I’ve been wanting to do one of the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) MTB100 marathon races for a few years, and although the Wilderness 101 didn’t fit great into my racing season with Untamed New England (a 3-day, non-stop adventure race) a few weeks away, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do this killer course. A course considered by many to be the toughest technically and physically on the NUE circuit.
The Wilderness 101 takes place outside State College (home of Penn State) in Rothrock State Park and surrounding state lands. The 160 km course is mountainous and extremely rocky. There would not be fast flowy single-track here like we are accustomed to in Ontario; instead it would be a maze of gnarly rocky single-track interconnected by old coal mine trails, fire roads and the occasional paved state park road.
It was a typical day on the North Shore mountains of British Columbia — wet and slick trail conditions. Fromme Mountain is the birthplace of free-ride mountain biking and host of Wade’s Excellent Adventure, put on by the Godfather of free-riding: Wade Simmons.
The idea is to ride four laps on Fromme Mountain in the coastal mountains above the city of Vancouver. Four tough laps of some of the most technical mountain biking in the world. But growing up in this area, I wasn’t too concerned as we started riding with rigid forks on the front and no suspension on the rear.
The first lap on Upper Oil Can was impossibly slick, then down Oil Can and traverse over Baden Powell. Back up for another lap all the way to the bottom. We got the long climbs out of the way first and continued on to the fast section of pipeline.The last lap was on the classic Ladies Only.
By the end, my nerves were shot, but my brother and I rode steady and rolled in for the victory in a time of 3:23:23 for 32 km and 4,700 feet of climbing.
Our Talon packs were ideal for the race: wicked day on the mountain bikes testing the limits in gnarly conditions.
Photos by: Stephen McCabe , Jurgen Watts
Story by Andy Traslin