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Sunday, March 25, 2001 -- Pipestem Resort State Park - Pipestem, WV
Pipestem Spring Challenge
WVMBA Point Series #1
(iPO Event Id#: 2618)
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 Pic
And they're off!
After a long, cold winter layoff, mountain bikers were back in action in the Mountain State of West Virginia. The foreboding weather reports of the previous week didn't keep away the crowds as 139 racers joined in the fun on a crisp but sunny day. Bikers got their first chance accumulate points in the WVMBA Point Series championship. The Pipestem course was the same as in previous years and can be divided into two halves, one on each side of the entrance road ridge. From the finish line, the course headed down a fast doublewide track, through rolling singletrack and up a technical climb to the top of the ridge. After crossing the road, the course headed across a grassy field before going down a boneshaking horse trail to the lake. The course then follows the outline of the lake with slight uphill and downhill sections (not leaving many places to rest). Finally, the course heads back towards the start on a paved/gravel road climb to the finish line. All Expert classes were required to complete 3 laps (+ prologue), 2 laps for sport classes and 1 lap for beginner, Women Masters and Junior (14-under).

Nope, the ball and chain isn't slowing her down
Mandi Riddle is all smiles
Some of the more interesting racing of the day went on in the Women's Expert class. Cassie Smith worked her way in front of fellow competitors Mandi Riddle and Amy Crawford. While starting to build a lead, Smith found that she had gotten off course and had to backtrack to get back in the race - albeit behind Riddle and Crawford. In the meantime, Crawford was leading Riddle down the trecherous horse trail (half hardened clay pocked with hoove marks) when Crawford went down hard, letting Riddle ride by and take the lead. While Cassie worked hard trying to catch up and Crawford worked on recovering from her spill, Riddle (2:16:05) kept up her pace to take the win by 6 minutes over 2nd place finisher Crawford (2:22:25) while Smith (2:23:20) took third.
In the Men's Vet Expert class, Steve Thaxton (1:54:10) dominated from the start - obviously showing no signs of a winter layoff and cruising in for the win. Behind Thaxton, Mike Boyes (2:01:25) edged out Bob Vernon (2:02:47) to take second. Junior Expert Anthony Schwartz (2:07:27) hung on over the last lap (looked like he was hauling a piano up that last hill) to hold off Tyler Wells (2:08:46) and take first place in the Jr. Expert class while Brady Campbell (2:22:13) edged out Charlie Brand (2:23:31) for third.

Race Pic
The sun was out but the temps were still a little chilly
In the Men's Expert class, Nick Waite and Ryan O'Conner traded places at the front while Jason Laxton followed a minute behind through 2 laps before O'Conner put it in the big ring at the start of the last lap. While Waite worked up through the gears on the long downhill, the gap between the two started to grow. Meanwhile, Laxton lost his head of steam and started heading backwards letting Ryan Taylor take up the pursuit. In the end, O'Conner (1:39:10) took first while Waite was able to stay within 1 1/2 minutes, taking second at 1:40:25 followed by third place finisher Taylor (1:43:00).

All-in-all it was a good start to the 2001 season. Hopefully the weather will get a little warmer over the next weeks Ace Spring Bike Fest. As with each year, the first race of the season gives everyone an idea of where they stand and how much training they have to do to either stay on top or catch up.

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