Monday, October 12, 2009

24 Hours of Moab, 2009

Now that my blood shot eyes have returned to white and the delicious aroma of campfire smoke is fading, it's time to recap the 2009 edition of the 24 Hours of Moab. Of the 7 years I've done this race, the weather was the best I can remember. Sunny, no wind, fast dry course, comfortable days and cool nights and a fantastic collection of friends. What more can one ask for!

As a Grand Masters team (aka the not so pleasant end of the age category spectrum) we again managed to pull off 16 laps and beat the 1st place all chicks team, albeit by only 1 minute 15 seconds! At our present rate of deterioration, can we hold the chicks off for one more year? We may have to recruit a youngster to fight them off in 2010. As for this year, we rode steady and had no mechanical or physical issues so overall the race was a resounding success. Click here for our Mad Dog Gray Hounds results, and here for the overall. Overall we finished 72nd overall out of 365 teams and were 1 minute per lap slower than in 2007. I attrubute that to my horrible night riding times this year.

Captain Bill Dark put together a fun and amply qualified team this year. Jim Westenskow was our rookie, but he rode like a seasoned 24 rider. Jim was the 60+ NORBA National MTB champion 3 years ago and brought a long list of overall top LoToJa finishes with him. At 63 Jim still challenges, and beats, riders decades younger than him. The guys climbs like there's no tomorrow. It was great having Jim on our team and it's going to be sad not having him in 2010. In spite of his great performance, Jim has scratched the 24 hour test off his bucket list and is moving on to other stupid things. Thanks for the great race Jim - it was an absolute pleasure racing with you.

As for my race, I was pleased. My 2 day laps (laps 1 and 4) were strong but my night ones (2 and 3) were my worst ever. This year I found some new lines, rode more efficiently than in past years and finished with a strong 4th lap. Several drops and shelves I've walked in the past I rode this year. Maybe it's the 29er that is giving me more courage, or, age is blocking out my memory. Sand riding has always been a strong point for me and this year was no different - maybe those memories are fantasy too!

An unpleasant lesson was learned this year and that was, weight does not matter when it comes to lighting. I sold my super bright and ultra heavy Nite Rider HID system prior to the race and opted for a lighter weight LED system from Princeton Tech. That was a BIG mistake. My night vision is not the greatest I'll admit, but, the 2- SB2 lights I rode with were barely safe. Although I managed the get through the technical sections, barely, I out ran the lights on the flats and was constantly in fear of going down at high speed. I backed it down more than usual just to stay upright. I will admit my 2nd night lap was better than the 1st, but it was also slower too. Next year I'll come equipped with some serious lighting and will knock off 10 minutes per lap, guaranteed!

The highlight of my race was passing the new National 24 Hour Champion Josh Tostada on my 4th lap. I spotted him a pretty good lead at the start and caught him at the top of the last climb at the last sand pit. We chatted for a while and then I just had to get going - he was going too slow . The reality of it is he was on his 16th lap and I was on my 4th! He beat our entire team!

Another highlight was seeing Lynda Wallenfels and Dave Harris winning the solo single speed National championships. Lynda had such a huge lead, she packed it in early while Dave had a fight on his hands to the end. Congrats 2-Epic.

Well, I'd better get some work done so I can make some money to buy one of those cute teardrop trailers, someday! It's always good to dream, but it's even better if they come true. I'll post some pictures later.

P.S. For those of you that don't know anything about this race, this is what USA Cycling had to say:

"About 24 Hours of Moab
Since its inception in 1995, the 24 Hours of Moab has earned a reputation as one of the largest and most prestigious 24-hour races in the world. Rightly so, Moab, Utah is recognized, around the world, as the Mecca of mountain biking. Attracting upwards of 400 teams and an elite field of world-class, ultra-endurance soloists, the 24 Hours of Moab delivers the richest awards table in mountain biking with a prize value approaching $30,000 and more than $20,000 in cold cash.

The 24 Hours of Moab is also unique in that it is operated in a completely remote venue, 12 miles from the nearest utilities. Each year, a mountain bike city grows up in the high-desert grazelands hosting 4,000+ racers, support crew and spectators. This amazing location provides a 15-mile race course that is breathtakingly scenic and brutally challenging. Typically, teams and soloists together, log more than 79,000 miles and more than 1,300 miles of vertical elevation gain during this epic event.

Since 2002, The 24 Hours of Moab has been designated as the AMTRI World Championships of 24-hour mountain bike racing. In 2005, it also became the series finale of The Inaugural 24 Hour National Point Series."


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