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Sunday, April 11, 1999 -- Babcock State Park
9th Annual Babcock Spring Challenge

[Coverage] [Results by Class] [Results Overall]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]

Mike Bowen
It's not gonna rain...
Babcock State Park was alive on Sunday, April 11th, with mountain bike racers from across the mid-Atlantic region. This was the first WVMBA point series race of the season, and many found out if the off-season training they were supposed to be doing would have paid off. The course was a 12 mile loop that started below the scenic gristmill right beside Mann's creek. This gradual uphill gave way to a steeper climb along dirt roads until the top was gained. After reaching the plateau, rolling dirt roads were covered with just enough mud and slick rocks to make every pedal stroke an effort. Just when you might think that a downhill would bring a much needed breather, reality laughed and handed the racers a steep downhill littered with slick rocks, bone-jarring boulders, and plenty of rain-soaked limbs and small trees.

The ever-popular log induced dismount
The most trying time for many, it seemed, was the remainder of the course. From the bottom of the downhill, which was almost within throwing distance of the New river, the riders slowly snaked back up along Mann's creek toward the gristmill... for 5 miles. All beginner classes were required to do one loop, but everyone else had to face the long grinding uphill twice.

The fastest rider on the course this day was Gunnar Shogren(1:52:29). Shogren had a 30 second lead over Jason Beckley(1:54:41) at the end of the first lap, with a steady crew of riders following close to Beckley, but Shogren slowly pulled further away to win the Mens Pro-Expert class. Beckley finished second, and Mike Bowen(1:56:24) used a well timed uphill charge to take third place overall.

The pack spreads on the first uphill
In the Womens Pro-Expert class, Sue Haywood(2:14:12) once again proved the most adroit female on the track. She took the lead early and maintained her strong pace the whole race in order to capture 1st place and to finish 22nd overall. Kelly Yoder(2:27:47) finished a solid second with Sarah Crandle(2:28:54) close behind in third.

Impressive finish times were scattered throughout all the classes. Perhaps a member of the "expert-elect" class, Jason Laxton(1:58:46), racing the Mens Sport class, finished 15 minutes ahead of second place rider Nate Ferguson(2:13:45). Laxton finished 6th overall out of the field of over 100 riders.

Colleen Laffey
1st time racer Colleen Laffey havin' fun
In the Womens Sport class, Mora Kistler(2:34:36)was able to tap into her seemingly endless amounts of energy and finished 22 minutes ahead of second place Mandi Williams(2:55:33). Tim Willis(2:04:09) took 1st in the impressively fast Male Vet Expert class, while Jonathon Martin(2:01:56) finished 11 minutes ahead of second place to take the win for the Male Junior Expert class.

No matter how hard it rained at the beginning, it was sunny and beautiful at the end, and the only people that could be seen without a smile on their face were the ones devouring the pizza donated by Dominos. All this fun, and the season is just starting.