Inside the race by Nathan Hake

28 10 2015

nate mtb nats

This past weekend was Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals, held in Snowshoe, West Virginia. The event lasted three days, Friday through Sunday, but most teams had already arrived by Thursday afternoon so as to have time to pre-ride the courses. It took us roughly six hours to arrive at Snowshoe and we were settled in to our condo by 3:00 pm. Snowshoe was a gorgeous venue that offered breathtaking views on either side of the mountain as well as offer challenging, well made trails.

Friday morning was our first race, Short Track. The short track course was a fast two minute loop that took us through the village, down a dirt road, and ended with a short, punchy climb to the finish. With over 40 men in the race, the first 10 minutes were crucial to survive so as not to be pulled. At the start, I was in the third row and did not have much room to move up. Once the race started it was non-stop sprinting for the first few laps until things settled in and I was unfortunately caught in the back. After ten minutes of racing, I had started slowly passing people one at a time and moving up in the field. At the 16 minute mark, I was pulled from the race and the leaders went by shortly after that. I ended up getting 23rd overall which I was happy with seeing as it is my year racing collegiate as well as knowing I can move up next year and do better.

Josie Ritchie National Champion DII Dual Slalom, Team grabs 7th!!

28 10 2015

josie mtb national champ

Snowshoe, West Virginia October 23-25th

The team of Josie Ritchie, Alex Christofalos, Nathan Hake and Hunter Resek represented Mars Hill University at the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships. Day one kicked off with both the men’s and women’s short track racing. The men hit the very quick half pavement half single track loop first with Hunter Resek leading the charge into turn one. Hunter was able to make the early selection of 7 while Nathan put on the massive battle working his way up after a mid-pack start. When it was all said and done Hunter held on for 7th with Nathan having a strong first appearance finish in 23rd. Alex was up next, with a bit of a bobble off the start caused by another rider she had her work cut out for herself and fought every second crawling her way back up inside the top ten and finished 8th on the day.

Day two led to the men’s and women’s cross country racing. The challenging loop was sure to prove that the strongest would win. Like day one the men raced first with Hunter and Nathan both having great starts and rode smart and tough for 9th (Hunter) and 29th (Nathan) The women’s race started shortly after and strung out almost from the gun making it a mental game to keep pushing for any and all places up the trail. Alex showed her power and held on to round out the top ten in 10th place.

Day three would wrap up the contest with the team relay and the dual slalom events. First up was the team relay consisting on Hunter (lap 1), Alex (lap 2 and 4), Nathan (lap 3). Hunter helped the team with a great start and came into the first exchange with the top 5 teams. Alex blasted her first lap keeping the team within striking distance. Nathan found fresh legs out there on lap 3 and passed every team but King in first to send Alex out for the last lap sitting in second. With it being her second lap of the race she felt the first effort and rode her heart out to hold on for 4th place. With a great team result in the relay the team was pumped to cheer on Josie in the final event of the weekend in the dual slalom. With rain overnight the ground was left wet but that didn’t stop Josie. After qualifications she was ranked #1 and in the heat runs that afternoon she proved why. She won every single run from start to finish all the way into the finals. In the finals she was up against Kaysee Armstrong of King University. The first run of differential (meaning time gaps are based on how much time is between 1st and 2nd once the 1st rider crosses the finish line) Josie went up 1.15sec’s over Kaysee after run one, run two went to Kaysee by half a bike length and since she didn’t beat Josie by over the 1.15sec she was down Josie won the National Title.

After the 3 days of competition the team held on to 7th in the team omnium. The team showed great sportsmanship and teamwork battling schools with more numbers and still racing and placing both individually and team wise at a national level and with yet another National Champion! Next Up cyclo-cross, please stay tuned for more updates and a new “inside collegiate cycling” segments written by Mars Hill University cyclist. Follow us on facebook and instagram @marshillcycling.

Josie Ritchie wins National title in women’s 500m TT, team brings home bronze!!!

28 09 2015

track teamjosie

Colorado Springs, CO Collegiate Track National Championships September 17-19th 2015

The team of Alex Christofalos, Josie Ritchie and John Croom opened the event on Thursday with Josie Ritchie racing in the women’s Sprints. She faced very experienced and fast girls all morning in qualifying heats and made it all the way to her quarterfinal ride where she was just edged out and missed the cut for the podium races. She made it into the 5-8th place final that was to be held the next evening where she placed 8th.

Friday kicked off with wind gusting upwards of 30mhp and temps in the mid to upper 40’s. But the team was there to race and very pumped to get on the track and show what they’ve worked all year towards. The morning kicked off with Alex Christofalos in the women’s individual pursuit 3k, she battled with everything she had and was able to lock down the 22nd place finish in a time of 4:24.486. Next up was John Croom in the men’s individual pursuit 4k. After a fast start he found his rhythm and just missed out on the podium with a 6th place finish in the time off 4:47.216. Later on that evening the men’s and women’s points race took place. In a large 30 rider field Alex Christofolas rode a great race and ended up in 16th place to round out a great day of racing by all.

Saturday was the third and final day of racing with the men’s 1k TT and women’s 500m TT as well as men’s and women’s scratch racing. John Croom was ready to go for his 1k and rode amazing effort that landed him on his first collegiate national championship podium in a personal best time of 1:06.763 good enough to take the 4th place spot. Next up was Josie Ritchie in the women’s 500m TT. In the very last heat she rode out of her mind and took the win and her first ever track national championship title in the time of 37.583 seconds. But even with all the great results that far in the day, the competition wasn’t done yet with both the men’s and women’s scratch races still to run. In the women’s event Alex Christofolas was able to muscle her way around the large field and pulled down the 14th place with Josie Ritchie claiming the 34th position. Our last event for the 3 days was with John Croom in the men’s scratch race. He rode a brilliant race and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and was pushed up track and unable to make the final move and ended up placing 10th out of the 45 rider field.

After three days of action packed racing it was time to total up the team scores for the event. Coming in with only three riders we knew that it would take a complete effort to pull on a team medal when teams we compete against bring 10-20 riders and race every event. But with that being said and against all odds we brought home the bronze medal in the division 2 team classification. All in all the team had 5 top 15 places, 2 national championship individual medals, 1 individual national champion and a 3rd place team medal. Many lessons were learned and once in a lifetime experiences had, the season ended on an amazing note and excitement for next year already growing.

Fall 2015 Academic All-Stars

3 03 2016

Congratulations to John Croom (Sr.) Track and Josie Ritchie (So.) Track and Mountain for making the USA Cycling Academic All-Stars list. For athletes to qualify for this honor they must compete at a National Championship during said semester and maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Heaton, Ritchie Win BMX Team National Championship

8 02 2016


Louisville, KY February 5-7th The team of Cavin Heaton (Fr.) and Josie Ritchie (So.) Took home the second consecutive DII BMX Team National Championship Title. After two days of very competitive collegiate racing the pair held on to the top spot, bring home yet another stars and strips jersey for the Mars Hill University Lions.

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
The Gear Attic
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!