Share |

Sunday, July 28, 2002 -- Charles Fork Lake - Spencer, WV
Tour de Lake - WVMBA Pts. #9 (iPO Event Id#: 4794)
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [Overall] [By Class] [Kids Race]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9]
[Set 10] [Set 11] [Set 12] [Set 13]
Picture set 13 from Saturday's Kid's Race
Past Tour de Lake Coverage: [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001]

Race Start
A 10am start and it was already plenty hot for the Juniors
Spencer, West Virginia's annual Tour de Lake was a complete scorcher for 2002. Recent thunderstorms had the forests around Charles Fork Lake nice and damp, throw in soaring temperatures and stifling humidity, and you have late July in Appalachia. Lucky for mountain bike racers, Charles Fork also includes miles of sweet singletrack surrounding the lake.

The beginner classes may have had a break by getting a 10am start, but the first huge climb was brutal enough. After a mile of climbing it was a left turn for the first taste of that awesome singletrack as they bombed back down toward the lake on the Jungle Pass. Then it is a winding ride along the lake, in and out of five coves, as you head to the opposite end on the Lakeview trail.

Heading back to the finish on the other side of the lake is a quick sprint out a gravel road before hitting the second major climb. Once you top that it is more of the awesome, often technical, singletrack back to the finish. If you'd like all the details, the Charles Fork Lake website has an excellent course description.

Race Pic
Taking the high road on the Lakeview trail
The first of the early, one-lap racers to top the Fireroad climb was Outdoor Extremes' Brian Holbert with Ridge Riders' Wesley Haynes right on his wheel. But from there on, Holbert just pulled away to finish first overall and win the Intermediate Men's class at 1:09:22. Haynes would finish fourth overall and take the win in the Sport Men Under 14 with a time of 1:18:15.

Getting in ahead of Haynes was first in the Beginner Novice Men, Jacob Malcomb, second overall at 1:14:00. And third overall, second in Intermediate Men, went to David Burns at 1:16:05.

The first female to finish the one-lap race was Karen Phegley, taking the Sport Vet Women's win at 1:27:56.

While most in the beginner classes enjoyed the trip around the lake, others paid tribute to the technical singletrack riding. Several riders, happy to just finish, spent over four hours in their journey from start to finish!

Race Pic
Time for a glass of water atop the Fireroad
At noon it was time to give the sport and expert classes a chance to take on the trails. They would do an identical loop around for lap one, but then they'd get to do it all again for a second lap. While the trails were changed for the second trip around, the general concept was the same, a big climb at each end of the lake with a lot of fun in between. The experts and sport men even had an extra loop on the Log Cabin trail to begin their second laps.

At the bottom of the Jungle pass it was Clay Evans with the early lead with TJ Platt and Jason Laxton in hot (literally) pursuit. As they hammered through the first lap it was Laxton who took command at the front with Evans and Platt content to just keep him in sight.

The second lap it was time for Evans and Platt to move into control. Then the decisive move came on that final big climb before heading back toward the finish. That's where Platt surged ahead and no amount of chasing was going to get Evans back on his wheel.

Race Pic
Kevin Wetzel digs in for the VetEx win
Platt took the win at 1:48:36 with Evans taking second at 1:49:43. Holding on for third was Laxton at 1:52:04.

Even more exciting racing was taking place among the Expert Vet Men where Kevin Wetzel and Steve Thaxton battled from start to finish. At the finish it was Wetzel sprinting past Thaxton to take the win by just three seconds at 1:55:18.

In an equally exciting finish, Melissa Showman took the big early lead for the Expert/Pro Women, but Sarah Crandall-Fletcher was biding her time. A strong finish had Crandall-Fletcher taking the win at 2:19:54, just four seconds ahead of Showman.

Also doing the long course was the almost ready for expert Men's Sport class. More close racing had Jarrett Clay taking the win at 2:06:40, just 34 seconds ahead of Steve Hill who finished at 2:07:14.

Race Pic
Just another great day at Charles Fork Lake
In the slightly shorter two lap distance it was the Sport Junior Men (Under 18) grabbing four of the top five spots. Curt Gumbert turned the fastest laps taking the win at 1:54:09 followed by Anthony Delander at 1:56:53. Racing at twice their age, Anthony Dickens took third overall and first in the Sport Vet Men with a time of 2:02:44.

Many more winners were crowned in a total of over 20 race classes. The finishers not only earned prizes for the best in each class, plenty of cold refreshments were waiting for everyone. Even though there is no swimming in the Charles Fork Lake, no one seemed to mind some fairly deep wading out into the very inviting water.

It was another great weekend with almost 200 riders participating, and chances are they'll be back. When you are served such great riding, and provided the small town hospitality brought by the folks of Spencer, West Virginia, and Roane County, it's hard to leave not wanting to come back for more.