Track nats and tanning in Frisco

28 09 2012

By Sebastian Scherf

On Wednesday last week, the Mars Hill College Cycling Team left to Frisco Texas. The women’s team consisted of Sarah Felpel, Sarah Huber, and Catherine Harnden, and the men’s team included Tim Jenkinson, Robert Maitland Jones, Jeremiah Dyer, and Sebastian Scherf. After a long day of traveling, we arrived at our huge host mansion with a sweet pool, Jacuzzi, and fireplace. Thanks to Doug Clark for being a great host, lending us equipment and even cooking for us. Especially liked the pool.

The coed team sprint, unique to collegiate cycling and everyone’s favorite event.

However, we did not get a lot of time to tan, because our coach Hugh Moran wanted us to get some track practice in before nationals. The Superdrome is definitely one of the nicest tracks I have ever ridden on. It has super steep banking and is quite fast.  After a quick training, we went back to the house and prepared mentally for the races the next day.

The next day started with the 4k time trial for the men , and the 500m women’s time trial, followed by the 1k men’s time trial and the women’s 3k. Jeremiah Dyer ended up in eleventh, the team’s first top result at the 2012 collegiate track nationals.

The men’s team pursuit finished 7th averaging over 31 mph.

The second day of racing included the 200m sprint time trials flying start, men and women, and the points race qualifying heats and finals. Tim was our outstanding rider of the second day, qualified for both, the match sprints and the point race final. He did well in both races and scored lots of points for the Team Omnium.

Tim in the match sprints trying to outfox a true match sprinter.

The scratch race qualifying heats and finals, the coed Team Sprint, and the 4k team pursuit were the events of the last day. Tim qualified for the scratch race final with an impressive ride in his qualifying heat. Both the men and women 4k team pursuit were super fast, with the men averaging above 49 km/h, almost 31 mp/h. One of the highlights and my personal favorite event of the weekend was the coed team sprint: 2 girls and 4 men riders start at the same time, with everybody leading one lap until he drops out.

On the team omnium podium for 4th, our best finish ever at track nats.

Three long days of racing and tanning in the heat of Texas, we finally got rewarded with US Collegiate Cycling National Championship medals for the 4th place in the Team Omnium. So far, this is the best start of the Mars Hill College Cycling team into a season, so everybody on the team is quite excited about the numerous victories that will follow this great start. Of course a big thanks to our sponsors for making it all possible.

G-outing at Union College

17 09 2012

By Laura Rice

This weekend found the mountain bike team traveling to Barbourville, KY for Union College’s first home mountain bike race. We left Friday evening, taking time to make a pit stop at our favorite Asheville burrito joint, Neo Burrito! Properly fueled, we then hit the road for the 4 hour trip to our hotel. This trip marked a special event for the mountain bike girls, a room to ourselves! Needless to say, a lot of team bonding took place.

Starts for the XC and STXC were hectic.

Saturday morning brought an early start with short track kicking off with an 8:20 start for the first category. The short track provided a challenge right off the start with a long steep climb complete with a few switchbacks to make it even more technical. It then headed down the 2 cross (2X) course with a few rollers, table tops and huge banked curves thrown in before propelling the racer down and out the now famous G-Out (pronounced gee-oot) and down to the finish line. This was not the only time this weekend that we could encounter the climb and the fast downhill of the 2X course.

Short track proved to be a brutal test of speed and handling, efforts and recovery due to the rapid transition between climbing and descending. The Women’s A field spread out fairly quickly with Erica Zaveta of Brevard battling Union’s own Elisa Otter for the win. Kerry Warner of Lees McRae continued his reign of speed, taking an early lead in the Men’s A. In the end, Klara Rossouw and Tim Jenkinson both brought top 5 finishes in short track for Mars Hill, with Corey Davis finishing in the top ten.

Alan Hudson looked fastest in the 2X until a tree walked onto the course.

After a super short recovery, we hit the downhill (DH) to meet qualification requirements for Nationals. The new DH course was fairly smooth with a few rock effects and steep dirt drops. Catherine Hardin represented with an excellent 7th place finish, battling equipment issues and a crash. On the full suspension Scott provided to supplement the women’s DH equipment, Klara Rossouw rode to a 11th place finish, with Laura Rice immediately behind in 12th. The bike supplied by the generosity of Jay Hirst and Frank Mandaro at Beer City Bicycles in Asheville greatly improved the race experience for Klara and Laura this weekend. The men rounded out the Mars Hill showing in DH with Tim, Corey, Alan Hudson, Jake and Tyler Hutchinson also taking runs down the course.

Finishing up Saturdays’ schedule was 2X. 2X, a hybrid of dual slalom and 4 cross, sends two riders down the course at a time. After qualification runs, riders are bracketed due to their time and then ride in single elimination heats. They are not assigned lanes and can choose which line they take down the hill. Alan, Catherine, Klara, Laura and Tyler all represented Mars Hill. Unfortunately, a couple run-ins with a tree took Alan, a favorite to win, out of the competition in the first heat. Vengeance was served when the tree was removed the next day due to its dangerous location on the course. The rest of the Mars Hill team battled to remain in the competition, but sadly didn’t make it past the first round of elimination against intense competition from the other teams. However, Catherine and Klara had strong showings in the final results.

Saturday night we were rewarded with a team dinner out at Dino’s, an Italian restaurant in Corbin. The unlimited breadsticks and carb-loaded food was perfect after a long day of racing.

The new Scott gravity bike from Beer City Bicycles in Asheville.

Sunday’s only event was cross country. The cross country also incorporated the climb and sections of the 2X course, including the G-Out. The majority of the course was fun single track, zig-zaging up and down the mountain with dusty switchbacks and fast downhill sections. Due to the shorter course, the Men’s C and Women’s B ran before the upper categories. Sarah finished in 6th with a positive racing experience under her wheels. The Men’s A started strong and fast, followed by Men’s B and Women’s A. A wreck in the Women’s A start slowed down Catherine, and broke the field into pieces immediately. Klara and Laura avoided the tangle and headed up the climb. The laps were fast and furious as riders attacked the 4 mile course. Laura experienced her first DNF with a disappointing flat near the end of her first lap, and Catherine also DNF’d due to bee stings. Klara remained to battle it out to the finish. Tim, Corey and Jake remained strong and fast, with Tim taking a top 5 finish, and Corey in the top ten. Tyler also suffered a flat on his 2nd lap of the race, while Jake remained in the race to finish out the Mars Hill men’s results.

Tim rode to top placings in both the XC and STXC.

While the team faced some disappointing results due to mechanicals, trees and insects, the entire weekend was a success and gets us one step closer to Nationals in Angel Fire, NM. The next race on the agenda for Mars Hill Cycling is Track Nationals in Texas for the track team, followed by Brevard College’s mountain bike race in two weeks.

Thanks to Union College for hosting us this weekend! I have to give a shout out to Union Cycling Coach Peter Haile for constructing competition-level trails in just a few weeks. The cross country trails especially were exciting and fun to ride, and we won’t be forgetting that climb and the G-Out any time soon! A HUGE thank you to Hugh “Papa Bear” Moran for chauffeuring us to and fro, as well as organizing our travel, meal, and race plans! And as always, undying gratitude for the many sponsors who support the team.

Jorts and Cowbells at ETSU

10 09 2012

Catherine Harnden pens this week’s race report.

With the combination of jorts, cowbells, and an excellently hosted race by ETSU, Mars Hill’s MTB squad was guaranteed an epic weekend.  The season opener is always an exciting time as new riders are introduced to the much loved and mostly dreaded “omnium.” Meaning four events, two days.  Endurance racers were riding downhill, gravity riders found themselves racing up hills, and there were even a few “roadies” in the mix who seemed confused but happy.

Laura Rice raced a great 4X to finish 5th.

Mars Hill’s own Sarah Felpel raced for the first time ever this weekend and the smile never left her face.  Laura Rice looked smooth in her first 4x race ever and Alan Hudson, who went on to dominate the event, gave great advice and encouragement.  This weekend’s events were great fitness markers and our captains Klara Roussow and Tim Jenkinson had strong showings along with sophomore Corey Davis and freshman Jake Possinger.

It can be said that the most conference bonding occurs in the face of extreme weather and ridiculous climbs.  There was an abundance of both this weekend.  Saturday’s 4x was rescheduled to Sunday and a few riders decided to take advantage of the downpour by testing their inflatable dingy.

I also need to give shout-outs to a few others.  Those Warren-Wilson College ladies, who never quit in the Short Track Cross Country even after crashing into the gap jump’s trench, fondly nicknamed the alligator pit.  The Brevard gravity superhero that put on his fresh new kit for a six year old who declared him Captain America!  That Milligan rider who sang I Feel Pretty while trudging up a muddy slope in the XC race.  He continued to amaze me when I found him buried in shrubbery, off a cliff, still singing.

Alan Hudson knows gate.

On behalf of our whole team I’d like to send some healing vibes to Sam Cookson of Lees McRae College, say thank you to Coach Hugh for taking care of us, going above and beyond and hiking our bikes up for us in 4x, and thank you to the ETSU crew for some great races!  See you all next weekend up in Kentucky at Union College.

Pics from ETSU and more here:

Track Camp a Blast

5 09 2012

By Mikey Keith

Whoa, what a camp that was! I went to track camp last year, and it was awesome, but this year was totally different. First off, last year we were pretty much all novices. This year, it seemed like most of the team had experience on the track coming into the camp, which was awesome. Secondly, it felt like there were far more people there; both on our team and overall. And third, it didn’t dump it down like last year. I even got my tan on, ah yeah! After pretty much no summer since last August, I feel better looking a couple of shades darker. Plus a chance to even out my arm tan lines is never to be sniffed at….

What a motley crew indeed, in the best possible sense.

2012 saw the camp moved from Dick Lane in Atlanta to the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill, SC. This velodrome is a new installment, part of a greater plan to turn Rock Hill into a little sporting mecca. The velodrome itself is world class, and the plans to build a BMX track (London Olympic replica) and an mtb course are underway. I definitely felt stoked to be a part of it (albeit a small part) right at the beginning. What a fantastic venue and support staff! A definite thanks to Kyle, Steve, and everyone else who made it all go down like a well crafted beer. The team was especially stoked to hang out with Mars Hill alum Kyle Knott, who is the new program manager at the velodrome.

Freshman Sarah Felpel enjoying her first time on a velodrome.

Friday afternoon saw us pack up bikes, bags, loaner bikes, ourselves and finally Alan. The drive to Rock Hill was pretty chilled, no big deal. Tim, Jeremiah and Mait raced the local track races that night, with Tim and Jeremiah duking it out in the A race and Mait dishing out the pain in the B race. Overall, a pretty good showing by the Mars Hill boys! That night we rolled on out to Addy’s grandparents house in Charlotte (conveniently 20min away), where we were met with a fantastically warm welcome from Addy’s mum and stepdad. The supper was all laid and waiting for us to tuck in. So good to chow down on some home cooking again….needless to say, I didn’t move for the rest of the night!

Saturday woke up bright and early. Less than ideal, I am of the firm opinion that weekends are not for getting up early on…I’m going to have to get used to not having a little lie in! Soon though we were on our way back down to the velodrome to get started on some fixie riding! Not me though, I am currently designated media guy. A separated shoulder will do that to you….more on that later though. So whilst the newbies were being instructed on how they won’t slide down the banking and that track bikes have no brakes, the crafty vets were getting in some hot laps before pace lines and race practice began.

Some of the elite men warming up on day two.

The point of the whole camp is to teach new riders to track racing the basic rules and regulations of a velodrome and what you should (and more importantly, shouldn’t) do. This then qualifies them for a track racing license and an opportunity to race at Collegiate Nationals. Of course, you want as many track riders qualify for Nationals as possible, so you take as many as the budget allows. The first day of camp was all about training and practicing how to ride on a velodrome with others. It’s a lot harder than it sounds or looks when you first give it a go, trust me. We did have a crash which resulted in one intensely dislocated elbow, and a severe concussion. Four separate people, same crash. Two from Mars Hill but they lucked out and walked away relatively unscathed. Luckily, no lasting damage that we know of yet. Still scary though! Track racing is definitely not for the faint of heart!

The rest of the day saw us swimming and relaxing, trying to escape the fierce South Carolina heat! Saturday night Addy’s parents cooked us yet another fantastic meal, outdoing the efforts of the previous night. This has certainly set a high standard that the rest of the year is going to have to put effort into beating! I thought I was full after three plates, but I discovered that I did in fact have space left when the chocolate cake was brought out. And I didn’t even ride…..I’m going to use the excuse of excellent home cooking and stick to it!

Cooling off at the pool afterward. It was 97+ degrees at the track.

Sunday started with us somehow getting lost on the way to the velodrome. So much for the Charlotte local’s directions…Starbucks soon cheered us up though, even though the camp co-ordinators weren’t too impressed with our complete lack of punctuality. The day was designated to racing so that we could all qualify for track nationals in a few weeks time. That meant individual pursuit, team pursuit, team sprint, kilo, and flying 200m sprint. We obviously entered at least one rider in each individual event and a team into each team event. Nobody really cared about their results in terms of standings, but rather what their time was and how dialed their technique/strategy was.

Overall, I reckon the camp was a success and everyone learnt a massive amount whether or not they had experience. Very definitely living up to the team motto of Always Improving! And as always, there were plenty of people helping us this weekend. Thanks go out to the team at the Giordana Velodrome for putting on this camp and getting everyone qualified for nationals. Then to Addy’s family for taking us in, feeding and accommodating us, and generally helping in every single possible way. You guys made the weekend superb! Thanks to all the people who lent some team members track bikes so they could put wheels to concrete. Literally couldn’t compete without them. And of course our team sponsors, without whom we wouldn’t be on bikes at events like these in the first place!

Oh and for photos, head over to the team Facebook page, and while you’re there, give us a like! 🙂