Sunday, August 6, 2006 -- Zaleski, OH
Race to the Hills - WVMBA # 9 (iPO Event Id#: 7329)
Story and photos by Julie Black
The race had 215 racers overall, of those, 81 racers were new and had not raced an OMBC event before. About 65 of those riders were members of WVMBA. Many were excited to have new challengers, WVMBA and OMBC combined has many talented riders. Set in Lake Hope State Park, its land is entirely within the 26,824-acre Zaleski State Forest in the valley of Big Sandy Run. Remnants of abandoned mining and iron producing industries amid the beautiful scenery provide interest and pleasure for any rider or spectator for that matter, not to mention the amazing trail system.
Now, some 18-years later, the park's extensive trail system still grows thanks to many of the same people. The newest edition, Yosemite, was blazed as part of the Pro/Expert section for the Race to the Hills. This sweet, single-track downhill is so freshly cut that it's not even on the Athens Bicycle Lake Hope State Park MTB trail map yet. As new as it is, it was in impeccable condition, a perfect ride for anyone who loves a good dirt-packed, fern growth, fast section.
The race start and finish was set up in the camping section, complete with swing sets, bike booths, and food, a very family friendly venue. I headed to a section of trail close to the beginning. A short winding downhill that intersected with another flat section before heading uphill again. Unlike West Virginia where much of the trails have a lot of rocks and roots, these Ohio trails were very rock-root free, and hard packed. I'm sure the WVMBA riders enjoyed the change. With shirt in tow, bathing suit top on, and wearing more bug spray than an Alaskan fisherman in June, I set up shop with the tree ants.
The current leaders of both series, Dave Walker (OMBC), and T.J. Platt (WVMBA), jockeyed for the top spot from beginning to end. Walker lead in the beginning, but it was Platt who used the new downhill to his advantage to lead in the end by over a minute with a time of 2:05:50. Platt races for Dirty Harry's Bike Shop in PA. Ohio racer Walker claimed 2nd in 2:06:36. Also out of Ohio, Thomas Herman (2:11:32), rounded out the top 3. WV's Gunnar Shogren finished just 14 seconds behind Herman to take 1st in the single speed open.
Top Expert Vet was Ohio's Chris Skinner (2:14:27), and Expert Master of the day was WVMBA's Matt Marcus (2:30:33). Expert Jr. from WV Morgan Miller took top honors in 2:27:46. Ten competitors showed for the Vet Women's class with Maryland's Audrey Kennedy on top in 1:35:46.
The top High School finishers were both from Ohio. For the women it was beginner Sydney Schulz with a time of 1:14:04, and for the men, Whitney Jones (1:23:43) of the sport class. Henry Spring of PA took home the top Jr. Men's prize with a time of 49:45.
All 30 beginner men completed the course with no bonks or DNFs, great job.
Afterwards, an excellent feast was provided, and racers took cover under anything they could. It was a hot, hot day, and I was happy to be prepared and offer any rider who needed extra water a swig from my bottle. The OMBC put on an awesome race, and it was great to have it as a part of the WVMBA series. The more cross-overs in the future, the better I say. Now, if we could just get some lower gas prices!