The East Coasters Virginia State Championship Mountain Bike Series, Race #1, The Dragonís Back, April 20, 1997, Catawba, Virginia
By Kyle S. Inman, All Rights Reserved
A 3-man juggernaut from Harrisonburg demonstrated on this sunny Jefferson National Forest Sunday where the balance of pro-expert power resides in the commonwealth of Virginia.
Looking to repeat his role of 1995 as the man-to-beat, defending Virginia state champion Chris Scott (Trek) blazed the new Dragonís Back one lap course in the remarkable time of 1:58:47 to take stage 1 of the East Coasters Virginia Championship Mountain Bike Series.
In his role as dragon slayer, Scott had to hold off would-be Lancelot and 1995 state sport champion Michael Carpenter (Gary Fisher), who turned up the heat to finish just 20 seconds back. Teammate Thomas Jenkins rounded out the H-burg sweep for the bronze at 2:06.
Dry conditions provided a dusty start, creating visibility problems on the rolling 2 mile forest road roll-up to the first singletrack. Once the dust cleared, Mark Smith (East Coasters) of Blacksburg was the leader, charging up the 2 mile, 1500 foot vertical Grouse Trail ascent to the ridge. With a 30 second lead established, the ridge proved disastrous for Smith, as his knee collided with one of this trailís most prominent features: embedded rock. The deep gash was enough to end Smithís race and provide ample room for Scott, Carpenter, and Jenkins to work.
With the narrow, rock-garden infested ridge trail behind, the switchback-laden Turkey Trail dropped the leaders quickly 1600 feet (1 mile) back onto the forest service road for a quick two-mile sprint to the line, where Scott held off Carpenterís advances.
If this race is a litmus for the championís mantle, North Carolina-transplant-now-Roanoke-resident Julie Taylor appears to be a virtual shoe-in, dominating solo for 2 hours, 28 minutes. Susan Hoskins of Bluefield, West Virginia rode ahead of the pack, snagging 2nd at 22 minutes behind.
In the meantime, by the next race (Rocky Mountís Rebel Ramble, May 24-25) menís pro/expert field had better figure out a way to break a Harrisonburg hammerlock on podium positions.
1) Chris Scott (Trek) 1:58
2) Michael Carpenter 1:59
3) Thomas Jenkins 2:06
4) Daniel Miller 2:06
5) Todd Reighly 2:07
1) Julie Taylor 2:28
2) Susan Hoskins 2:52
3) Karen Amanna 2:54
4) Lora Zimmerman 2:54
5) Sheila Eaheart 3:18