Racers got a taste of everything the Northeast has to offer for trails and weather this this past weekend as the Vittoria Eastern States Cup BOX Components East Coast Showdown came to Attittash in New Hampshire. The mountain lies just south of the impressive flanks of Mount Washington, home to the world’s worst weather, so its no surprise that the weather scenario was a tad …. unpredictable.
The weekend started with the enduro on Saturday. Though some racers were able to get away and practice on Friday, many were running stages blind. Attitash is known as a rugged venue and the enduro tracks leaned decidedly toward the gravity end of the spectrum. The only real pedaling required of racers was on the transfers.
Stage One followed the Fox DOSS Seatpost Cllimber’s Challenge and was a tricky affair with tight woods and loamy holes at the top followed by a lengthy bomb down a ski trail connecting Atttitash’s two mountains. Eric Soucy, racing for Vittoria Tires, negotiated a muddy dip near the top of the stage.
Stage Two took place on the main mountain and was the most challenging of the day. The track had been the site of ESC downhill races in the past and was rocky and rough for most of its length. Quinn Campbell, racing for Giant Factory, won the 18 and under category handily with a time that would have placed him 6th in the pro field.
A second trip up the Attitash chairlift brought racers to Stage Three, the second toughest on the day. This stage offered everything from bone-jarring traverses on stoney work roads to rock gardens and steep chutes. Brad Patches, racing for The Collective, Competitive Edge and POC, launched into one of the segment’s steeper sections.
A lengthy climb brought racers back to the newer Bear Peak side of the mountain for the final two stages. Stage Four was the shortest of the day and was a bouncy romp through fresh cut glades that kept riders on their toes. Defiant Racing’s Kaylen Ballantyne took the 19-29 category by a nearly 20-second margin.
Following another exhausting transfer, racers faced perhaps the most enjoyable track of the day, a loamy, snaking line through beautiful mature evergreen forest. Frank Petty, racing for Canfield Brothers and NEMBA, followed the loam line through the trees to a top-five finish.
Midway through the afternoon, a line of thunderstorms moved through the area, shutting down the lifts and soaking racers still on course with heavy rains. Fortunately the tail end of the field had finished with the lift transfers before lightning closed things down.
The women’s pro field was stacked with speedsters and nearly matched the men’s in numbers, making for some very exciting racing. Lauren Petersen, racing for CFM Cycles, Intense and Honey Stinger, won her third enduro in her last four starts by a 34-second margin. Petersen is remarkably consistent and her steady hand pays off on long and varied enduro race days.
Nipping at Petersen’s heels all day was veteran racer Dawn Bourque. The New Hampshire resident won the challenging second stage but a flat on Stage Three proved her undoing and accounted for much of the final margin.
In the third spot was former ski racer Corinne Prevot, racing for POC and Skida (a headwear company she founded). The busy business woman doesn’t get to race as much as she would like but favors Attitash, where she also hit the third step on the podium last year in her first race as a Pro.
The women’s pro podium from left: Kelly Dolan-5th, Corinne Prevot-3rd, Lauren Petersen-1st, Dawn Bourque-2nd, Kimberley Quinlan-4th
The men’s pro field was missing some regulars due to injury and EWS commitments but brought out a solid field of regulars and downhill crossovers for a competitive day of racing. Alex McAndrew stormed the the mountain, winning or tying on four of the five stages, to come away with a 10-second victory. Racing for MadKats, Transition, Orange Sealant, Royal and RaceFace, McAndrew raced several of the stages blind but that did little to slow him down.
In second was McAndrew’s MadKats teammate Tim White who grew up just down the road in North Conway. White was charging all day, staying within seconds on every stage and tying for the win on Stage Three.
Rounding out a sweep of the top three spots by Transition Patrol riders was Isaac Allaire, racing for Transition, Troy Lee Designs and Chuck’s Bikes. Allaire was in the hunt all day but a brief over-the-bars excursion on Stage Three proved his undoing.
The men’s pro podium from left: Adam Morse-5th, Isaac Allaire-3rd, Alex McAndrew-1st, Tim White-2nd, Steven Crossley-4th
After thunder storms shut down practice early on Saturday afternoon, soggy downhill racers gratefully woke Sunday morning to cloudless blue skies and low humidity. Perfect weather for racing.
The track mirrored the Bear Peak course that debuted last season. The top section of the course wove steeply down open ski trails before plunging abruptly into dark forest. Jared Boothroyd had the sun at his back during morning practice on Sunday.
Once in the woods, racers had to contend with numerous rooty, off-camber sections linked by slick corners. Sean Muldoon, of Aftershock Racing, negotiated a particularly lumpy sidehill high on the track en route to a 2nd-place finish in the Cat 1 40+ group.
To add a little spice, there were several moderate rock drops sprinkled down the run. MadKats rider Ben Bodycoat won his second straight Junior expert race by a nearly 6-second margin.
The slick roots and off-camber sections had racers struggling for traction and balance all day. Flatline Racing pro Josh Tidman got sideways but kept it rubber side down during his race run.
The loamy root-fest continued until racers were finally spit out of the woods for a final sprint through the Fly Zone speed trap and the finish line. Jake Baxter earned his 5th-consecutive podium in the Cat 1 19-29 group.
The weekend was the third stop in the six-part BOX East Coast Showdown Series which challenges riders to race both the enduro and downhill events for bonus prizes from BOX Components. The women’s Box podium had Mazie Hayden taking the win and Clair Sick in the runner-up spot.
On the men’s side, Quinn Campbell got the BOX win, with Kaylen Ballantyne in second and Isaac Allaire in third.
The men’s pro downhill race saw Brazilian Frederico Vieira take home his first pro win after coming close on several occasions this season. Vieira has been racing almost every weekend this summer and his hard work finally paid off with a nearly three-second margin of victory.
In the second spot was MadKats pro Alex McAndrew, who, after winning the enduro on Saturday, nearly pulled off the first-ever BOX Components double victory. McAndrew recently returned from racing the World Cup downhill in Switzerland and is clearly on top of his game.
In the third spot for the second-straight day was Isaac Allaire, who was less than a second off McAndrew’s pace. This was Allaire’s 7th podium in eight Vittoria ESC starts this season.
The men’s pro podium from left: Jordan Daigle-5th, Isaac Allaire-3rd, Frederico Vieira-1st, Alex McAndrew-2nd, Tim White-4th
On the women’s side, Lauren Daney continued her ESC dominance with her 5th-consecutive win. Daney has been absolutely untouchable this season and winning by large margins. Attitash was no different as Daney finished with a nearly 44-second cushion.
In the runnner-up spot was Amy Alton, who is one of the region’s top riders in both enduro and downhill. Alton has hit the podium in five out of her seven starts this season.
The women’s pro podium: Lauren Daney-1st, Amy Alton-2nd