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Sunday, August 12, 2007 -- Charleston, WV / Kanawha State Forest
Black Bear Race - WVMBA #11 (iPO Event Id#: 10087)

2007: [Photos] [Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results]

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Scariest Mountain Bike Race in the World

Black Bear - WVMBA Series photo by George Gannon
Black Bear - WVMBA Series
Photo by George Gannon
Story and photos by George Gannon

Sunday's Black Bear Race at Kanawha State Forrest, which is just outside of Charleston, West Virginia, lived up to its title as the scariest mountain bike race in the world. With tight single tracks and plenty of rock, roots tree trunks, drop-offs, jumps and switchbacks, 'The Bear' is not for the faint of heart and certainly isn't for riders who aren't on top of their game.

Add some 90-degree heat to all that and you've got a race that would give even the most seasoned riders second thoughts.

The experts travel six times to the ridge with the final ascent culminating in one of the hardest hike-a-bikes in the series. They were also tasked with Teaberry Rock, The Bear and Pine Ridge, all of which contain black diamond sections.

Black Bear - WVMBA Series photo by Diann Clothier
Blood shed from the Bear
Photo by Diann Clothier
But, just to up the ante for this year's race, the promoter declared that no expert rider would finish in under two hours. If they did, there was an extra $50 in the pot.

While no one scored the extra $50, Steve Hill came the closest by finishing the 40K course in 2:13. Hill, who trains on the courses at the state park, used home field advantage wisely. He got out early, never looked back, and was ahead for the better part of the race. Robert Spreng (2:21:02) and Joey Riddle (2:23:22) rounded out the top three in the expert category.

In the vet expert class, Gunner Shogren (2:14) took top honors. Gary Pflug (2:21:10) and Steve Thaxton (2:40:33) took the second and third positions.

Black Bear - WVMBA Series photo by George Gannon
Black Bear - WVMBA Series
Photo by George Gannon
For the women, Mandi Riddle of Elkins took the No. 1 spot. Riding for Vicious Cycles, Riddle fell behind Betsy Shogren early, but managed to catch her about a third of the way into the race when Shogren suffered a flat.

Riddle, who said she expected Shogren to catch her, kept her eyes on the prize and battled to the finish line at 3:03:52.

"I had a blast. I love this course," she said, adding that technical, single track course are her favorite.

Shogren finished second with a time of 3:18:53.

For the sport class, Jesse Irvin crossed the finish line first with a time of 2:08:06. Coming in second was Jason Martin (2:09:08) and rounding out the top three was William Redden (2:09:41).

While the $50 challenge might have gone unanswered the race had great volunteers, professional race directors, and plenty of tired, but happy, riders.