By Eddie Clark
(September 18, 2012) BREVARD, NC—A soothing rainy night continued into a destructive day of storms for racers and bikes during the first day of racing at the 5 day and 195 mile Pisgah Stage Race. Billed as the queen stage, the first days White Squirrel Loop offered up 6,200 feet of climbing over a 39 mile course that took racers up numerous rooty and rocky climbs as well as down plenty of technical descents.
The real story of the day was the weather and the amount of rain that fell throughout the morning. The weather was so intense that a flash flood warning that was issued to area counties shortly after the 9am race start. At times, the rain fell at an inch per hour with total accumulations estimated at 5 inches, which made for certainly memorable challenging conditions. Fortunately, the Pisgah Forest handles moisture well, relatively well anyways.
To get things underway, racers received a neutral police escort from the start/finish area up the highway until they turned off onto dirt for some wet and muddy racing. Sam Koerber (Industry Nine/Niner Bikes) was the first to strike out and quickly open a small gap over reigning Pisgah champion Jeremiah Bishop (Canondale) on the first climb up Clawhammer Road. Throughout the day Koerber built his lead while both riders dealt with mechanicals brought on by the challenging conditions. By the time Koerber reached the finish, he was riding on a front flat and had stretched his lead to 2:52 over Bishop to finish with a time of 3:37:31. Wes Richards of Winston Salem, NC took third place for the Open Men's race at 8 minutes behind Bishop.
In the open women's race, a smaller field of three were left to ride for the top podium step. North Carolina local Kym Schifino won the women's race with a time of 5:07:15. Canadian racer Anna Lovisa Healy took second, and Kelly Ault finished in third place.