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Saturday, July 5, 2008 -- Philippi, WV
Race to lil Moe's Place - WVMBA #9 (iPO Event Id#: 10563)

[Details] [Coverage] [Photos] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

WVMBA's First Trip To Philippi

Story and photos by J.R. Petsko

Photo by J.R. Petsko
Still the wet season in WV
All of the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association (WVMBA) racing regulars headed to Philippi, West Virginia on July 5th for a brand new race course, new to the WVMBA point series.

Since I have been around the series for years I have ridden most of the race courses myself and know exactly what the racers are going through. With the new course, I was just as curious as the rest of the riders. I decided to jump on the 29'er and race the new course to see for myself.

I still had to take photos of the race, but was super excited about getting out on the bike.

The sun was out and the temps were perfect, but the day before it rained more than half an inch. What had been a super fast course earlier in the week had turned into a soup of mud and rocks.

At the start line series contenders like Ben Ortt, Gunnar Shogren, Jason Cyr, and Justin Pokrivka all lined up shoulder to shoulder just waiting for the word go. And then they were off!

Benji Klimas, who we were all happy to see make the trip to Philippi, was in the early lead.

After the 3 lap expert riders came through the area where I was taking photos after the short prolog it was Ben Ortt moving to the front. After the expert riders clear the pro-log it was time for the sport classes.

As the last of the riders cleared by me it was time to hand off the camera and grab the bike.

Photo by J.R. Petsko
Awesome new course delights riders
Everyone in my wave of riders had a good one or two minute head start on me, but I didn't mind much because I was just happy to be out there. I figured I'd make time up somewhere on the course.

I started down the trail that paralleled the river and only after being on the bike for a mile or so I got a flat. Of course I didn't have a pump, tire levers, tube or anything else for that matter on me. Luckily I had passed a guy early on and when he caught back up he offered his.

Meanwhile in the race up front, Jason Cyr (WV Cannondale 29er's) had moved to the front of the field. Cyr, coming off his impressive ride two weeks ago looked to be "feeling it" again in Philippi.

Conditions were really starting to unravel and Cyr excels in that type of riding. Ben Ortt had moved into second place overall and was trying to hold off Shogren, Pokrivka and the hard charges from the single speed class Benji Klimas and Johnny Martin. For the women Betsy Shogren was out front as she has been all year but there was a battle raging behind her for second. Mandi Riddle and Ruth Cunningham were only minutes apart and one little mistake by either rider would have major consequences.

At this point in the race the one lap riders were finishing their 6 mile ride out on the course. Chris Bright made it two class wins in a row after winning the last round in Davis, WV and again in Philippi. Bright finished in 1:16:32. Second went to Wayne Hanlom who crossed the line in 1:20:32 and third was Mark Burns in 1:21:27. Zachary Morrell won the 14 & under class with a time of 1:50:29. The women's beginner class win belonged to Amy Webb who came home in 1:50:41.

Photo by J.R. Petsko
Betsy Shogren rides with a smile
My race was continuing to become more and more of a lesson in survival. I am not much of a slick course rider, so I was really finding it hard to get traction on the back tire. Still, I sucked it up and headed out for my second lap.

About 20 minutes after I headed out for my second lap the leaders of the sport classes were beginning to finish. First to the line in the men's sport class was Ian Beckner who was just crowned men sport state champion two weeks ago in Davis. Second went Chet Liew finishing in 1:53:32 followed by Brad Schmalzer in 1:55:30.

For women's sport, the win went to Klara Hitchcock who completed her two six mile laps in 3:02:09. Alex Marra put in a 1:58:12 to win the men's sport master (45+) class. Second behind Marra was Bruce Wohleber in 2:09:12. With his best finish of the year Pete Wolfe, Jr came in third finishing in 2:30:40. Local rider Mike Wolfe took home the men's sport vet win in 2:02:41. Wolfe was followed by David Burns in 2:15:53 and Chris Nichols in 2:17:52.

The men's high school win went to Cai Clothiers who finished the 12 miles in 2:11:40. Second was Bobby Thornton in 2:15:18 followed by Dillon Polling in third with a time of 2:51:44. Danny Morrell had a 2:41:51 to win the Clydesdale class.

I would like to say that I completed my two laps before the first expert finished his three laps, but I didn't.

Photo by J.R. Petsko
The post-race spoils went to Killer
First to the finish in the Pro/Expert class was Jason Cyr who put the hammer down and finished 18 mile 3 lap course in 2:08:56. Cyr was able to make the hard course conditions work to his advantage and put two and a half minutes between him and the need finisher.

Ben Ortt was the next to finish in a time of 2:11:26 which gave him second overall. Third in the class went to Gunnar Shogren who cranked through the mud to finish in 2:14:16. In the women's Pro/expert class Betsy Shogren put down a 2:49:52 for the win followed by Ruth Cunningham in second with a 3:03:41 and Mandi Riddle in third crossing the finish in 3:14:17.

In the single speed class it Benji Klimas taking the win in 2:14:00. Klimas was able to hold off Jonathan Martin who was just 2 minutes back and finished in 2:16:01. Third single speeder was Aron "LB" Yevuta who finished in 2:25:55. Matt Ross cruised to victory in the expert master class finishing in 3:04:51.

Yes I was still on the course after all that. Thanks to Gunnar, Mark Glass, Ruth Cunningham, Ashlon Smith and everyone else for the encouragement while out on course.

And yes I final finished in 3:22:12 . . . Yes I know! That it took forever, but it was worth it. Thad and all the other mountain bikers in Philippi did a ton of work to make this race happen and we all are very thankful. The 100% single and double track course was really well designed and I hope to see it again next, but under drier conditions.

Coming up next is the North Bend Challenge - WVMBA #10 & Sammy Klimas Benefit, Saturday includes fun stuff and Sunday it's the points race on July 13.