- Bike Checks
The Pro GRT at Windrock sets the bar.
Acold start to Saturday at the Windrock Pro GRT meant the pits were in slow motion, as riders milled about the rural venue trying to stay warm and get pumped to ride. The gray sky loomed overhead, but all we felt were the flurries of snow before practice began.
-Story, interviews and photos by Zach Faulkner
The track dried up from rains earlier in the week, but it was getting abused and rough meaning riding was no easier than Friday's greasy conditions. Being the weekend, Windrock was abuzz with every sort of motorized vehicle heading out to explore the 400+ miles of off-road trails that the 72,000-acre public park has squirreled away. As two strokes turned over and rock crawlers lumbered up the access road, downhill mountain bike racers were layering up and getting motivated to ride.
The mix of fuel injection and pedal power was a unique juxtaposition, with each side of the line gawking at the other. The motor folk thought the cyclists were nuts for riding bikes over rocks and big jumps, and the riders thought the fossil-fuel-drinking folk were insane for operating powerful motorized machines with minimal safety gear [read: quad riders with no helmets on...!]. But, it was all amicable and pleasant, and the cohabitation of sport was a reassuring sight to see.
Race day got underway promptly, and the stayed on schedule start to finish thanks to the hard work of race organizers and volunteers. The riding was furiously paced, and the times were fiercely tight. The spectating turnout was better than expected, but the rider turnout was fantastic. Deep fields across Elite Women, Men, and Juniors were impressive and bodes well for the season ahead.
Neko Mulally (local World Cup racer and manager of the Windrock Bike Park) and his crew of family and friends produced a stellar event, one which has been heralded as the new benchmark for American racing, and what it means to produce a quality event. In just two weekends in the South East, American DH racing has been reinvigorated and re-inspired. 2017 is looking rad!
Vital would like to thank Zach Faulkner for his incredible work on the ground, in the pits and up late at night. Thanks for showing us that #USDH is back! -gordo