Mile High Nationals race report
The sun was just dipping down to the west, and dark grey rain clouds were circling the Grand Valley BMX supertrack like vultures. Up on top of the Olympic-sized 8mm hill, were the eight finalists in the Elite Men main. Just seconds earlier, Redline's Alise Post scored her umpteenth-consecutive #NASS win (and the $3,500 that goes with it).
Now, it was the men's turn.
On the inside, was reigning No.1 champ Joris Daudet and former 3-time No.1 Champ Sam-I-Am. To the middle was another former No.1 Champ who could very well have two Gold medals dangling around his neck, underneath his Free Agent jersey. Milliseconds after the last beep beeped and the green light flashed, Maris grabbed an identical holeshot to that one big race in 2012, in London. BLAM! Like he was shot from a canon. To the inside, Joris got the pop on Sam and shut him down quickly before the first jump. By the first turn, Stromberg heard the "cha-ching" for a spare $250 from Answer, nabbing their holeshot award, but Joris was breathin' hard down his neck.
On the final step-double into turn two, Joris drifted midair to the outside and railed the asphalt berm like one of the BNSF trains that speed past the Grand Valley track each day. Daudet had a ton of momentum exiting turn two and quickly pulled up alongside Maris for a battle of rhythm. Joris had the speed and the inside line, and Maris could do nothing about it as the Chase rider took away his lead. Daudet held on to the lead and crossed the finish in one of the most phenomenal races of the day.
You'd think that after that, Maris would not slip up and allow Daudet to ever do that again. Right?
And after a 3rd place finish, you just know that Sam Willoughby was all frustrated and determined to go out and seek revenge the next day. Right?
On day 2, we'd dropped a few AApros and the top landing of the pro doubles showed signs of the wear-and-tear of the riders who had struggled with the winds and track speed to clear them safely. If he were still alive today, Casey Case-um would be proud. It was also especially cool to see Dan's Comp pro Justin Posey make his return to Grand Junction, a mere eight months from his potentially career-ending crash. He wasn't quite ready to throw some elbows or go WFO around the track yet, but he had to face his demons in order to get back to that next level in time for the Olympic Trials.
In the main event, we had five countries represented - USA (of course, with three), Latvia's legend, France's fastest frog, two super fast Aussie blokes and - the biggest surprise of the day,Jukia Yoshimura from Japan. But you can call him "Jacky."
Once the gate slammed down, it was again Maris Strombergs straight to the front of the pack. Amazingly, Sam Willoughby laid down a mean power-wheelie all the way down the 8mm hill. His wheel just hovered inches above the surface until he got to the bottom; just pure horse power! It was like watching a NHRA nitro-burning funny car. Joris was right there next to Sam and had another perfect line in to the first turn. Maris came out again, with the Answer Holeshot money (Cha-ching!) and was well aware that Chase's Frenchman was hot on his tail. This time, Maris told us, he wanted to prevent the highside rail, and decided to stay mid-berm, but then drifted higher than he wanted to, and Daudet read his move perfectly and drove a hard inside line to pull ahead of Maris. Sam Willoughby did the same, and suddenly, the 2-time Gold medalist was put back to third, within mere seconds. From there, it was another $7,000 payday for your reigning No.1 Pro in USA BMX.
The gate had hardly slapped down in Saturday's Elite Women final, and Redline's Alise Post had barely turned half a crank when her right foot unclipped - and any hopes for another $3,500 payday were up in smoke. As she tried to get in a coupla of cranks, wishing to get clipped back in, Ssquared's Lauren Reynolds and her fellow Aussie Rachel Jones were off and running to the front of the pack. Lauren was haulin' buns out of the first turn and suddenly Mika Shaw (now riding for Hostile-Elite-Redline) sprinted in to second after a great move in turn one. Shaw had been struggling all weekend with that first jump, and had started from lane 8 - and her fellow Colorado fans were going wild!
The big surprise in Super-Open was the absence of Alec Bob; who'd gone out earlier in the semi's. It happens .. but not so often these days. Without the reigning dominator and his Free Agent in the gate, the win was wide open for any of the eight remaining Ams who were out to prove themselves on the big hill. And it was another strong rider this year - Josh Banuelos, in his J&R gear, who got the pop and never looked back. It was also cool to see the "old guy" - Brock Arndt, dicing it up with the best of 'em - and with a great gate, he found himself in the 2-spot for the first straightaway before getting eaten up in the first turn and shoved to 4th place.
- 1 JOSHUA BANUELOS, JR BICYCLES.COM/CHASE/BOX, MEDFORD, OR
- 2 TYLER KLUMPER, WESLEY CHAPEL
- 3 MICHAEL BOYLE, DAYLIGHT CYCLES, BOISE, ID
- 4 COREY SALAS, SUPERCROSSBMX.COM, SIMI VALLEY, CA
- 5 BROCK ARNDT, SANTA CLARITA, CA
- 6 BRYCE BETTS, BMX NEWS / EI LIMO, BRENTWOOD, CA
- 7 JONAH ZEIGLER, TEAM BIKE PARTS.COM/COLORADO CRUPI, GYPSUM, CO
- 8 BJORN BREDESON, TEAM BIKE PARTS.COM/CO CRUPI, EAGLE, CO
In A-PRO, Box's Sean Gaian scored the Friday win and was expected to take home the "big bucks" all weekend long, but C-Yaa's Cole Tesar had a different plan for Day 2. Rock 'n Roll Cole took his first victory on the big hill and was stoked on the win - ahead of Redline's Pelham and Box's Gaian.
- 1 COLE TESAR, C-YAA FACTORY, HUNTERSVILLE, NC
- 2 HUNTER PELHAM, REDLINE BICYCLES, WILLIS, TX
- 3 SEAN GAIAN, BOX COMPONENTS, SANTEE, CA
- 4 ZACHARY VANKAMMEN, JR BICYCLES.COM/CHASE/BOX, LAKE ELSINORE, CA
- 5 JORDAN MIRANDA, BAKERSFIELD, CA
- 6 LAYNE GAINER, GAINER PERFORMANCE, MESA, AZ
- 7 WALKER FINCH, FACTORY HARO/PROMAX, FT COLLINS, CO
- 8 TOMAS FERNANDEZ, SE RACING, ALBUQUERQUE, NM