By Maria Richardson and Rebecca Gitlen
June 28, 2012. The USA Cycling Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships returns to Beech Mountain Resort in North Carolina for the second year. Registration and Practices are on July 19 and the Competition Event takes place July 20-22. There is no charge for spectators.
Ryan Costin, general manager of Beech Mountain Resort, explained the learning process of planning the event and how far they have come within the four years he has worked at Beech Mountain. There are hopes to have a park in the future for the months of June thru September. The park would include cyclist trails as well as hiking trails for the whole family to enjoy. Costin explained what a “huge success” it is to have the Nationals at Beech Mountain and went on to say, “I feel grateful to host this event.”
Talia Freeman, director of marketing and sales, said this is the biggest even she has been apart of. Last year the event took place in September and there were 330 competitors, which they thought was low because of the timing. This year they are anticipating around 500 competitors from all over the country, from New York to Washington. Last year there were 200 community volunteers and 100 from Avery High School.
“The community support is wonderful, from donations and sponsors to the volunteers.” said Freeman.
Last year 35 male pro competitors and 12 female pros competed.
“Occupancy was up last year and good for the local economy,” Freeman said. “Around 2,500 people came out last year on Saturday.”
Amy Morrison, coordinator at Beech Mountain Tourism Development Authority, spoke of the second annual Brews & Views Festival on July 21 from 3 to 7 p.m. The festival is held in conjunction with the three day USA Cycling Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships.
Attendees can sample from more than 50 craft brews, enjoy music from three bands and watch the top professional and amateur mountain bikers compete for national titles. The first year there were 321 people that attended the Festival and 20 beers to sample from.
Of course, there will be plenty of craft beers to taste, including: Blowing Rock Summer Ale, Southern Tier Hop Sun, Krombacher, Shock Top IPA, Leffe, Brooklyn Brown, Abita Purple Haze, Lonerider Sweet Josie, Natty Greene Old Town Brown, Fatty Maddy, Kind Beers Pale Ale, Oskar Blues, New Belgium Fat Tire and Carolina Strawberry.
Ticket are sold online at www.ticketssoeasy.com/bikesbrewsnviews.
The music stage features performances from: The Shane Pruitt Band, a noted blues group from Spartanburg, S.C.; Enemy Lovers, an indie rock band from Asheville; and modern bluegrass sensation Brushfire Stankgrass of Asheville.
There will be a kids village with games and moon bounces. Youth can enter a bike rodeo for a chance to win a specialized youth mountain bike.
Downhill racing will take place throughout the festival. The dual slalom amateur finals begin at 2:15 p.m., followed by dual slalom professional finals at 5:45 p.m.
The 778-foot Dual Slalom course is spectator friendly since you can view the whole race.
“The slalom is a two-man, head to head race,” Freeman said. “It’s very exciting to watch.”
You can ride the ski lifts to watch the longer, downhill races and get a great view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Ryan Taylor of Candler, sponsored by Team Billy Goat Bikes/Mountain Khakis, has been competing for 20 years, but never this close to his home.
“This is a challenging and excellent track thanks to the creator, Christopher Herndon,” Taylor said. “I am pumped for the event.” Taylor explains it as, “the most fun you can have while assisting in economic development.”
Brandon Blakely of Cullowhee, sponsored by Team Cane Creek/Motion Makers Bike Shop, has only been racing for two years and competed last here at Beech Mountain Resort. When asked what his favorite part was he replied, “Being at the races and meeting people. It’s a kind of racing family.”
Blakely goes on to explain the phenomenal support you get from friends and family screaming at you as you are racing as well as the impact it makes on everyone; “it’s causing a stir in the southeast.” Blakely benefits from this event because of the pros he comes in contact with and seeing how they ride.
Riders are drawn to the tracks for several reasons.
“It just keeps me from getting fat,” said P.J. Noto. “And I have a lot of fun doing it and hanging out with all my friends. It’s like a big family here.”
Jay Guigry of Greenwood, S.C., sponsored by Team Billy Goat Bikes/Mountain Khakis, has been riding less than two years and states how much he loves the “tight knit community.”
Christopher Herndon, who designed the trails, is a native of Brevard and began racing cross-country at age eight. He has made Beech Mountain his racing home. Herndon is known as the Southeast leader in trail design. His experience in racing and coaching has sharpened his skill and understanding of trail building.
Beech Mountain Resort will also host a Summer Mountain Bike Race Series. The Monster Energy sponsored series took place on the weekend of June 16 and will also take place on the weekends of Aug. 18 and Sept. 15.
Stay tuned for more information to come about the Beech Bike Park coming soon.
The mission of Beech Mountain Resort Bike Park is to provide users with a unique, diverse system of sustainably safe trails for recreational and competitive mountain bike use.
More information on the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships visit; http://www.beechmountainresort.com/media/events/gravity_natl_cham/index.html.
More information on Brews N Views visit; http://www.beechmountainresort.com/media/events/gravity_natl_cham/brews_n_views.html.
Tickets for Brews & Views are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate, with designated drivers admitted free. Advance tickets (with free parking) are available at: www.ticketssoeasy.com/bikesbrewsnviews.
For info about Brews & Views or for lodging options, call 800-468-5506, or visit www.BeechMtn.com.
Beech Mountain needs about 120 volunteers each day and about 200 volunteers Saturday to pull this off. Email [email protected] to sign up for a time slot. The volunteer orientation will be the Wednesday before the festival. There may be a lift ticket and festival T-shirt in your future for volunteering.
Video By Maria Richardson
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Photos by Maria Richardson