Neko's Race Goes Off - Downhill Southeast at Bailey Mountain 3

There's a passion for downhill racing in the Southeast United States that is unparalleled. Neko Mulally and a crew of committed locals kick off the Downhill Southeast season with the first race at Bailey Mountain, North Carolina and Vital's Zach Faulkner was there to catch the virus of #USDH and spread it to the rest of us!

Neko's Race Goes Off - Downhill Southeast at Bailey Mountain

It’s time to go racing! The first race of the season on the East Coast kicked off at the Bailey Mountain Bike Park with the Downhill Southeast series started and run by Neko Mulally. In its second year now, the early season events attract a sizeable amateur crowd, and a large Open class in both men and women. The basic premise of the events is to just get out and have fun with your friends on bikes while racing against the clock. Downhill Southeast races also provide a good warm-up to the regular season for both the weekend warriors and World Cup racers alike.

By Zach Faulkner

Audio - Neko Mulally, racer and race organizer


The day before the race, the local band of World Cup riders were tasked with building two ramps for loading and unloading the shuttle bus. It quickly turned into a competition: Max Morgan and Kiran McKinnon vs. Charlie Harrison and Greg Williamson.

With just word of mouth, Downhill Southeast has fast become one of the premier series to attend, as the tracks are all fun and exciting, and the atmosphere is second to none - smiles everywhere, as laughter and cheeky shenanigans abound.

"I did this so we had a chance at some early season training and it's about to start, so I'm stoked," said Neko Mulally. His crew of friends and family put in a top effort to deliver a flawless event, replete with amazing tacos. It really doesn’t get better than that!

Audio - East Coast legend, Mickey Denoncourt

This is what it looks like when two engineers build a simple pedestrian ramp.
First race of the year! You ready?

Bailey Mountain is a privately operated spot with a few re-purposed military vehicles as shuttle trucks. Neko brought over one of his buses from Windrock as a parking shuttle, and the Windrock crew brought their shuttle vehicle to aid in getting all of the riders up the hill and on course.

Brendan Looby is an O.G. East Coast ruler. He's one funny guy and always up to something. He got into the spirit of racing in the South with this outfit. #sunsoutgunsout

Audio - Brendan Looby

The leaves weren't out yet but the sun and the riders were. Day 1 practice was a celebration of shred.

Bailey Mountain Stats

  • 3400 foot top elevation
  • 12 runs
  • 2 uplifts
  • 1000 vertical feet

Isak Leivsson made a point to show everyone how to ride the track he built.

Fred Hinely was Neko's first team manager, offering him a jersey and spot on a team many years ago in Reading, PA. Unfortunately he went down with a wrist injury and will be out of commission for a bit.

All the way down from Northern VT, Jack Williams was keen to get into things, and immediately started letting loose first run down.

This was run number three for Kiran MacKinnon, and it was clear he was ready to race after a winter of training and work.

"I'm pretty thankful there's a race down here we can get to in the middle of winter, so we can get some dirt time in." - Alex McAndrew from Vermont

They call him Juice. Josh Rogers hucked it into 6th place in the finals.

Even through the bramble, it was clear early on during Open Men's practice that Nathan St. Claire was going to be a contender.

Fast and low was the name of the game this weekend, and Neko Mulally managed to not only do just that for 4th place, he also managed to put on a flawless race. Quite the balancing act!


Audio - Charlie Harrison after the first day of practice

Jake Kahn is hard to miss on track.  Hiss bike and helmet catch the eye, but his fast and low style really make him stick out.  He'll be pushing hard in 2017, so keep watch on him this season.
The Norwegian power duo of Vera Leivsdottir and Frida Ronning were lapping together all weekend.  It's rad to see a stacked Open Women's field at the first race of the year!

Audio - Michael Hakala from the Tacoed Wheel

Bernadette (Bernie) Merriman was turning heads all weekend with her rad line choice and fluid style.

Isak Leivsson

Fastest Speedtrap of Men Over 40 went to Chuck Pitts, who was clearly stoked to score himself a new dropper post courtesy of Fox.

The best in the biz. Tacoed Wheel masterchef, Michael Hakala.

Mickey Denoncourt - legend!

''Wait, let me give you my Blue Steel!'' Trill Will is a local legend and a powerhouse on the mic. Rob Warner, watch out!

Audio - Trill Will

I asked Neko who some of the notable Ams were, and he said, "Oh Chris Grice - literally the first kid down. Shoot him." Well, here he is, on his way to winning! Look at that scrub form!

13 years old and sending the big moves on course, Keegan Rowley will be one of the young guns to watch this season.

Race winner, Greg Williamson

Audio - Greg Williamson, Pro Men's Winner

Isak Leivsson pushing to 2nd place.

Audio - Isak Leivsson, 2nd Place Pro Men

Reigning Collegiate National Champion, Frida Ronning won all three #DHSE races in 2016, and made it four in a row this weekend by winning the opening round of 2017 - all while studying to be a mechinical engineer!

Audio - Frida Ronning, Women's Winner

From Left to Right:  Vera Leivsdottir, Frida Ronning, Caroline Washam
From Left to Right: Rafael Ferarra, Chris Grice, Ben Rickter
From Left to Right:  Kiran MacKinnon, Charlie Harrison, Greg Williamson, Isak Leivsson, Neko Mulally

Carolina Pro Flooring delivered in a big way on the medals! They made and donated them for the all of the Downhill Southeast events, as well as the Pro GRT at Windrock.

See 67 photos from the race

View the Race Results

#USDH

Thanks to Zach Faulkner (who you may know as sideshow here on Vital) for capturing the spirit of American DH racing in the Southeast!

3 comments
  • bizutch

    3/6/2017 8:05 PM

    Great. The race I miss is the one Spomer covers, bothers to give Mickey air time...and Chuck takes my prize. Dammit!

  • sspomer

    3/7/2017 6:35 AM

    it was a calculated move that took years of planning.

  • bizutch

    3/7/2017 8:34 PM

    Perfect response. Miss our little chats brother.

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