Since 2005, Syllamo's Revenge has become a popular 50-mile race, thanks to its 50+ miles of singletrack designated as "epic" by the International Mountain Bike Association. In fact, Mountain View, Arkansas, was chosen by Outside Magazine as one of the "Top 20 Outdoor Destinations" in the United States and one of Men's Journal's "Best 52 Weekends" in the United States.
This year, the Syllamo's 125K, introduced and directed by Steve Parker, was added to the Kenda National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series and is set to take place this Saturday, May 14. The forecast calls for mild temperatures in the 60s (degrees Fahrenheit) and sunny skies.
Taking his first pedal stroke toward a three-peat on April 30, three-time men's open series champion Jeff Schalk (Trek) fell a bit short at the Cohutta 100, placing fourth. Yet with a long series ahead, he has plenty of time to dial in his superhuman strength before the series finale at the Shenandoah 100 in Virginia. Will Syllamo's become his first victory of the series?
Schalk will face stiff competition from Christian Tanguy (TeamCF.org) who flew past Michael Simonson (Gary Fisher/SRAM/NoTubes) after Simonson suffered a flat near the end of the race. Tanguy claimed the first victory of the series.
With valuable local knowledge, last year's Syllamo's Revenge winner Scott Henry will be a force to be reckoned with as he moves up to the 100k distance to qualify for NUE Series points. The 37-year-old Henry completed the shorter, 50-mile course last year in just 4:45:56.
Andy Applegate (Champion Systems/Cannondale) and Andy Gorski, who placed sixth and seventh respectively in the NUE Series last season, will both be making their debut at Syllamo's. Garth Prosser (Cannondale), who placed fifth last year in his best NUE Series finish ever, is reportedly still recovering from a separated shoulder, the result of road race pileup early in the season.
Other registered contenders include Brandon Draugelis (PAValleys.com Racing Team), Eddie O'Dea (Topeak/Ergon), who directs the Fool's Gold 100 in Georgia, and Ernesto Marenchin (Speedgoat.com), who finished ninth at Cohutta.
NUE women's series champion Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) will be on the line after an impressive win race number one at the Cohutta 100. 2009 NUE Champion Cheryl Sornsen (TeamCF.org) will, no doubt, will be in the hunt for her first win of the season along with Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) who finished third in the series last year and remains a threat to the two leaders. Namrita O'Dea (Topeak/Ergon) hopes to follow up on a strong finish at Cohutta.
Last year's race winner Carey Lowery is not on the roster yet; however, second place finisher, Andrea Wilson, who finished the 50-mile in 6:04:14 is expected to use her knowledge to take a shot at the NUE leaders in the 100k this year.
Two-time singlespeed series champion Gerald "The Pfluginator" Pflug (Salsa/SPK/Probikes) is on track toward his third straight title with a big win at the Cohutta 100. He will face last year's 50-mile singlespeed winner, Craig Zediker, who completed the 50-mile course in just 5:23:31. Kip Biese of Colorado Springs will also be there in his NUE debut this year.
Noticably absent from the roster is the former NUE men's open champion and last year's singlespeed contender Harlan Price. Although Price was on the roster for both the Cohutta 100 and Syllamo's Revenge 100k, he recently reported that after five years, he's decided to pursue some other things this year including working on a project to document the best back country downhills of the East Coast from Maine to Georgia.
According to Price, "I'll also be throwing my hat in the ring for the super D national championships. Bikes are fun. Every time you get on one should be a good day, even if the rest of the day sucks." We couldn't agree more and wish the former champion good luck at the super D nationals this year.
With series champion Robert Herriman absent from the roster, the door remains open in the Masters class for a new challenger, and last year's winner, Chris Irving, age 50, is on the 100k roster. With local course knowledge along with some of the NUE podium winners missing from the roster, he has a great opportunity to snatch an early series victory this year.
Last year's 50-mile winner, 61-year-old Doug Long, is not entered in the 100k this year but completed the 50-mile last year in an incredible 5:33:48.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full race coverage of the Syllamo's Revenge.