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Sunday, May 28, 2000 -- Bergoo, WV
3rd Annual Paul Bunyan Mt. Bike Race
Story by Don Parks with photos by Don Parks, Matt Marcus & Sue Haywood

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9]
[1999 Race Coverage]

Paula & Keith Lilly
West Virginia at her best in Bergoo
Not many folks can say they've visited Bergoo, West Virginia. Even more have certainly never heard of this tiny town in Webster County. However, with Sunday's running of the 3rd Annual Paul Bunyan MTB race, Bergoo certainly seems to be making a name for itself among bike riders of all sorts.

Every year Memorial Day also means the Woodchopper's Festival in Webster Springs, just ten miles away, complete with professional lumberjacking competitions, a parade, and a whole weekend of entertainment. Recently adding to all the celebration has been the two weekend bike races. Saturday has the Woodchopper's Classic road race with Sunday hosting the Paul Bunyan mountain bike race.

With Bergoo's scenic location tucked away in a valley where Leatherwood Creek feeds into the Elk River, it is a beautiful location for enjoying the outdoors. The mountain bike course for the race consists of a wide variety of challenges and scenery. Beginning with a long slow climb that passes by a natural waterfall, eventually the riders head into the woods for some tough mountain trails. Next up is the highlight of the course, a long descent along Leatherwood Creek that includes no less than four major creek crossings. The final miles are a fast run back in to town on the same gravel roads that had been traversed at the start.

Chas Mick
Chas Mick holds on for some gnarly Webster Co. racing
The weekends intermittent rain showers had turned most of the course into muddy trails covered with running water. None-the-less, the crowd of racers, which doubled in size from the previous year, seemed anxious to get out and get dirty. Lined up at the start were a wide variety of riders ranging from the seasoned professional rider like Trek's 28-year-old femme fatale Sue Haywood to the good-old local fun-lover like the 50-plus Richard Wayne. Wayne, decked out in his best mountain biking jeans and tank-top, told us with a big grin at the finish, "I'm riding for Redman and the NRA!"

As the riders rolled out of town just after noon, it didn't take long for the up-and-coming, 16-year-old West Virginia sensation, Nick Waite, to take up the lead spot. He was chased up the mountain by Haywood and another strong young rider in Jonas Anderson.

Waite led the race from wire to wire, and even on the final sections of gravel road he didn't let up. He later commented that he'd been the overall leader in other races only to get passed close to the finish, and he didn't want to let that happen again. His first overall racing win was earned on the 13+ mile course in a time of 1:07:57. After taking second overall in the previous day's road race, we'd have to give Waite the unofficial title of the 2000 Webster County Lumberjack Cycling Champion.

Racers
When you invite trouble, it's usually quick to accept!
Haywood and Anderson battled for second throughout the race and it wasn't decided until the finish. Anderson had overtaken Haywood on the final descent to the road, but as they came out of the woods she was still just off his wheel. The riders maintained their positions until around the final mile, when Haywood launched her attack. It was enough to hold off Anderson by just three seconds as she took second overall in 1:10:49.

For almost another two hours, wet, weary and very muddy riders rolled back into Bergoo. If the sites and thrills hadn't been enough, the race organizers had a wonderful awards party waiting. The lavish spread included everything from the ideal racer food (energy bars, energy drinks, and fresh fruit), to the traditional Memorial Day picnic goodies (hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, potato salad, chips, candy, refreshing beverages on-tap, and more).

This shindig wasn't over after all the food and drink, there was still thousands of dollars worth of prizes to dish out. Before the race had even began the Kids Race was held with all the participants receiving t-shirts and prizes. Walking away with the grand prize, given away with a random drawing, was 10-year-old Travis Williams. It wasn't hard to find the young man out test riding his brand new bike.

Riley
Riley, and the rest of Bergoo's friendly folks, are ready for more fun
The big kid prizes included t-shirts for all and a random prize drawing that went on until every racer's name had been called. After all the jerseys, water bottles, and other assorted biking accessories were grabbed up, it was time to throw everyone's name back in the hat for the grand prizes. Not one, but three bikes were given out to the lucky winners: Brad Phillips, Adam Angelona and Matt McDonald.

If you missed all the fun this year, you'll want to mark Bergoo down on your calendar for next year's Memorial Day weekend. With the unbelievable hard work and generosity of the race directors and volunteers, they are sure to make this event bigger and better for years to come. These folks include Tom Lauderman, Nancy Wayne, Debbie and Rick Brammer, Kenneth and Casie Chapman, Rickie and Drenda Hamrick, Lynn Gregory, Kyle Gregory, John and Jeannie Cogar, Ralph Staton, Cathy and Mitchel McCoy, Chris Arnold, Justine Pugh, Hallie Anderson, Jim Pugh, Charlotte Bennett, Elaine Cutlip, Bob Mace, Jimmy Scheidler, John Reed, Joe and Angel Green, Lucas Green, Alisha and Aaron Lauderman, and anyone else that we omitted. Also, this wonderful race could not happen without the support from many Pharmaceutical Companies and local businesses that are to numerous to list. Thank you to everyone who helped to make this a wonderful weekend for all.