Share |

Sunday, May 1, 2005 -- Flat Top, WV
Free Wheeling MTB Race - WVMBA Spring#4 (iPO Event Id#: 6747)
Story and photos by George Gannon

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

Past Coverage: [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001] [2002] [2002] [2003] [2004]

Free Wheelin
Free Wheelin' at Winterplace
Skiing down a black diamond slope is one thing. Trying to pedal a bike up it is quite another.

But that's just what the riders at the Freewheeling Mountain Bike Mountain Bike Race did on Sunday. The hills and inclines weren't plenty challenging, but riders also had to battle a mountain that had been drenched by cool spring rains for the last week.

Add a lot of raid and plenty of mud - plus a few patched of wet snow and a wicked breeze - and you've got prime, if not messy, conditions for a solid race.

Free Wheelin
Downhill thrills and spills
The course, which starts at the base of Turkey Shoot, snakes for six miles around the resort, taking racers on everything from steep single track to grueling uphill climbs. By now mean dry, the course was sprinkled with just enough icy snow that anyone who tried to pedal through it got bogged down pretty quick.

Riders encounter the first mound of wet, dirty snow about three-quarters of a mile out, and in the words of one rider, "there's no way you pedal through it."

In front for most of the race was T.J. Platt of Pittsburgh. Riding in the Expert Men's division, Platt made three loops around the park in a little over two hours. "It's a good race," he said, noting that he got out in front early and never looked back. "I like the uphill sections."

Free Wheelin
Coming through camera man..
The uphills were one thing, but the steepest and fastest part of the course is a severe vertical drop that sends riders from a short, single-track trail onto an access road. Most of the racers, Platt included, navigated the section well, but more that one racer was forced off their bike.

The ride to the top of the mountain - which overlooks Raleigh County from 3,200 feet - was also a challenge. Along the last major incline before the peak, several riders were forced to walk. But getting to the top was worth trip, and as one rider said when he looked over Nose Dive and Plunge, "this is beautiful." Overall the, (blank number) of racers seemed pleased with the course and pleased that although they were muddy, the rain held off.