Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seven Springs: Seven Springs Gravity Series #2

8-21-2010

Rain threatened as the racers queued up to the podium, but most of
them seemed to be more concerned with the multiple rock gardens and
off-camber sections that makes Frankenstein the nastiest, most
technical trail on the mountain. One by one, the racers dropped in,
some taking the faster left-hand line around the snowmaker, others
taking the tried and true route to the right.

The course itself was designed in 2008 and built last year. It starts
off with a small drop into a semi-loose rock garden and turns 90
degrees into a roll-down rock. Traversing across the somewhat flat
upper section of the mountain, there’s several small rock gardens and
a log pile that need to be navigated before crossing Airport Road and
dropping into a fast, flowy singletrack. The fast, flowy section gives
way to an off-camber rock garden with 3 distinct lines, all taking
riders through a rocky 180-degree switchback dropping back onto open
slope. From there, it’s a grassy, 90-degree lefthander followed by a
short sprint to another tight turn through a choke feature. Picking up
speed, there’s a launch out onto another open slope, crossing the
gravel road and slamming off of a berm into the woods. The first of
the ladder bridges appears here, turning and dropping riders onto a
large slab rock, before they descend into the gnarliest rock garden on
the trail. It’s over quickly, though, and a banked ladder bridge takes
riders into another singletrack, and another small garden, before an
abrupt 180 degree turn, another ladder bridge, and another small open
section. The final rock garden features an optional drop-in from the
left, before re-convening with lower EC-1, then dropping into the
infamous Showtime jumps.

When the racers finally made it to the finish line, the results were
posted. In the 18+ beginner class, local Scott Hohowski posted a very
strong time, fast enough to net him fourth place. Roxy Racioppo pulled
another podium finish in third, proving to be one of the most
consistent riders in his class, after finishing second in the July
race on 007. Second place this time, however, was taken by first-time
racer Ian Lupo out of West Virginia. Racing motocross and rally cars
has given Ian a sense of how to go fast properly, and his impressive
finish after only riding downhill for a month and a half ensures that
there’s much more to come from him. First place was no surprise at
all, being taken by another first-year phenomenon, Louie Rose. In only
his second race, he posted a time that would have been fast enough for
a podium finish in the Expert class. Straight out of Connellsville,
PA, Lou is at the bike park day and night, working towards his goal of
being one of the fastest riders in the area. Ignoring the trends of
the day, you’ll most likely see Lou shredding the mountain in a white
tall tee, SPD pedals, and a rasta-colored dirt lid helmet, not what
one would expect at all from an up-and-coming downhill racer. If his
results thus far are any indication, he’s going to be bringing that
new-school skier look and attitude to many a podium in the future.

In the Junior Beginner class, Kohl Aumer, who finished second in the
previous race, crashed hard in the middle rock garden on a borrowed
Trek Session 77, breaking a finger on each hand. We all wish him a
speedy recovery, and hope to see him shredding at the race on Lo Pan
next month. Kohl still managed to pull it together and finish,
though... true grit, right there. Third place was taken by local
ripper Ben Short, who’s been spotted in a number of photos launching a
huge road gap somewhere in Pittsburgh. Second place was taken by
another newcomer, Connor D’Anato, who finished first on the 007 race.
Back-to-back podium finishes like this are essential in staying on top
throughout the race series, and I’m hoping to see him remain
consistent throughout the rest of the season. Joshua Cott took the top
spot on the podium for the Junior Beginners, turning in an impressive
time, one that would keep him competitive even in the Expert class.

Expert women Samantha Williams and Heather Cowell experienced a few
timing issues on their runs, but maintained a positive attitude and
came through with some impressive times and clean runs. Samantha took
second, and Heather came through in first, riding her blue Santa Cruz
to victory.

The Junior Expert class is definitely heating things up in the SSGS.
Riders are routinely turning in times that would put them on the
podium in 18+ Expert, and most of these guys still have 2-3 more years
as Juniors. Evan Trop crossed the line with a time good enough for
fourth place, right behind Davis Nonno, riding for Gemini Bike Shop
out of Canton, Ohio. Davis was only two seconds behind the always-fast
Jimmy Leslie, who never seems to miss a single day on the mountain,
rain or shine. However, the course belonged to Nikolas Dudukovich,
from central PA, turning in a blazing fast time of 2:09.14. Not only
did he win his class, but Nikolas also posted the fastest time of the
day. We definitely hope to see Nikolas at the next few races. Between
himself, Jimmy, Davis, and Evan, Junior Expert class is definitely
going to be a hard-fought battle for that top spot.

Men’s Expert 18+ was the race everyone had been waiting for, and
definitely didn’t disappoint. Last month, Seven Springs Team rider
Justin Gregory’s time was bested by Paul Mayes of Chicago, Il, who
wasn’t even aware a race was happening that day. I was excited to see
Paul back here in PA on Saturday morning, and was really interested to
see how he would do on Frankenstein, a course that’s basically the
polar opposite of the smooth, jump-and-berm flow of 007.

Davis Nonno’s brother Vance took a few spills on his light blue
Cannondale, and despite being one of the fastest riders out of the
gate, was taken out of contention by his multiple crashes. Eric
Huffman, of West Newton Cycle, was the fastest rider of the day
through the middle rock garden, and his smooth riding style and good
line choices gave him a good, solid mid-pack finish. All of the guys
from Chainsmoke Racing were on hand, riding Specialized Demo 8’s
throughout the day in practice, they looked like they were ready to do
some damage to the rest of the field. Rob Helm took fourth, Brian
Benini took fifth, and Justin Martincic got familiar with a tree in
the middle rock garden, taking him out of contention for the day.

Trail builder extraordinaire and BMX phenomenon Mike Hummel of Racer’s
Edge turned in a great time of 2:20.22 and grabbed himself another
podium finish in third, after taking second at the Gravity East event
in June. Mike has been racing BMX and downhill for a long time, and
he’s one of the most calculating and efficient riders on the mountain.
Second place was taken by Paul Mayes, with a time only three seconds
out of first place, Paul has proven that he’s just as much a threat on
technical trails as he is on the smoother stuff, and we hope to see
him here again in September, battling it out with our big winner of
the day, Seven Springs’ own Justin Gregory. Justin did everything
right on Frankenstein, and he didn’t take any chances with
experimental lines or do-or-die hucks. He just took his tried and true
line down the mountain, and ended up with a great time, and the top
spot on our podium.

Next month, the SSGS will visit Lo Pan, a trail on which mistakes
simply won’t be tolerated. This trail is being constructed especially
for this race, and is sure to become a favorite among our hard-core
riders.


-Brian Martis

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