By Harlan Price in Michigan
Not to be outdone by the first two rain soaked races in the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series, stop number three at the Lumberjack 100 in Michigan saw 11 inches of rain and 80 mph winds the night before the race in the worst storm the area had seen in 30 years. The winds and rain forced a marathon clean-up of debris and trees from the trails, but by the time Saturday morning broke all that was left were a few welcome log hops and three muddy sections that grew as the 250 racers passed through them. Fortunately due to the nature of the mostly sandy course, the majority of the trail was well drained and the amount of standing water was limited to only those three short, but treacherous sections.
Undeterred by the conditions, Jeff Schalk (Trek/VW) maintained his control over the series lead with another close win by only a minute over Oregonian, Evan Plews (Scott/ Capitol Subaru). So far each of Schalk's three wins in the series have been by two minutes or less after 100 miles of racing. A group of eight racers made the early separation through most of the first 25 mile lap, but an attack from Harlan Price (IFRacing.org/ Industry Nine) on the first eight mile section of the second lap whittled the group down to five racers; Schalk, Plews, Chris Eatough (Trek/VW), Christian Tanguy (American Cycle and Fitness) and Price.
Price repeated the same attack on lap three and thinned the group down to himself, Schalk and Plews, but his early efforts took their toll towards the end of the lap and Plews and Schalk moved up the road without the Independent Fabrication rider.
Schalk led most of the fourth lap and found all of his attacks answered by a tenacious Plews, who was still contending despite a flat early in lap two. It wasn't until about five miles to go that Schalk was able to get a gap and hold it to the finish despite some cramping. Filling the last two positions in the top five were Eatough in fourth and Tanguy in fifth.
In the women's field Cheryl Sornson (Trek/VW) took home her first win of the NUE series with a full day riding in front of the rest of her competitors. Sornson was off the front from the beginning using her improved 2008 form to stay away on course that favored a rider capable of staying on the gas and riding smart lines through the narrow and curvaceous singletrack. Her win put her in the overall lead for the series. Seventeen minutes back from the Trek/VW rider was Karen Potter (MTB-Mind.com) from Massachusetts and rolling across the line in third was last year's winner and local Daniel Musto of the Kenda-Titus-Hayes team.
The singlespeed division saw a new face on the top of the podium. Ronald Sanborn (McLain Cycle and Fitness) found himself in the fortunate position of first by only a minute over second place John (Fuzzy) Myline (Sho-Air, rock and Road/ Niner) with a time of 7:57:19. Third position was occupied by Nate Versluis (Founders Ale / Alger Racing) and not far behind was the series singlespeed leader Dejay Birtch (Niner Bikes).
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Lumberjack 100.