Hudson joins coaching staff

15 10 2014

Pleased to announce another addition to our coaching staff. Alan Hudson will lead Mars Hill’s BMX team as a rider-coach overseeing training and coaching for BMX and other gated events like dual slalom and four-cross. Alan brings seventeen years of racing experience to the table, including nine as a professional, and has worked with many multi-national champions including: Dominique Daniels (5-time USA BMX Girl Pro Champion); Dani George (2011 USA BMX National Number One Girl and 2016 Olympic Hopeful); and countless others throughout various classifications and skill levels via clinics, camps, and demonstrations. Alan trains and coaches at the Weaverville BMX Track ten minutes from campus

Team scores bronze at track nats

1 10 2014

The MHU cycling team competed at its first national championship of the 2014-2015 school year last week, USA Cycling’s Collegiate National Track Championships, where we earned a third place in the team omnium. Along the way we set numerous team firsts and personal bests, including seven top tens in individual events.

By far our best track nats in the history of the program, we’re already planning and looking forward to next year’s event where we plan to contend for the gold. Here’s a recap of how it went:

Day 1: Sprints and Points Race Heats. John Croom and Josie Ritchie competed in the sprints. In the qualifying 200M time trial, Croom was sitting 2nd with an 11.8 after 40 heats. He ended up qualifying a strong 11th. Ritchie had the fastest time after 20 heats with a 13.8 and ended up qualifying 12th. Both won their first round match sprints, advancing to the evening’s 1/8 finals. In the evening session, Croom narrowly lost his round two sprint and would compete for 9-12 place, where he would win each successive round  over the next day to claim 9th place in the match sprints. Ritchie won her round two sprint and advanced to the quarterfinals. Her jump from BMX racing was blowing doors off.

In her first ride in the quarterfinals (best 2 out of 3) Ritchie outjumped a rider from Colorado Mesa University and and handily won. In the second ride, it was clear that CMU was trying to neutralize Ritchie’s jump by going early, but Ritchie reacted and they were together at the bell. Anticipating each other, both tried to jump first in turn one, with Ritchie slotting into the sprinter’s lane first with CMU moving down into the lane on top of her, forcing Ritchie off the track and continuing on to win the second ride. Immediately we protested the ride and after reviewing an iPhone video that demonstrated our case, we took the video to the chief referee. At stake was a podium at the national championships! After a lengthy review of the ride, officials decided to let the ride stand. In the final and deciding third ride, CMU got the jump on Ritchie and moved onto the semifinals. Ritchie would end up 8th in the sprint tournament, an impressive accomplishment for a freshman at her first track race ever.

In the first men’s points race heat, Corey Davis was 2nd and Jack Drake was 11th, both qualifying for Friday night’s final championship event. Hunter Resek and John Croom weren’t as fortunate, but Croom would go on to finish 3rd in Friday night’s minor finals.

Day 2: Individual Pursuits and Men’s Points Race Finals. In the morning session’s pursuits, we had four men and four women competing and nearly every rider set a personal best time. Davis posted a 5:04 to lead the men in the 4k event, with Croom a few seconds slower at 5:07. Alex Christofalos led the women with a 4:32 and Rachael Freeman had a 4:38 in the 3k event.

The men’s points race finals started very well for Davis, who picked up 11 points in the first few sprints and was sitting in 2nd place. When a breakaway group of four coalesced with another group of four, the group of eight had enough representation and power to lap the field. Davis missed the move but still ended up a strong 9th place. Drake placed 16th out of the 30 riders competing in the final.

Day 3: 1K and 500M Time Trials, Men’s Scratch Heats, and Team Pursuits. In the women’s 500M, Ritchie was a favorite based on her practice times of 39.5 seconds, which would guarantee a podium spot. Ritchie had a solid ride, posting a 40.25, which was good enough for first place and held up for some time. That time ended up being 6th place, one spot off the podium with 5th being a 40.24, less than one hundredth of a second faster. So close. Freeman was next for the team in 46.21 with Paige Shook right behind in 46.24.

In the men’s kilo, Croom crushed it with a 1:10.41 which initially put him in the top three. After all riders had gone, it was good enough, again, for 6th place with 5th and the podium at 1:10.29. Drake also had a strong early ride of 1:13.2 which would end up 24th out of 65 starters.

In the men’s scratch heats, Croom, Davis, and Drake all made it through to qualify for Sunday’s final championship race.

In the team pursuits, the women’s goal was to focus on technique, smooth exchanges, and set a PR, which they did by nearly 20 seconds! Watch out for them in the future as they are motivated to return next year at another level of experience. All of our women had never raced on the track before, so this was a big first step. In the men’s event, we were also focused on pacing and technique, but also knew that we could go quite fast. In practice, the fastest time the men had done was a 4:57. We put them on a 4:50 schedule, knowing that this would likely be good enough for a podium. They paced very well, posting negative splits for each kilometer, and finished with a 4:52, another PR and a ride that everyone was proud of.

Day 4: Mixed Team Sprint and Men’s Scratch Race Finals. The mixed team sprint is unique to collegiate cycling. It’s six laps of the track with a woman required to do at least two of those laps. We started strong and ended up with a 2:23, which eventually put us in 7th and very close to the podium. In the men’s scratch race finals, Davis was aggressive from the gun, making a leading group of four that included the race’s eventual winner. As the move got pulled back in the last few laps, we still had Davis and Drake in good position. Both had to avoid a crash in the last 200M with Drake able to finish a strong 6th and Davis in 10th.

When all the points were tallied, we ended up the 3rd DII team overall, a solid spot on the podium and our best finish at a track nationals ever. A large part of our renewed interest and success in track racing can be credited to newly hired track coach, Kyle Knott, who’s been working with the team since August. Knott will continue to be involved with the program as we continue to dedicate resources to our current track team and make an effort to recruit more track specialists so we can return to nationals next year aiming for stars and stripes jerseys.

Thanks to all of our SPONSORS who make these amazing lifetime experiences possible.

Halfway through season, mountain bike team on the rise

16 09 2014

The Mars Hill mountain bike team has been throwing it down over the past three race weekends: improving, gaining confidence, and making a name for themselves more so with every race.

We started out with a bit of a bumpy start at the Brevard race — adrenaline and excitement were at a high for some of the racers in the XC race, leading to a few gnarly crashes. Such can be expected for the first collegiate race of the season, not to mention the tough course of long climbs, and steep descents. Most of the riders finished around mid-pack in their races, ranging from A`s to C`s. The next day the team gave great efforts in the STXC with Hunter Resek placing 11th in the Men`s A, Rachael Freeman placing 9th in the Women`s A`s, and everyone else giving valiant efforts regardless of the mechanicals that inevitably caused three of our riders to DNF. It was a weekend full of excitement, fun, and learning experiences to say the least

A little wiser, and determined for improvement, the team competed at ETSU with Alex Christofalos tearing it up on the downhill and STXC course, Barry Wilcox taking the first big win in STXC for the team in the Men`s C`s, and Scott Davis taking 2nd in STXC in the Men`s B`s. The XC course, known for its reputation of DNF`s, did not disappoint as many riders on each of the teams fell victim to the rooty terrain. However, Barry Wilcox had a strong finish of 10th in the Men`s C`s, and Rachael Freeman powered through the familiar terrain to grab 7th place.

The trend of improvement did not stop with ETSU, with riders showing their potential at this race. Alan Hudson and Alex Christofalos showed off their cool downhill skills in the Men`s A`s and Women`s A`s. Later that day, Scott Davis, Alex Christofalos, and Rachael Freeman shredded the STXC course with aggressive starts and a little cyclocross skills action in the tricky/unrideable mud sections. Even in the rainy, monsoon like conditions, Alex and Rachael placed 7th and 8th in the Women`s A`s. The real excitement took place on Sunday during the XC race in which all of the Mars Hill riders that raced placed top 5 in their categories. Clemson was a course of long climbs and fast single track, and a whole lot of fun for the team. Rachael and Alex rode a strong A race to place 4th and 5th, while Scott placed 3rd in the Men`s B`s.

The team will switch to cyclocross racing at Kolo Bike Park this Saturday, and then a final dress rehearsal for track nats on Sunday at the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill. Next mountain bike race will be at Georgia Tech on October 4-5, then conference champs at Lees-McRae on October 12-13, capping the mountain bike season with nationals at Beech Mountain, NC, on October 24-26.

As always, a big thanks to our sponsors who help make this all happen.

— Rachael Freeman, MHU Cycling freshman

Knott joins coaching staff

3 07 2014

Kyle Knott joins the Mars Hill Cycling coaching staff this summer as the assistant coach responsible for track cycling. He will share his knowledge and experience from being the Programs Coordinator at the Giordana Velodrome and an elite racer on both the road and track. Knott is a Mars Hill graduate and member of the National Championship winning team in 2011 and was Mars Hill’s first national champion winning the criterium and individual omnium that year. Knott knows exactly what it takes to go from an underdog to the top step and looks forward to coaching the Mars Hill Cycling Team to both individual and team national titles in the future.

Knott’s quality over quantity coaching philosophy focuses on creating an atmosphere where riders can develop both on and off the bike to become better leaders in sport and life. He can be reached at

Welcome back to the team, Kyle!

Morgan joins BMX team

9 06 2014

We’re excited to announce the addition of Jason Morgan to our BMX team. Jason has won multiple Virginia state titles as a novice and expert in the NBL, making the mains as a novice at NBL grands in Louisville, KY. He followed that up with several appearances in the mains as an expert. After rehabilitating a knee injury, Jason is hungry to get back out on the track and compete for Mars Hill University. Welcome to the team, Jason!

ProGold products reviewed

27 05 2014

Here at Mars Hill University you never know the weather you’re going to get it.  As the saying goes, “Want the weather to change? Wait five minutes.” It could be March and 60 degrees outside on Mars Hill’s campus but 10 miles away at the top of a mountain pass it could be 45 degrees and raining. With such variations in weather conditions, it’s important to be able to easily maintain a clean bike and well-lubed drivetrain. You might have heard another saying, “A clean bike is a fast bike,” and this is so true. Not only does the act of cleaning and inspecting your bike regularly help reveal hidden mechanical issues that can be prevented ahead of race day, but tests have demonstrated that a clean and properly lubed chain can be several watts faster!

ProGold has many products that not only lube the chain but also clean the bike. The Mars Hill University Cycling team is fortunate to receive product support from ProGold Bikes, including bike cleaners, drivetrain degreasers, helmet deodorizers, and chain lubes. I personally like to use the Degreaser + Wash on my chain, leaving it perfectly clean without any excess black chain residue. Then I like to use the Foaming Citrus Degreaser to clean the cassette and derailleurs. If the cassette and derailleurs are really dirty and I don’t have much time, I like to use the Blast Off which will take most of dirt build up off in two quick sprays, leaving your cassette looking brand new.


After the drivetrain is all clean and dry, I like to lube the chain with their ProLink lube. If I know I’m likely to run into rain/dirt/mud on my ride, then I opt for the Xtreme lube since it handles these conditions better. The night before a race, I’ll finish my bike prep by wiping the frame down with the Bike Shine, which brings back the luster of a brand new bike. ProGold even has Helmet Cleaner and Deodorizer which really leaves the helmet clean and fresh, and we all know how sweaty and stinky helmets can get.  My overall favorite product is the ProLink lube just because it lasts longer than other lubes I’ve tried and the chain doesn’t instantly go black.  It’s very good about rejecting debris. If you haven’t tried ProGold products yet, you have yet to get the full experience of riding! To check out all ProGold has to offer please visit their website and ask for their products at your local bike shop.

– John Croom, Mars Hill team rider, class of 2015

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!