Finally, we found ourselves no longer tortured by the miserably hot and humid weather that has plagued the past 4 stages. Last night as we rolled back into camp from Raystown, we were treated to cooler temps and much less humidity. Thankfully, last night’s weather carried into today (and hopefully the rest of the week) with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-to-upper seventies. While it may have been a bit windy today, the breeze had its benefits: it was extremely helpful in clearing the swarms of bugs out of the woods while I was shooting the race. Throughout the the past four stages (and even in the evenings), I have basically been eaten alive and driven bonkers by the clouds of gnats, mosquitoes, flies, and other winged insects hovering around my face. Today was a beautiful day for a bike race.

So, after looking at the course map for today’s stage, I decided that my strategy would be to ride the entire 28 mile course with the racers and throw my photo gear on my back (speaking of which, the Clik Elite Probody Sport is an awesome photo backback for trail riding). At the start of each mini-stage, I would then jump ahead while the racers were in staging and get myself into position to fire off some snaps as they pedaled their way past me.

For stages 1 and 4, that’s exactly what happened. However, since the better photo-ops were towards the end of stages 2 and 3, I decided to jump ahead of the group via fire road to put myself in a better position for photos. Regardless, I still rode with the group for the majority of the day, hanging out, chatting, and snapping some shots. By the end of the day, I managed to rack up a rather solid 30 miles in the saddle on the Niner. Not too shabby.

Since today was not run in the traditional fashion, as the stage was made up of 4 timed ‘mini-stages’ with neutral group rides in-between, with final positions determined by lowest overall time, I’ll just leave you with a link to the race results and race report. Notable finishes today include Sue Haywood (Shenandoah Bikes/Tuner/I9) in 3rd place and Selene Yeager (Team CF) finally winning herself a stage in Women’s Open, Bryan Fawley (Orbea) and Kris Sneddon (Kona) tying for the overall finish in Men’s Open (with Fawley getting the win due to more mini-stage victories), and Morgan Miller (WVa Night Club) tearing it up for the second day in a row in the Singlespeed class.

Stage results, race report, and photos on here.

More photos and video from today can be found in slideshow format on youtube here.

Tomorrow the race returns to the Rothrock area with the course taking the racers over the legendary Tussey Mountain Ridge trail, a personal favorite of mine. Stay tuned for another update!

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