July, August, and September in the Southeast seem to be a replay of Snowshoe one week, Beech the next, a couple weeks to collect yourself and take care of the necessities of life, then back on for two weeks to do it all over again. A week and half go it was Snowshoe and Chomolungma for 30,000 feet of descent. This past weekend it's a bit closer to home, Western North Carolina and Beech Mountain for the second of the three race series. What Really Goes on Behind These Doors?
- We paid a visit to Lees-McRae College in downtown Banner Elk, to see if we could get some insight into secrets that lay behind these doors. What did we find out? We were told if we spilled the beans, it would be the last frame we'd ever take. Besides, no one showed us the secret hand shake. Bike Anyone?
- Yes, this race report is DH coverage specific, and yes, Lees-McRae has their fair share of Collegiate DH contenders in their arsenal…….but, that's not the only venue they're into. You name it, they have riders competing in it. There were two aisles of bikes on the ground level with bikes also lining the upstairs storage. Pick your poison, DH, XC, AM, Roadie, it's all there. PJ = Coach, PJ = Wrench
- PJ Noto is not only an assistant coach with the Lees-McRae team, but also appeared to be the "team wrench" teaching the freshman the "right way" to put 'er together and get 'er race ready. They Call 'Em XC?
- We walked a bit of the Lees-McRae campus Cross Country trails, but to be honest we don't ever recall seeing anything that most would call your atypical XC trail. Specifically, the rock garden…. damn it was nasty! We were told that when competing schools come to the collegiate race held on campus, some leave in tears. Home court advantage is definitely a plus. The REAL Captain Phillips
- aka Cody Phillips (Felt/Kenda/Suntour), is a "transplant" from out west (at least for four years at Lees-McRae) and is one of the best riders we've recently encountered at local WNC events. The kid can kill it on a five inch bike and we've been saying get him an eight or ten inch bike then WATCH OUT! Urban on Campus
- After our time on the "XC" trail system, we scoured the campus looking for some urban fun. Before this shot Cody had never gone of the end, only the side……. nothing but butter.
It's All a Fog
- Fast forward just over 12 hours and it's time to get our DH on. With some overnight showers and the lifts opening at 10:00 things were slow to start…. myself included. I think everyone had the same approach, we all wanted to see if the gray skies above us would bring us some more wet stuff. The Report's Namesake
- We keep hearing "The weather's been beautiful", but we've been trying to figure out what planet those that made that statement were riding on. A little over a month ago, the Pro-GRT was nothing short of a monsoon and slopfest. This weekend was no different than any other typical Beech race weekend, overcast and in the clouds (this is 5506' mind you). So Simple
- So simple, yet so elegant, at least IMO. I told Michael Kane of GROM Racing that I snapped a sweet one of him during the Saturday morning practice session. This is one of my personal favs. Clear One Minute…..
- The above/below image go hand in hand and give you an idea of the ever changing fog on the mountain. Clear one minute and……. ….. Foggy the Next
- Give it another 5 minutes and it would change yet again. Slippy-Do
- Out in the open slope, conditions were really not too bad. The canopy compounded with the fog, on the other hand, was a nasty recipe locking moisture in place. This rider hangs it all out with one foot off through the corner. Wait... What? What's This?
- Could it be? At Beech? For real? Yeah, the sun showed its face for maybe 5 minutes……. we knew it was too good to be true. I'm Having a Zach-Attack!
- Zach Miller listens…. throwing style all weekend regardless of the run, conditions, or obstacles. Thanks dude! You Know You Wanna Be
- Down with the King. Matt King of Blue Ridge Gravity taking the high line in the upper part of the course during Saturday practice. Throughout the weekend the majority of riders seemed to choose the opposite inside/right line. Not sure why, it doesn't look that gnarly and is much much faster. It's Not a Race……
- Unless Ross Monckton is wearing lime green in some way, shape, or form. First time I recall, it was his "magic shoes" to match his SB-66. Must be since he's graduated to a 303WC, he's also graduated to a sleeveless shirt, in lime green of course. No, Not Dennis….. It's D. Ennis
- Dan Ennis is one of the Brevard College Cycling crew and considers Beech Mtn to be "home." Even with home court advantage, he's always fine tuning those lines looking to be as pinned as he can when it counts. Saturday late practice runs were no different. To Short Bike, Or Not to Short Bike
- Late afternoon Saturday, GROM Racing teammates Eric Vest and Michael Kane (pictured) were toying with the idea of laying down race runs on short travel bikes. I know Eric opted to go that route, but could he influence young Mr. Kane? I'm Having Another Zach-Attack!
- Simple equation, Style all day long = moar pics. Just ask Zach Miller if that equations works. I think it works pretty well with the afternoon sun on the lower machined part of the course.
It's Still All a Fog
Walker Makes An Apperance
- Walker Shaw after a great first season on the EWS with SRAM Troy Lee Racing, made the short trip from Brevard to the High Country to lay down his best time. Shown here catching up with former GROM Racing teammate Eric Vest. Jumping ahead a bit, no doubt favored to win, he had a bit of a bobble on the upper part of the course and it just wasn't to be. Good to see him back supporting the local scene on his old stomping ground. Hope we see more of you and Luca as well. Yeah, It's Like That…. Again
- Though the previous pic of Walker shows almost no signs of fog at the base of the resort, that was not the case at 5506'. It was as thick as it gets at the top of the world. Note, this is the raw image with no color correction or editing. Tower Abstract
- A unique perspective through the lift tower on the top of the course. Phil Kmetz gets some air over the rock just out of the start gate. Visibility
- Visibility wasn't too bad on the open slope, but in the canopy it was a guaranteed to be black as night. I either saw no goggles or heard "goggles suck" all weekend. Was I Right?
- Here we go, entry into the woods…….. Dark as night? What do you think? Natural Eye Apeture
- You had better check that speed just a bit to allow those eyes to adjust with their natural form of aperture. Sean Woerner ain't scared. Sir Michael Kane
- A bit younger and more American than his British counterpart (the real Sir Michael Caine) but I am willing argue he's got just as much prestige and tons more style. He finished second on the day in Juniors Cat 1. WTF DNF?
- Sean Peppin was looking good during morning race day practice, but recorded a DNF. Not sure what happened. I had heard from our race announcer, Will Washam, that a rider stopped in the rock garden and decided to do some spectating, not sure if that was accurate and Sean was that rider. Keepin It Upright
- After a bit of hiatus due to life getting in the way, it was good to see Jay Guidry back on track. A former teammate of mine in a past life with Billy Goat Bikes, he seems to always have what I would say "a bit of bad luck." I've seen him go through some really nasty spills and thrills. I believe he had a bit of bobble on his race run as he was a minute off the pace in Men 19‐29 Cat 1. D-the-Wayne Maynard
- Dwayne really is fun to watch…. he rides like he's on the edge with each and every run. No holds barred, no fear, all the time. People like you make it easy Dwayne! Thanks! He finished 2nd in Men 19‐29 Cat 1 with a 02:37.650 just behind Derek Maiden. A First Year GROMer
- First year GROM racer, but no stranger to the SE DH scene, Owen Witcher stepped it up just enough to claim the 18 and Under Category. GROM Racing has been and continues to be a racing machine, pumping them out left and right. AND HE's SAFE
- Sorry dude, I had to post this series of pics. The first being the best. Moving on Up
- Andrew Ferris looked clean in the rock garden and it must have been enough. He took the top spot in Men's 30‐39 Cat 2. Hutton's-A-Hauling
- Megan Hutton (pictured) and her man, Dan Ennis, were playing lead and follow all weekend. She had to settle for the 5th spot in the Women's Open Class. BTW, personally this is one of my fav shots of the day. I'm Gonna Run With the Big Boys
- Josh Rogers, mind you his race age is 16, told me early in the weekend he was making the personal choice to run Pro this weekend. Well, he didn't disappoint…. he ran just like a Pro when it counted and at the end of the day he stood on the second spot on the podium. Heck of a run dude! Keep that momentum going my friend! The Brothers Addair
- Kevin and Harley go with SE Regional DH races like peas and carrots. Kevin (pictured) had to settle for fourth, two spots behind his brother Harley in second in the Men 30‐39 Cat 1 category. The King for the Day
- Phil Kmetz was wearing green and orange….. that's right he's transplanted himself from the NE to the area and will be attending Lees-McRae for the next few years. The first I recall his name was a few years ago at Snowshoe after his first transplant (that I know of). He was FAST then, taking the top spot to a lot of people's surprise of "Who is this guy?" This weekend, he's FAST today… taking the top spot with a 02:23.460. Congrats!Complete Final Results
What's Next? Head up to the North Carolina high country Saturday and Sunday September 20th and 21st for the 3rd and final race of the Beech Mtn series. You can visit the Beech Mtn Website
for more info.