Adams State cyclist earns two top-ten finishes in nat'l mountain bike championship
Story & photo by Jerry Duran
Mark Johnson of the Adams State University Cycling Team raced to two top-ten results at the 2015 USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals, held Oct. 23-24 at Snowshoe Mountain, WV.
ASU Coach Jerry Duran said, "I'm really excited for Mark! Two top-ten finishes at a National Championship is a nice achievement. Mark is a junior now. When he first came to ASU as a freshman, he had never raced a bike. We made a long-term goal that he would make the top-ten at Nationals before the end of his collegiate career. We did it! I'm proud of Mark. He has worked hard, and achieved a lot in a relatively short time."
Forty-five riders competed in the Short Track event, a 25 minute event around a half-mile course. The pace was fast, and furious. Half-way through the race, Johnson was in a group of four racers that occupied positions eighth to eleventh. On the final two laps, he rode away from two of the group, but a rider from Warren Wilson College remained on his wheel. At the finish, it was a close sprint for eighth place that was taken by Sterling Guy from Warren Wilson College, with Johnson finishing in ninth. Robert Rimmer of King University won the Division 2 Short Track National Championship.
In the Oct. 24 Cross Country race, 46 racers did two tough laps on a nine-mile loop. The first half of the lap held a steep, scary, fast descent. Then the trail became a four-mile long, technical single-track in a dense forest strewn with gnarly roots and rocks. The lap finished with a steep, switch-back-filled 2.5 mile climb. It was a difficult course with no place to rest or recover.
At the end of the first lap, Johnson came through in 12th position. He was looking focused and strong. He managed to gain two positions on the last lap to finish in tenth place. His time of 1 hour, 43 minutes was just three minutes slower than a podium position. Robert Rimmer of King University added the Cross Country title to the previous day's victory in Short Track.
The Adams State Cycling Team will resume competition in March for the Collegiate Road Racing season in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference.