The USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships kicked off today at Sol Vista in Granby Colorado. Riders trickled in at all hours of the night from around the country. The organizers at Sol Vista had a treat for all the riders, adding features such as 6ft drop start gates and dragon backs (Originated from Super Cross) on the 4X track and a pro only downhill track featuring gaps that will make most riders think twice.
Many of the riders took it easy today trying to figure out lines on the DH and 4X courses. The event will be hosting some of the fastest riders in the United States this weekend, the grab for National Champ is anyone’s game.
Today was another beautiful day in Granby Colorado at Sol Vista Bike Park. Pro Practice was supposed to start at 9AM (MST) but was pushed back to 10:30 for minor track maintenance. The lift lines started to fill up while it came down to practice time. The pro men looked faster today after figuring out their lines. The Sol Vista sand definitely made for a loose dusty track (couldn’t see while I was shooting, too dusty), but didn’t seem to faze the riders. Luckily today the 30ft, 40ft, and 50ft (give or take) jumps didn’t take a toll on any riders. There were some good bar humps by Steve Wentz and Aaron Gwin and good styling by Kyle Strait and Ducan Riffle.
David Zeigman coming down for practice
Kyle Strait making it look easy all day
Duncan Riffle focused on one thing this weekend.
Griz hauling over the rock garden
Mike Kreger having fun as always.
First of Three doubles
Steve Wentz bar humping for Sol Vista Bike Park
Aaron Gwin styling it out haha.
After Pro DH practice the riders had a 2 hour break and then headed over to the mountain cross track. Many of the pros took it easy during practice, but still looking strong for tomorrow’s finals. Tomorrow’s finals will be held at night under the dark sky and bright generating lights. The title for U.S. National Champion Ship is up for grabs with no guarantee finalist because of the technicality of the track.
Eric Carter not having issues with the dragons back
Yeti boys checking out practice
16 Year old Mitch Ropelato looking like a contender this weekend
A Jamis rider taking line three of two to the finish
Griz looking comfortable on the 4X course
Chris Boice with the MILLION DOLLAR smile (quote by Mike Kreger haha)
P.S. I would like to congratulate all the CAT 2 and 3 Mountain Cross National Champions.
Another day down and one left to go. The day started out with a CAT 2/3 Downhill. Congratulations to all champions. Pro Downhill soon followed with practice going smoothly as ever. Riders were comfortable with their lines even though the Sol Vista sand made it loose and dusty.
After all the downhill races and practice were done for the day, CAT 1 and Pro men and women prepared for mountain cross finals underneath the lights. The riders worked their way up the mountain for a short practice, which was shortly followed by qualifying. The pro men mountain cross class was stacked with some of the best riders from around the country.
The USA Cycling officials decided to not allow the pro men to use the 6ft high start gate drop due do some circumstances (we'll leave it at that). Even with the change of the pro starting gate, qualifying began and 16 year old Mitch Ropelato qualified 1st in pro men and set the bar high. The other riders knew that the young gun rider had a lot of talent underneath his belt and he was not to be underestimated. Jill Kintner was also your woman’s number 1 qualifier followed by World Champ Melissa Buhl. Jill Kintner has been looking strong all weekend showing her strengths and her ability to jump the obstacles on the mountain cross course.
The pro qualifying was done and the results were out. All there was to do was wait for the sun to go down and the lights to come on. Pro Mountain cross was set to start promptly at 8:30PM and the riders waited anxiously at the top of the hill to get the show on the road. When the time came to and the gate dropped it was game time for the riders. The track was nice and loose making falling a higher percentage. The passing was rough and there was no real clean way to pass. You had to get nice, close and have some balls to attempt a pass. The riders did whatever it took to win. Some were successful and many not so lucky. Even though it was freezing outside, the crowd gave their support and were going crazy during 4X finals thanks to the riders putting in great efforts.
Overall the night went well. No one got hurt and the riders put on a great show.
In pro men and women Mitch Ropelato and Jill Kintner are your new 2009 U.S. National Cycling Champions in Mountain Cross. With another day down there is one more to go with pro downhill tomorrow.
Sunday morning came quick this weekend and it was a quite one. Pro qualifying and finals were soon to come and the riders were focused on only one goal. The weather looked questionable with heavy grey clouds coming in with a possibility of a down poor. Many hoped for some rain to help with the track conditions but soon the clouds opened up right when qualifying was to begin.
I soon worked my way up to the top of the mountain just before qualifying. When I arrived to the top of the mountain many of the riders kept to themselves and only a few talked to one another. Qualifying started promptly at 11:30AM and 120 pro men were registered to race. After an hour and half of qualifying the results were in. Pro Woman Qualifying:
2. Rachel Bauer
3. Katie Holden
4. Kathy Pruitt
5. Lisa Myklak
6. Darian Harvey
7. Jacqueline Harmony
8. Stephanie Leonard
9. Jennifer Whale
10. Michelle C Rivera
Pro Men Qualifying:
1. Aaron Gwin
2. Duncan Riffle
3. John Sawnguen
4. Joey Schusler
5. Kyle Strait
6. Geritt Beytagh
7. Evan Turpen
8. Curtis Keene
9. Shaun Palmer
10. Luke Strobel
At 1:30PM the lift lines started to get long with pro men and women riders making their way to the top of the mountain. Soon after spectators worked their way up the mountain to claim their spot on the hill. Many made their way to the 50+ jump. Pro women were set to go first and when the clock struck 2PM the first rider was on course. Jennifer Wolf was the first pro woman down the hill, and then soon it trickled down and down. Many of the women riders are jumping the big 30ft, 40ft, and 50+ foot jumps. Which was going to be the big play in the top pro women results.
After the pro women was done the pro men were now on course. 91 riders were set to go for finals and all of them had one thing in mind. The pro men were looking fast but when the top 20 started to trickle the times started to get faster. The track definitely took its toll on some riders with few falling on course, on the big jump or just a flat tire. Duncan Riffle was your second place qualifier and after his final run he was now sitting in the hot seat, which JD Swanguen was in right before Duncan Riffle put in a clean run. Now every one waits for the last rider to come down. The crowed started to go crazy when Aaron Gwin came out on to the bottom section. They were screaming for the talented young American rider and he was looking fast and pinned, but was it good enough?
The results are official and the 2009 U.S. National Cycling Championships in pro downhill go to Melissa Buhl and Aaron Gwin. Congratulations to them and all the riders who participated.
Stoked and calling friends about the win!
The day was over and it was time to pack up my things and head home. I had a long 8 hours home and it was close to 5PM. Congratulations to all 2009 champs and till next year.Pro Men Results
1 Aaron Gwin 02:11.7 Yeti Fox Factory
2 Duncan Riffle 02:13.9 DRR / Giantnerd
3 John Swanguen 02:15.7 Intnese/Troy Lee Designs/ODI/Fox Racing
4 Cody Warren 02:16.9 Specialized Team America
5 Joey Schusler 02:16.9 Yeti Fox National
6 Geritt Beytagh 02:16.9 Morewood Bikes USA
7 Luke Strobel 02:17.6 Maxxis / Rocky Mountain
8 Kyle Strait 02:18.0 Specialized Team America
9 Michael Sylvestri 02:18.0 Santa Cruz Allride Academy
10 Curtis Keene 02:18.5 Specialized / Sram
11 Scott Papola 02:19.0
12 Shaun Palmer 02:19.9 Intense/SRAM/Monster
13 Cole Bangert 02:21.6 Sram / Specialized
14 Mark Clemens 02:22.3
15 Jason Memmelaar 02:22.7
16 Will Collins 02:23.0 Jett MTB
17 Kain Leonard 02:23.5 Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team/TLD
18 Mike Kreger 02:24.0 Sol Vista Bike Park
19 Ryan Sutton 02:24.1 Me
20 Sean McClendon 02:24.1 X-Fusion/Intense
Pro Women Results:
1 Melissa Buhl 02:41.1 KHS Bicycles
2 Kathy Pruitt 02:41.2 Jamis
3 Lisa Myklak 02:47.8 Fox Racing Shox
4 Jacqueline Harmony 02:52.6 Vixen Racing/Loeka/All Mountain Cyclery/
5 Katie Holden 02:55.3 Specialized
6 Darian Harvey 02:59.9 Cannondale Factory Racing
7 Rachel Bauer 03:01.1 Banshee / Poison Spider Bikes
8 Jennifer Wolf 03:19.0 Vixen Racing
9 Jennifer Whalen 03:19.3 Jenxracer.com
10 Stephanie Leonard 03:21.7 Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team
11 Julie Olsen 03:53.1 Recycle Ski and Sport / Standard Process
12 Connie Misket 03:58.7 Velo Bella Ellsworth
13 C Michelle Rivera 04:11.9 Steven K Sports and Design
View Long's US National Album Here.
Talking about what it takes to win, enter the new guard.