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24 Hours of Moab Race Report

October 17, 2005 – The eleventh annual 24 Hours of Moab saw a few upsets to pre race predictions and witnessed the emergence of new contenders in the men’s and women’s solo category.

Usually a bridesmaid at the 24 Hours of Moab, Keith Bontrager’s Masters’ team has routinely placed second, with the exception of a win five years ago. After two victories at Granny Gear races earlier this year in California and West Virginia, Bontrager stood in position to sweep all three races. This time team Bontrager Wheelworks succeeded in steadily building a lead until this morning when the team received instruction to simply stay on pace for the win.

“If you want to have a fast team for a 24-hour race,” explained Bontrager, “pick fast teammates. Ralph, Scott and Dana should be commended for riding expertly toward this victory throughout the race.”

Bontrager Wheelworks completed 19 laps or, 285 miles with 25,840 feet of climbing, in 24:47:20.

By 11:16 this morning only 15 seconds separated first from second place in the Men’s Sport category. As they headed out for a deal-breaker eighteenth lap, all it would take was a mechanical failure, crash or a harder stomp on the pedals by Team Grizzly’s Dirty Hippies for runner-up Team Flying Dirt Hounds to bridge the gap.

“I knew what jersey he was wearing,” said Tim Martersteck of the Hounds, “and I got him right at the beginning of the first climb. I saw him 500 yards up, caught up to him and then I didn’t like the pace. I felt good, there were no mechanicals, I looked back a few times until I didn’t see him and then I just rode hard to the finish.”

In the end, the Hounds beat the Hippies by seven minutes, four seconds. Each team completed 18 laps with the Hounds posting a time of 24:30:03.

Race favorite and defending champion Nat Ross (Subaru/Gary Fisher) settled in for another day at the office and his race shook down according to plan. Ross started off hard and sustained the lead for more than 12 hours. Yet despite lap times consistently faster than last year’s lap times, a new contender, Anthony Colby, emerged during the night to take control of the lead.

“Anthony took the legs off everyone by putting the hammer down,” said Ross. “I rode three or four laps with him but I think that when no one else was around, he let it all hang out and really took off.”

This from a guy who six years ago could barely form a sentence due to the brain surgery he underwent to treat seizures. Colby opted for brain surgery instead of a lifetime of medication, which he said, would have held him back as a racer. There was no holding Colby back during this year’s race. As the only double-champion in the history of collegiate mountain bike racing (short track and cross-country), Colby rode a race anchored by efficiency, strength, endurance and strategy.

“The turning point was I just didn’t feel like stopping for a long time,” explained Colby. “The longest time off the bike during the race was ten minutes.”

By 13:10:28 this afternoon, Colby finished 18 laps, or 270 miles with 24,480 feet of climbing, in 25:10:28.

Women’s Solo winner, Jari Kirkland rode a tidy race to step easily on top of the podium. A seasoned adventure racer, from the beginning Kirkland clearly possessed the mental toughness to finish her first ever solo 24-hour race and her crew, captained by veteran soloist, Jon Brown, plus family members following the race from a distance likely provided the right amount of pressure to help Kirkland win the race. Kirkland finished 14 laps or, 210 miles with 19,040 feet of climbing, in 23:32:32.

In the Duo Pro category Jay Henry and Mike Janelle (Ford/Tokyo Joe’s ) mastered a race by staying consistently steady at a pace that, in the end, proved too mighty to match for second-place finishers Brian Smith and Nick Martin (Trek/VW). Henry and Janelle completed 21 laps in 24:41:35.

For results in all categories from this year’s 24 Hours of Moab, click on “History & Results” at www.grannygear.com

Total mileage for this year’s 24 Hours of Moab measured 79,023 miles with 1,365.15 vertical feet of climbing. Check back at www.grannygear.com for 2006 dates for all of Granny Gear’s events.

The largest mountain bike race west of the Mississippi, a weekend of world-class competition and fat tire camaraderie, and an opportunity to race on some of the most stunning terrain in the U.S. earns The 24 Hours of Moab its status as one of the most celebrated mountain bike races in the world. Supporting Sponsors include NiteRider Technical Lighting Systems, BIKE Magazine, VeloWear.com, and The American Lung Association. Contributing sponsors include Shimano USA and East-West Printing.

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