The final stop of the seventh annual Kenda National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series proved to be a game changer for several contenders this year. The top five NUE Division winners, top eight in the larger men's division, would receive a share of the $12,500 in cash prizes. Each of the four division winners would also be rewarded with complimentary entry into All NUE races in 2014, along with custom made NUE Champions Jerseys.
Two racers would also receive a personal invitation by Roman Urbina, director of the La Ruta de Los Conquistadores, for an all-expense paid trip, including air fare, to Costa Rica to compete over three days, October 24-26, on a course that includes two volcanoes, two oceans, jungles and high mountain passes.
For racers who had completed three NUE races this season, needing only one more finish to be ranked and become eligible for prizes, Fool's Gold marked the final opportunity to meet the four-race minimum.
2008 and 2012 NUE Series Champion Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) won the Fool's Gold and the overall 2013 NUE Series title. Each time she has won the series, she has won the Fool's Gold race. She put an exclamation point on it again this year finishing at 8:57:31.
"Fool's Gold was a very pleasant trip for me. What a different experience to go without any pressure to perform for the series title," said Sornson. "The race started out fast, and I was in position to make my goal, until we were diverted off course by course marking vandalism. It was not until I recognized that Brenda had not taken the wrong turn that a little fire ignited, and I again went on an attack to catch and hopefully pass Brenda. Just after aid two I saw the motor mile team and regained the lead."
Vicki Barclay (Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team) needed a solid finish to claim second overall in the NUE Series. She did just that, placing second behind Sornson in 9:19:10, and earning nearly a $1000 in the process in the NUE overall.
Just two minutes later, Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) who earned her first NUE Series win at Pierre's Hole earlier this season, finished third on the day at 9:21:33. Simril, and her husband, Lee Simril, highly ranked in the men's division, together held the distinction for completing the most races this season with a total of nine finishes. To acknowledge their achievement, they were awarded a wheelset .
"Fool's Gold is one of my favorite races of the NUE Series, especially after having done it so many times and witnessing first hand all the great course changes and improvements they've made over the years. It was a perfect way to cap off the year that was full of lots of racing and new adventures for my husband, Lee, and I. It is just the two of us, along with our two dogs, so traveling to mountain bike races and destinations is our main passion and it is how we spend our free time. As for this race, nothing is better than head-to-head racing, so it was great that the overall top three women were able to get here. I'm already looking forward to all of the events next year!"
Eight minutes behind Simril, Priscilla Baltz (Arkansas Cycling and Fitness) claimed fourth place in 10:00:19.
Michael Danish (Miami Bike Shop) achieved his first NUE Series win on Saturday, completing the course in 8:05:53.
"Right from the start, I was feeling both fit and confident about a great result, which I had pinned at a top five to improve on my sixth place at Cohutta 100 this spring. At mile 15, the course was well sabotaged, both the directional arrows and confirmation ribbons were changed, and since both I and my break companion had not done the race before, we stayed on the gas downhill. After five miles the confirmation ribbons ended and the strange feeling set-in. Eventually, we met up with the second chase group of four, confirming that all eight of the top riders had gone well off course."
"I caught the leader at around mile 68 and was able to move through to the lead and out of sight within less than a mile, things were looking good. My bike was flying downhill, but I paid the price with a dented rim at mile 78 that broke the seal on the bead of my tubeless tire so I had to put in a tube. I couldn't believe how calm I was as I put in the tube and I just started to feel like the day was mine. I had no problems pushing hard to the finish and I still can't believe I won a NUE race! As an Active Duty Coast Guard Officer, I'd like to give a huge 'Thank You!' to all those in uniform as the Nation debates putting them in harm's way to defend our freedom!"
Four minutes behind Danish, Josh Fix (Ride On Bikes) took second in 8:09:30. "I was riding in first position until around mile 75-ish when Michael Danish caught me and moved into the lead."
Grant Matthews (Toasted Head Racing) claimed third in 8:37:31. "Fool's Gold was a great event despite the course confusions and some of the best singletrack I rode all season. I was happy to be in Dahlonega, Georgia. representing Toasted Head racing and will be super excited to go back next year."
Seven minutes behind Matthews, Dan Kotwicki (RBS Cycling Team) needed a solid finish to move up in NUE points and claim cash awards. He did just that as he replaced his 15th place finish at Wildcat with a fourth place finish at Fool's Gold in 8:44:52. With a big grin on his face, he boldly stepped onto the podium sporting a pair of ridiculously short shorts. According to Kotwicki, he decided to wear them throughout the race after being told on a recent trip to France that he would not be allowed to wear American baggy swim trunks in the pool area." Calvin Cheung placed sixth in 8:49:20.
AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald's Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/American Classic), coming off second place at the Park City Point to Point, and looking for another shot at the reigning champion, hit it big at Fool's Gold, striking gold in 8:19:08.
"My body was slow getting started on the neutral spin and the early stages of forest service road, which allowed Gerry to get a pretty good gap on me by the time we started the Cooper Gap climb." He followed vandalized course markings and said, "We picked up more and more riders as we climbed out of the dead end at the fish hatchery, including most of the singlespeed field, ultimately accumulating a pack of 30 or 40 riders."
Linnel gapped off the front with a geared rider named Josh Fix, who went on to take second in the men's race. "Once we were back on course, the rest of the race was great, other than running short on water with the extra 45 minutes it took to get to the Bull Mountain aide," said Linnell. "The day's highlight was when I came through the Bull Mountain aide for the last time and Erica told me that Ernesto was only five or six minutes back. Rallying for the last 15 miles to maintain my lead was some of the biggest, and most painful, fun I've had on a mountain bike in a long time. Such sick riding out here!"
Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles and Twin 6) rolled in seven minutes later to finish 8:36:33. Five seconds behind him was Dwayne Goscinsky (Team Noah Foundation) taking third at 8:36:38.
For Gerry Pflug (Salsa/Notubes/TOP Gear), the series was already in the bag following last Sunday's race at Shenandoah. The Pfluginator showed up for a 100-mile victory lap at the Fool's Gold, but bailed sometime later after getting behind due to the vandalized course markings. "As we were climbing back up to the course and running into other off-course riders, I couldn't believe that someone would maliciously and intentionally change course markings and do it so convincingly.
Anyway, once I made it back to the actual course and realized I was now at the back of the 50-mile race group that started 30 minutes behind the 100-mile racers, I lost my desire to continue racing and began riding at a more moderate pace. At the checkpoint, my wife confirmed that I was at least an hour off the pace of the leaders. Hearing this news was the final nail in the coffin for me and I decided to not continue the race."
Getting the win at Fool's Gold along with his first NUE Series title, Marland Whaley (Red Barn Bicycles) was the only master's racer to go sub nine at 8:58:08. Whaley traveled all the way from Hamiliton, Montana to compete in a race in a race that would determine who would get the NUE title.
"Aside from being part of the 'fish hatchery' tour early in the race, what can I say? Once we pushed through the 50s and got back in the groove, what a blast! I loved the course. The gravel roads were steep and sometimes long and the single track was challenging but flowed beautifully.
I really wanted to top the season off with a win and this race suited me well. Winning the masters championship means a lot to me."
David Jolin (Stark Velo) led the master's in the NUE Series coming into Fool's Gold and knew it would be a major challenge. "I was really excited about the field we had in the masters division for the finale. Any of the master's riders were capable of winning this race, but, as it worked out, the day belonged to Marland Whaley."
Whaley showed why he is the best in the masters this year. "I tried to stay with him but he just seems to have that 'extra gear' at critical times in the race."
Jolin finished a close second in 9:01:45. "The best part of the NUE Series was being able to meet so many other athletes that share the same passion as me. I feel very fortunate to finish second overall in the NUE series considering all the great athletes you compete against. After eight 100 mile races in six months, it's time to let the body rest and recharge for another run next year."
Henry McCullough (Team Trappe Door) was 10 minutes behind Jolin, finishing 9:11:02.
Stay tuned to Cycling News for the complete overall standings of the NUE Series.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Michael Danish (Miami Bike Shop)||8:05:53|
|2||Josh Fix (Ride On Bikes/World Camp Crossfit/Wil-Power Massage Therapy)||0:03:37|
|3||Grant Matthews (Toasted Head Racing)||0:31:38|
|4||Dan Kotwicki (RBS Cycling Team)||0:38:59|
|6||Jim Vandeven (Team Noah)||1:03:31|
|7||Jose Mendez (Cycleworks/Trek/Rudy Project)||1:04:53|
|8||Brad Rogers (Y-Not Cycling)||1:05:20|
|9||Lee Simril (Motor Mile Racing)||1:15:42|
|11||Dirk Shaw (Gear Patrol)||1:29:08|
|12||Greg Rittler (Adventures for the Cure)||1:33:48|
|13||Tom Haines (Design Physics Racing)||1:36:39|
|14||Dustin Burkeen (wood n wave)||1:43:00|
|16||Brett Stewart (Sope Creek Cycling)||1:58:57|
|18||Wayne Price (Truly spokin)||2:04:37|
|19||Brian Hackathorne (Mount Pleasant Velo)||2:18:04|
|20||Eric Coomer (Pedal Pushers Racing)||2:38:46|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Cheryl Sornson (Team CF)||8:57:31|
|2||Vicki Barclay (Stan's NoTubes Women's Elite Team)||0:21:39|
|3||Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing)||0:24:02|
|4||Priscilla Baltz (Arkansas Cycling and Fitness)||1:02:48|
|5||Emily Korsch (Pfoodman Racing)||1:53:47|
|6||Maria Esswein (Team Noah Foundation)||2:34:37|
|7||Elsa Lee (Total Cyclist Mtb Team)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald's Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/American Classic)||8:19:08|
|2||Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles and Twin 6)||0:17:25|
|3||Dwayne Goscinski (Team Noah Foundation / Free Awesome)||0:17:30|
|4||Boomer Leopold (Los Locos)||0:41:06|
|5||Robert Moss (FS Series)||0:45:13|
|6||Peat Henry (Team Noah Foundation)||0:55:52|
|7||Mark Farnsworth (FeBikes.com)||1:53:02|
|8||John Griffiths (NYCMTB-SID's)||2:43:54|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Marland Whaley (Red Barn Bicycles)||8:58:08|
|2||David Jolin (Stark Velo)||0:03:37|
|3||Henry McCullough (Team Trappe Door p/b POA)||0:12:54|
|4||Chris Irving (Los Locos)||0:32:30|
|5||Terry Blanchet (North American Velo)||0:34:18|
|7||Mark Drogalis (Cycle Center Columbia)||1:00:43|
|8||Hardwick Gregg (Donohoo-Infinity Racing)||1:31:48|
|9||Mark Johnson (Northstar Bicycles/Crank Brothers)||1:41:44|
|10||Charles Buki (Team CF)||1:49:11|
|11||Daniel Mock (Wheels on Fire)||2:54:58|