VOLCANO – Cyclists in the 19th annual Simonton Windows Challenge at Mountwood were greeted Sunday with great spring weather and conditions that made the trails ideal for mountain biking.
Around 155 participants rode the trails at Mountwood Park during the annual mountain bike race taking advantage of the park’s 30 miles of trails.
With rain having fallen recently and another race in the state having to be canceled Saturday, many people wondered if the Mountwood Park race would still go forward Sunday, said Gunnar Shogren, secretary of the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association (WVMBA).
“People were asking if Mountwood was going to happen,” he said. “We said ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah.’
“We didn’t get that much rain. It is windy, sunny and dry.”
Colder temperatures in the morning might have made some people leery, but once the race started and everyone was out, riders had nothing but good things to say Sunday afternoon, Shogren said.
“The Mountwood crew did a really good job on the trails,” he said. “There were some sections of the trail that were wet, but it was in fine shape.”
The race included a number of classes, based on age, gender, experience and more. Expert riders raced 21 miles, Sport riders raced 14 miles and Beginner riders raced 7.5 miles. Sunday’s event was the opening race for the WVMBA Points Series.
“This is a big deal for us,” Shogren said. “This is the season opener.”
Officials were able to keep track of the riders, knowing where they were along the course in case someone couldn’t finish the race and had to be found, as well as having finishing times recorded by computer at the finish line.
“It all went smoothly,” Shogren said. “People have not gotten lost. There are also enough marshals and officials out there to keep track of everything.
“We had no big mishaps. It has been a stellar day. I think everyone is happy the season began on such a nice note.”
Sunday’s weather was perfect, said Bill Lane, race director with the River City Mountain Bike Association for the Challenge at Mountwood.
“We did not get as much rain out here,” he said. “The temperature was ideal.
“Many people said it was like riding in air conditioning.”
Over $5,000 in cash and prizes were awarded out, Lane said.
Marietta resident Ryan Miracle, who placed third in the Expert-Pro class, said the trails were “superb.” He described the start of the race was fervent.
“The start was intense,” he said. “There were a lot of people who were bumping into each other.”
Sunday’s event was the fourth time Miracle had participated in the Challenge.
“This is a local trail system that many of us ride throughout the year,” he said, adding Sunday was a particularly good day to be out.
“There is sunshine and it is 60 degrees, why wouldn’t you want to be out there,” Miracle asked.
Eleven-year-old Levi Smith, of Morgantown, participated in the Sport class and said he had a good time Sunday.
“It was awesome, really awesome,” he said. “I liked that it was really flowy and really fun.”
Kate Corbin, of Beckley, said she and her husband, Fred Tzystuck, made a goal of finishing every race in the WVMBA series this season. This was her first time at the Challenge at Mountwood.
“This is Race One,” she said. “It was just a beautiful day out and I was glad I finished.”
Corbin said the trails throughout the park were well maintained and well marked. Her husband agreed.
“The trails were great,” he said.
Overall, people had a good time throughout the race, Shogren said.
“The weather was beautiful,” he said. “After the winter we had, any amount of sunshine with temperatures over 50 is very well received.
“I think everybody has enjoyed themselves.”