The Battle at the Burg’s very first edition went down like a classic. 

It’s officially mountain bike season and the Battle at the Burg kicked off it off in grand style. Saturday’s showdown at Cannonsburg Ski Area ushered in the final two months of the cycling season with an almost mythical course including a jaunt up to the very top of the highest peak.

The climb was just one of the many tough obstacles, but it provided some absolutely outstanding photos and memories. It was eerily similar to the long, evil slog up the backside of the hill at Peak2Peak, but this included a cruel, loose switchback at the top that hit 14.% percent in the last 20 meters of the climb.

Under a sun-filled sky with random clouds spitting rain on the Sport class, the Burg race brought in two new climbs for the course that changed an awful lot on how Cannonsburg races are run. With the climb up the driveway and then the Clima Coppi, up the double-run on the ski hill, the course almost doubled the amount of elevation from this past June’s State Games, also run here. It changed the face of the race, but not entirely those who dominated. 

In the Elite men’s race, BISSELL’s Derek Graham came out firing and build a sizable lead with two of his four laps left. Dave Dygert gave belated chase and cruised in for a hard-won second place ahead of Graham’s BISSELL teammate Alex Vanias. Vanias made his first off-road start in a long while and showed that he will be very dangerous in any company heading into a busy fall. The most exciting part of the race was the battle for fourth, Kyle Stange and Earl Hillaker absolutely flying on a two-up, kamikaze descent to the line for fourth. Stange stayed on the gas, white-knuckling it around the final right hand bend just a few inches ahead of a smirking Earl.

The Women’s Expert race served as the Elite category, with high-powered rider like Johanna Schmidt, Sue Stephens, Melissa Ryba, and Kati Krikke. Jane Van Hof made the race on home turf, but there was no stopping Quiring Cycles’ superstar Sue. Away from the gun, it fell to Krikke and Schmidt to chase, but it never got organized and never gained ground. Schmidt struggled on the tighter course, but grabbed a lot of Banana points and can look ahead to a remaining schedule that suits her style much better. Krikke’s second place gave Traverse City two spots on the podium, with Melissa Ryba slipping in late but happy with winning a Redline singlespeed from the wonderful people at Freewheeler.

Mike Bernhard stomped the Expert SS division, finishing ahead of the brother duo of Lee and John Slater. Hats off to Sylvester Stallone’s stunt double and Leadout Racing powerhouse Tom Linck for his Expert 40-49 win over the ever-friendly Craig Gietzen and  David Hieteko. It was Eric Forrester winning the Expert 30-29 with Dan McGraw popping up from a tough crash to take second, and Mike McAvoy slipping in third on the day. Chris Vitton showed he’s ready to race Elite by absolutely stomping the Expert 19-29 ahead of Cam Timmer and Dirk Timmer.

For the full GoPro Gallery courtesy of the kolo kam, sponsored by Short’s Brewery, click right about here. A huge thanks to Short’s for supplying the ever-exciting kam.

Here’s the Strava data, this time from Mike McAvoy. Your Truly’s Strava was way, way, way off, and who cares what second to last place did anway, right?