Smith, Butler race to victory in High Cascades 100-miler

Viscious grouse torments racers en route

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.

Women

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."

Singlespeed

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.

Masters

"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.

Race notes

- 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. 

Full Results

Women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sue Butler (Rivercity Bicycles)9:31:33 
2Cheryl Sornson (Team CF)0:15:33 
3Serena Bishop (Sunnyside Sports)1:19:33 
4Kari Studley (Mafia Racing)1:38:41 
5Angela Sucich (Diamondback)1:54:37 
6Nicky Phear2:01:40 
7Dawn Infurna Bean (Victory Velo)2:09:32 
8Tina Martinez3:21:15 
9Claire Duncan3:28:55 
10Heather Westfall (Me and Mr Fisher)3:58:16 
11Michelle Monroe (buy-cell.com)3:59:04 
12Laura Gould (Quiet Waters Racing)4:24:38 
13Suzanne Pattinson4:34:53 
14Kirsten Dehart4:36:40 
15Cassandra Goode (Zuster)4:49:07 
16Mary Skrzynski (Webcyclery.com)5:01:01 
17Alison Haug5:14:07 
Men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Cary Smith (Hammer Nutrition)8:09:15 
2Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bikes/Rebound PT)0:06:21 
3Josh Tostado (Bachbuilders Santa Cruz)0:14:18 
4Jeff Schalk (Trek Mtn Co-op)0:20:52 
5Troy Barry (Hammer Nutrition)0:29:48 
6Geoff Huber (Life Cycle/Lost Coast)1:08:30 
7Andrew Rosette (Second Ascent)1:09:17 
8John Weathers (Sunset Cycles)1:10:51 
9Jeff Otto (Portland)1:11:22 
10Matt Woodruff (Broken Spoke)1:15:03 
11Aaron Phillips (Cutthroat Racing)1:15:18 
12Ryon Butterfield (Idaho Cycling Enthusiasts)1:16:50 
13Mark Matson (Kona/Team S & M)1:24:12 
14Daniel Cooley (Scotts Cycle & Sports)1:24:59 
15Eric Martin (BendBroadband/Webcyclery.com)1:25:35 
16Trevor Norland (Team Dirt)1:29:53 
17Richard Hulit (Recycled Cycles)1:31:06 
18Thom Parson (Trek/Sram/International Bicycle Centers)1:31:46 
19Cliff Clermont (Trek San Diego)1:32:15 
20Jake Maedke (Trek 29er Crew)1:34:44 
21Jeff Dengal (Sagebrush Cyclery)1:35:25 
22Cordino Longiotti (Desalvo Custom Cycles)1:42:35 
23Doug Andrews (www.geoladders.com)1:43:15 
24Derek Carter (Team Aerobie)1:46:29 
25Jonathan Davis (Trek Bike Store Boulder)1:48:39 
26Perry Roper (Chinook Cycling Cub)1:49:02 
27Steve Noble (Tall Boy)1:51:48 
28Monte Sanford1:52:42 
29Colin Chisholm2:02:47 
30Vince Haag (Bryne Investments)2:06:11 
31Ian Tubbs (Lenovo)2:07:37 
32Brian Butler (sbracing.org/Hammer/Santa Cruz)2:10:02 
33Justin Mark (Steed Cycles)2:11:30 
34Brandon Marshall (Fundamental Bike)2:16:04 
35David Flemming (Tall Boy)2:16:53 
36Paul Sullivan (Vista Ridge Racing)2:20:21 
37Ian Spivack (DCMTB)2:23:15 
38Bob Nisbet (Platinim Performance)2:23:19 
39Brian Evans2:24:59 
40Ron Miller (Broken Spoke)2:26:24 
41John Hughson (High Adventure Ski & Bike)2:27:23 
42Roger Lackey (Victory Velo)2:27:46 
43Tom Phillips (Ragnarok)2:42:08 
44Paul Lacava (Giant Bicycles)2:45:31 
45Brad Chisholm2:49:12 
46Jason Vandersluis (Arlbert Sports)2:49:17 
47Derek Eysenbach (Lagunitas-Niner)2:54:45 
48Steve Mccallion (Moots)2:58:38 
49Andrew Clarke (Corsa Cycles)3:03:18 
50Marcus Biancucci (TAI Cycling/GENR8)3:03:57 
51Powell Jones (Quiet Waters Racing)3:04:27 
52Tyson Lancaster (Yakima)3:05:20 
53Ron Castia3:07:07 
54Kentaro Inoue3:10:03 
55Chris Bondurant (Patron/Vitamin I)3:12:06 
56Seth Barnard (Ashland Bicycle Works)3:16:56 
57Mike Brown (Recycled Cycles)3:19:44 
58Edgar Smith3:21:33 
59James Chung (Chinook Cycling Club)3:23:40 
60Benjamin Wheeler3:27:40 
61David Baker (Sunnyside Sports)3:35:04 
62Sean Stribling3:36:23 
63Jerry Lentz3:37:06 
64Darrell Finlayson3:41:23 
65Scott Wazny3:41:38 
66David Prause (Super Relax)3:43:57 
67Thomas Hainisch3:45:07 
68Jon Collins (BikeCo.com)3:45:39 
69Ivan Anderholm (CSF Racing)3:45:52 
70Andrew Weiner (Roaring Movie)3:50:53 
71Gregory Voyles (Quiet Waters Racing)3:51:09 
72Brent Binge3:51:26 
73Trent Smith3:56:14 
74James Westfall (Vista Ridge Velo)3:59:32 
75Dave Florence (WV Tri Club)4:19:17 
76Damion Miller (Chinook Cycling Club)4:20:10 
77Jeff Clausen (Deschutes Brewery)4:20:45 
78Charles Wooley (CARVE)4:24:35 
79Robert Lee (Yakima Bike Vigilantes)4:24:39 
80Andrew Steiner4:25:12 
81Bob Reininger4:33:42 
82Brian Binge4:39:06 
83Andrew Crisp4:40:45 
84Bill Hade (Cranford Bike Team)4:43:33 
85Dan Gilmour (Village Bike and Ski)4:44:00 
86Eric Stolberg (Grundlebruisers)4:49:15 
87William Anderson (Joyride/Highlife)4:49:37 
88Anthony Cree (Redneck)4:51:07 
89James Williams (Ironheads )4:55:06 
90Joseph Marek (Team S & M)4:57:39 
91Sean Denney (bicycleattorney.com)4:59:41 
92Matt Lutz5:00:03 
93Joe Durkee (bicycleattorney.com)5:01:18 
94Michael McGowan5:02:03 
95Joel Zellers5:17:35 
96Bryan Newberry (Broken Spoke)5:24:21 
97Karl Sides5:32:34 
98Rui Zhu (Willamette Valley tr. Club)5:35:21 
99Fred Wiley (Coyote Construction)5:44:43 
100John Monroe5:51:16 
101Joe Ostermiller5:54:17 
102Phil Carson5:55:20 
103Glen Campbell (Team Penny Lane)5:55:39 
104Stephen Crozier5:57:15 
105Niall Pinder (Returned Beer Bottles & Cans)6:06:24 
106David Keller6:08:45 
107Rick Mattis (Two Wheeler/ Specialized)6:11:25 
108Garrett Willliams6:11:25 
109Andrew Abdelnour6:11:26 
110Chris Brotzler6:19:55 
111Jeff Logan6:26:20 
112Ken Lynn7:01:15 
113Brian Gunn7:04:19 
114David Morgridge7:04:19 
115Andrew Miller7:05:46 
116David English (Filth and Fury)8:30:38 
Singlespeed men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gerry Pfulg (Salsa/SPK/Pro Bikes)8:55:32 
2Dejay Birtch (Niner/Ergon/No Tubes)0:01:59 
3Andrew Genco (Drunkcyclist.com/32FU)0:44:23 
4Jared Franzoia (Global Biorythm Events)1:26:06 
5Tom Letsinger (GVH Bikes)1:33:59 
6Rich McChrystal (Team Heinous)2:10:51 
7Matt Erlensusch (Webcyclery.com)2:16:31 
8Jeff Anderson2:29:06 
9Erik Weeman (Grundelbruisers)2:33:49 
10Chris Howell2:44:47 
11Aaron Griffith (First Rate Mortgage)4:33:44 
Master men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Randy Iddings (Ragnarok Racing)10:33:03 
2John Solomito (Marks Baywood Bikes)1:13:32 
3Terry Winger1:21:59 
4David Grauer (Orthopro)1:24:45 
5Paul Marquart (BD Roofing Racing)1:51:57 
6Christopher Holmes (Team Mad Cat)1:57:50 
7Dieter Hoffman (Team S & M)2:02:36 
8Larry Jensen (Chinook Cycling Yakima)2:04:26 
9Dale Wentworth (Vicious Cycle)2:09:37 
10Robert Kronkhyte2:15:33 
11William Bronson2:55:48 
12Larry Wilson2:59:12 
13Vince Sikorski (Webcyclery.com)3:06:28 
14Mark Cleaver (Revolution Cycles)3:10:33 
15Martin Rand3:31:49 
16Gordon King (Chinook Cycling Club)3:51:08 
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