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Sunday, May 16, 1999 -- Canaan Valley Resort State Park, Canaan Valley
24 Miles of Canaan
Story and Photos by Marty Lamp

[Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results By Class]
Pics: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7]

24 Miles of Canaan
Ben Klimas rollin' through the Valley
There is always a little extra gleam in a mountain biker's eye anytime they hear the word Canaan. Maybe it's the endless amount of trails where playful deer are always a wary spectator. Maybe it's the fact that the Canaan Valley embodies so much of the rugged beauty that makes West Virginia special, and makes the mountain biking so rewarding.

No matter the individual reason, about 150 riders gathered at the Canaan Valley Resort State Park for the 5th WVMBA point series race of the year, only to be greeted by an abundance of sunshine and a fantastic new race course.

24 Miles of Canaan
Mandy Williams motors through the meadows
The start of the course took the racers down a paved road for less than a mile, then left for a ride into the plush meadows. After some gradual climbing, the riders were faced with some classic "Canaan" technical riding; lots of roots randomly spread on the uphills and downhills, and some great log crossings. Once out of the wooded section it was into meadows again, and out of the shade, for about two miles of rolling hills to finish out the 8 mile loop.

All beginner classes and Women Masters were required to ride the course once, with all sport classes, Mens Masters, and Clydesdales facing two laps, and all expert classes riding a challenging three laps.

24 Miles of Canaan
Ryan Hobbs finishing strong
In the Mens Expert Class, Ben Klimas(1:53:33) took the lead within the first 2 miles and never looked back. He didn't have to because Jason Laxton(1:54:18) was easily heard (a broken spoke twisted around another spoke served as an audible speedometer), and never more than 20 seconds behind the lead until the final mile. Klimas was solid and took the checkered flag for the overall win, with Laxton finishing a very fast second overall. Chris Bennett(1:55:39) kept within striking distance of Laxton the majority of the race, and crossed the finish line third overall.

In the Mens Junior Expert, Ryan Hobbs(2:02:07) stayed in control and fought off the always formidable Jonathan Martin(2:04:33) to take the win. Hobbs and Martin finished an impressive 9th and 10th overall, respectively.

24 Miles of Canaan
John Majors was all concentration
Undoubtedly one of the closest battles of the day was in the Mens Vet Expert Class. Matt Ross(2:01:51) and Steve Thaxton(2:01:59) battled hard the entire course, finishing nearly 9 minutes ahead of third place, and 7th and 8th overall, respectively.

In the Womens Sport Class, Molly Whalen(1:45:32) continued her dominance, but Elizabeth Morton(1:47:43) and Mandy Williams(1:49:28) gave her no time to relax. Whalen, Morton, and Williams finished as the fastest three females on the track this day, respectively.

24 Miles of Canaan
Ben Deprospero climbing out of his saddle
Robbie Cornett(1:21:17) won the Mens Sport Class, edging out Pablo Martinez(1:21:50), and Danny Camden(1:27:40) took first place honors in the Mens Sport Vet Class. Idress Gooden(1:17:52) proved unbeatable in the Womens Masters Class, and Greg McWilliams(1:28:23) won the Mens Masters Class by just under 8 minutes!

Many thanks to Matt Marcus and John Northheimer for putting together a great race that was superbly organized, and easily enjoyed. The course was laid out by team Nantuckett Nectars. Not one incidence of getting lost was reported, which points to a properly marked course, and although the course was very challenging in areas, it never lost it's fun. It was Canaan at it's best, and if you missed it, there's a little thing called the Toyota 24 Hours of Canaan coming up...