Qualifying Photo Epic: Downhill is Back in East Tennessee: Downhill Southeast – Windrock 2020
It’s been a little over three months since the world as we know it drastically started changing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel quickly slowed to a halt and communities around the world implemented measures to curb the disease. While there were devastating reports coming out of Europe, things were a little slower to change in North America but normal was quickly jettisoned as pockets of infection grew rapidly in the United States. On April 2nd, the governor of Tennessee issued a “Stay at Home” order, halting all non-essential travel and activity in efforts to slow the pandemic and give communities time to bolster the resources and infrastructure needed to stay on top of the curve. Two months later, things are starting to return to a new normal, and Tennessee has been one of the first states to lift restrictions.
People have been starving for normalcy and as time goes on, some of that is returning but with a very different feel. In the community of downhill mountain bike racing, bike parks are slowly starting to re-open and people are more able to venture out on the trails in many places, although it’s worth noting that much of the world is still very much locked down. Windrock Bike Park has, for several years now, been one of the first places North of the Equator to hold a race for the season due to its temperate climate. While climate is no longer much of a factor this late in the season, it’s ironic that it’s once again the first place to hold a race since COVID-19 brought racing to a standstill before it even really started.
If racing were to have happened as planned, we would have been glued to our screens, watching things play out at the iconic track of Fort William, Scotland. With international travel and World Cups on hold, we can only imagine how brutal the infamous track would be. Windrock Bike Park is no stranger to hosting some of the world’s top racers with the vast majority of top World Cup Americans, and others, utilizing it as their winter training grounds. Conditions this weekend are mimicking those in Scotland at the time in a way with no rain in the forecast although temperatures and humidity in Tennessee are substantially higher this weekend.
Practice and seeding runs took place on Saturday, with over 200 riders in all categories taking to the track, observing social distancing measures and safety protocols in place by local authorities. At Windrock, everyone qualifies but seeding runs are done in order to determine the start order for Sunday. This leaves a little open to chance as some racers surely didn’t go all-out, saving some for the run that matters. In the Pro field, 24 racers across the men’s and women’s categories were on the start list with a number of those names being regulars on the World Cup circuit. In the men’s race, Chris Grice, the latest and youngest addition to Specialized’s factory racing team took third. Dakotah Norton secured the second-place spot and Luca Shaw took the top time of the day. For the women, Rachel Pogo seeded third while Kailey Skelton was second and Frida Roenning was fastest with a time of 3:31.36.
• Course Preview: Downhill Southeast – Windrock 2020
• Video: Practice and Qualifying at Downhill Southeast – Windrock 2020
• Qualifying Results: Downhill Southeast – Windrock 2020
• Bike Check: Neko Mulally’s Intense M29: Downhill Southeast – Windrock 2020https://www.pinkbike.com/news/qualifying-photo-epic-downhill-is-back-in-east-tennessee-downhill-southeast-windrock-2020.html?trk=rss