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Sunday, April 22, 2007 -- Bruceton Mills, WV / Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake Bike Classic - WVMBA #2 (iPO Event Id#: 10034)

[Photos] [Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results]

Article and photos by JR Petsko

Big Bear Lake-Photo by JR Petsko
Great spring weather

I recently had the opportunity to stay at Big Bear Lake in Bruceton Mills, WV all weekend for some mountain trail running and biking at its finest. The trails at Big Bear are the kind you dream about with a single track that's to die for, extreme down hills, and scenic views like no other. I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way either.

Over 180 riders from all around the tri-state area descended upon the sleepy camp ground to participate in round two of the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association (WVMBA) Point Series. The weather was more forgiving than the first WVMBA event had to offer. Not a cloud in the blue sky, and with temperatures reaching the high 60's, the day made everyone feel even more excited about the race start.

I peered around the starting area, getting a few pre-race shoots, but then I stopped dead in my tracks. I was surprised to see iPlay's own, Don Parks at the starting line with a number plate on his bike?! "Nah, couldn't have been him." I thought to myself. "He must be holding that bike for someone else." After saying hey to Parks and talking for a few minutes, he explained to me that he was not only racing today, but he was also racing the expert single speed class. WOOT! Parks also said that he had a little friend that was riding along with him. Behind his number plate a little head popped out made of paper and marker. "This is flat Stanley", Parks explained. I came to learn that Flat Stanley was a school project of one of his nephews. Stanley is making stops all over the country and his travels are being documented though photos. Parks also explained that after the race Flat Stanley was off to Alaska.

Big Bear Lake-Photo by JR Petsko
Nice trails, great fun
Women's beginner rider and eventual class winner, Rebecca Cedel, road by me wearing a Burt and Ernie cycling jersey. Now, if that doesn't make you smile I don't know what will. After the last of the riders past by me and "Anni the iPlay Dog" and I jumped in the car to catch the rest of the riders as they past though the magnificent pine forest at the top of the mountain. Out of all the stops in the state this is by far my favorite to take photos of mountain bikers. The single track though the dense pine tree forest is amazing.

When the riders came though the pines I felt my spine tingle. The racers riding the shorter course loops were meeting up with the expert riders at this point. It was a little difficult to distinguish who was in the lead, but some familiar faces stood out. Jeff Schalk, T.J. Platt, and race one WVMBA winner, Steve Hill, were clearly out in front, putting in a hard charging pace on the fast single track.

Near the finish I found a small little downhill and took a few more shots. The first biker came flying by, and I could see it was Jeff Schalk. Schalk would take the overall win crossing the line in 1:22:57. T.J. Platt was the next rider in. Looking strong early in the season Platt would finish second overall on the day in a time of 1:26:31. Vet expert rider, Justin Pokrivka, not only won his class but also took home third overall in 1:26:51. The course was loved by everyone who raced but the rocks of Big Bear where not to kind to a hand full of riders on the day. Riders like rock n' roll doctor Steve Thaxton, Cai Clothier, and Mr. Cannondale himself, Rob Voorhees, all suffered multiple flats.

Big Bear Lake-Photo by JR Petsko
A muddy crash
For the women it was Betsy Shogren going 2-for-2 in WVMBA events this year taking the overall women's win in a time of 1:44:25. Shogren pushed the pace once again, and on this day no one could match it. Finishing second overall behind Shogren was Amanda Sproat crossing the finish in 1:55:53. Three minutes back of Sproat, Audrey Kennedy took third with a time of 1:58:30. Carol Clemens finished fourth overall for the women followed in fifth by Mandi Riddle (2:02:37). Riddle, who's had a few tough races early in 2007, looks to be bouncing back. She may look to rise in the ranks at the next event, The Henry Clay 30K - WVMBA #3, where Riddle finished second in 2006.

So how did Flat Stanley end up? Well Stanley, riding along with Parks, finished a very respectable 7th in the expert single speed class in 2:07:25. Good luck to Stanley on the rest of his adventures. Parks now holds the best finish of anyone from the iPlay Staff for 2007. Well I guess it's time for me to dust off the old bike and get in shape.

Thanks to everyone at Big Bear for a great weekend as always. If you enjoyed yourself on the trails don't forget that Big Bear will be hosting an Ultra series event later this year.