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Sunday, May 2, 1999 -- Bluefield
Iron Horse Cross Country WVMBA Series
Story and Photos by Marty Lamp

[Coverage] [Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]

Mike Bowen was setting the pace in Bluefield
What do you get if you put fresh singletrack and tight switchbacks through slalom-like sections, with unforgiving trees for poles, on the side of a mountain that insures steep downhills, and short, but brutal climbs? One great mountain bike course. Of course, great might not be the first word to come to every racer's mind, some might prefer the word painful. Just as with the downhill course from the day before, Buzz Johnson and his Backwoods Bike gang laid down a fresh course that challenged every aspect of a riders ability.

Beginner classes had to pedal 2 laps on the 5 mile course, Sport classes had to deal with 4 laps, and the Expert class riders had 5 laps to face.

Susan George heading into her last lap.
One thing that absolutely everyone enjoyed was the abundant sunshine, and perfect riding temperatures that stayed around all weekend. Everything took place in City Park, with an enormous playground for the kids and a pavilion that was basecamp for some of the best hamburgers in the world, right beside the main parking lot.

Being a mostly singletrack course, passing opportunities were few, and required major effort. Mike Bowen(2:30:43) took full advantage of this, not that anyone got close enough to pass him, and carried a first lap lead all the way to the finish line to capture the overall win. Even more impressive was the fact that Bowen was racing a new Dean mountain bike that he received the night before. His first ride on it was the race.

Granny gear, and it still hurts!
Making a valiant charge on the last lap was Ben Klimas(2:31:11), who hung around the top five the majority of the race, but methodically chipped away at Bowen's lead clear through the finish. Scotty Curlee(2:31:14) was pedaling strong clear through the end, to round out the top three, and perhaps some finish line controversy was alleviated by the new Ironhorse frame he won in the post race raffle. The only Womens Expert rider was Susan George(2:39:11), but don't think that she wasn't motoring; she kept a pace that left her less than 9 minutes back of the winning time!

The always competitive Mens Sport class was won by Cam Lewis(2:03:09), and Molly Whalen(1:54:35) took the checkered flag for the Womens Sport class, nearly 10 minutes in front her closest concern. Jonathan Martin(2:39:17) continued to dominate the Mens Junior Expert class, and Ed Dickenson(2:34:06) won the Mens Expert Vet class, finishing a superfast 4th place overall.

Thanks to Buzz Johnson, and his folks, for putting on a top quality race that was entertaining for everyone, and gave away cool prizes, and mass cash. We can't wait until next year!