2008 marysville mtb weekend

Considering mountain bike stage racing is the coolest thing ever, it was no surprise that the 2008 edition of the VisitPA Stage Race and Festival Weekend was amazing!

As usual, I wasn’t racing, but I had a bird’s eye view of most of the action, by way of running back and forth with my camera all day long. (Just like I did to get my 2006 VisitPA weekend race report.)

Here’s what I saw during this Fourth of July weekend:

Day 1: Friday (Night ITT)

ray adams getting ready

At roughly 2:00 PM, the campers started rolling in to the parking lots (i.e. hay fields,) greeted by VisitPA’s Rob Lichtenwalner. Rob must have been prepping for Saturday’s enduro race, because he was probably directing traffic for about six hours straight.

Things were going smoothly. Except for the cars sliding on the slick mud, and the water main break on the course, that is. Yes, there was a water main break on the farm just as the weekend was getting underway! Luckily the local authorities were able to get their equipment in and out, making the needed repairs without hassle. Then a little hay spread over the mud had everyone driving with ease.

But the mud would be back later…

After everyone set up camp and took care of getting registered, picking up their timing chips, eating dinner, and pre-riding the course, it was about 9:15 PM and plenty dark for a Night Time Trial. This is something you don’t see every day! Starting at dusk, riders depart in 30 second intervals to conquer five miles of singletrack with just the lights on their helmets!

In roughly two hours, everyone had finished, and the results (via Runner’s High) were posted that night! Harlan Price (Indy Fab) took the win, edging out defending champ Ryan Leech (Visit PA) by roughly 30 seconds.

After that, it was time to get some sleep! Saturday morning would bring more racing…

Day 2: Saturday (XC and Endurance Races)

kyle hammaker and ryan leech

As soon as the sun came up, while most racers were still fast asleep, members of the VisitPA crew (and even local racers such as Kyle Hammaker and Zach Adams) were out switching up the course markings and tape in preparation for the day’s big XC races. After a couple hours of prep, the course was ready – just in time to send off the runners at 9 AM (yes, even if you don’t bike, you can partake in the festivities!)

But 10 AM was the big race – the 6 Hour Enduro! A number of competitors, including VisitPA’s Rob Lichtenwalner and Mike Hebe, lined up for the monster event. Rob set a blazing pace from the gun, but Hebe was close behind the whole time. Both racers kept riding hard despite both suffering some serious crashes, and each put in a whopping eight laps by the end of the six hours. (Rob took the victory once again, but Hebe was a close second. Two podium spots for VisitPA!)

After the enduro riders had already put in over four hours, the Expert/Pro XC field lined up for their 2:30 start time. And there were some big names – Harlan Price, Ryan Leech, Ray Adams, Wes Schempf, Mike Yozell, Kyle Hammaker, and Aaron Snyder, to name a few – all up front.

All these guys sped off the line and up the first climb, vying for the chance to lead going into the singletrack. Marysville native Kyle Hammaker took the lead, with Ryan on his tail. But right behind them were Yozell, Harlan, Ray, Wes, and Aaron.

harlan price

Kyle could only set the pace so long, and on lap two Ryan and Harlan were trading first and second position. As fast as Ryan was, Harlan had the legs this weekend and took first place, with Ryan coming in about three minutes back. Third place was claimed by Aaron Snyder, who had an amazing ride and finished less than a minute behind Ryan.

Another amazing ride came from Mike Yozell, who beat Kyle Hammaker by about 1.5 seconds in a sprint to the line, to take fourth!

Wes came in right afterwards, putting three VisitPA riders in the top six!

In the women’s field, Michelle Stopper could not be stopped (or even contained) as she rode to victory, with about seven minutes between her and second place!

All those VisitPA victories made for a great showing at the Saturday night awards, although everyone 21+ was a winner that night thanks to the free beer on tap!

After tapping the kegs, participants moved on to activities such as trials riding, bike polo, and dual slalom tricycle racing! With live music, no less. Once it got too dark to do the slalom course safely (assuming it was somewhat safe in daylight,) out came the lighted Frisbees! Two groups formed on either side of the yard and proceeded the chuck the Frisbees to (or maybe “at”) each other. You could barely see the people beside you, let alone the group across the yard!

As Harlan put it, “we… threw lighted Frisbee’s into the darkness at people you couldn’t see. It was fun and dangerous, which is probably why it was fun.”

Day 3: Sunday (Hill Climb and Short Track XC)

kyle and hebe in the morning

For those able to get out of bed in the morning, Sunday brought a slew of bike racing activities for tired racers. At 9 AM, the day started with a nice short three mile race. Except that the three miles were all uphill on steep, muddy, rocky terrain, which was neither nice nor short.

I got to ride on the back of one of the “pace four-wheelers” which gave me a prime view of the lead riders. The race started with a fun bunch sprint through the woods, crossed the highway, and then began the monster ascent to the top of the ridge. As usual, the riders’ powerful legs almost matched the four-wheeler’s motor, but we made it up there in front, and I captured most of the race on video (I think.)

kuhndog four wheeler

It was none other than Harlan Price attacking half way up the climb, and no one could touch him. He held his small gap the whole way to the finish! Kyle came in second just eight seconds back, with Aaron on his tail at another nine seconds back.

Then came the wave of VisitPA riders, including Ryan, Mike, Rob, and Ray, taking fourth through seventh places to rack up the team points.

Next up was the annual slow race, a short downhill race where the object is to go as slow as possible without falling off your bike. After numerous trackstands and a few elbows and shoulders, Austin claimed the win yet again.

But speeds picked up to record highs in Sunday afternoon’s ST XC. The entire VisitPA squad was out in full force, ready to put their team tactics to use against adversaries Harlan, Kyle, and Aaron. VisitPA was setting a good pace and keeping things under control, but things broke apart on the last couple laps, and once again Harlan Price was victorious!

That was the end of racing for the weekend, but one event remained – the Huffy toss! While waiting for the awards ceremony, a crowd gathered to take part in this test of might. What happens here is that you pick up a deceptively heavy Huffy bicycle and toss it as far as possible.

Many strategies and a variety of techniques were used, but I think the average throw ended up being about five feet. (It’s harder than it looks! The bike is about 50 pounds and it’s very awkward to throw it!) The winning throw was a good toss with a careful technique that got the Huffy to actually bounce along once it hit, yielding a decisive victory that was rewarded with a box of Marysville Twinkies!

After that excitement, awards and prizes were handed out, and there was a huge schwag toss. (Or was that Saturday? Who knows…) It was a good time, but it had to end sometime, and the crowds of participants and spectators drove home happy.

Want to get in on the action?

Get the scoop on upcoming events at High Speed Cycling, and stay up-to-date on the team at the VisitPA team blog.

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