Race Report: Steel City Enduro, Pro GRT at Snowshoe Mountain, and Walnut Creek Chimney Chase XC

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This past weekend saw a slight break in the pace as many of the team’s cross country and super-D racers spent the weekend prepping for the upcoming National Championships. Lester made it out for a semi-local XC race down in Virginia, Jake tried his first Enduro, and Collin took a trip south to participate in the Pro GRT in West Virginia. All three races are detailed below. Check in again next week for our report from the MTB XC and Super-D National Championships at Bear Creek.

VA MTB Series: Walnut Creek Chimney Chase. Presented by Charlottesville Area MTB Club/Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing.  North Garden, Virginia.

Here is Lester’s report from last weekend’s edition of the Virginia Mountain Bike Series:

Threatening A Perfect Storm

With just a few days till Nationals I decided to take the opportunity for a final tune-up race. The Chimney Chase race was presented by Charlottesville Racing Club/Blue Ridge Cyclery and named for the several stone chimneys located throughout the park. Having lived in the area several years ago, I found memory served me well as I didn’t have a chance to pre-ride due to a late day at work Friday. The race would see me pulling double duty as the USAC Chief Official for the event.

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Lester’s two rigs.

Saturday morning had a great start with a delicious breakfast, coffee and smooth sailing at registration. About 30 mins to race start, I set off to get my warm-up, leaving less time than desired. As I finished up and returned to the start area, the field was lined up with about one minute to start. I quickly grabbed a bottle from my car and ran back to the line.

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Lester

The promoter sent us off in one wave with about 100 meter sprint for the hole shot to the first section of trail. I sat about tenth wheel coming out of the first section and passed a few riders in a field to get in decent position for the first major feature, a steep climb on loose soil peppered with rocks and roots. The legs were feeling great and I took time to recall certain features of the course during the first lap.

After a few minutes I was able to reach down and grab a drink from my bottle only to realize my day would be over sooner than later. In the haste of the start, I grabbed a bottle of only water and with temps in the mid-80’s and some humidity, made for a terrible recipe. I pushed through the first lap and about 1/4 into the second lap felt the muscles begin to tighten in my back. About 10 minutes later my right quad started to tighten forcing me off the bike to stretch. I managed to pull myself together enough to finish up and immediately guzzle all water in sight.

Walnut Creek Race 2 LWB

Though the result did not come as I desired, the effort during the first lap was a good sign. Now, time to recover, rest up and mentally dial-in for the big dance.

Virginia Mountain Bike Series

Lester’s current soundtrack: Stage 8 – Tour de France

Pro MTB Gravity Tour Round 4. Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia.

USA Cycling’s Pro Gravity Tour consists of six downhill events held around the country from April through September. The race at Snowshoe was the fourth in the series and leaves just two races remaining (Beech Mountain, North Carolina and Mammoth Lakes, California).

Collin McBride traveled own from Massachusetts to represent the Grassroots team.

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Collin (Photo by Snowshooter at Snowshoe Mountain)

From Collin:

“Had an amazing time in West Virginia for Pro GRT Round 4 at Snowshoe Mountain. The course was really dusty, loose, and fast. The Muddy Mary’s held up amazing in the red dirt. Didn’t have the run I was hoping for and slid out in a loose berm and put me in 7th. The Glory ran great and can’t wait to race Round 5 this weekend.”

Steel City Enduro, presented by Valley Mountain Bikers. Bethlehem, PA.

Grassroots rider Jake Possinger has spent his time as a cyclist racing primarily cross country and cyclocross, with a little dabbling in short track and downhill. This July, Jake finally got the chance to try his first Enduro when a local MTB advocacy group (Valley Mountain Bikers) hosted an enduro race near his home. Jumping in with both feet, Jake decided to register in the Pro category.

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Jake picking his line through some rocks

Jake’s take on the race:

“The race started at 10am with the Pro men going first. I caught on quickly to the way an enduro works. There were 5 stages, each about a mile long, with varying terrain. The first stage wound its way down and then up the side of the mountain. Nothing steep or long, but punchy. And rocky. The second stage moved a bit quicker and lacked the climbing that the first stage had. Once again, rocky.”

The third stage included the “Boulder Field,” where the trail was littered with softball sized rocks; the Fourth stage featured three punchy, rocky climbs; and the fifth stage contained the most downhill of the day.

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“I found myself thanking my Anthem 27.5 over and over as I glided over the major rock gardens. The Maestro suspension let me keep my speed up by pedaling through the rockiest section without experiencing the standard pedal-bob I’ve felt on other bikes… I think a major reason I stayed upright was my tire choice. I went with my standard Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.25’s. They gave me enough traction to keep speed in corners, and plenty of protection through the rocks.

My official result was 9th of 13 in Pro Men. I’m hooked on enduros now. The race was put on so well, and everyone was so cool. I think my favorite part was how relaxed everyone was, even as they prepared to take their shot at a stage.

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