27th Annual Tidewater Mountain Bike Challenge
Williamsburg, VA - October 25-26, 2014
Fantastic weather, lots of sun and temps in the 70’s made for a great weekend of racing at the 27th edition of the Tidewater MTB Challenge. The 3rd largest turnout in event history was recorded for the classic fall event, which was once again the finals for the 2014 Virginia Off Road Series (VORS).
The Marathon classes started the weekend events as both the Solo and Team categories got underway Saturday morning. Jordan Kahlenberg logged a record 16 laps in 5:09:14 and used the double points allowed for Marathon Solo Men riders toward his overall Trifecta bid. John Gaudio and Garry Gappy completed 15 laps to round out the top 3. Danelle Grant would also complete a record number of laps for the Marathon Solo Women with 13 laps in 5:03:44 and use this score toward her Trifecta tally. Brittany Hatcher and Lorene Davidson completed 12 and 11 laps respectively for 2nd and 3rd. The Marathon Team of Jeff Hellner and Scott Pendleton set the Team record with 18 laps at 5:16:42. These two competed on Single Speed MTB’s for their entire weekend’s bid for Trifecta glory. Jeff Hellner was all in this year for Tidewater both in his Trifecta bid and as a new sponsor for the event with his newly established York River Mechanical Contracting, Inc. The teams of Adolfo Carrion / Keith Papamcolas and Marco Demartin / John Kromis both completed 17 laps to fill out the top 3.
The Men’s STXC would see the 2014 Short Track National Champion (boys 13-14 years) Adam Croft take the victory ahead of Ryan Cullen and race director Steve Nevins. Cullen ran a Handlebar cam and produced a nice video which can be seen on YouTube by searching “Tidewater Challenge”. Brian Kunz also posted a couple of nice videos on YouTube and there are some vintage Tidewater videos there as well! Mason Hopkins took the Women’s STXC ahead of Emily Croft and Samantha McKinnon.
Sunday morning began with the kids short track races and saw Luke Rudolph take the victory 4 seconds ahead of Olivia Nevins who was followed by Elizabeth Stein in 3rd for the 3 and Under class. Seth Rudolph took the win in the 6 and Under age class ahead of Brook Bartels and Rocco Lehman. Next up was the highly competitive 10 and Under class which saw an exciting battle between Virginia High School Elementary State Champion Robert Berry and Cross Country National #4 (boys 6-8 years) Caleb Nevins. The two were never more than a wheel apart for their 17 minute dual to the finish line. Lapped traffic going up the finish hill on the final lap kept Nevins from making a run for 1st as Berry was able to defend his victory from last year by less than a second. Landon May grabbed the holeshot but would washout in the 2nd turn and recover for an impressive 3rd place finish and much improved time and place over last year’s result. In the 14 and Under class Elijah Shipp would take the victory over Kirk Hopson, Tyler Corliss and 2014 National Champion (girls 9-10 years) Autumn Bartels who was racing up in age and against the boys.
The Beginner Men were up next and compete on the full lap minus 1 tricky section that cuts out about 45 seconds per lap compared to the other adult classes. AW Woolfrey took the win followed by Lee Abston and David Wilkerson in a large field of 35 riders. Of note is the fact that back in the record setting attendance year of 1994 there were over 200 Beginners and First Timers at Tidewater Challenge!
The Junior 18 & Under saw Charlie Ormsby and Adam Veneris renew their rivalry from the VA High School race series this year with Ormsby pulling away for a 1 minute victory followed by Veneris and Craig Hamilton in 3rd.
The Beginner Women saw a good rider turn out and Kristian Kesecker taking the victory. Marsha Lynn Jedlinski took 2nd about 3 minutes back followed by Brenda Seyler. Kesecker and Jedlinski were the only 2 Beginner Women to complete 3 laps as it was decided to cut the race to 2 laps for the remaining field.
In the new Junior 12 and Under full lap category Caleb Nevins was ready to avenge his 2nd place finish from his earlier 10 and under race. Nevins took an early lead and never looked back posting and impressive 23 minute lap for an 8 year old! Ryan Little used his mad bike handling skills to hold off a hard charging Autumn Bartels who would round out the top 3 podiums spots.
The Virginia State Single Speed Championship event was up next and crowned a new champ in local rider Cameron Holland in his first appearance in the class. 2nd place went to Wes Watkinson who was also racking up Trifecta points. 3rd place went to former champion and Tidewater regular Robert Suydam.
The Vet 35+ would see a repeat winner with Michael Hosang followed by Jerry “Airtime” Hadley and Chris Scales for 3rd. Hadley’s image, in full “wrestler” costume, was used for the T-Shirt and Pint art this year.
The Master 45+ class was one of the largest and deepest classes of the weekend with 2 former Tidewater Pro/Expert Champions and several class champions in the lineup. Two time Pro/Expert Champion Steve Nevins would be competing in his first cross country race in 13 years. Nevins would grab the holeshot, quickly gap the field and be out of sight by the ¼ mile mark! The other former champ Paul Brown worked his way into 2nd place but allergies and the relentless hills of Tidewater would slow his progress eventually dropping him out of the top ten. Terry Duguette would move up to 2nd place and be followed by former winner Bill Gilmer in 3rd.
A good turnout in the Sport Men category made up one of the largest classes of the weekend. Ryan Cullen showed it is time to move up to the Expert level with the win and an impressive race time of 1:22:09 for 5 laps. Oliver Harris and Jason Wood tried to keep Cullen in sight but had to settle for 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The Age 55+ class was once again won by longtime Tidewater competitor Frank Smith. Smith was there at the 1st Tidewater event and has only missed a few over 27 years! Bikes Unlimited owner and Tidewater sponsor Barry Herneisey would once again have to settle for the runner-up position followed by former MX rider and longtime Tidewater supporter, Dave Olds.
Sarah Twiford would roll over the small Sport Women’s class with the biggest margin of victory of the weekend, absolutely crushing the course record for that class! Liz Spencer took 2nd and had to stay on the gas just to stay on the lead lap. The clock doesn’t lie and Twiford’s average lap times would have put her battling for a top 3 in the Pro/Expert women’s division! Bye Bye Sport Class!
The Women’s 40+ class was again dominated by Paula Smith, the other half of “Team Smith”. Jean Troutman and Deborah White would take 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The Pro/Expert Women saw the return to form of Avanell Scales who would set one of the fastest race times in recent memory. Denelle Grant would take 2nd place giving her a near perfect Trifecta score and the Womens’s Trifecta title with a nice cash bonus and Fender electric guitar. Mason Hopkins rode well to secure 3rd place for the second year in a row followed by Melissa Presnell fourth and Brandy Adams in fifth.
Multi time Pro/Expert Men’s champion Jeremiah Bishop had planned to make his annual pilgrimage to Tidewater, but a family function combined with a bum vehicle would have JB on the sidelines for 2014 and the number 1 plate up for grabs. Keck Baker, still recovering from emergency appendicitis surgery just weeks earlier, was cleared by his doctor to “train” but not “race”. Baker decided to line up and trained his way to his first Tidewater Challenge Championship. Charles Synder would stick on Baker’s wheel but lose touch around the halfway mark, still holding onto 2nd place. Adam Croft improved his finish position from last year but more significant is the fact that he lopped about 7 minutes off his race time! He could be competing for the win within a couple years. Finishing in 4th place was Michael Runnels who was able to keep the gap close to Croft and regain a top placing after last year’s crash and DNF. Jordan Kahlenberg would finish a strong 5th which would be high enough to give him the Men’s Tidewater Trifecta Championship complete with a nice cash bonus and Fender guitar! Jeff Hellner would finish 9th which would be just enough to take 2nd overall in the Trifecta compared to Wes Watkinson’s 10th place for 3rd place overall in the Trifecta. Scott Pendleton and Matthew Kesecker would round out the top 5 Trifecta Podium.
Special Thanks to all our GREAT Sponsors: Casey Auto Group, Sports Williamsburg, Bikes Unlimited, BikeBeat, Village Bikes, Red Barn Bikes, East Coast Bicycles, William E. Wood Realtors, The Daily Grind, York River Mechanical Contracting Inc., Contes Bike Shop, Raleigh/Lapierre, Scat Bikes, Free Rider Inc., Glide Bikes, Hawley, North End Cyclery, Wave Riding Vehicles, Bike West and Bartlett & Spirn Attorneys at Law.
Extra Special Thanks to all the Volunteers, Land Owners and Racers that help make the event a success!