. "The
race started in a very average fashion with everyone jockeying for position on
the Highway 40 climb that leads into the single track.
Peariso got the hole-shot and led us into the initial singletrack with me right
on his wheel and Christian Tanguy just behind me. Happy to be rolling the
slippery conditions ahead of the masses, I encouraged him to keep the pace up.
All went well until one of those camouflage trail marker signs jumped out of
Chris' blindspot and hit him square in the shoulder and chest. He looked
like a 150 lb. cyclist who just got broadsided by a linebacker with his body
twirling away from the sign, his arms and legs fully extended and
flailing. I was in awe of the beauty and grace of the moment but my
attention was yanked back to the present as I dove to the right to avoid
running over Chris' head. We backed off and luckily Chris was fine and jumped
back into the train about 10 guys back. Sam Koerber took over number two
from Tanguy as we blazed along the flat singletrack towards the river.
I was very focused on my line through the stream crossing where I dinged my rim
and flatted last year, so focused that I picked the wrong half of the fork in
the trail. Sam, who was hot on my wheels, went with me. Christian,
however, chose the correct direction, in silence. I know my comprehension
of his native french is horrible so I will give him the benefit of the doubt
because I'm sure I didn't hear a sportsmanlike, "WRONG TURN!!" in
English ;) Lucky for me and Sam, we didn’t get very far before dead
ending into a staircase. We looped around and chased back to the leaders.
Out of the
singletrack and onto the first fire road it was Christian, Sam, and myself
later joined by Wes and Chris who pushed hard to bridge up. The pace was
urgent but not unruly for the next hour with everyone taking some turns at the
front. About 3 hours in, however, the pace got decidedly more heated and
Christian and I slowly opened up time on Sam and Wes with Chris falling further
back. I eventually got away from Christian climbing and descending on the
rollers but my time alone was fleeting. Miscalculated nutrition equals
leg cramps, lost power, and relegation to the pain cave.
the lower Pinotti trail network, Christian caught me and then quietly rolled
away. At that point, Sam and I were both in a "not so happy place” and
slugged up the climb to aid 5. Sam stopped longer there and I never saw
him again. Time checks showed Christian's lead climbing steadily over the
next couple hours. The intermittent rain was taking its toll with some
sections saturated, muddy, and always cold. Returning from my unwanted
low calorie diet brought back some of the fun in the punishment for me. I
was chipping into Christian's lead, the rain had let up for a while, and I knew
the suffering would not last much longer.
singletrack section over Thunder Mountain reminded me of the old days back in
rural Florida with my wife. I've seen monster trucks get stuck in mud bogs that
weren't as deep or greasy as some of the stuff that stood between us and
home. At that point, I didn't care much since the conditions were surely
the same for everyone but about 30 miles out, my rear brake with resin pads had
gone belly up.
25 degree pitches covered in deep slimy mud with just one brake takes some of
the fun out of a man's "Get Dirty Time." I was running scared
afraid that slow poking through all the turns and down all the hills meant
getting caught from behind. Two years in a row running scared down
Thunder Mountain. I guess that's my thing.”
went to a newcomer to the NUE Series, 28 year old Westley Richards, Clemmons
Bicycle, from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. According to several racers who
were there, Richards reportedly challenged NUE Reigning Champion, Jeremiah
Bishop, on several big climbs during the Pisgah Stage Race.
fourth was 32 year old Sam Koerber, Pro Gold/ Industry Nine, in 8:14:06, just
two minutes ahead of Chris Peariso, Adventure212 / Specialized, of Amherst,
Wisconsin who finished fifth in 8:16:35, "After a restless night of listening
to the rain pounding on the metal roof, the alarm finally went off and it was
time to go through the morning race rituals and get set for a long day. Early
in the race, at the top of the paved climb, I accelerated over the top and
entered the woods first.
rain, the course was actually in good shape and we were moving along pretty
good. Then, out of nowhere, a sign that must have slid down the hill as part of
a mud slide from all the rain decided to have a wrestling match with me. It
jumped out of nowhere, threw me to the ground, and I think I heard it laugh at
me, although the laughter could have come from Kevin Carter as he just missed
running over my head! I chased for about 90 minutes before finally seeing
Kevin, Christian, and Sam up the road with Wes in a tow behind me for almost
the entire chase on the road sections.
I ended up crossing the line in 5th and happy to have completed such an epic
day with zero issues out of my SRAM equipped Specialized Epic! Good thing the
$1 per mile I earned at awards will put a new bottom bracket and chain on the
bike so that it will be ready for the Wildcat 100! See you there!”
NUE Singlespeed Open
"The Pfluginator makes it two in a
NUE Singlespeed Champion, Gerry Pflug, Team CF / Pro Bikes, crushed the field
by nearly a half hour in 8:34:58 delivering his second straight SS win this
year AND garnering sixth place overall on the day! "The Pluginator”, who will
be 45 this year, chose a 40/24 instead of the 34/20 he used for the win at
Cohutta last year.
long rain pants, a long sleeve base layer, and a Team CF jacket throughout the
race, Pflug faced down a tough field that included Mike Montalbano and 2011
Master’s Champion, Doug Andrews, who chose to debut this season in the
Singlespeed division. Andrews will be 52
this year and hails from Mission Viejo, California. In 2011, the year Andrews
turned 50, he was smashing the Masters field by as much as two hours, and,
almost always, finishing in the top ten overall against guys nearly half his
age at times. Andrews admittedly had Pflug in his sights on Saturday.
Pflug, "Many of the Cohutta fire road ascents have sections where a rider can
look down on the switchback turns below to see if anyone is chasing. On one of these climbs, I saw another
singlespeed racer, Mike Montalbano, chasing hard and, judging from his pace, I
knew it wouldn't be long until he caught me. When he did catch me, just prior to checkpoint 3 at about mile 36, I
knew it was time to start riding hard again.
We arrived at the checkpoint together, but I
was able to leave a little quicker than Mike. He was soon back and on my wheel, however, and it wasn't long before he
was able to ride away from me. This
occurred at about the same place where (2006 NUE Men’s Open Champion turned
singlespeed) Harlan Price rode away from me at the 2010 edition of the Cohutta
100. As a result, I started to have unpleasant flashbacks of that race.
climbing well and definitely riding harder than my legs were willing at this
point in the race. I was comfortable
with my pace, though, and could still see Mike riding up the road about 30
seconds in front of me, so I continued my steady pace. After less than fifteen minutes of riding
behind Mike, I started closing the gap between us. Eventually, I caught Mike and we ended-up chatting
and riding together for about five miles.
During our friendly ride together, I never
forgot about the race we were doing and I decided to throw a little attack to
see what response I would get. Mike
didn't seem to be too interested in chasing me when I looked back, so I stayed
on the gas to increase the gap between us.
after getting clear from Mike, there was a super long descent down to the race
turn-around point. Even with all the
clothing I was wearing, my body was still getting cold and I wondered how
riders wearing just shorts on their legs would feel. I like being warm and seem to ride better
when my leg muscles are not cold. I'm
sure my race time would have been much slower if I wore less clothing and I
also think my choice of clothing was one reason I seemed to be riding well in
the nasty conditions.”
Mike Montalbano, Bicycle Tech/Eleven Madison
Park/Gu, went on to finish second in 8:58:44, "Last year, I competed in the
open class on a geared bike. This year, I figured I could knock a half hour off
my time on the single speed. I have been riding it all winter and put in some
solid hours. If my race went according to plan, I thought I’d give Gerry a run
for the win.
beginning, I wanted a conservative start, watching the heart rate monitor to
avoid the red zone. I planned on being slow in the single track then busting
butt on the roads. Taking it easy at the start put me in the second group going
into the woods and very comfortable. It was a cold and wet day but I was having
a ball. People kept telling me Gerry was just ahead but I really didn't want to
see him at all till after the potato patch climb.
I felt that if
I could catch him late, I would be in the driver’s seat. I first caught sight
of him right after aid 2 but let him dangle for a while before catching up with
him. He must have been feeling the effects of a fast start at that point
because I was gapping him fairly easy on the climbs at this point. I tried to
put him out of my mind and not get too pumped about leading the race at this
point because Ii knew there was a lot of climbing yet to come. We were barely
past aid 3 at this point and on the last pitch before the potato patch descent
before Gerry was back on my wheel and gave a little effort that I couldn't
really respond to. Getting second place in the SS and 8th overall was
pretty sweet for me and I hope to give Gerry some hell at the Wildcat 100 in two
Champion, Doug Andrews, wasn’t able to Out-Pflug the Pfluginator in his first
attempt as a Single speed racer. However, he did manage to earn the three spot
on the podium in a sign of what is shaping up to be a hotly contested SS
division this season. Craig Fleetwood, BLACKSMITH
CYCLES, from Bolton, Ontario rolled in behind Andrews at 9:38:41 just ahead of
a pack of four racers separated by mere minutes that included James Prentice,
Peat Henry, Team Noah Foundation, Philip Hantel, Orange Peel Bicycle Service,
and Watts Dixon, The Revolting Cogs.
NUE Masters 50+
"Drogalis gets his first ever NUE race
The Cohutta 100 Masters division was won by 50 year old Ron Sanborn, EINSTEIN
RACING. Sanborn, who calls Traverse City, Michigan home, captured his first NUE
Series victory here before going on to bring home his first NUE Masters title.
51 year old Mark Drogalis, Team Cycle Center, from Blythewood, SC, following in
the champs footsteps, achieved his first ever NUE Series win in 10:11:18. Prior
to this race, Drogalis also got his first overall win in an MTB event at the 13
Hour Baker’s Dozen in South Carolina.
pretty much oblivious to where the other Masters riders were all day as I let
the first selection of 30-35 riders separate from me on the first road climb
off the gun. Fortunately, two other castaways and I joined up immediately and
kept a high tempo to the first section of single-track where I began to pick
through riders from the first group. I like to climb the tight stuff on my own
so it all worked perfectly on the first single-track section where I held position
until the first road section.
I was leap-frogging from groups of two or three riders forward until the long
descent to Mulberry Gap. Candidly, I didn’t think conditions were that bad (my
first hundie ever was the stormy 2010 Cohutta), and rubbing embrocation on my
legs at the start and eating a little more than usual seemed to keep things in check for me all
McKinney, a Men’s Open division rider who I always finish near, caught me after
the Potato patch climb and we fed off each other’s strength until Andrew broke
the elastic and got away solidly after the last sag. From there, I basically
time trialed until the last single-track section. Fortunately, I had plenty of
brake pads left to slice through the final section of single-track on my
Scalpel. I felt fast and comfortable all
day without the slow fade I sometimes get racing in the heat. I’m from
Northeastern Pennsylvania originally so that makes me go well in cooler
temperatures I suppose. I was especially gratified with the result because, on
a day when the overall man and woman were nearly an hour slower, I managed my
loss to just 35 minutes.”
second at 10:16:44, 51 year old Roger Sutton, Brick City Bicycles, of Ocala,
Florida finished fifteen minutes ahead of the True Grit winner, 54 year old
David Jolin, Stark Velo, of Bellville, Ohio. 10:33:43
minutes later, and making a solid return to the NUE Series, was 2010 NUE
Masters Champion, 53 year old Robert Herriman, TREK/WSC/ACFSTORES.COM, from
Royal Oak, Michigan. In 2011, Herriman lost his title to Doug Andrews in a
struggle that came down to the final race that year at the Shenandoah 100 in
Virginia. At that race, Andrews was able to get past Herriman to hold on for his
first NUE Series title.
finished fourth at 10:36:38 followed by two other NUE Series contenders who
also finished sub 11 hours on the day, 52 year old Monte Hewett, 10:45:21.09,
and 53 year old Chris Irving, Los Locos, in 10:52:39.
Dan Mock decided to make the Cohutta 100 his first 100 mile race, traveling down
from Ohio with another seasoned racer, Mark Jones, who holds the Ohio Series
title for Sport Men 60-69. After dropping out for the first time ever and
describing the race as "My first 100 miles of Hell”, Mock went on to add, "Would
I do it again? IN A HEART BEAT! Will I do another NUE 100 miler? You bet.”
The Next KENDA NUE Series race takes place at a new venue that is home
to the Shawangunk Mountains in upstate New York. The Wildcat 100, directed by Gunter Spilhaus, will join the NUE
Series on Saturday, May 11.