Marine veteran joins team for fall

26 05 2014

On this Memorial Day, we are very proud to announce the signing of Michael McLawhorn, who joins us after finishing a combat tour in Afghanistan, where he served as an infantry rifleman in the US Marine Corps. Micheal enlisted with the Marines after graduating high school and has served his country for the last five years. He hails from Hampton, Virginia.

Michael met his wife while she was serving in the Navy. She introduced him to the sport of cycling, and he was bitten by the bug. Last Christmas, they became proud parents to a baby girl. As a member of MHU’s cycling team, Michael is determined to reach his athletic potential in the sport. He will major in biology and follow the pre-med track, with plans to attend medical school after graduation. Welcome to the team, Michael!

Three more women join MHU for fall

22 05 2014

We’re excited to announce three more women joining our roster this fall. They will be a part of the largest incoming group of cyclists in the team’s history. Please welcome Rachael Freeman, Josie Ritchie, and Paige Shook to the team!

Cheered by fans, Rachael Freeman pedals to victory in Tennessee’s NICA league.

Rachael Freeman joins MHU from Fayetteville, Tennessee, and is a longtime cyclist with a competitive background that includes swimming, track, and cross country. She passed up a senior year with the swim team to give cycling her full attention, competing in NICA’s Tennessee High School Cycling League. She won the state mountain bike championships as well as first place overall in the series. In addition, Rachael won the state cyclocross championships in her category. Rachael will study graphic design at MHU. Welcome to the team, Rachael!

Josie Ritchie sheds the nearby Weaverville BMX track during a practice session.

Josie Ritchie started racing BMX when she was 10 years old and joins MHU from nearby Weaverville, NC. She is a constant winner on the BMX circuit, including multiple state championship titles, as well as the NBL Grands in 2011 when she was the 3rd ranked racer in the nation. Currently, Josie is ranked 8th in the nation in women’s 17-18 cruiser class while racing for the Doublecross Factory Team. Josie joins our growing BMX team and welcomes the opportunity to race multiple disciplines. Josie will study nursing and be a member of that program’s first incoming class of students. Welcome to the team, Josie!

Paige Shook translates a competitive running background into a cycling career at MHU.

Paige Shook, also from Weaverville, NC,  was introduced to cycling by her distance running coach, Dean Duncan, at North Buncombe High when she suffered an injury. A competitive runner for a number of years, Paige comes to cycling with an endurance background that positions her for a bright future with the team. She is driven to compete at the highest level possible and looks forward to racing multiple disciplines with a focus on road and cyclocross. Following a training regimen that would put many cycling pros to shame, we’re very excited to help Paige reach her cycling potential. Welcome to the team, Paige!

Stay tuned for additional announcements soon…

Road nats caps yearlong success

6 05 2014

Road nationals was held in Richmond on May 2-4 and was a test event for the 2015 UCI World Road Championships. Riders competed on the same courses that will be used for that event, which required shutting down the majority of downtown Richmond for three days. This road nats was the most professionally organized and executed collegiate event we’ve ever attended.

The individual and team time trials were on Friday. The course was two laps of a 9.6 mile downtown circuit that included 40 corners, roundabouts, and turnarounds, as well as a long section of brick pavers. Each individual racer and team had its own police escort. Strong winds, technical corners, and a short but sharp climb were the main obstacles. Our men’s TTT team (Tim, Jake, Chad, and Mauro) went off at 10:13am and after the first lap they were in 2nd place to Colorado Mesa University by 19 seconds. Unfortunately, we lost one rider in the first lap and would have to finish the race with only three riders, but the goal was a negative split for the second lap, hoping that CMU had perhaps started too fast and that we would make up the time needed to win. Our second lap was one second faster, but CMU managed to hold on to their 19 second lead for the win. Our time for the 19.2 mile course was 42:09 with CMU posting a 41:49. In the individual races, Hunter Resek and Catherine Harnden represented the team. Hunter finished in 24th and Catherine in 19th, both solid rides.

Saturday’s criterium was held on a 1 mile circuit that included 6 corners and a big hill on the back side, which came immediately after 4 tight turns in a row. The goal was to get up to the front and stay there since we anticipated that only a third of the starters would make it to the end. In the women’s race, Catherine did her best to negotiate a crash through the tight corners and finished 35th.

In the men’s race, all four riders made it to the front within the first 5 laps, but the effort to get there made it tough to stay there. Half way through, we only had Tim and Chad left in the front and rapidly dwindling group. Tim had the ride of a lifetime, using his cornering ability to create gaps and attack the field on consecutive laps up the hill. Eventually, he got away solo with Charlie Hough of Furman quickly joining him. Working together, they built up a lead of up to 22 seconds, which they maintained to the finish. Tim tried to ditch Charlie in the corners, but he caught back on at the top of the hill. He tried again in the last corner but was caught and passed in the final 200 meters and took home a hard-earned silver medal. Chad finished in the front group in 26th place. Only 28 riders out of 90 starters finished on the lead lap. Due to winning a number of points prime sprints, Tim was tied on points with Charlie for the individual omnium, a competition that the road race would decide.

As we’ve come to expect at nationals, Sunday’s road race was fraught with mechanicals and crashes. With a course similar to the time trials but with the addition of two cobbled sections–one a downhill screamer at 35+ mph, the other a 10% climb up Libby Hill–it was imperative to stay at the front. In the women’s race, Catherine had a good first lap, and her downhill  mountain biking skills made the cobbles an easy obstacle, but the hills took their toll and  she eventually finished a respectable 32nd. In the men’s race, the battle for position in the first lap brought us some bad luck: Chad had a mechanical that required service, Mauro fell in a crash near the front, John broke a carbon wheel on the cobbled descent, and Hunter couldn’t get back on the group after being held up by the crash. Only Tim came around that first lap in the front group, and we thought the race was effectively over for the rest of the team. However, Chad and Mauro found each other and started working with a group to chase back on. Starting nearly two minutes down on the front group, they put in an amazing effort to catch the lead group on lap three after two laps of all out chasing. Meanwhile, Tim was off the front in a two man break on lap two. The matches we were burning early would leave us with little firepower in the closing laps.

With two laps to go Mauro had a rear flat and couldn’t regain the front group. With one lap to go, Tim was off the back by a couple of minutes, leaving only Chad in a position to race for the top spots. As the race exploded into several small groups, Chad hung on for a very solid 20th place. Tim finished 36th and managed to hold on to a individual omnium podium spot in 5th. Overall, the team finished in 9th place at road nats and finished the year as the 3rd ranked DII team in the nation, the fourth year in a row that we’ve finished in the top three.

It was a great event with huge support from the city of Richmond and the 2015 World’s organizers. We’re already looking forward to next year’s road nationals, which will be near Mars Hill in Asheville, NC, with courses in Marshall and downtown Asheville only 10-20min from campus. For now, we’ll take a short break, focus on our graduating seniors (Tim and Catherine) and then start planning for next fall and the first big event of the year in Indianapolis, track nationals.

Thanks to all of our sponsors, supporters, and friends of Mars Hill Cycling. We couldn’t do it without you!

Beer City Bicycles
Industry Nine
Hincapie Sportswear
Kenda Tires
Neo Burrito
Hearn’s Cycling
Smith Optics
Raw Revolution
Kolo Bike Park
The Gear Attic
Asheville Pizza Co.

Erich Mesquita joins team for fall

24 04 2014

We’re excited to announce that Erich Mesquita Lima will join the team for fall. Erich is from Brazil and is an accomplished racer on the road, recently winning the overall and two stages at the Volta Ciclística Brasília. Erich has a passion for cycling that has been coached and mentored by his father, world and Latin American champions, and former professionals, including a teammate of the great Eddy Merckx. Off the bike, Erich is an excellent student and a recipient of MHU’s highest academic scholarship, exemplifying the type of well-rounded student-cyclist we seek to bring on board. Welcome to the team, Erich!

On the top step of the podium at last weekend’s Volta Ciclística Brasília.

At the start of his winning ITT ride at the Volta Ciclística Brasília.

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.


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
Smith Optics
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!