Team Ends Year #1 After Solid Results at Home Road Nationals

14 05 2015

On May 8-10, Collegiate Road Nationals took place on home turf in nearby Marshall and Asheville, NC. After three days of hotly contested racing, Mars Hill ended up in first place in the yearlong DII omnium that includes team results from all five collegiate disciplines: track, mountain bike, cyclocross, BMX, and road. From September to May the team raced their hearts out, demonstrating that consistent hard work and dedication does lead to success.

Road nationals arrived in Asheville and Marshall in Madison County, also home to Mars Hill University, as a result of partnerships between the Asheville Sports Commission, local governments in Asheville, the Town of Marshall, and Madison  County, and through the collective efforts of a local organizing committee that included many stalwarts of the local cycling community.

For MHU Cycling, this was an opportunity to race on the same roads we regularly train on and to hopefully turn that into an advantage for road nationals. The event began on Friday with the road race, a 25 mile loop out of the Town of Marshall that included several steep climbs before a fast riverside finish back into town. The men did three laps, the women two. The Mars Hill men finished with three men inside the top fifteen, including a solid third place for Mauro Rato, combining for enough points to take top points in the men’s event. The team’s three freshmen women–Alex Christofalos, Paige Shook, and Rachael Freeman–performed well enough to help the team end day one in third place in the team omnium.

Saturday’s criterium on the South Slope of Downtown Asheville included a long uphill finishing straight on a technical course of just under a mile. During a 75 minute race, the men’s field splintered early on, the hill and the heat taking its toll. Again, Rato was the team’s top finisher in 7th, which would be good enough for the final step on the individual omnium in fifth. The women’s 60 minute race also split up into small groups early on and the women gave their best efforts to help maintain the team’s third place in the team omnium.

Sunday’s time trials decided the team omnium. The Mars Hill men had their fastest TTT time on the course after many training sessions during the spring, despite losing one rider to a flat in the latter part of the race. The women’s TTT event was the last race of road nationals and would decide not only the road nationals omnium but also the yearlong team omnium as well. The women did what they had to do and collected just enough points to help the team finish fourth overall at road nationals, which secured the yearlong top spot by a mere nine points over Colorado Mesa University, the top ranked DII team for the last two years. Mars Hill had previously won the yearlong omnium and #1 ranking in DII in both 2011 and 2012, and it was fitting to reclaim the title on home turf in 2015.

Full team and individual results can be found at USA Cycling, including results from the individual time trial, a standalone national championship. In addition, the final day’s time trials included para-cycling athletes seeking qualifying spots for upcoming world cup events.

Road Nationals will return to Asheville and Marshall again in 2016. For now, the team will take a break during the summer term, returning to action in the fall with track, mountain bike, and cyclocross racing.

Thanks to our local and industry partners who make it possible for us to compete at this level.

Beer City Bicycles
Spin-Tech Training
Hearn’s Cycling and Fitness
Kask Helmets
Industry Nine Componentry
Hincapie Sportswear
DeFeet International
ProGold Lubricants
Kenda Tires
Neo Burrito
Raw Revolution
Madison County TDA
Kolo Bike Park
Smith Optics
SRAM
The Gear Attic
TrainingPeaks
Asheville Pizza Company
Roots Hummus
Trips for Kids WNC
Madison County Parks and Rec





BMX Squad Propels Team into 1st, Road Nationals at Home Next Week

30 04 2015

With the BMX team scoring top team points by claiming the DII BMX National Title last weekend, the road team is in the catbird’s seat heading into Road Nationals next weekend, May 8-10.

The BMX win, spearheaded by student-cyclists Alan Hudson and Josie Ritchie, catapulted the team into first place in the DII National Rankings, an envious place to be with just one more nationals remaining, especially since Road Nationals will be on home turf in nearby Marshall and Asheville, North Carolina. The national rankings take into account each team’s overall performance across collegiate cycling’s five disciplines: track, mountain bike, cyclocross, BMX, and road. MHU Cycling chooses to participate in all five, bringing a liberal arts perspective to cycling and providing student-cyclists of all abilities the opportunity to compete in multiple disciplines.

Current Top Ten DII National Rankings

1. Mars Hill University
2. Colorado Mesa
3. Milligan College
4. Brevard College
5. King University
6. Furman University
7. Warren Wilson
8. US Air Force Academy
9. Western Colorado State
10. Ripon College

Defending the lead will be no mean feat, however, as Colorado Mesa University from the Rocky Mountain Conference is close behind and the competition from the likes of Milligan, Furman, Warren Wilson, and Brevard will be strong, which we know from racing against these Southeastern Conference teams all season long. It will make for some exciting racing where every place and point counts.

More info on upcoming Road Nats:

USA Cycling event page is HERE

Asheville Sports Commission website with info about road closures is HERE

Volunteers sign up HERE! Please spread the word about volunteering to your friends and family. Volunteers are the glue that make any large event successful, and taking a couple hours out of your day to help out is much appreciated!

See you on the start line!





Clemson race recaps

11 03 2015

Three of our riders who have blogs wrote about racing at Clemson last weekend. Enjoy!

Alex Christofalos

John Croom

Corey Davis





#RoadtoAsheville Begins with Partnerships

9 03 2015

MHU Cycling’s collegiate road season began over the weekend with intense racing at Clemson University, an important step on the #RoadtoAsheville and road nationals, which is only two months away. We’re proud to be a part of hosting USA Cycling’s Collegiate Road National Championships in nearby Asheville and Marshall on May 8-10. More on Clemson racing action in a subsequent race report. First, we’d like to announce the team’s new and continuing sponsors for 2015 who make it all possible.

Kask Helmets joins our partnership team and will provide the team with both road and time trial helmets. Kask is well known for their international successes, including Grand Tour and World Championship victories, with ProTour teams like Team Sky. We love Kask’s attention to light weight, aerodynamics, innovation, and Italian panache. And the red helmets they’ve supplied bring the team added visibility, which is critical for both team riders and spectators.

Hammer Nutrition has been a longtime sponsor of MHU Cycling events, including mountain bike, road, and cyclocross races and camps we’ve put on. The team now joins Hammer’s exclusive cadre of sponsored teams. After having used their products for years at our events, we couldn’t be more excited to take the next step in our partnership with Hammer Nutrition. Fuel right, feel great.

CycleOps, along with Saris and PowerTap, has also been a longtime supporter of MHU Cycling events, and now they too step up to supply the team with trainers and rollers. If you’re not warming up and and cooling down properly, then you’re wasting your race. Cycleops makes race prep and recovery easy for team riders.

Our goal in creating partnerships is simple: we want them to last forever. We realize that forever is a long time, and we’re proud to recognize the following partners that continue with us after many years of support. Without such strong support from local organizations and the cycling industry, we wouldn’t be able to provide the lifetime experiences that we give our athletes, nor would we be in a position to podium and win at national championships in five disciplines: Road, Track, Cyclocross, Mountain Bike, and BMX. For all of the the support we receive, we are more grateful than a blog post can express. Mars Hill Cycling loves you!

Beer City Bicycles
Spin-Tech Training
Hearn’s Cycling and Fitness
Industry Nine Componentry
Hincapie Sportswear
DeFeet International
ProGold Lubricants
Kenda Tires
Neo Burrito
Raw Revolution
Madison County TDA
Kolo Bike Park
Smith Optics
SRAM
The Gear Attic
TrainingPeaks
Asheville Pizza Company
Roots Hummus
Trips for Kids WNC
Madison County Parks and Rec

 





Cavin Heaton joins team for fall

3 03 2015

We are pleased to announce that Cavin Heaton has committed to Mars Hill University for this Fall 2015. Cavin joins the team from Blue Springs, Missouri.

Cavin started racing BMX at the age of seven and worked hard to win nationals as an intermediate. He continued to push through the competitiveness of being an expert and won a Disney Cup by age twelve. In 2010, he decided to take a break from the bike to pursue football but soon missed racing bikes and returned to BMX in 2012 with the goal of returning to top form.

After completing the 2014 season with a number of top finishes, Cavin is ready to take on the challenging class of 17-18 expert in 2015 and join Mars Hill’s growing BMX team. Cavin is also eager to compete in other collegiate cycling disciplines. Most important, however, Cavin is focused on academic performance. He will study accounting and is sure to be one of the team’s future Academic All-Stars.

Welcome to the team, Cavin!





Nathan Hake commits to MHU Cycling

2 02 2015

We are very pleased to announce Nathan Hake’s commitment to attend MHU in the fall. Nathan is from Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania, where he’s raced for the Mason Dixon Velo/Cycle Works team. Nathan will primarily race on MHU’s mountain bike and cyclocross teams, to which he brings considerable experience and results after picking up mountain biking in 2011.

Nathan won the overall category 3 title in the Mid-Atlantic Super Series as well as 2nd place in the junior 15-18 at XC Nationals in 2013. Last he year moved up a category, placing 13th at XC Nationals in the junior 15-18 category 2 event. Nathan will race in the A collegiate category for MHU in mountain biking and cyclocross and is eager branch out to road and track and become a well-rounded student-cyclist.

Welcome to the team, Nate!





Austin CX Nats

15 01 2015

By Jack Drake

This year’s cyclocross national championships in Austin combined every category racing, from the youngest juniors up to the elites as well as the collegiate championship and even single speed. Mars Hill riders raced in four events during the week, claiming a number of top results including a podium in the team relay.

For someone who has had a predominantly track and criterium based background, the prospect of racing CX was always appealing and luckily enough there was room on the Mars Hill squad for me to ride. The team consisting of myself, Hunter, Barry, Alex, Paige, Rachael and Erich all piled on the team bus Sunday evening after the UCI Kingsport race for the long journey from East Tennessee down to Austin, Texas.

After a late night layover in Chattanooga, we woke up early on Monday to continue the drive. Along the way we stopped at a national park in Jackson, Mississippi to do a short gravel ride and flush out our legs as sitting the on the bus was definitely turning us all stir crazy! After driving into the night once again and another layover, this time in Shreveport, we arrived in Austin excited and ready to test out the course.

Even for the more experienced riders the 2015 CX Nationals course proved to be quite challenging, with some very technical off camber turns as well as two treacherous sets of limestone stairs. A very fast top half of the course, which many riders were calling a grass crit, promised to provide a fast-paced race across all categories. We got a few pre-ride sessions in over the next few days and the whole team was feeling good and quite confident on the course. However, the weather forecast of freezing rain promised changing conditions.

The team’s race schedule kicked off on Wednesday as Alex rode to an impressive 19th in the open women’s single speed race. Next up was the collegiate fair on Friday where we got a chance to meet and speak to a host of prospective students and tell them about the team.

That afternoon started the collegiate races with the team relay, a highly exciting and crowd friendly four lap dash around the course. The four laps were to be completed by at least two female laps and two male laps, not consecutively. The Mars Hill entry consisted of Hunter, Paige, Alex and the final lap again by Hunter. All three riders gave it everything and rode out of their skin to place 5th and onto the podium. A very impressive effort.

Saturday was game day for the team and everyone woke up raring to go after openers the day before. Unfortunately, overnight rain and a number of races had turned the course into an absolute mud bath. With such slippery conditions we were all forced to run a good chunk of the course especially the off camber turns. This made for many mistimed dismounts and some hilarious viewing. To add to this a slight drizzle and freezing temperatures made for a testing day of racing. As competitors we were all kept on our toes the entire race as the slightest misjudgment meant sliding out almost immediately. Despite this the entire team rode very solid rides with the girls placing 10th (Paige),  16th (Alex), and 32nd (Rachael).

 

The boy’s race started with a chaotic sprint for the hole shot and Hunter handled it well starting out in the top 10. From then on the field split to pieces with many mechanicals and riders being pulled early on. Luckily enough Hunter navigated the course without major troubles, a testament to how hard he has worked this season. For myself, a flat early on the second lap put a dampener on proceedings, but thanks to the pit crew I was back in the race with minimal hassle. Unfortunately Barry was caught behind a crash entering the hole shot, but managed to ride through the early setback and powered on. All in all the boys rode to solid finishes, notably Hunter with a 7th place finish. I finished in 23rd and Barry finished 46th.

We all can’t thank the sponsors enough as we were kitted out in some new gear and looked and felt the goods on race day. Brand new Kask Infinity helmets along with new Defeet socks, gloves, and warmers kept us warm in the frigid conditions, and the latest Smith Optics kept the mud out of our eyes. All of our sponsors played a role in supporting our efforts. Finally, I think I speak for the team when I say our biggest thanks goes to coaches Hugh and Matt who worked incredibly hard all week doing numerous jobs to make our lives easier. We all appreciate it so much and could not have got it done on the day without you guys.

[A few of these photos are credited to photographers who shared their work with Mars Hill riders. Sorry but don’t know your names, but thank you!]

 








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