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Sunday, October 4, 1998 -- Flat Top
Free Wheeling Mountain Bike Race

[Coverage/Recap w/Pics] [Results] Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3]

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The first hill gets them started at Winterplace
The rains from Saturday evening tapered off and the sun struggled to break out from behind the clouds on a cool October morning. This was great weather for the group of riders that arrived at Winterplace Resort on Sunday, October 4th. The challenge was to get around the brand new seven mile mountain bike course, carved out of the slopes and surrounding grounds, as fast as possible. The route was a demanding series of punishing climbs and screaming downhills... that's why they call it mountain biking!

A mass start got underway at 12:00 noon with riders doing one, two, or three laps depending on their skill levels. The first lap included a short prologue loop with an immediate climb to separate the riders. Once out on the actual course it was just a short ride until you began the ascent up the mountain. Then it was on to some faster open trails and access roads as you wound around the top of the ridge. Inevitably you headed back off the mountain, but when you reached the base you had another climb back up the side of the slopes. Finally, you came off the mountain for good but then it was a serious of technical single track sections through the woods to complete the circuit. On the last lap you were sent back to reverse the prolog loop and arrive at the finish.

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Charles Storm was able to out climb all the competition
In the race to complete three laps, expert rider Charles Storm, from Raleigh, NC, proved that his legs could out climb the rest of pack. Expert riders Todd Reighly and Mike Bowen were contenders and rode with Strom for the first lap exchanging the lead position. However, by the middle of the second lap Storm was able to hold a short advantage as his strong climbing made it more and more difficult to close the gap on the downhills. It wasn't long before Storm's lead began to steadily increase. In addition, Bowen suffered a broken rear derailleur cable which slowed him down considerably.

At the finish, it was Storm finishing first with a convincing win in 1:09:18 while Reighly took second in 1:17:56. Bowen was able to hold on to third (1:21:35) while doing quite a bit of running.

In a close battle for Sport champion, also racing three laps, it was a duel between Sean Sabol and Joe Warton. Warton took the lead early and held it for almost the entire race. However, in the final miles Sabol (2:41:36) was able to overtake Warton (2:47:55) who was obviously suffering late in the race.

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As Ryan Hobbs demonstrates, what goes up must come down
The two lap race was dominated by the Junior Sport class with the riders quickly taking up their positions. Finishing first was Travis Olinger in a time of 1:37:03. Honorable mention goes to Eric McCumbers who rode most of the race with just the axle remaining for one of his pedals. He still managed to finish fourth in a situation were many riders would have thrown in the towel.

In the single lap competition it was close race with Bryan Reece (46:24) edging out Brice Chambliss (46:59) and Cam Lewis (47:07) for top honors.

After the racing was done, it was just a short wait for the awards. While some of the early finishers were waiting, they were treated to a cookout and plenty of great refreshments. When the awards started, there was plenty to go around for everyone. As a matter of fact, the leftover awards that went unclaimed looked better than some entire prize tables we've seen. If you missed the race this year, you don't want to miss it next!