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Sunday, March 28, 1999 -- Sissonville
Sissonville Spring Classic

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

Greg Cook
Greg Cook powers the inside line early
Sunday, March 28th, was a perfect day for West Virginia's first road bike race of the season. The nice weather brought out the bike shorts, and plenty of untanned legs, to challenge the rural roads of Northern Kanawha and Southern Jackson counties. The route, starting and finishing just off I77 at exit 114, followed CR21 north for 5.5 miles through Sissonville and to the intersection with Allen Fork Road (CR19). Taking a left on Allen Fork started a 22 mile, clockwise loop using SR34 east and back again on CR21 south. The Cat 4-5 and Citizen racers then returned to the finish reversing the original 5.5 mile route through Sissonville. The Cat 1-3 riders were first sent to do the loop portion of the 33 mile course a second time, for a total 55 miles.

The main pack of Cat 4-5/Cit. racers consider chasing the leaders
Everyone enjoyed the mostly rolling course even with some stiff breezes and the one serious climb at the north end of Allen Fork Rd. Just after 1:00pm the Cat 1-3 riders got rolling several minutes ahead of the Citizen's group. It didn't take long to get interesting as a solo crash just after the start brought out some early season roadrash.

The real racing started to heat up for the Cat 1-3s on the climb up Allen Fork to SR34. This is where a lead group of six riders broke to the front with a chase group of three more riders soon forming. As the lead pack dropped off of CR34 onto CR21, GOMART riders Ryan O'Connor and Greg Cook were able to slip off the front as Matt Forbes, John Henzel and Chris Hunnisett continued to chase the remaining four. By the time they reached the Allen Fork climb for the second time, Cook and O'Connor had built a several minute lead while the second group was reeled in by its chasers to form a seven-man field.

M. Forbes, T. Samples and T. Gold lead the late race Cat 1-3 pace line
As Cook and O'Connor played cat and mouse at the front, the chase group couldn't mount a serious attack. With a big lead, Cook and O'Connor came to a practical stand still as they approached the finish and jockeyed for position in a final sprint. As they dashed for the finish line, O'Connor was able to come around Cook just in time to take the win by less than half a wheel. The winners finished the 55 miles in about 2 hours, 15 minutes at an average speed of over 24 mph.

The battle for third came down to a field sprint with the seven rider chase group still intact. GOMART's Todd Gold won another close finish to take third over the Regulator's Matt Forbes and Gold's GOMART teammate Thomas Samples.

The Allen Fork climb was a pivotal point in the day's racing
The first climb was also the turning point in the Cat 4-5 and Citizen class. Brain DeRose of Pittsburgh and ACA's Brian Davis powered the hill and spent the rest of the day alone at the front. Well, all except the last mile where Davis started to pushed the pace. He managed to drop DeRose, and take a solo win, covering the 33 miles in just over 1 hour, 25 minutes while averaging just under 23 mph.

Even another solo crash, caused by an ill placed pothole late in the race, couldn't take the smiles (just a little skin) from the day's racers. Excellent weather and tremendous volunteer support from the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Dept. and the Kanawha County Sheriffs Dept. ensured a great day of bike riding.