The Kenda National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) presented by Nutrition made stop number three of 11 this year at the 9th Annual Mohican Mountain Bike 100 on Saturday. After soaking rains and, not one, but two tornados that touched down near the course last year, nearly 600 racers welcomed what began with mild temperatures and dry, fast conditions this year. However, later in the day, as the race progressed, temperatures approached 90 degrees (Fahrenheit), causing many racers to cramp and forcing others to abandon all hope of finishing.
NUE Women's Open: 100 Miler
Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) achieved her first win of the NUE season, finishing in just 8:36:03. About 13 minutes later, Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) rolled under the finish line covered in dust and sweat. Andrea Wilson (Outdoors), in third, achieved her first podium finish in the women's open with style, racing on a rigid singlespeed,
"I had a great start. The trails were fast and fun," said Sornson. "I rolled great for first 50+, but tired a bit and had not seen any women and thought it safe to slow down. That turned out to be a good thought since the heat set in and then I had to slow down."
Sornson said she stopped at each of the aid stations and that getting ice at aid station 5 saved her.
"I was hoping for a time about a half hour faster, but I still had a clean race and got to bring home the best trophy ever!" she said, referring to the large dream catcher that featured a turtle shell. At the awards presentation, Cheryl noted that the award had special meaning because of her nickname: 'Churtle the Turtle'".
Simril talked about her second place race. "It was yet another great Mohican adventure, about as extreme a difference from last year, but epic in a completely different way. Fortunatel,y we paid close attention to the weather forecasts. Although it was brisk and pleasant in the morning, by about aid station 3, I was glad I stuck with our sleeveless blue jersey rather than our new kits, which are really sharp-looking, but happen to be black. Not a good mix for yesterday's race!"
Simril's strategy was to go out at a hard, but manageable pace. "I learned the hard way at Cohutta when I went out way too hard and ended up blowing up about halfway through. I got into the singletrack in a good position and was able to just ride comfortably and clear the whole way to aid station 2. The support for the volunteers at every aid station was fantastic, so they got us in and out of there in record time."
Simril felt the heat kick in after leaving aid station 3 and going up a demoralizing singletrack climb that seemed to go on forever. "After three years of doing this race, you'd think I'd learn to take enough water with me to make it from aid station 3 to 4. Unfortunately, I guess I have a thick skull because I only took two bottles and had to ration the whole way. From aid station 3 to the finish, I used at least half of the water I carried to pour over my head. That way the only way I think I was able to finish feeling somewhat strong. Well, that, and the great folks at aid station 4 who let me stand under the icy cold water spigot until I got my body temperature down!"
Headwinds made the road sections, usually a welcome respite, a bit tricky.
"I was hoping that I might catch a glimpse of Cheryl at some point, but knowing how incredibly strong she is, I certainly wasn't counting on it," said Simril. "Kudos to all the women out there yesterday who braved the heat - it is a great testament to the field that we had such a high percentage of finishers."
Wilson talked about doing the race on her singlespeed. "The race was tough for singlespeed! If you gear for the steepness, you'll spend a lot of time spun out; gear for the flat parts, and you'll be shifting to your hiking gear on the steeper hills."
"I realized early on that I was slightly overgeared, so I knew it was going to be a long day. Looking back, though, it was probably a good move considering that everyone else was on geared bikes. I also ran a rigid fork. It slows me down a little on the sketchy downhill stuff, but the lightness and lack of bob when standing (which you do a lot of when SSing) more than makes up for it.
Wilson had been hoping to stay with Simril. "It wasn't meant to be, though. I got caught in some early traffic, lost sight of her on the first singletrack, and never saw her again."
"Like any good endurance race, the day was a mix of elation and suffering. I had double rainbow moments, bonk moments, and long periods of time where I pondered the reasons why anyone in their right mind would get on a bike and ride past exhaustion in the name of competition... then I'd remember that I was racing, trying to podium, and that I should probably be pedaling harder. Nine hours and 32 minutes later, I had my first podium at an NUE race- third behind Cheryl and Brenda."
Laureen Coffelt (Velosoul/The Natural Way) finished 10:04:10 to take fourth place. Forty minutes later, Molly Wolf (Wheel Werks) held off the rest of the field to join the top five.
NUE Men's Open: 100 Miler
Three-time reigning NUE Series Champion Jeff Schalk (Trek) finally broke the yoke of suffering from mechanical difficulties at the Cohutta 100 and Syllamo's Revenge by getting the win and setting a new course record in the process. Michael Simonson (RBS Trek MTB Team) finished second in what would become a close race for the two, three and four spots, separated by mere minutes.
"I didn't feel very good for the first 30 miles, largely due to Josh (Tostado) and Brandon (Draugelis) drilling the singletrack," said Schalk. "I suffered and struggled to hold on to keep them in sight. But once we got to some road sections, I was able to regroup. There were five of us together still, including Josh, Brandon, Christian (Tanguy), and Mike. Through the singletrack around aid station 3, about mile 45, I began to feel very comfortable as the others seemed to be slowing."
Schalk put in an acceleration at mile 52, dropping Tostado and Draugelis. Simonson then went off the front and was dangling just ahead, up the road. Schalk put in an effort to bridge up to Simonson and Tanguy couldn't follow. The two leaders worked together on the Mohican Valley Trail towpath and built a nice lead.
Around mile 75, Simonson began to fade and could no longer take pulls. "So I left him behind and soloed to the end. I felt great the whole second half and was able to get what I think is a new course record of 6:45," said Schalk
Schalk's time of 6:45:37 surpassed the previous course record set by 2009 Mohican 100 winner Jeremiah Bishop in 6:50:26. Could that set the stage for a 2012 return by Bishop? Perhaps the $1000 top prize will add incentive?
According to Simonson, "Robert Marion and I went for the $200 prime (early in the race). He edged me out in the sprint. It was a full out effort! Shortly after I took the holeshot into the first singletrack, Tostado got around me and was really pushing the pace. We rode the first hill that we normally hike-a-bike."
"As the temperatures rose, the humidity took a toll on all of us," said Simonson. "It was every man for himself when the sun hit its peak after noon. I held onto second (with a 7:11:30 - ed)."
Just two minutes later, Team CF mates Brandon Draugelis and Christian Tanguy, winner of the Cohutta 100 and Syllamos Revenge, rolled in followed by Josh Tostado, undefeated Champion of the Breckenridge 100 in Colorado, finishing 7:23:24.
NUE Singlespeed Open: 100 Miler
Two-time NUE Singlespeed Champion Gerald Pflug (Salsa/NoTubes/Pro Bikes) took his third straight NUE Series victory this year, completing the course in just 7:39:30. Afterward, the "Pfluginator" said, "The singlespeed race was very competitive at the start for me until aid station 2."
After the road climb out of Loudonville, Matt Ferrari, Montana Miller, Dylan Johnson and Pflug were riding together in the initial singletrack sections. Justin Pokrivka had created a gap on us in the initial section of trail. Matt Ferrari crashed on a downhill and was left behind.
"I heard a nasty crash behind me on one of the steep descents, but never looked back to see what actually happened," said Pflug. "After coming out at the Mohican Camp Ground, I looked around to see where Matt was, but he was not in sight. After the race, I heard from him that he was the one that crashed behind me on the descent."
Pflug worked his way through the traffic of the geared riders in front of him as he chased Pokivka. It wasn't until the hike-a-bike section that Johnson, Miller and Pflug saw him again.
Johnson dropped off the pace when they reached the gravel roads leading to aid station 2. With other geared riders around, Pflug said, "I figured things would be hectic at the checkpoint, so I kind of pushed the pace going into the checkpoint and was one of the first to grab my drop bag. I left quickly and got a gap on the two other singlespeed racers. I never saw another singlespeed competitor after that point and basically either rode my own race or found a geared guy or two to ride with on the course. The heat really became noticeable after checkpoint #3 and trying to deal with it became my biggest battle of the day. I manage my fluid and food intake well, though, and was able to maintain my gap over the other singlespeed racers for the hard-earned win."
Ferrari (Hubcap-Freeze Thaw Cycles) shared his thoughts on what ensued following the crash, "In the chaos of the opening singletrack, I washed out my front wheel and crashed on one of the loose opening descents (just barely into the singletrack)." The crash happened after Ferrari made what he termed a "risky" pass.
"I paid the price and thankfully no one else was hurt," said Ferrari, "but I had to wait for the field to pass while I straightened out my bike. After moving from the front to the back, I set to working my way forward on the Mohican Forest trails. It was slow going and it wasn't until after aid station 2 that I started to reel in the SS field, first Justin, then Dylan, then Montana. I was able to work with some geared riders to move forward during the rollers but once we hit the flats between aid stations 3 and 4, they dropped me and I was left in no man's land. I knew Gerry would have the benefit of the geared train moving forward, so I set to limiting my losses and keeping the others from catching up." Ferrari held on, finishing second, 7:51:56.
Jason Pruitt (29ercrew/LAS/Hodson Bay) took the third spot on the podium. "The Mohican 100 is my favorite, it suits my riding style well, being from Indiana. I had a rough start with a crash about 10 miles in...the result of bad judgement through a rocky descent. As I gained my composure and settled into a smooth spin I focused on the task at hand...go fast...drink plenty of fluids."
Pruitt had a game plan of skipping aid statoin 1, but stopping at the rest. The early fast speeds took a toll on Pruitt, but he recovered between aid stations 2 and 3. "I was lucky enough to catch the wheel of fellow 29er crew member Robert Herriman."
Pruitt got a flat sometime after aid station 3. "I donated my blood to the mosquito population in that area," he said of his time stopped while fixing the flat. "I had a problem with my CO2 charge and had to use another to get my tire aired up. It was still a little low and had to ride light. I kept telling myself....light as butterfly...and tried to ride the front wheel over the obstacles and rocks. It sucked, of course, because I was really looking forward to riding the last bit of singletrack fast! I made it work and was very happy to see the campground. I came through the finish and was happy to find out that I was also on the podium."
Michael Ramponi (Independent Fabrication) finished fourth in 8:19:30, and Robert Lochner (Iron City Bikes) was fifth in 8:23:54. NUE Masters 50+: 100 Miler
In the Masters, NUE Champion Robert Herriman (Trek 29er Crew/WSC/ACFStores.com) took the top spot on the podium in 7:57:53. The following quote appears on all of his email messages, "The best way to predict the future is to create it!".
Herriman didn't predict his win today but certainly made it happen. Here's what he had to say, "This was my second Mohican 100, with the first being the tornado-threatened race last year. I liked today's blue skies and dry trail way, way, better!"
"After this year's Cohutta 100 NUE masters' result, there was a new hierarchy set and I'd fallen to the third spot behind my teammate Roger Masse and Doug Andrews. Today's race seemed to confirm this new order as most of the day I ran in third behind these two guys."
Herriman spent about 65 miles of the race riding with 29er singlespeed teammate Jason Pruitt. He caught up with Masse at about mile 90 and got around him when the latter bobbled. About five seconds later, Herriman slipped on some loose stuff and went down, too.
"I passed Roger again and tried my best to put in an effort to make the pass stick and I was able to stay ahead to the finish," said Herriman. "Doug was waiting for us there and let us know he had to DNF after missing a turn and getting way off course so it ended up to be a win for me today. I can't say I believe the 2011 NUE masters' hierarchy changed today but these are long, hard races and anything can happen."
Masse rolled in one minute after Herriman. He described his day in the saddle, "Doug Andrews and Robert Herriman both had a better start than me." Masse said he tried to stay in contact after aid station 5, but "I was moving pretty slow by then and I just didn't have it. The better man won today."
At 9:25:26, Chris Irving (Red Ant Racing) took the third spot with David Grauer (Orthopro) in fourth at 9:34:26 and Paul Vankooten (Motor Mile / SCV) in fifth 9:36:43, just minutes behind.
Michael Dietlin (Kenda Tires/White Brothers) finished in 12:11:22, a time that might not seem all that extraordinary in a 100-mile race, that is until you consider that Mike will be celebrating his 70th birthday this year. For Dietlin, this is his second straight finish, taking the honor of eldest finisher, awarded by BikeSource of Columbus.
Men's Open: 100K
2008 100k winner Brian Schworm (Pedal Power) powered his way to the podium again this year in just 4:55:57, nearly breaking the course record of 4:53:24 set in 2009 by Travis Saeler of Pennsylvania. Afterward, Schworm said, "It went fantastic, trails were great, weather was great, and so was the competition. Tim (Carson) and I were riding together for the first couple of hours. We got to some hilly sections and I took off a little bit, then we got to that steep run up (Giffin road shortly past Aid two) and I think that's where I bridged the gap."
When asked whether it was more or less difficult than 2008, Schworm said, "The trails were faster but I think my body was more wore out this year."
Ross Clark (Edge Outdoors) finished just one minute behind Schworm in 4:56:58. "There was four of riding together in the front, me, Brian, Tim, and Steve Twining (Groovy Cycle Works). Tim was leading it out but took a wrong turn but (chuckling) we yelled to him to get him to come back. The signage was there but he had his head down and was just crankin'."
"Once we got into the singletrack, Twining, gambling by riding a new and untested bike, busted his chain about 100 yards into it. He didn't have any tools with him, of course, so I gave him my tool and spare link. At that point, Tim and Brian were gone and a couple of one hundred milers passed us up so I didn't see Tim again until the big gravel climb (Giffin Rd) coming out of aid station 2 at Buckhaven. I met up with Tim there and we rode together all the way through Mohican Wilderness. At Aid One, I heard that the gap to Schworm was about three minutes."
"Tim was going really strong on the road and I thought I was done but I caught back up to him in the singletrack and just put the hammer down as hard as I could. Tim put a heck of a move on me in the wilderness (referring to Mohican Wilderness) and passed up two people. Then I passed those same two people and was coming into a downhill too hot, it was loose, the bike came out from underneath me, I smacked into a tree and that kinda hurt. When I took off again my brake lever was bent all the way back so I had to get that thing rearranged but Juan was helping me out at the aid station (3) so I was able to save some time there."
Tim Carson placed third, one minute behind Clark, the top three all coming in under the five hour barrier. "I had a good day leading out the race. I was running with Brian until the big hill (Giffin Rd)," said Carson. "We rode together for the first 100 yards before he stood up and just sprinted up the rest of it. Then I never saw him again."
The first 24-hour racer to break the lap record of 24-Hour Champion David "Tinker" Juarez, Chip Meek (Spin bike shop/dieringer frames) finished 5:24:00 and just three minutes later, in a tie, James Mayuric (Dirty Harry's) and Tim Mould (Team CF/ Pro Bikes) finished in 5:27:43.
Winning an award from BikeSource of Columbus as the youngest finisher was local rider, Peter Joyal (Kim's Bikes of Loudonville) just 16 years old finishing his second straight Mohican 100k in just 10:14:37.
Women's Open: 100K
Michelle Peariso (Adventure212 / Specialized) won with a time of 6:17:27 and pulled off an upset over the defending four time champion Amanda Virostko (Shamrock/Biowheels), who finished third this year at 6:44:50. Taking second place behind Virostko last year, Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series reigning Champion, Heidi Shilling (COMBO Race Team / Whole Foods / Roll) poured on the coals this year, finishing second in just 6:30:22. In her first podium finish at Mohican, Sherry Downing (Team Kenda) finished fourth in 6:52:36.
Cincy native, Bridget Donovan (Trek Store Cincinnati / Hammer Nutrition / CEP) finished 6:58:18 followed by Lauren Mika (Pro Bikes) whose race was affected by two young hooligans with a jackknife that sliced up some signs near the finish, sending a handful of racers off course temporarily until course marshals restored order by locating the slashed signs and replacing them. Until that point, just five miles from the finish, Mika was in the number two spot, proving herself as a contender among top women in the Mohican 100k.
Singlespeed Open: 100K
John Lorson (Soup Can Racing) took his second victory at Mohican after his first win in 2009, 5:41:41. Nine minutes later, Jay Blews (HBI Racing) rolled in just ahead of Lorson's teammate Shawn Jones, 6:07:43.
Finishing fourth and fifth respectively were Michael Gorman (Orrville Cycling Club) in 6:15:32 and Kristofer Karwisch (BioWheels/Reece-Campbell Racing) in 6:20:39.
Julie Lewis Sroka (Lake Effect Racing) the only woman registered in the singlespeed open, placed ninth out of 20 in the 100k, with a time of 7:15:47.
"I rode my first Mohican 100K on a singlespeed using a 34/23 gear set-up," said Sroka. "It was also my first mountain bike race on a singlespeed. After the start, I spun my way to the first climb and was happy to know that I picked a good gear for climbing. There was a line of racers for as far as I could see. I finished my first 100K on a singlespeed in one piece, no crashes, and in 7:15. I'll take it."
Men's Masters 50+: 100K
Rudy Sroka (Lake Effect Racing) blistered the 100k course, finishing 5:41:02 and setting a new course record in the masters en route to his second straight Mohican 100k victory. Finishing in the two spot for his second straight year, Mark Virello, of Boston, Massachussets, was just six minutes off the pace of Sroka at 5:47:45. Taking the third spot on the podium, Jack Kline (Einstein Racing), finished in 5:51:15.
2009 winner Joe Orlando landed in fourth this year, 6:15:01 and David Stark (Velo) snatched fifth place in 6:15:10. Ohio Mountain Bike Championship reigning Masters Champion, Terry Campbell (AOA) of Zanesville proved his muster by finishing in 6:29:05.
Other awards included a custom Great Lakes Jersey for a racer who suffered from a wrong turn due to the same vandals that affected Mika's race. BikeSource of Columbus awarded a $50 gift certificate for the "Hairiest Legs at Aid Station One" combed over by Rick Diemert, aka "Sasquatch", according to his buddies, including Chris Popovic, 2007-2011 Allegheny Cycling Association President.