Rd 5 Blue Mountain Full Race Report
WaterGap Coffee Company TD Photo Imaging Rd 5 Blue Mountain Palmerton, PA. June 1st & 2nd…Quote by Thorn Devlin “The Mountain turns a boy into a man and makes a man humble”…….. I want to put a few things in perspective so we all have a mutual understanding of each other. On the ride home tonight after finishing the break down of the mountain I started crunching numbers with the guys. I want to share these numbers with you so you can understand why we sometimes don’t give that compassionate and sympathic response some of you are looking for when you tell us in your “colorful” explanatory descriptions about this particular event. Here are some of the numbers we crunched: 800 drilled holes in the mountain, 300+ pounded holes in the mountain, 600+ metal stakes, 300+ wooden stakes, 600+ plastic pipe, 14 spools of twine & rope (2 miles), 10,000 feet of pink ribbon (2 cases), 1000+ arrows. All these things were put up prior to this event and all these things taken down after this event. With the time it took to do all those things plus create the trail itself before we bring the hardware in to mark the trail and working the entire race weekend we accumulated 3,100+ MAN HOURS on that mountain. Our motto is “Can you Survive a Nor’easter?” not “Lets take a stroll in the park”. I’m not being rude by saying that but just want you to understand we never once suggested any race would be easy. We know and understand a hard race takes a toll because our family and friends are out there racing that evil beast too! We don’t give you a challenge that we are not willing to do ourselves along side of your family and friends. We have some of the fastest, diverse and most skilled riders coming out of our youth programs and why do you think that is? If we only stayed on flat ground that was open with nothing technical to challenge us then we wouldn’t be a diverse series. If we didn’t have Tight trees, sand, jumps, technical trail, rocks, hills, mountains, mud, snow, rain, blistering heat, frigid cold, monsoons, high winds and everything else challenging mother nature has offered us to use for our races then we would become stagnant and anything stagnant is unwanted…….We do not want to become what is unwanted. We will always place a challenge before ourselves and our racers because this is what we love to do. In adversity you find your strengths and your weaknesses. We embrace our strengths and challenge our weaknesses. I am proud to say that I walked that entire mountain along side of many strong men, women and children. Blue Mountain is the hardest, most exhausting and physical event we have ever and probably will ever put on and to say it is anything other then that, I will not.
I want to give a big thanks to the whole Blue Mountain Staff for all their hard work to make sure our event went off as perfect as possible. This is a unique event for us for many reasons but one is the actual facilities we get to use. Indoor plumbing and air-condition for registration at an event is unheard of in our world. We have many families that help put this series together and keep it running so I usually don’t like to single out just one but for this event I am going to because they went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure it was extra special for everyone. The Enman Family of 5, owners and operators of WATERGAP COFFEE COMPANY, came to all the work weekends and helped build the course that I described above plus they gave back to all levels of NEOC riders. The PW overall and all the Hole shot winners of our youth classes each received fifty dollar visa cards, Frisbee disks and set your sag tape measures for every little or big guy at the event, coffee to-go mugs for the C riders and $1500 to the top fifteen overalls of the main event. If you thank them they just shrug it off and say it was our pleasure then throw the lime light to someone else, Class Act all the way James and Amy, Thank you for being a part of the team and caring about the quality of performance we give. All of the sponsors for this event were wonderful to our riders; RRP(Rossini Racing Products), Markbilt Race Bikes, Thorns Cycles, Off-Road Cycles, Pit-Posse, Hanover Powersports, Fairway Cycle, TD Photo Imaging, Racers Edge, Twin Air, Spectro, Moto-Master Brakes, DHY, Monkey Butt Powder, we want to give a shout out to the Blue Mountain local dealers, R & D Cycle Shop & Off-road Vixens that set up and gave to our riders as well.
I suppose I will get right to the racing report because the intro to this race report says it all about my feeling leading up to and about this event…….
Saturday morning Rich, Dan the man, Cropper and the rest of the boys opened up our Tutor time program by themselves since Scooter is away playing with cow girls across the country. They worked on their starts and other needed skills to defeat the beast before them. This program is utilized at every event and we see the results immediately by the pupils. I want to give a shout out to RLR (Rich Lafferty) for giving his time and knowledge to our riders. His years (whole life) of experience in the off road racing community has given him a way to make his mark in the world so we are sincerely appreciative of him sharing it with the NEOC riders purely for the joy of seeing a child succeed on the trail. If you ever have an opportunity to take your child or yourself to one of his schools then I suggest you do. He teaches ways to be a better rider so you are safer and have the skills to be the best you can be at your own level. Not everyone can be the best in the world but everyone can be the best for themselves.
Noon rolled around quick for the start of our Tikes on Bikes Program. I think the hardest part of the course was getting to the start and I don’t mean for the riders either lol. The start for everyone was up the hill at the base of the mountain. If you weren’t a marathon runner on a daily basis then you had to stop three times before you made it to the start to catch your breath and make sure the burn in your butt was muscle and not actual fire and if you had more than one racer in more than one event then you made that trek several times! Our tikes had a nice loop that covered some rocks, small drop down, little off camber piece and straight away for passing. Not a problem for these kids. They only raced on the big toe of the Blue Mountain Beast but they stared straight up at it and never blinked. Thank you to all the parents that let their child experience the mountain.
Before I start Saturday’s part of this race report I want to send out a huge thanks to every rider and parent that persevered along with us while our scoring issue was handled. Technology is incredible and lets us have everything instantly so there is no longer a wait for anything. Computers have become something we rely on and take for granted and forget that they are not infallible. For six seasons we have had almost perfect scoring with hardly any wait time for results. We have all, us included, become accustomed to instant printed results. On this race day we had to old school it and put every rider and every lap in by hand. We were reminded that in the end it will still always be a human being that solves a problem and makes things better, a computer only makes things easier and convenient. I bow before you oh Great one Jay McCollough the Scoring god and his sweet angels Wendy Hartem & Colleen Biggs! You showed great patience and perseverance all day Saturday with me and Brian in your faces bugging you for results for the parents. You solved the problem and had it back up and running for Sunday’s events…..so all we had to worry about was the mountain!
1pm came and it was time for our Oil Injected racers to face the mountain and be the first to head into it with every bit of grit they had inside of them. The sun was moving into its hottest position so we all could go home with a nice bit of souvenir sunburn. The Hottest Racers to burn the mountain were 7-8 OI #289 Kyle Grenewicz with #102 Eddy Colby for second and another Grenewicz boy #245 Raymond closing out the podium. 4-6 OI #28 Ranger Emmons bounced around those rocks on that mountain like he was a hot potato and took the win and the only eighth lap in his class. Second place #985 Jayden Burt raced his heart out against #128 Aydan Howell who never took his bead off the back tire.
By 3pm the sun was at its boiling point but we were already pink and winded from going back up the hill for the starts. We knew at the start of this event what was in store for us at the end when it came to results, so again, I want to thank all of you parents that were patient and understanding while we figured things out and were honest about the position of your child.…even into Tuesday trying to straighten it out so it was 100% correct. Every child worked so hard to earn their place so Jay wanted to make sure it was exactly as it should be. 7-9 65 winner and PW overall #89 Wayne Cox is about a south Jersey sandworm as you can get but he must have had his steel toed worm boot on cause he road those rocks like a jack rabbit in the dessert. The dollar bill kid #626 Connor Coyne took second place over #348 Bryce Shelly who fought hard to maintain a podium spot. The Dean of the Thumper class #999 Sam Barry took first over #340 Jacob Roscoe and his pupil #100 Dalton Hughes. 4-8 50 winner and taker of the only eighth lap in his class was NEOC kid #37 Joey Rainone. Second place #450 Tyler Baran battled it out to keep his place over #742 Ryan Gribbin. 10-12 el win went to #83 Dylan Leary with #72 CJ Sidoli for second and #95 Jonnie Eccles for third. 4-9 el podium finishers came in like this #394 Jordan Uhland, #103 Colton Hartobey and #18 Mark Cimino. Taking the win for our EL Girls was #703 Shyann Phelps with #809 Sammy Johnson for second and #264 Dana Coulter to close out the podium. I want to give a shout out to #602 Brenna Cabegin who took a bad wreck but was back with a smile at the end of the day! What a great race for these young riders to compete against each other. They all did a wonderful job pushing through and facing their fears. We are super proud of all the Peewee racers.
Once the mountain was cleared of all the peewee riders we opened it up to our pit bikers. I didn’t get to see this event because of other things going on that I had to deal with but I was told it went really good and like always, you guys gave a great show and left your mark on the mountain side. Here are the top ten finishers; King of the mountain is our Mega Buck home boy #910 Huff Daddy followed up like clockwork by MB #85 Nooddle. Third overall and new name to the game 12 Pointer Pro #996P Mark Franya with MB #983 Josh Pitman next in line. First Big Slam Daddy for fifth o/a #72 Tony Folk with next place going to the first Young Buck #614 Ben Miller. Next two places belonged to the Big Slam Daddys #483 Nathan Lloyd & #116 Matt Beckett. Mega Buck #21 I-Beam was ninth overall with Young Buck #170 the High Flyer Hill closing out the top ten spot. #916 Cricket won the Ruttin Buck class with #63 Brandy Peterson taking the crown for our Does. #38 Brandon Gahm won the Spikes while #55 Tyler Massie took the Buttons!
Saturday night was a welcomed thing for the crew. We got to enjoy music from the band that Blue Mountain provided for us and a good dinner too. After a long day in the heat it was very nice to have cool air roll down out of the mountain. Sounds of happy screams and laughter were coming from the parking lot. Dozens of kids on bicycles and scooters were buzzing around the area in herd form. Camp fires were burning, mountain man stories of were being told and apprehensive wonderment was being tossed about for Sundays events for those going to the top. The clinking of tools from last minute bike adjustments or repairs were some of the last sounds I heard before I drifted off to sleep only to wake up every hour from night mare scenarios running through my dreams. I was slow putting my hiking sneakers on Sunday morning not because I was tired but because I didn’t want to face the mountain that early……6:15 I came out of hiding when Brian left to climb the beast for the day and I saw Wendy heading to registration and Jay to scoring, I didn’t try to beat them to the clock on this morning! We had something new for this event to start our Sunday morning with. We had Motocross for Christ lead a chapel service at 7am with Ride Free Ministries for those that wanted to start the day with a good message and prayer, plus we figured having God on our side of the mountain was a good idea because he is the only one that could tame that beast for us. Our fastest and strongest youth rider of the day was AA Youth #215 Jacob Johnson. Second was secured by #26 Kyle Tino over #752 Anthony Kropp. 12-15 100 win and second overall was taken by #126 Paul Seelman for his best race ever. #197 Nick Layton took second and the points lead by one. #247 Matthew Davis had his best finish in the hardest event this season for a solid third. 14-15 85 winner #50 Brandon Cronin has become a consistent rider in all terrains over the last couple years. Second place #981 Henry Manhart is a new name for us but something tells me he is not new to riding the rocks. #200 Wally Yaros from Crazy Train Racing went home with a solid third place on the mountain. Taking his second win this season #38 Brandon Gahm held strong over points leader #214 Cameron Pettit with #848 Kyle Plummer taking another third. #300 Storm Goralczyk had his best event to date on the hardest terrain for the win in 10-11 85 over points leader #185 Johnny Manera and third place #53 Michael Nirdlinger. 13-15 150 winner #499 Bobby McCafferty is proving to be a very diverse rider on his four stroke. #696 Sammt Oquendo took another second for a nice bump in points while #47 Eric Kubicz, son of the Polish Beast, stays consistent and holds his place for third. #136 Colby Davis took the win for the third time in the 10-11 65 with Points leader #331 Brian Kubicz taking his fifth second place this season and #112 Luke Johnson took third and his best race to date. Another diverse ride on a four stroke is winner #66 Alec Cileone from the 10-12 125. #772 Tai Leatherwood took another second and the last fourth lap in the class. #335 Connor McCurry pushed hard to take third and keep his place in points. Our ELW class had #717 Lexi Donaghy take her third win this season, second place #187 Casey Manera always does her best finishes in the toughest conditions to help her climb the points ladder season after season, a solid third went to #111 Gillie Buck Nardelli. These girls and all of these kids really knuckled down and gave everything they had on this mountain. Some just started racing this season and still went up that mountain. We are so proud of the courage and grit these young riders keep putting forth for us and themselves.
11am was the C Split key time so we all trekked back up to the start area (I did cheat now and then by hitchin a ride with Chuckie). The ski lift was steady going with spectators shouting good luck wishes to the riders below them. The fastest C riders of the day were the Tribus Brothers from the Ind & Mech Class #890 Nils & #873 Lars. B Super Senior win went to #589 Michael Leo with five laps. Our womens winner says she hates the rocks with a passion but if you ask me #231 Nicole Hiles secretly loves them because she always excels in them. Second place and her best race to date in the hardest conditions went to #245 Annelisa Davis. C Heavy #397 Josh Mest took his second win this season. After a couple bad events in the beginning of the season #268 John Malavsi took the win in C 4 Stroke for some nice redemption points. A fierce battle for the win in C Light came right down to the flags between winner #43 Anthony Cilieone and second # 147 Brandon Liberkowski. When a race is that close, neither racer will back down or want to give up their position, it will always generate high emotions but in the end a hand shake and congrats is always in order to and from both riders no matter what the outcome. After a long season of pushing hard and working on his skills #996 Alberto Ribeiro took his first win and only fifth lap in the C Vet division, way to ride the rocks! A new name #870 Steven Adel took the win for C Senior after a great push from #91 Mark Boileau. The C event was over and everyone came off that course exhausted and whooped, there were many smiles with sweat and dirt on their faces and there were many long faces with lots of descriptive analogies of the course but everyone came off the mountain to give their own report.
1:30 was key time for the main event and the sun was back up in the sky to finish giving us our first good sunburn of the summer. After we all made it back up the hill for the last 10 second count from Todd for the weekend we clicked record on our contraptions and ventured back into the belly of the beast for one last spar session. The two top contenders came from the same AA & Blood line. #7 Mike Lafferty was king of the mountain today and his nephew #17 Ryder Lafferty was the prince. FYI He made the holeshot by an elbow too. I thought it was a very cool full circle moment to have them on the podium together. Both are great ambassadors of the sport. Most people have become fans of Mike by what they have seen of his character and riding skills from the side lines or read about him over the years. Ryder is only fifteen and has many people looking up to him now as well because of his character and riding skills but the difference between the two is this…..nothing but age. Both show humble sportsmanship and never show anything but respect for the sport and their opponents. That is what makes a true champion and an excellent role model for the new and seasoned riders. How you carry yourself off the trail is what matters and what people remember, not how many wins you have under your belt…although that is a bonus to have a crown or two on the shelf after you’ve busted your butt to earn it! AA 35+ win went to the father of Ryder #4 Rich Lafferty. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ryder learned his sportsmanship from watching his dad just like any other father and son. A young man will emulate his hero and a boy’s hero is always going to be his father. A Heavy win went to #486 Troy Desimone right from jump street, the boy can ride the rocks. Another rock runner came straight from his back yard to take the win in A Light #109 Thorn Devlin was born with a rock in his hand. #704 Shane Hufford Sr took the win in A Vet like a man that lives in the mountains should. #16 Hank Knabe won A Senior with commanding lead right after the holehsot. A South Jersey sandworm that just got back in the saddle #711 Chris Puff took the win for A Super Senior by a lap in the rocks! #575 Robert Farnon Jr took the lead in B Heavy on lap four for the win. On his second race of the season after not being able to ride for a while #356 Dean Bush came back and won the B Light class on the hardest event of the year, way to go kid. #36 Chris Gordon collected his third win in the School boy class because he loves to ride the rocks and anything gnarly. B Vet winner #891 Mike Bachman was a new name in the game but rode the rocks like an old pro. #613 John Manera took his second win of the season in the B Senior class making it the third podium finish for his family at this event. Imagine the bench racing on that ride home, I bet it was great. The main event was 9.4 miles stretched up, over, across and down the mountain. They rode into the belly of the beast and back out again. I really have to share a “Big T” story with all of you even though I know I shouldn’t and I swear it’s the Gods honest truth…..We all know this was a hard event and caused people to talk in tongues and do things they normally wouldn’t do. We all know that this wasn’t an event to relax or take it easy during. This was a serious event that required full attention by everyone and no one found it to be a laughing matter, until………..Big T (Head of our Sweep and course workers) came down from the mountain with a certain look on his face, so of course we were like, Whats up T? Everything okay? He replies, “I’m not sure what’s going on up on that mountain and what it is doing to people but I just found a naked guy on a rock on the top of the mountain. I thought maybe he was out of his mind with heat exhaustion and needed medical attention but the rider was just taking a break. He was stripped down to only his boxer briefs, not even socks…I saw his toes, I even saw the man’s toes and he was just lying on a rock taking a break!” Well we lost it; it was nothing but laughter after that. So, naked racer on the rock…..I thank you for taking a truly brutal race and making it one of the most memorable events to date! (I won’t reveal his race number to conceal his identity lol) Our helmets are off to all that came and conquered the mountain alongside of us. It is a true test and we thank you for accepting the challenge we placed before you.
We hope to see you at the Jr Enduro. If you have any questions please contact us at NEOC@comcast.net