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Video: How DH Racing is Growing A New Community of Riders in 'Here, There, Everywhere' Season 2

Aug 24, 2023 at 21:09
by Miranda Miller  

Words: Miranda Miller

I’ve repeated this countless times, but the combination of high speeds and the relentless pursuit of perfection, made me fall in love, and essentially, become addicted to downhill racing. 2018, however, found me wrestling with a case of imposter syndrome. I was racing in World Champion stripes, while feeling the furthest thing from a champion. Sidelined, yet again, by what felt like endless injury and consequent ragged, inconsistent performance, I struggled. My body was exhausted from being hurt. I was riding with such low levels of confidence that the bigger and bigger risks I took to compensate, drained my nervous system. Offered a chance to shake things up and focus on the ‘safer’ discipline of Enduro, I embraced an opportunity for change. Unbeknownst to me, I was virtually walking away from downhill and I’ve hardly ridden any DH since. Let alone competed, and that has bummed me out.

My new partnership with SRAM has brought exciting new opportunities, and new bikes, including a freshly built DH bike. And a chance to not only ride it, but race it! I was eager to get back to the races and reconnect with the sport that I love so much. I just didn’t think I would be booking a flight to Atlanta to do so!

The Downhill Southeast series (DHSE) was created by Neko Mulally as a way to give himself, and his friends more racing opportunities before the World Cup season. Starting as a casual group armed with stopwatches, the idea has blown up into a 6-round, well-organized series offering video coverage, commentary and multiple split times. It is host to hundreds of racers, across multiple courses and categories. The excellence of the format has attracted top level riders, allowing young riders to be able to watch and learn from idols like Neko, Aaron Gwin, Dakota Norton, Chris Grice, Luca and Walker Shaw to name a few.
Graeme Meiklejohn DVRGNTminds
The Shaw brothers, Walker and Luca are an inspiration to many of the kids racing the DHSE

North Carolina and Tennessee may not be the first states that come to mind when talking downhill riding, but the terrain is an ideal combination of rolling hills, mountains, and farmland, all within close proximity to major cities like Nashville, Charlotte, and Atlanta. Add to that a climate mild enough for year-round riding. Through this influx of riders and racers we have seen the success of bike parks and trail centers like Ride Rock Creek, Windrock and Kanuga. Their philosophy of adding riding locations rather than enlarging existing ones, increases the accessibility to more communities.

Graeme Meiklejohn DVRGNTminds
Early morning sun over the Ride Rock Creek race pit

Neko’s track design at Rock Creek proves you don’t need massive mountains to build a good downhill track. With big compressions, flat turns, off cambers, high speeds, and strategic rock placement, the track is great for testing your bike, reaction times and pre season fitness. It accommodates a variety of skill levels, and while it was challenging, it was realistically, fairly low risk. Having more opportunity to not only ride DH, but to compete, has allowed more Junior and U17 riders to challenge themselves by racing up in Pro. More competition means better competitors.

Graeme Meiklejohn DVRGNTminds
Abby Ronca is a Junior that races with the Pro Women to prepare for her first year racing World Cups

Racing at Rock Creek felt really special to me. I was entering back into the sport, where I had first begun. Except this time, I had 10+ years of experience behind me and the ability to help some other riders.
The Gravity Academy Racing team is a ‘pay-to-play’ program that gives kids structure and support as they navigate their journey as cyclists and racers. Training plans, group rides, SRAM testing camps and mechanical support at events. The atmosphere was very positive, everyone helping each other.

The Gravity Academy let me hang out and pit with them all weekend and I was so impressed with these kids! We track walked together, discussed lines, race preparation, what it was like making the leap to World Cup racing. While most of them lived in different towns, and states, I loved seeing how this sport, and this program had given them their own community to excel in.

Graeme Meiklejohn DVRGNTminds
Graeme Meiklejohn DVRGNTminds
The Gravity Academy gives kids a chance to excel, but keeps the atmosphere fun

There are many things I wished that I had done differently through-out my career, and in a weird way, being back at a DH race and talking with these kids, felt like a second chance. One weekend in North Carolina was enough to inspire me to get back into the sport, that at one time, was everything to me.

Graeme Meiklejohn DVRGNTminds
Fastest non-Pro on the Cat 1 track, Men/Women were awarded $500 and a Rockshox Boxxerl

Here, There, Everywhere is a 6 part film series that explores creativity and progression, competition away from performance, exploration and pushing the limits of what we believe we are capable of. Original concept by Miranda Miller, created by Graeme Meiklejohn and made possible by SRAM.

Author Info:
mkem avatar

Member since Jul 8, 2006
35 articles

  • 18 1
 I'd love to see something like this series grow enough to spread across the US, then North America and eventually replace the current UCI world cup. This even is being run the way a good race series should be and with riders involved more, like how Neko builds the track, they'll end up with nice, fun, natural trails that differ from the bike-park vibe we've been seeing on the high circuit.
  • 16 0
 There was a time when NORBA ruled, and there was a national calendar. Then US Cycling mismanaged the name / events / etc., or just stopped caring about MTB. It's all water under the bridge, but hopefully someone can bring a North American series to the forefront again.
  • 10 0
 I was so impressed, Neko and his crew have done an incredible job! Split times, live coverage, podiums right after the categories and quick and easy turn around times for maximum ride time. I hope to get out there again this winter.
  • 2 0
 @AppleJack76: Exactly (I raced the NORBA circuit back in the mid 90's). Eric Moore, USA Cycling can all go pound the same rocks UCI can go pound. Sad the utter disdain for anything non-road or gravel.
  • 15 0
 this is great. more DH riders/racers = more money and popularity coming to the sport.
  • 7 0
 The opportunity for riders to progress and build into their season is so valuable. Ryan Pinkerton racing Pro at the DHSE, pushing himself against riders like Luca and Aaron, and now winning his first Junior World Cup... how cool!?
  • 7 0
 Best video series in MTB by a long-shot. Miranda actually makes mountain biking a bit better everywhere she goes, and because she wants to, not because she 'has to'. Youtubers take notes. Shout out G-Baby for the mega bump in production quality this year over last, you're pushing the style and I'm about it. Already excited for EP 3.
  • 3 0
 This is a great article and makes me proud of my home region (even though not longer there). I moved to Colorado in 2010 just as DH racing was disappearing from the state. Shawnee is attempting to bring it back. Keep up the great work all!
  • 2 0
 After years of nothing, it is great to see different regions getting series put together. Out West, we now have the emerging Downhill Rockies Series which is going to back to the longer, harder, challenging tracks. Them going to Keystone for the first time in what seems like forever and putting on a great race is what is going to help the sport grow. Our home mountain of Angel Fire is fantastic, but adding other areas to ride can only help! So glad to see this all happening for the next wave of riders.
  • 4 0
 DHSE looks sick! If only there was some PB love during the season so people could know about it and show up instead of hearing after the fact.
  • 3 0
 I sent them the race replay links of every episode to post, including the US Nats race. no love.
  • 3 0
 Reason #13,458 why this is such an amazing area to ride. No arrogance, no elitism....nothing but support and motivation and positive energy.
  • 4 0
 Fantastic vid, can't wait for more
  • 3 0
  • 2 0
 Love it!
  • 1 0
  • 1 0

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