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Gunnar Shogren begins an unplanned dismount on a highly technical portion of the Black Bear trail
Sunday, June 28, 1998 -- Kanawha SF, Charleston
Black Bear 40K
Story and photos by Dave McKain.

[Another Reporter's View] [More Pics] [Results]

It was a dark and stormy night... but the sun came shining through for the start of the Black Bear 40K mountain bike race. Said to be the "scariest mountain bike race in the world" by some, the course offered grinding uphill sections and demanding technical singletrack with some extremely challenging downhill. To the casual onlooker, it was apparent that the Black Bear Trail Spectator Falls (or should it be Biker Falls) section was the place to be if you wanted to see some "crash and burn" action.

The expert/pro class races headlong into the Kanawa State Forest for the 12th annual Black Bear 40K
The race began with a staggered start with the only mishap occurring in the sport start where a few riders managed to entangle themselves within 100 ft of the starting line. A total of 93 riders participated in the event and most of those who started were able to finish with the exception of a few mechanical breakdowns and a spectacular "over-the-bar" kamikaze into a tree at Spectator Falls which left a participant limping off the course (note: for those who saw the crash, Chris was up and walking and, being 18, will probably recoup quickly). Racers, with the exception of the Beginner Class, were refreshed about 150 yards from the finish by a nice water crossing where many returned to remove remnants of the trail from their machines. All who participated in the event were treated to a pasta meal at the conclusion of the race.
West Virginia newcomer, Ryan O'Connor, shows us how our trails like to treat daring mountain bikers

First across the finish line was Gerry Phlug at an amazing 1:45:04 followed by Gunnar Shogren (2nd) and Ryan O'Connor (3rd). Finishing first in the Womens Expert was Sue Haywood at 2:05 followed by Sarah Crandall at 2:27. Matt Marcus moved up the WVMBA Men's Veteran standings with a win along with Bryan Sterns (2nd) while Mike Boyes held onto his top spot with a 3rd place finish. In the Junior Expert class, Drew Morse held off Phillip Poff (2nd) and Jonathan Martin to maintain his commanding WVMBA points lead. Winners in the other classes were Drew Smithburger (Men's Sport), Amy Atkins (Women's Sport), James Vantoover (Junior Sport), Steve Marshall (Sport Veteran), WVMBA Points Leader Bill Lane (Masters), Chris Jarvis (Clydesdale), Molly Wallen (Women's Beginner) and Denver Surbah (Men's Beginner).

"Kamikaze" Chris (left) just before kissing a tree

You take the high road
I'll take the low road
Some times it is faster (and safer) to run rather than ride (but Gunnar still wows the fans)