Three riders commit for fall

9 04 2014

We are exited to announce the addition of three new riders to the team for fall: Alexandra Christofalos, Scott Davis, and Jack Drake. Read more about each below and stay tuned for more announcements soon. Welcome to the team!

Alexandra Christofalos brings her off-road expertise to Mars Hill next fall.

A competitive swimmer for 12 years, Alexandra transitioned to cyclocross and mountain biking in the last couple of years and has already earned some impressive results. From Lake Bluff, Illinois, she is the 2-time Chequamegon S&F single speed champion and placed 3rd overall for Cat 1 juniors in the Wisconsin Off Road Series. Alex is a member of the Kona Super Grassroots Team, a collection of some of the best and brightest upcoming and established riders in the world. When not riding, Alex can often be found at Activator Cycles, the bike shop owned by her family. Alex looks forward to continuing her rise up the ranks this season before joining the team for mountain bike and cyclocross seasons in the fall. Alex will study biology.

Scott Davis brings commitment and preparation that will serve him on and off the road.

Scott Davis, it just so happens, is also from Lake Bluff, Illinois. After many years of competitive hockey, Scott fell in love with mountain biking during high school outings in nearby Dupont State Forest, where he had the opportunity to be mentored by some of the area’s best mountain bikers. After several years of recreational riding, 2013 saw his first year of competitive cycling, and he got bit by the racing bug. Scott will race for Mars Hill both on and off the road, and in preparation for our fall mountain bike season he will ramp up his racing schedule with races across the region. We are impressed by Scott’s passion for the sport, as well as his dedication to training, and we look forward to supporting his continuing rise up the ranks.

Jack Drake brings significant experience in road and track.

Jack Drake joins the team from Brisbane, Australia, where he is an accomplished road and track cyclist. He’s been competing at the state and national level for five years, winning state medals in both road and track championships. He also has international experience as a junior. Now in the U23 category, Jack races for the Balmoral Elite Team in the elite men’s division of the Queensland Road Team Series. Additionally, Jack was a member of the winning team pursuit squad at the 2013 Queensland Team Pursuit Championships and is also the winner of the Queensland U19 Criterium Championship. Jack is excited to travel to the US and compete for the team at next September’s collegiate national track championships. Jack will also race on the road and is eager to gain experience in cycloross and mountain biking too.





Clemson Race Report

18 03 2014

Mountains surround the team as they arrive to registration for the road race. All the members are ready to race. A high level of uncertainty is coming from the course. Riders start fueling up. Bottles are filled with HEED, an insurance policy against not being able to eat while racing. A quick warm-up consists of the ascent of Sassafras. The climb is steep. It tops out at close to 30%. The strategy meeting is simple. Stay with the leaders on the climb. Attacks will be futile. The climb will determine all.

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A neutral start up a steep driveway creates the setting for the first scene. The first lap up the climb sees lots of hopes dashed. The leaders press on. Mars Hill is represented by Tim, Chad, Mauro, Hunter and Jacob in the lead group. A flat! Mauro is out. The peloton snakes over rollers. It plunges down the descent. There is no place to rest. Riders breathe heavy. The officials lap counter shows two-to-go. The next ascent of Sassafras looms.

 

A hundred front-derailleurs drop. Grandma gears are the norm for the next eight minutes. The climb gets steeper and steeper. Heart rates rise with the climb. Some riders get water. More riders get dropped. The agony is unbearable. Seats are not used at these gradients. All that can be done is to stand-up and grit one’s teeth. The climb starts to flatten out near the top. Chad and Jacob are the only Mars Hill riders left. The other survivors look around. Fifteen are left. They work together. It is their only chance. The rollers bite more this lap. The descent blurs their vision. They are close to the edge.

 

The lap-counter does not bring reprieve. It says one-to-go. Riders see Sassafras around the corner, instead. Chad moves up. Jacob snatches a feed. They both hang on by a thread. Other’s threads are cut. The group is whittled. Much like the locals crafting wood. The group of eight that made it over the top include Chad and Jake. Rest does not come. Attacks fly. There are still rollers left. Two riders escape. The rest are too tired to chase. A solo attack goes. Jake pulls. Chad pulls. The chase reels in the solo move. The final climb is reached. The riders limits are reached right after. An attack is followed by a counter-attack. Then Jacob breaks free. He rides in for third. Chad counters his companion. He rides to fifth. Relief.

The crit was held on a flat, four-corner parking lot that was being submerged by icy rain. Tim covered all the early moves and rode himself into a two man breakaway with 8 laps to go. As he is working valiantly at the front, the other team members start sifting to the pointy end of the pack. Hunter and Chad cover all attacks. John, John, and Jake start getting ready to sprint.

With a lap to go, Mauro moves from twentieth place into the top-ten with Jacob on his wheel. The Johns are right behind. Attacks flurry and everyone starts giving it everything. Jacob starts sprinting, the leaders in sight. A crash takes out John Butler, John Croom and Chad. Tim is outsprinted but holds onto second. Jacob finishes a moment later in fourth with Mauro a few places back in ninth. No serious injuries occurred in the crash, thankfully.

Report by Jake Hill
Photo creds to Tom Reed

Thanks to our sponsors:

Beer City Bicycles
Hincapie Sportswear
DeFeet
Smith Optics
ProGold
Raw Revolution
NEO Burrito
Kenda Tires
Industry Nine
Hearn’s Cycling and Fitness
Kolo Bike Park
Roots Hummus





Hearn’s unique among local bike shops

7 03 2014

By Barry Wilcox

Hearn’s Cycling and Fitness is located in Asheville, NC, at 28 Asheland Ave in downtown Asheville. Hearn’s is the longest continuously run bicycle shop in the nation, having been established in 1896 by the Hearn’s family, and is now the oldest business is Asheville. Hearn’s is now run by Clark Hollins, a longtime cycling aficionado whose love and passion for all things cycling shows through in how he runs the shop and how he treats his customers. The last Hearn’s family owner was in the early 1990’s, with two more owners before 2003 when Clark became the latest owner.

Hearn’s is unique among Asheville bike shops. There are 10 bike shops in Asheville, each offering their own set of customer accommodations, but Hearn’s finds its niche by specializing in second hand bicycles and parts plus the excellent knowledge and experience of the shop employees. To the bargain hunters,  penny pinchers, college students, those limited by tight budgets, or anyone who wants the best bang for their buck, second hand equipment is perfect.

Those walking into Hearn’s are met with an unusual sight: There are bikes everywhere, large bins of handlebars, stems, and seatposts near the checkout, and multiple display cases holding shifters, dérailleurs, cranks, cassettes, and anything else bike related one could think of. Often, the owner, Clark, is chatting amiably with a customer at the checkout register while there are people perusing the many asides of bicycles of all sorts, shop mechanics working behind the work counter, and overall a happy buzz of bicycles in the air. Hearn’s has supported Mars Hill Cycling since the very beginning, supplying the team with boxes of brand new water bottles every year, loaner bikes as needed, and plenty of solutions to last minute mechanical issues. Go visit Hearn’s, meet Clark and his employees, and have a great time!





Joining the Raw Revolution

12 02 2014

By Tyler Perkins

With all the long hours of training at Mars Hill, having nutrition on the bike is a must. We’ve all had those training rides that somehow turn into bonk rides, so we’re fortunate to have Raw Revolution as a sponsor–and their bars in our back pockets–to make sure we’re fueling regularly with the highest quality ingredients.

As an athlete, I want to know what I’m putting in my body. With Raw Revolution I know I’m only taking in organic, vegan, and gluten free energy bars. It’s always a relief to read the ingredients label on the back and recognize the quality whole foods that are in the bars I’m eating.

Raw Revolution makes a variety of bars: 10 different flavors to be exact. My personal favorite being the Almond Butter Cup bar. It’s all well and good to be eating something that’s nutritionally beneficial for you, but it’s even better when it tastes great. In the past, I would get tired of eating the same bland energy bar, but ever since I switched over to Raw Revolution I never dread reaching in my back pocket for a bar. It’s real food, tastes good, and the raw foods are easy to digest.

I also appreciate the high standards the company sets for themselves. They source organic ingredients and stay away from anything genetically modified. They’re also environmentally friendly, minimizing packaging and space during storing and transportation.  The crazy thing is they’re able to do all these incredible things and still produce an affordable product. Cycling is expensive enough as it is, so having energy bars that don’t break the bank makes Raw Revolution a go-to energy bar choice, whether on or off the bike. Ask for them at your local bike shop or grocery store.





Beer City Bicycles: Something for Everyone

7 02 2014

By Keri Oxendine

Beer City Bicycles is a great bike shop and offers many other things. They have everything from bike parts to CompuTrainers to beer and hot sauce. I heard they also have a bakery and coffee shop coming soon. What more do you need?

The first time I went there I was completely new to the sport, but they made me feel right at home. I received friendly service and they were very helpful. Frank, their manager, helped me pick a bike that would be best for me. Not only that, but he fit me to the bike at the shop. They geared me up from head to toe, with perfect shoes and a helmet. They also gave me a water bottle, and all this at an amazing deal. Service is great and they are extremely nice. They take their time to help you find exactly what you need and fits you the best. The shop also has their very own bar, where there have local beers on tap.  And if you want hot sauce, well they have that too: all kinds of varieties from Pepper Palace.

When I went to go train on the CompuTrainers, they set my bike up on the trainer to get me started and were supportive the entire time through the workout. They helped configure my workout for my personal training level. It was my first time on a trainer like that, but they took the time to explain everything to me and were very patient. It’s a a friendly atmosphere where they greet everyone who walks in with a friendly hello and a smile, which makes you feel right at home. I know that if I ever need any kind of repair I can go to Beer City Bicycles and they will help me. They support the Mars Hill Cycling Team with all kinds of support. Thanks for everything, Beer City Bicycles!





CX Nats a blast despite challenges

14 01 2014

For the fifth year in a row, the Mars Hill team traveled to cyclocross nationals, this time to Boulder, Colorado. The race organizers did a fantastic job and put on a first-rate event, and we had fun from start to finish. We approach CX nats with high hopes and confidence, since we’ve either been first or second overall for the last three years, collecting several individual podiums and a national championship as well, and this year we had the talent and motivation to replicate these top performances. The team rode their hearts out and put in some impressive performances despite unfortunate mechanicals and illnesses that contributed to us missing the podium for the first time in years. Still, we met our goals of doing our very best and creating memorable lifetime experiences, and in the end that counts for far more than podium appearances.

The first race for collegiates was the team relay, a new event at CX nats. We had intended to compete, but with a smaller team this year and several riders battling nagging injuries and illness, we decided to skip it so riders could put everything into the traditional men’s and women’s championship events. The Industry Nine crew from Asheville worked the pits for us, loaned us pit bikes and equipment, and set us up on super fast wheels. Big thanks to Drew and Rachel Hager, Dave Thomas, and Meghan Korol for all the support! We also had strong support from Nick and Alex Christofalos, who graciously loaned us equipment, helped with transportation, and and cheered us on. Thanks for everything!

On Saturday, Sarah Felpel, our lone women’s rider, competed in her first race in almost two months since she’d been diagnosed with mono. Sarah rode a clean and strong race to finish 16th, and we were all proud of her effort. In the men’s race on Sunday, Tim Jenkinson and Mikey Keith were favorites based on Tim’s  silver medals at CX nats the last two years and both of their strong  (2nd and 3rd place) finishes in the short track event at mountain bike nats in October. Hunter Resek, although relatively new to knobby tires, was primed for a top twenty result based on stronger performances throughout mountain bike and cyclocross seasons, but he was suffering from an upper respiratory condition that made breathing as through a straw.

When the race started, all three got a clean start. Tim was our top placed rider on lap one, but as he negotiated the first of two steep off camber turns, his front tire rolled off the rim and sent him tumbling to the ground. By the time he ran to the pits, he was already a few minutes down on the leaders and in last place by quite a bit. With a bike change, he was off again and spent the rest of the race battling back up through the field, passing well  over twenty riders to finally end up in 21st place. His lap times were on par with the leaders, so he had the fitness to compete for the win. Kudos to Tim for never giving up.

Mikey suffered a similar fate when he also rolled a tire on a steep off-camber section. With the course conditions dry and hard, our tires did a great job of hooking up, they just weren’t staying on the rim. Maybe tire pressure was a little low, or perhaps just bad luck. At any rate, Mikey was able to ride the tire in and get a pit bike, and then went on a tear racing from thirty-something place to a solid 12th by the finish. Hunter did his best despite breathing problems and finished a respectable 34th.

On paper these weren’t our best performances but everyone can be proud to have raced their hearts out and given their best efforts, and all while having a blast. Next up is BMX and road season, and we’re already amped for both to begin. A shout out to all of our supporters and sponsors who make our racing possible. Appreciate you!





Announcing 3 new riders for spring

3 01 2014

We are excited to announce the addition of three new riders to the team for spring. Each focus on different disciplines, adding depth and talent across the team. Let’s welcome them to the team in alphabetical order: John Croom, Nick Givargis, and Tyler Perkins.

John Croom

John Croom is a 20-year-old racer from Rock Hill, South Carolina, the location of the the Giordana Velodrome, which is where John got his start racing. At 230lbs and unafraid to throw it around, John is already a feared track and road sprinter. He is the current SC elite men’s Omnium State champion and the 2013 tandem match sprint national bronze medal holder. He ended the year as the 2nd B category rider for the season at Giordana Velodrome. In 2013, his first season of racing, he started out at 285 lbs and made his way through the ranks on the road but especially the track, racing almost 40 days and losing 70lbs. John comes from a football and wrestling background but says that “cycling is the most intense sport I have ever done mentally and physically.”

Welcome to the team, John!

Nick Givargis

Nick Givargis started racing at the age of nine in Simi Valley, California, at Sycamore BMX. He excelled in the sport fairly quickly and became an expert at age 10. Finding success in the National Bicycle League at age 12, making the main event at NBL Grands as a 12 expert and placing 14th nationally, by age 14 he was a competitor in the ABA national circuit in his class. In 2010 and 2011, he was in the top 10 in his class nationally in Cruiser, and won numerous national races. Nick says the height of his young racing career was participation in the USA Cycling Jr. Development program. Many of his best races were in the Jr. Devo class at national events. He attended two Olympic training camps, one in November of 2010, and the other in April of 2011.

“BMX has always been an escape from reality for me. I never realized how fortunate I was to be able to travel around the nation racing bikes competitively. I have been away from the sport with a back injury for a year now, and this time has allowed me to reflect on my life thus far and find true appreciation for all of my experiences. I plan to come into collegiate cycling with a new found vigor and drive. I am also excited to be beginning my studies in the field of Athletic Training.”

Welcome to the team, Nick!

Tyler Perkins

Tyler Perkins got his start in the small rural city of Roxboro, North Carolina. When he was 11-years-old he got his first “real” mountain bike. About a year later he crashed and broke his wrist. Not being able to ride, he sat at home and watched TV. The Tour de France happened to be on. After about an hour of watching it he had caught the roadie bug and got a road bike for Christmas in 2005 and never looked back. He started racing in 2008 and found his strength in climbing, something he’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice at Mars Hill.

“I want to continue to develop as a rider and teammate. 2013 was my first year on a racing team and I loved being in the position to help my teammates succeed. It’s so gratifying knowing I did everything in my power to help my teammate succeed. I always plan on being an avid cyclist and would love to be competitive at the elite level. However, it isn’t my life goal to race bikes for a living. Ever since I was 5 I’ve wanted to become a police officer and help those who needed it. After I gain valuable law enforcement experience I want to work for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. I still have that dream. To assist me with that I plan to major in Criminal Justice.”

Welcome to the team, Tyler!

Needless to say, we’re all very excited for a strong BMX and road campaign this spring.








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