Pocahontas County’s Youth Mountain Bike Team, The Cheat Mountain Salamanders, completed their first season of racing in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Cycling League, (WVICL).
The final two races of the season brought a sloppy racetrack, exciting races and continued podium appearances. Defend the Bend at North Bend State Park started off to be a weekend of high expectations. After great rides by all the riders during Saturdays pre-ride, it was anticipated many riders would have their best finishes of the season, but Mother Nature had other plans. An evening rain shower caused sections of the track to turn to slippery mud. This mud, combined with Sunday temperatures in the 80s caused many riders to struggle. Comments such as “that was awful” were commonly heard at the finish line. The Salamanders once again placed two riders on the podium with Carter Faulknier finishing third in the Seventh Grade Boys race and Ahna Valach taking third in the Sixth Grade Girls race. Tanner Baldwin, Max Chamberlain and Colton White also competed and overcame the tough track conditions to complete the race. All riders were glad to put the mud and the heat of North Bend behind them and move forward to The Brawl at Twin Falls.
Race day at Twin Falls State Park was filled with beautiful weather and plenty of excitement. A new race for the WVICL on a brand-new trail brought a lot of unknowns for every team. Once again Carter Faulknier and Ahna Valach finished on the podium. Valach finished second in the Sixth Grade Girls race, giving her two second place finishes for the season. Faulknier fought hard for another good finish, ending the race in fourth after a side-by-side sprint to the finish line, missing third by thousandths of a second. It was a tough start for Max Chamberlain in the Sixth Grade Boys race. After colliding with another rider while competing for position in one of the tight turns, Chamberlain chose to withdraw from the race. Colton White, Tanner Baldwin and Hunter Arbogast all completed the race and finished out the season strong.
The Cheat Mountain Salamanders first season was more successful than anyone could have predicted. At season’s end we had nine registered riders practicing, seven riders choosing to compete in races and five riders competing in every race. There were 10 podium finishes including one win and many fun practice rides. We look forward to using the knowledge gained in our first season to grow and improve the team for an even more successful season next year.
If anyone is interested in becoming a team member next season, watch for information in this newspaper and watch for our coaches when they visit the schools in the spring. In the meantime, we encourage you to follow our Facebook page, PC Youth Mountain Bike Team.
A special thanks to the coaches for their work and dedication to this new team. Thanks to the participants for your determination and a thank you to the parents for your encouragement to all the riders. See you next year.