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Tahoe Sierra 100 (NUE #8 - Finals) - NE
French Meadows, California, USA, September 6, 2008
East Coast riders show up and throw down in California's Tahoe-Sierra 100
Schalk and Sornson Win National Ultra Endurance Series
By Barry Kunkle
The National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series took its first trip to the West Coast's Tahoe-Sierra 100 for the series' final race in French Meadows, California. With the Sierra-Nevadas as the canvas, 270 riders, stacked with the best mountain bike century racers in the country, lined up to tackle the daunting moon dust on top of the serpentine of forest roads, dual track, climbs and descents that would tally up to 14,000 feet of climbing by day's end.
To guarantee a field of the finest racers dedicated to the format, race promoter Jim Worthy gave away US$15,000 as a show of "respect for the men and women who commit themselves to the training required to suffer through seven plus hours on a bike."
The start line included two 2008 national champions Chris Eatough (24 hour) and Jeremiah Bishop (marathon and short track), both of Trek/VW in the men's race plus the top four men of the NUE series including the overall champion Jeff Schalk (Trek/VW). David "Tinker" Juarez (Cannondale/Mona Vie) also came to challenge for the win. Singlespeed World Championships Linda Eckhart and NUE series women's leader Cheryl Sornson (Trek/VW) were on hand for the women's race. While the cash brought the top athletes, the barbeque, a live band, beer and a serious challenge brought the rest.
Emerging from the dust, were the East Coast riders Bishop, Eatough and Sornson who summitted the podium peak for the men's and women's open field, while California residents John "Fuzzy" Myline (Shoair/ Niner) and Linda Eckhart rescued the men's and women's singlespeed division from an East Coast sweep.
Moon dust takes out favorite Schalk, while Eatough and Bishop tie
By September, the mountain bike season is starting to wrap up. Racers' bodies begin to feel the sting of back-to-back events, countless minor and major mishaps on the bike and the drain that traveling has on routines and life. For the Tahoe-Sierra 100, the honor of being the NUE series final brought with it a line up of the best one day endurance racers in the country, and each carried a season of baggage to challenge the airline's luggage policies.
Underneath the race banner was Jeremiah Bishop who had spent the early season chasing points for an Olympic spot, but was just finishing off a three-week stint that began with the Fool's Gold 100 in Georgia, followed by a four day stage race in Utah four days later and a weekend of racing the NMBS series final. A quick three-day visit home in Virginia enused, and he was on the road again, back to the Tahoe-Sierra.
Next to Bishop stood Schalk and Eatough, both one week after the Shenandoah Mountain 100. Schalk, the series champion, was about to start his seventh 100 of the year but also had a shoulder that was giving him some doubts after a minor separation a few weeks earlier. Eatough was actually looking stronger every race since his 24 hour national championship win, but with only one week separating the final two 100 milers, no one could guess how anyone would perform.
Oregonian, and second place series contender, Evan Plews (Scott/ Capitol Subaru) had his own list of reasons to be ready for a cool drink and a hammock. Besides the four hundred milers this season, in the last month he had completed the TransRockies stage race as well as the American Mountain Classic. 2006 series winner Harlan Price (IFracing.org) found himself on a start line for the first time in a month after fracturing his wrist less than five weeks prior. Breckenridge 100 winner Josh Tostado (Bach Builders) was also on board next to past Olympian Tinker Juraez.
A battered but excited field was on hand for the NUE series' final romp through Northern California. Unknown to the series regulars were the strengths of the regional riders mixed amongst the rest of the field who were ready to challenge.
Five miles of a slight pavement and gravel climb began the sorting of racers before the left hand turn on the first climb of the day to aid station one. Racers were going to be seeing this five mile climb again in about 15 miles and then at the end of the race as they finish the day descending down it. Quickly the sifting of riders began as the front group started to dwindle. Singlespeeder John "Fuzzy" Myline (ShoAir/ Niner) took a flyer to put pressure on his field and sat a hundred feet in front of the geared pack.
As the hill kicked and the road began narrowing to a rougher jeep road, Fuzzy was reeled in, and Price moved to the front setting an early pace that once again strained another set of racers off the lead group so that by the top, it was a group of eight dicing it out on the first downhill of the day. Bishop, Eatough, Schalk, Tinker, Plews, Mark Santurbane (Giant/Berry Farms), Price and Tostado rolled over the top and started the dusty descent to the next climb.
Everyone was jockeying for position to get a clear line, since following a wheel was difficult with the dust kicking up and obscuring the trail. Deep sections of moon dust were of major concern since they not only hid rocks beneath, but it also tended to take control of riders bikes. It was on this downhill that Schalk suffered the first race ending crash of the day.
At about 30 mph, Schalk's hands came off the bar after hitting a rock hidden by Bishops dust. "It was a reality check for how dangerous the downhill was," said Price. "I saw a bike flying in the air, but the dust was so thick it was just a cloud with body parts sticking out of it."
Eatough stopped immediately while Bishop was unaware of the crash since he had been in front. After Bishop was made aware of the situation everyone stopped to get word. Bishop started riding back up the hill but was soon met by Eatough who said Schalk was up and looking shaken but okay. "I'm feeling very lucky to be up in one piece. It was the scariest crash I've ever had," said Schalk of his tumble.
Everyone proceeded at a more cautious pace, until Santurbane went down in a deep section of moon dust. Again everyone held back on the pace to see if he was all right.
The second climb of the day to aid station two saw the group stay mostly together. Over the top, Plews led down the descent while Juarez fell victim to a mechanical that ended his day. Plews, Price, Eatough, Bishop, Tosatado and Santurbane were all that was left the second time at the bottom of the five mile climb, but it was now Plews' turn to set a pace that put everyone on the nose of their saddles.
"I was just riding my own pace all day. I felt good then so I rolled with it," said Plews about his effort. At the top for the second time, the group had been shortened by two, with Tostado and Santurbane off the back. On the next six-mile section to Robinson's Flat aid station the Trek/VW duo set a tempo on the rollers that dropped first Plews then Price who was able to hang on a little longer. Coming in to Robinson's Flat the four regrouped briefly but were again soon split up by the Trek rider's pace.
"Chris and I had talked about it before, and the number one goal was to get him to the finish ahead of Evan," said Bishop in reference to the duo's strategy for the day. The second half of the course was much more mellow than the first 41 miles and involved more pavement, and long gradual fire road descents and climbs. Plews and Price rode together till about the 60 mile mark before Plews rolled on ahead and chased down Bishop and Eatough. A little surprised, they proceeded to challenge Plews' legs till an attack at mile 75 by Eatough was the final straw, and the Scott/ Capitol Subaru rider was left to himself.
Bishop waited a minute on Plews' wheel to see if he would bridge back to Eatough, but when the effort wasn't appearing he did his own attack and chased back to Eatough's wheel.
With 25 miles to go, and Plews dispatched, the two Trek riders now had to consider their inner conflict. All day they had covered each other's attacks, but now it was a chance to test how much each had left. Eatough's attack on Plews had given him a 20 second lead over Bishop. The final climb between mile 79 and 85 saw the two riders keeping a high tempo to make sure Plews would not roll back up, but it was the transition through the Robinson's Flat aid station that put the pressure back on Eatough as Bishop rolled through while Eatough made a slower transition. On the next five miles of rollers it was Eatough who had to work to close a 30 second gap.
Bishop began paying for his quick transition when he realized he had just a few sips left in his bottles. Eatough pulled Bishop back just before the final descent of the day and due to the dangerous nature of the rocky forest road neither riders was able to put in an attack. At the bottom with only a few miles of gravel and pavement left, they came to a truce to avoid a dangerous sprint finish through the campground. At 7:02:58, they rolled across the finish line in a declared tie, and split the first and second place winnings.
Plews came across the line eleven minutes later with Price another four minutes back. Mark Santurbane was fifth on the day after briefly getting lost at mile 35.
Despite not finishing the day Jeff Schalk (Trek VW East) took the series overall, and the performance of Eatough for the day gave him a second place over Plews in third, Price in fourth and Christian Tanguy (American Cycling and Fitness) captured the fifth spot.
Sornson wins the day and series
Though the women's field was much smaller than the one from the previous week a the Shenandoah Mountain 100, the field had a deep contingency of proven power. Series leader and SM100 winner Cheryl Sornson (Trek / VW East) was on a late season roll, but was unsure of what she had in the legs a week after the last 100 miler.
There to challenge her was E100 winner Amanda Riley Carey (Kenda/ Titus), La Ruta De Los Conquistador winner Louise Kobin (Sho-Air/ Sonance), and recent 12 hours of Temecula winner Erika Tieszen (Sitnahcycling.com). The women were racing for payout that equaled the men's.
On the first climb of the day, Kobin and Riley seperated themselves from the other women, and looked to be the strongest on the day. Sornson spent the entire day thinking she was in third place behind Carey and Cobin. Unfortunately both those riders had been together off the front when they took a wrong turn, putting them off course for a spell. At each aid station Sornson was told she was in the lead, but because she was unaware of the off track pair ahead, she thought everyone was confused.
Sornson was satisfied with being able to hold a third place spot a week after racing the Shenandoah Mountain 100. "I was sad to hear the two girls had gone off course, but in these races you really have to keep your head up," she said about the pair who got lost.
Tieszen, who got second for the day, was on a mission to put her head down and challenge the other women."It's always a shame when someone gets lost because it takes away some of the accomplishment you should feel by placing well," said Tieszen
In the end, Sornson came across the line in 9:09:48 with Tieszen behind at 10:04:44 and Carrie Edwards (Elsworth) at 10:42:32. Carey and Kobin got back on course and still managed to come in fourth and fifth respectively.
Sornson locked up the 2008 National Ultra Endurance Series with four wins out of six races.
Fuzzy says "No" to challengers; Eckhart takes first while squeezing between top two geared women
It's one thing to win a singlespeed race, but another thing to challenge the geared riders for a position in their top fiv. It raises the question of at what point does a person collect prizes for two categories while technically only racing in one?
This weekend John "Fuzzy" Myline (Sho-Air/ Niner) stood on top of his Singlespeed podium, but in the overall for the day he was only one place out the top five. His early attack on the first climb was a tactical move to put pressure on the young phenom Dezmin Wilder (Sobe Cannondale), who ended the day second to Fuzzy by only four minutes and in seventh place overall.
As a matter of fact, three singlespeeders made it into the top ten with Conrad Snover rounding out the top three, while Yuri Hauswald (Marin Bikes) creeped up close only six minutes back of Snover and one minute out of the top ten overall.
Dejay Birtch (Niner) was a fifth on the day but managed to hold on to second place overall in the series while Fuzzy walked home with his first NUE series overall championship. Chris McGill (WV 29er) took the third place series overall, while Mathew Ferrari and Chip Meek were fourth and fifth in the series despite not going to the series final in California.
Two women showed up on one-geared bikes, but it was Linda Eckhart who proved that her two singlespeed World Championship tattoos were the real thing. She rollicked her way to a second place overall despite stopping to make a phone call at one of the aid stations to home, since it was the only place she could get a cell phone signal. After being told to get off the phone and race she took off and finished her day as first single speed woman across the line ahead of Dawn Infurna-Bean.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Barry Kunkle
Men 1 Jeremiah Bishop & Chris Eatough 7.02.58 3 Evan Plews 10.44 4 Harlan Price 14.47 5 Mark Santubane 32.59 6 Garth Prosser 49.30 7 Rich ONeil 1.02.21 8 Todd Richardson 1.13.33 9 Angus Nesbitt 1.14.08 10 Matt Woodruff 1.19.12 11 Josh Tostado 1.20.11 12 Gregg Stone 1.23.14 13 Zac Ramras 1.23.29 14 Matthias Behrends 1.37.25 15 David Altare 1.37.49 16 Carl Sanders 1.53.51 17 Eric Warkentin 1.54.44 18 Jason Siegle 1.54.59 19 Kevin Smallman 1.58.43 20 kevin Marr 2.00.56 21 jonathan Cavner 2.02.46 22 Lucas Wiens 2.24.05 23 John Navaro 2.40.21 24 Aaron Breitbard 2.44.19 25 Don Metzger 2.48.17 26 Gary Mandy 2.56.34 27 Alex Phipps 2.56.38 28 John Hutchinson 3.09.33 29 Dirk De Bruyker 3.12.09 30 Kevin Sorenson 3.13.02 31 Marc Rancourt 3.19.32 32 Peter Werner 3.25.13 33 Sean McDevitt 3.26.38 34 Graham Hynus 3.32.14 35 Brandon Hedberg 3.32.15 36 Matt Ruscigno 3.32.18 37 Jay Bretz 3.34.57 38 Kyle Schild 3.35.57 39 Adam Pressman 3.37.19 40 Shane Fitch 3.39.58 41 Jody White 3.41.20 42 Nathan Schuster 3.44.47 43 Jonathan Herbert 3.50.51 44 James Kelley 3.51.50 45 Unkonwn 3.52.27 46 gary Hall 3.52.30 47 Eric Nelson 3.53.04 48 Andrew Kostick 3.53.40 49 Jeff Kelley 3.53.47 50 Kentaro Inoue 3.54.16 51 markus Hecker 3.54.30 52 Peter ODea 4.02.03 53 Tom Sharp 4.04.32 54 thomas Bastis 4.07.19 55 James McHugh 4.09.01 56 James Anderson 4.11.17 57 Kayden Kelly 4.13.00 58 Joshua Maffly 4.21.35 59 Charlie Gilmore 4.21.42 60 James Matsubayashi 4.21.43 61 Roman Nelson 4.26.51 62 Joey Figone 4.27.53 63 Ben Beckam 4.34.41 64 Ryan ODell 4.37.20 65 Mark Fetherstone 4.38.56 66 John Bengtson 4.40.11 67 Glenn Meeth 4.46.36 68 Jason Figone 4.48.08 69 Jim Kaplan 4.52.39 70 Ryan Robinson 4.58.13 71 Forest Baker 4.58.50 72 Robert Ives 5.16.57 73 Adam Citarella 5.18.55 74 Matt Wetter 5.20.45 75 Isaac Monical 5.20.49 76 Craig Moyle 5.22.14 77 Abram Ditman 5.25.16 78 jack Caramore 5.34.46 79 matthew Stone 5.43.55 80 Tom Harington 5.44.35 81 Richard Olveira 5.46.50 82 martin Scholz 6.25.21 83 Chris Nicholls 6.48.21 84 Joseph Grabske 6.48.27 85 Joe Bittaker and Kevin Brennan 7.01.27 Women 1 Cheryl Sorenson 9.09.48 2 Erika Tiesen 54.56 3 Carrie edwards 1.32.44 4 Amanda Riley Carey 1.35.11 5 Louise Kobin 1.35.13 6 Rhonda Figone 1.38.40 7 Genenvieve Evans 2.14.56 8 Pam DeBruin 3.37.41 9 Timari Pruis 4.11.14 10 Cricket Butler 4.20.12 Singlespeed men 1 John Mylne 7.45.54 2 Dezmin Wilder 3.57 3 Conrad Snover 14.42 4 Yuri Hauswald 20.30 5 Dejay Birtch 28.50 6 Glenn Rawlinson 44.59 7 Matt Chappell 1.16.27 8 Richard Blanco 1.26.42 9 Michael Vanderberg 1.29.38 10 Tomi McMillar 1.32.39 11 richard Dillen 1.37.29 12 Matt Zanner 2.20.07 13 Dave Bisers 2.36.08 14 Steve Bowman 3.02.36 15 Roger Lackey 3.05.02 16 Ron Shevock 3.12.27 17 Brandon Caskey 3.16.12 18 Matt Francis 3.32.21 19 David McCormick 3.34.22 20 Fritz Wisor 3.42.14 21 Ruben Rellan 3.43.57 22 Michael Mazzarese 3.52.33 23 Ryan Kleman 4.45.10 24 Nicholas Connolly 4.48.50 25 R Mathis 4.49.38 Singlespeed women 1 Linda Eckhart 9.46.00 2 Dawn Infurna-Bean 1.36.35 Master 45+ Men 1 Tedd Russo 8.20.14 2 Bill Sans 49.39 3 Blake Bockius 1.08.52 4 Mats Jansson 1.41.38 5 keith Edney 2.34.53 6 Michael Chastaine 2.49.59 7 Robert Hutchings 2.55.34 8 David Hardcastle 3.05.26 9 Kevin Nesbitt 3.21.45 10 Mark Murray 3.26.35 11 John Masztakowsky 3.29.14 12 David Edney 3.33.59 13 Scott Berelson 3.34.23 14 Tom Strause 3.46.32 15 Willy Dommen 3.57.43 Masters 50+ Men 1 David Grauer 9.45.05 2 Cosmic Miller 1.00.35 3 James Wilson 1.02.07 4 Christopher Holmes 1.20.31 5 Ron Dickenson 1.39.23 6 Robert Ubry 1.49.16 7 Rob Kubick 3.47.41 8 Bryan Appleton 4.09.18 Masters 50+ Women 1 Patricia Struve 13.29.24 Three person men's teams 1 Mountain Karma 24 (Tim Fraguglia, Mike McCullough, Jason Duggett) 8.49.00 2 Wolverines 5 (Chris Kaufman, Wes Sander, Max Whittaker) 1.19.00 3 Whose Bloody Idea Was This? (Chris Abess, Simon Ball, James Jacobson) 1.42.00 4 Good Ship Insanity (Eric Daniels, Steve Meyers, Derik Wong) 2.00.00 Three person Co-ed teams 1 Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing (Allie Donovan, Nate Freed, Nick Schaffner) 8.44.00 2 The Three Amigos 17: Jeff Barker 18: Natalie Morris 19: Jen Vrilakas 35.00 3 It's Just a Flesh Wound (Noreen Irving, Stewart Irving, Jay Murphy) 2.29.00 4 It's 3am I must be lonely (Susan Lowry, Terri Pierce, Shawn Pierce) 2.57.00 NUE Final Standings Elite men 1 Jeff Schalk 4 pts 2 Chris Eatough 6 3 Evan Plews 10 4 Harlan Price 15 5 Christian Tanguy 19 6 Garth Prosser 23 7 Josh Tostado 29 8 Gerald Pflug 31 9 Michael Simonson 34 10 Andrew Gorski 45 11 Greg Kuhn 53 12 Alex Kopko 184 13 Jon Rittling 239 14 Ryan O'Dell 255 15 Wesley Jones 261 16 Christian Baks 264 17 Ryan Heerschap 271 18 Doug Milliken 272 19 Shane Cusick 303 20 Nathan Mirus 398 21 Peter Rajcani 671 Elite women 1 Cheryl Sornson 4 pts 2 Betsy Shogren 11 3 Trish Stevenson 12 4 Laureen Coffelt 37 5 Reenie Greene 40 6 Cricket Butler 56 Master 50+ 1 Greg Turner 4 pts 2 Scott Root 8 3 David Grauer 11 4 Chris Wurster 12 5 James Wilson 15 6 John Majors 17 Singlespeed 1 John Mylne 6 pts 2 Dejay Birtch 11 3 Chris McGill 12 4 Matthew Ferrari 19 5 Chip Meek 24 6 Rich Dillen 26 7 Topher Valenti 33 8 Robert Kranz 34 9 Tomi McMillar 38 10 Thomas Greene 83 11 Mike Mazzarese 84 12 Max Steinbrenner 126