Finals Photo Epic - Pro GRT #1 at Windrock Bike Park

Mar 12, 2018
by Dave Trumpore  



The southern states aren't the first place you'd think of when someone mentioned downhill race venues in the USA. In fact, they probably aren't the second or third place you would think of either, but after this weekend's Pro GRT in Windrock, Tennessee, that perception just might change a bit. Windrock has a long history amongst the locals as being rough and rowdy, but until recently the word had just never really gotten out to the rest of the country. That is until World Cup racer Neko Mullally, and his close friend Sean Leader, teamed up to turn the rough cut trails into a proper bike park consisting of not only modern and trendy flow trails but also of world-class DH runs. It's rare these days to find dedicated fall line racetracks outside of the World Cup circuit, and often times the domestic race scene pales in comparison in terms of what is needed to train and prepare for top-level racing abroad, and that is the void that Neko and Sean have been striving to fill.

This year marks the second in a row that Neko Mulally has brought the opening round of the Pro Gravity Tour to Windrock and it's inspiring to see a successful World Cup pro dedicate their time and energy towards giving something back to the racing community. Every single top rider out there is where they are today because of the hard work of promoters around the world, who put their reputations and money on the line to put on downhill races. If there were no more races that would be the end of the line so promoters really are the lifeblood of the sport. Neko is making sure the next generation gets the opportunity to be inspired the same way he and his fellow competitors were, and in his own small way ensure that the growth of grassroots racing stays alive and well here in the USA.

If holding a Pro GRT wasn't enough to validate the quality of the terrain here, take a moment to think about the fact that both Rockshox and Fox have held their team test camps here over the past month, as they prep all the custom race goods with the fastest riders on the planet. It seems that all of a sudden this little town in Eastern Tennessee has become the hub of all things DH related in the United States, and a who's who of the world's best riders are using it to launch into the World Cup season. Yes, the riding really is that good.

For many of the racers on hand, the Pro GRT is a stepping stone to get into World Cup competition and a chance to mix it up with some of the best riders on the planet. So talented was the field this year that you could almost say it felt like a mini World Cup. The entire Santa Cruz Syndicate was in attendance with Greg Minnaar, Luca Shaw and Loris Vergier, as was the Madison Saracen team of Danny Hart, Alex Marin, and Junior DH World Champ, Matt Walker. Closer to home were the likes of Neko obviously, as well as Dakotah Norton and Charlie Harrison who have all spent time inside the top ten on the World Stage. Add to that privateers like Max Morgan, Magnus Manson, Caroline Washam and Rachel Pageau and you have a recipe for one of the best weekends of racing you'll see anywhere this early in the season.

In keeping with this theme and in true World Cup fashion the rains came just in time for the final runs of weekend, throwing another spanner in the works for racers who had enjoyed dry and perfect conditions on the training days prior. Not only was the terrain an ideal test, so was the weather.


A little American flair in the Santa Cruz pits in Tennessee.
A little American flair in the Santa Cruz pits in Tennessee.
Engineers from Saracen were on site to help Danny Hart and the team get their bikes prepped for the World Cup season.
Engineers from Saracen were on site to help Danny Hart and the team get their bikes prepped for the World Cup season.

Massive trucks and trailers did the heavy lifting to get riders to the top of this hill this weekend.
Massive trucks and trailers did the heavy lifting to get riders to the top of this hill this weekend.

Greg Minnaar and the Syndicate team have been here for a week testing with Fox and Maxxis as were up to speed straight away.
Greg Minnaar and the Syndicate team have been here for a week testing with Fox and Maxxis as were up to speed straight away.

Nikolas Nesteroff would finish 16th in one of his first races in the Elite ranks.
Nikolas Nesteroff would finish 16th in one of his first races in the Elite ranks.

Maxine Bergeron through the big rock garden up top.
Maxine Bergeron through the big rock garden up top.

Off cambers and slick rocks caused headaches for more than a few rides this weekend.
Off cambers and slick rocks caused headaches for more than a few rides this weekend.

Loris Vergier had a few mistakes on his final run to finish 8th.
Loris Vergier had a few mistakes on his final run to finish 8th.

Greg Minnaar lays it flat over the big step up.
Greg Minnaar lays it flat over the big step up.

Luca Shaw brought all the style this weekend.
Luca Shaw brought all the style this weekend and finished 3rd.

Emily Gacad charging through the whoops.
Emily Gacad charging through the whoops.

Walker Shaw was having fun riding between the tape once again.
Walker Shaw was having fun riding between the tape once again.


Junior-X winner Ben Wallace with a time that would have been 12th in the pro class.
Junior winner Ben Wallace put in a time that would have been 12th in the Pro class.

3rd place in Junior-X was Matthew Sterling.
3rd place in Junior was Matthew Sterling.


Big jumps and drops at the bottom of the track were a hit with both riders and spectators.
Big jumps and drops at the bottom of the track were a hit with both riders and spectators.

Danny Hart getting about as inside as you can go on the final corner.
Danny Hart getting about as inside as you can go on the final corner.

Whenever the rain let up the mud turned to paste almost instantly.
Whenever the rain let up the mud turned to paste almost instantly.

Rachel Pageau came here looking for the win but a big crash in her race run pushed her back to 3rd.
Rachel Pageau came here looking for the win but a big crash in her race run pushed her back to 3rd.

The mud on Rachel Pageau s arm tells the tale of her race run.
The mud on Rachel Pageau's arm tells the tale of her race run.

Swedish rider Josefine Bjorkman would end the weekend in 2nd.
Swedish rider Josefine Bjorkman would end the weekend in 2nd.

With more than a 30 second lead no one was anywhere close to Caroline Washam this weekend.
With more than a 30-second lead, no one was anywhere close to Caroline Washam this weekend.

Pro Women s podium.
Pro Women's podium.

Light rain fell on and off thru the day making the track slick and saturated for the final runs.
Light rain fell on and off through the day making the track slick and saturated for the final runs.

Charlie Harrison was looking to be a bit higher than 7th this weekend but with times super tight at the top he was still high in the mix.
Charlie Harrison was looking to be a bit higher than 7th this weekend, but with times super tight at the top he was still high in the mix.

Henry Fitzgerald squashes the final drop into the finish line aboard his Norco 29 er.
Henry Fitzgerald squashes the final drop into the finish line aboard his Norco 29er.

Max Morgan came 10th as the first true privateer on the results sheet just four seconds back in some very fast company.
Max Morgan came 10th as the first true privateer on the results sheet, just four seconds back in some very fast company.

19 year old Matt Walker finished 6th just two seconds back.
19-year-old Matt Walker finished 6th, just two seconds back.

Race organizer Neko Mulally styling it up in the mud.
Race organizer Neko Mulally styling it up in the mud to take 4th.

Dakotah Norton was right up there at the pointy end this weekend showing he s ready to mix it up on the WC scene this year.
Dakotah Norton was right up there at the pointy end this weekend, showing he's ready to mix it up on the WC scene this year.

Competitors on track and friends off.
Competitors on track and friends off.

Danny Hart fully pinned and squashing the big step down at the bottom of the track.
Danny Hart fully pinned and squashing the big step down at the bottom of the track.

First race and first win for Danny Hart and Madison Saracen.
First race and first win for Danny Hart on the Madison Saracen team.

The top five men at Windrock.
The top five men at Windrock.

Put your hands together for Neko Mulally who put on a top level event this weekend and gives the next generation US riders something to aspire to.
Put your hands together for Neko Mulally who put on a top-level event this weekend, and gave the next generation US riders something to aspire to.

See full album here.


116 Comments

  • + 158
 Awesome to see such a "local" event draw such high level riders and buzz... things like this where the privateers can get into the mix against the wc circuit riders can only help with exposure and growth for them and the sport.
  • + 125
 Probably wont ever happen but, itd be awesome to see this area replace Sea Otter. Im mean, does anyone want to see that nonsense for one more year? This looks like a REAL mountain bike area should look like.
  • + 35
 @scary1:
Shhhhhhh you've said too much. The lizard people will be after you for that comment.

Couldn't agree more.
  • + 38
 Is it just me or are pro grt tracks better than WC? @sunringlerider:
  • + 57
 Danny Hart had probably an unfair advantage, running those 27.5 wheels
  • + 4
 @gjedijoe:
Haha nah man all WC tracks are "natural"
  • + 8
 @scary1: Probably wont ever happen but, itd be awesome to see this (rider organised events) replace UCI. I mean, does anyone want to see that nonsense for one more year? This looks like what a REAL mountain bike race should look like.
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: Is there an echo,echo in here,here?
  • + 5
 @scary1: Yes Sea Otter DH is pretty lame, but it's only PART of the event. Its more of a bike industry show/festival with racing too. Also location is not in Windrock's favor... Logistics, the entire bike world traveling to and staying in Oliver Springs, Tennessee would be interesting and probably impossible.
  • + 26
 @Mtb4joe:
If only Knoxville was near by. . . Oh wait.
  • + 5
 @sunringlerider: Yes Knoxville isn't that far away, but have you been to Sea Otter? The dh race sucks! Its only a small part of the event. This is a cycling festival that brings thousands from all over the world. Dual slalom, Roadies, emtb, Enduro, dh, etc. Huge bike companies unveiling new bikes/products. And direct flights to the area from all over the globe. Windrock was a really good dh race.
  • + 12
 @sunringlerider: and if only Windrock would build some giant cabins on site and maybe a campground the size of new jersey... oh wait again.. would you look at that.
  • - 6
flag mtbyoda (Mar 12, 2018 at 10:49) (Below Threshold)
 @difrancb: I invite you to check out Sea Otter. www.seaotterclassic.com
  • + 17
 @Mtb4joe:
Yes, I am well aware. And I shall ask not being snarky either, have you been to TN? After living in CO I could almost say I prefer the trail in WV, TN, NC to the trails out west. Red clay will get you hooked on that feeling.
  • + 2
 So many brands are situated in SoCal; it's easy for them to travel the short distance up from their HQs to Monterey and showcase their latest products.
  • + 2
 @sunringlerider: Never ridden the east, but I would love to check it out. Windrock looks amazing. The Race looked like a hoot. We get some chocolate hero dirt this time of year out west that's a blast. @Patsplit: A bunch of companies in the Bay Area as well. Ibis, Santa Cruz, Specialized, Kali Protectives, Marin, WTB, Fox has a place nearby, just to name a few.
  • + 5
 @Mtb4joe: I9 and canecreek are based in WNC. Fox just opened up in Asheville as well.
  • + 6
 @Patsplit: Sea Otter, like Interbike is all but irrelevant anymore. Its gonna just fall off soon. Theres no more "Ta-daa" in annual traditions circling these events. Stuff is released every other day,and thanks to the internet, i don't have to wait 6 months every year to be shocked and amazed. ----Except for Foes...Sea otter is the only place you see his new stuff all year.
  • + 1
 @gjedijoe: Windrock is!
  • + 107
 Neko's legacy will go far beyond his accomplishments as a racer. He is laying the groundwork for the legacies of others for years and years to come. I cant find the words to thank him enough.
  • + 14
 Spot on. He's the real deal.
  • + 10
 +1

On top of all his speed & hard work for he sport, he’s also a genuinely nice guy which speaks volumes for his character. Long live Neko!!!
  • + 30
 thanks to YT to believe in Neko Mullaly keep sponsoring rider/builder that give back to the sport
  • + 7
 Hell yeah Neko! Mobbin with Dale's Ale
  • + 6
 MAKE AMERICA PIN AGAIN
  • + 61
 THANK YOU NEKO! Keep killing it!
  • + 28
 Pretty rad to see work cup class riders treating this place as a serious proving ground. 10 years ago I remember there being whispers of these small DH trails just a couple hours away from me. It was much different when I visited. More ATVs and 4x4s than bikes. I never imagined those trails to turn out the way they have. Hats off to the crew and southeast in general.
  • + 7
 Gwin comes to race grt at my local bike park mountain creek in NJ, says it's his favorite race cuz of the technical track
  • + 24
 @gjedijoe:
Was hoping he would have made it to Windrock, with Neko being his teammate and all.
  • + 24
 Some typos are funnier than others: "Charlie Harrison boosts the big bride" Wink
  • + 20
 always boost the big bride..always..
  • + 13
 @denomerdano: some rolled the big bride... Which is funnier ;-)
  • + 11
 Big Brides need love too! Big Grin
  • + 11
 Like an ebike its all fun and games until your friends catch you on one.
  • + 2
 just imagine how not native speakers, who do not catch typos from the first glance, understand texts like that :-)
  • + 1
 @Strawberry1: and thats why I must learn as many languages as I can during my time.. Not getting any easier at age 35 but I am teaching myself Spanish everyday..
  • + 1
 @davetrumpore: I got off line and had to clip back in on the big bride before rolling in.
  • + 20
 Good to see some top coverage from racing in the US. Roll on World Cup season.
  • + 17
 This is the best DH riding in the USA. Anyone who says different hasn’t been here. Congratulations Neko and crew on a great weekend! Let’s bring the World Cup here! #ridetherock
  • + 15
 Okay, I'll be that guy. 27.5 FTW :-)
  • + 4
 I know right? From watching videos and seeing pictures from the weekend, it looked like 29ers are terrible and I mean the most terrible ever at turning and smashing rocks. I mean Shaw and Norton were like last place. Might as well have been on road bikes.
  • + 3
 @headshot
I'm being that guy ;-)
  • - 4
flag chriskneeland (Mar 12, 2018 at 9:21) (Below Threshold)
 All these dude out here running cheater wheels and still not getting a win. I love it.
  • + 8
 Cheers to all of the Amateur races who practiced in some of the diciest conditions imaginable, then raced in the fog and rain and greasy mud. Every racer negotiated the same course as the pros. That picture of Sam Kahn...that's what the Sat and Sun practice conditions were...and race day for Cat 2-3 and Masters.
  • + 11
 To quote Andre 3000:
“The south’s got sumthin to say”
  • + 11
 www.pinkbike.com/video/485267

bruh, hope you're ok? anyone got a lead on this?
  • + 4
 @preach: dudes in rough shape but everything moves, healing up at the hospital in knoxville!!
  • + 9
 Great event! Neko is sure setting an example. Determined and pro active.
  • + 4
 Great words "Put your hands together for Neko Mulally who put on a top-level event this weekend, and gave the next generation US riders something to aspire to". I wish each region or the World had his own Neko..... and then we can gain for Olympic downhill games!!!!!
  • + 5
 We don't want Downhill Olympics. Do you realize the amount of beer that would not be allowed on course!!!
  • + 3
 Fantastic work on the part of Neko. Passed my slow self in the air on a jump at the top once, but was a real class act about it haha. Congrats as well to the builders and crew at Windrock! Slick and rocky, that is an average day at Windrock alright!
  • + 5
 @davetrumpore If it's still possible to edit, worth mentioning that Fox handed out brand new Fox 40s to several class winners andTransfer seat posts to the rest.
  • + 7
 Yaaaay Josefine Big Grin Swedish West Coast represent xD
  • + 0
 Great to have some international ladies in the field to give Windrock a "World Cup" flavor!
  • + 4
 Isak Leivsson 10th in seeding and 19th in the finals on a freakn TRAIL BIKE!
  • + 1
 Unreal on a 160mm travel bike. He was flying and definitely the most air at the big step-up towards the finish. Hoping Pole gets him a DH bike soon.
  • + 1
 @BigballmcCall: Impressive for sure. For some reason I have never liked the look of the Pole bike until seeing his in person this weekend. Changed my mind instantly, sweet looking ride.
  • + 3
 dont sleep on the "little mountains" out here! we many not have the elevation but we have the steeps and the gnar to make up for it!
  • + 8
 Worth mentioning that only the bottom half of the mountain was used for the race course!
  • + 4
 Don't forget it has more elevation drop top to bottom then most well known resorts. Somewhere north of 2200 feet I believe, someone correct me if I'm wrong. It's been awhile since I saw the numbers. The fastest guys on the East Coast have been training here for over a decade. The cat is out of the bag!
  • + 2
 Missed a primo shot of that top rock garden when the pros went through. Definitely was the heckle spot for day. good shots though, super fun race!
  • + 2
 I tried to film some stuff, but it was pretty dark
  • + 1
 @bizutch: no one got a video of the heckle frame Frown
  • + 1
 @The-mnt-life365: Probably, but I've realized a GoPro doesn't film as close up as I thought.
  • + 1
 I got some good heckle shots. compiling into a video after work.
  • + 2
 got some really good footage. heckle garden in the middle and at the end

youtu.be/8HcmrlvMIKM
  • + 4
 Nice to see the pros who showed up for practice actually race as well!
  • + 2
 You know who the rider was they called an ambulance for or his condition? I watched him crash. It was pretty bad

m.pinkbike.com/video/485267
  • + 1
 Josh Rogers. Don't know the full extent of his injuries but he has quite the recovery coming on.
  • + 4
 @HurricaneCycles: That's not Josh Rogers. That is a race run crash in the Pro Cat.
  • + 3
 @OldRanger: Correct, this was just before the top guys came down the mountain. They tried stopping the race with 7 riders to go. Couldn't do it. Paramedics were on trail while riders were racing. it was a cluster.
  • + 0
 @HurricaneCycles: That's not Josh.
Juice had a Peekacho backpack on and red silk boxers over his pants when he went down in practice.

Yes folks. My statement is 100% accurate.
Heal clean & fast Josh.
  • + 1
 @bizutch: he had on a pink doughnut backpack on when I talked to him!
  • + 0
 @GunnyBailey: oh sorry. Donuts are delicious. Wink
  • + 1
 Unfortunately that was me! I got surgery to fix my crushed C6 & C7 vertebrae two days ago and I’m feeling a lot better now! Even was able to walk on my own a bit!
  • + 1
 @GarrettMacIntosh: So let us know what happened brother? Hope you get back to 100%
  • + 1
 great weekend. Cool to see some of the fastest guys out there crush some of the same trails i've ridden for years. Didn't even know some of those lines existed!
  • + 2
 How did Dave Trumpore get around as much as the pictures prove he throughout the weekend? #MagicLegs
  • + 2
 Why does Danny Hart's head look like it has been photshopped onto his body in the podium picture?
  • + 1
 You have no idea, the sheer number of excel spreadsheets that were crushed in order to make the products in the pics possible.
  • + 4
 Best mailbox ever!
  • + 2
 So happy I leave close by. TennaFuckingSee baby
  • + 3
 #neko4president
  • + 2
 Does wheel size matter?
Nope it's just racing.
Congrats to Danny Hart
  • + 1
 What an awesome event... Great to see so many Weekend Warriors and World Cup Racers all in one place. Danny Hart killed it!
  • + 1
 Nice pictures! i really like the colors in the forest
  • + 1
 youtu.be/8HcmrlvMIKM

2018 Windrock Pro GRT highlight Reel
  • + 1
 So happy for Neko and his team! I love this place and everything about it.
  • + 1
 Danny fits like a glove on that Saracen bike.
  • + 1
 Chicken, grits, & waffles...come on back son!
  • + 1
 Great race and venue. #ridetherock.
  • + 1
 Damn, that Danny Hart is an imposing figure.
  • + 1
 Awesome to see some WC guys back racing Nationals!!!!!!!
  • + 2
 And Minaar?
  • + 1
 5th by the looks of it from the last pic. Who was in 2nd? They skipped 5th and 2nd lol
  • + 2
 @makripper: 4th was Neko. He was standing there handing out medals and just took a step to his left for a podium shot.
  • + 1
 @bizutch: was Dakota 2nd? Looks like him but not sure. Thank man
  • + 1
 @makripper: Yep. Dude is warming up.
  • + 1
 Awesome pics Dave!
  • + 1
 Sure is tight at the top
  • + 1
 Awesome
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