The penultimate round of the DHSE series was held at a fan-favorite location, Snowshoe Mountain. After drawing a slot as the final round of the UCI Mercedes-Benz MTB World Cup at the end of 2019, many non-World Cup level racers were wanting their own shot West Virginia’s finest mountain bike course.
If you have ever been to Snowshoe, then you know that rain can appear out of nowhere during the summer months and this weekend was no different. With the majority of racers were showing up at the mountain on Friday, unfortunately so did the rain. The rain was substantial enough for race promoters to close the racecourse to the usual free afternoon practice. Other parts of the mountain were still open for regular riding however and the majority of racers took the opportunity to test tires and dial in their setups for the upcoming sloppy and slick conditions that would greet them on Saturday.
Rain clouds and thunderstorms were the story of Friday afternoon and on Saturday morning, conditions were looking nearly identical. Thick fog and wind engulfed the mountain in the early hours, but to nearly everyone's relief the fog lifted and the sun came out to play in the early afternoon. While the sun was doing its best to dry out the open parts, the damage was already done. The wooded sections of track were extremely slick and greasy, which turned the usually fast course into a course that racers had to delicately pick their way down.
Once qualifying runs kicked off many racers were still trying to scope out their lines on the ever changing course. One racer however that was not gearing up for her qualifying run was Rachel Pageau. The Pivot Cycles racer had a mishap on the bottom portion of the course during one of her practice runs that resulted in a fractured radius bone. Definitely not how she planned on spending her birthday, but she made the most of it and stayed to cheer on her friends on Sunday. Here’s to hoping she isn’t on the mend for too long.
Some notable observations from Saturday's qualifying runs were Keegan Rowley’s run in the Cat 1 Junior Men, who would’ve qualified 4th in the Men’s Pro field with a time of 4:30 and also brought him home first in class. The previous rounds' Pro Women’s winner, Frida Roenning, would not make it down the mountain for a qualifying time as the mountain once again showed its ugly teeth. Chris Grice also continued to turn heads by finishing only four seconds back from fellow southeast racer, Neko Mulally.
On Sunday after yet another of night of rain, racers gathered at the starting chute nice and early to get in as many runs as possible before their race runs. After an average of 2-4 runs, the courses were closed and racing began. Although he cut off 16 seconds from his qualifying run the previous day, Keegan Rowley would come home in 2nd in the Cat 1 Junior Men with a time of 4:14, Jack Dichiara would bring home the top spot in the class a mere 1.78 up on Keegan. Third place was taken by Jack Bound, who continues to improve under the tutelage of Dakotah Norton.
The Women’s Pro class would see Caroline Washam taking the top spot and earning her redemption on the mountain after suffering a shoulder injury last time out here at the World Cup. Frida Roenning would earn the runner up spot with Angelica Pietranton finishing up in third.
The Pro Men’s class would see local favorite Neko Mulally taking his first win of the season with a time of 3:44. Seth Hanson would continue his podium ways by taking second place in class, finishing up 8 seconds back with a time of 3:52. And Titus Nicholson would earn his first podium at DHSE coming home in third with a time of 4:06. Chris Grice retired from the race after a crash in his race run. He is ok but is chomping at the bit to have another opportunity to redeem himself.
The DHSE series wraps up next weekend at Sugar Mountain in North Carolina. Thanks again to the DHSE crew for yet again an amazing weekend at such a scenic venue.