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Saturday, June 26, 2010 -- Morgantown, WV
Hilly Billy Roubaix Dirt Road Race (iPO Event Id#: 12584)

[Details] [Coverage] [Photos] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]
. . . Photos by Benjamin Stephens.

Hilly Billy Roubaix

Article by J.R. Petsko, Appalachian Bicycle Racing Association (ABRA).

For the past twenty years I have spent my time riding the back roads around Morgantown, WV. For the most part these roads are not paved and consist mostly of gravel and dirt. This past winter while I was riding with my friends I said, "Too bad these roads are too rough to have a bike race on."

It took about five seconds after the words came out of my month for the wheels to start turning in my head. "A race on these dirt roads, what a great idea." I thought to myself and the friends wholeheartedly agreed. Thus, the Hilly Billy Roubaix was born.

On Saturday 80 racers arrived at Mylan Park in Morgantown, WV to test themselves on 72 miles of the nastiest back roads in the area. At the pre-race meeting I made sure to tell the racers that 100% of the roads they were going to ride were official West Virginia and Pennsylvania roads.

Even now, days after the race, I don't think some of them believe me. Roads like Smokey Drain and Little Indian Creek Extension will now have their own place in cycling lore.

"Believe it or not, despite the mud the water actually helped cool you." said Fritz Kessler of some of the road conditions.

The course was not the only challenge. Being that this race was something new for many of the participants, the right bike to use was a tough choice. On the starting line you could see cyclocross bikes, standard mountain bikes, mountain bikes with cross tires and even road bikes. It was clear that no one was 100% sure what the right tool for the job was going to be for this first year event.

At 10:00 am the riders took off and the race was underway. The first few miles the field stayed pretty much together as nerves of the long day ahead were starting to weigh on the racers' minds.

An early attack on John Fox Road found Andy Wiedrich (Pathfinder), Gunnar Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy), Gerry Pflug (Salsa/SPK/Pro Bikes), Justin Pokrivka (Pro Bikes), and Todd Hesel (Kelly Benefit Strategies/LSV) with a good gap on the rest of the field. However, Hesel was soon gone from the group after suffering one of his two flat tires on the day.

As the leaders approached the first "questionable" road of the day, Wiedrich pushed the pace some more and opened a small gap over the others.

Gunnar Shogren offers some insight from behind the triggers . . .

    "Coming down off of John Fox and then Dents Run, I knew that we had a stretch of fast pavement on Little Indian Creek before jumping into the Little Indian Creek Extension (LICE), so I made sure that I was first onto LIC so as to grab a hold of some geared guys for an easy tow to LICE. Gerry wasn't stupid and followed. We had a little granny moment as a light blue Lincoln Conti putted along and quite a few folks went sorching by her and whatever it was in that cup and out the side of her mouth. Life can be scary sometimes, folks."

Hilly Billy Roubaix
Once on LICE Gerry started showing what he was going to be into that day, and on the little rises he would surge pretty hard.

Getting closer to the rough stuff, Ryan Post and Ben Stephens (Dumb and Dumber) on the moto started to slow down a bit and were pretty much in the way as our group of merry racers blasted through the holes and bogs just trying to get out of the moto's way.

By the end of LICE most riders had taken at least one bad line, Andy W. had the line, "It's handlebar deep back there!" and the moto was left behind us.

Once on River Road, the geared guys JP and Andy, towed around the SS fellows, except when it went up. Then Gerry would crank it up a bit. And this was how it was crossing Route 19 where the patrol man was caught a bit off guard with his Crueller in hand.

Up Hagans was more of the same, then taking the turn onto Craigs Run Gerry cranked it up again, and we four got a bit spread out, but by the top, all had assembled and we raced down "en masse" somewhat.

Once onto more real pavement on McCurdysville Pike, it was more pace-line fun and yours truly started seeing the inevitable. My gear was a bit lower than Gerry's and it was starting to show. I was getting gapped. By the time we came close to turning off the Pike, we were just over an hour in with something like an 18mph avg!

At the base of the McCurdysville Road climb, JP asked for my multi-tool and I obliged. He gave it back, left me, and that was it. I was off the back.

After starting my GPS at Mylan Park I was at mile 19. It wasn't until mile 50 that I would finally get caught by Mike M., Brian W. and Gef M., and then shortly after that we went by a rather hobbled Andy W. Such was the gap we had on the rest of the field.


Those guys were nice to ride with, and I tried to give them little helpful hints and directions too. Gef seemed to want to separate himself from the others, but once we got onto Bethel Church Road, his climbing legs went out from underneath him, though his shadow was to curse me later.

Me, Mike, and Brian cruised pretty good up #8 Hollow/Wades Run, and kept that going onto Route 19 then out over Blue Horizon. By the time we went past the "Big Dig" I was feeling the hurt. And then hurt came with a vengeance going up Smokey Drain. I tried to yell at my friends to let them know that if they dropped me they might get lost, but they seemed to not care.  I knew well that after Smokey Drain and onto Cassville-Mt. Morris Rd. I was going to be screwed. Much too fast for a SS to make up any ground.

And so it was . . . but still no sign of Moy.

Up Sugar Grove and because of the rearranging of the start/finish, it was now much longer and more road til the finish once you got to the top of Sugar Grove. So I was looking back too much, or at least once too many.

Getting close to Chaplin Hill I looked back again and in my tired state turned around and found myself slamming into a hole. The curse of Moy!

So going up Chaplin Hill, turning into Mylan Park, and then onto the finishing climb I was cruising on a soft front tire.

But I never did get caught by Moy.

In the end Pflug (Salsa/SPK/Pro Bikes)tamed the Hilly Billy Roubaix course by finishing first overall and first single speed in 4 hours 33 minutes on his cyclocross bike.

Second overall went to Pokrivka (Pro Bikes) who was also the first below 40 class finisher (though JP is actually 40+). Pokrivka used his super bike handling skills to complete the HBR course on a regular road bike. The late charge by teammates Brian Wieczorek and Mike Mihalik (Freddie Fu Cycling) proved to be just enough to help the two riders finish third and fourth overall.

Wieczorek also claimed the prize as winner of the Men's 40+ category while Mihalik was second in the below 40 class. Gunnar Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy) rallied to finish fifth overall and second single speed for the day just a head of a hard charging Geoff Moy (Unattached) who finished third in the below 40 class.

Andy Wiedrich (Pathfinder) after leading for a good part of the day ended up seventh overall. Don Powers (Pro Bikes) of Pittsburgh, PA rode strong and finished in 5 hours 5 minutes to claim 5th in the below 40 catogory. That is a whole lot of 5's there, Don. Hope you played the lottery on the way home.

For the men's 40+ class, local boys Dave Light (WVU Cycling) and Kean Bird (Breakaway Velo) took second and third respectively. Light, on a mountain bike with slicks, finished in 5 hours 5 minutes, while Bird finished in 5 hours 17 minutes.

Fourth in the class went to Paul Klysa finishing in 5 hours 43 minutes and rounding out the 40+ class in fifth was Albert Greene (Yellow Breeches Racing) in 5 hours 46 minutes.

Pflug and Shogren went one-two in the single speed class but there were some fast folks that finished just behind them. Mark Tressler (Rad Racing) and Michael Tressler (Rad Racing) took third and fourth in the class finishing in 4 hours 55 minutes for Mark and 5 hours 5 minutes for Michael. Marc Glass (Breakaway Velo) took 5th in the single speed class in a time of 5 hours 11 minutes.

Jeff and Kate (City Bikes) took the win in the tandem class by completing the 72 miles in 6 hours 46 minutes, a great ride and bonding experience for the two co-workers from DC.

In the big boy class, Matt Kettering (Breakaway Velo) took the win in 5 hours 48 minutes. Kettering was followed by Nathan Whitacre (Bug Boy!) in 6 hours 25 minutes. Travis Olson (Dirty Sanchez Racing) took home third finishing in 6 hours 41 minutes.

Hilly Billy Race

Eleven brave women toed the starting line at the HBR.  While Betsy Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy) eventually crossed the finish line first in 5 hours 4 minutes, it was not without a battle with Sonja Evers (CAWES).  The flatter sections of the course saw Shogren seriously doubting her decision to race her singlespeed bike, as she and Evers yo-yoed back and forth for the first 20 miles.

Eventually Shogren was able to establish a healthy gap, and went on to win by 36 minutes and finish 9th overall in the race and would have finished 4th in the SS class.  Evers finished with a strong second place, even with two flat tires, while Christina Briseno (CAWES) had a great race to finish 3rd, despite leaving some skin out on the course.  The top 3 women all agreed that this was one of the most fun and challenging races they had ever encountered and are especially grateful to the volunteers and sponsors.  Shogren said, “The HBR could not have had better volunteers – they were efficient, enthusiastic, and encouraging.   I want to express my appreciation to all of them!”  Rounding out the top five for the the women was Emily Moy (WVU Cycling) in fourth with a time of 6 hours 12 minutes. Ruth Cunningham (Pro Bikes) followed in fifth with a time of 6 hours 17 minutes.

My goal for this was to come up with something new and fun, but extremely hard at the same time.  I received confirmation that I accomplished my goal of making the course a challenge when Jason Mahokey, the creator of, laid on the ground after finishing and gave me the bird!  That, in my book, is a compliment from someone who loves endurance events.  Once again thanks to everyone who came out --the HBR was a blast.  It will be back in 2011!

A few cool links from HBR:

Andy Wiedrich downhill at HBR video -

Race Photos By Ben Stephens -

Race Results -

Racers Recaps:

Kirk Morrison -

Jason Mahokey -

Montana Miller -

Special thanks . . . goes out to XXCmag.comPathfinderMountain Moonshine and Kegler's Sports Bar for sponsoring the event as well as the rest of the ABRA sponsors.  Also this event would have never happened if it wasn't for the WV State Police, Monongalia County Sheriff's Office, Cassville VFD and of course our great volunteers Dan D., Margie D., Bill F., Kelly, Laura K., Auvid M., Suzanne A., John P., Kelley, Sandy O., Beth B., Tina K., Mike K., Amber, Chris P., Ben S., Ryan P., Sequoya M., Paul W., Dan "the man", Jenna, Rena S., The Millers, Rob L.,  my parents, Tricia L., Jason B., Mark and Michelle P., and everyone else!  Super special thanks to my wife Gina!  Thank you all again!