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Saturday, August 19, 2000 -- Hopedale, OH
Mickey's Duathlon, Downhill and Dual Slalom
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [Downhill] [Dual Slalom] [Duathlon O/A] [Duathlon Splits]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]
Dual Slalom pics set 1-3, Duathlon pics set 3-5
[Sunday's Events Results]

It's the Eastern Ohio countryside, a spectacular summer's day has set in, there's meticulously groomed trails all around you and a zillion mountain bikes are swarming everywhere... it must be another weekend at Mickey's Mountain. And, WVOutside/iPlayOutside was lucky enough to be there to catch some of the action.

THE DOWNHILL (sponsored by Nashbar)

The first to start the racing are the most insane of all the bikers, the downhill racers. They hit the latest version (it changes every month) of Mickey's downhill course at 11:00am, before WVOutside/iPlayOutside could even get their cameras there. But, they don't need the spotlight to roll into their madhouse they call a race.

The first manner of business was to determine if the winner would be decided by the best ride in two attempts of three. With the threes out voting the twos, it was set. The best run of three trips down the rocks, roots, bridges, drop offs, etc. would decide the winners.

In the beginner class, it was of little difference. After two runs it was Robert Hughes, Mike Hughes and Jonathan Stecko sitting one-two-three, respectively. The third run did nothing to change the standings.

In the sport class, the third run started to make a difference, and to take it's toll. Matt Rupert's first run time of 48.995 was the fastest of the day, and Mike Stusek's first run time of 52.039 was all he needed to secure second. But the third run was still interesting as Stusek managed to snap his frame in two right at the head tube.

Also, the third run caused the first change in the top of the standings. After two runs it was Todd Lynch holding onto the third spot with a time of 56.423. But that was only until Ray Petro ripped off a 55.962 on his third run to steal the third spot and push Lynch to fourth.

The expert course was said to be "a little hard to keep up speed" with all it is twists, turns and obstacles. But is seems the top three riders learned to get faster as each had their fastest run on their third trip down. Gary Fisher XC rider Jason Beckley stole the show with a 1:04.903 to take the top spot away from Nicholas Hutchinson with Jeff Maier taking third.

THE DUAL SLALOM (sponsored by Marin)

The nice weather must have brought out some extra mettle among the high-flying dual slalom crowd. Starting with the addition of a nice sized bump (well, okay, what used to be little more than speed bump became a good sized mound) right out of the shoot and on the the famous double, everyone seemed fearless.

As a result, there were several moments that left the spectators breathless as bike and rider crashed to the ground without the rubber side down. But no need to worry, everyone came out with no more than scrapes and bruises, and possibly some damaged pride.

When it came down to racing, it was the combined times for two runs (one on the red course, one on the blue) that determined who would advanced to the later rounds, and eventually who would be crowned champion. In the expert class they only needed one round of racing to find a champion, and once again it was the XC specialist Jason Beckley (41.329) finding himself on top of the podium.

Mike Stusek (44.951), the official "Mickey's Mountain Campground Manager", was also looking strong until a 1.5 second penalty on his second run sent him to fourth. Filling in the top spots in a close battle were Joe Sylvester (44.035) in second and Lawrence Anderson (44.338) in third.

In the sport class it was Gene Gazdik and Eric Gazdik recording the first and second fastest times, respectively, in every single heat. They went on to easily take the top spots in the class with times that would have been very competitive in the expert field.

Third place looked like a lock for Dustin Kodger until a disastrous final run dropped him to fourth. Taking advantage of Kodger's troubles was Todd Lynch who grabbed the third place honors.

The beginner class had the top for finishers in the semi final round standing in the same order after the finals. John Angelo took first followed by Tim Swihart, who edged out Jason Rhule for second.

In one of the crowd's favorite classes of racers, the beginner juniors got out to play with the big boys and were quite impressive in their efforts. The top four spots, in order, went to Michael Hughes, Zachariah Slater, Christopher Garrity and Devin Davis.

THE DUATHLON (sponsored by Whiteside Cheverolet)

The final round of the Mickey's Mountain three race duathlon series got underway on Saturday evening at 6:00pm. Back trying for a third time, in as many races, for an elusive solo class win was local favorite Kyle Garner. Neither of the winners that had kept him in second place the past two races were in attendance. But, the strong running Ty Puskarich was back after enjoying some success the previous month in his first mountain bike racing experience.

Joining Puskarich where some other first time bike racers coming from strong running backgrounds. Both Ed Liberatore and J.R. Luyster would surely turn in top running times, but how they'd fare on two wheels was an unknown.

True to form, the running legs of Luyster, Liberatore and Puskarich dominated the early racing with Luyster tearing through the three miles of trails and making the transition to the bike in just 18:30. Another 30 seconds back was Puskarich with Liberatore still another 30 seconds behind. Garner was fifth to start the bike leg, giving up a full five minutes to the race leader. Getting out just ahead of him was Seth Little, whose teammate Steve Vandenbark had given them the advantage in the team competition.

After running the rugged trails, "You couldn't believe the terror in my mind when I came up to the bike transition," said Liberatore as he prepared to race nine miles (three laps) on the same trails. It seems he hadn't been on a bike in a number of years and never rode in any sort of competitive format, non-the-less on off-road trails.

Puskarich, who was riding a new, lighter bike, and now had several weeks of mountain bike training, quickly caught Luyster, who was quite unaccustomed to being in the saddle. The surprising Liberatore also was able to track down Luyster by the end of the first lap, however, his stay in the second spot was short lived.

Ripping through the first bike lap in just 16:59, Garner was on a mission and passed Liberatore at the beginning of the second lap. Now in second, Garner needed to reel in Puskarich to capture the win, but that wasn't going to be easy.

It seems that once Puskarich had captured the lead, he too was on a mission. "I was determined not to lose it and I went through a lot of pain to keep it," he said sore but smiling after the race. He was not to be caught this evening and took the overall win in a time of 1:09:56. Garner took second once again with a time of 1:15:18 and takes home the overall series championship with his three second place finishes. Liberatore and Luyster took third and fourth overall, respectively, with new respect for the sport of mountain biking.

In the team competition it was the mixed pair of the running Erin Hilderbrand and the biking Charlie Hilderbrand taking first place honors. The first male team, and second overall team, was the duo of Vandenbark and Little. The female solo winner was Andrea Deshong.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the racing however they finished, and in the words of Bryan Mickey, "It was just another race, I survived it!" And, as the sun went down on another day on the mountain, the fabulous tales of a day's racing were being told while everyone gobbled up plenty of food, beverages, generous awards, and even a little entertainment provided by Jeff Mickey.