Race Report: Southeastern Gravity Series - Beech Mountain Resort

Aug 26, 2015 at 19:11
by Jay Schultz  
Southeastern Gravity Series 2015

With overlapping races in the NE, it would likely be up to those local Pros, like Max Morgan, Phil Kmetz, Brandon Blakely, Kyle Grau. Could there be a sleeper with his first impressive result or a Wild Card coming out of the blue? Would we have enough ladies show up in what seems to be an always struggling category? Would Beech live up to its reputation delivering its usual rain and fog? Would we be surprised with nothing but a weekend of the sun's rays (yeah right), pretty much unheard of in Beech's racing history.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Welcome to the ThunderGROM - The weekend begins with pre-practice prep and tuning with the young guns of GROM Racing. They couldn't have picked a better place to call home for the next two and half days. Just walk out the back door, down the walkway (pictured), and out on the slopes of Beech Mountain Resort you are.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Up Way Too Early - Never miss the opportunity to drive up to the highest ski resort in the Eastern USA for a sunrise (5506 feet above sea level). T'was a bit on the cloudy side, but that didn't keep the color palette from working its magic. Yeah, heading out the door at 5:45am is early, but Mother Nature never disappoints and it's worth it every time. #nofilter

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
The Early Bird Gets the Worm - Once the rope drops at the lift house at the base of the resort, the first handful of chairs are always stacked full. Four bikes to a rack, four racers to a chair. Four GROMS to be exact chomping at the bit to get those knobbies covered in North Carolina dirt.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Part I, Into the White - Those that know me would tell you I despise, with a passion, black kits. OK, I will admit it, there's a time and place for everything. At the top of the course you are out in the open, usually surrounded by clouds and grey skies (mind you, this is Beech Mtn, that's how she rolls). Greg Nelson a local 'old school' Pro proves that point (though reluctantly).

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
The Bomber - Patrick Alcisto has Intense Bomber stitched into his DNA. Bright fluro orange M9 with a kit to match. He's pinned out in the open slope just before the entrance of the first woods section at the top of the course.

 Teaser shot from the weekend at Beech for Round 3 of the Southeastern Gravity Series
Home Field Advantage - Clancy Loorham, and the 'home' team Beech Mountain Gravity, definitely had an edge as this is their home away from home. He and his four team-mates pounded lap after lap after lap on Saturday practice, each time pinned and shredding like it was their first.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Crash Boom Bang - Josh McFadin entered the second section of the woods nice and clean (as pictured), but that was not to be. Just a few feet further and over top some of the legendary slick roots of Beech Mountain, it all slipped out and he went down. It didn't seem to be too bad, as he shook it off, was right back up, and on his way.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Green For Orange - Matt Clements choice of jersey has changed? In the past he's been good for wearing the green and gold of the Lees McRae Bobcats. Gone is the green and gold and it's been traded in for some grey and orange via Royal Racing gear and Loco Gravity Racing. Graduated maybe?

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
I Think He's Fan - Not sure what's behind Brad Newby's choice of riding gear, specifically his 'The Misfits' race tee, but it seems to be a constant in his choice of riding wardrobe. Brad at a DH race = Brad displaying that signature skull. Punk Rock Rules!

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Not the Garden - Leading up to the weekend the rumor was that all categories, all riders would be on the Pro Course and it's infamous 'Rock Garden', but it was not to be. It would be a split of the AM course (upper) and Pro Course (lower). Pictured is the connector/intersection into the Pro Course from the AM course, just downstream of all the Pro rocky misery.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
The Coach - Though he wouldn't put down a race time at the end of the weekend, Christopher Herndon was out (on the 'black bike') chasing those that wanted to be chased, offering his services, and helping tuning those lines. He's still got style and always will. Always a pleasure to see Christopher out there, number plate or not.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Just Have Fun Dude - Best of Luck to this young man! Josh Rogers leaves in just a few days (from the time this report will be published) to represent the Stars and Stripes at Worlds in Vallnord, Andorra. As always, just have fun Josh and everything else will fall into place. Great to see him living his dream and representing the Carolinas. Have fun dude!

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
The End of Day - That's it for Saturday Fun Day and pounding down the practice laps. What's next for the GROM Racing squad? What else, watch Val di Sole (the replay). We were told, "SHUT UP! No spoilers! I don't want to know who won. I just want to watch."

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
DINNER! - While the young GROMs recapped the WC, the mom and dad GROMs had kitchen duty. Forty five minutes or so later, it was time for us all to fill up on the fixin's. Thanks moms and dads! It was mmm mmm good!

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
The Aftermath - After four hungry kids, eight hungry parents, and two guests, this is all that is left. Gone is the tray of garlic bread and only a few squares of lasagne remain.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
It's a New Day - Saturday ticked on by with not a single drop of precipitation. What would Sunday have in store for us? The forecast called for a 60% chance of rain starting at 2:00pm with race runs scheduled to start at 1:00pm. Early in the three hour practice session, Will Murray only saw clouds at the top of the course. A few hours later, Will would put down a run good enough for 2nd Cat 1 30-39. Note that his time of 02:45.082 would have put him 5th in Pro Men. He might be 'old', but he's still got it.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Part II, Into the Black - We had 'Into the White' with Greg Nelson, now it's Into the Black with Greg Nelson. A very fast section across the slope into the second section of woods on the upper course. Greg would go 7th in Pro Men.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
More and More Black - We can't get Chuck Pitts to come out of the color closet. It's always all black, all the time. Chuck would secure the gold in Cat 1 30-39 and his time of 02:40.449 would have placed him 4th in Pro Men. Chuck too, still has it and he's not showing any signs of slowing down. Some even have told me he's gotten faster in his old age and stepping down from the Pro Men category.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
The Blue Ridge Boys - Ryan Claeys' time of 02:56.430 was good enough for the fastest time of the day and the gold in Cat 2 30-39. Always great to see a handful of the Blue Ridge Gravity crew from the Virginia area at each of the Southeast based events.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Fellow GVLian - Andrew Marpes, a fellow Greenville SCers, split the field of eight with a 4th in Cat 3 15-18.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Which Way Do I Go? - The best part of the course, at least in my opinion, is out of the first section of woods. If you choose to go right, you'll suffer a bit of a time plenty with a right, left, right. The left line (shown) is the harder line, yet obviously the quickest, up on over a pointed rock.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
The Nature Boy - This is a different angle of the same location as the above pic. Bergen Khare of Beech Mountain Gravity gets the nomination for this photog's pick of the favorite image from the weekend. Bergen would make his team-mates proud with the top spot in Cat 2 15-18. WOOOOOOOO! (in my best Shrimper voice, or would that be Ric Flair, the REAL Nature Boy?)

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
The Hatfields and McCoys? Not in the slightest - Of course there's competition on race day, but they are entirely inseparable off course. It's nothing but complete and utter friendship between GROM Racing and Beech Mountain Gravity. Michael Kane, GROM Racing, pictured just downstream of rock garden took the silver in Junior Men.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Sam Houston finished 8th in Junior Men.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Head Down Elbows Out - Josh Smith pinned and tucked, good enough for 5th in Cat 1 19-29. Note to riders, want photos, then follow Josh's lead and emulate this image in the future.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Not So Fast - The resort decided to slow riders down a bit coming into the Hip Jump with the addition of a new series of rights and lefts. Reaction was mixed with an air to the negative side as you couldn't get the height and distance over the hip as in past races. Leith McLeod is able to muster up a bit of boost over the hip and finished 2nd in Cat 2 30-39.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
They Grow Up Too Fast - I can remember the first time I saw Ben Ritcher, which was likely also his first taste of competition. 2011 at Clemson DH, and Dad had to push his bike up the course because little Ben didn't want to. Fast forward to today (pictured). When did we miss him growing up? No fear, plenty of speed, and boosting two-times higher than 90% of the field. Tack on another gold in Juniors 9-14 Cat 3 for Ben.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Super Bon Bon - This is the first time we've meet Ian Bongard, we all should keep an eye on his kid. Oozing with style and lots of speed. Give it a year or two and some experience once he moves into Junior, there's no doubt he'll be a force to reckon with. The Cat 2 15-18 was a stacked category made up of 90% GROM Racing (Ian's team) and Beech Mountain Gravity. He had to settle for a 4th, just out of the medals. Still not a bad result.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
It's Not Beech If…- The rain showed it's face earlier than expected starting about 11:00am when the forecast said it would show at 1:00pm. It went like this, it would rain for 20 minutes, then the sun would come out for 45 minutes, and the do loop would start. Once race runs started, I think we experienced four separate showers. In any case, the track ended up being wet for race runs. Jimmy Awad (pictured) had to put down his run in one of the heaviest showers. He wasn't deterred, good enough for the top spot and gold in Cat 1 19-29.


The Ride Along - Ride along with GROM Racing's Phillip Steele on his race run. Phillip's another young gun moving his way up the categories and age groups, meanwhile raising lots of factory outfit eyebrows. Keep an eye on this young man too.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Low Numbers - With a minimal turnout for the Ladies, the organizers combined the Women's Categories into an open class. Though not in Pro Women (due to age limits, she's in Cat 1), Scout Clark, GROM Racing, posted the fastest time of the day with a 03:09.439 over Pro Caroline Westray and Hailey Sarausky. Open Women (Pro and 19+ Cat1-3): 1. Scout Clark, GROM Racing, 03:09.439 (Cat 1), 2. Caroline Westray, Liv Giant/Spoked, 03:10.197 (Pro), 3. Hailey Sarausky, Loco Gravity Racing, 03:30.945 (Pro).

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
A Toss Up - Going into the weekend, and of course there's always a possibility for a wildcard, it was safe bet that the top three would likely be Max Morgan, Kyle Grau, and Phil Kmetz. The question would be the finishing order. As the rain came down, Max Morgan (pictured) was just 1.802 off the pace with a 02:33.885 and took the silver.

Beech Mtn Round 3 SEGS
Phil the Thrill! - Phil Kmetz's tag line continues and he made it count when he needed to. King of the Mountain for the day with a 02:32.083. Note: The image is from race day morning practice before the rain moved in. Pro Men: 1. Phil Kmetz, Danny's Cycles Racing, 02:32.083, 2. Max Morgan, Billy Goat Bikes, 02:33.885, 3. Kyle Grau, Santa Cruz, 02:39.471.

Results: SEGS Round 3 Full Results

Thanks to Talia Freeman, every one of the Beech Mountain crew, staff, and volunteers.

What's coming up next? Head on up to the West Virginia Allegheny Mountains for the final round and series championships at @snowshoebikepark-official / Snowshoe Bike Park on September 26th and 27th. Look for a race promo in the next week.

Southeastern Gravity Series 2015


MENTIONS: @gojammedia



33 Comments

  • 4 0
 Having rode all my life in Mexico, this NC mountain weather is quite new to me. Never thought I would have so much fun racing in the rain. Just wish I could be faster on it. Guess the more you do it, the better you get at it. At least I feel I managed to capture the moment nicely, pump up the music and race:
http://www.pinkbike.com/video/420278/
  • 4 0
 What a great race at Beech. Rocks. Roots. Off Camber turns, jumps, rock drops, hard rain, mud and high speeds. So good to be back on a challenging course. USAC take notes: little riders can handle this stuff.
  • 2 0
 Great coverage and images. Great weekend. Favorite image is the one of Jimmy Awad. The pro women's turnout was low, but I believe there were nine cat 1/2/3 women registered and seven raced, which wasn't bad. Hope to see a large turnout at Snowshoe in a few weeks.
  • 6 0
 Ok then Phil!
  • 5 0
 Thanks for the coverage
  • 3 0
 Beautiful Jay! Seriously! (Mandy)
  • 3 0
 Nice work Jay! Thanks for getting a Loco rider in your report!
  • 1 0
 As always delivering a solid race report! Super stoked you could make it out and lucky enough it only rained for the race runs. Super stoked with pictures!
  • 1 0
 super cool that this lil series got some PB love. i raced the bryce stop this year and had a blast. hopefully ill be at the other stops next year.
  • 2 0
 So the fastest time of the day was by a cat 2 rider??
  • 6 0
 Phil Kmetz Pro Men 02:32.083
  • 1 0
 oh ok that makes more sense thanks
  • 5 0
 If there are any references in each of the captions about fastest times, it was intended to be "in class/cat". Sorry if I was not clear or the words are misleading. Phil the Thrill had the fastest time of the weekend when it counted.
  • 1 0
 It's also mentioned there was a split course, so not knowing which cats rode which course makes it hard to compare times. That said, with a split course how did they handle grouping the women together? Did they all ride the same course?
  • 4 0
 There wasn't a split course, from what I observed everyone battled it out down the same course.
  • 1 0
 Hailey, I wasn't there so I was curious, I just looked back and I misread Jay's comment about it being a "split" course of the Am and Pro lines and it going around the rock garden, I interpreted it as the pro's taking the rock garden and the Am's taking the am Course. My comment can be disregarded.
  • 1 0
 No problem Paul, I saw that your comment was left unanswered and figured I'd help ya out!
  • 1 0
 who's Paul? This is Chad. Smile
  • 2 1
 I should have used the word "combined" and not "split" Gilbert. Poor choice of word on my part. Get over it! Smile
  • 1 0
 Nothing to get over "butthole" Hailey cleared it up for me. Big Grin

It's all good Smile
  • 2 0
 Great work Jay! Love the shots and captions, as always.
  • 2 0
 Was a rough race for sure!! but so sick!!
  • 2 1
 Pure awesomeness! Mega props Jay!
  • 1 0
 Sick job on the write up and photos @gojammedia
  • 1 0
 Love the shot!!! thanks
  • 1 0
 Nice regional coverage!
  • 1 0
 Nice!
  • 1 0
 No pics for Owen?...
  • 2 4
 @gojammedia So bummed I didn't make the cut. Kids even made me wear the neon kit for my race run.
  • 2 0
 Seems you are no longer in the: KNOW.
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