Trail Jesters riders Ben Kelley and Josh Toth were highly anticipating what many say is the toughest and most technical GNCC round of the series. The crew was in good spirits and looking forward to seeing our boys back in action. Then reality set in and race day started by having to do a “bike swap” for Josh when we couldn’t get his race bike to start via the estart reliably. Josh had his brand new KTM 250xcf ISDE bike in the van … so Mike Toth, Mike Kelley, Wolfi Neuwirth, Jesse Arsenault and several others jumped in to swap suspension, wheels, bars, levers, exhaust, etc etc and get Josh a bike he would be confident on.
The race start at Snowshoe is different from any other GNCC event in that the riders are placed in rows of 5 and do a hot engine start on pavement. Based on their current overall GNCC series standings Ben was on row 3 and Josh on row 4. We were all thinking … all right, they will both get great starts this race. And they did … until somewhere on the first lap a group of XC1/XC2’s got off course and lost for a bit. It cost Ben 3 minutes and Josh 4 minutes the first lap putting them back in the middle of the A class running in 14/16 XC2 and in the mid-30’s overall.
That’s when it got interesting … they both just put the their heads down and charged … moving up steadily lap after lap in class and the overall. On lap 7 Josh had a pretty good crash and after that he put it more on cruise control to finish 6th XC2 and 13th overall. Ben got stronger as the race progressed and started to pick off factory riders passing into 3rd XC2 and 8th OA on the last lap. A huge comeback over the 3 hours for both of them.
They say this is the toughest technical GNCC race of the year … all I know is the boys from New England sure know how to ride the snotty rooty rocky hills of West Virgina.