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Sunday, November 8, 1998 -- Sissonville
Worldwide Chiropractic Cyclocross Series Race #1
Story and pictures contributed by Dave McKain

[Coverage/Recap w/Pics] [More Pictures] [Results]

Cyclocross is a little different, but doesn't this look fun?
We thought that the cycling season was over until news arrived late last week of a cyclocross race in Sissonville. Not just one race, but a six race series. The approximately 2 mile long course, laid out just off exit 114 of I-77, rambled up and down the hills behind the Worldwide Chiropractic Center. Unlike what you would expect after seeing many of the MTB courses around West Virginia, the course was relatively smooth and occasionally littered with man made obstacles, designed to force the rider out of the saddle. In addition, a section of the course ran over a paved road, which helped to give the low rolling resistance cyclocross bikes a slight advantage over the knobby, fat tired mountain bikes.

Tom Samples' early lead didn't last long
Being a cyclocross race over a much shorter course than normally seen at an MTB race, the racers had to complete 4 laps (3 sport, 2 beginner, 1 first timer) in addition to the 1/4 mile long promenade to the start/finish line. The race started up a steep paved road from the Chiropractic Center. As with many MTB race courses, this served to string out the pack before entering the narrower portions of the course. The course then headed back to the bottom of the hill only, as usual in WV, to head right back up. After following the ridge, heading away from the start and out along the interstate, the course dropped down into a grassy field. After a run through the field, the course dropped down over a dry creek bed and up a steep incline before heading out over a short graveled road to the pavement. The speeding racers were then directed across another open field (sans cattle), over several obstacles, and over a knoll back towards the starting line.

The cyclocross obstacles couldn't slow down Mike Bowen
Heading up the hill from the start, Tom Samples (Go-Mart) took the lead with Mike Bowen and Tom's brother Nathan in hot pursuit. Dave Flemming, hampered by a foot injury from running in the days before the race, did not pose a significant threat to the leaders throughout the race although he put up his best effort. Without seeing every part of the race, it was not possible to see where Mike Bowen put on his move, but the first competitor to complete the first lap was Mike Bowen with a significant 40 second lead. Whatever Mike did prior to the race, it definitely paid off as he never looked back over the next 3 laps to capture first place with a time of 50 minutes eventually followed by Tom Samples (52:09) and Nathan Samples (52:59). In the sport class, Joe Wharton took first with a time of 45:35 followed by Craig Prather (46:58) and John Cipriani (51:02). With only one competitor in both the Beginner and First Timer classes, Mark Johnson (beginner - 34:35) and Chriss Aldrich (first timer - 24:21) won their classes.

Dave Flemming expresses himself as he hammers the course
Comments from those who had experienced cyclocross racing prior to this race were that the course, while not a model cyclocross course, was definitely suited for cross rather than mountain bikes. Tom Samples felt that a more aggressive tire would have made a difference but he will have to wait until the 29th of November to test his theory. Conditions for the race were overcast with the threat of rain throughout the race. Rain prior to the race did make the conditions a bit slippery but no one had too much mud on them afterwards.

Chriss Aldrich, winner of the First Timer class... who's next?
The organizers put togehter a nice event, with pizza, cookies and Poweraide as well as shower facilities and t-shirts available to all after the race. iPlayOutside.commends the organizers on putting together the course and those who let them borrow their fields and woods to lay out the course. Since this was the first race on the course, there were some problems with obstacles moving around during the event (nothing serious), but the organizers plan to improve the course as the series continues. So, next year, when you are being passed in the early MTB races, remember the Sundays you spent just sitting in front of the TV, munching on Twinkies while watching a football game. The guy who just passed you may have been where you should have been, braving the elements while traversing the hills, hollers, fields and roads around Sissonville in the cyclocross series. With that in mind, see you on the 29th of November for the second race of the series.