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Sunday, May 4, 2003 -- Roanoke - Catawba, VA
Dragons Back Race - VA Pts. # 1 (iPO Event Id#: 5657)
Story and photos by Dana Harshberger

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [Pic Set 4] [2000 Coverage] [2001 Coverage]

Note to Sarah Glenn: Dana has your jersey and please contact her to arrange for its return.

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Heading into the Dragons Back
This past Sunday marked the first race of the Virginia State Championship Mountain Bike Series for 2003. Around 100 hardy racers showed up in less than ideal conditions to battle the fire-breathing 'Smaug' Dragon.

First on the course for the day were those crazy folks who love punishment, the XXC'ers. They began the day at 9:15am, most of them after spending the night in soggy tents. Okay, well maybe we should just say plain out soaking wet.

This epic course has its own different beginning, and then at the half way point, joins up with the regular course. First to cross the line was Michael Carpenter, at 4:11:54. For the women, Lindsay Keller, in her 3rd mountain bike race ever, pulled across the line at 5:41:09.

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And finding a little speed
Ms. Keller, in her junior year at JMU, is a field hockey player-turned-mountain biker in the off-season. Despite some derailleur problems, Lindsey rode on when she could, pushed when she had to, and knew that it just wasn't in her to quit or give up. This determination will not doubt be a help when she participates in her first solo 24 hour race next weekend.

Also of note, Mark Elsasser, who was overheard at registration asking if this was a good course for a single speed! He went on to a not so shabby 2nd place finish, which he graciously changed to 3rd after a course mis-direction occurred with Trevor Graham.

Later in the day, the rest of the 'regular' folks started their battles with the Dragon. In Men's action, new-to-Harrisonburg rider Harlen Price tore it up. However, his pre-race strategy of Team Shenandoah Bicycle Company taking a one-two at the podium, was not to be realized.

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The forest doesn't mind the rain
The leaders took off at the start, leaving him and Adam Childers in third at the top of the first climb, but Harlen managed to catch Justin Thomas on the downhill, leaving the young Childers to block from behind. On the next climb, Mr. Thomas caught Mr. Price, but then succumbed to a mechanical difficulty. It was then a race between Price (1:58:01) and eventual 2nd place winner Shawn Altizer (1:59:45). Thomas, an elite off-road tri-athlete riding for Bonzi Bikes, followed in for third (2:00:35).

Josh Moore, a usual suspect in the adventure racing arena, decided to try out the Dragon's Back, and credits his 29-er with helping smooth out the rocks. A flat-lander from the Chesapeake/VA Beach area, Moore, riding the in Sport category, liked the true 'mountain' bike aspect of the course.

On the women's end of things, Sport rider Jen Boxer came to the race with a good feeling about the day. In her mind thought that the race was longer than it actually was, and was surprised by the finish line. She liked the technical aspects of the rocks and the credits her winter training of running and spin classes for her strong finish. For the pro women, we saw Kristi Manz return strongly again this year, capturing first (2:32:23), with Johanna Kraus pulling in second.

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You go, girl!
Many thanks should go out to Chris Scott, of Shenandoah Mountain Touring, who helped this race happen at the last minute. Thanks also to all of the wonderful volunteers who pitched in, even in the rain!

All the folks we talked to commented on the wonderful food, provided by the loving hands of Beth and Jen, promoter Chris Scott's sister and girlfriend, respectively. Also mentioned was the excitement of Chris Scott bringing his 100-mile race expertise to this shorter style venue.

Be sure to turn out for the next race in the series, Middle Mountain Momma, which takes place at the Disneyland of Mountain biking, Douthat State Park, on May 18th. Hope to see you there!