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Saturday, August 18, 2001 -- Smoke Hole - Franklin, WV
The Gnarly North Fork - WVMBA Point Series #11 (iPO Event Id#: 2634)
Story and photos by Dana Harshberger
Additional photos (set 5 through 7) contributed by Diann Clothier

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7]
[1998 Coverage] [1999 Coverage] [2000 Coverage]

Race Pic
Cassie Smith gets a refreshing cooldown
Always an ever-interesting race, this year's edition of the Gnarly North Fork was no exception. Staged at Sugar Grove Naval Base, (what! a naval base in the middle of West Virginia?) the County of Pendleton once again pulled out all the stops with not only West Virginia hospitality, but this year the addition of naval hospitality as well.

Once racers made it past the ominous signs of "Authorized Personal Only" the banners of "Pedal Pendleton" and "Gnarly North Fork" were a welcoming sight. At the pre-race meeting, not only did race director Glenn Hofecker, say a few words, but the recreational director of the base and the second-in-command also welcomed the smaller than usual group of riders.

Remember the races of year's past? Well, forget those, this year's course was not a point to point, but a lolly-popped shaped loop. The racers started at the naval base's ball field, exited the grounds and begun a long slow climb up pavement, into National Forest, onto gravel roads, then fording a few deep streams, into the woods, back out onto gravel and up, up, up. Word has it that Glenn is fond of the climbs, but he definitely treats you right on the sweet downhill. After exiting the downhill and though a cool deep steam, it was a backtrack to the base.

Race Pic
Someone sure likes climbing
In the racing action: The Pro/Expert Men were grumbling when they saw that Jeremiah Bishop had made the drive back from the NORBA Mt. Snow action to participate. At the sound of the gun, the riders took off in a mass start, and soon separated out. In the front, were the aforementioned Mr. Bishop, Jeremy Wimpey, Justin Riddle and Clay Evans. The four riders stayed together into the woods, and about halfway into the climb, Mr. Bishop started to put on the hurt. Mr. Wimpey, who was wearing a loaned jersey from Mr. Bishop, stayed on his wheel, while Riddle and Evans dropped back. At the start of the downhill, Bishop was about 30 seconds up from Wimpey. Then about a quarter of the way down, Bishop flatted and Wimpey took and maintained the lead. He rode conservatively the rest of the way, including on the gravel, due to a low tire. Wimpey stopped to pump the tire up at the pavement, hoping it would hold to the finish. He finished on a mostly flat tire, and first, followed by Bishop, then Evans, and Riddle.

In the Women's end of things, Cassie Smith worked on maintaining on her lead of the WVMBA point series. She took charge at the get go, and worked to maintain her lead through out the race. The women's competition was strong with Sue George (2nd), Mandy Riddle (3rd) and Kristin Wilson (4th) also on the attack. Ms. Wilson, who seemed to be plagued with her share of a crashes and a flat, would not allow a little thing like a flat tire to have her DNF, running her bike across the finish line!

Something new to the race this year, was the addition of a 'team' category. Consisting of 4 persons, only one of which could be a pro/expert, the team with the best time would win. Alas, only one team entered, and of course they won! In addition to receiving a groovy little wooden version of West Virginia, they also get the 'heads up' award for reading the flier!

Race Pic
Mark Johnson makes a splash
Even though the course may change from year to year, and the location may change as well, Pendleton County consistently knows how to treat racers at the end of it all. A fabulous spaghetti and meatballs meal, complete with salad bar and dessert awaited riders. Hot showers, sand volleyball, camping, and the "Navy Club" (can we say alcoholic libations?), were just a few of the amenities that this race had to offer.

A great big hand should go to all of the volunteers that man the ample water stations, the also amazing amount of rescue personnel that seem to be all over the woods. And helmets off to Glenn and the ladies at registration and the timing tent! Yet another great job!