This weekend the Mars Hill University Cycling Team traveled up and over the mountain to East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN, to compete in the team’s first mountain bike race of the season. Competing conference colleges such as Brevard, King, Clemson, Cumberland, Warren Wilson, and Lees-McRae all showed up in full force to kick off a great weekend. Lindsey Wilson from Columbia, Kentucky, came over from the Midwest Conference to ride down some hills and showcase their riders in the downhill and four-cross. With several national champions present from last year’s mountain bike and cyclocross nationals in DI and DII, the fields were stacked and the competition was intense.
Alan Hudson won every heat in the four-cross event and placed third in the final where he was up against three Lindsey Wilson riders. Alan shared his feelings on the race this weekend: “Racing went well during the ETSU event, especially considering the competition and it being our first race of the year. I hope that I can fair just as well as the rest of the season!”
Catherine Harnden, is looking strong after fully recovering from surgery to reconstruct an elbow this summer. She presented a strong run in the gravity, short track, and four-cross events. However, in the final event, she had an unfortunate accident on the track. “The season opener is always an exciting time and this year did not disappoint. Unfortunately for me, the excitement came in 4X where my bike got away from me when I mistimed a manual. Gravity did its work, leading to a small concussion and some lower back issues. However, the support systems here are unparalleled and acts such as my teammates bringing me gummy bears, our positive coaching staff, and working closely with our trainer, all leave me confident that I’ll be back on the bike in no time.”
Katie Baker, a sophomore and a new edition to the Mars Hill cycling team, accomplished a goal worth honoring: competing in AND finishing her very first cycling race. Katie quickly picked up road cycling within the first week of school and was quick to try her hardest at mountain bike racing this weekend. She borrowed equipment from teammates and signed up for the short track. Katie described her race in one simple sentence: “The hardest thing I’ve ever physically had to do and also the most inspiring for future goals; it was eye opening and strangely…fun!” Mars Hill is very excited to have Katie on the team this year!
The second day of racing had just one event, the cross country. There was a crash and couple of mechanicals on the men’s team, while Sarah Felpel represented the women’s team well. New rider, Cesar Reyes, a cross country runner for Mars Hill, also did well over the weekend, placing 4th in both the short track and cross country in men’s C racing.
Overall the team raced their best! Riders are gearing up for collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships, and they are all adjusting and fine tuning for the next six weeks of preparation.
This Friday, the team will be traveling to the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill, SC, for a track clinic. New editions to the team, John Butler and Mauro Rato, will compete in races on Friday night to complete their preparation for the Track National Championships the following week in Colorado Springs, CO.