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Saturday/Sunday April 14 -April 15, 2007 -- Waverly, WV / Mountwood Park
Challenge at Mountwood - WVMBA #1/OMBC #2 (iPO Event Id#: 10016)

2007: [Photos] [Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [DH & TT Results]
Past Coverage: [1999] [2000] [2002] [2003] [2004] [2005] [2006]

Article and photos by JR Petsko

Mountwood WVMBA-Photo by JR Petsko
April showers bring...MUD
It's that time of year again, yes, time for mountain bike racing in the hills of West Virginia. Last Sunday riders from five different states headed to Mountwood State Park outside of Parkersburg, WV for the event. The joint series race offered WVMBA and OMBC Series points. For riders from the OMBC it would be their second event of the year, but for riders in the WVMBA series it was their first opportunity to show off their early season form.

The weather on Sunday morning was far from optimal, but that didn't stop over170 riders from in and around the tri-state area from showing up. The trails at Mountwood Park are some of the best you can find in the state, but on this day mud, plus lots of rain mutated the fast single-track course into a slow, greasy pedal grind. Riders massed at the start line wearing their best rain repellant gear and pre-muddy smiles, welcoming the 2007 WVMBA racing season with open arms.

While slipping along the trail waiting for the first biker to pass by I saw Steve Hill of Elkview, WV emerge and charge though the mud with little trouble. A few seconds later, an entire group came into view. The pack included Timothy Carson of Brook Park, OH in second, Joey Riddle of Elkins, WV in third, and Andy Gorski of Allison Park, PA in fourth.

Mountwood WVMBA-Photo by JR Petsko
Brutal and cold WV racing
As soon as I finished firing my first round of shots a second muddy mass of racers made their way towards me. Leading that group was Jason Cyr of Davis, WV followed by Ben Ortt of Fresno, OH, and Robert Spreng of Butler, PA. The front field showed a great display of determination as they climbed the slick hill, gritting their teeth. Racers disappeared into what resembled mythical "Middle Earth" from Lord of Rings. Fumbling back on the trail, I awaited The Dark Riders.

The crowd waited at the finish with anticipation, looking for the leader to come into view. A figure appeared out of the woods in the distance, but the mud and the midst were thick, making it tough for anyone to make out whom the rider could be.

As the rider got closer we could see the number 3 plate, which meant that it was West Virginia's own Steve Hill taking the overall win in a time of 1:31:37. Hill finished the 2006 season strong finishing third overall in the Pro/Expert series. Looking to improve on that, he took a big first step by winning the series opener.

The next racer to finish was WV's own Joey Riddle coming across in second overall in 1:32:55. It was an impressive ride on Riddle's part, also improving on his 2006 finish. Coming out of no where to finish third overall was Ben Ortt who was in sixth overall halfway though the race. Ortt was also the top Ohio finisher, with a time of 1:33:35. Finishing a very impressive fourth overall was Expert Vet rider Gunnar Shogren of Morgantown, WV. What made this fourth overall so impressive was that Shogren didn't even start with the group off the line.

Betsy Shogren-Photo by JR petsko
Betsy Shogren plays with the pup
On the women's side of racing another Shogren put on a show. Betsy Shogren, also of Morgantown, WV, didn't let the weather bother her one bit. She lead the women's field from start to finish crossing the line in 2:01:54 giving her near a 30 minute lead over the second place rider.

It was rumored the Shogren finished the course so quickly to play with the puppy that I adopted from her a few weeks before. My photos show her running to play with the puppy after she finished the race before she even took her helmet off. It made me, and my girlfriend Gina laugh out loud (LOL)!

The next female rider to come across the line was Amanda Sproat of Columbus, OH finishing in 2:30:45. Finishing third overall for the women was Mandi Riddle of Elkins, WV putting a gusty performance. Riddle had technical troubles miles before the finish and ran her bike all the way across the line. Great jog (job) Mandi.

Despite the weather, it was a great day of racing at Mountwood. Thanks to dedicated race director Drew and all the sponsors for putting on such a great event. Look for me at the WVMBA #2 coming up at Big Bear Lake. Put your smiles on, the weather's supposed to be better!

Thank You Race Sponsors: We couldn't do it without you!

  • Simonton Windows, North Bend Outfitters, Wilson Heating Inc., Athens Bicycle
  • The UPS Store, Barengo Insurance, Barker, Bradley & Blinn Ins., Dimex
  • Foodland, Leavitt Funeral Home Inc., Miller Door, Papa Johns, Parker Hunter
  • Pepsi, Siefert Tree Service, Wood County Emergency Communications
  • Dr. Michael Johnson, Solvay Polymers, Morrison Inc., Snyders
  • Chick-Fil-A, River Valley Mountain Bike Association, Mountwood Park