By Harlan Price
The National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series continues its tear around the US this weekend in the northern wilds of Ohio. Racers will be staged for round two out of downtown Loudonville before they head out to tackle 11,000 feet of climbing during a 100 mile loop through four counties of rolling forests in northern Ohio. In its sixth year, the Mohican MTB 100 has grown to a field of 300 plus riders, and among those riders are some of the best endurance athletes in the country.
The women's field will have its hands full trying to contain the strength of Team Mata rider Pua Sawicki. Cheryl Sornson (Trek/VW), Carey Lowery (Outdoor Store) and Trish Stevenson (IFracing.org) will be looking to improve on their second, third and fourth positions from the Cohutta 100 in April, but they should not be surprised if their spots are challenged by the tough competition from behind. Colorado rider Erika Tieszen (Michelin/ Dakine) will be making her debut 2008 NUE appearance, while Danielle Musto (Kenda Titus Hayes) will be looking for payback after a couple of crashes in the Cohutta 100 took her out of podium contention.
On the men's side, we'll see a return of Chris Eatough (Trek/VW) to defend his Mohican and NUE series win of last year, but if the last 100 miler was any indication, his dominance is no sure thing after the winning race of his team-mate Jeff Schalk (Trek/VW) at the Cohutta 100. Schalk is the clear favorite, if his recent performances are any indication. A top 10 finish at the last NMBS race and a first place at the Greenbriar USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendar race, proves this California rider turned East Coaster has some doors to knock down.
Others who could upset are Evan Plews (Scott USA/ Capitol Subaru), Christian Tanguy (American Cycle and Fitness) and 2006 series winner Harlan Price (IFRacing.org). Dirts Sweat & Gears runner-up Brandon Dragaulis (Cannondale/ Bear Naked) will be on hand to bring the pain. The big question is whether Floyd Landis (Smith Nephews) has gained form since the Cohutta 100 and will be ready to stay in the lead pack.
In the singlespeed division expect to see DeeJay Birch (Niner Bikes) and Tim Dougherty (Sobe/Cannondale) battling for the top two spots, while the 50+ division sees the return of last years winner John Majors (Giffen Interior), but his two-year dominance is likely again to be challenged by Cohutta winner Greg Turner (RBM/Velo VooDoo).