Monday, June 22, 2009

Danielle on the Podium at Lumberjack 100

Race #3 of the National Ultra Endurance Series, The Lumberjack 100, happened this past weekend in Manistee, Michigan. It was really nice being able to race a National race right in my home state!

Two things separate the Lumberjack 100 from the rest of the races in the NUE series. First, the Lumberjack is 99% single-track, comprised of short, steep climbs, a few switch-back sections, and lots and lots of Michigan sand. Secondly, the race has a lap format, meaning that we had to do 4 loops of the 25-mile course. As a result, the Lumberjack is known for being the most mentally challenging of all the races.

After the first 25 miles I came through the pit area in 3rd place, minutes behind Betsy Shogren (Cannondale) and Karen Potter. I grabbed a fresh hydrapak and tried to make up time on the 2nd lap. Things went "downhill" for me quickly when I hit some wet roots at the bottom of one of the fast downhills. My bike stem slammed into my knee-cap, taking me out of the race for a good 5 minutes.

Eventually I was able to get back on my bike and start pedaling again. The women's field was pretty stacked with about 25 racers, and I wasn't sure how far back everyone else was. I knew that I was going to have to hurry if I wanted to hold on to my position. It was pretty obvious that I needed stitches, but I figured that I could finish the remaining 65 miles of the race first!

After 8 hours and 46 minutes of riding I crossed the finish line as the 3rd place female, and placed 31st overall out of 280 racers! More coverage and pictures can be found at

Thanks again to all of my sponsors. My bike and gear worked flawlessly, and I couldn't do it without you! Next weekend I'll be racing in a local Norba Marathon, and then it's off to Colorado for the 4th race in the NUE series, the Breckenridge 100. This will be my first time racing at a higher elevation. I'm definitely nervous about it, but also very excited to see what I can do!

Until the next race,
Danielle Musto

Andy Schultz Wins at Crested Butte

This weekend, Crested Butte played host to the Mountain States Cup series. I made the journey from Durango on Friday and arrived in Crested Butte in the late afternoon to perfect weather. Not a cloud in the sky and temps in the upper 70's. I took a spin on the course and discovered that a lot of it was new. The climb was almost all really narrow, bumpy, singletrack. They had also but in new singletrack on the dowhill which was rocky, bumpy and lose. All and all it looked to be a pretty fun course.

We raced on Saturday at 2:30 just as it started to drizzle. I decided to leave my armwarmers on and in hindsight I should have left more clothing on but I forgot that we were well over 10,000 feet at the top of the climb. When the start gun went off I hit it hard to make sure I could make it to the singletrack climb first. I got a pretty good gap on the first climb because a lot of other riders got stuck behind slower riders in the singletrack. The first descent went well and I had a decent gap on the start of the second of three laps. I held that gap through the climb until I hit the descent again. It had started to get wet enough that the mud started to pack into my Smallblock Eight tires. The descent had a lot of off-camber sections and on these, my mud-packed tires would slide out not matter what I tried to do. So I had to keep jumping off the bike and running the off-camber sections.

I started up the climb for the third and final time with three riders in hot pursuit. Partway up the climb I got to a section where the mud packed into my tires so much that I no longer had any clearance and my tires wouldn't spin. So it was off the bike and back to running. I glanced behind me and saw that my pursuers were still on their bikes struggling up the climb. I thought my race was over when I finally got to a section that was a little wetter and therefore the mud was thinner and didn't pack up as badly. I was able to start riding again and I hit it as hard as I could. In hindsight I feel like it was a good move to get off the bike and run. I think that my competitors wasted a lot of energy trying to ride that sections because I quickly got a big gap and had no one in sight at the top of the climb.

The final descent probably would have been really funny to watch but was really stressful for me. I crashed once hard and couldn't stay on my bike because the mud was packed into my tires so badly. About three quarters of the way down the descent two riders caught up to me. I didn't loose hope though and was able to ride one section really smoothly and hit a short climb really hard and got a small gap on them. The last section of the downhill was full of switchbacks to the finish. It was impossible to corner the bike without it sliding out so I had one foot out at all times sliding through the corners, then would clip back in, sprint to the next corner, and put my foot out and slide through that one. Luckily I was running CrankBrother's Eggbeaters so even though my shoes were getting packed full of mud I was still able to clip in easily and sprint to the next corner. In the end I was just able to hold off my purser's and take the victory.

I haven't been that muddy for a long time and I'm happy to say that my equipment worked perfectly in those extreme conditions. Everyone's tires were packing up with mud so I was still lucky to be running Smallblock 8's because they were wicked fast on the climbs. My drivetrain was completely coated in mud but my WickWerks rings still shifted like a dream. My gloves were soaked and coated in mud but I never once had my hands slip on my Ergon grips. My Tomac Type X carbon frame helped soak up all the roughness on the course and kept me fresh as well as helped me have one of the lightest bikes out there. And I felt great on the bike thanks to Hammer Nutrion's Heed and Endurolytes.

I really need to thank Matt, the Hayes Bicycle Group Field Expert who got me up and running on a great feeling Manitou Fork. There is no way I would have done as well as I did without him. And of course, thanks to everyone else for helping make this happen.

I will try to track down a photo of me right after the finish, soaked in mud and one of the podium.

Thanks for reading and your support,


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Danielle Musto Reports on the Mohican 100

This past weekend I ventured down to Loudonville, Ohio for the Mohican 100, race #2 in the NUE Series.

The Mohican course is really diverse. It has really fun single-track, lots of grassy double-track, paved roads and some KILLER climbs. I chose my favorite tire set-up (2.1 Karma in the front with a 1.9 in the back) and opted to ride my Tomac Type X.

We lined up at 7 a.m. in downtown Loudonville and the start went directly up a paved climb. I warmed up quickly and found myself entering the single-track directly behind Betsy Shogren (Cannondale). Even though we were in the lead I knew that there were a lot of really strong females chasing directly behind us. The competition at this race was tough!

My legs felt absolutely great and I was having a ton of fun riding my Type X. The bike can climb like a machine! I did have a spectacular crash on a pile of wet roots that cost me a few minutes but I wasn’t worried. There were many miles to go with lots of climbs to make up time.

After my crash I caught up to a group of about 10 guys who were going at a really good pace. We flew down a ton of fun switchback climbs and the pace kept picking up. Little did we know that we were no longer on the race course. Someone had knocked down a course marking at an important intersection and we rode 13 miles of single-track before we realized our mistake. After that it took us another half hour to find our way back to the spot where we had gotten lost.

Mentally it was a little hard to deal with. Going from the front of the pack to being absolutely last of the Mohican racers is not a good feeling. By this time a good hour and 15 minutes had passed, so I was also out of water and food. But there was nothing that I could do but begin to chase down the entire field!

For the rest of the race I just focused on catching as many people as I could. When all was said and done I ended up catching a ton of racers-including most of the women’s field. I ended up in 6th place. Definitely not the result I wanted, but given the circumstances I’ll take it. At least the extra 15 miles I got in were all fun single-track!

Next up is the Lumberjack 100!!! This race is one of the most popular of the NUE series because 99% of the course is single-track. The pressure is on since it’s in my home state and I have high hopes of winning the AXE!

Thanks again,

Danielle Musto

Report from Bump & Grind

This weekend Kathy Sherwin, Colin Cares, and I all made the trek to Birmingham, Alabama for the third stop in the Pro XCT. I believe the visit to Alabama was a first for all of us and we were all pleasantly surprised. The locals were extremely friendly and fired up about mountain bike racing and the course was a lot of fun. We are all still trying to unpack our bags and get our lives sorted out after a long travel day back home yesterday but we'll try to get a race report to y'all (I learned a new term while down in Bama) sooner rather than later. In the meantime you can watch some interview, both pre and post race, here, here, and here. And there are a couple of photos of us on, here, and here. Enjoy. Thanks for all the support.