By Zayne Braun
The National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series will make its fifth stop in State College, Pennsylvania on Saturday, August 4 for the Wilderness 101. Professionals and first-time riders will challenge themselves on some of central Pennsylvania's famed technical singletrack and topography. It's shaping up to be a knockdown, drag-out slug fest for the leaders with plenty of action anticipated in all fields.
Current series leader Chris Eatough (Trek/Volkswagen) will be racing just one week after his a victory at the 24 Hour Solo National Championship. The question is will he have recovered enough to take on some of his challengers which will include last year's winner and defending NUE champion, Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication), winner of the Breckenridge 100 (round four in the NUE series) Josh Tostado (Giant/Smith/Redbull/Dakine/Michelin), and last weekend's NMBS #5 cross country winner Jeremiah Bishop (Trek / VW).
The last time Eatough and Price met was in July at the Curse of Dark Hollow 100 km race, just north of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in Michaux State Forest. Price was able to take advantage of Eatough's minor mechanical issue and ride an inspired race to put a little over seven minutes into Eatough by the finish. Price will try to build on that momentum and keep his winning trend going.
When asked how he would recover between the 24 hour solo nationals and a 100 miler on back-to-back weekends, Eatough said, "I don't think I've ever done it before to be honest. It's a new thing for me. I'll try to rest and sleep as much as I can. I probably won't ride more than an hour at a time this whole week. I really don't need any training this week."
Current NUE women's series leader Danielle Musto (Slingshot) will be looking to continue her winning streak and extend her lead in the series, but some other ladies will also be seeking the top podium spot. Carey Lowrey (Outdoor Store) and Paula Figura (Founders Racing) are close behind Musto in the series standings and hungry for a victory. Psuedo-local Michelle Schneider (VisitPA.com) is on form and excited for her second Wilderness 101 experience. Schneider is fresh off victory last weekend at the 50 Rattling Miles in Lykens, Pennsylvania.
Several of State College's finest and fastest locals will be racing in the Mt. Nittany Wheelworks kit: Chip Kogelmann, Rich Straub, Rich O'Neil, Joe Gore, and Matt Ferrari. These boys are eager to put their local knowledge to work and represent as the best local. VisitPA.com's Weston Schempf will also be throwing his hat in the ring for his first 101.
Weather could be a deciding factor this weekend. The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid to upper 90's, which would favor the racers used to hot conditions. Staying hydrated and avoiding cramps will be top priority for all competitors.