Lumberjack 100 Coverage, coming Saturday June 16th.
Yesterday I got a frantic message from triathlete-turned-potential-hundred-miler-winner Kevin Carter. He wanted to know how much of an advantage an aero helmet and deep section carbon wheels would give him at the Lumberjack 100. "Are my Zipp 1080s going to be overkill for this thing?" I assured him that his 1080s would be fine and that an aero helmet would give him a huge freakin' advantage on this fast and buff and buff and fast course.
The Lumberjack is the easiest hundred miler in the NUE series (that I know of). When I say it's the easiest hundred miler I am saying it is easy relative to other hundred milers, it is still pretty damn hard. (The title of "easiest hundred miler" was formerly held by the Cohutta 100...then they added a bunch of climbing and tough singletrack way out on the backside of the course, solving that "problem.") The Lumberjack is awesome in its easiness — it is 90% flowing, non-technical singletrack, but, in the words of The Adam Craig "If it's not technical enough...go faster." Go fast and you'll feel like you're piloting an Imperial Speeder through the trees of Endor. It's only a matter of time before you clip a bar and go sailing like Christopher Cross.
I'm not just the president of the heartless, multinational, BigBikesMedia corporation; I'm also a client (of the Lumberjack 100). I raced the Lumberjack in 2010 and reported on it. It sucked. Not the race, the racing and reporting thing. Honestly the highlights video was a monkey-fighting piece of carp (PG edit). Here it is though, if you'd like to get some idea of what the trails are like out there in Manatee, Michigan. (Yes, the name of the town is Manistee, but that sounds made up. Who's ever heard of a "manistee?")
The Lumberjack's climbing comes at you in very manageable, civilized increments "Would you care for a small side of climbing with your protracted, ripping descent sir?" You almost don't notice the climbing at all...all 9,000 feet of it. OK fine, you notice a couple of the steep, bastard, roller coaster rollers that don't quite roll all the way up and over the other side, but other than that...cake walk baby.
One weird thing about the Lumberjack is that is a lap race, not a big loop. It's three 33 point-something mile laps.
Speaking of point something-mile-somethings...
You know those stickers that marathon runners put on their cars? The little, white "26.2" stickers that say "Hey! Look at me, I run marathons when I'm not driving through upstate New York, going fifty-seven miles per hour in the left lane. (Sorry, a little, PTSD there.) I want to make a sticker that says "26.3." To me, the 26.3 sticker will say "Hey! Look at me you wussy-assed 26.2er. While you were sitting there shivering in your space blanket feeling awesome about yourself, I was STILL RUNNING...around the block for another .1 miles douche bag."
Three 33 mile laps, right. You'd think that you'd want to bail after a couple laps because your car's right there...full of beer and day old gas station breakfast sandwiches, but no...the singletrack is so sweet that you won't even think about it. What's awesome about this rare hundred miler race format is that you can self feed, no problem. No need to worry about drop bags and whether the aid stations will be stocked with gluten-free cookies and your favorite overpriced energy drink (that is identical to Country Time pink lemonade on a molecular level).
My thoughts on tire choice...
If you can flat at the Lumberjack 100, you are also at risk of getting attacked by a great white shark...while swimming in Lake Michigan. I would run the lamest, low-knob tires you can find. Take a 700 X 23 road tire and paint pictures of knobs on it, you'll be fine.
As far as the competition goes at Lumberjack, it's gonna be exciting. In the Masters race Ron Sanborn is looking like the most dangerous man. For a guy who started racing in his early forties as an overweight smoker, he is unbelievably fast. I'm not familiar with many of the other names in that field, so who knows, some local could emerge out of the Michigan wilderness and abscond with the ax-trophy.
The singlespeed win may not be quite so locked up. Justin Pokrivka will be there again, coming off of his brutal flogging of the singlespeed field at the Mohican 100. If he doesn't break something, he may be the guy who takes down Gerry Pflug in a fair fight. Pflug wasn't feeling well at the Mohican and wound up DNFing. Of course Matt Ferrari is always there, waiting in the shadows, ready to pounce should Pflug or Pokrivka falter in the least bit.
Amanda Carey has shown insane dominance (when she isn't suffering from the flu), but she'll have her hands full with Cheryl Sornson and Karen Potter. Sornson has proven that she can knock Carey down if she doesn't bring her A war (like an "A game" but way more bad ass), which is exactly what happened at the Cohutta back in April.
The Men's race is gonna be a good one. There is no one rider who has shown the dominance of Jeff Schalk since his retirement, yet Team CF rider Christian Tanguy is close to that level and getting stronger every day. BUT he's got a couple guys creeping up on him. Michael Simonson was not far off of Tanguy's time at Mohican and the Michigan course suits the bigger, more powerful rider. Then there's Kevin Carter. He, like Justin "J-POK" Pokrivka, is prone to mechanical catastrophes, but if he can keep it together...we might see him pull off his first Kenda NUE Series win.
We'll have all the crazy action coming to you almost semi-live and totally indirect from Manatee this Saturday.
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