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Sunday, April 4, 2004 -- Pipestem Resort State Park - Pipestem, WV
Pipestem Challenge - WVMBA Pts. #1 (iPO Event Id#: 6012)
Story and photos by Julie Black

Editor's Note: Team names have been left out of the story due to the fact that the writer did not know everyone's team name. Sorry for not being able to include them in the recap.

Special Thanks: Pipestem Resort State Park, Fat Tire Cycle, Ride-N-Slide of Beckley, WVMBA, and all of the volunteers.

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7]
Past Coverage: [1999] [2000] [2001] [2003]

A fine day for biking I say...
The first West Virginia Mountain Bike Association (WVMBA) points race of winter, er-ah spring that is, got rolling in the mud and blustery snow on the windswept plateau of Pipestem Resort State Park. Named for its trees that the Native Americans made pipes out of, this park's mountain bike trails overlook the Bluestone Gorge of southern WV. With some rocky single-track, sweet downhill sections, and non-forgiving uphill climbs, it's no wonder WVMBA starts the Point Race Series on this crown jewel course every year.

Last year's memories of fresh powder and chilling temperatures were still fresh in the minds of many bikers, so this year's flurries seemed like a measly drop in the bucket. The course was in good shape, and well marked with just a few slick spots.

Bryan Fawley keeps an early lead, and never looks back
Reminiscent of previous years the race loops provided lots of climbing, some technical down hills, and some familiar snowflakes. The anxious groups of riders were ready to take on the elements and each other. One racer alone pulled ahead of the pack and never looked back. Not even once. Bryan Fawley of the Men's Pro-Expert class claimed top honors with a time of 1:51:23. Fawley was greeted by much applause at the finish, and one comment could be heard over and over again, "That guy was flyin'."

Steve Hetherington (2:18:40), claimed first for the Men's Expert Masters, and Expert Vet first place dibs went to yet another familiar race face, Steve Thaxton (2:06:44).

Sue Haywood returns to her roots in West Virginia
Extremely modest, professional mountain biker, Sue Haywood, would be the last person to tell you that she was recently voted the North American Female Mountain Bike Racer of the Year by Velo News. West Virginia native Sue Haywood returned to the hills of her beloved state to do what she does best. Haywood finished first in the Women's Pro-Expert class with a time of 2:09:05.

Fairmont, WV girl Laurie Johnston (2:15:47) was first the Women's Vet class, while Lori Ware proudly took home top honors for the Women's Sport class. Lisa Stover (1:10:04), took first in the Women's Beginner, and the Women's First Timer was Michelle Johnson (1:11:30).

Crossing the fields in the wind
The Men's Expert-Junior class winner was Andrew Fetty, (2:13:20) with the Single Speed Open going to Travis Saeler, (2:16:45.) Charles Patterson (1:48:00), took home the Men's Sport Masters, and Sport Vet belonged to Denver Turner who pedaled to the fast in the end to keep Warren Schimizzi behind for 45 seconds. Men's Sport (26-34), was equally close in the middle of the race, but spread out during the end. Shandon Hime (1:46:46) snatched second. Tim Andrew of Sport (1:37:44), stayed ahead of his competition. Two Hundred pounds and up, the Clydesdale Class was lead by Steve Ware (2:07:08).

Giving a little extra
The Men's High School class was swept by John Lowe (1:45:49), Cai Clothier (1:10:00) was the top Men's junior, and Austin Lilly (1:03:00) took home top beginner honors. After the race, participants were treated to a hot, spaghetti dinner. All in all, the snow never stuck and the day was chilly, but not too bad as far as the weather goes, and the racers seemed very happy about the course for sure.

This event was the 1st of 16 races in the 2004 WVMBA Point Series". This series offers more than $10,000 in Cash and Prizes for the Point Series Championship. It's also said to be Mid-Atlantic region's longest running race series.