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Sunday, September 29, 2002 -- Pickens, WV
Haven in the Hardwood (iPO Event Id#: 4803)
Story by Sue Haywood

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]
[Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [2001 Coverage]

Race Pic
Mr. Martin likes the view at the front
Autumn is the perfect time to go mountainbiking in West Virginia. There is something special about the crisp air that still holds some warmth to it and the way the leaves cover the trail and make it slick. There is no better way to enjoy all nature's beauty than a trip to Pickens, WV for their annual mountainbike race, HAVEN IN THE HARDWOODS. In the spring, Pickens is home to a great Maple Syrup Festival, but that's another story...

Matt Marcus, Jonathan Martin, Brad Allen and myself formed a train and caravaned down to Pickens via Elkins, Mill Creek through Helvetia and then down to Pickens. I had to drive or else I would have been carsick for 80 miles. It's all twists and turns over some big mountains to get there, but is it ever worth it! This is the true interior of West Virginia with acres and acres of hardwoods, mountain streams and lots of wildlife. The VW Jetta wagon sure made the drive fun and its hard not to imagine how fun the downhills would be on a road bike.

We arrived in Pickens, which happens to get the most precipitation in the state, to a mild morning with the fog burning off to blue Fall skies. We got registered and received our nice yellow T-shirt and a meal ticket to a buckwheat pancake feed. Jonathan Martin decided to redeem his about an hour before the race. Well I'm no rocket scientist but I would have to say that that was what won the race...yes, indeed it was the buckwheat cakes and sausages!

Race Start
Taking the road out of Pickens
Jonathan won the race at 1:40:46 in a heated battle with Brain Fawley (1:41:06). Now, I don't know if Brian ate the buckwheat cakes before the race, but these two guys were at another level relative to the rest of us. The gap was only 20 seconds between them. This is Jonathan's first win of the year, even after riding his bike for 5 hours the day before around Canaan Valley. This was Brian's first race in the expert class, as he usually runs junior expert. The next finisher was Benji Klimas (1:51:11) 11 minutes back. Matt Marcus (1:53:35) had his first vet expert win of the year as well.

The race course was a 7.5 mile loop with an additional 3 mile pavement climb on the first lap. It turned to gravel on the Monterville Road and then turned left toward the Richter's Maple Syrup Sugar Shack (Treewater was a sponsor of the race). This was a rolling big ring hammerfest section. I did it in a time trial position. Then we turned left down an old fourwheeler road.

The first lap it was slick and there wasn't that good of a line through it. I was tentative and 3 guys passed me. It was a long enough downhill to make a difference. Then across the creek and climb 800 feet on a rocky wooded road. Then through the cemetery and out for another. Beginners did one lap, sport completed two and then experts did three.

Race Pic
Sue smiles all the way to the finish
I battled it out with Matt Marcus. He usually gets his form at this time of the year, while I'm losing mine. I pulled him around the second lap, then he dropped me on the downhill and I would chase back after the creek and catch him at the cemetery. Well the third lap, I knew that I had to do something different if I wanted to beat him. In his mind, he thought that he could pull a 'TOMAC'.

John Tomac was such a skilled descender and he would put a lot of time into his competitors on the downhills. Then they would have to chase hard on the hills to catch up and then he would drop them again on the downhills and they would have to chase and blow themselves up.

So, I attacked Matt on the climb and then went really hard on top to try and get a cushion on the downhill. Matt didn't pass me until practically the end of the downhill and then I was able to accelerate again and put on a minute by the finish at 1:52:46. I really couldn't listen to him gloat all the way home if he had beaten me. Of course, instead I'm listening to excues... "I got mud in my eye," blah, blah.

The buckwheats cakes with world famous Pickens hot maple syrup were awesome! There was a bake sale, live music, a playground for the kids and a hose for our dirty bikes. The prize table was fat with Jonathan getting snowboard and I got a Niterider Classic light. To the lucky 25 or so racers that were there a race prize or a door prize was won by all.

And who dosen't enjoy a trip to the prize table?
All the benefits of the race go to the PICKENS HISTORICAL SOCIETY, a very worthy cause. The history of a place like Pickens should be preserved for the future. Thanks to Ed, his wife Carol, Kim Delaney and all the Pickens EMS and fire department and all the volunteers. Thanks to Georgeanna Allen for taking pictures.

Thanks to all the supporters and sponsors of the race: Elk Mountain Outfitters, Camp Driftwood, Harper Lumber, Hull's Store, Granpa Johns' Hilltop Inn, Mountain Valley Bank, Richter's Maplehouse, Beckwith Lumber Company, and Laurel Creek Trading.