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Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race - Stage 1

Posted by: Karen Potter |October 10, 2011 2:07 AM
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Hunter Subaru Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race – Brevard, North Carolina

Stage 1 – White Squirrel Loop

written by: Shannon Boffeli & Karen Potter

Local Strongman Sam Koerber Upsets the Favorites On Stage One as 3-time XTERRA World-Champ Melanie McQuaid Takes the Early Lead

The opening stage of the 5-day Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race started with warm temperatures and the promise of challenging singletrack hanging over the riders.

Located just south of Asheville, in the western tip of North Carolina, the Pisgah Stage Race is an annual singletrack festival for dirt hounds from around the country.

This year, along with the usual batch of rock-shredding locals, several big name riders made the trip down south for a week of competition. The high-powered field included marathon national champion Adam Craig (Rabobank/Giant), Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale), 3-time XTERRA world champ Melanie McQuaid, and National Ultra-Endurance stalwart Karen Potter (

After the early morning mist burned off the riders started to heat things up on the White Squirrel Loop, which includes some of the most challenging one-track riders will encounter all week. Recent rains and dense forests left many of the trails slick and even more difficult to tame.

Off the start a solid group including Bishop, Craig, Drew Edsall (Super Cool Bike Shop), and hometown favorite Sam Koerber (Trek 29er Crew) formed up.

Behind them the women’s field already began to separate as McQuaid started hard while Potter stuck with her strategy of easing into the race and not taking any risks on stage 1.

The men powered on and soon it was just Bishop, Craig, and Koerber left.

Bishop would be the next to get shed as Craig and Koerber hammered through the slick, narrow, and treacherous Squirrel Gap ˝-track. Koerber used his prodigious local knowledge to float through the singletrack while Craig hammered at the front on the dirt roads and doubletrack.

It wasn’t until they started up the slopes of Black Mountain that Koerber appeared to be on an incredible day. Koerber was able to ride more of the steep, technical singletrack climbs giving him some breathing room over Craig.

Once over the top, Koerber never wasted much time taking in the amazing views as he was now tasked with holding off Adam Craig on the long descent to the finish.

Marked with jagged-rocks, drops, roots, and mud the Black Mountain descent is one of the hardest on course and Koerber piloted his Trek through it all without incident. Craig in the other hand was bothered by a softening tire and lost time nursing his bike to the finish line.

At the finish, Koerber would take the upset win with a blistering time of 3.11.59. Craig came in just over 3 minutes later. Bishop took third another 2.17 behind the Rabobank rider.

Melanie McQuaid was able to employ some of her XTERRA skills in today’s stage as some of the difficult riding sections for the men turned into long hike-a-bikes for the women. McQuaid is a proven champion both on and off her feet and she showed that today.

In the end, McQuaid took the women’s top spot with a time of 4.12.21. Exactly 9 minutes in front of second place finisher Karen Potter.

Stage 2 – Land of Waterfalls Loop

Stage 2 takes the riders on a 43-mile loop including roughly 7,300 feet of climbing. The trail includes the famed Farlow Gap Downhill as well as the Cove Creek, Daniel Ridge, and Davidson River trails.

Expect another tight battle as the top riders grapple for the overall lead.



Overall Men


Sam Koerber




Adam Craig




Jeremiah Bishop




Andy Johnston




Drew Edsall




Jacob McGahey




Garth Prosser




Gerry Pflug




Overall Women


Melanie McQuaid




Karen Potter



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