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Sunday, July 22, 2001 -- Big Bear Lake - Bruceton Mills, WV
Big Bear Lake MTB Classic - WVMBA Point Series #7 (iPO Event Id#: 2629)
Story and photos by Dave McKain

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7]

Mike Loranty shows Mandi Riddle the damage
That's gotta hurt
The WVMBA Points Series started a swing of six consecutive weekends of competition. Kevin Wetzel and Missy Showman took top honors over the long course while Amy Zirneklis and Ian Custer placed first in the Womens and Mens sport classes. With the exception of cursing mechanical problems, most riders were overheard talking about how great the course was with all the additional singletrack put in by promoter Mark Schooley and his crew.

The days activities started out with a true mountain bike experience for the kids over a relatively tough 1/3 mile circuit where the older you got, the more laps you had to do (unlike Masters class racers). The race was a great way to introduce kids to the aspects of racing. Race strategies like conserving a little energy for the finish, bike operations like selecting the right gear for the terrain, and technical riding skills to get around obstacles. There was even a pile-up in the 6-under/7-8 year old class race that, luckily, everyone escaped without injury. At the conclusion of the race, all the participants were awarded medals and treated to a free ice cream cone from the store in addition to a spaghetti meal to replenish the carbs expended.

Race Pic
A Kids Race Piluep
For the main event, participants needed to get ready for some longer rides - ranging from a 9 mile loop for the beginners to around 18 miles for the experts. That meant packing some food and water along with spare tubes, patch kits, pumps and the all important "Gu" energy gel packs (nothing like a shot of sugar and caffiene when your starting to fade). In the expert race, Clay Evans shot out to an early lead, putting almost a minute and a half between himself and the next rider. As the race progressed, Kevin Whetzel began to whittle away at the lead until finally catching on to Evans' wheel for the final miles. Unfortunately, Evans (1:45:29) picked up a stick in his rear derailleur which, along with some miscalulations in race strategy, allowed Whetzel (1:45:18) to take the lead for the most important 200 yards of the course - the ones leading up to the finish line. Pete Sedunov (1:46:27) escaped the onslaught of Jonathan Martin (1:46:39) to take third.

In the Womens Expert class, Missy Showman (1:58:20) took the win over Cassie Smith (2:06:34). Smith came within striking distance of Showman before suffering a flat tire. Mandi Riddle took third place in the class with a time of 2:17:23. For the Veterans, Mike Capraro scorched the course with a 1:47:18 - good enough for a fifth place finish overall. Chasing on Capraro's heels was soon to be father Rob Gaus who made the trip down to Big Bear while his wife is expecting to have a baby 2 1/2 weeks from now. As a precaution, Gaus handed his cell phone to a spectator (namely me) so someone would be there to recieve the call if it came although I'm not sure what I would have done (Rob, your wife his having a baby, you better go faster). Broc Kaylor (1:54:41) kept Mike Boyes (1:55:06) at bay to take the third spot in the Vet Expert class. In the Jr. Expert class, David Layman took top honors with a time of 1:58:15 while Brady Campbell (2:04:17) and Eric Durst (2:07:52) finished second and third respectively.

Race Pic
Daddy to be on the big drop off
In the Mens Sport Class, the battle for the Point Series lead continued with Ian Custer (1:46:22) taking first over current series leader Joeseph Stone (1:47:46) while Nathan Annon (1:51:34) took the third spot. In the Womens Sport class, Amy Zirmelkis (2:18:42) took the win over second place finisher Amy Vance (2:29:21) and Brittany Bula (2:32:04) while Bryan Fawley (1:51:47) got 20 points by winning the Mens Jr. Sport Class over Danny Wilson (1:54:06) and Sean Hribal (1:58:42).

All in all the race was a good gauge on mid-season form. With 8 more races to go in the series - all coming with only one weekend off. Time to strategize and, if you are in the running for a title, time to get serious. The series moves to the Tour de Lake in Spencer next weekend where the rocks are fewer but the clay makes for sometimes slippery conditions.