Saturday, May 26, 2001 -- Webster Springs, WV
Woodchopper Classic (iPO Event Id#: 2627)
Story and photos by Dave McKain
If you like some challenging hills to climb and you like road racing, the Woodchopper Classic was the race for you. Both the short and long courses offer climbing. In a change from previous races, this years Classic started in Bergoo (just outside Webster Springs). The short course, a 20 mile out-and-back, climbed out of Bergoo on a winding 2 lane road before hitting state highway 15 for the bombing descent towards Webster Springs. Well, it was an out and back course, so "what goes down must come back up" and, after a turnaround, the racers did just that, making the climb back up 15 before turning for home.
For those taking on the long course, it was out the same road as the short course but their turn on highway 15 led them up a brutal climb to the 3200 ft ridge. From there the punishment wasn't over since little (if any) flat course sections were to be found along the way.
Most of the long course competitors stayed together out of Bergoo but, once they made the turn onto 15 with its 10%+ grades, it was every man for himself as the field shattered. Leading the way up the hill was a three man group consisting of teamates Scottie Weiss and Jacob Fetty along with youngster Nick Waite. Fetty, a veteran of WV road racing, filled in his teamate Weiss on what they were in for at the Classic and together, they began to work over the rookie Waite. On their own but not far behind were Kyle Dixon and Steve Gergely. The next pack was a couple minutes back.
Approaching the turn-around, Weiss broke free to put a one minute gap
on teamate Fetty who, in the process of chasing, opened up his own one
minute lead on Waite. The gap remained the same with riders Dixon and
Gergely following at almost one minute intervals themselves. The race
had become one of individual efforts.
As is ususal with bike racing, events on the course don't reveal themselves until the event is over. Waite, riding strong to the descent, was expected to hold his place. The twist was the deceptive descent. Gunnar Shogren, a long time WV road and mountain bike racer, spoke of "climbing" the last descent. Apparently, most of the other riders were of the same opinion. Coming back from a long, hilly race, the drop back into Bergoo seemed a welcome relief. Apparently, the descent wasn't as steep as it seemed and many of the riders thought that they had made it up the hill faster than they had made it down. This was especially the case for Waite who, coming to the top of the descent, was riding strong but slowed and was overtaken by Dixon and Gergely.
Inconsequential of the how they finished, the riders were treated to one of the best post-race meals many had ever experienced with barbeque pork and chicken, baked potatoes, pasta salad, hamburgers and refreshing beverages laid out by promoter Tom Lauderman and his staff of able volunteers. The course, post-race meal, great prizes and hospitality will help to ensure the growth of this event in the future.