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Saturday, October 3, 1998 -- Salem, Cairo
Race for Shelter
Story by Dave McKain with photos by Lew McGrath.

[Coverage/Recap w/Pics] [Picture Set 1] [Picture Set 2] [Results]

Thomas Samples, first place Expert
It was a cool morning in Cairo on Sunday, October 3rd, at the start of the 2nd Annual Race for Shelter. The bikes had descended upon the North Bend Rail Trail for a 40 mile bike race along the rail-trail from Cairo to Salem, WV. It is a unique event which includes a relay division (four riders each doing 10 miles), a flat course with seven railroad tunnels and several railroad trestles, and ride sponsorships to raise money for the Doddrigde and Ritchie Counties Habitat for Humanity.

The race began with the relay teams leaving about 15 minutes ahead of the individuals. Once out on the trail the riding was consistent with the rail-trail terrain changing very little. The exceptions were a few washed out areas that needed a little extra attention, and then there were the tunnels. The tunnels were often quite long and dark and those without a light often had difficulty, but it was certainly a fun change of pace. To add an extra challenge, the Expert riders had to detour two of the tunnels and climb up and over the mountains on some often technical single track.

Francisca Rattray, first place Beginner and first Female
Over two hours later the first riders began to get close to the finish in Salem. The first to get to the line was Chris Watkins in a time of 2:25. But wait, he was part of a relay team and had a head start. So is he the day's champion?

Coming across the line shortly after was Greg Rattray in a time of 2:15 (remember, we subtract the time for his delayed start). But wait, he is just a sport rider and had the luxury of passing through all the tunnels and not having to trek on any detours. So who is the Champion of the Race for Shelter?

Well, it was just a minute or two until the next finisher crossed the line. This was Thomas Samples, an Expert rider, with a time of 2:17 including the extra miles on single track trails. So this must be our Champion? Or maybe it was Francisa Rattray who was the first female finisher and the first Beginner to cross the line with a time of 2:42?

Lester Howard, the day's true Champion

In reality, it wasn't until almost an hour later that the real Champion completed the 40 miles. This was Masters rider Lester Howard, of Bridgeport, WV, who crossed the finish in a time of 3:34. Howard completed the course and in the process came through on his promise to his many sponsors whose donations amounted to $1,500.00 for the Habitat for Humanity. Those were championship numbers that no one could contend with.

Even though the rains did finally fall toward the end of the race all was a success. From a super Pasta Lunch provided by Roberto's of Pennsboro to all the time and energy of the many volunteers, there are almost too many people to thank. Here are a few more of those who helped contribute with awards and prizes: Country Trails Bikes, Cairo, WV; Holy Moses, Clarksburg, WV; Outersports Bicycle Co., Clarksburg, WV; R.J. Cycles, Salem, WV; Vienna Bicycle Shop, Vienna, WV; Wamsley Cycles, Morgantown, WV.