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Sunday, April 16, 2000 -- Valley Falls State Park, WV
Valley Falls Challenge
Story by George Gannon with photos by George Gannon and Jack Downs

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
[Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9] [Set 10]

Valley Falls
A tough game of follow the leader at Valley Falls
The West Virginia Mountain Bike Association must have charged extra for the exceptional weather for this year's Valley Falls Challenge: a big improvement from the vicious tempest that rocked last year's race. It was a little overcast, but the racers, who came from all over, could not have asked for a better day to have one of the biggest events on the WVMBA tour. Unlike last year, the course remained relatively stable in most sections. No downhill "rivers of mud." The course was also kinder to the racers this year. Most everyone who started completed his or her required laps. However, the warm weather was a challenge and did slow the race down some.

Muddy Man
He's not gonna let a little mud slow him down
The course the competitors would be tackling is a seven-mile track that weaves and snakes around the park. The racers start on a relatively level course, sending them to the first major uphill climb. Then onto a rolling line with some very fast, level runs, taking them to the highest point in the course. Once over the top, they descend into the woods and a single-track trail. This part of the line is peppered with brutal, hairpin switchbacks and quasi-quicksand tracks. This is where the racers who took the top spots were going to EARN their prize money. The final stretch to the finish line was a quick downhill that allowed the racers to build up some speed before they crossed the tape.

A pass on the trail
Comin' Through
Hitting the tape first in the three lap Expert class was Ryan O'Connor(1:32:58). Following him, Kyle Dixon (1:38:20) and Benjie Klimas (1:39:20) took second and third respectively. The ladies were not far of the pace in the Expert class. Amy Crawford crossed the line just a shade over two hours (2:12:58). Cassie Smith grabbed the number two spot (2:17:03) and Mandi Williams rounded out the top three (2:22:O5). The young bucks of the Junior Expert class were not timid about getting in the mix. Nick Waite took the top spot (1:40:14). He was followed by Eric McCumbers (1:56:59) and David Laymen (2:00:38). The old dogs of The Vet Expert class proved that they could still pedal with the best of em'. Steve Thaxton (1:47:20) edged out Mike Boyes (1:48:42) and James Critchley (1:56:3).

Here I come
Finish Line Straight Ahead
Not to be out done, the Sport riders brought it just as hard as anybody pedaling for two laps. Colin Fridley took the top spot (1:12:55) in the Men's Sport category. John Southern took comfort in the number two position (1:15:15) and John Herod rounded out the top three (1:17:20). The Junior Sport class saw Rocco Mazzei continue his dominance with another first place finish (1:19:47), besting the rest of his class by a full twelve minutes. Ben Painter (1:32:35) and Adam Johnson (1:44:25) took the number two and three spots, respectively.

Not to be out done, the ladies represented strong in the Sport class as well. Laurie Johnston took first place (1:41:38). Lisa Capinpin dropped in at the number two spot (1:44:49). Amy Dunkin pulled in at the number three spot (1:49:58). Greg McWilliams held sway in the Masters category with a time of 1:19:26. Bruch Williams (1:28:26) and Frank Congelio (1:30:01) occupied the number two and three spots respectively. In the Vet Sport Category Dowain Ford proved to be the savvy veteran, coming in first (1:20:20). Jeff DeVincent (1:24:18) edged out Alan Long (1:28:09) for the number two spot.

Valley Falls
Headed for the end at Valley Falls
Other class winners include Alice Vernon (1:32:28) in the Women's Vet Expert class. Chris Jarvis took the top spot for the Clydesdales. Idress Gooden(1:14:10) was all alone in the one-lap women's masters. Mike Loranty (43:49), Derek Cutlip (44:09), and Steve Nigh (46:16) went one, two, and three in the Men's Beginner category, racing a single lap. For the Junior Beginner category, Danny Wilson (47:28) was followed by Karl Waite (47:36) and Eric Serdoz (49:21) respectively.

It was great day and a great race. The riders and volunteers got to enjoy plenty of hot pizza and cold drinks at the awards ceremony. Two WVOutside shout-outs go to Dirty Dave McKain for his handling of the race results and Rachel Stevenski and Sarah Greaser for making a very long walk a short ride. Be sure to check out for upcoming races.