Sunday, June 19, 2011 -- Parkersburg, WV / North Bend State Park
North Bend Cross Country - WVMBA #5
Racing at North Bend
Story by Chris Swarr.
The WVMBA #5 North Bend State Park's Race Around the Bend allowed those present to sample much of this Ritchie County park's trail system, and the consensus was clear that this place is straight-up beautiful, even for a West Virginia state park.
North Bend's trails traverse the shores of a long lake, the scenic North Fork of the Hughes River, narrow ravines, and high ridge tops while passing through big woods and big rocks in a way that makes for a top-tier riding experience.
Add to that too many other amenities to mention, including camping, well-appointed cabins, and a lodge with an excellent restaurant, and itís easy to see why North Bend State Park continues to be a favorite regional vacation and adventure destination that brings people back again and again.
Staged out of the Cokeley campground area, the race began at high noon with experts pacing up a paved climb to enter the single-track. They were followed by sport and beginner course riders eager to test their legs and the mud clearance of their bicycles. Mid-way through the race the skies briefly opened up again to ensure that riders remained on their toes.
At 2:27:49 the first expert rider, Justin Pokrivka, crossed the finish line winning the Vet Expert class and the overall. Gunnar Shogren and Jacob Grantham rounded out the Vet Expert podium.
The Pro/Expert class was handily won by Timothy Carson, while Stephen Rowand and Joey Riddle finished second and third across the grueling two laps of the North Bend expert course. Speedsters Betsy Shogren and Mandy Riddle fought it out in the Women Expert class for first and second, respectively.
The Single Speed class witnessed Nathan Annon eclipse Morgan Miller and Robert Loehr for the win. (I rode sweep with Robert's father, Steve Loehr, and I can see where Robert gets it - his dad has thighs like a Hughes River sycamore.)
Men Expert Master Michael Boyes grabbed this class's win, followed by David McCormick and Charles Patterson.
The Women Sport class was captured by Alena Klimas, and the Women Sport Vet was taken by Anne Gray with Sara Chua and Amy Atkins finishing in the next two places.
Grand Master Greg McWilliams was on this day this class's grand master, as C. E. Woods pedaled into second and local Spartan Dave Bloomer rolled for third.
Joseph Keegan, another quick local, snatched the Sport Master victory with Pete Wolf and Wes McDonald hot on his heels. John Imperial edged out Dennis Butcher and Marvin Teets for the Sport Vet nod.
The Men Sport class registered Joshua Martin cross just ahead of yet another local whip, Ryan Miracle. Josh Teets pegged it for third in this largest of the races classes.
Clydesdale was won by Joshua Vance, while Todd Romero and Ron Cantley II barreled through for the silver and bronze. Clean-cut local scholar Marcus Sims paced himself for the High School Men victory, and Sam Chittum was the Men 14-Under winner.
One-two-three in the Beginner class wrapped up as follows: Chris Boland, Stephen McBrayer, and Danny Morrell. Alicia Mathers was the Women Beginner victor.
After the race, bike cleaning, and awards racers and volunteers were treated by North Bend park superintendent Steve Jones and Chef Jim to a post-race feed the likes of which this reporter has never before experienced. This feast alone was worth the price of admission. Thanks for pulling out all the stops in the food department, guys!
Much appreciation also goes out to all the volunteers and sponsors for making this event possible.
ETQ (www.eqt.com); North Bend State Park Foundation;
Change the Future WV; River Valley Mountain Bike Association;
Wamsley Cycles; Ritchie County Primary Care Assoc., Inc.;
North Bend Outfitters; West Virginia Insurance; Mark Spiker, DDS;
Dana Soper RpH; Ritchie County Veterinary Clinic; Ritchie Realty, Inc.;
Dustin & Angela Huffman, DDS; the towns of Harrisville & Pennsboro;
Scott Orthopedic Center, Inc.; Ellie Windom; Pepsi; and WVMBA
Thanks to all for a well-run, great time and we hope to see you next year!