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Sunday, October 15, 2000 -- Grove City, PA
Month of Mud MTB/Cyclocross #1
Story and photos by Dave McKain

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

Race Start
Colors on colors, ready to race in Grove City
With the temperatures dropping and the leaves changing cyclists from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio dusted off their cyclocross bikes and headed to Grove City, Pa for one of the first cyclocross races of the season. Following a beautiful week beforehand, the clouds started to gather in anticipation of making the race course a mess and the question was, how long before the rain started to fall. Appropriate since this is the kick-off race for the 12th Annual Month of Mud Off-road Series.

The course for the day, designed by local Rollie Brinker, wound its way over the roads and trails of the Grove City Community Park with somewhat equal sections of road, open field, and woodland trails with a road prologue and finish. The Expert/Vet/Master/Single Speed racers were faced with four laps of the course while the Sport/Women/Beginner classes in the later race would have to complete 3 laps. The non-traditional early start (10:00 am) before the other classes had many in the expert class grumbling, but most seemed to enjoy hanging out, licking their wounds and cheering on/supporting those in the later race.

On the trail
Grove City Park provided an assortment of terrain and obstacles
Prior to the end of the prologue lap after a non-eventful start, the riders had to negotiate a sharp, leaf covered pavement turn before heading out into the woods. While no one fell, many went wide on the turn as they grabbed their brakes, shaking up the order before they headed out to the fields. Near the end of the first lap, Navigator Paul Martin held a comfortable 45 second lead over the chasing senior circuit of Gunnar Shogren (Fort Frames) and E.J. Sigety (Speedgoat) who were closely followed by a group including single speeders T.J. Platt (Gary Fischer/SAAB) and Ernesto Marenchin (Speedgoat).

While the rain had held off for the time being, an appropriate amount of the slime from the soggy wooded trails was beginning to put its first coat on the competitors both from slinging tires and unlucky falls. The second lap saw no big change in the leaders with Martin maintaining his near one minute lead though Shogren was able to put a small gap on the chasing Siegety. Battle cries of "Single Speed Rules" rallied on Platt as he tried to push towards the front along with Brad Kriley and Frankie Ross (Schwinn). About halfway through the third lap, Shogren started to narrow the gap with Martin, shaving his lead to below 35 seconds. It looked like risk taking time if Shogren was to catch, pass, and gap Martin so that he wouldn't have to go one-on-one in a sprint with the accomplished road veteran.

A few man-made barriers adds the traditional cyclocross flavor
In the end, Shogren (55:01) was able to close the gap but not quite enough as Martin finished with a winning time of 54:50, 11 seconds ahead of his pursuer. Siegety crossed the line in third place at 57:07 followed closely by fourth overall and first in the single speed class Platt (57:14). Brian Mershimer (Grove City Bikes) won the Veteran Class with a time of 1:00:22 while Jeff Craft (PDQ Cleveland) took the Masters class at 1:06:37.

As the start of the Sport/Women/Beginner race approached, the sky finally teased the racers with a slow, wet drizzle. The rain, while not enough to soupen up the trails, did serve to make the pavement sections of the course a little slick. Spectators gathered at the sharp turn in the prologue, awaiting the inevitable carnage when the peleton came by. But, the cautious racers were able to negotiate the turn with no problem. At the conclusion of the first lap, Sport rider Doug Riegner (48:18) had built a comfortable lead that he would hold to the finish.

Julie Lewis
Team Burn's Julie Lewis, part of a strong women's field
The Womens class was a tight race with Jennifer Shogren (Fort Frames) maintaining a slim lead over Kelly Yoder (Speedgoat) and Beth Baker (Grove City Bikes). During the second lap, Baker was able to pass Yoder and, by the third lap, close the gap on the leader. After a crash in the woods, Baker overtook the now muddied Shogren and looked to find victory at the finish line. Shogren was faced with holding on through the trail section, waiting to make a move on the final pavement section before the finish. In the end, Shogren (56:48) was able to utilize her road experience to win the sprint to the finish over Baker (56:49) in the final quarter mile. Paul Lampman (Presque Isle Cycling, 50:08) was able to hold of Darryl Vettori (50:48) to win the beginner class.

Even with the cloudy skies the race was a success with experienced riders getting a start on the season and newer riders getting a nice introduction to cyclocross. Organizer Rollie Brinker was helped by the ever present Gary Bywaters (Race Official) who maintained the race results and Ty Musser of Rocket Cycling Apparel and Shawn Bell for handling registration and assisting with the results. Kudos go to Veronica Constantine, O.D. Eye Health and Vision Care, Rocket Cycling Apparel, Grove City Bicycle Sports, Snitger's Bicycle Store, and Bakers Bike Shop for helping to sponsor the race.