Qualifying Photo Epic: Downhill is Back in East Tennessee: Downhill Southeast - Windrock 2020

Jun 6, 2020
by Daniel Sapp  




It's been a little over three months since the world as we know it drastically started changing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel quickly slowed to a halt and communities around the world implemented measures to curb the disease. While there were devastating reports coming out of Europe, things were a little slower to change in North America but normal was quickly jettisoned as pockets of infection grew rapidly in the United States. On April 2nd, the governor of Tennessee issued a "Stay at Home" order, halting all non-essential travel and activity in efforts to slow the pandemic and give communities time to bolster the resources and infrastructure needed to stay on top of the curve. Two months later, things are starting to return to a new normal, and Tennessee has been one of the first states to lift restrictions.

People have been starving for normalcy and as time goes on, some of that is returning but with a very different feel. In the community of downhill mountain bike racing, bike parks are slowly starting to re-open and people are more able to venture out on the trails in many places, although it's worth noting that much of the world is still very much locked down. Windrock Bike Park has, for several years now, been one of the first places North of the Equator to hold a race for the season due to its temperate climate. While climate is no longer much of a factor this late in the season, it's ironic that it's once again the first place to hold a race since COVID-19 brought racing to a standstill before it even really started.

If racing were to have happened as planned, we would have been glued to our screens, watching things play out at the iconic track of Fort William, Scotland. With international travel and World Cups on hold, we can only imagine how brutal the infamous track would be. Windrock Bike Park is no stranger to hosting some of the world's top racers with the vast majority of top World Cup Americans, and others, utilizing it as their winter training grounds. Conditions this weekend are mimicking those in Scotland at the time in a way with no rain in the forecast although temperatures and humidity in Tennessee are substantially higher this weekend.

Practice and seeding runs took place on Saturday, with over 200 riders in all categories taking to the track, observing social distancing measures and safety protocols in place by local authorities. At Windrock, everyone qualifies but seeding runs are done in order to determine the start order for Sunday. This leaves a little open to chance as some racers surely didn't go all-out, saving some for the run that matters. In the Pro field, 24 racers across the men's and women's categories were on the start list with a number of those names being regulars on the World Cup circuit. In the men's race, Chris Grice, the latest and youngest addition to Specialized's factory racing team took third. Dakotah Norton secured the second-place spot and Luca Shaw took the top time of the day. For the women, Rachel Pageau seeded third while Kailey Skelton was second and Frida Roenning was fastest with a time of 3:31.36.

bigquotesIf there are no races, make your own. Neko Mulally

Starting gate awaits riders.
The starting gate awaits riders in the mountains outside of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Spring full in effect.
Spring is in full-swing and blooming flowers are a sign of life as daylight hours grow longer.

Windrock is home to 72 000 acres of offroad riding along trail sides are monuments dedicated to those that have past.
Windrock is home to 72,000 acres of offroad riding, along trail sides, are monuments dedicated to those that have past.

Bikes loaded up and headed to the top. Shuttles were running in overtime as fewer riders than normal were allowed on each trip due to safety measures.

The man of the hour Or day.
The man of the hour! Or day...

The new norm
Facemasks are not required locally but many riders were opting to don them at shuttle time.

Checking the shuttle line.
Checking the shuttle line.

Culprit of one of the many flats
Culprit of one of the many flats?



Trail debris.
Trail debris.



Dak soaring.
Dak soaring.



 The finger point always works
"The finger point always works"

Long way from home
Long way from home


Rafeal through one of the many rock gardens.
Rafeal through one of the many rock gardens.



Dak is ready to get back to racing.
Dak is ready to get back to racing.



All smiles to back on the course.
All smiles to back on the course.



Lunch break sights.
Lunch break sights.




Long walk to the top.
Long walk to the top.


You find it you keep it.
You find it, you keep it.

Say no more.
Say no more.



Im not the only one happy to be out and about.
I'm not the only one happy to be out and about.




Seth races the GNCC eMTB series and is always a consitent threat this weekend he is in the Single Crown class this weekend.
Seth races the GNCC eMTB series and is always a consistent threat, this weekend he is in the Single Crown class.




It's not pretty but it's a welcome sight after a long day on the mountain.


Keegan qualifes 1st in Cat 1 Junior Men here at the Rock.
Keegan qualifies 1st in Cat 1 Junior Men here at the Rock.

Seth right before a big get off
Seth right before a big get off


Dak heading into the abyss.
Dak heading into the abyss.

The Rock lives again.
The Rock lives again.



Previously:
Course Preview: Downhill Southeast - Windrock 2020
Video: Practice and Qualifying at Downhill Southeast - Windrock 2020
Qualifying Results: Downhill Southeast - Windrock 2020
Bike Check: Neko Mulally's Intense M29: Downhill Southeast - Windrock 2020


26 Comments

  • 15 0
 Thank you so very much!!! I missed this so much; great shots Smile
  • 9 0
 Nice to see Windrock green for a change, usually all the race footage from there looks cold, brown & bare
  • 3 0
 Green = hot and humid

Welcome to the south!
  • 10 0
 Cool to see a single-crown class!
  • 1 0
 It was the biggest category too!!
  • 5 1
 It's 'passed', not 'past'. You know, English.
  • 3 0
 Monster inside line! Get it
  • 9 7
 Nice to have racing back! Awesome to see the black guy in here too.
  • 7 21
flag timmyelle (Jun 7, 2020 at 18:23) (Below Threshold)
 You are too dumb to realize how your comment perpetuates racism. "Awesome to see the black guy here too"? What, Black people have never ridden bikes? Or have you just realized that? In your eyes black people are supposed to remain on the "plantation", aren't they? White liberals are a cancer on society.
  • 11 1
 @timmyelle: If he had said "nice to see the women in here too" Would that perpetuate sexism.

It's ok to identify groups of people who are not as involved in mountain biking and then encourage and praise them to join.

I mean his statement was a little cringy but definitely not racist. And you top it off by calling half of your fellow citizens a cancer on society. You've lost it buddy.
  • 2 2
 @timmyelle: get a clue bro. The only racist in here is you.
  • 3 1
 Yes! Racing’s back.
  • 1 0
 Crank Bros. logo molded into the sole of Luca's "Question Mark" shoes.
  • 1 0
 So I didn't go to a DH race... so you did?
  • 1 0
 Bloody Stokies get everywhere
  • 1 0
 its sick to see me in that! the race was so sick
  • 1 0
 Yuesss !
  • 10 10
 Too soon.
  • 6 5
 Yeah, let's just say people from a certain particular political party in our country never listen to the experts..... Here in Utah, we've had over 800 new cases this weekend and the governor was considering moving the state to "low risk". Only 3% of the state's population has been tested and they've even opened up multiple bars in Park City along with malls all over the state. Its pretty insane.
  • 7 4
 Yeah let's wait 40 years in lockdown maybe then the virus will go away?
It will not go away, it's here to stay like all other types.
  • 1 2
 @tonit91: It hasn't been 3 months since the initial lock down....... these are the kooks we're dealing with over here.
  • 2 4
 @scott-townes: You must be referring to the party supporting rioters who aren't social distancing and wearing masks as they burn down their own neighborhoods...
  • 1 2
 @wheelie7: Strawman is such a tired fallacy. Try again.
  • 1 0
 @scott-townes: If you cared about CoVid messaging from experts, you would consider local/state leadership who participate in marches and turn a blind eye to looting/rioting as contrary to their own shelter-in-place and social distancing mandates, and possibly creating the "super spreader" events that have been feared. My argument ins't far removed from your argument against your governor going to Low-Risk when you consider the fact that Utah is 26th for confirmed cases and 42nd for deaths in all 50 states. Facts don't care about your feelings.
  • 1 0
 @wheelie7: meanwhile Scott Townes was at the BLM rally, but everyone else STAY HOME
  • 1 2
 @Beez177: Nah, I think you're all idiots.

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