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Saturday, July 15, 2000 -- Hopedale, OH
Mickey's Duathlon, Downhill and Dual Slalom
Story and photos by Don Parks (with a little help from Kathy Mickey)

[Details] [Coverage]
Results: [Duathlon Results] [DH Results] [DS Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7]
Check the bottom of Pic Set 7 for 3 QuickTime Movie Clips!
See also: [Sunday's Event Coverage]

Pete Weir
Pete Wier flies into the gauntlet called Mickey's Downhill
THE DOWNHILL

It was my first trip to Eastern Ohio's infamous "Mickey's Mountain", the site of mountain bike racing and a whole lot more since the early 90's. As soon as I arrived, the maestro of all the mayhem, Calvin Mickey, immediately swept me off to the downhill course as the action had just gotten underway. I eagerly followed as the cracking sound of radios broke the air to report the next rider about to attack the course. Soon to follow, as we ducked for cover, was a streaking mass of man and machine negotiating insane obstacles at break-neck speeds. I knew right away that Mickey's Mountain meant business, and I was ready to soak in all I could.

The newly designed downhill course was the brain-child of Josh Clark, and what a twisted mind it must be. Thrown into the mix of hairpin turns, steep drop-offs, roots, logs and rocks were two new wooden bridges reminiscent of something from The North Shore. The second of which ends with a sizable drop-off, however, not as high as it was originally. It seems that Josh took a dinger to the tune of a busted helmet during a pre-ride the day before the race and had a slight change of heart. Believe me, he still left no shortage of punishing terrain, especially considering that it was soaked from the previous night's hard rains.

Now, with the race underway, it was as simple as getting from the top to the bottom as fast as possible. The winner was decided by the fastest run with each rider getting two tries to record their best time.

Stacey Osburn
Stacey Osburn shows the boys the way down the mountain
After the first run for the experts, Oakley's Tommy Tokarczyk set the bar with a time of 1 minute, 11.588 seconds. However, B.J. Treglia let him know that his lead was not safe by recording a time less than a half-second slower at 1:11.924.

Neither could improve on their first run times, but someone who did better their time was the venerable Pete Weir, riding for Dirty Harry's, Hoppey Steering Dampers, and AXO. Weir blasted through his second run with a time of 1:04.038, a time that no one could match. Still, Tokarczyk and Treglia's times, from their first runs, earned them second and third place, respectively. Asked about Weir's comeback win, Treglia just shook his head and said, "[Pete] always gets first."

The sport and beginner classes raced a modified course that skirted the treacherous bridges, but still left plenty of white-knuckle riding. Making the most of his first ever downhill race was the sport class champion, Boomer's Matt Rupert. "I thought I broke my toe and shoulder when I hit a tree on the first run," said Rupert. But, his first run time of 52.104 still gave him the advantage over eventual second place finisher, Chad Eglhart, who recorded his best time of 53.461 on his first run. Doing a little better job of avoiding the trees, Rupert put the exclamation point on his win with a course best 47.870 on his second run.

The excitement in the beginner class started when the downhill competition's only female rider, Stacey Osburn, ripped off the fastest time for the first run, 1:05.600, on a hard-tail ride. The spunky little rider from the Village Bike Shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, simply said, "I was just trying to stay not bloody." Her efforts were good enough to get her second place, with both the second and third best beginner times, on consistently strong rides. It took Michael Farrill to save face for the boys by smoking the course with a 1:02.947 on his second run, and stealing the first place prize.

Dual Slalom
The 20 second dogfight that is Mickey's Mountain dual slalom
THE DUAL SLALOM

Soon after the downhill racing concluded, it was time to start the totally spectator-friendly dual slalom racing. The rather short course, just a 20 second ride for the experts, is almost all visible from the hilltop start. However, what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in excitement. Right out of the gates it's a quick bump and then a nice dropoff before hitting a hard-left banked turn. That brings you right to a double, usually cleared by the sport and expert riders, before snaking through a few more banked gates to the finish.

Scored on the total time for runs on both the left and right lanes on the course, the top riders moved on to the next rounds in a process of elimination. In the expert class it was a battle between Sean Methven and Jered Raflik in the early heats. It was Methven (39.908) then Raflik (41.242) in the preliminaries, and then Raflik (39.227) first and Methven (40.809) second in the semi-finals.

Dual Slalom
You take the high road,
I'll take the low
Things may have been different in the final rounds had Pete Weir not had a disastrous first run of the day. However, his second run in the first round was clocked at 19.455, the fastest of any single run. The misfortune that struck early for Weir also caught up with Methven in the finals. His final run, under a pouring rain, opened the door for Mike Stusek who grabbed second place with a final round total of 41.981. The ever consistent Raflik once again produced great times in the final to take the overall title with a 39.836 total while Methven's 46.767 had him settling for third.

In the sport class it was Alan Peterson who ruled the dirt and air. Putting together the best total scores in the preliminary, semis and final, his consistent run times all between 20.933 and 21.761 brought him home top honors. The beginner class winner was Michael Farrill.

While watching the big air show as the bikes launched over the double, one after another, was quite a site, let's give credit where it is due. Winning the junior class at the race-ready age of seven, Devin Davis took his lumps with the big boys and rode out ready for more. Another shout-out goes to the female champion, none other than Stacey Osburn.

George Mille
George Miller gets the duathlon running leg started
THE DUATHLON

The rain showers that came at the end of the dual slalom races soon dissipated as the afternoon turned into a warm and muggy summer evening. Not bad weather for the weekends first true endurance event. The challenge now facing a group of new competitors was a 5K (some say it may have been closer to 3.5 miles instead of 3.1) loop through the maze of excellent Mickey's Mountain singletrack.

With the tireless Calvin Mickey, even while nursing busted ribs, ensuring that his crew had the course meticulously well marked, all the racers were ready to have at it. The first lap would be contested without the aid of bicycles, simply a 5K foot race. The next three laps, 15K worth of sweet singletrack, would eventually decide the overall winners. Having watched the day's early events, I, too, was know going to test myself against the mountain. Teaming up with Steve Little, I would be experiencing the trails on foot by doing the 5K running leg.

Hitting the trail with blazing speed, Ty Puskarich soon put himself out of sight of the rest of the field. Finishing what he called "the funnest run I ever did", Puskarich reached the bike transition in 23:16, a full three minutes ahead of anyone else. Pacing themselves together for the second half of the run, Kyle Garner and iPlayOutside's own Lew McGrath finished the run next, both with a time of 26:31. I was able to finish the run next in 27:09 giving my teammate a good start.

Puskarich's lead was a precarious one as his running strength was neutralized by his lack of cycling experience. Wanting something to "supplement my running", he had just purchased his first bike a month before and was now in his first race.

Ty Puskarich
On his bike, it was a jungle out there for Ty Puskarich
Before the end of the first bike lap, McGrath had closed the gap and overtaken Puskarich for the lead. McGrath, fearing that Garner may appear at any moment on his rear wheel, continued to push the pace and consistently recorded the fastest cycling lap times. Garner, who took longer than most in the transition, first had his hands full working his way past Puskarich and Little who were also ahead starting the first lap.

With McGrath on his way to an overall win in a total time of 1:30:10, it was, in order, Puskarich, Little then Garner finishing their first bike laps within 24 seconds of each other. However, by the end of the second lap the situation had reversed itself with Garner now ahead of Little with Puskarich trailing. The third lap only stretched the gaps as Garner took second overall in 1:36:34. Little finished third, giving us the overall team win in 1:41:41, followed by Puskarich in fourth, third overall solo male, in 1:46:06.

A little tired from a long day, soon we were all getting treated to refreshments and generous awards, as all the competitors had been throughout the day. While the battle stories were told everyone spoke highly of the great racing provided by Mickey and his tireless crew of supporters. As the night sky brought out a glowing full moon, it was my cue to find some rest, tomorrow I would need all my energy to take in another full day of Mickey's Mountain madness.

Jump over to [Sunday's Event Coverage]