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Grant and Sornson win True Grit Epic

By:
Ryan O'Dell

National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series opens in Utah

Alex Grant rides to the win in True Grit

Alex Grant rides to the win in True Grit

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On Saturday, The True Grit Epic Mountain Bike Race entered its first year as the Kenda NUE Series opener under mostly sunny skies. Higher than usual temperatures that reached the low eighties by late afternoon. Now in its third year of existence, the race course spans 89 miles, nearly all off road, heading from Tonaquint to Santa Clara and back just outside the city of St. George in Southern Utah.

Women

Defending NUE Women's Champion, Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) got off to a great start in 2013, garnering her first win of the season in 8:36:04. Racing on a singlespeed, Alice Drobna (Webcyclery/CycleSoles/Hydro Flask) took second in 9:05:03. Fifteen minutes later, Brenda Simril (Motor mile racing) finished third on the day in 9:20:15.

"With the dark start, I did not take the time to warm-up and this made for a slow start," said Sornson. "To make matters worse, I missed two turns early on. One woman was able to get by me, but I caught up to her and passed her within the first ten miles."

Sornson, who hails from a rocky Pennsylvania area, was comfortable on the rocks of Utah. "After gaining a good gap, I took care and paid attention to how the sun and heat were affecting me, taking advantage of each aid stop to access plenty of liquid and fuel. Towards the end of the ride I was able to relax, slow down, and enjoy the scenery. It was gorgeous. True Grit was a great adventure and a good test of early season fitness."

Men

Alex Grant (Sho-Air/Cannondale), winner of the Park City Point-to-Point last season, set the bar at 6:41:37 on this year's newly designed race course.

"Whenever a National Series race comes to your home state, there's always a little extra motivation," said Grant. "This is one, of two NUEs in Utah, and I guess I am a little territorial, and really wanted to take the win. Having won the Park City Point 2 Point in September, I was motivated to keep the momentum going."

Grant knew the trails well and used his local knowledge to his advantage.

Josh Tostado (Santa cruz/maxxis/shimano) pushed the pace early, and Grant followed him. The two go away together. Grant came around heading into the technical Zen trail and solo'ed in for the win.

"I crossed the line exhausted but also very happy to take the NUE Opener and a really great race," said Grant.

Thirteen minutes later, Carey Smith rolled into second in 6:54:40 "My race started with more stress than I wanted. The start time was moved back to allow the sun to come up enough for a safe start," said Smith. "Evan Plews, Ibis Cycles, and I obviously had a different idea about what was light enough to start and we were both at my van getting ready when the race started. I got going slightly before he did but was still about a minute behind when I crossed the start line. So, instead of rolling out the dirt road with the group, I was forced to catch from behind."

Smith caught the tail end of the lead group as he entered the first climb up a rocky wash. He battled with Plew and Drew Edsall.

"Evan joined me on the climb up the Zen loop and we both got around Drew," said Smith. "I had a decided advantage over Evan on this section since I had pre-ridden this part of the course. There are several sections of slickrock as well as blind drops that are easy to blow if you don't know the proper line. Evan lost some time there when he crashed hard, bloodying his nose."

Smith caught Tostado and they stayed together for awhile. Eventually the two got separated in the midst of race traffic.

"Josh went around me when I walked a short technical descent and got a few more seconds when I stopped at the Zen feedzone for some much needed CarboRocket. Now that we were in the midst of the 50-mile racers and it was hard to keep tabs on Josh but I thought I saw him crest slightly in front of me. I dropped straight down Clavicle Hill (named by local EMT's who have participated in numerous rescues there) and Josh was out of sight. I kept looking for him but thought that he was reinvigorated after dropping me and put in a big acceleration. I kept my head down in a vain attempt to catch him. It wasn't until after the finish that I learned that I had taken a different line on the descent and was actually in front of him."

Tostado would go on to finish third at 6:59:56, just five minutes behind Carey. Plews, who finished third overall in the NUE Series last year, crossed the finish less than one minute later to finish fourth in 7:00:39. Six minutes later, Jonathan Davis, Trek Colorado, took fifth at 7:06:55. Drew Edsall, Kenda/Felt, who finished fifth overall in the NUE Series last year, withdrew from the race after suffering from dehydration issues.

Singlespeed

Four-time defending NUE Series SS Champion, Gerry Pflug (Team CF/Pro Bikes) narrowly edged out AJ Linnell to get his first W of the season in 7:30:35.

"I wasn't too sure what to expect from the True Grit 100 since I wasn't familiar with the course or the majority of other singlespeed racers who were registered," said Pflug. "After pre-riding part of the course, I discovered the trails were pretty rough and rocky, which was not a good thing for my rigid fork. Luckily, my CF teammate Cary Smith let me borrow his suspension fork and also gave me some of his knowledge about the trails."

AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald's Bicycles/Pivot) joined Pflug at the beginning of the race. Linnell was riding the technical bits a bit better than Pflug.

"We rode a lot of that together but I was able to get a gap over him on the Cove Wash trail, which I maintained for a few hours until I flatted during the second go-round on the Barrel Roll loop," said Pflug. "Then, just as I was able to repair my flat, I saw AJ approaching. I knew then that I could not make any mistakes during the last eight miles of racing. Fortunately, I had no other issues and was able to get the win by a mere 45 seconds. It was a very exciting race!"

Linnell, winner of the High Cascades 100 last year, finished second on the day at 7:32:22. Shannon Boffeli, finished third at 8:00:52.

Masters 50+

David Jolin (Stark Velo) from Bellville, Ohio nabbed his first NUE Series victory in 8:40:08.

"Even though my body told me differently, I did enjoy the race venue. The Zen Trail and Barrel Roll had plenty of technical climbs and descents that required picking a good line and, even then, it got dicey. The course also had some great rollers that could get you up to great speed (stuckie trail) and let you just hammer away. I think this was a great venue for the opener."

Just over a minute later at 8:41:24, Jody Bailey (4Life/Mad Dog) pulled into second place. Charles Buki finished third at 9:02:08

On April 27, The NUE Series will head to the Cherokee National Forest near Ducktown, Tennessee for the Cohutta 100.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for all the news including results and photos.

Full Results

Men
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Alex Grant (Sho-Air/Cannondale) 6:41:37  
2 Cary Smith (Team CF) 0:13:03  
3 Josh Tostado (santa cruz, maxxis, shimano) 0:18:19  
4 Evan Plews (Ibis Cycles) 0:19:02  
5 Jonathan Davis (Trek Colorado) 0:25:18  
6 Michael Tobin (G-Fit) 0:30:41  
7 Chris Peariso (Adventure 212/Specialized) 0:42:10  
8 Daniel Munoz (Cyclery USA / Specialized) 0:48:34  
9 Dana Weber (Stage21) 0:59:51  
10 Matt Woodruff (Kuhl) 1:17:19  
11 Michael Muhlestein (Rooster/Biker's Edge) 1:18:03  
12 Gordon Smith (linked) 1:30:56  
13 Jeff Higham 1:31:34  
14 Brock Cannon (Brockcannon.com) 1:53:30  
15 Aaron Johnson 2:02:06  
16 Steven Kelly (Deadgoat Racing) 2:18:45  
17 Joal Borggard (JB1) 2:28:14  
18 Lee Simril (Motor mile racing) 2:43:00  
19 Eric Coomer (Pedal Pushers Racing) 3:29:41  
DNF Glenn Meikle    
DNF Geoff Clark (Deadgoat Racing)    
DNF Matt Glauser (Glauser)    
DNF Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt)    
DNF Tom Andrews (PAA?Remax, SPY)    
DNF Adam Dewitt (Competitive Cyclist) 5:48:10  
DNF Sean Ardley 6:40:28  
DNS Rex Johnson    
DNS Bob Saffell (Revolution Peak Fasteners)    
DNS Matthew Fisher (Infinite Cycles)    
DNS Art Degraw (Team Bikeman)    
DNS John Merrill (Service Course Velo)    
DNS Seth Barnard (Service Course Velo)    
Women
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) 8:36:04  
2 Alice Drobna (Webcyclery) 0:28:59  
3 Brenda Simril (Motor mile racing) 0:44:11  
4 Susan Lynch (Union Velo) 0:48:43  
5 Julie Urlaub (Taiga Company) 1:40:50  
6 Denise Coppock (Titletown Flyers) 2:19:47  
Singlespeed men
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Gerry Pflug (Team CF / Pro Bikes) 7:30:35  
2 Aj Linnell (Fitzgerald's Bicycles) 0:01:47  
3 Shannon Boffeli 0:30:17  
4 Darrell Roundy (Roundy) 0:57:54  
5 Jamon Whitehead (Cutthroat Racing) 0:59:26  
6 Pat Doyle (Deadgoat Racing) 1:09:59  
7 Kenny Jones (1x1) 1:23:24  
8 Loren Gard (Cascade Couriers/Bend Velo) 2:17:41  
9 Jason Sherman (3B Yoga) 3:26:40  
DNF Mike Carmody (mike)    
DNF Greg Steele (Beehive Bicycles / Cutthroat)    
DNF Clay Chiles (Faster Mustache)    
DNS Doug Andrews    
Masters men
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 David Jolin (Stark Velo) 8:40:08  
2 Jody Bailey (4Life / Mad Dog) 0:01:16  
3 Charles Buki (Team CF) 0:22:00  
4 Brian Hobbs (Bills cycle racing) 0:25:44  
5 Monte Hewett (mhh) 0:59:05  
6 John Lauck (Bountiful Bicycle p/b Threshold Sports) 1:13:56  
7 Gary Gardiner (Bountiful Bike P/B Threshold Sports) 1:16:18  
DNF Robert Mcwhorter (Project M)    
DNF Marland Whaley (Red Barn Bicycles)    

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