- Ryan O'Dell
On the limit racing from the start
The eighth stop in the Kenda NUE series moves back westward to Alta, Wyoming, located on the western slope of the Tetons at Grand Targhee Resort. Pierre's Hole, a mountain valley tucked up to the Wyoming border just on the western side of the Tetons, was once known as the strategic center for fur trade in the Northern Rockies. Today it is known as the strategic gathering place to ski unfathomable deep powder and ride some of the best unknown single track in the nation.
The race course is situated under the Le Tres Tetons, or the three Tetons (Grand, Middle, and South Teton). It features single track loops at Grand Targhee Resort (GTR), descending the infamous Papoose and Bustle Creeks and ascending of Teton Canyon via drainages wrapped with single track around Rick’s Basin. The views are breathtaking and the wild flowers will be in full bloom as racers speed under these magnificent peaks, however, according to race director, Troy Barry,
“It is possible racers may not see much of them while their heart rates hover around VO2 max while climbing around the resort.”
Pierre’s Hole, now in its third year, has been compared to the difficulty of the Breck 100, and some riders believe it is more difficult due to the never ending 16000 feet of climbing over the 100 miles.
This year’s PH100 NUE race will be the fourth consecutive week racers have battled for NUE points across the nation and the third western venue. Home of NUE Series Champion, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt), it is just 26 spots from selling out with racers traveling from as far east as Orono, Maine to Minneapolis in the Midwest, Georgia in the south and as far west as Kailua, Hawaii. The course will challenge some of the flatlanders from lower elevation as the start/finish is located at almost 8000 feet above sea level, and topping out over 9000 feet. Men under 9 hours and 45 minutes and women under 10 hours and 45 minutes earn the coveted Pierre’s Hole 100 Buckle.
It appears that some racers are getting stronger from four weeks of block of intensity, including defending NUE Series Jeff Schalk (Trek) who has been on fire since dethroning undefeated Breck 100 winner, Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz/Shimano), followed by his most recent win at the Wilderness 100 in State College, Pennsylvania. That win makes it three for the champ which ties the series, three apiece now, with Christian Tanguy, Team CF, who started the season with big wins but appears to be struggling a bit with his bid to dethrone the three time NUE Series Champion.
Josh Tostado has been racing very strong and is still in the running with 2nd place finishes at Breck and the High Cascades. A win at Pierre’s Hole would be huge for the Breckenridge strongman.
The series is also seeing increased depth this year with riders like Cary Smith (Hammer Nutrition/Stans No Tubes) who recently took the win at High Cascades, and Clint Muhlfeld, Chris Peariso, Eddie O’Dea, Ben Parsons, and Ernesto Marenchin who are all on the start list and all capable of riding at the front and shaking up the field. A surprise entrant, Harlan Price, was the first ever NUE Series Champion in 2006 and the singlespeed contender, perhaps the only one, who challenged the Pfluginator right down to the final showdown at Shenandoah in 2010.
NUE Series defending champion, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) made it four straight wins to regain control of the series with her win at the High Cascades 100. Carey appears unstoppable as she enters her fifth race of the season on home turf at the PH100. Her nearest competitor, Cheryl Sornson (Team CF), still needs three wins, including the Shenandoah 100 tiebreaker to retake her 2008 title from Carey, a tall order. Suffering from stomach issues at the Wilderness 101, Sornson missed a great opportunity for an important late season win, given that Carey is not registered for the tie breaker at Shenandoah.
Namitra O’Dea (Topeak-Ergon) is in town and has been gaining experience on the NUE series circuit this year. She rocked the Creampuff 100 and is poised to improve her 5th place finish at the High Cascade 100.
Defending NUE Single speed Champion, Gerry Pflug (Salsa/NoTubes/Pro Bikes), is taking no prisoners en-route to a second straight series victory. The only racer in the series with 6 out of 7 wins, the Pfluginatoris looking to seal the deal by dominating all races and riding away from any and ALL challengers.
Pflug displayed an amazing ability to recover from back to back events, however, Ketchum, ID local boys Greg Martin (Club Ride) and Michael Shane will be taking fresh shots at the champ this weekend.
Never to be discounted, despite three second place finishes behind Pflug this season, the question remains, will Matthew Ferrari (Hubcap/Freeze Thaw Cycles) find his mojo and the extra strength he needs to take the top spot?!
Masters Men 50+
Roger Masse leads the NUE series with three second place finishes plus his first big victory at the Wilderness 101 last weekend. Masse remains a contender in a division that is far from decided.
NUE Series defending Champion Robert Herriman (Trek 29ER Crew/WSC/ACFStores.com) has two wins this season plus a third place behind Andrews at Cohutta. Herriman remains a threat if he makes a late season run.
Doug Andrews (www.GeoLadders.com), nicknamed “The HULK” after blowing out the masters division by two hours at the High Cascades 100 and placing top ten overall at the Breckenridge 100, has been tearing up the series and could secure his lead with four wins in the NUE Series with another win on Saturday.
Fortunately for Masse and Herriman, standing is his way is several Teton strong men with local course knowledge that could contest the front of the race with Andrews. 50+ contenders Dave Reynolds from SLC, UT, David Grauer (orthopro) from Niwot, CO, Don Wiseman from Ketchum, ID, and Harry Johnson from Bozeman, MT. Mix in a wildcard from Kailua, Hawaii, Steven Spengler, and you have the making of an epic race in the Masters.
24.5 miles long with 4638 feet of climbing per lap, 9.3 miles of climbing and 9 miles of downhill and the remaining 6 miles consists of undulating terrain with very few flat sections.
The course has seen some additional single track added to the course that replaces the cat track road that will take riders out of the resort to about 9000 feet to Teton views of lightening ridge. The course then drops into the infamous Mill and Papoose Creek descents dropping all the way to Teton Canyon 2600 feet below.
From here riders climb 500 feet to Aide Station 2 in the overlook with a view of the Grand Teton, before continuing another 600 vertical feet to the turnoff to Bustle Creek. This descent takes riders to the Heslin Ranch where they will ride through this amazing western backdrop to the base of Dry Creek and a formidable climb back to the resort. Sections here are steep and relentless.
Once in the resort boundary riders will be treated to the wishing well single track in Dry Creek Basin and Aide 3 before heading out into the Aspen Grove’s of Rick’s Basin. This section consisting of 7 miles of single track takes riders up along quakie ridge with views of Teton Valley (Pierre’s Hole) as well as the resort. The course has four Aide stations located equidistant around the course, stocked with Hammer Nutrition products. Two of the Aides will have full mechanical support provided by local shops Habitat and Hoback Sports.
With the extremely cold and wet spring the growth along the single track has required a tremendous amount of mowing and weed whacking making the single track feel even more remote than it already is here in the Tetons. However, the moisture has allowed the wildflowers to be in abundance and in bloom for the race. The week coming into the race is calling for afternoon thunder storms that should provide good moisture for the single track to help keep the soil tight and fast, eliminating dust on the trails.
Staging for the race is from the Grand Targhee Resort where there is ample lodging and necessary amenities available for racers. The village at GTR will be full of pre and post party events, including food and beverage with a musical performance by “Swagger” near the time of award presentations.
Last year, a portion of the race proceeds were used to benefit the non-profit Teton Valley Trails and Pathways (TVTAP). TVTAP is a non-profit whose efforts are focused on providing human powered connectivity throughout the valley. PH100 has the goal of doubling last year’s donation to help supplement funding for future maintenance and enhancement of our wonderful trail system. For additional information, check out www.ph100.org.