The 101

The Wilderness 101 trek29ercrewor simply “The 101” as it’s called was stop number five on the 2010 National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) calendar.  Starting in the small town of Coburn and looping through Bald Eagle State Forest and Rothrock State Forest in central PA, the 101 has some of the best back country single track riding on the east coast featuring killer climbs and fast, fun, rocky descents. With 60 registered single speed riders, the 101 promised to be one of the most competitive races all year.

I was really looking forward to this race having miraculously placed 2nd here last year in the single speed category with the race of my life. I was somehow hoping to capture some of that 2009 magic that seems like so long ago now.  Even though I was going to be riding my sweet twenty pound SRAM equiped SuperFly Single Speed, I knew deep down even a podium appearance was going to be a tall order.  I actually received a small bit of press in cycling news, which provided motivation to do the best I possibly could.  Somehow when your name appears in the pre-race hype article talking about favorites, you have to try to do SOMETHING to make it seem like you deserved the mention.

It remains to be seen whether Roger Masse (Trek/Gary Fisher Collection) will be up and running after an unfortunate tragic illness kept him away from his commuter training regime for the past six weeks.

Unfortunate, yes. A three week training interruption in the middle of the racing season definitely sets you back. But Tragic? Now a mother who’s lost a child or a person living with a debilitating illness like Cystic Fibrosis, OK …but a temporary bout with an infectious disease? Seems like a walk in the park.  Just sayin’


I won’t bore you with the blow-by-blow since I really was never really in the thick of things.  The summary version is that I went into the red-zone on the first climb and continued to go backwards for about 25 revolver_smallmiles with a heart rate that was too high. Finally recovered and rode strong for about 50 miles through aid4… the hardest part of the course. Having shot all my bullets, I didn’t have any legs for the climb out of aid4.  My heart rate and power were low and I started going backwards again. Limped home to the finish.

During my strong period, I was fortunate to catch and ride with local PA Freeze Thaw Cycles single speeder Peter Buckland. Peter is a great descender with mad bike handling skills who lead me down three awesome single track trails between aid3 and aid4 till I bobbled in one of the many rock gardens. I would have never gone that fast by myself. Have you ever been scared and grinning at the same time? Thanks for the wheel bro, that was so much fun!

Right after aid4 I got passed convincingly by a guy on single speed who I didn’t recognize in a Race Pace Bicycles kit. Race Pace is a local Maryland shop. From the results I see that it was Nicolas Obriecht who ended up in 7th place crossing the line at 8:11. Since I was ahead of him at mile 75 or so, I’d like to think that would have been my time with a more consistent effort. Instead, I finished at 8:30 together with fellow single speeder and riding bud Chad Miller who had ridden strong but had gone off course losing a bunch of time.  So well done Nicolas. Way to finish strong!

Hats off to Justin Pokrivka who was the single speed champion of the day. Justin is really good on the rocks and an excellent descender. He’s also capable of extremely high power for short periods of time. For this edition of the 101, he apparently was also able to climb well enough and ride consistently enough to stay in contact with 2009 NUE series single speed champion Gerry Pflug.  Justin, I think those compression socks are working.

The way the story goes is that Justin and Gerry kept flip-flopping the lead. Gerry, the stronger climber, would pull away on the climbs. Justin the better descender would catch and pass on the descents. This went on till about mile 70 when Gerry suffered a tire puncture. Justin stopped with him and asked Gerry if he wanted him to wait. Gerry said no, signing Justin’s permission slip to go for the win. When I talked to him later, Justin said he didn’t want to attack the NUE Series equivalent of the maillot jaune during a mechanical to win “that way“.

Local favorite Matt Ferrari rode consistently to grab 3rd place again and Takoma Park Maryland local and incredible cyclocross racer Evan Ellicott rode himself into 4th on the single speed podium. Nice Evan!

I must congratulate friend and former Trek Racing Coop teammate Jeff Schalk for a convincing win over serious competition in the Open Men category. 6:34? Are you kidding me?  That’s flying.  With Jeff’s 4 NUE wins, I think Josh Tostado is the only other rider that can mathematically win the series. Josh will have to sweep the remaining calendar to beat the Schalkinator… possible, but unlikely. Christian Tanguy of Team CF chased all day after a fairly serious chain issue he repaired at aid2 to get 2nd place on the day. Wow! In the I should be a pro mountain biker but I’m a pro roadie instead category, Nick Waite rode to 3rd place with a 6:52. Aways a threat, Jeremiah Bishop rode to 4th despite having several mechanical issues. 29er crew teammate Chris the rock star Beck rode under 7 hours just missing the podium. Unbelievable!

Not forgetting the women, also a friend and ex-teammate, Team CF rider Cheryl Sornson rode strongly and consistently on her SuperFly 100 to win with an 8:06. Nice going Churtle!  Cheryl is the NUE series frontrunner as well, but should be challenged in the last two races by Amanda Carey, the only woman with two NUE wins this year. Stay tuned. This is going to be a great battle!

I can’t resist a couple more shout-out’s to some friends who’s results you won’t read about but who met their goals for this event. If you’ve never done a 100 mile race, your first goal is to finish.  Pam Frentzel-Beyme a Washington DC local who just started riding mountain bikes last year, finished her first 100 strong on her brand new SuperFly 100.   If you’ve never finished a 100 mile race, your goal is still to finish.  My friend Mark Bettinger from Saratoga Springs NY, who is a strong rider but has never been able to finish previous 100 mile MTB attempts due to late-race stomach issues. Mark was on target to possibly nab a Masters podium spot rolling into aid5 at around 8 1/2 hours.  We won’t talk about the daemons you must had to fight off from aid5 to the finish… but you did finish. So hat’s off to you buddy. I predict a 100 mile MTB Masters podium in your future!

Despite my personal lack of results it was a great weekend.  The thrills of riding this course are great. The state forest is just beautiful. The weather was perfect and our hosts Chris Scott and Jake Brown of Shenandoah Mountain Touring did everything possible to make the event safe and fun for everyone.  A huge thank you to ALL the volunteers working behind the scenes at aid stations, sweeping, cleaning, preparing food and sorting results.  The Wilderness 101 is one of the greatest all-time MTB events. Great course, great people, great weekend, great vibe.

Friends, put this race on your 2011 calendar. It’s one of the very best.


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