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Friday, August 10, 2001 -- Wheeling, WV
King of the Hill - Lew McGrath Benefit Race (iPO Event Id#: 4107)
Story and photos by Don Parks with additional photos by Dave McKain

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3]

Queen of the Hill
An uphill battle for just over a mile
As the thunderstorms boomed all around the region, the rain stayed clear of Wheeling Park and the King of the Hill time trial. In a benefit for Lew McGrath, a fellow cyclist recovering from a near fatal truck crash, it was great to see the show of support. The climb for those on bikes was just over a mile, all uphill, but Lew's fight for complete recovery is not over. He is continuing his climb with tremendous strength, and with the help of many friends and a loving family.

When it was time for racing, each rider was challenged with the task of riding up Wheeling Park Hill, from the swimming pool to the tennis courts at the top. The riders started in one-minute intervals in a simple race against the clock. It wouldn't be until everyone had finished and the times were tallied that winners would be determined.

Race Pic
Out of the saddle and on the attack
Waiting at the top of the hill was a welcome crowd of spectators cheering each participant on for the last stretch to the finish line. Clocking in with the best time was Darin Shriver who sprinted up the incline in just 5:11. It was no surprise that Shriver was racing in the Expert Road Bike class. Not far off his pace was Russell Dunkin (5:14) and Mike Hudimac (5:17) who took home second and third place awards, respectively, in the Expert field.

In the Mountain Bike class, it was a little bit of a surprise when they announced Erik Johnson (aka. Tommy Molecule) as the winner with a time of 5:18. Johnson was very happy with his finish as it was his first ever cycling race. Finishing second was Gerry Pflug who was just two-seconds off the winner's pace with a 5:20. Taking third, and maybe receiving the largest applause from the crowd, was Lew's brother-in-law, Tim Tracy (6:53).

Erik Johnson
The dark horse Tommy Molecule smiles all the way to the top
The lone female competitor was Sarah Forbes who out-climbed the majority of the men in a time of 6:17. Showing up the guys one more time, Forbes set a precedent by donating her first place cash award back to the Lew McGrath fund.

In the end, the efforts of all the competitors, the generosity of many supporting sponsors, and the hard work of race director Steve Tracy raised over $3,000 help Lew's cause. With all the help and support that continues to surround him during these difficult times, it is no wonder that Lew continues to make tremendous strides toward a full recovery. It won't be long until he is back in the saddle inspiring us all to go a little harder.