The second annual “The Quick & The Dead” Gravel Road Race was held Saturday, September 28th. This year we had 163 racers line up at the start line for what would be an adventure most would soon not forget. With the warmer than anticipated temperatures which reached well into the mid-eighties, it was a long day in the saddle for many.
The race started this year with the Confluence Fire Department leading the way through town in their shiny yellow fire truck with the lights a blaring. It was truly a sight to see! It was a rolling mass start as normal, so the bicycle racers pretty much took Oden Street hostage for about five minutes. Once the group passed the Confluence VFW (Veteran’s of Foreign Wars) the race was on! With around four miles to go until the first sustained climb of the day all the racers rode tempo chatting and finding their place in line.
After the first climb, things began to change and by the time the race hit the first major intersection in Listonburg, it had already strung out to be a few miles long. Three racers had jumped off the front to stay for the day. Tim Mitchell from Boston, Matt Waller from State College, Pennsylvania and Ben Meer from Columbus, Ohio set a tough pace that the chase group could not catch up to. The trio fought tooth and nail most of the day. Ben had a mechanical issue around mile 25 letting Tim and Matt get a few minutes lead on him. By the time the two leaders were heading down the mountain towards Markleton they thought they had the deciding advantage. Well, it was not to be because right out of the blue on a short little punchy climb on Vought Hill, Road Ben caught and passed the two leaders as if they were standing still. He continued adding to his lead as the race progressed to the finish. 3 hours and 59 minutes after the start of the race, Ben crossed the finish line crushing the course record by 20 minutes.
Ben averaged 17 miles per hour! Just to remind you that the race is 68 miles long with an accumulative vertical elevation of 7,500 feet. He finished 10 minutes in front of second-place Tim and 25 minutes in front of third-place Matt. Just incredible!
Haley Wickstrom from the Pittsburgh area was the over female winner. She led from the start!
As great as the race winners story went there were also just as many other great stories that took place throughout the race. From the first to the last everyone was having a race to remember. The stories being told at the end of the day were something to hear. For some, it was just as much of an accomplishment to finish the race as it was for Ben to win the race.
The race was a hit again! We had racers come from all around the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region of the United States. From as far away as Michigan to the local racers from Somerset County. Many told us that the event was incredible and that they could not wait until next year. A few even told us that it was the best race they have ever participated in. They could not believe how well organized and supportive all the volunteers and fire departments were.
The Confluence Volunteer Fire Department let us use their venue again and catered dinner for all the participants and volunteers. Confluence, Addison, Salisbury, Meyersdale, Garrett, Rockwood and New Centerville VFD’s supported the race by flagging intersections along the racecourse. They also provided EMS support just in case of an incident. Thankfully it was never needed. All the racers returned safely with only a few minor incidents.
All the proceeds from the race are once again being donated by the Mt. Davis Gravel Grinder Fund to all these fine local Volunteer Fire Departments.
All photos in this article courtesy of Bob Mucciola. Results and more photos can be found here.