Tucker County residents Sue Haywood and Jason Cyr took first place in their respective races during the Mountain Bike National Championship held at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort.
USA Cycling hosts the Mountain Bike National Championship every year. The location of the event rotates every two years, this year being the second and last year the championship will be held at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort.
This is the first time a National Championship has ever been held in West Virginia.
Haywood won the Enduro Women Master and Cyr the Enduro Men Master, both in the age group category 40-49.
Enduro races are a hybrid style where the race is composed of timed segments anywhere from two to 10 minute long. Downhill sections are typically the ones that are timed, while uphills are not. Timing for each segment is compiled to form the racer’s overall time.
“People either come into the sport through cross country or downhill, so it’s kind of the meeting of those two disciplines,” Haywood said.
The enduro races were one of many racing styles, or disciplines, that were held at Snowshoe. Within each discipline, there are a number of categories that racers enter into depending on their age.
Both Haywood and Cyr felt an extra drive to win the titles on their home turf. “We’re used to this kind of riding, roots, steep, slippery,” Haywood said. “That’s the one race I wanted to peak for,” Cyr said.
Although home turf riders may have a slight advantage, there are so many variables to an enduro race, that it is really anyone’s race to win. “You have to be able to conserve your body and your strength and your bike,” Cyr said. “But it would be really hard for us to go out to Breckenridge and be fast out there, because there’s people that ride those trails all the time. You can never do enough homework,” he said.
During the three days before the race, riders can practice on the routes on which they will compete. “You know the stages, and you can go and kind of lock down those stages,” Cyr said. “Practice is key for your safety and scouting out any lines,” Haywood said. “But it’s also the fun part because you practice with several other people,” she continued.
Knowing the different riders and participating in the race atmosphere added to the excitement of event for both Haywood and Cyr. “As an example,” Cyr provided, “the guy that got second to me, fourteen years ago, he got first and I got second in a cross country race. Fast-forward fourteen years, and we reverse. It was pretty neat,” he said.
There was no ranking system going into the race, so riders that may have performed better at previous races, do not have an advantage. The only advantage is pride: last year’s race winner gets a special, American flag bannered number plate and jersey.
Both Haywood and Cyr have long and storied mountain biking careers. Haywood started mountain biking while attending West Virginia University.
In September of 1991 she was first exposed to riding in Tucker County through the grueling 24 Hours of Canaan Race. “I kind of got the trial by fire,” Haywood said. Haywood turned professional in 1998. About five years ago, she began entering into enduro races.
This title is her fifth championship win. Her four previous were in other riding disciplines, Professional Short Track and Super D.
Cyr began riding and competing at an early age in Massachusetts. “My dad would just drag my brother, sister, and I all around to these races,” he said.
From there, he honed his skills on a motocross bike. “I grew up in Southwick, and it’s a pretty historic motocross place.” This is Cyr’s first National Championship win.
“Not everyone gets to win a National Championship, because you were best on that day, and it’s the only day where the award you the title, and you get this jersey,” Haywood indicating to the American flag styled jersey. “Then you’re allowed to wear this jersey only for one year.”