Halfway through season, mountain bike team on the rise

16 09 2014

The Mars Hill mountain bike team has been throwing it down over the past three race weekends: improving, gaining confidence, and making a name for themselves more so with every race.

Brevard
We started out with a bit of a bumpy start at the Brevard race — adrenaline and excitement were at a high for some of the racers in the XC race, leading to a few gnarly crashes. Such can be expected for the first collegiate race of the season, not to mention the tough course of long climbs, and steep descents. Most of the riders finished around mid-pack in their races, ranging from A`s to C`s. The next day the team gave great efforts in the STXC with Hunter Resek placing 11th in the Men`s A, Rachael Freeman placing 9th in the Women`s A`s, and everyone else giving valiant efforts regardless of the mechanicals that inevitably caused three of our riders to DNF. It was a weekend full of excitement, fun, and learning experiences to say the least

ETSU
A little wiser, and determined for improvement, the team competed at ETSU with Alex Christofalos tearing it up on the downhill and STXC course, Barry Wilcox taking the first big win in STXC for the team in the Men`s C`s, and Scott Davis taking 2nd in STXC in the Men`s B`s. The XC course, known for its reputation of DNF`s, did not disappoint as many riders on each of the teams fell victim to the rooty terrain. However, Barry Wilcox had a strong finish of 10th in the Men`s C`s, and Rachael Freeman powered through the familiar terrain to grab 7th place.

Clemson
The trend of improvement did not stop with ETSU, with riders showing their potential at this race. Alan Hudson and Alex Christofalos showed off their cool downhill skills in the Men`s A`s and Women`s A`s. Later that day, Scott Davis, Alex Christofalos, and Rachael Freeman shredded the STXC course with aggressive starts and a little cyclocross skills action in the tricky/unrideable mud sections. Even in the rainy, monsoon like conditions, Alex and Rachael placed 7th and 8th in the Women`s A`s. The real excitement took place on Sunday during the XC race in which all of the Mars Hill riders that raced placed top 5 in their categories. Clemson was a course of long climbs and fast single track, and a whole lot of fun for the team. Rachael and Alex rode a strong A race to place 4th and 5th, while Scott placed 3rd in the Men`s B`s.

The team will switch to cyclocross racing at Kolo Bike Park this Saturday, and then a final dress rehearsal for track nats on Sunday at the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill. Next mountain bike race will be at Georgia Tech on October 4-5, then conference champs at Lees-McRae on October 12-13, capping the mountain bike season with nationals at Beech Mountain, NC, on October 24-26.

As always, a big thanks to our sponsors who help make this all happen.

– Rachael Freeman, MHU Cycling freshman





Knott joins coaching staff

3 07 2014

Kyle Knott joins the Mars Hill Cycling coaching staff this summer as the assistant coach responsible for track cycling. He will share his knowledge and experience from being the Programs Coordinator at the Giordana Velodrome and an elite racer on both the road and track. Knott is a Mars Hill graduate and member of the National Championship winning team in 2011 and was Mars Hill’s first national champion winning the criterium and individual omnium that year. Knott knows exactly what it takes to go from an underdog to the top step and looks forward to coaching the Mars Hill Cycling Team to both individual and team national titles in the future.

Knott’s quality over quantity coaching philosophy focuses on creating an atmosphere where riders can develop both on and off the bike to become better leaders in sport and life. He can be reached at Kyle.Knott.Coaching@gmail.com

Welcome back to the team, Kyle!





Morgan joins BMX team

9 06 2014

We’re excited to announce the addition of Jason Morgan to our BMX team. Jason has won multiple Virginia state titles as a novice and expert in the NBL, making the mains as a novice at NBL grands in Louisville, KY. He followed that up with several appearances in the mains as an expert. After rehabilitating a knee injury, Jason is hungry to get back out on the track and compete for Mars Hill University. Welcome to the team, Jason!





ProGold products reviewed

27 05 2014

Here at Mars Hill University you never know the weather you’re going to get it.  As the saying goes, “Want the weather to change? Wait five minutes.” It could be March and 60 degrees outside on Mars Hill’s campus but 10 miles away at the top of a mountain pass it could be 45 degrees and raining. With such variations in weather conditions, it’s important to be able to easily maintain a clean bike and well-lubed drivetrain. You might have heard another saying, “A clean bike is a fast bike,” and this is so true. Not only does the act of cleaning and inspecting your bike regularly help reveal hidden mechanical issues that can be prevented ahead of race day, but tests have demonstrated that a clean and properly lubed chain can be several watts faster!

ProGold has many products that not only lube the chain but also clean the bike. The Mars Hill University Cycling team is fortunate to receive product support from ProGold Bikes, including bike cleaners, drivetrain degreasers, helmet deodorizers, and chain lubes. I personally like to use the Degreaser + Wash on my chain, leaving it perfectly clean without any excess black chain residue. Then I like to use the Foaming Citrus Degreaser to clean the cassette and derailleurs. If the cassette and derailleurs are really dirty and I don’t have much time, I like to use the Blast Off which will take most of dirt build up off in two quick sprays, leaving your cassette looking brand new.

HELMET CLEANER AND DEODORIZER

After the drivetrain is all clean and dry, I like to lube the chain with their ProLink lube. If I know I’m likely to run into rain/dirt/mud on my ride, then I opt for the Xtreme lube since it handles these conditions better. The night before a race, I’ll finish my bike prep by wiping the frame down with the Bike Shine, which brings back the luster of a brand new bike. ProGold even has Helmet Cleaner and Deodorizer which really leaves the helmet clean and fresh, and we all know how sweaty and stinky helmets can get.  My overall favorite product is the ProLink lube just because it lasts longer than other lubes I’ve tried and the chain doesn’t instantly go black.  It’s very good about rejecting debris. If you haven’t tried ProGold products yet, you have yet to get the full experience of riding! To check out all ProGold has to offer please visit their website and ask for their products at your local bike shop.

- John Croom, Mars Hill team rider, class of 2015





Marine veteran joins team for fall

26 05 2014

On this Memorial Day, we are very proud to announce the signing of Michael McLawhorn, who joins us after finishing a combat tour in Afghanistan, where he served as an infantry rifleman in the US Marine Corps. Micheal enlisted with the Marines after graduating high school and has served his country for the last five years. He hails from Hampton, Virginia.

Michael met his wife while she was serving in the Navy. She introduced him to the sport of cycling, and he was bitten by the bug. Last Christmas, they became proud parents to a baby girl. As a member of MHU’s cycling team, Michael is determined to reach his athletic potential in the sport. He will major in biology and follow the pre-med track, with plans to attend medical school after graduation. Welcome to the team, Michael!





Three more women join MHU for fall

22 05 2014

We’re excited to announce three more women joining our roster this fall. They will be a part of the largest incoming group of cyclists in the team’s history. Please welcome Rachael Freeman, Josie Ritchie, and Paige Shook to the team!

Cheered by fans, Rachael Freeman pedals to victory in Tennessee’s NICA league.

Rachael Freeman joins MHU from Fayetteville, Tennessee, and is a longtime cyclist with a competitive background that includes swimming, track, and cross country. She passed up a senior year with the swim team to give cycling her full attention, competing in NICA’s Tennessee High School Cycling League. She won the state mountain bike championships as well as first place overall in the series. In addition, Rachael won the state cyclocross championships in her category. Rachael will study graphic design at MHU. Welcome to the team, Rachael!

Josie Ritchie sheds the nearby Weaverville BMX track during a practice session.

Josie Ritchie started racing BMX when she was 10 years old and joins MHU from nearby Weaverville, NC. She is a constant winner on the BMX circuit, including multiple state championship titles, as well as the NBL Grands in 2011 when she was the 3rd ranked racer in the nation. Currently, Josie is ranked 8th in the nation in women’s 17-18 cruiser class while racing for the Doublecross Factory Team. Josie joins our growing BMX team and welcomes the opportunity to race multiple disciplines. Josie will study nursing and be a member of that program’s first incoming class of students. Welcome to the team, Josie!

Paige Shook translates a competitive running background into a cycling career at MHU.

Paige Shook, also from Weaverville, NC,  was introduced to cycling by her distance running coach, Dean Duncan, at North Buncombe High when she suffered an injury. A competitive runner for a number of years, Paige comes to cycling with an endurance background that positions her for a bright future with the team. She is driven to compete at the highest level possible and looks forward to racing multiple disciplines with a focus on road and cyclocross. Following a training regimen that would put many cycling pros to shame, we’re very excited to help Paige reach her cycling potential. Welcome to the team, Paige!

Stay tuned for additional announcements soon…





Road nats caps yearlong success

6 05 2014

Road nationals was held in Richmond on May 2-4 and was a test event for the 2015 UCI World Road Championships. Riders competed on the same courses that will be used for that event, which required shutting down the majority of downtown Richmond for three days. This road nats was the most professionally organized and executed collegiate event we’ve ever attended.

The individual and team time trials were on Friday. The course was two laps of a 9.6 mile downtown circuit that included 40 corners, roundabouts, and turnarounds, as well as a long section of brick pavers. Each individual racer and team had its own police escort. Strong winds, technical corners, and a short but sharp climb were the main obstacles. Our men’s TTT team (Tim, Jake, Chad, and Mauro) went off at 10:13am and after the first lap they were in 2nd place to Colorado Mesa University by 19 seconds. Unfortunately, we lost one rider in the first lap and would have to finish the race with only three riders, but the goal was a negative split for the second lap, hoping that CMU had perhaps started too fast and that we would make up the time needed to win. Our second lap was one second faster, but CMU managed to hold on to their 19 second lead for the win. Our time for the 19.2 mile course was 42:09 with CMU posting a 41:49. In the individual races, Hunter Resek and Catherine Harnden represented the team. Hunter finished in 24th and Catherine in 19th, both solid rides.

Saturday’s criterium was held on a 1 mile circuit that included 6 corners and a big hill on the back side, which came immediately after 4 tight turns in a row. The goal was to get up to the front and stay there since we anticipated that only a third of the starters would make it to the end. In the women’s race, Catherine did her best to negotiate a crash through the tight corners and finished 35th.

In the men’s race, all four riders made it to the front within the first 5 laps, but the effort to get there made it tough to stay there. Half way through, we only had Tim and Chad left in the front and rapidly dwindling group. Tim had the ride of a lifetime, using his cornering ability to create gaps and attack the field on consecutive laps up the hill. Eventually, he got away solo with Charlie Hough of Furman quickly joining him. Working together, they built up a lead of up to 22 seconds, which they maintained to the finish. Tim tried to ditch Charlie in the corners, but he caught back on at the top of the hill. He tried again in the last corner but was caught and passed in the final 200 meters and took home a hard-earned silver medal. Chad finished in the front group in 26th place. Only 28 riders out of 90 starters finished on the lead lap. Due to winning a number of points prime sprints, Tim was tied on points with Charlie for the individual omnium, a competition that the road race would decide.

As we’ve come to expect at nationals, Sunday’s road race was fraught with mechanicals and crashes. With a course similar to the time trials but with the addition of two cobbled sections–one a downhill screamer at 35+ mph, the other a 10% climb up Libby Hill–it was imperative to stay at the front. In the women’s race, Catherine had a good first lap, and her downhill  mountain biking skills made the cobbles an easy obstacle, but the hills took their toll and  she eventually finished a respectable 32nd. In the men’s race, the battle for position in the first lap brought us some bad luck: Chad had a mechanical that required service, Mauro fell in a crash near the front, John broke a carbon wheel on the cobbled descent, and Hunter couldn’t get back on the group after being held up by the crash. Only Tim came around that first lap in the front group, and we thought the race was effectively over for the rest of the team. However, Chad and Mauro found each other and started working with a group to chase back on. Starting nearly two minutes down on the front group, they put in an amazing effort to catch the lead group on lap three after two laps of all out chasing. Meanwhile, Tim was off the front in a two man break on lap two. The matches we were burning early would leave us with little firepower in the closing laps.

With two laps to go Mauro had a rear flat and couldn’t regain the front group. With one lap to go, Tim was off the back by a couple of minutes, leaving only Chad in a position to race for the top spots. As the race exploded into several small groups, Chad hung on for a very solid 20th place. Tim finished 36th and managed to hold on to a individual omnium podium spot in 5th. Overall, the team finished in 9th place at road nats and finished the year as the 3rd ranked DII team in the nation, the fourth year in a row that we’ve finished in the top three.

It was a great event with huge support from the city of Richmond and the 2015 World’s organizers. We’re already looking forward to next year’s road nationals, which will be near Mars Hill in Asheville, NC, with courses in Marshall and downtown Asheville only 10-20min from campus. For now, we’ll take a short break, focus on our graduating seniors (Tim and Catherine) and then start planning for next fall and the first big event of the year in Indianapolis, track nationals.

Thanks to all of our sponsors, supporters, and friends of Mars Hill Cycling. We couldn’t do it without you!

Beer City Bicycles
Industry Nine
Hincapie Sportswear
Kenda Tires
DeFeet
Neo Burrito
Hearn’s Cycling
Smith Optics
Raw Revolution
ProGold
Kolo Bike Park
The Gear Attic
SRAM
TrainingPeaks
Asheville Pizza Co.








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