Being the first event in the West Virginia Mountain Biking Association’s annual race series always involves an element of risk. April weather can be fickle, and the precipitation roulette has gone bust at times over the storied history of the Simonton Windows Challenge At Mountwood mountain bike race. Even in recent memory, the start pistol has sent riders headlong into driving rain and even snow squalls . . .
. . . but not this year. After two weeks of no rain and bone-dry conditions, a steady precipitation the night before left behind a tamped, fast-rolling race course with ace-high traction. By the day’s end, a neglected bike wash station saw well over 200 bicycles spin through the finish line nearly as clean as when the race had begun, and almost everyone who participated seemed to be smiling.
Along with the main event, a youth skills clinic before the race put on by the River Valley Mountain Bike Association produced tons of Kodak moments, and it all added up to as fun and gratifying a mountain biking happening as has ever been seen at Mountwood Park.
Speaking of the main event, Stephen Rowand, Gunnar Shogren, and Timothy Carson grabbed first through third respectively in the Pro/Expert Open class. Cassie Smith set the Pro/Expert Women division on fire, followed by Betsy Shogren and Heide Shilling.
Among the masochistic-to-the-casual-observer Single Speed class, Nathan Annon bested Montana Miller and Joseph Malone, in that order. Masters Expert saw Mike Boyes edge out Brocc Kaylor and Scott Root for the win, and the Vet Expert victory was had by Jason Cyr with Don Galligher and Don Powers on his heels.
Sport Women class winner Jessica Emerick cruised in ahead of Alena Klimas and Nicole Smith, and Laurie Johnston won the Vet Women’s division followed by Jennifer Smith and Shelley Schumaker for second and third places.
The Men’s Sport class witnessed James Braswell clip Merwin Davis and Matthew Fratezak for the top spot. Sport Vet was taken by Bill Raun, and Matthew Gilmore and David Wooster rounded out the podium in this class. Sport Masters was won by Chris Koch, with Joseph Keegan in second and Jack Dalzell in third. In the Sport Grand Master division Greg McWilliams was the top finisher, followed by Bruce Wohleber and Clarence Wood.
In the Clydesdale class, Travis Olsen nipped Camden Dierkes, followed by Tony Beurskin in third. Brandon Williams won the High School division, with JD Barnette and Andrew McGrothers taking the next two spots. Austin Griffith grabbed the Junior classification win; Miranda Tyler and Levi Shreves took second and third places in this class.
In Men’s Beginner Robert Morris was followed by Mike Benner and Allyn Thompson for the top three finishes. Beginner Women was won by Beverly Reed, and Elizabeth Sauro and Corianne Kocarek rolled in behind her for second and third.
Many thanks go out to all who participated and all who volunteered their time and services to make the Simonton Windows Challenge At Mountwood such a successful event. A special shout out goes to the River Valley Mountain Bike Association for their countless hours of trail stewardship and race organization, and to Mountwood Park and its employees for being such excellent hosts. We hope to see everyone again next year.
Much appreciation also goes out to all the sponsors, without which the Challenge At Mountwood would not be possible. They include:
• Simonton Windows
• Parkersburg Bicycle, race presenter
• Mother Earth Foods
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car
• Leavitt Funeral Services
• Parkersburg Orthopedics
• Papa John’s Pizza
• Wood County Emergency Communications
• Deerwalk VFD
• Miller Door
• Little Debbie Snacks
• Bob’s Bicycle Shop
• Dimex Corporation
• Conn’s Potato Chips
• Audio Extreme DJ & Sound Services
• Barker Bradley & Blinn Insurance Agency
• Ketel 1 Team Wear