RIT weekend update

By: Joe Kopena

Photos

 

This weekend the ECCC explored the roots of mountain bike racing,
returning after some years to Plattekill Mountain in New York.  The XC
event featured old-school ski resort MTB racing, with riders
challenged to 1100 vertical feet of climbing each lap, from the lodge
to the top of the mountain, and a long descent down Plattekill’s
highly technical trail system.  Downhillers were greeted with
Plattekill’s widely known and well regarded big-hit racing, with both
of the weekend’s DH courses featuring substantial drops on the main
lines.  Short track featured extremely tight pack racing in all
categories, with a newer style ECCC STXC course of wide open climbs,
singletrack descents, and a handful of bike park features, all looping
around the lodge and main lift.

Greg DiSanto (UNH) continued his winning streak, picking up the XC
victory despite having to repeatedly chase back into the lead after
suffering no less than three flats, and keeping just enough energy to
also take the high speed STXC on Sunday.  Adam Gagne (UMass) and Dan
O’Connor (UConn) went 1 and 2 in downhill racing both Saturday and
Sunday.  Elizabeth White (UVM) and Emily Paxson (UVM) continued their
domination of the women’s scene, trading victories between the
endurance and gravity races.

Next weekend the ECCC heads to PennState and the Rothrock PA State
Forest for the first time in several years, yet another return to an
ECCC MTB keystone.

Northeast Wild Western Mass Weekend

In collegiate racing, we see down turns and upswings. This past weekend was one of those times.  If it could be described with just one word, it would be “resurgence.” Women’s A racing had more starts then in the previous four years. The Men’s C endurance fields were jaw dropping in contrast to the last couple years.  Finally, the camping scene at Holiday farm encompassed nearly have of the weekend’s participants.

The Women’s XC race featured two new comers to ECCC MTB racing. Laura Ralston (MIT) and Elizabeth White (UVM) were the main agitators. Ralston has a huge engine developed from as a multiple time road national champion; although, her technical skills left her at a disadvantage.  In the end, the world cup level skills of White proved too much for Ralston.

Women’s Dual Slalom featured a showdown between Elizabeth White (UVM) and Carolyn Carlstrom (RPI).  When the dust settled, White was the victor. The course favored a ride who was strong in the dusty, loose terrain.

The women’s STXC was a study in teamwork.  After the first couple of laps, a duo of UVM riders (Elizabeth White and Emily Paxson) emerged at the front, mirrored by a tandem from UNH (Molly Bulger and Emily Peltilt) several seconds later. This was the status quo for nearly half of the race, each group striving to set the race on favorable terms for their team. In the twilight laps of the race, Paxson’s pace proved too high for her teammate, White faded back.  By the time the bell rang for the final lap, Paxson’s lead was well established; she had time to savor her victory.  White held on for second place and Bulger fought in to third place.

The Women’s downhill was an open and closed affair.  Elizabeth White (UVM) ran away with the race, winning by over a minute. Carolyn Carstrom (RPI) confirmed her second place DS finish with the same result in the DH.  Emily Paxson (UVM) came down with a strong third place finish, despite riding a hardtail xc bike with rim brakes.

Forest Parsons (UVM) emerged the victor in the Men’s XC race. Greg DiSanto (UNH) finished over a minute back. Rounding out third place was Jacob Warshaw (UVM).

The Men’s DS boiled down to Adam Gange (UMASS) and Ben Elliott (UDel). The first heat went to Elliott, but only by a slim margin.Thanks to the ECCC’s laser eye system, finishes can be gauged down to the thousandth of a second. It was a good thing too.  The second heat was close, but the victory went to Elliot.

The Men’s STXC started with the same script as the XC race from the day before.  Forrest Parsons (UVM) started the race quickly. His efforts filed the race down to a select few, including: Greg DiSanto (UNH), Jake Warshaw (UVM), Nathaniel William (UMASS), and Taylor Smith (UVM). Parsons led the race around the course for several laps.  Once the race entered the second half, Greg DiSanto attacked.  Parson’s efforts had left the other riders powerless to respond.  From that point on it was a solo effort for DiSanto to the line. The other riders were left to fight it out amongst themselves.  Parsons eventually secured second and Smith charged to third.

Ben Elliott (UDell) was able to repeat his win from the day before.  Adam Gange (UMASS) and Rowan Bateman (Cornell) had a close decision for second place. At the line, a mere eight tenths of a second distinguished the two. In the end, it was Gange who reclaimed his second spot from the day before.

Lehigh Mountain Top MTB Weekend

ECCC mountain bike racing for 2012 followed tradition by kicking off
this past weekend with Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Classic.  Held
immediately adjacent to Lehigh’s main campus in Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania, the weekend featured a number of smaller schools from
the southern end of the conference racing alongside the traditional
MTB powerhouses from the north and their fleets of vans.  All of the
racing squeaked in under perfect weather, with Saturday’s predicted
torrential downpours holding off until just after racing concluded.

The weekend featured Lehigh’s notorious cross country course, two
separate downhill races/courses, short track, team relay, and the
ClusterHuck Relay.  The ClusterHuck is a Lehigh-specific team event in
which riders pair up into an XC rider doing a short hill climb and
tagging off with a DH rider for a gravity run, their combined time
determining the outcome.  Lehigh’s short track course is widely
regarded as the ECCC’s best, with the rain the night before rendering
this year’s edition extremely grippy without being muddy.  As usual,
the XC course quickly sorted out those accustomed to rock gardens and
switchback climbs from those unfamiliar.  Reeb Cycles pro rider and
recent Middlebury College graduate Macky Franklin came by to check out
the action and affirmed “This is definitely up there technically; you
have to be able to ride rocks really smoothly or it’s just brutal.”

Nathaniel Williams (UMass-Amherst) took the season opening Men’s A XC
but was pipped in the closing minutes of the short track by Ben Fry
(UVM) in a tight 4-way battle.  Elizabeth White (UVM) made her ECCC
debut by crushing both the Women’s A XC and STXC, and nearly podiumed
in the Men’s A STXC as well.  Michael Bateman (UVM) took the first
downhill win of the season but suffered a hard wipe in the final
meters of his race the next day, losing out by seconds to Sam Frey
(UConn).  Jess Ernst (Lehigh) took advantage of the home court to post
the best women’s gravity times both days.

ECCC MTB moves on next week to Jiminy Peak and Holiday Farm, yet more
traditional courses, hosted this year by Northeastern University.