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Video & Race Report: Blue Mountain Hosts the Return of the Eastern States Cup

Jul 21, 2020 at 7:37
by Eastern States Cup  
Views: 1,555    Faves: 4    Comments: 0

After 272 days of waiting, the Northeast gravity racing community were finally able to get their fix. Palmerton, Pennsylvania's Blue Mountain played host to the first Maxxis ESC races of the year, with a new fastest time set by a woman on the downhill course, a pair of wins shared by brothers and a double win upset by just 0.1 of second. Things are a bit different than usual, with enduro and downhill races taking place on different days to minimize crowds. Even with a myriad of broken wheels and flat tires at the hands of Blue's rugged trails, spirits were high and it's safe to say everyone was overjoyed to be back between the tape. Flat Tire Defender inserts saved many race runs throughout the weekend, they really worked well in this chunky environment.

George Ulmer and his crew have been working daily to figure out how to bring racing back to the Northeast and were finally able to do that three months after the original planned start of the season.

Venues like this require your full attention at all times, fractions of an inch or second could be the difference between glory and disaster.

Specialized Enduro

Saturday morning the timing chips got dusted off for the first time in 2020 and the Maxxis ESC crew had plenty of safety measures in place, including a video replacing the traditional morning riders meeting as well as mandatory masks for all in the staging area.

Racers got sent into Blue Mountain's chunky terrain right off the bat, as Stage 1 utilized Sunday's Downhill course for our Flat Tire Defender Super Stage. Kory Nagy clearly wasn't worried because he has Fox's new 38mm fork, he would earn a stage win and fourth place for the Pro Men.

Stage 2 ran Chutes & Ladders to Wild Turkey with a fresh bench cut section toward the bottom. Curtis Miller, riding for Wooden Wheels Service & Repair, was able to take second place in the 40-49 men's class.

After completing Stage 2, racers got on the pedals for a chance at winning the Fox Transfer Seatpost Climbers Challenge.

John Stenger of the 50+ class wasn't going to let some hot weather come between him and a fresh Fox Transfer dropper post, he put the power to the pedals and beat the youngsters. Photo: Evan Gilbert

Hannah Sulas manages the dreaded Stage 3 rock garden, which of course came immediately after an uphill section, on her way to winning the Amateur women's class by nearly a minute.

Danny's Cycles racer Michael Maldonado makes quick work of the Stage 4 switchback bike park berms on his way to second place in the U20 class. He would go on to take fourth place in the Downhill race, earning third place overall in the Box Components Showdown.

After one final lift ride to the top of Blue Mountain, racers would end up on the dual slalom course to end their day with a healthy dose of arm pump. Comp Edge's Colby Benoit styles his way to second place in the 21-29 men's class.

Titus Nicholson doesn't always race Enduro but when he does he earns good results, especially at a venue like Blue Mountain which is essential five downhill runs. He was able to take a stage win and earn third place for the Pro Men.

Isaac Allaire is always one to watch no matter the discipline, he's back on a Transition bike this year and going just as fast, slotting into second place.

Steve Estabrook lead the Pro Men on the final three stages, securing the win by 13 seconds with a final race time of 15:47. "I was surprised to win after a mechanical on the first stage, turns out no chain on the DH course didn't slow me down too much. I'm really blending well with the GT Force this year so I'm pumped about that change. It was a pleasure to be back at the races and seeing friends, thanks to George and Chris for putting on the race!"

Pro Men's Maxxis ESC Specialized Enduro Podium: 5th - Daniel Johnson, 3rd - Titus Nicholson, 1st - Steve Estabrook, 2nd - Isaac Allaire, 4th - Kory Nagy

Canadian transplant Rachel Pageau made the trip from Tennessee to play bikes this weekend, taking three stage wins and third place on Saturday.

Defiant Racing's Mazie Hayden was able to earn a stage win and remain consistent throughout the day but a flat on the final stage would cost her precious seconds in an already tight field of Pro Women.

Riley Miller made the move to Liv Cycling this season as she continues to gain speed on women twice her age. She was able to clock the fastest time on Stage 4, taking her first win in the Pro Women's class and backed it up with a fourth place in Sunday's downhill race. "Super stoked to be behind the tape again after a looong spring/early summer hiatus! It was a blast hanging with my race family & to take top podium was icing on the cake! Looking forward to the enduro race at Glen Park next weekend!"

Pro Women's Enduro Podium: 5th - Sarah Howerter, 3rd - Rachel Pageau, 1st - Riley Miller, 2nd - Mazie Hayden, 4th - Lindsey Carpenter

Intense Downhill

The rock littered trails of Blue are notorious for being unkind to wheels and tires, Jorge Gomes of ProBuilds Racing makes sure things are dialed for his team on race day.

Ryan Bigham was on it all weekend, remaining consistent through both races to earn the double Amateur 30-39 win and top honors in the Box Components Showdown.

A lot has changed in 2020 but one thing that remains the same is ProBuilds Racing's Paulo Martins continuing to dominate the Expert 40+ men's class.

Jason Beckley picked up where he left off in 2019 with a second place in the Expert 40+ class.

Filz Built Bicycles rider Phillip Downell took the fast line and it paid off as he bested the 50+ class by 2.35 seconds.

First time racer Weiss Sage brought her A game, winning the Amateur ladies by over 17 seconds.

Willem Rivet flies past a group of hecklers on his way to take third place in the Expert 19-29 class.

Andrew Driscoll has been chasing down the top step in the Junior Expert class for some time now, after putting in a ton of work training during the off season he was able to take the win alongside his brother Matt this weekend.

Isaac Allaire rounded out the Pro Men's podium with to take third place overall in the Box Components Showdown.

Defiant Racing's Steve Estabrook put down a heater Sunday but just missed the double win by just 1/10 of a second, he's still got be happy with this weekend's results after coming off a broken femur earlier this spring.

After earning his fair share of wins in the Junior Expert class, Matt Driscoll moved up this year and wasted no time proving he's in the mix of Pro men who could take the win on any given weekend. "I've been lucky enough to have a lot of time on the bike this season so I was definitely feeling comfortable. I was confident in my lines and knew if I put down my best run I could be up there. The run was right on my limit and I would have been happy with it no matter where it put me, it was crazy to see that I edged out Steve by 0.10! Props to all the top guys, I've been looking up to them for years."

Pro Men's Maxxis ESC Intense DH Podium: 5th - Titus Nicholson, 3rd - Isaac Allaire, 1st - Matt Driscoll, 2nd - Steve Estabrook, 4th - Mauricio Estrada

Pivot Cycles racer Rachel Pageau secured the double podium weekend with a third place in the Pro Women's class, she's got to be happy with that but is always gunning for that top spot.

Blue Mountain local Kristin Lenart builds these trails of course she knows them like the back of her hand. She was able to put down a solid run this weekend, adding to her streak of never finishing worse than second place here.

Hot off a pair of Downhill Southeast wins, Frida Ronning made the trip north to give the Maxxis ESC Intense Downhill Pro ladies a run for their money, taking the win and setting a new women's course record with a final race time of 2:48. "My weekend was awesome, was able to get some time off from the lab at school so went with my friends up north for the race. Got to ride some laps at Mountain Creek and race at Blue Mountain. The track was fast and rocky and I"m stoked I was able to put down a good run and take the win on Sunday"

Pro Women's Maxxis ESC Intense DH Podium: 5th - Ivanna Estrada, 3rd - Rachel Pageau, 1st - Frida Ronning, 2nd - Kristin Lenart, 4th - Riley Miller

Box Components Showdown Podium: 3rd - Michael Maldonado, 1st - Ryan Bigham , 2nd - Isaac Allaire

Pick up the pieces and get ready for another trip to the Keystone State next weekend for the second Maxxis ESC Specialized Enduro of the season at East Stroudsburg's Glen Park. This venue has become a favorite of racers and with the 250 racer cap you'll want to register as soon as possible so you don't miss out. As for the rest of the season, George and crew are working hard to weigh options and make plans but as of right now nothing is set in stone. Stay tuned and keep pedaling.

Words and photos: Andrew Santoro
Video: Jason Scheiding

Full Enduro Results
Full Downhill Results


  • 6 0
 So glad to see the ESC team up and running for 2020. Quality people all around... from the staff to the racers! Hoping we'll see a few races in New England this season.
  • 3 0
 Awesome weekend as always but this one felt extra awesome! Also those hecklers in that corner were brutal and inspirational at the same time! should have put them at the start gate!
  • 4 0
 Eastern States Cup sure knows how to put on one heck of an epic race weekend! Great race report - really captured the magic! ⚡️
  • 5 0
 Matt Driscoll, holy moly dude! Way bring your game to the pro level, congrats!
  • 3 0
 I was there....I've never seen so many happy people in one place honestly. ESC runs 10/10 venues......You will always grow and get inspired at an ESC race. Loved every moment of it.
  • 4 0
 Great report. Great race. Thanks.
  • 3 0
 Great event and awesome race report. Thanks Blue Mountain and ESC for a memorable weekend!
  • 2 0
 Such a good feeling to be back between the tape! Thanks for making it happen, George, Chris, and the rest of the ESC crew. Cheers!
  • 2 0
 Felt great to be back racing!!! Thanks ESC and Blue for putting it together. Let's hope there are more to come!
  • 3 0
 Did not bring enough tires!!!!!!! Was great to be back racing.
  • 2 0
 Frida is smashing it this year! We are so stoked to be along for the ride!
  • 2 0
 it was great seeing everyone on this super HOT weekend!
  • 1 0
 I saw you drink a WATER! It must have been hot.
  • 2 0
 Keep up the good work ESC!
  • 1 0
 The world famous Curtis Miller !!!!!
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 What up Jake
  • 1 0
 Nice work RB! Pinehills training was on fire!

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