American collegiate MTBers return to North Carolina for nationals

Providing the proving ground for many rising American fat tire stars, Lees-McRae College will again...

Providing the proving ground for many rising American fat tire stars, Lees-McRae College will again host the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships on October 24-26 in Banner Elk, North Carolina.

The action will begin Friday morning with the battle for supremacy in the cross country event on a five-mile loop through the Appalachian Mountains. Both Division I and II men and women will compete for the crown in the Olympic-style race over the varying, 50 percent singletrack course, which is a permanent fixture on the Lees-McRae campus.

Later that afternoon, gravity riders will attempt to qualify for the finals on the technical downhill course at Sugar Mountain Resort that has tested the country's top professionals during other events.

Also on Friday, professional Decline Team America gravity racer and 2007 USA Cycling Dual Slalom National champion Chris Herndon will lead a complimentary course inspection clinic open to all collegiate attendees. The clinic, set for 10:00 am to 2:30 pm on Friday, will cover line choice and form on Sugar Mountain's downhill course. A former collegiate racer at nearby Lindsey Wilson College, Herndon gives back to collegiate cycling in the form of coaching gravity and skills with the Brevard College cycling team, course design and production, and leading a variety of skills clinics.

Saturday the action will return to the Lees-McRae campus where the short track cross country races and will provide an opportunity for spectators to witness bar to bar racing as riders battle it out for the title of national champion. That afternoon at approximately 2:00 pm, the finals of the downhill competition will take place on what is largely the same course as was used in the 2007 event, featuring 1,200 feet of vertical drop over the 1.5-mile course.

In the spirit of collegiate cycling, the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championship Banquet will take place at 7:00 pm on Saturday, at the Ski Sugar Mountain Lodge where USA Cycling National Development Team graduate and multiple-time collegiate national champion Brent Bookwalter will serve as guest speaker.

Sunday's finale will begin at 8:00 am and will feature a pure dual slalom competition on Lees-McRae's own course complete with four-foot high starting deck. Immediately thereafter, the event will conclude with the coronation of the overall team and individual omnium national champions in both Division I and II as defending champs, Fort Lewis College and the Colorado School of Mines, will seek to regain the glory of last year's team victory.

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