Natchez residents compete in championship mountain bike race

Published 1:39 am Monday, March 22, 2010

CLEAR SPRINGS — Natchez resident Lena Yarbrough knew it would be cold, but knowing ahead of time didn’t make things any easier.

Yarbrough competed with roughly 60 riders in the Homochitto Hammer, a South Central Regional Championship mountain bike race, at Homochitto National Forest Sunday. Rain the night before and Sunday’s bitter temperatures made the race quite challenging, Yarbrough said.

“It’s really cold,” Yarbrough said afterwards. “I felt like I never really warmed up while riding. Coming off a week of warm weather, it was a bit of a shock.

Email newsletter signup

“Earlier in the week I came out and rode the trail. It was really dry and I was very excited about the race. We got just enough rain to get the top layer of mud wet enough that it really slowed down our lap times.”

And that wasn’t the only thing that made riding difficult for her, Yarbrough said.

“I wasn’t as pleased with my personal performance today. I played four games in the (Kick 4 a Cause) kickball tournament, and woke up sore this morning. That made things a lot more difficult.”

Scott Hanson, a Natchez native who headed up organizing the race, said he felt good about the race’s turnout, but added that the rain hindered things somewhat.

“It made things a little slippery, a little sloppy,” Hanson said. “The (cold) front really killed me. Having rain in the forecast probably cut attendance in half. People don’t like to tear up their bikes in the mud, because some of these things cost several thousand dollars.”

Yarbrough also said she thought a lot more people would have made the race were it not for wet conditions.

“I know a big group from Mobile, (Ala.), backed out, and a lot of people I know said they weren’t coming because of the rain,” Yarbrough said.

Still, Hanson said he was quite happy overall getting the Homochitto Hammer back to the Miss-Lou after almost a decade of hiatus.

“A lot of people were excited,” Hanson said. “It’s an epic trail, an epic race and people came crawling out of the woodworks for this race.”

And a lot of help with into it making the race a reality, Hanson said.

“I spent all week blowing off the trail with a blower. Josh Rivet and Michael Favarolo, who both competed, helped out a bunch. It wouldn’t have been same without them, because they did the backbone of the trail work.”

Natchez Bicycle Club President Allen Richard was on-hand to help with the event, even though the club wasn’t officially sponsoring it.

“I do everything I can to support cycle in the area to begin with, but getting this series back on was important. I think everyone wanted it, because it’s such a great venue.”

And it was a venue that needed to return to Homochitto National Forest, Yarbrough said.

“It’s been a long time,” she said. “I raced in the last Hammer here about eight years ago, so it’s good to see it back. I think it will be even bigger here in the future.”