Jon Vivolo, a senior health and exercise major, balanced himself on a customized mountain bike, allowing his pre-race jitters to fade.
As the crack of the gun sounded, the best collegiate short-track mountain cyclists in the nation surged forward in unison.
Vivolo and his five CSU Cycling teammates, Chris Hall, Jean-Nicolas Enjalbert, Caley Fretz, Amanda Miller and Will Collins, spent Friday and Saturday in Banner Elk, N.C. competing in the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships.
Despite several mechanical setbacks, the team placed sixth in the overall scoring.
“We’ve been training for this all season. We’ve been racing the conference races all fall, working towards this, so it’s a huge rush of adrenalin to finally race,” said Fretz, a sophomore political science major.
Vivolo remained within five places of the leader throughout the grueling and muddy race until the last lap, where his tire went flat, dropping him significantly in the results.
“I was so bummed. (It was the) first flat of the season, and it was at nationals. I was in fourth place at the last lap,” Vivolo said.
The short-track race this year was a more technical ride than usual, as the poor weather conditions had transformed a relatively linear ride into a muddy swamp.
Vivolo said that while the conditions affected his performance, they had no influence on his mindset during the race.
“Cross country is so endurance based, so if you’re riding hard there’s not much going through your head except for ‘I hope I don’t crash’,” he said.
Fretz placed in the two endurance events, the short-track and the 25-mile long cross country. He too dealt with mechanical difficulties, as his front breaks broke during the cross-country.
“It made things pretty interesting during the downhill portion of the event,” he said jokingly.
Miller, the only female to qualify from CSU, placed second in the women’s short-track race.
“In the cross country race on Friday, I wasn’t focused and I didn’t do as well as I hoped. But I came out and did what I had to do on Saturday morning, and I’m happy with the results,” she said.
Miller jokingly said she stayed with her family during the competition so she “didn’t have to deal with the boys too much.”
The team said they plan to take several weeks off to rest, followed by training for the upcoming road season.
News writer Tyler Okland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.