We are deep out here in the mountains of NC. Haven't seen a Beech tree yet, but apparently that's what this mountain is named after. Really nice place, lots of space, all up in your face. Had to make it rhyme, but yeah, black dirt, green grass, changing leaves, mist in the hills, deer frolicking in the forest, it's a hidden gem.
US racing has a welcoming feeling. So many friendly faces, who are here for a good time. Know quite a few amateurs these days, the soul of the sport. Like Lil' Phil, Slayed Steve, Fast Freddie, etc.
Bunch of industry too. Cane Creek is from North Carolina, so they have a lot to do with this event, Specialized is here, Shimano, SRAM, Fox, GT, Giant, dunno. Few of us took a plane and do not have rigs...
This mountain has done a great job. You hardly even notice the size (600 feet - I think from the chairlift). Not steep, but not too flat either. The only part that is crazy is the 70+ yard uphill sprint to the finish. Which sounds horrible, but the last feature is a box jump into the ice skating rink, with grand stands, so it may be awesome at the end to pass out in style. Everywhere else kind of meanders along, pretty wide in the ski fields. Has a Vermont feel actually.
There is still a bit of moisture in the soil. Slippery in the woods, rutted out switchbacks with roots popping up, grass, off-camber turns, couple rock gardens, typical east coast. I think everyone I spoke to today had good stuff to say about the track. Most used the phrase "super fun". I only did two runs today, let it bed in a bit and watched. I concur though.
Speaking of Foos who aren't here. Melissa Buhl, Luke Strobel, Lars, Richie Rude, Eliot Jackson, JD, Chris Heath, Vories, Cierra Smith, Neven- the defending 4x Ntl champ, etc. The fans are missing you guys!
On the plus side, we do have some talent here; Gwin, Riffle, Mitch, Cody Warren, Bubba Warren, Neko, Brad Benedict, Keene the American Dream, Logan Bitchin' Bingelli, Kevin Aeillo, Memmellar, Kyle Thomas, Just to name a few.
Think 36 starters on the Pro Men"s list so far. 12 for pro women. They wouldn't let Neko race pro cause he's under 19. USA Cycling's rules.
Chris Herndon built the slalom track too. Nice when someone who knows what they are doing builds a track. It's has all tight corners, good flow, rhythm, some jumps - I really enjoyed it. Was kinda missing Lopes out there, bummer he doesn't attend these events. Mitch will be out there tomorrow though, next generation of gated racing...
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