August 24th, 2013
Some things change, but Levis Mound is always an amazing location for a bike race. We are blessed that the sandstone heights are open to fat tires. WEMS racers found a rescheduled Levis race extensively rebuilt after a logging operation closed much of the traditional staging area. The NASTI crew rebuilt much of the single track to send the race where it had never gone before. They also added a little gravel and a lot of custom boardwalk to waterproof the course with thunderstorms looming. Pending a review by the certification board it appears that the Levis crew has broken the state record for the longest mountain bike boardwalk held by Underdown in May.
In his 10th year as Levis race director Jason Plansky sent the course out counter-clockwise which really kept things fast and fun for seasoned racers. Racers would still take two breathtaking trips up Levis Mound on every lap, and it was only fitting that after a decade of the popular event it would be an original racer like Lee Unwin out in his Specialized kit to go for the win. Coming off a strong second place in the Wausau 6-hour, Unwin would face David Swanson for the first time since they battled to the last lap at Emma Carlin only to have that race decided by a flat tire. Everyone discovered how fast the new course layout would be when Swanson and Unwin came into view at the end of the first of eight 12.5 mile laps at just six minutes past an hour. Unwin had allowed Swanson to take the lead after missing a bridge, but now he looked calm as Swanson was committed to a fast start on the opening laps. By the end of the second lap, Swanson had recovered from a crash, but Unwin was starting to open a lead. The thunderstorms of lap three proved to be just sprinkles and noise that had no effect on the powdery course other than to delay the rising temperatures.
Unwin was able to finish all 100 miles in well under 10 hours while Swanson kept things in perspective and retired early. Winter endurance veteran Mark Scotch was later able to move into second place. Only a competitive pair of duo teams were able to finish on the same lap as Unwin. He’s looking forward to an early start to the cross season before returning to WEMS for the championship race in October. The Levis race started with a three-way tie in the single speed series, but Jostein Alvestad of EMC2 used a win to move ahead of Lowell Johnson who took second when Tyler Welnak packed it in early after making an ugly mess of his knee. A win by RASTA’s Beth Wagner put a virtual lock on her third mid-course series title while a strong third moved Paul Wagner to the brink of re-gaining his mid-course title, just one good race behind leader Russell Bernard. Devin Curran was able to win the 50 mile race in a speedy 4:36 over Polska’s Adam Gipril at 4:48.
One of the fastest WEMS courses awaits racers on September 14th at New Fane.
Words: Chris Schotz
Photos by Christina Swanson