Time to Rumble at the USNWC

Jan 15, 2014
by Jay Schultz  

Gone are the of 12 million gallons of water, rafts, kayaks, and water babies. What’s left? A mixture of coarse granular material with a matrix of cement, a.k.a., A Concrete Jungle…… It's Time to Rumble! After a month of social media skepticism and hearing everything from “They wanna do what?”, “Urban DH? At the USNWC? Really?”, “What the heck can they really do?”, “No way”…… I think we can speak for all those that might have had the same thought, but came to lay down some laps. The U.S. National Whitewater Center hit it out of the park. It was a friggin blast!

MTB racing is not the first thing that comes to mind when you see this sign, but you would be wrong. The USNWC is a non-profit and actually has more than 20 events on their annual schedule, that’s pretty much something going on every two weeks. Everything from XC racing, whitewater slalom and time trials, 5Ks, 10Ks, and now, expanding their portfolio further, “Urban Concrete DH.”

There’s lots to keep you occupied….. a total of 400 acres with everything from a climbing center, adventure course, canopy tours, 20 miles of XC trails, an outfitter store for those things you don’t already have or can’t live without, some eats and beverages, you name it, they've got it covered.

Burn that moisture right out of that wood. Originally on the docket for Saturday, the staff had to change the plans and push the event one day out to Sunday. Mother Nature decided to bring more than 2.5 inches of rain to the area on Saturday, which resulted in scramble mode with lots of extra unplanned manpower and ton of pre-race prep work. It also forced the staff to make the decision to cut the course in half. Unfortunately it just wasn’t possible to service the course to get rid of the standing water and algae residue in time for a full day of racing.

Practice was initially planned for 10:30, and leading up to the witching hour there were not less than a dozen crew members doing everything they could get rid of the last remaining transposed algae remains and trying to dry out the waterlogged wood features as best as they could. Conditions would remain slick for a few hours until the sun put the track into over-dry. Big thank you for those that worked running the pumps 24-7 while Mother Nature worked against them trying to fill 'em right back up.

As the crew put the final touches on getting the course rideable, riders were looking to other parts of the facility to get the blood flowing in those legs and loosen up the rest of the body up. Concrete over here, concrete over there, plenty surface area to choose from. This one happens to be this photog's fav shot from the weekend.

One of the two walkover bridges was good spot to see pretty much everything and a spectator viewing favorite spot all day.

Local Charlottean Zach Slaybaugh rides under the walkover bridge. The Men’s DH was an open class and with all the talent that made it out, it was hard to stay competitive. Zach finished 36 out of 66.

Round the final corner and the finish line was right in sight, just under the second walkover bridge into what on any other given day, is the retention pool for the whitewater folks.

Laying down the practice laps, you got to see who was pinned. All bets were on a battle between TWR's Neko Mulally, Chris Herndon (Nekos’ coach), former NatChamp Geritt Beytagh, Pro Jeff Lenosky (Giant), with a few local wild cards giving it everything they had. Geritt’s pinned riding the channel wall……. Run one = broken chain. I swear that boy likes to break sh&t, seems to happen more often than not. Run two = he couldn’t find it in the gasser and had to settle for the second spot.

Giant’s Jeff Lenosky, another big name in the industry, made it out to the Rumble. I think we were all stoked to see so many big names make a showing at a Grassroots event. He finished just off the podium in P4. Jeff is a heck of a nice guy. Nice to finally meet you dude!

Matthew Browne over one of the small drops on course. He finished 14th overall.

Frankie Rodriguez, dirt jumper by day, one of the surrogate Dirt Passion crew, and trail crew for UNCC’s Fruit Trails, probably should have been spending time in the library writing a paper or study for a upcoming test…… “Screw that, I am playin' on my bi-cycle!” Good choice, he finished 2nd in Men’s Beginners.

Jacob Randolph finished 64th out of 66.

Neko = Pinned. What else is there to say?

Ian Barrone with one out. This was probably the slickest spot on course, sure seemed to be early on as riders figured out exactly how to attack the course. Seems the algae was grown right into the concrete and no matter what you did, it seemed to boil out of the pours of the concrete. Ian did take the top spot in Men’s Beginners with a 0:52.4. Not too shabby mate!

If you had the speed and dared, you could gap the first feature on course. But make a mistake, land off balance or too close to the edge of that slick/soaked wood, you’d end up in the drink. Though that drink was only about 6 inches of water, but had a nasty algae base layer waiting to claim it's victims.

The 39th spot in Men’s open? Local Alex Daskalow.

Matt Casto tucking and pumping for as much speed as he can muster. Green Yeti shirt….. see I remembered. He took 32nd in Men’s Open.

Shawn Kane rounded out the top ten in Men’s Open.

Just a handful of the ladies showed up. Lauren McDonald has the face of focus. She’d take the bronze out of the five women racers that give 'er a go.

Bruce Lockhart, Chainsmoke Racing, made the 4.5 hour trip to get out of the cold and snow in Virginia. Bruce is a regular on the podium in the “OId Man” class at each of the Snowshoe and Beech DHseries. He was hard pressed to pull that off this weekend, with the class being open, damn youngins are just too fast.

Rumble in the Concrete Jungle
Spending the winter months getting in some warmer weather training in WNC, great to see Neko Mulally and a couple of other World Class riders out for a sunny Charlotte afternoon. I couldn’t count the “Damn he’s flying” comments as I Iistened to the spectators that weren’t familiar with the TWR's racers level of skill. At the end of the day, Neko took the top spot (0:45.5) over another former #NatChamp Geritt Beytagh (0:45.9), and in third, his coach Chris Herndon (0:47.2).

Round 2 for the day was a Short Track race….. hey, you can’t have a race day without a little lycra. Around the channel, then single file into the channel to complete a lap. As many laps as you can put down in 45 minutes.

The first lap in the channel was an interesting one. Most of the obstacles would only allow a single file attack and you know how competitive people can get. The boys that lead lap one are pictured above. Roughly 40 minutes later, it would be James Haycraft with 14 laps 39:12.4 in the top spot, Jimmy Awad (known to shred some real DH racing in his own right) with 14 laps 39:12.7, and Rusty Bryson with 14 laps 39:29.3. Close finish between one and two, James and Jimmy.

More single file with the boys in the back. Take it easy folks or otherwise you’d be introduced to Mr. Road Rash.

The final corner was the place to be. 90% of the crowd parked it right here for the duration of the day….. Oh, then there’s the heckle crew! (next photos).

For whatever reason, the spectators turned up the “Heckle Fest” several notches for the short track race after the "quiet" (in comparison) urban DH runs. The more you did, the louder and louder they got. This crew definitely took the award for the loudest bunch of the day……. makes everything so much more fun. Props guys!

Final Short Track Results
Final DH Results

To simply sum it up.........for the first annual, Well Played USNWC!, Well Played!



  • + 5
 For those that rode/raced, the USNWC staff is looking for feedback. Short of trashing the place and their efforts which I think would be unwarranted, if you have feedback, let them know. The fact that they are even interested says a lot about their commitment to this kind of event. They are watching this article.
  • + 4
 The Rumble in the Concrete Jungle was superb for the first ever event of its type being ran by the USNWC.
You guys did great with the track prep and the layout was pretty sweet. I had way more fun than I expected!
Thanks for letting my BMX buddies and I jib around in the banks after; so so much fun!

Also thanks Jay for the pictures and awesome description!

Bikes > Class any day!!!
  • + 2
 This is how the sport grows , by putting events like this on May not be a true Dh course but the fact that they took time an effort To put this on is great , I'm sure it will be more and more challenging next year , other venues should take a page from this
  • + 5
 mmmm, the Heckle Crew...we know those guys, wait till the next event to see what their about. Meanwhile, catch out their grinding at many of the region trails. Awesome event USNWC.....
  • + 2
 too bad yall couldn't make it out
  • + 3
 Great write up! I wasn't too sure about the course when I got there but after the first practice run it had me grinning from ear to ear, I'll definitely be there next year too. Any longer of a course and I feel it wouldn't have been as fun, just my opinion though.
  • + 3
 And thanks gojammedia for the picture too!
  • + 1
 Which pic is you my good man.
  • + 1
 19th picture down, just below Neko!
  • + 2
 So you got first in beginner, that's awesome man!
  • + 3
 Such a fun day. Props to everybody who worked to get the course ready. Me and Frankie showed up around 8:30 and it looked like a bust, but the crew threw together a pretty awesome day of riding! And hopefully everybody took notes on heckling from our crew at "heckler's hip" haha. We will see next year.
  • + 4
 You guys rocked it! Every race needs a crew half as good as yours.
  • + 2
 Great job Lee Flythe ...I rode up on my road bike and was like , damnit I should have raced this. Three of us showed up thinking it was not going to be anything special...We were wrong. I got talked out of it being that I didn't have my bike yet and I was so disappointed. Man , next year it is on... trust that.. Great to see some cats out there ripping it up. Next year maybe they will start from the hill and have more speed..Great job Lee and all the guys and gals that made this happen....Need an event tlike this at the BYT>>>>
  • + 1
 Best Race i have done in a LOOOOONG time. so much fun! the atmosphere was perfect, the beer was cold the weather was awesome and as always mountain bikers are the best people on the earth to hang out with. the 12th was my birthday and I would not spend it anther way!
  • + 1
 This race was so rad! While is was surely intended to be for more of a downhill/4cross forte, I was tearin it up on my xc bike. Had a blast all day. Thanks wwc, and lee or all the hard work getting this race a foot!

Here are some pictures by my friend Weldon, they are some pretty dank pics. www.weldonweaver.com/Racing/14-USNWC-Rumble-Jungle/1401-USNWC-Rumble-Select
  • + 2
 This was the most fun race i have done in a long time. PLEASE do this again! thanks s much to all the hard work the USNWC crew put in to get us racing! I got knocked out of the top 10 this year, but I will be back!!!!
  • + 2
 Great write up Jay!! Always awesome to see all this cool stuff taking place on the East Coast! Thanks for bringing it all to the public eye!
  • + 2
 Nice write up and awesome photos! This world class facility, USNWC, should be holding a UCI World Cup XC, Eliminator and maybe 4x races in the future.
  • + 0
 I came into this event under the weather with the Flu and about as skeptical as could be on how the "course" was to play out. Being my first DH style race I wasn't sure what to expect of it or how I would do in it. Needless to say this was one of the most fun event's I have ever attended on a bike. I met some cool people and had an absolute blast, I plan to attend next year for sure! Here is my 2 runs on the DH course, typical my visor moved down and cut out half the video..

iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/2zLZXQQZFrI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>/iframe>
  • + 1
 This was only the second race I've ever done and i have to say i would do it again in a heartbeat. Soooo much fun. Fantastic job by everyone that made this happen!
  • + 1
 PB wont let me edit my previous post, I guess you cant embed videos. Here is the video link! www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zLZXQQZFrI
  • + 1
 Yeah, I don't think you can embed in the comment section. Also this report is in limbo as it's been submitted to the staff as "news", I can't edit it either once it's submitted.
  • + 2
 Gah! Rad pics, I wanted to go so bad but had family stuff come up and couldn't find a ride out there!! Next year for sure!!
  • + 2
 Jay, Matt Purcell with the seat grab in the middle of a XC should be the cover pic!
  • + 1
 Such a fun event! Jay it was awesome to meet you. Thanks again for putting in the work to get some recognition for our region.
  • + 1
 likewise, see you next time
  • + 1
 Anyone finds a video, link it up. Would like to see what pace those top guys were running.
  • + 6
 Ross Mockton put this together, he finished 6th, 4 sec off the pace. www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjJVxHm0FEk
  • + 1
 Awesome. Thanks!
  • + 2
 Thanks for doing the math Jay! Everyone leaves off the tenths and says 5 sec. You the man!
  • + 1
 Darnit! I forgot about this. Looked like it was a blast - I hope they do it next year!
  • + 1
 Great pictures here from my friend Weldon, www.weldonweaver.com/Racing/14-USNWC-Rumble-Jungle
  • + 1
 Charlotte concrete jungle
  • + 1
 I agree, lets start on the hill next time for more speed!
  • + 1
 That looks awesome!!! I might have to take a road trip next year
  • + 1
 Great job jay!!
  • + 1
 MY HOME!!!!!
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