Fun day of tough racing at Mars Hill Cross

5 12 2011

We had a great race on Saturday. We had beautiful weather and a solid turnout. Thanks to the sponsors and participants who supported our race. Families, college kids, and hecklers added to the fun. The highlight of the day, as usual, was the kids race! But the competition was intense throughout the day; everyone had their eyes on winning the Industry Nine goblets we gave as trophies. The collegiate fields contained the strongest riders in the Southeastern Conference, one reigning national champion (Kimberly Flynn of UT-Chattanooga) and several who seem headed for podiums at nationals in January. The elite men’s and women’s races were stacked with top regional talent, with Meghan Korol and Eric Muehl both proving themselves worthy champions on a very challenging course.

The highlight of the day: the kids race!

We’ll see everyone again next year . Results are HERE, and below is a report from Mars Hill’s Mikey Keith:

Mars Hill and Lees-McRae CX races

This weekend has been pretty intense. Yesterday was our home race, and then today was conference finals at Lees-McRae. Not only was the racing itself intense, but we have had like no time to rest the whole weekend. Talk about knackered…

Yesterday we got up at about 5.30 to start marking out our course. Unfortunately we can’t mark out our course beforehand, because our posts and tape and stuff will most likely grow a pair of legs and go walking…so getting up real early, in the pitch dark, to set up everything was the only option. Nevertheless, a few hours later, we had it all done up no problem. Personally, I didn’t think we were going to make it in time, but then again I have never made a cyclocross course before yesterday. As 10am rolled around, along with the collegiate racing, everything was primed and ready to go.

Tim Jenkinson and Corey Davis in the men's collegiate A race. Photo courtesy of Mike Thornhill.

The races (men A, men B, and women) were spread out, about 1min apart, so everyone could be on the course at once. Not only did this save a bunch of time, but it was also great for spectators. No matter where they were on the course, there were people to support/heckle and they could get their fill of ‘cross racing. We had Tim, Corey and Mike racing men A, and Laura and Steph repping in the women’s race. Tim had a terrible start, not his usual hole-shot shenanigans, but quickly made it up due to his knowledge of the home course and mad skills on a bike. I think he made like ten wheels in about 50m…baller. Corey jumped on his wheel and followed his every move. Not a shabby start for the guys! The race quickly broke up though. People described our course as world class and really tough. Always a bonus to hear that about the races we put on! Two LMC guys got off the front, with two more chasing them. Then in the third group was Tim, Corey and a Cumberland racer. Corey made a bit of a stuff up in the sandpit, and got dropped. Tim quickly dropped the Cumberland racer and then the positions were set until the finish. Tim came in fifth, Corey got seventh, and Mike came in at 12th. Definitely not a bad day of racing, considering the tough course and really fast competition out there. Everyone brought their A game, it was madness….

Elite men's podium: Eric Muehl in 1st, Scott Frederick in 2nd, and Joseph Welsh in 3rd.

Then after the collegiate racing, we hosted USAC races for the open public. Last year was pretty good, but this year we almost doubled the amount of entries. Great success! This year, there was some serious competition out there. I think it was for our awesome trophies…we got hold of Industry9, and got 24 hub shells from them, to turn into trophy cups. A hot commodity, and certainly hard fought for! My personal favourite win of the day, goes to my friend/teammate, Maitland “sandbagger” Jones. He is a cat 2 on the road, but has never ridden ‘cross before so he raced cat 4. His skills are decent, thanks to his mountain biking, and he is real strong cos of his road racing…so basically, he was outclassing everyone else on the startline by a mile. Except two fellow roadie sandbaggers…Codey and Ox are cat 1 on the road, so they are arguably bigger sandbaggers. Except, as well put by my friend Kyle, they aren’t really sandbaggers cos they actually suck at ‘cross. And they proved it! Mait would lose time on the climbs and straightaways, but then Ox would wreck himself with much enthusiasm in the woods and on the downhills and eventually he cased it so hard in the sandpit (he went arse over tit), that Mait had a clear run in for first place and his coveted trophy. It was possibly the best race I have ever seen, cos we were all out there cheering Mait on and heckling everyone else as much as humanly possible, all while laughing at the fact these guys might be pro one day on the road, but there they were racing the lowest category at ‘cross…it was awesome! Anyway, Mait won, even if it was the most hardcore sandbagging I have ever seen in my life. Epic.

Later that evening, one of our Industry Nine trophies helps celebrate a well-earned victory.

Today however, it was a tad more serious. Conference Champs at Lees-McRae. Tim, Corey and Mike went out today to see what they could do. Unfortunately, Tim flatted out starting his second lap and didn’t have spare wheels. Corey finished fifth and the second D2 guy over the line. Sick race by him, depsite crashing and having a mechanical. Showing some great form for Nationals, no doubt. Mike had a rough time of it out there, because essentially the course was a MTB course, not a cross course. Mike himself says he needs to work on his mud/technical riding, so this course was not his cup of tea. But he went on to finish strong, so the determination is there to kick it at Nationals. It’s gonna be awesome! The course was pretty brutal, being super long, covered in ice and mud/water and the technical level was pretty high. Or so I hear. I was busy throwing snowballs at the last placed rider and having too much fun. This whole supporting business isn’t too bad hey. I would still rather punish myself on the bike in the snow though…

But today showed the last day of collegiate cx racing for the year before Nationals. Now it’s time to put our heads down, study for finals, smash the exams and then it’s two weeks of summer sun in South Africa for me, until I head back to the U S of A. Next stop on the cycling scene, Madison Wisconsin for the 2011/12 collegiate Cyclocross National Championships!