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 addition, its location, 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. Last year, the Syllamo's 125K, introduced and directed by Steve Parker, was added to the Kenda National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series. It happens again this year on Saturday, May 19 as round 2 of the 2012 series.
The forecast is calling for warmer temperatures in the mid-80s under sunny skies. The race course is almost entirely singletrack, often very technical, which is why the shorter distance makes this race comparable in difficulty to many of the 100-mile races in the NUE Series.
Women: NUE Champions Carey and Sornson face off for round 2
Two- time NUE champion Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) will be on the line as she defends her title this year following an impressive win last year in a time of 7:35:01, more than 15 minutes ahead of 2008 NUE Champion Cheryl Sornson (TeamCF.org). However, following Sornson's surprise victory at round 1 at Cohutta just three weeks ago, Carey knows she may have her work cut out for her on Saturday.
Vicki Barclay (Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team) will be missing from the race as she continues to recover from a concussion sustained in a training crash.
Andrea Wilson (Outdoors Inc) races a rigid, singlespeed hardtail, but still managed to pull off seventh place at Cohutta. Not only that, but Syllamo's is on her turf. She placed second two years ago in the 50-miler and fifth in the 125K last year. Wilson knows these trails and trains here, making her a favorite for the podium this year.
Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) finished fourth last year and is expected to make a good showing again this year following her eighth place finish in a strong field at Cohutta. Keep an eye on dark horse Laureen Coffelt (Los Locos) who is entering her first NUE race of the season.
Men: NUE Series star Tanguy seeks victory
Reigning NUE Champion Christian Tanguy (TeamCF.org), 37, set the bar last year at 6:10:19. Coming off a second place finish this year at the Cohutta 100, not far behind the US Olympic hopeful Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale), Tanguy is in top form and a favorite to retain the title. With Bishop out of the country chasing Olympic dreams, Tanguy becomes a marked man in a stacked men's field.
He should expect to face stiff competition from Kevin Carter (Gripped Racing), who finished third at Cohutta following a series of mechanical issues, which held him back and forced him to work alone to try to make up the gap between himself and the main pack.
NUE Series contender Josh Tostado (Santa Cruz/Maxxis) will make his NUE Series debut this year at Syllamo's. Undefeated at the Breckenridge 100 until narrowly defeated by NUE Champ Jeff Schalk last year, Tostado could really shake things up.
Look for Michael Simonson (RBS MTB Team) to bide his time and strike at the right time. At Cohutta, Simonson made a breakaway only to be reeled in near the end of the race, dropping back to fourth place. He is riding strong this year but will need to play his cards right in his first bid at Syllamo's against an experienced pack of riders who possess a better understanding of the race course.
Tanguy may expect some help from 27-year-old teammate Brandon Draugelis, who finished third last year at 6:38:22, just behind three-time NUE Series Champion Schalk; however, Draugelis is also more than capable of scoring his own victory in the right circumstances.
Kip J. Biese (Big Wheel Racing/Old Town Bike Shop) is returning with course knowledge following a fourth place finish last year. Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles) will also likely be among the lead pack following his sixth place finish last year.
Other wild card racers include Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt), Jonathan Davis (Trek Bike Store Racing), who finished seventh last year and Edward O'Dea (Topeak/Ergon), who placed ninth.
Singlespeed Pflug is the odds on favorite
Three-time NUE singlespeed champion, Gerald "The Pfluginator" Pflug (Salsa/NoTubes/Top Gear) is on track toward his fourth straight NUE Series title following another big win at Cohutta, 10 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor. At Syllamo's last year, he blistered the field by more than 30 minutes, finishing in 7:06:32 and choosing to ride with the geared leaders well ahead of the singlespeed pack according to reports last year.
His nearest challenger may be Dwayne Goscinski (Team NoahG Foundation). An experienced road racer, Goscinski surprised everyone at his first ever NUE series race with a second place finish at Cohutta. Goscinski dedicated the race to his son, who passed away, the result of DiGeorge Syndrome, following a brave fight for life that lasted 22 long days from April 25 through July 7, 2011. The Noah Foundation is dedicated to helping families who are coping with similar treatments. Now that Goscinski knows who his competitors are, he may be able to add tactics to his strength.
Robin Oscar (Motor Mile Racing) finished fifth at Cohutta and second only to Pflug, last year, at Syllamo's. Boomer Leopold (Los Locos) is back following his third place finish last year.
Jason Pruitt (LAS/Hodson Bay) finished fourth at Cohutta and may need to work with fellow singlespeeders for his shot at the top spot. The challenge for all contenders appears to be keeping the Pfluginator within their sites and hoping for a chink in the armor of the 43-year-old phenom.
Masters 50+: Series newcomer Novak tops the roster
Miroslav Novak is the leading contender in the Master's 50+ race. Novak, originally from Slovakia, is a newcomer to the NUE Series but pulled off a second place finish at the Cohutta 100, behind Ron Sanborn (Einstein Racing), who is absent from the roster along with last year's winner, 51-year-old Todd Henne, who set the bar at 7:52:42. Also missing from the roster, NUE Masters Champion Doug Andrews is likely to make his debut at one of the western events later this year.
Chris Irving (Los Locos) placed second last year, 20 minutes behind Henne. He also placed eighth at the Cohutta 100. Mark Drogalis (Team CF) didn't compete at Syllamo's last year, but placed seventh behind Drogalis at Cohutta a few weeks ago.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for early reports on race day and full coverage.