13-year-old Jack McKinney is just starting his mountain bike racing career aboard his Fuji Auric LT. We're excited to follow along as Jack explores racing. Read about his first-ever downhill race below.
I did my first race on October 25th in Vernon, NJ at Mountain Creek Bike Park. Saturday was practice, which is when I got to know the course. It was very rocky and steep with huge rock rolls and rock gardens. I got in 4 practice runs on Saturday and found all the lines I wanted to take and the speed of the course.
The course started with a steep ladder drop into a small rock garden. Then it went into a steep rocky section with roots. There was a tricky rock drop with a
left-hand turn as soon as you landed that you had to hit perfectly to not lose speed. That flowed into a grass section that fed into the next rock garden section. There was a big rock roll at the top of this section that led you into a straight shot of big rocks with small drops all the way down. This section is where the race would be won or lost. After that rock garden, it was pretty smooth sailing, two flat grass turns and then a rock jump then you go onto a concrete turn then cross the finish line.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to eat breakfast and get dressed so I could get to the lift line before it got too long. When I got to the top of the mountain after the lift ride I put on all my gear and dropped in for more practice runs. On the three practice runs I got in before the race I was just dialing in my lines and perfecting them. Then, on my last practice run, I fell on the rock roll and was a bit shaken up after that.
On the lift ride up to my race run, I got into a lift with my family and was nervous about the race since it was my first race and didn’t want to mess up. I waited at the top of the mountain for 1 hour and it was cold so I had to stay moving around so I wasn’t too cold.
When it was time for me to drop in I was nervous but excited. The guy running it lifted his arm and I was off. I went through the first two rock gardens smoothly and was feeling good. I did the entire first section of the trail just how I wanted to. The next section was very rocky. I jumped into a rock garden and had good speed and was hitting all my lines. I got to the huge rock roll and I nailed it without falling. The rest of the course was smooth sailing and I ended with a time of 3:38. That made me finish in 16th/22 kids. I think I did pretty decent for my first race.
The Auric LT took it like a champ. I was plowing through the rock gardens and was very stable at high speeds. The slack head angle and long frame made it perfect for steep sections in the trail. Also on the rock jump forwards the end of the trail I didn’t even feel the landing it was so soft. I love the bike and can’t wait to ride it more.