AHRMA National Cross Country:
Reynlow Park, June 12 & 13, 2021
Author: Joshua Schucker
Photos: Becky Schreckengost
Once again, the town of Reynoldsville, PA warmly welcomed
the AHRMA gang to enjoy its Reynlow Park for a fantastic weekend of racing.
While the park contains the typical amenities that you would expect in a
community park, such as pavilions, picnic areas, and playgrounds, the large
area in the northern part of the park is what makes it unique. This area is
reserved almost exclusively for hiking, hunting, and use by off-road
motorcycles and ATVs. As has been the case in the past, the yearly vintage
events at Reynlow Park are a tremendous fund raiser for the park’s operating
and upkeep expenses. It is wonderful to see a community embrace the cultural
and economic benefit that comes from catering to off-road enthusiasts. In fact,
the Reynlow Park Board of Directors has recently formalized the area as a
membership-based off-road riding area known as “Reynlow Riders” to further
embrace the off-road community and provide additional resources to maintain and
improve the experience in Reynlow.
After many years as a regional event, 2021 marks the second consecutive year that Reynlow has stepped up to hosting a Hagerty National Cross-Country Series event. Key to the event’s continued success on the regional and national level is the cooperation and dedication of Reynlow board member Tim Doan, who has consistently been the point man in facilitating the event and is always looking to provide the best experience for the series. After working in a trials course at last year’s event, Tim was hard at work in the months prior to this year’s event to build a motocross track that allowed the inclusion of National Motocross in the 2021 event schedule. Built adjacent to the ample parking/camping area, the motocross track was a winding one-mile beauty planted with fresh grass and incorporating natural terrain with only minor manipulation to jump faces to increase the safety and vintage-friendly nature of the course. There was a tremendous amount of cross-over participation between the cross-country and motocross races, and there was quite a positive buzz vibrating throughout the pits on the MX portion of the event.
Craig Lowery and Joe Cole above helped lay out this years course.
But, Tim and trial-bosses Mike Zdybak and Randy Marshall were not about to let the motocross track outshine the cross-country trail, after all, this location has a reputation of top-notch terrain and layout. With additional support from Craig and Anthony Lowery, Connie Zdybak, Joe Cole, and Becky Schreckenost, the pair of trail bosses set a plan of action that would create two wholly separate and unique courses for each day. Being a site of a former coal mining operation, the level of terrain variety and elevation change present on this site is breath-taking. Mike and Randy took full advantage of the ample acreage to push the courses into new areas for this year with only a sparse amount of trail re-used from the previous year. While both courses incorporated the fan-favorite hill climb shortly after the starting area, they diverged shortly thereafter. Mike’s Saturday course focused on the western section of the property where long-ago piled mining spoils provide some extreme and entertaining elevation changes. Navigating the peaks and valleys of these piles and incorporating some tight pines, fresh single track, and a grass track, the course measured out at slightly less than four miles. Randy’s trail was laid out to the east for Sunday’s races in a similar area as last year’s day-two course. This area consists of more reclaimed mining areas with a bit less elevation change, but plenty of younger growth vegetation used to install some fresh single track. A couple grass track sections were interspersed among the single track, and in general the course, at over four miles, was a bit more open and faster than Saturday. Reactions to each day’s contest was very enthusiastic with near universal praise of the layout and competitiveness of the courses. Concerns earlier in the week, due to frequent rain showers leading up to the weekend, were relatively unwarranted as the course drained rather well with only minor sections showing significant evidence of the recent rainfall, and dust was of little to no concern. Excellent weather throughout the weekend further showcased the beauty and joy of Reynlow Park.
Thirty-nine riders hit the track on Saturday morning, but none was faster than overall winner Josh Zerance. Once out front on his Can-Am, Josh settled into rock-solid consistency with nearly identical lap times throughout the last three laps to pull away for the win. Mid-Atlantic region head honcho Dave Kutskel piloted his Honda to the second overall position and class win in Vintage 50+ Expert over Chris Gillespie, also on a Can-Am, who rounded out the podium in the overall standings. Josh Horvath pushed the envelope of his Intermediate classification with a very strong ride into fifth place overall while taking the victory in Sportsman 200 Intermediate on his rare Yamaha YZ175. Horvath made the move past early leader Grant Reichart for the win while Reichart settled into second followed across the finish line by Suzuki-mounted Ken Cichy. Reichart and Cichy turned the tables on Horvath during Sunday’s race by finishing one-two and shuffling Josh’s YZ back to third. Ed Stagel found himself nearly a full minute ahead of Fred Walker’s Yamaha after lap one on Saturday, but Fred was on the hunt for Stagel’s Husqvarna as he staged a come from behind win with a last lap pass to claim the win. Dave Lyle was right behind Ed in the overall standings to lay claim to the top novice rider just ahead of fellow novice Dave Leibgold. Each Dave was in command of their class by winning Post Vintage 60+ Novice and Post Vintage 200 Novice respectively. Leibgold would push himself in day two to claim Sunday’s unofficial top novice distinction. Jenn Smith topped the Women’s Vintage Intermediate class on her way to a weekend sweep on her familiar “3R” Suzuki.
Brian Grove exited Saturday’s race too early for his liking and entered day two determined to salvage a strong finish for the weekend, thereby setting the stage for an epic duel with Zerance for Sunday’s overall. Both riders would take a turn in the lead with never more than two seconds separating them at each appearance through the scoring area. Grove’s Husqvarna charged to the lead on the last lap and he made it stick leaving Zerance and twenty-seven others behind him. Zerance followed closely behind for the runner-up spot with John Fischer third. Fischer, although never quite close enough to the top two to witness the duel, was flying and took the victory in Vintage 60+ Expert over runner-up Charlie Walker and his MX360. Several riders used strong runs in Sunday’s event to wrap up weekend sweeps including Mike Stivason piloting a Triumph to the Classic Intermediate sweep, Pam Leibgold (Post Vintage Women’s Novice), and Dennis Brown (Premier Expert) on a Greeves. Steve Harouff spent most of Saturday’s race following eventual runner-up Ed Weger until making a last lap pass for the win. But Sunday, Harouff pushed his Yamaha to the front right off the start and never looked back in a dominating performance to win the Vintage 50+ Intermediate class. Lynn Parkins supplanted Weger for Sunday’s runner-up position.
Josh Zerance grabs the overall Vintage win.
Kurtis Palmer, Brian Grove, and Russ Dixon swapped the overall lead several times throughout Saturday’s afternoon race with sixty other competitors navigating the course behind them. Palmer’s turn in the lead was the most effective, as he pushed himself up front for the initial time on the last lap and remained there to be the first to see the checkered flag. Grove was on his rear tire pressuring Palmer right to the flag only three seconds shy of the win himself. Mike Blackwell would make his way past Dixon to take third with Dixon falling to fourth, which was a remarkable finish considering Dixon was running in an intermediate class. Grove and Blackwell would take the first two spots respectively in the very competitive Post Vintage Open Expert class, with Dane Brownawell (YAM) and Mark Hummell (HUSQ) as third and fourth in class also locking down a spot in the top-ten overall. It has been a number of years since former Indiana Pacers star Rik Smits joined in the fun at an AHRMA National, so it was great to see him sitting on the starting line with his trusty Maico. With a solid eighth overall and a Post Vintage 50+ Expert win over 2020 National Champ Joe Cole’s Husqvarna and third place Joe Wallace, Rik made his return a resounding success. While a repeat win and top-ten overall on Sunday wrapped up a weekend sweep, the cooler story was seeing Rik joined on the line by his son Derrik, who is also a speedster and ended up just seconds behind the elder Smits in the day-two overall standing. Josh Horvath was poised to take a win in the morning and afternoon Saturday until Jeremey Peace made a last-minute pass on lap five to take the Post Vintage Open win. Josh held position for the runner-up with Aaron Walker and Eric Bolin following. Emily Reichart’s lap two pass for the lead was enough to take the Post Vintage Women’s Intermediate win over Kelley Pearce, but typical of the relentless battle between these two, Pearce flipped the script Sunday by leading wire-to-wire for the win.
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Brian Grove put the disappointment of losing the lead on the last lap Saturday behind him quickly on Sunday, as well as the rest of the field of fifty-seven. Grove led every lap on his Husqvarna with Saturday’s hero Palmer holding close by turning nearly identical lap times throughout. However, a lap one sprint to the front by Grove was enough to carry him to the checkered flag for the victory. John Ashcraft was right in the mix as well with a third overall. Cameron Pennington’s seventh overall finish was an example of another top-notch performance by an intermediate rider as he also took home the win in Early Modern Open Intermediate action over the Suzuki RMX of Timothy Brendlinger and Wally Naletko’s Yamaha in second and third. Jacob Ritorto hustled his KDX by early leader Grant Reichart’s CR250 to stand atop the Pre-Modern Open Intermediate podium on Sunday with Josh Folmar rounding out the top three, also on a Honda. Larry Miller had his XR200 out front early in the Post Vintage 60+ Intermediate until Saturday’s victor Fred Walker made a successful challenge for the lead on lap three. Walker’s lead was short lived however as he was unable to complete the white flag lap thus handing the win back to Miller. Fred would fall back to third as Mike Zdybak also took advantage of his early exit to jump into the second spot. Kevin Thomas wound up in fourth behind the freight train of XR200s on his Yamaha IT.
Reynlow is always a highlight of the schedule in my book, and this year was no disappointment. The panache that the National status has brought to the atmosphere, as well as the additional competitions that are available for spectating and/or participating (trials and motocross) just add to the overall experience. The event just keeps improving and intends to do so again in 2022. If you can make it to Reynoldsville on Father’s Day weekend next year, do so, it is worth the trip! Many thanks to the town of Reynoldsville, Tim Doan, and the rest of the Reynlow Park Authority board for providing access to their slice of off-road heaven. Thanks to Cross-Country Coordinator Becky Hayes for leading the National series efforts, regional coordinator Dave Kutskel for lending his talents, crew, and trail bosses to manage the event, and the participants for making the event a hit. Also, thanks to Hagerty Insurance for stepping up as the primary sponsor for the 2021 AHRMA National Cross-Country Series. Full results and national series point standings can be found at https://www.ahrma.org/schedules-results/.