Once again, Windrock Bike Park plays host to the opening of the US Pro GRT series, and as in years past, has attracted a star-studded list of international riders. With the first World Cup just over a month away and quality pre-season races few and far between, riders from across the globe have started to make the trek each season to ride the rocks, ruts, and steep off cambers of Windrock. And with lots of riders on completely new bikes or new suspension equipment, it's a great venue to get in some testing and tuning. So much so that SRAM have had their entire gravity roster of DH and EWS riders here all week for a testing and set up camp.
The track itself has not changed too much from previous years. Just a few catch berms here and there to help keep things flowing and some slightly re-taped corners. Other than that, it is business as usual...other than the weather, of course. The track was dry and fast when riders got their first glimpse of it on Thursday, but by Friday's training and qualifying, things had turned downright sloppy. A steady drizzle of rain fell throughout the day, only pausing just long enough to start turning the slick mud into sticky peanut butter. With rain coming and going, some riders qualified with the track looking more like a dirty river of water than a mud bog, while others really had to manage some real nasty slop.
It's hard to tell if the weather was a factor or not, but regardless, it's safe to say that newcomer Ethan Shandro threw down an amazing run to not only win the junior race but also post the fastest time of the day. It will be interesting to see where he finishes tomorrow where we hope for a more consistent day (of constant rain, rather than so on and off). Ethan's Trek Factory Racing teammate Charlie Harrison took top honors in the men's race just ahead of Loris Vergier. Neko Mulally rounded out the top three while in the women's qualifying it would be Frida Roenning who would crush all challengers by nearly 40 seconds.
Tomorrow is when it really counts though, and with heavy rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, it's going to be a wild day at the rock!