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Sunday, June 21, 1998 -- Calhoun County Park, Grantsville, WV
Appalachian Classic

[More Pics] [Coverage w/Pics from Kids Race] [Results]

Hot air balloon rises over Calhoun County Park
Even before the more than 120 mountain bikers started their race on Sunday, the Appalachian Classic had blasted off to an exciting beginning. The well-organized festivities began on Saturday, June 20 with a Mountain Bike Clinic taught by WV Pro bikers, Gunnar Shogren and Susan Haywood and hot-air balloon rides.

Since the sun came out and the rain decided to take a break for the weekend, what better way to cool off than going for a swim in the pond with your bike? For those who didn't want to try the adventure of riding down a hill and off a ramp into a pond, watching the kamikaze biker's dive, flip and spin off of the ramp was plenty of entertainment and a nice segway into an evening of food, friends and live-music. Reports from all who camped at the park said it was a wonderful time, the music was great and many new friends were made.

Planet 22
Planet 22 of State College, PA performs an evening show

Sunday morning brought us the Kids race and plenty of time to mingle with the ever-growing crowd of bikers come to participate in the 1:00PM event. Prior to the start of the race, the racer's gathered at the starting line and the loud speakers blasted Aaron Copland's 'Fanfare'. The energy level rose and was finally set off with a bang and blast of smoke from a traditional West Virginian muzzle loader. With that the racers were off, up the hill past the spectators at the finish line and back down past the dining area and finally off onto the trails.

Planet 22
The starting climb to the start/finish line.

The Applalachian Classic boasts that it is one of the most spectator friendly mountain bike events in existance and it truly is. As the bikers dispersed into the trees, the spectators spread out to find the best spot for watching them on their first lap. Some headed off for the Boy Scout Trail, to watch the bikes speeding along while others ventured off to the Powerslyde in hopes of seeing a photo-perfect race endo.

Planet 22
Susan Haywood
First Place Women's Pro

The race leaders broke out of the pack early on and although some attempts were made at changing positions, pretty much maintained their throughout the race. It appears that the addition of a wedding band to Gunnar's apparel hasn't affected his racing as he lead the race finishers with a time of 2:16:53 for the 3 lap, 24 mile race and even stopped before crossing the finish line to kiss his new wife. Gunnar was followed closely by Todd Reighley, 2:19:33. Throughout the race, updates were announced on the load speakers of their narrowing competition up and down the muddy trails of Calhoun County Park.

Planet 22
Gunnar Shogren
First Place Men's Pro

For the women, Susan Haywood crossed the finish line first after 3 laps with a very respectable time of 2:34:16 and was followed by Melissa Showman, 2:38:43.

The Appalachian Classic offered a unique class for local and state law enforcement "bike police" to take the day off from their city patrols and venture onto the trails to ride one lap and compete in the Law Enforcement class. Two riders, Greg Pickens (1:14:48) and Stanley Harper (1:43:52), took on the challenge and their class placements were rewarded with ammunition!

Todd Ritchie, free falling at the pond jump
With it's variety of classes and numerous spectator events, the Appalachian Classic is truly a classic in it's time. We look forward to helping to build it into an even bigger and better event next year. So, come on out to the park next year, eat a little, bike a little and watch a classic.