Share |

Sunday, July 4, 1999 -- Fairmont
Bunner's Ridge 35K
Story and photos by Marty Lamp

[Coverage] Pics: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]

Bunner's Ridge
Chris Eatough was untouchable
While a lot of people were spending their 4th of July afternoon relaxing, Bunner's Ridge was full of mountain biking action for the Return to Voodoo Mountain 35K. With temperatures well into the 90's and air so thick you could see it, over 100 racers braved the heat to compete in a race that put WVMBA points and a $1500 prize table up for grabs.

One of the highlights on the course this year was the motocross-style start. Racers lined up for the start about 200 yards from a bottleneck u-turn, and at the starting gun it was an all out sprint to gain the early position. The early glory proved to be costly for some, but the action was definitely appreciated by all the fans. Dave Fleming won the "hole-shot" contest in the expert class, taking home a nice cash prize for his efforts.

Voodoo Mountain
"Brownie" the safety dog stands post
After the hole-shot start, racers entered the woods for some technical downhills and rocky flats and climbs before reaching the first water station. From here it was lots of exciting, fast double-track with rolling hills before coming up on Voodoo Mountain for some "brave-as-you-are", white-knuckle downhill. Racers would then bottom out and have a brief push-climb before having to pedal back to the top of Voodoo Mountain for even more fast double-track leading back to the start.

All this amounted to a little over 5 miles of riding per lap. The expert classes were required to ride 4 laps, with Clydesdales and Men's Sport classes riding 3. Sport Women, Masters, and Beginners all raced 2 laps, while Junior Sports and Masters Women rode 1 lap.

Bunner's Ridge
Armin Gooden wins the Sport Class
The fastest rider on the trail this day was Chris Eatough(1:38:33), riding for the Trek East Coast Factory Team. "It was my kind of riding" said Eatough, "I like the heat and fast, technical trails". Eatough, who's only been racing mountain bikes for 2 years, took the lead before the first uphill, and would never lose it. Gunnar Shogren(1:49:19) battled Eatough briefly, but it was only enough to make Eatough pick up the pace, and finish the race with over a 10 minute lead.

Shogren, riding for Team DiamondBack rode by himself in second place most the race, but Benjie Klimas(1:49:40) wouldn't let him relax, getting steadily closer to Shogren up until the final mile. The wiley Shogren was still feeling strong though, and would finish second overall, while Klimas would finish third overall.

Bunner's Ridge
What kind of race is this?
For the Expert Women, Trek East Coast Factory rider Sue Haywood(2:04:36) took first place honors and finished 12th overall, continuing her dominance of the WVMBA series. Finishing second for the women was Gary Fisher pro rider Melissa Showman(2:09:01), who never let Haywood rest, and continued to narrow the gap until the very end; Showman finished an impressive 17th overall.

Brett Hixson(1:57:59) led the way to the finish for the Junior Experts, but it was no easy win. Jonathan Martin(2:00:19) and Nick Waite(2:00:54) were relentless in their pursuit of Hixson, but Hixson would win, with Martin and Waite finishing second and third, respectively.

The Men's Vet Expert Class was won by Steve Thaxton(2:04:00), and he finished 10th overall. Broc Kaylor(2:07:51) barely held off Patrick Riggen(2:08:00) as Kaylor and Riggen finished second and third overall, respectively.

Bunner's Ridge
Jonathan Martin with plenty of speed on the turn
In one of the best battles of the day, Armin Gooden(1:32:33) won the Men's Sport Class, after being in no better than third position until the last 1/2 lap. Nathan Ferguson(1:34:02) and Pablo Martinez(1:34:57) duked it out the entire race, trading places throughout. Gooden, meanwhile, kept his own pace and conserved energy, finishing first overall for the 3-lappers. Ferguson and Martinez finished second and third overall, respectively.

Shawn Kennedy(1:39:33) finished first for the Clydesdales and 4th overall, while Joe Wharton(1:40:01) was the first Men's Sport Vet to finish. The Men's Beginner Class was won by Nathan Annon(1:07:52), and Jen Shogren(1:25:07) took first place honors for the Women's Beginners. Mandi Williams(1:08:27) got the win for the Women's Sports, while Julie Schooley(2:00:33) finished first for the Women's Sport Vets. Gregg McWilliams(1:08:23) finished first for the Men's Masters, as Patty Hobbs(1:02:36) edged out Idress Gooden(1:14:14) for the Women's Masters win. Garrett Stout(36:04) won the Men's Junior Sport Class.

After the race, there were plenty of cold drinks and pizza for everyone, under the shade of a huge pavilion. Neither the race or the post race festivities would have been possible without the hard work of Rob and Gail Voorhees, and the countless volunteers who gave their time. Thanks also to the folks who managed the numerous, well-placed water stations along the course. What could be better than Independence Day in West Virginia on a mountain bike?