Race number one of the Kenda National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) took place at the Trailhead Bicycle Company Cohutta 100 near Ducktown, Tennessee over the weekend with Amanda Carey and Christian Tanguy starting the season with wins.
The sold-out Cohutta 100, with 400-plus registered racers, was the first of 11 NUE races this year, four of which are already sold out, according to Ryan O’Dell, NUE Series director.
The Cohutta 100 rolled out Saturday under sunny skies and mild temperatures in what would turn out to be a record setting day with a few surprises, a wild card, and even a trip to the ER for one promising young singlepeed racer.
NUE Women’s Open
“It was a typical 100 miler,” said Carey, who rides for Kenda-Felt. “There were times when it was really bad, times when it was really good, times when it was fun, and times when it was terrible.
“Overall, I really struggled during the first half of the race but about 5 hours in I was able to find my legs and was really able to pick up my pace,” she said.
Carey and NUE 2009 women’s open champion Cheryl Sornsen (TeamCF.org) went into the singletrack together early in the race.
“I was on [Sorensen's] wheel in the singletrack for about six to eight miles then got ahead of her a little bit and stopped off at the first aid station at mile 20, by then she was behind maybe a minute to two,” Carey said.
Carey continued to pad her lead, gaining her second straight win at the NUE Season opener with a time of 7:33:41, 30 minutes faster than last year under cold and wet conditions.
Podium finishers included Sornsen in second at 8:02:54, and Karen Potter, third at 8:18:14. Vicki Barclay, Namrita O’Dea, and Brenda Simril all finished in less than nine hours in a field that included racers from as far as Ohio and Illinois.
NUE Men’s Open
In the Men’s Open division it was Christian Tanguy (TeamCF.org) taking the spotlight once again after an impressive win over the three time NUE Men’s Open Champion, Jeff Schalk (Trek) at the NUE Championship race in Shenandoah, Virginia last year.
Tanguy finished in a record 6:27:48, with teammate Chris Beck (TeamCF.org) in second at 6:33:56. Schalk was third at 6:36:48. Michael Simonson (GARY FISHER / SRAM / NOTUBES was able to change a flat tire and still manage to hold for fourth place 6:43:39. Asked whether he could have won if he hadn’t flatted, Simonson said, “Who knows, ya know?”
“It would’ve been nice to draft and sit in a little bit on the flatter sections,” Simonson. “I was just givin’ it hell man.”
Second-place Beck said the fitness level of his teammate, Tanguy, was an unknown.
“Christian was sitting in the back, coming off of a long Michigan winter,” Beck said. “Nobody knew what kind of form he had, but you never know what kind of form he has anyway ‘cuz he’s so good at hiding it.”
Schalk, who placed third on the podium Saturday, won a wet-and-wild Cohutta last year.
“For me I thought it was going fine for the first third or so but I kind of started falling apart midway through and just couldn’t cover the accelerations from Christian or Simonson anymore,” he said. “I was trying to cover the attacks in the first third. I don’t know whether I used too much energy or what but I just didn’t quite have it today. I usually have good form this time of year so I’m not really sure why I’m off, but I’m gonna try and figure it out.”
NUE Singlespeed Open
Two-time NUE Singlespeed Champion Gerald Pflug (SALSA/SPK/PAO BIKES) won the singlespeed race in 7:14:31, Matt Ferrari finishing second at 7:24:17.
According to Pflug and Ferrari, 16-year-old Dillon “The Kid” Johnson, who placed fourth last year at the Shenandoah 100, was leading out the early portion of the race before suffering a crash.
“On a downhill I guess I was going too fast in loose gravel, flipped over the bars, hit my face and scraped it up a lot,” Johnson said
In fact, several racers, including Amanda Carey, noted that some of the roads had received, what appeared to be, fresh gravel, some of it several inches deep, making some of the fast descents sketchy, often forcing racers to drift toward the edge of the road at high speeds to avoid crashing hard.
“I actually can’t quite remember how I crashed” Johnson said, “but these nice people driving a pickup truck gave me a ride before I was taken by ambulance to the ER.”
Johnson was deemed OK and will compete in several upcoming NUE races, including the Mohican 100 and Shenandoah 100.
Eric Nicoletti took the final spot on the podium, finishing third in 7:47:21, and just edging out Jason Pruitt at 7:47:55, and Ben Barnard at 7:53:55. Hat Batdorf, rounded out the singlespeed racers who were sub eight hours.
NUE Masters 50+
Doug Andrews, who traveled all the way from Mission Viejo, California, was the surprise of the race by capturing first place in 7:33:17.
“It was a great day, perfect weather, really smooth, great directions on the course,” Andrews said.
Roger Messe was second 7:36:59. Robert Herriman (Gary Fisher 29er Crew placed third, 7:53:48, after winning last year’s race.