Grand ol' time at the Grand Mesa Nationals
We've rounded the midway point in the 2021 National series - and the racing and point chasing is really starting to heat-up as the Summer months and temps are upon us. This weekend, the two-wheeled BMX Circus rolled into Grand Junction, Colorado - home of Grand Valley BMX; host of numerous Colorado State Championships and previous USA BMX Nationals.
With clear blue skies and the occasional 20-minute rain cloud passing by at around noon for a couple of days, overall the weather was perfect for some awesome BMX action. Being a dual-hill supercross track (minus the supercross raing), Grand Valley BMX has some majorly HUGE turns, where most of the action seemed to take place.
This weekend saw a solid tunout, with quite a few teams and riders who haven't been seen in a few races. Factory-wise, there were a few Full Tilt'ers, the ever-stylish Tangent/Rift cartel, and the mighty west coast Answer squad, along with Daylight Cycles. Even the Crupi crew were in the house! Bike shop-wise, the west clast J&R brigade was out in full force - led by their loyal leader Scott Angus, and numerous local Colorado, Utah, New Mex and Arizona teams who all had their eye on the prize.
Grand Junction's elevation is 4,593 feet - and a lot more if you were to drive up to the top of any of teh mesa's that surround the city. And that means if you live and train at higher elevations, you may have a slight advantage. Then if you factor in the track itself, with some huge carvable asphalt turns and a rockin' rhythm section, those with the skills and speed are always favored.
With this being a 3-day National with no Saturday practice, we'd soon find out who had oxygen left in their tank.
WELCOME TO THE GIRLS CLUB!
We've gotta admit - this weekend, the girls racing might've been better than the boys. The girls were dicin' it up - from motos to mains, and they're definitely not afraid to trade paint (or rub bars).
Starting off on Friday, the mains began heating up as soon as announcer Erick Grindle gave his familiar line - "Welcome to the Girls Club!"
The proverbial skillet was sizzlin'.
Kickin' off the intense action on Friday was 12 year old girls, with one-half of the Leakey sisters and one half of Hyper's flyin' Samhammer sis'. Oregon's Samhammer got the holeshot and led for the first 3/4 of the track, but Remix's Tornado kept hot on her heels and waited for the right time to make a move. Out of the last turn, the younger Leakey sis carved a percect high-low and the two came out of the last turn side-by-side. Now, side by side, it was a fullbore drag race to the line, with only a line of dirt obstacles in their way. Taylor and Morgan were both hammerin' down but the Remix rider just a bit more umph to pull into the lead right before the line to steal away the win from Samhammer.
12 GIRLS - FRIDAY
- 1 TAYLOR LEAKEY, REMIX BMX, PHOENIX, AZ
- 2 MORGAN SAMHAMMER, HYPER, MEDFORD, OR
- 3 BREEANNE VAUGHAN, FACTORY BOMBSHELL, WALNUT, CA
- 4 LILY HINTON, SE/RIDECO ELITE, MONUMENT, CO
- 5 MIA MOLZAN, FAITH RACING, GIG HARBOR, WA
- 6 TATUMN HUFFMAN, FALL RISK RACING, SURPRISE, AZ
But the action wasn't about to cool down after that one.
Next up was the other half of the Storm Sisters; this time - the Hurricane, who had just returned to racing after her Grands injury last November. She obv iously hadn't been slackin' during all this time, and she was up against Answer's domitable threat - Ryleigh Herrera.
Once the gate slammed down, it was Herrera straight to the front, but the bright yellow Supercross colors were hot on her tail, waiting for her moment to strike. Hurricane Hannah tore thru turn two lilke a trailer park, and exited with the lead. But Ryleigh and her Ssquared weren't about to give up that easy, and she rode a line thru the rhythm to set up Taylor for a last turn swoop. Unfortunately, it didn't go as planned - as the two girls hooked up bars and exploded in a ball of flames. Haros' Derin Merten, who had been in third, was dodging flying bikles and riders and rode low to avoid the debri. This lef the high line wide open for Bombshell's Sayler Gudelj to blast thru the carnage to take over the lead and cruise in the for the win.
13 GIRLS - FRIDAY
- 1 SAYLER GUDELJ, BOMBSHELL, PLACITAS, NM
- 2 TAYLOR BARNEY, GRAND JUNCTION, CO
- 3 DERIN MERTEN, HARO, TEMPE, AZ
- 4 MADISON EVELAND, DAYLIGHT CYCLES, NINE MILE FALLS, WA
- 5 KYLEE KNUDSEN, IMPACT RACING, ELY, NV
- 6 ALYSSA FOREMAN, DCA ELITE, RATHDRUM, ID
- 7 HANNAH LEAKEY, SUPERCROSS, PHOENIX, AZ
- 8 RYLEIGH HERRERA, ANSWER, HERRIMAN, UT
But the action wasn't about to cool down after that one.
Answer's Danica Anderson dominated - as usual, in 14 girls - and would do so all weekend.
And then the 15-16 girls rolled into the gate, with all of today's title-contending heavy hitters in the final. With 11 riders, this weekend's win could play a factor in the National Girls title chase, but more so in their NAG standings.
On the inside was Premier's Grecia Cristodulo, but it was Connecticut's Isabella Nelson holeshoting from a middle lane with a 4-way race for second place. Into the first turn they blasted, with the fast-five out front nearly bar-to-bar, all taking their own line thru Grand Valley's monsterous berm.
Nelson still had a slight lead as they exited turn one, while second place saw four gals side-by-side! Hyper's elder Samhammer-sis closed the gap and was eyeing the lead in turn two, as Supercross' Bella Hammonds dropped back to fifth place. Out of turn two, Bolivian-born Cristodulo had some good momemtum and the inside line, and passed Samhammer to move into second place. But that wasn't enough; she wanted the whole enchilada! Grecia was going for the inside and Nelson saw her in her peripheral - and stuck low in the last turn. Grecia's front wheel hit Nelson's rear, just enough for them to topple over. Samhammer and her Hyper has nowhere to go except right into the carnage - while Bella Hammonds suddenly went from fifth to first in a flash! Happy early Birthday.
15-16 GIRLS - FRIDAY
- 1 BELLA HAMMONDS, SUPERCROSS BMX, APPLE VALLEY, CA
- 2 RITA FEDEWA, RACEFAST, FT COLLINS, CO
- 3 MIKAYLEE RAMSEY, VELOCITY BIKE CO, CLIFTON, CO
- 4 KATE SIFFORD, BMX COMPLIMENTS, GOODYEAR, AZ
- 5 SARAH MATTHEWS, NEW CASTLE, CO
- 6 SIERRA SAMHAMMER, HYPER, MEDFORD, OR
- 7 GRECIA CRISTODULO, PREMIER RACING, DALLAS, TX
- 8 ISABELLA NELSON, SUFFIELD, CT
The excitement in Girls mains didn't mellow out after Friday - and Saturday those who'd crashed or got passed, were out for Day-2 revenge. After Merten and Herrera's pile-up the day before, you'd think they might back down a bit. NOPE. They were fighting it out once again like cats and dogs, and we battling for the lead once again - side-by-side, as they flew out of the first turn. It looks like they might've hooked bars just a bit, as merten did a giant endo over the first set of doubles, which also sent Herrera off balance and to the ground. Bombshell's Gudelj again, found herself going from third to first in a split second ...and you might think, for the next ten seconds, that she'd be handed the win again.
But think again.
Daylighteer Madison Eveland was on the gas, holding down second place and reeling in the Bombshell rider. Down the last straight, Saylor had no wind left in her sails and mad Maddie suddenly hit her nitrous button and whizzed on by to pass her right before the line!
13 GIRLS - SATURDAY
- 1 MADISON EVELAND, DAYLIGHT CYCLES, NINE MILE FALLS, WA
- 2 SAYLER GUDELJ, BOMBSHELL, PLACITAS, NM
- 3 TAYLOR BARNEY, JUICE BOX , GRAND JUNCTION, CO
- 4 ALYSSA FOREMAN, DCA ELITE, RATHDRUM, ID
- 5 KYLEE KNUDSEN, IMPACT RACING, ELY, NV
- 6 DERIN MERTEN, HARO, TEMPE, AZ
- 7 RYLEIGH HERRERA, FACTORY ANSWER, HERRIMAN, UT
Finally, on Sunday, Mertens figured that the only way to nab the win is to be sooooo far out front that nobody can touch 'ya. The Haro rider from AZ finally scored the win she'd been denied all weekend.
In amateur action, Cedric Cade (currently sitting No.3 in points) was on fire, and his arch nemsisi from Box Components, former No.1 Amateur Ronnie Kim, was here this weekend to knock him off the podium. With 18 riders present and accounted for, we knew 15x would be worth the price of admission.
In Saturday's final - just as he'd also do Friday and Sunday, Cade checked out after the first turn. This dude has future Pro matewrial written all over him. The real battle would be for second place, as Ronnie looked as if he'd own the silver-spot, until Tangent-Rift'er Andrew Rassi came in hot and pulled the move of the day, with a clean swoop into second place.
15 EXPERT - SATURDAY
- 1 CEDRIC CADE, BMX SHARKS, LAS VEGAS, NV
- 2 ANDREW RASSI, RIFT TANGENT, REDWOOD VALLEY, CA
- 3 RONNIE KIM, BOX COMPONENTS, CORONA, CA
- 4 ALEJANDRO CHE, TORRANCE, CA
- 5 BANYAN HOWELL, ALPHA, BEND, OR
- 6 CASHTON BENGE, SUPERCROSS/SISU, FORT COLLINS, CO
- 7 MIKE BRYANT, DCA ELITE, VANCOUVER, WA
- 8 RICKY CARTER, 21 PRODUCTIONS, MANTECA, CA
Speaking former No.1 Amateurs - Answer's Birdman, Brandon Crain, has also been on a tear as of late.
17-20 EXPERT - SATURDAY
- 1 BRANDON CRAIN, ANSWER, RIVERSIDE, CA
- 2 BRAYDEN KEMPEL, ALPHA / CMU, RAMSEY, MN
- 3 TRENTON MOORE, RAISE FOR ROWYN, PORT ORCHARD, WA
- 4 LEVI FOLKROD, REMIX, ARROYO GRANDE, CA
- 5 ZAINE STENSON, COLORADO MESA UNIVERSITY, MAPLE VALLEY, WA
- 6 DARIAN TOUREENE, SISU RACING, FORT COLLINS, CO
- 7 HUNTER GOSSAGE, YESS, COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
- 8 COLIN JOYCE, RRC- SUPERCROSS- FLY, HENDERSON, NV
The largest class of the entire weekend was 13x, with 31 riders giving the winner(s) some solid National scores to hold onto. If you've been paying attention lately, the Tagenrt cartel on their nifty Rift'ys, have really stepped things up. Must be all of that Rockstar Energy drinks they're guzzlin' down. As it so happens, they've got double-trouble in 13x - with two hotshoes frequently up front. Riley Allen and Ryder Santos were constantly trading the front spot all weekend, with the rest of the 13x's in code-3 pursuit.
13 EXPERT - SATURDAY
- 1 RILEY ALLEN, RIFT TANGENT, FORT MILL, SC
- 2 RYDER SANTOS, RIFT TANGENT, LINCOLN, CA
- 3 KALEB MCCAIN, ANSWER, CLIFTON, CO
- 4 DEVIN GOSNELL, BMX SHARKS, HENDERSON, NV
- 5 TYLER PETERSON, JUICE BOX , GRAND JUNCTION, CO
- 6 JASPER ALTENDORF, RAISE FOR ROWYN, EVERETT, WA
- 7 CJ CARIASO, RISE BMX, TUCSON, AZ
- 8 CLAY SHEFFIELD, DAYLIGHT CYCLES, LAKE CLARKE SHORES, FL