The Grizzly 100 is on the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) calendar and is held during the Big Bear Cycling Festival. The very best endurance racers from around the country attend so the competition is fierce.
UCC/JW Floors participants
Open Men (54 total participants): Dan Mahlum, Guy Sutton, Chuy Topete, Paul
Todd, Pascal Bonaventure
Masters 50+ Men (19 total participants): Greg Twitty, Ken Winston, Dennis Mudd
Women Open (10 total participants): Rhonda Geiszler
Race Results Online
The Grizzly 100 course begins in the village of Big Bear and features 100 km and 9,000 vertical feet of climb. It is not a course for the faint of heart as it features several dangerous sections where if you get it wrong you could be falling a long, long way down the mountain. The race started at 7 am with chilly temperature but sunny sky. Well over 100 riders showed up for the 4th edition of this event, which included 75 km and 100 km races.
Men’s Open Report (by Pascal Bonaventure)
I came in prepared for this demanding race. After a major setback early July (knee
injury) I started to rebuild my fitness in August and these past weeks I could feel that I
was riding strong. The uphill start was a blur. I saw Dan (who travelled from Utah for
this race) following some really fast riders including Menso De Jong. I settled in a group
with Chuy and Cesar Mora. After a 30 min climb followed by a single track we started
the long technical and gnarly descent into Seven Oaks. Our talented and fearless
downhillers Guy and Greg (racing masters) caught us at the bottom.
We rode the fire road leading to the Santa Ana River Trail at a good pace in a relatively large group. The pace was too slow for Chuy who took off with another rider. Guy had to stop to remove something that got into his eye and lost some precious time. I rode very smoothly on the Santa Ana River trail (SART) behind Greg and Cesar. We regrouped with Chuy on the paved road leading to the Radford climb. My plan was to ride hard from the feeding station at the bottom of the long Radford climb. I took my bottles and started to push the pace. I caught a few riders but no sight of Dan. I kept the pace fast for the rest of the race and ended up finishing in the top 10 (10th) in 5h 33 min, which was 12 min faster than last year.
Dan got 9th finishing 3 min ahead of me. Chad Hall won the race with an incredible sub 5 hour time. Guy and Chuy (finished in the top 20 (18th and 20th respectively). Paul got 26th (happy to be turning pedals again). This was a great race with an incredible course and very well organized. Big thank you to Joey who let me ride his epic a few weeks ago while I was waiting for a crash replacement frame.
Open Women Report (by Rhonda Geiszler)
NUE races have one category for women, so I had no choice but to race Open Women. I looked around at the start and the only gal I saw was Larissa Connors, who won the women’s race in Leadville and has dominated every race she has entered this year. She’s a young amazing and talented athlete. I spotted Athena and knew she might out climb me in the beginning but I would catch her once we hit single track. I wasn’t really in the mood to race because I chose to ride my full suspension bike to save my back.
We were off and I just settled in. I saw a gal ahead of me so I increased my cadence and caught her. She returned the favor and passed me and I just settled behind her. I overheard her tell her buddy, “my heart rate is 160, that’s too high”. Hmm, 160 is too high, so I passed her because I knew she couldn’t go any faster. I hit the Seven Oaks descent and my buddy Patrik passed me. A train of guys came behind me and I let them pass me on the worst section of Seven Oaks and a girl was in that train. Oh shoot I am going to have to try and catch her. I finally caught her right before the 3000 foot Radford climb. I took Radford at a comfortable pace and she never caught me but I knew she could descend well.
Near mile 30 someone said I was the third women. This lifted my spirit because I wanted to quit the race and I kept talking myself out of it. The entire day I was just not in the mood to race. I think racing a heavier bike was mentally beating me up. I kept thinking I was working harder and my time was going to be slower. I did notice I wasn’t as tired and my back and legs were tolerable. Anyways, I never looked back until I came to the last downhill to the finish where I looked to see if there was a female in sight and I was in the clear to descend as fast as I could and raced hard to the finish. I was overwhelmed to find out I was third women overall and I improved my time by 12 minutes over last year.
The gal that grabbed 2nd I raced against in The 24 Hours of Old Pueblo where she beat me by 4 minutes. The gal in 4th is another pro who races the NUE circuit and has won the majority of her races. Lesson learned, riding a FS is easier on the body resulting in less fatigue. Oh….. I also won a little money !
Men’s Masters 50+ Report (by Greg Twitty)
For the UCC/JW Floors squad, this event started the night before with a fun team dinnerwith seven teammates and friends. Racing in 50+ category was myself, Ken and Dennis. At the top of the first climb, I found myself in a good strategic position behind Guy Sutton, with Ken right behind me. The three of us squeezed past a few attentive descenders at the entrance of the Seven Oaks downhill, and it was then game-on down the slope. By the time we reached the bottom, Guy and I had caught up to Chuy, Pascal and Cesar Mora. I was able to conserve lots of energy by following this group up the fire road to the entrance of the long SART single track. With Larissa Connors (women’s winner) and Pascal on my wheel, I felt an obligation to ride a good tempo through the rollers. Cesar and Chuy disappeared ahead. My strategy of riding SART aggressively paid off and I rejoined those two by the end of the downhill section. But I knew this pace was over my head, so I backed off and Chuy disappeared up the paved base road.Pascal and Guy then passed me. On the Radford climb, I found a good rhythm and to my surprise, I passed Guy near the top. As we rode together, one tired racer sitting on the road side said “Uh oh, here comes those UCC boys”. I guess we have developed quite a
reputation.. With the race only half over, I conserved energy by riding the remaining single track as smooth and efficiently as possible. On Skyline switchbacks, I could see Guy creeping up behind, which gave me a boost of energy. Just prior to the Pine Knot loop, he caught up and it was clear I could not hold his pace. On the final painful climb, in my lowest gear, I kept looking back expecting see Ken. But I was able to hold on to 3rd place, with Ken finishing 5th and Dennis finishing 8th. This was a super fun course and was well attended by the team with Dan flying in from his new home in Park City Utah! Importantly, everyone enjoyed it and wants to come back. Congratulations to everyone. Thanks to Dennis for driving and hosting us at the mountain house.