The new Ultra MTB National Series heads for the Big M Ski Area in the Manistee National Forest in Wellston, Michigan this weekend. At the Founders Lumberjack 100 (June 17, 7am), men's, women's, singlespeed and master's category racers will be competing for both local honors and points towards the overall Ultra Series.
In only its second year, attendance at the 2006 Lumberjack is up 70 percent from 2005 as 170 racers have signed up. More are expected to register on the day of the event.
All four winners of last week's Mohican 100 (current leaders of the National Ultra Series) are signed up for the Lumberjack 100. Harlan Price leads the open class, Dan Jansen leads singlespeed, Tricia Stevenson is the women's category leader and 56 year old John Majors sits atop the master's standings.
The series leaders will expect a challenge at the Lumberjack from a couple of brand-name endurance racers. Most notable are Chris Eatough (Trek/VW), six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Adrenalin Solo World Championships and Ernest Marenchin, who was second in the 2005 Worlds. Marenchin is also fresh off a second place finish at the 24 Hours of Big Bear in West Virginia. Eatough recently spent the weekend mixing it up at round two of the NORBA National Series in Sugar Mountain, North Carolina.
Racers are in for a different kind of 100-mile challenge from the Mohican. Instead of an extended back-country 100-mile loop, the Lumberjack is run over four laps of a 25-mile course, which makes the action more visible for spectators and gives racers the ability to include pit stops in their strategy.
The course is made up of 99 percent singletrack and is peppered with short climbs. The weather is expected to reach 85 degrees and include isolated thunderstorms The course record (7:27:38) was set last year by Scott Quiring.
Check back on Cyclingnews over the weekend for race results, reports and photos. For more information about the National MTB Ultra Endurance Series, check out their Web site at www.ultramtb.com.
Current National MTB Ultra Endurance Series top five (rider/points)