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Saturday, September 12, 1998 - Sunday, September 13, 1998 -- Davis
West Va. Points Series #11/Tour of Canaan
Story and photos by Dave McKain.

[XC Overall Results] [XC Results by Class]
Pictures: [Downhill] [XC Set 1] [XC Set 2]

The downhill racing was all about speed...
Some of the WVOutside crew were lucky enough to spend the weekend in Canaan Valley for a Saturday afternoon Downhill competition and Sundays "Tour of Canaan" MTB race. A small group of downhill racers gathered on the ski slopes at the Canaan Valley Resort to see how fast they could get from the top of the mountain to the bottom. This DH race was much different than the last covered (Snowshoe) in that the course stuck to the slopes and didn't venture into the woods. This made for some very fast runs and had spectators oohing and aahing as the racers blasted down the grassy mountainside at breakneck speeds. Surprising many at the race was Morgantown's Shawn Kennedy who, in his first DH race, riding a borrowed Schwinn, got to the bottom faster than anyone. While some commented on his gravitational advantages, none could argue that he didn't use the skills learned from his XC racing. Speaking of which, XC expert frontrunner Ryan O'Connor, riding his Mongoose DH bike for the first time was able to compete with other expert racers, taking second place in the class.
Ashley Williams displays the attitude we like to see at all the races
While the number of competitors wasn't enormous, the competition was tight. In addition to being a good opportunity for some friendly competition, the course was available for a lot of practicing. Everyone was given access and a good chance to rehearse their skills without having to drag their hefty bikes to the top of the nearest hill. The ski lifts were in operation throughout the day and discounted lift tickets were available to the racers.

After the fun of the DH race was over, attention was directed at the next day's XC race. Early arrivals were welcomed to try out the already marked course.

Competition in Sunday's XC MTB race was fierce, with only one remaining WVMBA Points Series race after the Tour of Canaan. This year's racing took place over a meandering, 8-mile loop in the Canaan Valley State Park. Depending on the rider's class, they were challenged with a single loop, two loops, or three if you were an

Randy Gibbs climbs some wooded single track on the Canaan course
expert. Many of the trails used for the course were just recently opened (within the previous 3 weeks) to MTB traffic, which made the course interesting. While racers were not asked to conquer any monster climbs (i.e. Gnarly North Fork) or severe technical sections (Rattlesnake, Henry Clay), the course definitely demanded endurance and skill. The deceptively easy sections of the course through open fields were rough, leaving some racers wishing they had more suspension on their bikes and the wooded sections contained their fair share of roots, moderately difficult climbs and a few "whoop-de-doos" for good measure.

In one of the many tight races of the day, Randy Gibbs was able to capture his first win in the Men's Sport class since way back in April, by edging out WVMBA points leader Drew Smithberger at the finish. Due to the close finish and the crowded finish area, both riders were awarded the same finishing time of 1:19:40 for their 16

Shain Leggi(L) and Steve Reger(R) are chased to the finish line by Morgan Chase
Miles. In the Women's Expert class, Missy Showman (2:01:27, 24 Miles) had just enough left to sprint away from Sue Haywood (2:01:33) within sight of the finish line, giving her a much needed edge going into the Big Bear Classic. Missy lurked behind Sue throughout the race, hanging about one minute back on the trail until closing in during the last lap. The story in the Men's Expert class was the battle between Gunnar Shogren and Ryan O'Connor. After the two managed to pull away from the rest of the field, they duked it out until the last half lap of the race. Anticipation of a photo finish at the line was fueled by reports coming in from the trail. But, after entering the woods together with only about 4 miles left to go, O'Connor (1:43:39, 24 Miles) emerged with a comfortable lead over Shogren (1:44:41) and sustained it to the finish line to win his first WVMBA race after five top 5 finishes.