NEU Series Update: From Mohican to Lumberjack

The NUE Series of 100-mile races moves to Michigan this weekend after heat in Ohio.

Lumberjack 100 Race Director Rick Plite explains the race course to Jeff Schalk. Schalk and Christian Tanguy are tied for the lead of the 11-race NEU Series. The Lumberjack 100 in Michigan is the fourth race of the season. Photo Jack Kunnen

After searing temperatures at the Mohican MTB 100 — the third race in the National Ultra Endurance Series — made racing 100 miles even tougher on June 4, riders head next to the Lumberjack 100 in Michigan this weekend.

The Founders Lumberjack 100 uses a 33-mile loop through Michigan’s Manistee National Forest and the Big-M Ski Area. The Michigan style singletrack is mostly hard-pack trail, occasional sandy sections, and fast rolling terrain that offers twists and turns that demand constant power and total concentration. Ninety percent of the 33-mile, three-lap race is comprised of such singletrack that will eventually push racers over 9,000 feet of total elevation gain.

“This spring has been unusually wet and cool in Michigan, therefore many of the local trails are weeks behind in forest growth,” said Rick Plite, Founders Lumberjack race director. “Local riders have had a lack of significant spring training this year so the course seems to have more than the usual amount of sticks, twigs and leaves that normally get flicked off the trail. Word of advice, pack that extra derailleur hanger.”

The weather forecast is calling for mild temps all week with a chance of rain mid-week. Race day forecast calls for Sunny and 75 but everyone who has grown up in Michigan can testify that can change in a heartbeat.

Mohican MTB 100 Recap

Speaking of weather, the ninth-annual Mohican Mountain Bike 100 in Ohio on June 4 was hot and mean. Nearly 600 racers welcomed what began with mild temperatures and dry, fast conditions .  However, later in the day, as the race progressed, temperatures approached 90 degrees, causing many racers to cramp and forcing others to abandon all hope of finishing.

NUE Women’s Open: 100 Mile

Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) achieved her first win of the NUE season at the Mohican 100 finishing in just 8:36:03.

“The trails were fast and fun,” Sornson said. “Rolled great for first 50+, but tired a bit and had not seen any women and thought it safe to slow down. That turned out to be a good thought since the heat set in and then I had to slow down.”

About 13 minutes later, Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) rolled under the large Kenda Blowup finish line covered in dust and sweat. Andrea Wilson, Outdoors, of Cordova, TN achieved her first podium finish in the Women’s Open with style, racing on a rigid singlespeed.

NUE Men’s Open: 100 Mile

Three-time reigning NUE Series Champion, Jeff Schalk (Trek) finally broke the yoke of suffering from mechanical difficulties  at Cohutta (NUE #1) and Syllamos  (Nue #2) by getting the win and setting a new course record in the process.

Schalk’s time of 6:45:37 edged out the previous course record set by 2009 Mohican 100 winner, Jeremiah Bishop at 6:50:26. Michael Simonson (RBS Trek MTB Team) finished second. Two minutes later, teammates Brandon Draugelis and Christian Tanguy, winner of the Cohutta 100 and Syllamos Revenge, both of Team CF, rolled in followed by Josh Tostado, undefeated champion of the Breckenridge 100 in Colorado.

Lumberjack 100: June  18

Meanwhile, this weekend’s Lumberjack 100 will see all the heavy hitters in the men’s race returning. Trek’s Schalk set the bar higher at the Lumberjack 100 last year, finishing 6:33:49, before going on to secure his third straight NUE Series Title. A repeat at the Lumberjack could break him out of a current points tie with Christian Tanguy (Team CF).

Tanguy bolted off the line in the series early this season, tasting victory at both, the Cohutta 100 and Syllamo’s Revenge. However, at Mohican, Tanguy finished fourth and last year, he was twenty minutes behind the Champion in Lumberjack’s winding singletrack. He’s competing on his home turf but can he step up to break the tie in his favor on Saturday?

In the women’s Open, Cheryl Sornson (Team CF)is fresh off a big win at Mohican this year and returning to defend her Lumberjack win last year, 8:19:51. Sornson has course knowledge in her favor but will face formidable challenger, NUE Series reigning Champion, Amanda Carey, Kenda/Felt who took wins at both Cohutta and Syllamos Revenge this year.

The course layout remains the same this year with the exception of two minor changes to alleviate some confusing intersections. Perhaps the best news for racers, Founders Brewing Co remains the title sponsor and will provide four tasty kegs of their famous brew, including Centennial IPA and All Day IPA, a new session ale clocking in under 5 percent. The perfect brew for any Lumberjack in need of recovery.