Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cyclocross National Champions!

On Sunday, the 14th of December, the Appalachian State Cycling Team lined up against the best colleges and universities in the nation, vying for individual and team national titles. Sending a full squad of eight men and seven women, the Mountaineers had numbers, strength, and speed, but in cyclocross, anything can happen, and these men and women were ready.

The Men's DII race started out with a bang. Noah Niwinksi, the ACCC conference champion, had a front row call up, and put it to good use. The course had dried out over several days of racing, and warm weather had everyone bare-kneed and racing in skinsuits in the first of what was absolutely the fastest day of racing over the four day event. Alex Hannah had a mechanical early on when he rolled a tubular, but was able to fight back tooth and nail and work his way back up. As lapped riders were pulled, the App men marked their targets: Army, MIT, and Western Washington posed the greatest threats, and each App rider did everything he could, digging deep into the pain cave, to move up just one spot in order to outscore and displace the competition. At the end of it all, Noah Niwinski managed an impressive 8th place with Alex Hannah, Michael Koballa, and Ryan Fawley all placing in the top 20 and, more importantly, all finishing ahead of every Army rider.

The women's race was no more civil an affair. While the Men's race was a balmy 58 degrees, the mercury dropped and was hovering in the teens by the end of the Women's race. Ariel Leath, out for blood after a mechanical ended her U23 hopes the day before, took her ACCC conference champion call up and managed to hold a good position the entire day. Veteran Allison Forkner also got off to a good start, working her way up every lap. The real story of the women's race were the new riders, Rachel VandenEnde, Rachel Warriner, Amanda Gilbert, and Aenon Moose. These women are all relatively new to cyclocross, but put in the time and effort this season, all finishing in the top 15, with Ariel Leath oh so close to the podium in sixth place.

After an exciting round of pro races, the App State Cycling Team headed out from the comfort of the warmed tents to the podium. The Appalachian racers took the podium, donning red, white, and blue jerseys and gold medals, with Army and MIT taking second and third, respectively. Congratulations to everyone that raced and a big thanks to Doug Owen, his son Matt, and everyone else who made the long drive to help support our championship team!

The Mountaineer cyclists are now reloading and gearing up for an exciting and full road season, where they will be aiming for an unheard of third national championship title in one academic year and the overall team omnium award for the 2008-2009 school year. Stay tuned for more excitement, more race reports, and a continuation of our winning tradition!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

National Champions Parade!!!

Today at 5:00pm the University will recognize the Appalachian State University Cycling Team and the recent 2008 National Championship. The parade will consist of two laps with an official University police escort. The entire team, as well as the 11 wearing the stars and stripes, will be on hand to parade around Boone before making the final climb up to Chancellor Peacock's house!

Please come out and support your 2008 National Champions! Thank you for your support!

-App State Cycling

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rebecca is the National Champion!!

Appalachian State cyclist Rebecca Tomaszewski’s Cross-Country National Championship race began with a panicked outcry of “Rebecca, your race just started!” from Team Manager Doug Owen.

At that moment, most any other rider would have had her National Championship aspirations go up in flames. Rebecca simply jumped on her bike and sprinted off to catch the already charging Division II women’s field. She didn’t panic, hyperventilate, or lose her mental bearing. Instead, she rode her bike hard, and within a few minutes she was riding at the front of the pack. And why should she panic? Rebecca has been attracting attention for her singlespeed, fully rigid, 12- and 24-hour racing dominance for years! It been a common joke in the ASU camp that in order for her to do a 20-something mile collegiate cross country race, she’d have to warm up for six hours prior.

A group of App State volunteers stood in the feed zone and cheered Rebecca on as she started her final lap – she was only 39 seconds down on the leader! After she passed, we all walked to the finish line to cheer her on at the end.

“Rebecca is a really smart racer. I bet she has that girl in front of her right where she wants her.”
“She probably knows exactly where she’ll make the pass, this lap, watch.”

We waited at the finish, anxious to see Rebecca pop up over the rock wall that was our first point of visibility. The Division I finishers started to ride by – they had started five minutes before the DII women. As the first DI women we rolling in, we started counting places, trying to figure out exactly when Rebecca would come through.

“We’re going to have to yell her name as she rolls by. Chad (the race announcer) is not going to know what to say.”
“What if it comes down to a sprint? Rebecca only has one gear!”

We were so busy trying to play out what was going on back in the singletrack that we almost missed Rebecca rolling up to the finish. She almost missed it, too.

Because she missed the start, Rebecca didn’t hear the announcement that the race was shortened by one lap due to weather. At the finish, rather than sit up, take stock, and raise her arms in the finishing chute, Rebecca was gearing up for another lap. The announcer was caught off guard as well:
“Oh…and we have our women’s DII national champion, Rebecca…”
“Toma-shhesskey,” Dan and I yelled. Then we yelled it again… and again. Rebecca looked up in surprise, and then her face made the most incredible transformation, mud and sweat highlighting her elation.

“Damn, that was a fast lap. Wait, is she on a singlespeed?”

We didn’t hear Chad’s commentary after that though. We were already over to Rebecca, hugging her, yelling, and making a general scene of celebration and revelry. Almost immediately, a small crowd had formed around her. Rebecca had earned Appalachian State Cycling its first National Championship title!

“So you got that Stars and Stripes jersey you wanted.” But Rebecca wasn’t satisfied.
“Let go get some more!”
“Okay, There’s still Short Track, Downhill, Dual Slalom, the individual omnium, and a team title. Go for it!”

And with that, Rebecca was back on her bike, cooling down, thinking two days ahead to the final awards ceremony.

ASU claims its 1st Individual National Championship!

Update from Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships:

Banner Elk, NC - It's official. Appalachian State University has claimed its first national championship title with an impressive performance by Rebecca Tomaszewski in the women's cross country event. Tomaszewski becomes the first cyclist to ever win an individual national championship for Appalachian.

This is a huge day for our team. Appalachian will continue to compete this weekend at Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships in Banner Elk.
Alex Hannah, Alex Ryan, Scott Phillips, Andrew Mueller, Ryan Fawley, Michael Koballa, Michael Thomas, Steven Trottier, Rebecca Tomaszewski, Amanda Gilbert, and Bethany Carter will continue to represent Appalachian throughout the weekend.

For a full schedule of events, please visit http://www.ncca.lmc.edu/ScheduleOfEvents.htm.

More updates will continue to follow over the weekend. Stay tuned.

-App State Cycling

Friday, October 17, 2008

2008 Mountain Bike Conference Champions!

Congratulations to everyone who raced and helped volunteer this past weekend. Not only did we run a great conference championship race, hosting five events for a more than full weekend, our points total was the highest for the weekend, and so that means we are the overall winners out of all DI and DII schools.

And a special congratulations to Alex Hannah, this years ACCC Mountain Bike Conference Champion! Alex managed to fight through sickness to finish strong this weekend, and accumulated the most points out of anyone this season, earning the conference champion title.

Make sure to give Alex a pat on the back if you see him, as well as Dan Wendover, our president who worked hard to put on the weekend, and Emerson Howe, Alex Dunn, and everyone else who volunteered or raced. Congratulations!

Monday, September 8, 2008

App State Home Mountain Race - Day 2

Sunday morning saw another day of action at Dark Mountain, hosted by the Appalachian State Cycling Team. Short track kicked off the day with a short loop from the start of the XC course run in reverse. A steep jeep trail climb followed by heinous uphill switchbacks created separation among riders who tried to keep any lead gained through the fast, flowing downhill back to the start. In Men's C action, Zach Parker created an early lead that only grew bigger over the 20 minute race. By the end he was a few minutes ahead of his closest rival and took home a big win to counter his mechanical in the prior day's XC race. Kyle Dubois was looking good on the course, too, but the tight and fast downhill on the back side of the course got the better of him, and he had to abandon after a close encounter with a large pine tree. In Men's B, Noah Niwinski was the big story, using his well honed handling skills from cyclocross to weave through the course, winning with little effort. Dan Wendover came up big again, taking fourth. They both upgraded to As after the Men's B short track and raced the A race as well, where Noah was able to bring in a respectable seventh, even after having just raced the B race. Alex Ryan again shot off the starting line and again made it into the woods first, just like the day before. After trading pulls with Matt Rotroff of NC State, Alex came up the strongest and brought home first place. Ryan Fawley, resident XXC guru, showed he wasn't afraid of a little intensity, taking fourth place in the 25 minute effort, with Michael Koballa and Alex Hannah bringing in fifth and sixth just behind.

On the gravity side of things, Appalachian again hosted a downhill event utilizing part of the XC course along with a few sections specific to the downhill course. In Men's C, newcomer Robert Sztukowski put in the fastest time of the field at 1:45.02. Thatcher Hurt exchanged his cross country bike for something a little beefier, taking fouth in his first gravity event with a respectable time of 1:46.09. In Men's A, domination was once again the name of the game. Craig Folsom upgraded to Men's A overnight after his win in Dual Slalom and took seventh place in the field. Daniel Sapp had a good starting run and was looking fast through the rock garden before a flat tire slowed him down, but not enough to keep him from getting sixth place. Of course, the last three riders to go off - Mike Thomas, Steven Trottier, and Andrew Mueller - ended up the fastest of the day. The three finished one, two, three on Saturday in Dual Slalom, and sure enough repeated the feat and in the same order. Mike Thomas set the fastest time at 1:25.64 with Steven Trottier barely edging out Andrew Mueller with times of 1:29.64 and 1:30.93, respectively.

Overall, Appalachian was by far the best team of the weekend, scoring the most points and winning just about every event we entered. As such we're solidly in the lead for conference, a position we plan to hold all the way until Nationals. Check back next weekend for more stories of glory from the Appalachian State Cycling Team!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

App State Home Mountain Race - Day 1

The Appalachian State cycling team hosted the opening race of mountain season today, running cross country and dual slalom races. Racing at the Dark Mountain trail system at Kerr Scott Dam in Wilksboro, with beautiful weather, Appalachian opened the season in dominate fashion, setting an excellent tone for things to come.

Cross Country kicked off early in the day. Rebecca Tomaszewski graced us with her 24hour National Champion presence and easily dominated the Women's A field. In Women's B, Amanda Gilbert made her mountain bike debut. She clearly didn't ride like a novice, as she took first place, and senior Mae Beeler finished close behind in second. Similarly, Brendan Murray came out for his first mountain bike race and took the win in the Men's C field, with veteran Martin Wadewitz taking second and Kyle Dubois taking third. In Men's B action, Dan Wendover took a dominate win reminiscent of his first place finish last year, with Jacob Florence coming in second, outsprinting a Virginia Tech rider. Noah Niwinski and Thatcher Hurt started off second and third in the woods, looking very promising, but mechanicals meant this just wasn't their race. The big story of the endurance races today, however, was the Men's A race. Alex Ryan and Alex Hannah both came in strong off of very successful summer seasons, ready to lay their foundation for a National Championship run. Alex Ryan took off the starting line like a rocket, the first rider into the woods with a large gap. It wasn't meant to be, though, as Alex Hannah made up time and at the start of the second lap had establish a multi-minute gap on Alex Ryan. Alex Hannah finished for the win with Alex Ryan taking second and Ryan Fawley taking third. Honorable mention goes to Michael Koballa who flatted on the start line but fought back tooth and nail for eight, having to pass the entire Men's B field.

In the afternoon everyone's attention turned to the first gravity event of the season with Dual Slalom. Rebecca Tomaszewski and Amanda Gilbert won Women's A and B, respectively. Craig Folsom and Will Washam made their debut taking first and third in Men's B, showing up big in their first collegiate race. The big boys came out to play, though, in Men's A. There was no contest between Appalachian State and any other school. Andrew Mueller was just barely edged out and took third for the day, while Mike Thomas and Steven Trottier went head to head to determine the gravity winner. In two close rounds, the two riders flew down the course in a fashion otherwise unseen for the day - nobody else came close to riding the course as our top three guys. In complete control and pushing hard, Mike Thomas was able to come out on top over Steven Trottier, even if just barely.

Check back as tomorrow we will have race recaps for short track and downhill, where Appalachian will certainly dominate the field again.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A new year approaching!

As the summer temperatures rush into the southern Appalachians and the temperatures begin to rise, the heat is also on for the team as riders prepare for another big year just around the corner. You can certainly count on the ASU Cycling Team to continue preparations for next year's seasons and to continue the reputation of being one of the best and most talented cycling team's in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Part of preparing for next year includes team sponsorship, perhaps the most important part of the entire year besides racing! Sponsorship efforts go a long way in helping to deter the costs for competing in three different racing seasons and traveling all over the east coast to represent Appalachian. Sponsor packets for the 2008-2009 racing seasons will go out later this summer to different organizations and businesses all over the state and southeast. If you're company is interested in being a part of the success of the Appalachian State Cycling Team, please contact Team President, Dan Wendover, at appstatecycling@gmail.com.

We look forward to representing you and your company in next year's races!

-App State Cycling

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Triple Crown Achieved!

The Appalachian State Cycling Team recently rapped up another successful year with the completion of the road season this past weekend at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships at Wake Forest. The Mountaineers claimed their 3rd straight ACC Road Championship and with the win, the Apps pulled off the triple crown for the first time in school history by winning all three categories for the year; Mountain, Cyclocross, and Road.

Appalachian has made a name for itself in the ACC by becoming a force to reckon with during the road racing season. The 2008 Road Championship now gives Appalachian five road titles in the history of the program with other wins coming in 2001, 2002, 2006, and 2007. The Mountaineers will lose a few strong riders to graduation, but the 2008-2009 roster promises to be just as strong. The return of riders who specialize in different seasons such as Dan Sapp (Mountain), Noah Niwinski (Cyclocross), Alex Hannah and Jacob Florence (Road) points to a bright future for the ASU Cycling Team.

This past year was one of the most difficult in terms of competition due to the recent addition of Pfeiffer University to the conference. Pfeiffer is one of two teams in the conference with varsity status, along with Navy, enabling them to give full scholarships to their riders. Appalachian has benefited from having talented riders with a pure love for the sport. These riders have made it clear that they are not willing to sacrifice education for free rides. Club sports at Appalachian takes dedication and hard work and the ASU Cycling Team puts in hours upon hours of training in order to compete at the highest level week-in, week-out.

Conference Championship Review:
The ACC Championship weekend witnessed an onslaught of domination imposed by the men and women from Boone. The weekend kicked off with the road race in Lewisville, NC where Appalachian racked up top five and top ten finishes. As usual, Chris Jones took home 1st place in Men's D after rocketing to the sprint finish. Jones credited teammate Emerson Howe with the superb leadout to the finish and for protecting him throughout the race. Martin Wadewitz took 7th in Men's C, while Zach Greene claimed his second win on the season with a 1st place finish in Men's B. David Forkner rode a strong race in Men's A after being aggressive early on in the day. It would pay off for the senior from Franklin, NC as Forkner rode to a 2nd place finish. In the Women's B race, Amanda Gilbert brought home a great 4th place finish.

The 40k Team Time Trial put a finish to Saturday's races and Appalachian didn't dissapoint the spectators. The Mountaineers took home several awards from the team time trials including 1st in Men's D, 2nd in Men's B, 3rd in Men's A, and 2nd in Women's A. 

Sunday's downtown Winston-Salem criterium would put a finish to the championship season. Chris Jones took home his third 1st place finish in Men's D from the weekend while Michael Wilson placed 5th in Men's A. Lauren Trull capped off her senior year with a win in Women's A after launching to 1st in the finishing sprint. Perhaps the story of the afternoon was  in the Men's B criterium where teamwork was evident throughout the race. Jacob Florence went in a six man break mid-race and from there it was Appalachian doing the work in the main field to keep everyone at bay while Florence went on to claim 6th, as well as an individual conference title. Dan Wendover, who finished 8th, would lead out fellow teammate Zach Greene to a 7th place finish in one of the most spectacular sprints witnessed by spectators.

Individual conference titles were claimed by Chris Jones in Men's D, Jacob Florence in Men's B and Michael Wilson in Men's A. David Forkner also stood on the final podium by taking home 2nd overall in Men's A. The 2008 team championship and individual conference titles put a capstone on the most successful season in the history of ASU Cycling. With a host of returning riders for the 2008-2009 campaign, expect Appalachian to once again battle it out for numerous conference championships.

-App State Cycling

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hello Conference Championships!

Indeed that is the phrase going around as the Appalachian State Cycling Team prepares to fend off the rest of the ACCC in their quest to capture their 3rd straight Atlantic Coast Cycling Conference Road Championship (5th Road Championship overall). The ACCC Conference Championships will take place this weekend at Wake Forest in beautiful Winston-Salem, NC. With less than a two hour drive to the races this weekend, expect the Appalachian Mountaineers to bring a full squad of talent as they prepare for the biggest test of them all.

Before moving into too much detail about the Championship weekend, let's go ahead and review the domination that ensued at West Virginia University this past weekend. We'll start with the men's and women's individual time trial that took place last Saturday. Apparently someone made Michael Wilson a bit upset as he decided to destroy everyone in the men's A field by launching to a 2nd place finish in the solo effort. One could also argue that Jacob Florence had a quarrel to settle as he let everyone know that this was his day by rocketing to a 1st place finish in the men's B time trial. I guess the same power juice trickled down to the men's C and D fields as Emerson Howe also picked up a win, and Chris Jones brought home a 3rd place finish in men's D. Amanda Gilbert also picked up crucial women's points by finishing a respectable 7th on the day.

The road race took place Sunday as the rain once again decided to make an appearance in a brutal race of strength and talent. Michael Wilson would again carry the Appalachian banner and his good form over into the road race by finishing 6th in men's A. Florence and Daniel Wendover would take 4th and 6th respectively in men's B. Chris Jones picked up a podium finish with 2nd in men's D while Amanda Gilbert took home 7th on the afternoon. All in all, it was another good weekend for the Mountaineers as they once again placed some separation on themselves from other conference contenders such as Pfeiffer University and John Hopkins.

And so we look forward to this weekend as Appalachian looks to put a cap on another great season, and rest assure that the Apps will only view this season as a success if they can once again rise to the top of the ACCC! With strong riders such as Michael Wilson, David Forkner, Jason Waddell, Jacob Florence, Daniel Wendover, Zach Greene, Chris Jones, Lauren Trull, Amanda Gilbert, and a host of others expected to make an appearance this weekend, you can bet that at least a few of these men and women will expect to be standing on the podium later this weekend. The weekend will also mark the "end of an era" for many of the team's veteran riders as Appalachian will wave goodbye to these members due to graduation. Our departing senior and graduate riders include: Michael Wilson, David Forkner, Michael Trivette, Zach Greene, Jeremy Edwards, Chris Jones, Alex Fowler, and Lauren Trull. Another senior, Alex Hannah, will return next season as he transitions from undergraduate student to graduate student. The team wishes to extend a big thanks to David Forkner for his continued leadership and dedication over the past few years. David has been a huge part of this team's success and honestly, we don't know what Appalachian State Cycling would be without him. One thing is for sure, however, and that involves David continuing to be a big part of this team even after graduation and marriage, yes marriage! David will marry his longtime sweetheart, Bonnie, in less than a month! We wish them the best in years of happiness together and we hope they continue to support the team as they have over the past five years. Thanks again David, and good luck in your final weekend of conference action before nationals!

This weekend will mark the final conference weekend before Cycling Nationals! App State Cycling is alive and well, and we hope to see you this weekend in Winston-Salem! It should be a great weekend of racing. A full report on this weekend's races will come next week.

-App State Cycling

Sunday, April 6, 2008

1st in the ACCC!

To update you on last weekend's impressive results in Charlottesville, VA, the Appalachian State Cycling Team officially moved into 1st place in the ACCC! Pfeiffer University dropped into second place while John Hopkins continues to hold on to the third place. These next few weeks will be crucial as the Mountaineers set out to capture an unprecedented 3rd straight ACCC Road Championship as well as the triple crown with Mountain, Cyclocross, and Road Championships all in the same season!

This past weekend witnessed another impressive Appalachian showing in Blacksburg, VA, as Yosef's finest captured numerous top 10 finishes as well as a sweep of 1st place finishes in the men's D races with Chris Jones continuing to unleash the fury as he took home the win in both the road race and the uphill time trial. Michael Wilson led the men's A team with a 6th place finish in the road race and a 4th place finish in the time trial. The women also placed well this weekend with Amanda Gilbert and Allison Forkner continuing to pick up those vital points in the women's races.

Appalachian will look to distance itself yet again from the rest of the ACCC as they travel to West Virginia this upcoming weekend. Look for updates from those races and more this upcoming weekend as Appalachian prepares to defend its conference title at Wake Forest in just under two weeks! The finish line is almost there on the 2008 campaign and we'll keep you posted on every step of the way as the Mountaineers look to solidify their hold of 1st place in the ACCC!

-AppState Cycling

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Road Season Update

The men and women from Boone have been showing impressive results throughout the ACCC so far this season and we wanted to update you on their results. The Mountaineers recently competed in Philadelphia, Boone, and Harrisonburg, VA, and Charlottesville, VA. Only three weekends remain in the 2008 season with races remaining at Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Wake Forest. It's now or never for the Appalachian State Cycling Team and you can certainly bet that the Apps will leave it all on the table in hopes of walking away with another conference title.

Philadelphia was a display of brutal weather with constant rain and heavy winds but the Apps managed to pull out some much needed points in their quest to capture their third straight ACCC Road Championship. The home weekend over Easter Break in Boone witnessed an impressive display of heroics by the riders in black and gold as top five finishes were common. Zach Greene came out of the woodwork to record his first win of the 2008 campaign by launching to a 1st place finish in a sprint for the line in a road race that included only a select group of riders at the finish. The women with Amanda Gilbert, Allison Forkner, and Ariel Leath also recorded top finishes in the women's B road race on a beautiful afternoon in Boone. Other top performances include that of Chris Jones and Josh Marcus who both recorded top five finishes in their respective road races. Special attention also goes to Lauren Trull who recorder two first place finishes in the women's A road race and criterium. David Forkner unleashed the fury in Sunday's criterium as well as he soloed to a 2nd place finish after constantly being in break-aways all afternoon. If there was an aggressive rider award for Boone's criteriums, David would take home that honor without any doubt.

The Mountaineers have fought back tooth and nail with in-state rival Pfeiffer University as well as conference power John Hopkins. Harrisonburg and Charlottesville provided a few opportunities for Appalachian to make up some ground on first place as they currently sit at 2nd in the conference standings. It is very crowded at the top of the conference standings but the Mountaineers are resilient in their efforts to capture that elusive third conference title. Updated ACCC standings will be coming shortly so stay posted!

-App State Cycling

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mountain Bike Championships Rewind

Collegiate mountain bike national championships are where the best of the best collegiate mountain bike racers go to compete against everyone else in the country at the collegiate level. Like road or cross nationals, most all of the riders at the event are expert or pro racers outside of college, so it facilitates some fierce competition, but being in college it also brings out some fierce partying, and the weekend before Haloween, many people arrived from all over the country to make a strong showing in many different fashions for the first time in nearby Banner Elk where Lees McRae College was for the first time ever, hosting the race.

The weekend started out on Thursday with all of the teams getting into town and the athletes getting registered and checked in at Lees McRae's campus, then it was the "mandatory" rider meeting in their auditorium where they went over the usual stuff you would expect to hear about being prompt, where to be when, and what not to do etc, over the course of the weekend. After the meeting, people parted ways, most went to Sugar Mountain where most people had opted to set up lodging, the few of us from Appalachian State headed back down the road to Boone.

Racing in the southeast United States, or the "dirty south" as many of us call it, is quite different than racing anywhere else in the country. We don't have the same type of mountains and rocks, we have a different kind of dirt, and a different kind of mud. Although we were in the middle of an exceptional drought that had been going on for months at the time of nationals, I wasn't worried, for since there was a bike race in Banner Elk, and the Downhill part of it was held at Sugar Mountain Resort, I was almost positive that it would rain. I predicted this months ahead of time and, sure enough, for the four days prior to the event, we had more rain than we recieved in the past couple months.

The cross country course at Lees McRae was a little different than the typical national championship course. Many times, the races are held at a ski resort which usually means alot of climbing on a fireroad and then a technical singletrack descent. This year, the race was held on the campus of LMC, therefore, it was a tecnhical course both up and down, and the newness of the course, combined with the amazing amount of technical features, and the rain, provided some of the slickest mud most of the racers had ever seen. There were many people that posted up great times from running a good majority of the race. To get an idea of how muddy it was, more than one person was seen dunking their bike in the millpond at the end of each lap in order get the mud off so they could keep racing. The highlight of the last lap was a rider completing his final lap, after going for a swim, stopping at the "breakfast and refreshments" tent, and changing to a 16'' wheeled bike with riser bars on it which he proceeded to ride/run with for nearly a lap and pedal across the finish line. Hundreds of people were yelling for him, it was awesome, it was collegiate racing at it's finest. App State had strong finishes in the XC race with Robert Jameson on the podium with a 5th place and Alex Hannah right behind him in 6th. Jerid Gooding came in 15th just a few minutes later after an incredibly strong ride throughout the entire race.

Next up was Downhill qualifiers. The way that the qualification runs were set up was pretty relaxed and made it easy on the riders. You just show up, tell the official your number and go. The course was quite the opposite. Everyone from around here is used to racing the course in the mud, and knows it well wet or dry, fall brings in a new variable....tree droppings. Leafs were everywhere, they all seemed to come down in the rain and wind. They were slick enough and thick enough that the town of Sugar Mountain was using snow plows to clear the roads. This made the already technical and treacherous downhill course even more gnarly. The upper entrance to the famed "Donnovan's Dungeon" section of the course was closed off after people were having trouble walking down it, and probably less than 10 people on the mountain, most of us being local, could cleanly ride it. The old classic, or sport course entrance to the dungeon was decided on instead the morning of qualifiers. This was alot of pressure off of alot of people, but the course was still gnar. People were sliding, falling, sliding, falling more, and having alot of trouble everywhere, especially in one section under the lift. It was really a matter of trusting your tires, if you could trust them, and getting off the brakes and letting it rip, because soon as you lost momentum, you were down. Being that qualifying only determined your start order, everyone went hard, but saved some for Saturday, because getting hurt on Friday would get you nowhere. Robert Jameson wins the most awesome award for using the qualifying run as his first ever ride on the course in boots, a cross country helmet, no pads, and on a borrowed bike. He came up short on the creek gap and had to go fishing for the bike, but still finished out his run.

Saturday was race day for Downhill and Short Track. Downhill was first. At 7am we were at Sugar ready to go, my teammates had got my bike clean and working near perfectly, and everyone was getting psyched up to race, however it was about 40 degrees, very foggy, and very wet, so the race officials decided to postpone for a while. Not being really certain of the time, we sat at the top of Sugar and instead of doing the usual warmup, I decided to sit in the car with the heat on full blast because it was misterable outside. By the time the women went and we were up, I was more than ready to go, I was not really warmed up but just wanted to get down the mountain, fast as possible, in one piece because it was pretty miserable at the top. Robert went off, then a while later Scott Phillips went, after that I was soon up, and Michael Thomas was near the end of the line after posting an impressive qualifying time. The fog was thick at the top and I definitely had to take it slow. I was stunned in the woods about four seconds into the race to hear our biggest fans, Mulestar and John Grant getting their yell on, and from then I was pretty pumped and dropped the hammer all I could in the fog. I got through the most technical section in my opinion, "Newton's Corner," and it was onto the rock, where Dane from Lees McRae was holding the typical grab the dollar in your race run challenge. I opted out, having been riding clean so far and was further motivated by the 25-30 people standing there screaming at the top of their lungs as I plummeted down a sketchy, fast, wet, steep rockface onto the wide open slopes for a short break before the fast and technical woods and ski lift section. I rode clean through all of that, and pinned the section under the ski lift by where alot of folks from ASU were standing yelling just before the chute into the "Lizard's Lane" section of the trail. On through all of that and out onto the ski slopes for a final sprint for the finish. I came across completely exhausted and out of breath and was in 2nd place. I held onto that for a few more riders then the fog got thinner and the times got faster as the fastest qualifiers were getting optimal conditions for their race runs. The times were getting alot faster and we were all wondering what Mike would pull out being he knew this course well and was looking for the "W". He ended up in an impressive 5th place, on the podium, with a crash where he had to retrieve his bike and lose all of his momentum. I ended up in 15th, Scott got 19th after having a little trouble in a couple places, and Robert, shaved over two minutes off his first run, posting a very competitive time on the world class downhill track, pretty solid for an xc racer.

The short track was next, everyone was pretty much exhausted at this point, having either raced that day or the day before. App State had a good showing with Robert coming in 6th and Jerid in the top 20. Dave and Alex both put in a great first few laps at the front, but the exhaustion from the grueling day before, and some unwanted bike problems seemed to catch up with them as well as many of the other top riders and pull them down. The course was not very technical and even saw one racer from NC State show up on a cyclocross bike.

Saturday night was the awards banquet at Sugar Mountain. The party atmosphere was in the air, people were in costumes, sprits were flying high, and several times, food was flying higher. Awards were given out and Appalachian was on the podium two times. Everyone, especially Lees McRae showed full support of our local riders as the only team that got more volume out of a podium would be of course, Lees McRae. It was out of control, but everyone quieted down and showed more respect than at any other collegiate event for speaker Christopher Herndon, who recently won National Dual Slalom Championships and placed 3rd in the downhill championship race at Mt. Snow Vermont, was once in the same spot we were, racing at Collegaite Nationals. He spoke for a few minutes about racing, what it means to race, and some other important things that I'm pretty sure every collegiate racer there took to heart. It was a pretty good speech and it was awesome to see the amount of respect that the hundreds of people in that room have for him because of not only the way he races, but the way that he doesn't try to intimidate or act "better" than everyone else, but will take the time to talk to, and hang out, like a normal person, with anyone he is around.

After the awards, the parties ensued. The famed naked crit location was determined after awhile, and several people decided to participate, hundreds more watched, and as the police rolled up to that, the parties went elsewhere. The main partying went on at a house near sugar for about twenty minutes until the police showed up. They didn't really know what to do, having never had to deal with that many people at once before, but it was decided that the location should be moved in the best intrests of everyone involved, so the party went on to several other locations throughout the night.

Sunday morning was dual slalom racing. At this point, everyone except the top racers competing on Sunday and a few select other people were exhausted from either racing or partying too much the night before. Qualifying took a long long time, and racing took almost as long. By the end of the afternoon, the races were getting very tight and the racing was getting exciting to watch. Dane provided more entertainment by having the dollar challenge going of course and had his megaphone he reacquired the night before back in his hands heckling nearly everyone that pedaled by the last turn. At the end of the day, Scott had raced well, but run after run finally caught up to him and he went down in one of the later rounds. Mike raced well and ended up 5th once again, and once again on the podium. Geoff from ETSU took the win, not partying the night before and getting alot of sleep seemed to pay off.

At the end of the weekend, ASU was well represented. With both Michael and Robert on the podium two times each (Robert also got 5th in the individual omnium) and a handfull of other very impressive results, Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals went pretty well. Everyone that raced had alot of fun and everyone that came out and watched seemed to have just as much, if not more fun watching all the mayhem and incredible racing that went on over the course of the weekend. Next year promises more of the same and even fiercer competition as everyone in the sport progresses more and more. All in all, Collegiate Nationals is an event that anyone who participates in will likely remember as one of the best times of their college carreer and a high point in their life as hundreds of people gather in one place with one purpose: to ride their bike fast, and most importantly, to have fun.

-AppState Cycling

Monday, February 18, 2008

2008 Road Season Begins!

This past weekend marked the beginning of the 2008 Road Cycling campaign and the men and women from Boone rolled deep on the path to Raleigh, NC for the first road weekend of the season. Thirty riders from Appalachian were sporting the 2008 colors during the initial racing weekend and many walked away with great finishes while others fell to unfortunate mishaps in a crash-filled weekend for many ACC teams.

The weekend kicked-off with the men's and women's road races and the weather was absolutely beautiful for Saturday's events. The racing action began at 8:30am with the men's A's and men's B's taking off within ten minutes of one another. However, the tone was set early on this unprecedented weekend of carnage and spilled blood. The first reported crash of the day came from the men's B field where Appalachian looked to be most dominant before the race with 10 riders listed on the entry list. About five miles into the 56 mile event, a horrific crash took down close to 20 riders, including six Mountaineers. Jacob Florence was able to continue but five other Appalachian riders were unable to continue due to injury and broken bikes. Bradley Burgess suffered the worst injury after being taken to the hospital where doctors discovered a broken right collarbone. Burgess will miss the remainder of the season but he may be able to return for conference championships at Wake Forest. Jeremy Edwards, Zach Parker, and Dan Wendover placed in the top 20 for the men's B race while Edwards claimed the 8th spot in the finishing sprint to the line. In the men's A race, Michael Wilson went on to claim a 12th place finish and Jerid Gooding and Alex Hannah finished 16th and 19th respectively. David Forkner looked strong in an early four man break, but an unfortunate spill late in the race ruined Forkner's chances for the early season win. Perhaps the best finish of the day came from the men's C and men's D races where Martin Wadewitz came home with a 3rd place finish in the C field, while Chris Jones took 3rd in the men's D race and Emerson Howe took 5th just behind Jones. Special recognition also goes out to the women this weekend where Amanda Gilbert and Allison Forkner finished in the top 15 of the women's B race.

After Saturday's festivities, riders would again prepare for another day of racing at NC State's Centennial Campus where Appalachian would be competing in the criterium races. Top 10's dominated the day with Michael Wilson taking 6th in men's A, Michael Koballa taking 5th and Zach Parker taking 10th in men's B, Martin Wadewitz at 2nd and Matt Grainger with 6th in men's C, and Chris Jones, Alex Fowler, and Emerson Howe finishing 2nd, 7th, and 9th respectively in men's D. Amanda Gilbert and Allison Forkner once again finished with another strong performance in the women's B criterium finishing 15th and 16th respectively.

All in all, it was a strong first weekend to the ACC Road Season with only a few casualties. Appalachian finished 2nd on the weekend in the road races behind only Pfeiffer University, and the Mountaineers finished 1st overall in Sunday's criteriums. Certainly Appalachian is well on its way to claiming a 3rd straight ACC Road crown and the Apps will look to continue their winning ways this weekend when they travel to William & Mary for another ACC showdown. The team would like to take this time to wish Bradley Burgess a speedy recovery in hopes of making it back for conference championships. If you know Bradley, you'll certainly know that he'll be on the trainer and in the gym working on keeping his good fitness. Stay tuned for next week's update following William & Mary.

-App State Cycling