Lehigh Mountain Top MTB Weekend

ECCC mountain bike racing for 2012 followed tradition by kicking off
this past weekend with Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Classic.  Held
immediately adjacent to Lehigh’s main campus in Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania, the weekend featured a number of smaller schools from
the southern end of the conference racing alongside the traditional
MTB powerhouses from the north and their fleets of vans.  All of the
racing squeaked in under perfect weather, with Saturday’s predicted
torrential downpours holding off until just after racing concluded.

The weekend featured Lehigh’s notorious cross country course, two
separate downhill races/courses, short track, team relay, and the
ClusterHuck Relay.  The ClusterHuck is a Lehigh-specific team event in
which riders pair up into an XC rider doing a short hill climb and
tagging off with a DH rider for a gravity run, their combined time
determining the outcome.  Lehigh’s short track course is widely
regarded as the ECCC’s best, with the rain the night before rendering
this year’s edition extremely grippy without being muddy.  As usual,
the XC course quickly sorted out those accustomed to rock gardens and
switchback climbs from those unfamiliar.  Reeb Cycles pro rider and
recent Middlebury College graduate Macky Franklin came by to check out
the action and affirmed “This is definitely up there technically; you
have to be able to ride rocks really smoothly or it’s just brutal.”

Nathaniel Williams (UMass-Amherst) took the season opening Men’s A XC
but was pipped in the closing minutes of the short track by Ben Fry
(UVM) in a tight 4-way battle.  Elizabeth White (UVM) made her ECCC
debut by crushing both the Women’s A XC and STXC, and nearly podiumed
in the Men’s A STXC as well.  Michael Bateman (UVM) took the first
downhill win of the season but suffered a hard wipe in the final
meters of his race the next day, losing out by seconds to Sam Frey
(UConn).  Jess Ernst (Lehigh) took advantage of the home court to post
the best women’s gravity times both days.

ECCC MTB moves on next week to Jiminy Peak and Holiday Farm, yet more
traditional courses, hosted this year by Northeastern University.

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