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Saturday, June 16 - Sunday, June 17, 2007 -- Mount Zion, WV
Appalachian Classic - WVMBA #6 (iPO Event Id#: 10027)

2007: [Race Photos] [Pond Jump/Kid's Race Photos]
[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

Coverage: [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001] [2002] [2003] [2004] [2005] [2006]

The Shogren Steamroller hits Grantsville

Story and photos by JR Petsko

The Shogrens-Photo by JR Petsko
Betsy and Gunnar Shogren hold the winners bowl. Photo by JR Petsko
The Annual Appalachian Classic is much more than just a Sunday afternoon mountain bike race. The 11 year old event hosts a pond jump, live music, kids race and even a 5k trail run (added this year). The whole weekend us full of family fun.

The events started on Saturday morning with the new addition of the 5k trail run followed by the kid's bike race around the rolling fields of the Calhoun County Park.

After that, it was time to cool off with the Classic Pond Jump, a crowd favorite. Make sure you take a look at the pond photos by Don Parks. No doubt they'll put a smile on your face!

As the sun set behind the sycamores, it was time to sit back with a cold beverage and listen to good ole' tunes from a local band. If that's not a great start to the weekend I don't know what is.

Sunday morn came fast and it was time for one of the oldest events on the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association's circuit, The Appalachian Classic WVMBA Points Race.

Sunset photo by JR Petsko
Sunset photo by JR Petsko
The race always gets a good draw from the tri-state area. The weather, well, let's just say it was getting a bit "warm" out there. I knew it would make the race course extremely demanding by the days end.

At high noon the race was on. Beginning in a large field the racers made a right hand turn up a steep hill in the middle that seemed to space out the riders before hitting the single track.

Gunnar Shogren of Morgantown, WV was the first to the top of the climb on his single-speed followed by a host of others that included Steve Hill of Elkview, WV, Justin Pokrivka of Tarentum PA, Joey Riddle of Elkins, WV, and Robert Spreng of Butler, PA to name a few.

After all the classes made their way into the woods I headed over to the notorious power slide to catch some dusty action. This was very dry, unlike a lot of years past, and the alternative trail to the power slide proved to just as fast.

Pond Jump photo by Don Parks
Pond Jump photo by Don Parks
First out of the woods was once again Shogren, who had Pokrivka ride on his back wheel. The two were putting on a pace that not many could match in the early going. By this time the sun was really heating things up and some riders had already called it a day from heat exhaustion. Not long after the leaders where gone from my sight, Hill made his way down the alternate trail looking strong on his first lap. Soon after Hill went off to try to catch the leader the excitement really started. Oh yeah, it was power slide time!

First to attempt the washed out downhill was Spreng, and he was smooth all the way to the bottom. Next was Joey Riddle who also showed that he's a seasoned veteran by also having no problems with the dusty decent. Robbie Loehr and Aron Yevuta also made successful first tries. Yevuta came down the mountain flying and definitely gets my best decent of day award! WOOT!

Appalachian Classic photo by JR Petsko
Appalachian Classic photo by JR Petsko
Not long after the men's top ten riders passed, it was time for a second Shogren to make her way down the course. Betsy Shogren of Morgantown, WV was looking solid with her usual smile as she pasted my lens.

Not long after Betsy, Mandi Riddle of Elkins, WV pushed her single-speed as hard as she could. Mandi was in great position, if Betsy made any mistakes she would be all over her. Amanda Sproat of Columbus, Ohio found herself in third overall also looking as though the heat was not affecting her performance.

After the slide action was about over it was time to pack up the equipment and head towards the finish to see how it all worked out at the end. It didn't take long to find out when I got there. At the line was Gunnar Shogren holding off all challengers to take the overall win on his single-speed crossing the finish in 1:48:50.

After he had a chance to cool down I asked Gunnar what made him ride so hard.

He said, "It's pertaining to the Sgt. Gene Vance Memorial Trail. As you may know this is the 5th anniversary of his tragic death and he was a pretty good friend of mine for quite a few years. I came to the Appalachian Classic to really try and win the whole thing. It's why I went with the gear I did, it's why we didn't stay in DC and do another crit,, it's why a lot of things came together. And believe you me I was trying pretty hard, and it was taxing my old tired body for sure. But when I came upon the Sgt. Gene Vance Memorial Trail on the first lap, the resolve in my mind and body was strengthened immeasurably; my focus was narrowed and sharpened. The Gene I knew loved bikes. He loved to ride, he loved to race, he loved to talk bikes, he loved to fiddle with them. I had wanted to say something at the awards, but it was a bit noisy, it didn't seem like I had the opportunity, whatever. So I'd like to be able to say it now. I'd like to dedicate my win in honor of my fallen friend Gene Vance."

Clearly this was more than just another win for Gunnar.

Appalachian Classic photo by JR Petsko
Appalachian Classic photo by JR Petsko
Two minutes later, Steve Hill finished taking second overall in 1:50:48. Second place also gave Hill twenty points in an ever tightening Pro/Expert series. Third went to Justin Pokrivka who crossed in 1:56:52.

For the women, another Shogren finished on top. Betsy equaled her husband's overall victory with her own. Guess it will be a coin flip to see who washes the dishes this week!(LOL) Betsy Shogren finished as the first place woman in 2:12:41. After yet another win in the WVMBA series she holds a firm lead towards the Pro/expert women's title.

Mandi Riddle finished up strong as well taking second overall in 2:30:09, her best finish so far this year. Behind Riddle for third overall was Amanda Sproat who crossed the line in 2:48:21.

It was a great weekend of racing and fun this year at the classic. Thanks to everyone who made it possible and thanks the tons of people who came out to volunteer. If you had fun this year, just wait till next year. (There's more to come on that!)