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Sunday, March 25, 2001 -- Reston, VA
The Dragon's Bite III Single-Speed Race & The Legend of Lake Fairfax MTB (iPO Event Id#: 2923)
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9]
[Set 10] [Set 11] [Set 12] [Set 13]

Race Photo
Fat tires coming at you from Lake Fairfax
The Legend of Lake Fairfax MTB race and The Dragon's Bite III Single-Speed race attracted a terrific crowd for a beautiful, but "deceptively chilly", day of off-road cycling. With the sun shining, music pumping, and the Potomac Velo Club at the helm, some great racing began at 9:00am and went well into the afternoon.

Racing a six-mile loop through Lake Fairfax Park, the riders would face a little of everything. Starting off with a climb on a gravel road, the course moves right on to some sweet singletrack including an occasional creek crossing. Throw in a bit of pavement, some open fields, a few logs, a kids race, some hotdogs, good friends, and you've got it all.

The course was actually well suited for the Dragon's Bite III Single-Speed races. Starting with the 9:00am wave of beginners in the Legend of Lake Fairfax MTB events, they just added an extra lap. The beginners called it quits at 12 miles while the 1x1's went on for 18 miles of spinning.

Kid Photo
Come on dad, I'm ready to race, too!
Taking the biggest bite out of the Dragon was first place "A" race finisher John Guentner (Wooden Wheels), who hails from Dover, Delaware, "where it's real flat". Guentner didn't lead the whole race, but he really picked it up the last two laps. He was trying to chase down John Wittington (NCVC/Spokes) who was pounding the competition on a track bike. When he saw Wittington working on his chain during the last lap, he didn't know it would result in an ultimate DNF. "I went like hell, I didn't know if he'd fix it and chase me down," commented Guentner after the race.

Colin Mahen (City Bikes), from Washington DC, was riding the first two laps with Guentner. But Thomas Jenkins (Hugh Jass), from Harrisonburg, grabbed second on the last lap after a costly stop by Mahen was needed to remove a branch from his wheel.

The "B" race watched as Wooden Wheels' 15 year-old prodigy Joey Thompson rode away from the competition. It was still more Wooden Wheels as 38 year-old Alan Turns rode in for second while Ted McDaniel tried to make it a team sweep. But a pesky Brian Junkins (PVC) out-sprinted McDaniel at the finish to put a home-team racer on the podium.

Race Photo
They throw a little of everything in your way
Finishing with the Dragon slayers, the first winners in the Legend were rolling accross the line. In the beginner junior (15-18) class Matt Ballentine (A-1) took the win and was followed by Matt Rissing and Sean Roe, respectively.

For beginner women it was Leigh Thomas claiming first with Gwen Livingston second and Trudi Franzel third. In the men's senior (19-34) it was Brad DeVries (Squadra Coppi) getting first rights to move up to sport over second place Eric Leaver (NCVC) and third place Vinny Gruss (Cycleworks). In the final beginner group, the men's masters (35+) awarded Milton Strother (Washington Bike Center) the gold, George Pelican the silver and Frank Ralti the bronze.

Raising the bar for the second wave of racing to three laps, the sport women went to work with Karen Minor bringing more of the goods home for the Wooden Wheels team. In only her second race (her first was a beginner class second), what her third race will hold in store is yet to be seen. Second place went to a young rookie in 16-year-old Pam Minix with Shannon Hall (APL Cycling Club) rollling in for third.

Race Photo
Now we're having fun!
In the day's biggest class, sport senior (19-34) men, top honors went to Peter Fixler, John McPeak (Wissahickon) and Darren Biggs, respectively. Sport master (35+) sent home the hardware with first place Jeff Beall (NCVC), second place Ron Huebner and third place Cary Hunter (PVC). In the true masters class, 45 and up, Steve Campbell (PVC) got the job done followed by David Simpson for second and Don Morrison (Wissahikon) for third.

The final round of racing pitted the experts in a battle royal for four laps. Christine Huff (Avalon), a 23-year-old Cat 3 road racer, made the best of her and her teammates having missed out on the Jefferson Cup Road Race, held the same day in Charlotessville, VA. Huff shadowed Christine Clay (Wissahickon) for the first lap before making a bid for the lead. By the third lap she was working to maintain an advantage. While Clay was able to keep Huff within site for most of the race, Huff stayed clear to the finish. Behind these two another fight was going on to decide third and fourth. With April Ray (OC Racing) holding the advantage for much of the race, Susan Musante (PVC) made a move late in the last lap to sneak in for third.

Race Photo
It's all downhill from here
The expert senior (19-34) men had Mike Yozell (Guys Bicycles), and Nicholas Johnson (Wissahickon) conspiring in the lead pack. Their plan was to try and work together in an attempt to get away off the front. While their strategy didn't drop everyone by the end of the first lap, it did put enough of a hurting on the field for Yozell to make a successful solo attack. It eventually earned him a nice win.

While the lead was becoming a lock, Johnson was trying to regroup as he had settle back to fourth. By the third lap he had moved into third and on the final lap he had second in sight. Romolo Forcino (Shirks), a triathlete in his first year of MTB racing, was now his target.

Johnson's early season legs couldn't get him quite into position as his rival was delighted to take the second place honors. "I thought it broke, I was so happy it had just fallen off!" said a relieved Forcino, who had to stop during the final lap to fix his chain. "I gave it everything I had to keep him off me across that last field," he added, as Johnson had managed to get just within striking distance with the finish practically in sight.

Race Photo
See ya at the finish...
The expert masters (35+) proved to be even more exciting. Kurt Dodds (Wissahickon), in an effort to get his Philidelphia based team on top of the podium, led for the first lap before Mark Myracle took over on the second lap. Instead of chasing, Dodds was busy battling back and forth with James Szymanski (Guys Bicycles) for second. The final lap saw Szymanski leave Dodds behind as he went on to track down Myracle. On the fast, paved downhill, with less than a mile to the finish, Szymanski made the pass and earned Guys Bicycles another expert top finish. Dodds held on to finish third and kept his Wissahickon team a familiar face at the awards table.

Ending the day of racing late in the afternoon, 45 year-old expert Lynn Mannion sped to the finish with a huge smile. "I'm training for the Masters National Championships," she later announced. But why the endless smiles after a long day of racing in the sadde? "I had a great time, I'm never gonna quit riding!", beamed the enthusastic Mannion. And so, the Legend of Lake Fairfax lives on for another day.

Special thanks to all the sponsors that helped make the event such a success; Keith Gates and A-1 Cycling, Phil Wood, Chirs King, Redline, and Gary Fisher. Thanks also for all the help that the PVC and their volunteers were given from the Girl Scouts of Great Falls, VA, the Fairfax County Park Authority, and the Centerville Volunteer Rescue Squad. A final shoutout goes to all the folks that came out to participate, your support goes a long way to benefit the Reston Youth Club.