Cary Smith (Hammer Nutrition) and Sue Butler (Rivercity Bicycles) won the High Cascades 100, which was round six of the Kenda National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series on Saturday. Racers started in crisp 38-degree temperatures in Bend, Oregon, early in the morning.
Fortunately, no smoke from the nearby Sisters Fire drifted into the Mt. Bachelor area, a beautiful area with high mountain meadows, lava rocks, pine forests and unique features. By Sunday morning, it was reported that the fires were nearly 60 percent contained.
However, a particular feature of the course was not so welcome and later became the buzz of the race, adversely affecting nearly 30 percent of the field according to numerous reports. Located at the turn onto Vista Butte trail, 46 miles from the start at Wanoga, there lives a notorious grouse. Unfortunately, this time of year happens to be the nesting season for grouse, known for its aggressive behavior when feeling threatened.
According to Race Director, Mike Ripley, this particular grouse attacked in 2009 as well. Racers were amazed at the tenacity of the little basketball-sized fowl whose awkward, drunken-chicken-style, surprise attacks caught many off guard. Nicknamed "Fool's Hen", many described the hideous sound it made when attacking. The Blue Grouse lives at high altitude and is the most sought after by hunters.
Ripley had the first encounter with the bird the day prior to the race, when marking the corner. After walking a quarter-mile away, he realized the grouse had followed him. It attacked him, but Ripley defended himself with a barrage of remaining orange cones tossed at the beast.
"I used a set of three cones twice, only to have the animal come back again and again. A hit with a seventh cone set feathers flying everywhere," said Ripley.
After flatting on loop one, NUE Series Champion Jeff Schalk (Trek Mtn Co-op) encountered the bird as he stopped to pull a stick out of his derailleur. "At first, when it started walking toward me, I thought, what a cool little bird, but as it approached and I began to realize it was going to attack, it was like 'no, nooo, Noooooo!' Fighting off the grouse, I placed the bike between myself and the bird as it began trying to peck me until I was finally able to move out of pecking range.
Cory Longiotti thought he was in the clear after getting past the angry grouse which, he claims, bit his tire when, just 500 yards later, he skirted a badger who snarled and threatened him as a he tried to pass.
Prior to these wildlife adventures, however, in the men's open division, just 12 miles into the race, an early group that consisted of Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes), Josh Tostado (Bach Builders/Santa Cruz), Cary Smith (Hammer Nutrition), and Jeff Schalk (Trek Mtn Co-op) had separated themselves from the main pack.
Schalk flatted once and Tostado flatted twice on loop one while riding over lava rocks as Sheppard and Smith set a hard pace that began to stretch the race into a two-man race. Coming into Edison Snow Park, Sheppard, whose wife just had a baby four days ago, had a four-minute lead over Smith, Schalk and Tostado. Unfortunately,a missed turn on a corner by Sheppard coming into Wanoga at mile 41 sent him three miles off course and dropped him into fourth place once he recognized his error and got back on course.
Through swooping singletrack, and a bit of Moon Dust (two parts dirt and one part volcanic rock - all blended for one hour according to Ripley), Schalk and Tostado chased the leaders through loop two. Tostado passed the now "pissed off" bird shortly after it attacked Schalk but managed to escape. "That bird had a huge beak!" exclaimed Tostado.
Coming into loop three with just 12 miles to go, Smith led Shepherd by just five minutes, while Schalk and Tostado, who rode through the checkpoint together, remained 15 minutes behind the leader. In the end, Smith was able to hang on to finish in 8:09:15, six minutes ahead of Shepherd. Tostado, a six-time undefeated champion of the Breckenridge 100, put nearly seven minutes, 8:23:33, on the NUE Champion, who crosed the line in 8:30:07 after fading in the final miles of the race.
"With the race season taking its toll and feeling tired all week since the Wilderness 101 last weekend, I felt like I had nothing to give today," said a reflective Schalk. "Perhaps it was metaphoric for the day that even a grouse could take me down."
However, without a"must win" by Tostado, who would have needed three straight wins to take down the two-time NUE Champion, Schalk virtually locked up his third straight series victory in the mountains of Oregon. All NUE Series division winners will take the podium at the Shenandoah Mountain 100 in Virginia for the final series awards presentation.
The outcome is still to be determined in all of the other divisions.
In the women's category, NUE Series leader and 2008 Champion, Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) continued her run toward a second title. Early in the race, Sornson latched onto the wheel of Sue Butler racing for River City Bicycles of Portland.
Although not currently with a major national sponsor, Butler, nearing 39, is a serious ultra-competitor. She indicated that she is open to sponsorship offers as she considers a possible run for the NUE title in 2011.
For the next 60 miles, Sornson and Butler continued together, far ahead of the pack until the infamous mile 68, just past the river crossing, where a climb described by many as "relentless" finally separated the two. Butler said she thought Sornson was still on her wheel all along until she reached the summit and, glancing back, realized she was riding alone.
Sornson claimed that after losing the wheel of Butler, she became more cautious on the tight twisty downhill sections of singletrack. "It was often difficult to know what to expect coming around some of those corners," said Sornson.
Passing through the final checkpoint and into the remaining 12 miles on loop three, Butler extended her lead to seven minutes ahead of the NUE Series leader. For Butler, this was her first 100-mile race since 2006, when she competed in the Endurance 100 in Park City, Utah, a brutal race with a total elevation gain of 18,627 feet in the scenic Wasatch Range which she claims "kicked my butt".
"This was my longest ride so far this year, previously, my longest ride was just 40 miles," said Butler.
However, at the finish line, it was Butler who would hold on to claim victory in 9:31:33, 18th overall. "I was continuously looking over my shoulder expecting the champion to race past me in the final five miles." Sornson, who won the Wilderness 101 last weekend, claims she simply bonked in the last five miles, yet still managed to secure second place in 9:47:06, further padding her lead as the NUE Series leader.
Following her impressive victory, Butler said, "I think competing in the Cascade Cycling Classic, a stage race, really helped prepare me physically for today's race". In a jovial mood shortly after her win, Butler went on to say, "There are so few women who compete in these events, but the plus side is the short lines in the women's restroom". Short lines withstanding, the women's division continues to grow as an increasing number of women have been testing their mettle at all of the NUE events this season.
Seemingly shocked at her third place finish in 10:51:06, Serena Bishop, racing for her local bike shop, Sunnyside Sports of Bend and Hammer Nutrition, claimed that she had just started mountain bike racing this year primarily to improve her conditioning for cyclo-cross and road racing. Bishop had also participated in the Cascade Classic last weekend.
Her boyfriend, Ben Gordon, said, "She just turned pro this year capturing first place in Cat. 1 of the Oregon road series."
With a name made for racing, Kari Studley (Mafia/Felt/Pabst) responded to her fourth place finish, 11:10:14, saying, "This is the hardest thing I've ever done! Miles 68 to 78 were real mean, relentless climbing, but it was fun and beautiful."
The singlespeed race was, perhaps, the tightest contest of the day with NUE Reigning Champion and current series leader, 42-year-old Gerry Pflug (Salsa/SPK/Pro Bikes) duking it out with the much younger, 34-year-old,DeJay Birtch (Niner/Ergon/No Tubes).
Early in the race, Pflug took the lead until mile 10, when Birtch managed to catch up, riding with the champ for the next seven miles. At mile 17, Birtch realized he should have taken more care in putting his bike together as his rotor bolts began loosening along with his brake calipers.
Later in loop two, Pflug stopped to remove a stone in his shoe which allowed Birtch to catch up once again as they rode together to Tumaltua Falls where Pflug again gapped the younger rider on a big climb into the snowpack.
Birtch also claimed to have a run-in with the belligerent grouse at the underpass that was sitting in the middle of the trail, however, he bunnyhopped around it preventing an attack from delaying his ambition to catch Pflug.
Absent from the action was former NUE Singlespeed Champion and Birtch's Niner teammate, John "Fuzzy" Mylne who recently became the West Coast Regional Manager for Niner and is getting married next week.
Birtch described the course as moon dust, followed by lava rock that rolled like marbles, then kitty litter (pine needles) and later pine cones. "Although it's a solid course, you are always on the brakes, especially if you don't know the course, and those mountain bushes can really rip you up and give you 'pepperoni back' for sure!"
Pflug agreed and noted that the mountain bushes can take you down if you get your handlebars too close.
Birtch showed up at the finish with a torn jersey and nice scratch along his back after leaning in a bit too close to broken tree limb that stuck him in the back.
Although leading to the top of the largest climb, Pflug stated that he started getting dizzy at altitude, about 78 miles in, as trees began taking on the shapes of people. Heading into loop three, Birtch had gained the lead with just 12 miles to go.
However, it was the NUE Champion who mashed the pedals in the final minutes leading to his 9:09 finish, just two minutes ahead of Birtch. A bit later, Andrew Genco (Drunkcyclist.com/32FU) claimed the third spot on the podium in 9:39:55.
"I loved the course, but you had to pedal constantly, no big climbs or long descents to rest. You had to be on it all the time," said Master's 50+ "Superhuman" Randy Iddings (Ragnarok Racing) of Washington, who blew away the entire field, putting an hour and 13 minutes on his nearest competitor with an impressive finish of just 10:33:03.
Iddings won the 2000 Creampuff 100 in the 40-49 division, placing fourth overall. Despite his amazing finish, Iddings claims he flatted twice on loop one, first a rear flat which he repaired, then a front flat two miles from the nearest aid station. "I rode the front flat for two miles before, thankfully, the aid station replaced my tube. All of the aid stations were very helpful."
With Iddings crushing the field, the battle in the master's division moved to second place with just minutes separating second through fourth place. John Solimito (Marks Baywood Bikes) of California, took the second spot in 11:46:35 coming off a sixth place in the master's division at the Cascade Creampuff just three weeks ago. "Mentally, this year's course was tougher than last year and really put a premium on technical riding." Solimito credited his training at Cuesta Grade, near San Luis Obispo, stating that he plans to compete in other NUE Series races in 2011.
Riding a new full suspension, Terry Winger of Edgewood, Washington, rolled through at 11:55:02 wearing an IMBA jersey and socks. "Lotta good singletrack, but the soft silt, sandy doubletrack was like 'Whoaaa!'" he said.
Just two minutes behind Winger was David Grauer (Orthopro) from Colorado riding at 11:57:48.Grauer also placed 10th at the Cohutta 100 but did not finish at Mohican stating that this was his first time racing in Oregon. Grauer's parents from Ohio were also on hand to congratulate him on his finish with dad wearing an Ohio State Buckeye's ballcap and sporting a Mohican State Lodge sweatshirt.
"I've done a lot of tough sh*# in my life but this was the toughest," said Paul Marguart (BD Roofing), who placed fifth in 12:25:00. I started cramping at mile 68." Fortunately, he fended them off with electrolyte supplements.
- With just two races remaining, the NUE Series shifts to Georgia for the Fool's Gold 100 on August 21. The Fool's Gold race course consists of two 50-mile loops in what will probably be signficant Georgian heat. However, the race takes place in the high mountains of Georgia and not in the heart of Atlanta, which currently suffering from record high temperatures. After the Fool's Gold, the NUE Series will up near Harrisonburg, Virginia, at the Shenandoah 100 on September 5.
- Nearly every NUE Series race has sold out this year, with the exception of the Mohican 100 in Ohio, which has no entry limit.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sue Butler (Rivercity Bicycles)||9:31:33|
|2||Cheryl Sornson (Team CF)||0:15:33|
|3||Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports)||1:19:33|
|4||Kari Studley (Mafia Racing)||1:38:41|
|5||Angela Sucich (Diamondback)||1:54:37|
|7||Dawn Infurna Bean (Victory Velo)||2:09:32|
|10||Heather Westfall (Me and Mr Fisher)||3:58:16|
|11||Michelle Monroe (buy-cell.com)||3:59:04|
|12||Laura Gould (Quiet Waters Racing)||4:24:38|
|15||Cassandra Goode (Zuster)||4:49:07|
|16||Mary Skrzynski (Webcyclery.com)||5:01:01|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Cary Smith (Hammer Nutrition)||8:09:15|
|2||Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes/Rebound PT)||0:06:21|
|3||Josh Tostado (Bachbuilders Santa Cruz)||0:14:18|
|4||Jeff Schalk (Trek Mtn Co-op)||0:20:52|
|5||Troy Barry (Hammer Nutrition)||0:29:48|
|6||Geoff Huber (Life Cycle/Lost Coast)||1:08:30|
|7||Andrew Rosette (Second Ascent)||1:09:17|
|8||John Weathers (Sunset Cycles)||1:10:51|
|9||Jeff Otto (Portland)||1:11:22|
|10||Matt Woodruff (Broken Spoke)||1:15:03|
|11||Aaron Phillips (Cutthroat Racing)||1:15:18|
|12||Ryon Butterfield (Idaho Cycling Enthusiasts)||1:16:50|
|13||Mark Matson (Kona/Team S & M)||1:24:12|
|14||Daniel Cooley (Scotts Cycle & Sports)||1:24:59|
|15||Eric Martin (BendBroadband/Webcyclery.com)||1:25:35|
|16||Trevor Norland (Team Dirt)||1:29:53|
|17||Richard Hulit (Recycled Cycles)||1:31:06|
|18||Thom Parson (Trek/Sram/International Bicycle Centers)||1:31:46|
|19||Cliff Clermont (Trek San Diego)||1:32:15|
|20||Jake Maedke (Trek 29er Crew)||1:34:44|
|21||Jeff Dengal (Sagebrush Cyclery)||1:35:25|
|22||Cordino Longiotti (Desalvo Custom Cycles)||1:42:35|
|23||Doug Andrews (www.geoladders.com)||1:43:15|
|24||Derek Carter (Team Aerobie)||1:46:29|
|25||Jonathan Davis (Trek Bike Store Boulder)||1:48:39|
|26||Perry Roper (Chinook Cycling Cub)||1:49:02|
|27||Steve Noble (Tall Boy)||1:51:48|
|30||Vince Haag (Bryne Investments)||2:06:11|
|31||Ian Tubbs (Lenovo)||2:07:37|
|32||Brian Butler (sbracing.org/Hammer/Santa Cruz)||2:10:02|
|33||Justin Mark (Steed Cycles)||2:11:30|
|34||Brandon Marshall (Fundamental Bike)||2:16:04|
|35||David Flemming (Tall Boy)||2:16:53|
|36||Paul Sullivan (Vista Ridge Racing)||2:20:21|
|37||Ian Spivack (DCMTB)||2:23:15|
|38||Bob Nisbet (Platinim Performance)||2:23:19|
|40||Ron Miller (Broken Spoke)||2:26:24|
|41||John Hughson (High Adventure Ski & Bike)||2:27:23|
|42||Roger Lackey (Victory Velo)||2:27:46|
|43||Tom Phillips (Ragnarok)||2:42:08|
|44||Paul Lacava (Giant Bicycles)||2:45:31|
|46||Jason Vandersluis (Arlbert Sports)||2:49:17|
|47||Derek Eysenbach (Lagunitas-Niner)||2:54:45|
|48||Steve Mccallion (Moots)||2:58:38|
|49||Andrew Clarke (Corsa Cycles)||3:03:18|
|50||Marcus Biancucci (TAI Cycling/GENR8)||3:03:57|
|51||Powell Jones (Quiet Waters Racing)||3:04:27|
|52||Tyson Lancaster (Yakima)||3:05:20|
|55||Chris Bondurant (Patron/Vitamin I)||3:12:06|
|56||Seth Barnard (Ashland Bicycle Works)||3:16:56|
|57||Mike Brown (Recycled Cycles)||3:19:44|
|59||James Chung (Chinook Cycling Club)||3:23:40|
|61||David Baker (Sunnyside Sports)||3:35:04|
|66||David Prause (Super Relax)||3:43:57|
|68||Jon Collins (BikeCo.com)||3:45:39|
|69||Ivan Anderholm (CSF Racing)||3:45:52|
|70||Andrew Weiner (Roaring Movie)||3:50:53|
|71||Gregory Voyles (Quiet Waters Racing)||3:51:09|
|74||James Westfall (Vista Ridge Velo)||3:59:32|
|75||Dave Florence (WV Tri Club)||4:19:17|
|76||Damion Miller (Chinook Cycling Club)||4:20:10|
|77||Jeff Clausen (Deschutes Brewery)||4:20:45|
|78||Charles Wooley (CARVE)||4:24:35|
|79||Robert Lee (Yakima Bike Vigilantes)||4:24:39|
|84||Bill Hade (Cranford Bike Team)||4:43:33|
|85||Dan Gilmour (Village Bike and Ski)||4:44:00|
|86||Eric Stolberg (Grundlebruisers)||4:49:15|
|87||William Anderson (Joyride/Highlife)||4:49:37|
|88||Anthony Cree (Redneck)||4:51:07|
|89||James Williams (Ironheads )||4:55:06|
|90||Joseph Marek (Team S & M)||4:57:39|
|91||Sean Denney (bicycleattorney.com)||4:59:41|
|93||Joe Durkee (bicycleattorney.com)||5:01:18|
|96||Bryan Newberry (Broken Spoke)||5:24:21|
|98||Rui Zhu (Willamette Valley tr. Club)||5:35:21|
|99||Fred Wiley (Coyote Construction)||5:44:43|
|103||Glen Campbell (Team Penny Lane)||5:55:39|
|105||Niall Pinder (Returned Beer Bottles & Cans)||6:06:24|
|107||Rick Mattis (Two Wheeler/ Specialized)||6:11:25|
|116||David English (Filth and Fury)||8:30:38|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Gerry Pfulg (Salsa/SPK/Pro Bikes)||8:55:32|
|2||Dejay Birtch (Niner/Ergon/No Tubes)||0:01:59|
|3||Andrew Genco (Drunkcyclist.com/32FU)||0:44:23|
|4||Jared Franzoia (Global Biorythm Events)||1:26:06|
|5||Tom Letsinger (GVH Bikes)||1:33:59|
|6||Rich McChrystal (Team Heinous)||2:10:51|
|7||Matt Erlensusch (Webcyclery.com)||2:16:31|
|9||Erik Weeman (Grundelbruisers)||2:33:49|
|11||Aaron Griffith (First Rate Mortgage)||4:33:44|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Randy Iddings (Ragnarok Racing)||10:33:03|
|2||John Solomito (Marks Baywood Bikes)||1:13:32|
|4||David Grauer (Orthopro)||1:24:45|
|5||Paul Marquart (BD Roofing Racing)||1:51:57|
|6||Christopher Holmes (Team Mad Cat)||1:57:50|
|7||Dieter Hoffman (Team S & M)||2:02:36|
|8||Larry Jensen (Chinook Cycling Yakima)||2:04:26|
|9||Dale Wentworth (Vicious Cycle)||2:09:37|
|13||Vince Sikorski (Webcyclery.com)||3:06:28|
|14||Mark Cleaver (Revolution Cycles)||3:10:33|
|16||Gordon King (Chinook Cycling Club)||3:51:08|