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Jeff Schalk Wins Wilderness 101

Schalk ties up the 2011 NUE Series with three wins.

The heat was on Saturday, July 30, as the NUE defending champion, Jeff Schalk (Trek Racing) duked it out in the hills of PA with Christian Tanguy (Team CF), who already has three early season wins this year in his aggressive bid for his first NUE Men’s Open Championship. Schalk and Tanguy need one more win to close the window of opportunity for all other challengers and to perhaps set up a rematch—a final showdown—at Shenandoah, where all ties will be broken!

“It was a really, really good, close battle between Christian and me. I think there were eight of us or so together on the fire road coming out of aid two. That’s the first big climb in the race where the race really starts to blow up. Christian was pushing a huge pace and I was suffering. I was struggling to stay on.

“I got in front of him in the singletrack and a little bit of a gap on the downhill but then he rolled right back onto my wheel on the next climb. It kind of went that way, yo-yoing back and forth until aid four. At that point he started to get away from me because I was having chain issues.

“We were together at aid station five and both of us stopped to get a bottle. From there it’s rail trail with one more big climb and I just buried myself to get away.”

Schalk finished 6:26.25 with Tanguy coming in just a few minutes later, 6:30.24. Michael Simonson (RBS Trek MTB Team) took the third spot on the podium, 6:49:04, with Roger Aspholm (Westwood Velo) fourth at 7:05:56 and Kevin Carter, reportedly sponsored by his wife, finishing fifth in the Men’s Open 7:05:56.

Simonson had this to say, “It’s a fast course, we got going right away and Roger was puttin’ it down pretty hard on the first climb. After aid one, it was Drew Edsall (Super Cool Bike Shop/First Place Racing) who was pushin’ the pace between aid one and aid two. A group of about seven or eight of us hung together through aid two until we got about half way up that big climb. That is when Christian put out a pretty big attack before he and Jeff just kind of ran away. I grouped up with Brandon Draugelis (Team CF) and Roger.” Simonson added that he is planning to compete at the upcoming Shenandoah 100 in Virginia.

Women’s Open

Barclay tastes her first NUE Series Victory of the year at the 101!

We reported that local Vicki Barclay (Freeze Thaw/Honey Stinger/Stans No Tubes) looked to have her best shot at taking an overall victory for the PA locals and she did not disappoint, finishing 7:42:31 as the only woman with a sub eight-hour finish!

Former NUE champion and Wilderness 101 winner last year, Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) ,was forced to drop out of the race with stomach issues giving Barclay the unexpected opportunity she needed to go for the victory on her home course.

Barclay had this to say about her big win, “I felt really strong this morning. My plan was to just sit with Cheryl and, up to aid two, it worked. I could see that the field was getting a bit tired so I put in a little kick..

I left her on one of the descents after aid two and never saw her again. Apparently, she was feeling sick then. From then on, I was just trying to keep it steady and I was climbing well. It was a lucky day for me.”

Barclay, who sat tenth in the series before this race, has two four place finishes in the NUE Series this year at Cohutta and the Lumberjack 100. Her win at the 101 will, no doubt, significantly improve her standing. Barclay stated that she might do Fool’s Gold and then the Shenandoah 100.

Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) had a great shot at the top three and she took it, placing second in just 8:17:22. Simril was already ranked third behind Carey and Sornsen in the race for the title. Simril had this to say about the race, “It was really hot, of course, and I think everyone suffered some from the heat. My husband and I did ORAM last week, so I had no idea how I was gonna feel. The legs were a little achey to start but they came around and I had a really good day. Karen Potter (MTBRaceNews.com) and I were going back and forth for what seemed like about halfway through the race but then, on one of the rocky downhills, she ended up slicing her tire. She had to stop so I got a little gap on her at that point.

Karen Potter rounded out the podium finishing third 8:41:17 with Jessica Kutz (Freeze Thaw Cycles/Hubcap Cycles) taking fourth 9:47:16 and Pam Frentzel-Beyme (Gripped Films) placing fifth at 9:58:54.

Single Speed Open

Seven races into the season, the story continues to be defending Champion and current NUE Series leader, Gerry Pflug (Salsa/Notubes/Pro Bikes). The Pfluginator may be superhuman, able to recover with nothing more than a post-race beer while competing week in and week out. He has become seemingly unstoppable now following another huge win at the 101, making it six wins out of seven races. The Pflug strategy appears to be, “Win ALL races and never allow a glimmer of hope”. At the 101, he finished 7:19:45 putting more than twenty minutes on second place.

“Pflug had this to say following his sixth NUE win, “It went real well out there. I had a perfect race today and was real happy with it. Last year I flatted about seventy miles in and my teammate ended up winning,” referring to Justin Pokrivka (ProBikes/Cohen Associates) who finished 13th this year.

Up the first climb, through aid station one I was able to ride with the fastest geared guys. After one, I stayed with them on the climb, went over the climb but it was a pretty fast descent and just being under geared on a single speed, I couldn’t keep up.  At that point, I was pretty much by myself the rest of the way.” When asked what gearing he used, The Pfluginator responded, “34/19, it’s bigger than what I’ve used in the past but it felt pretty good today.

I think the course was better this year, it flowed a lot better. They took out the Poe trail this year, which, on a single speed is kind of tough because it had a lot of baby heads on it that will eat you up pretty good. They put in a pretty technical downhill which was fast but I felt pretty good. I didn’t have any trouble on the descent and I rode a rigid fork today.”

When asked whether that changed the size tire he uses, Pflug replied, “I use a 2.1 with 17psi in the front, 33psi in the rear. I felt the rim once. I’m using Stan’s No Tubes rims”

Pflug plans to compete again next weekend at the Pierre’s Hole 100 in Alta, Wyoming. When asked about his rather demanding schedule and what he does in the middle of the week to recover from four straight 100 mile races in a row, Pflug replied, “This week, I didn’t do much, I was pretty spent. I was even wondering whether I was going to come here and be able to race today but, uh, it worked out pretty good. I felt pretty fresh this morning.”

Mathematically, there is still a distant glimmer of hope for a challenger to emerge, however, with only four races remaining, it would appear that only superman himself could defeat the Pfluginator now. Is there ANY mortal who can face the Pfluginator and  take the next four races?! That seems mighty unlikely!

Matthew Ferrari, (Freeze Thaw/Hubcap Cycles), arguably the second strongest single speed racer in the series, took second Saturday at 7:40:42 and remains the best chance for a late season upset. Jorden Wakeley (Einstein Racing) finished third at 7:42:35.

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