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Sunday, May 18, 2003 -- Charles Fork Lake - Spencer, WV
Tour de Lake - WVMBA Pts. #7 (iPO Event Id#: 5322)
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6]
Past Tour de Lake Coverage: [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001] [2002]

Joey Riddle
Joey gets serious at the Tour de Lake
It was the 10th year for the aptly named Aquafina Tour de Lake; and on the tenth year, it rained. After going to great lengths to clear the trails after a horrendous winter ice storm threatened to close the trails for racing in 2002, Mother Nature proved merciless. Rain or shine, the racing must go on, and so they made the best of the mud, wet roots, and soaking conditions to celebrate one more afternoon of racing.

An impressive crowd of roughly 100 cyclists lined up for their amphibious assault on Charles Fork Lake and the seventh race in the 2003 WVMBA Series. The staggered start sent them up the paved access road, before hitting the fire road climb and onto the soggy trails.

Looking strong up the first climb were Jonathan Martin (Specialized) followed closely by a new face on the 2003 WVMBA circuit, Mike Walewski (Gary Fisher Mid Atlantic). As they topped the fire road and headed into the single-track, Walewski grabbed the lead position.

Race Pic
TJ Platt is on the chase
As Walewski forged a lead, Martin was starting to fade. Moving up through the ranks were series regulars T.J. Platt (Dirty Harry's and Joe Riddle (Gary Fisher Mid Atlantic). Then the first of two flats for Martin ended his challenge for the lead.

Walewski's lead was building as he came through for the first of two laps with almost a minute advantage. Next to complete lap one were Platt followed by Riddle as the conditions began to take their toll on bikes and riders. Head-to-toe, everyone was covered in mud with failing brakes the most commonly reported mechanical problem.

Riding with hydraulic disc brakes, Walewski was cruising and later would tell us, "I felt good today, I just knew I wasn't going to be caught." That was until early in the second lap a broken chain forced him out of the race.

Race Pic
A little fun on the bridges
That opened up the door for Platt to gain another valuable 20 points to add to his two wins earlier this season. However, Riddle had other ideas and had obviously recovered from his nasty crash at Mountwood and his goose attack at Tomlinson earlier in the year.

Since moving up from sport class in 2001, Riddle's best finish was a fourth place expert at this year's first race in Pipestem. That also was a race with terrible conditions as several inches of snow blanketed the course. But for the avid XXC racer, it seems he does best when the conditions demand the most.

The final lap was a battle between Platt and Riddle, and this day Riddle was not going to be denied. He would hit the line for his first WVMBA Points Series win at 2:04:12 with Platt following at 2:04:58. The next closest was third place finisher Shawn Altizer at 2:07:34 with a spread out field behind him.

Race Pic
Cassie Smith makes the most of the mud
A solid field of women experts lined up with Christina Buerkle busting out on the first climb to set the early pace. She wasn't going to get away too far as Cassie Smith, Mandi Riddle (WV Mtb Team), and Sarah Fletcher took up the chase.

It didn't take long for series stalwarts Riddle and Smith to move out to the front. And it was Smith who was setting the pace in her attempt to halt the husband-wife double win for the Riddles.

Nothing changed during their second lap as the women all crossed the line in the same order they finished their first. Smith took first at 2:39:08 to Riddle's 2:43:35 for second. After seven races, this pair of ladies each has secured three wins. Buerkle took home her second third place series finish at 2:55:18.

There's going to be plenty more racing this year as the upcoming Race the Trace will mark the halfway point in the series. So let the fun continue and we'll just hope that it can't keep raining the whole year!