The Kenda National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series makes stop number three of 12 this year at the 10th annual Mohican Mountain Bike 100 on Saturday. With the top prize elevated to $1000 each in the men's and women's open divisions, the Mohican 100 is attracting some top talent.
Women: Carey returns to the Mohican 100
Last year, it was 2008 NUE Champion Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) getting her first win of the NUE season at Mohican, finishing in just 8:36:03. With Sornson absent from this year's roster while she competes in the Trans-Sylvania Epic, two-time reigning NUE Champion, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) looks to make it two in a row following her first win of the NUE season two weeks ago at Syllamo's Revenge in Arkansas.
Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) is coming off a big second place finish at Syllamo's just behind Carey and she placed second to Sornson at Mohican last year.
Capturing her first NUE podium last year at Mohican, Andrea Wilson (Outdoors, Inc.), who placed third on a rigid singlespeed, said after the race, "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."
Laureen Coffelt (Los Locos) took fourth place last year and will, no doubt, be looking to improve her time and standing this year. A rising star from Ohio, keep an eye on Shannon Tenwalde (COMBO Race Team/Whole Foods/Roll). New to the endurance scene, Tenwalde is the reigning sport champion for the Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series. Another dark horse to watch, Bridget Donovan (BioWheels/Reece-Campbell Racing), took fifth in the women's 100km last year and is moving up to the 100-mile distance.
In the women's 100km race last year, Michelle Peariso (Adventure212 / Specialized) took top honors in 6:17:27. Peariso is not on the roster yet, however two-time OMBC Ohio Women’s Champion, Heidi Shilling (COMBO Race Team/Whole Foods/Roll), who took second last year, is a favorite for this year's race.
Men: First win for the SiMonster or redemption for Tanguy?
Last year, three-time reigning NUE Series Champion Jeff Schalk finally broke the yoke of suffering from mechanical difficulties at Cohutta and Syllamo's by getting the win and setting a new course record in the process at Mohican.
Schalk had said, "I felt great the whole second half and was able to get what I think is a new course record of 6:45:37." In fact, Schalk's time of 6:45:37 edged out the previous course record set by 2009 Mohican 100 winner, Jeremiah Bishop (6:50:26) although minor course changes and conditions often determine record years.
With Schalk's retirement and Bishop gone racing at the Trans-Sylvania Epic, an opening at the top spot has emerged this year for Michael Simonson (RBS MTB Team). The SiMonster finished second to Schalk in what would become a close race for the second through fourth spots, separated by mere minutes.
Just two minutes after Simonson teammates Brandon Draugelis and Christian Tanguy, winner of the Cohutta 100 and Syllamos Revenge, both of Team CF, rolled in followed by Breckenridge 100 phenom, Josh Tostado, finishing 7:23:24.
Although Tostado is not on the roster, NUE Champion Tanguy entered late this year following an over the bars crash at Syllamo's Revenge that took him out of the race. Tanguy reported that his knee is feeling much better, and that he hopes to redeem himself by getting his first NUE win this year at Mohican.
Draugelis is also back along with a formidable roster of contenders including Chris Peariso (Adventure212 / Specialized), Jorden Wakely (Einstein Racing), Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles), Kevin Carter (Gripped Racing), who finished third at the Cohutta 100, and Greg Kuhn (RBS MTB Team), who finished eighth at Mohican last year.
In the 100km men's open, The Schworm is back. Brian Schworm (Pedal Power) looks to repeat in 2012 following a 4:55:57 record setting finish last year. Just one minute separated him from Ohio's own Ross Clark (Edge Outdoors) last year, and it was a minute later than Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series Champion Tim Carson rolled in.
Clark is back along with a darkhorse who led the race before making a heartbreaking wrong turn near the finish years ago. However, Steve Twinning (Team Lake Effect Cycling) is off to a good start this year, winning the Ohio Series Mohican race earlier this year and breaking his own course record in the process.
Singlespeed: Pfluginator may be unbeatable
Three-time reigning NUE Singlespeed Champion Gerald Pflug (Salsa Cycles/NoTubes/Top Gear) took his third straight NUE Series victory at Mohican last year, completing the course in just 7:39:30. Afterward, he said, "The singlespeed race was very competitive at the start for me until checkpoint #2. The heat really became noticeable after checkpoint #3 and trying to deal with it became my biggest battle of the day."
According to the forecast, which is calling for mild temperatures in the 60s and cloud cover, Pflug may not have to battle the heat this year. However, several competitors are back including Mathew Ferrari, (Hubcap-Freeze Thaw Cycles) who shared his thoughts on what ensued following his crash last year, "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." Ferrari finished second 7:51:56.
Taking the third spot on the podium last year was Jason Pruitt (29ercrew/LAS/Hodson Bay) who finished fourth last year behind Ferrari. The Mohican's course suits Pruitt's Indiana riding style well.
Enter Ron Harding (Trestle Bridge Racing). Just two weeks ago, Harding proved that he had what it takes to stay with the Pluginator before a final push near the end of the race moved him to the number two spot. Can he stay with the champ at Mohican? Pflug won the first two contests at Cohutta and Syallamo's.
Darkhorse contenders include Robert Lochner (ynSSr /Pro Bikes/XXC Mag) who finished fifth last year in 8:23:54. The Pittsburg racer will make another run at the singlespeed division this year in a stacked field that includes Robin Oscar (Motor Mile Racing) who finished fifth at Cohutta and Justin Pokrivka (Top Gear /Cohen & Associates) who finished sixth at Mohican last year.
In the Singlespeed 100k, Team Soupcaninsoles.com seems to have a lock on nearly all of the top spots. John Lorson set the bar at 5:41:41 last year. Lorson also won in 2008 and 2009 before taking second to teammate Jason Suppan in 2010. Jason Blews (HBI) took second to the 100k legend last year and is making another run this year for the top spot. Just behind him last year was Shawn Jones (soupcaninsoles.com) taking third and Kristofer Karwisch (BioWheels/Reece-Campbell Racing) in fourth. Both return for 2012.
"The best way to predict the future is to create it!" said 2010 NUE Champion, Robert Herriman (Trek 29Er Crew/WSC/Acfstores.com) after winning Mohican last year in 7:57:53. Herriman is not on the roster yet; however, some top talent is gathering into a storm that may make the masters race one of the most interesting of the day.
Ron Sanborn (Einstein Racing) from Michigan took the first win at Cohutta this year. Chris Irving (Los Locos) took NUE #2 at Syallamo's. Both will face off at Mohican. NUE Series contender, Roger Masse (Trek) is blowing in from Maryland. Masse was just off Herriman's time by one minute last year to take second place. David Grauer (orthopro) took fourth last year at Mohican and fifth at Syallamo's this year.
Mark Dragelis (Team CF) will make the trip from South Carolina following a sixth place finish at Cohutta and Cincy Favorite John Wyrick (Team Brad/Biowheels) is back following his top 10 finish last year with local Mark Jones (Orrville Cycling) back and racing on his home turf.
Perhaps the most incredible racer in the field is Kenda's own Michael Dietlin, who is the Ohio Series Great Grandmaster Champion. He isn't afraid to mix it up the young bucks in their 50s. He will be celebrating his 70th birthday this year and stands a good shot at winning the BikeSource eldest finisher award even if he doesn't place in the top 10, which is not a stretch. Dietlin is in amazing physical condition and completed both the 2010 and 2011 races.
In the 100k, 53-year-old Rudy Sroka blistered the field last year, setting a new course record in 5:41:02. Sroka is not on the roster yet but would be the odds on favorite. Without Sroka, 100-mile masters winner Mike Montalbano (Tomac Bikes/Gu Energy/Schwalbe/Industry Nine) is the top contender for the this year. In 2010, Montalbano edged out former NUE Champion Harlan Price and the Pfluginator for the 100 mile win.
Other 100k Masters to watch include Jim Core and Robert Goetz (Nebo Ridge). Core and Goetz both compete in the OMBC Ohio race series where Core took second last year in what has become one of Ohio’s largest and toughest divisions to win.
In addition to prize money and complimentary entry for 2013, Mohican Cabins will award winners a two-night stay in one of their newly built nine-person deluxe cabins for next year's race. In all, Mohican will award more than $5000 plus prizes including gift certificates.
A $200 prime, offered by the Loudonville Convention and Visitor's Bureau and Kim's Bikes of Loudonville will be awarded to the first racer to reach the city limits and finish the race. Last year, Robert Marion (American Classic/Kenda/Tomac) took the prime for the 100-mile, going on to finish seventh in the men's open division. John Proppe (Lake Effect Racing) took the prime for the 100k race, placing 15th in the men's open division.
BikeSource of Columbus, heading up aid one, will be awarding $50 gift certificates to the oldest and youngest finishers in addition to the hairiest legs to reach aid one. Last year's winner was Rick Diemert, aka "Sasquatch".
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the Mohican 100.
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