It is billed as a tribute race to the infamous Blackwater 100 and is one of the most popular rounds on the GNCC schedule for a decade and this year’s race did not disappoint! With a 21 mile course stretching out over Snowshoe Mountain and enveloping the Snowshoe Ski resort, the track was an insane mix of rocks, big rocks and even bigger rocks combined with slick mud, slick asphalt and loose gravel that would hammer every racer that was brave enough to enter it. Merely finishing this race for some is a trophy, a badge of honor carried until the following year where it all begins again. Merciless rock sections take riders and machines out almost constantly and the goal to survive almost precedes the drive to actually win here. The fan favorite, “Howard’s Hole” features almost limitless line choices that comes complete with mud fleas all eager to help when needed and are sure to point out a line that may just put one in a position to “need” their help!

Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
The start at the Snowshoe round is a throwback to the Blackwater 100.Photo by Ken Hill

What would start off as a wet start to the weekend and the various activities found at this round turned to sunny skies and actually chilly temperatures for this time of year even at 4848 feet. The annual ISDE Golf fundraiser wet off with just a few showers that did not slow anyone down as the funds raised will help the ISDE team travel and compete with the world later this summer. By race time, the conditions from the 10 am race had been brutal enough to cause an hour plus delay has riders were towed out from all over the mountain. The fever started to build as the pro riders joined their fellow racers on the main road through the ski resort that stands as a testament to its Blackwater roots which always featured a pavement start in the center of town.

With the rider introductions complete, fans lined each side of the road and beyond to pay witness to this year’s carnage. The time had come and the flag would wave sending row after row down the street and into a slick right handed turn that sends the racers off the pavement and into a treacherous section of loose gravel and off into the wild and wonderful West Virginia mountain for three hours of intense competition. Leading the first row into the race would be SRT rider Steward Baylor Jr as the first row powered out of sight. With only a few riders finding out it is better to not become one with the street, every row would soon be off as the fans descended to a myriad of viewing areas that offered extreme racing with some very scenic views.

For first timers, the layout at this race is far different from the usual lap structure, with 1 lap being mainly on one side of the resort and the other lap making its way around the mountain mark two separate laps with two ending points. Even for many that have been there before, keeping tabs on a rider can be an exhaustive job and with the throwback style start, riders are mixed up right from the start further causing some chaotic and stress amongst teams and fans. Ricky Russell wasn’t confused and he seemed like he was going to walk away with the win as the first few laps were scored however Thad Duvall emerged from the darkness with the lead and the fans went wild cheering him through the scoring area. Ricky wasn’t far behind and Josh Toth from XC2 was solidly in the mix as was Kailub Russell who everyone looked to be a race winning favorite. The top three raced back out of sight as a very heated battle between Jordan Ashburn and Trevor Bollinger was being waged as the duo literally went bar to bar into scoring. With the final lap underway reports came in that the lead was changing almost every mile as the huge rock sections and Howard’s Hole were taking their toll on the front runners.

Charging into the final few turns the crowd erupted as Ricky Russell came screaming into to the checkered flag to secure the race win and his first win of the 2017 season and f that wasn’t enough to have the Yamaha crews going wild, XC2 Josh Toth was only a few seconds off his teammate as the two Yamaha mounted racers took the top two positions in this coveted podium. The last mile or two was insane as the lead swapped with Toth actually taking the lead before Ricky Russell found a faster line through a bad section that put him back into control ahead of Toth and third place finisher Thad Duvall. The podium was filled with excitement and relief as these three riders put in another epic day on the mountain and would leave Snowshoe with a big weight lifted as they head into the final round before the series summer break.

Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Ryan Sipes leads out a row of mixed XC1 and XC2 riders.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Jason Thomas has been running away with the FMF XC3 125 class.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Yamamoto Hiroshi joined the excitement far away from the JNCC in Japan.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Josh Toth was a man on a mission and held the lead near the end of the 3 hour race.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Ricky Russell powered his way around Snowshoe Mountain.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Thad Duvall was on his home state soil and wanted a win here badly.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Jordan Ashburn was running a solid race all day.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Jason Thomas having some fun on his way to another XC3 win.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
The lead would swap a few times but Ricky Russell always came out on top.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Thad Duvall pushing hard for a win here in West Virginia.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Ricky Russell looked strong as the white flag came out.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Jordan Ashburn and Trevor Bollinger had a fierce battle going.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Ricky Russell claims his first Snowshoe GNCC victory!Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
The bubbly was cold and soaking everyone!Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
The resort setting is a big change from the usual GNCC venue.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Layne Michael putting in a podium finish in XC2.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Trevor Bollinger putting in a solid 5th place ride here at the Snowshoe GNCC.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Steward Baylor Jr heads out for another lap with the Snowshoe Ski resort off in the distance.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Craig Delong would once again push his Coastal Racing Husqvarna to a XC2 podium finish.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Fans make their way to the infamous Howard’s Hole.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
Members of this years ISDE team get some travel money from the GNCC series.Photo by Ken Hill
Snowshoe GNCC Round 8 Recap
The winning ISDE Golf team of Scott Kiger, John Henry, Jeff and Kailub Russell.Photo by Ken Hill

XC1 Pro

  1. 212 Ricky Russell
  2. 989 Thad Duvall
  3. 001 Kailub Russell
  4. 004 Jordan Ashburn
  5. 005 Trevor Bollinger
  6. 314 Grant Baylor
  7. 514 Steward Baylor
  8. 984 Christopher Bach
  9. 264 Ryan Sipes
  10. 113 Russell Bobbitt