April 23, 2006 – Today Nat Ross (Subaru/Gary Fisher) executed an astonishing race at the 24 Hours of Temecula and here’s why: up until this weekend Ross has been legally blind during every night lap through each of the 29 solo 24-hour races he’s done. Earlier this year Ross underwent Lasik surgery to correct vision in his left eye. The right eye is scheduled for surgery in October. Today’s race became a brand new event for Ross, who could actually see the racecourse clearly at night for the first time.
“It’s given me so much more confidence and ability to ride at night with speed,” explained Ross. “I actually have definition and peripheral vision on top of everything else so I was really looking forward to this season. Being able to go into the night – that eight or nine laps with extra confidence, it sure pays off.”
By 10 pm Saturday night and with 22 hours left to go, Ross had crossed off ten laps – or half his stated goal of 20 laps. While Ross could have called it a day by 8 am Sunday, since second place in Men’s Solo trailed by six laps, his other ambition was to topple Tinker Juarez’ (Cannondale) course record for the most laps in the Men’s Solo category. 19 laps would parallel Juarez’ personal best yet by 10:35 Sunday morning, Ross had another lap in him. Despite an early morning downpour that brought on some chills, Ross neatly finished 20 laps in 24:06:11.
Expect Ross to do more damage to his competition this season both because of his improved vision and because – for the first time – he’s been able to dedicate more time to training. Keep watch over Ross during 2006, big things are up ahead!
Redemption ride for Terri Wahlberg
Terri Wahlberg (Ellsworth) managed to right last year’s wrongs that ended her bid for the podium during the 2005 24 Hours of Temecula. Mentally discouraged, Wahlberg called it quits after three laps and slipped away sometime in the early evening. This year the attractively glib redhead from Santa Maria, Calif. returned seeking redemption and got it by heaping on two more laps over second place. That the race was still in play by 2 am on Sunday didn’t keep Wahlberg from conning a rookie crewmember into authorizing a sleep break.
“I decided to take advantage of the one pit crew that knew nothing about the racing and so I came in and asked to sleep for a half hour and they said, ‘Of course, sure, no problem!'” said Wahlberg. “I said that I’d just sleep out here in the chair knowing full well my husband was in the camper. Then I had to go in the camper and he was there so I had to tell him. Of course that was it, it was on, I had to leave.”
So far this season Wahlberg has collected a second and now a first place as a solo 24-hour racer. Today’s win scored a double victory since she also won back the confidence lost during last year’s race. Wahlberg circled the 10.2-mile course 13 times in 24:03:43.
Before the start of the race yesterday, Alex Fabro (Velo Bella/Kona) confessed to begging the four-man expert Team Mammoth to let her race with them. They added her to the roster and switched to the five-person co-ed category. This proved to be an excellent decision by Team Mammoth once Fabro turned in a new record for the fastest lap time for a female at the 24 Hours of Temecula.
“The first lap went perfectly, as a team we rode the course yesterday and a couple of the guys had done this race last year so they gave the rest of us tips on where we could really push it and where we needed to be cautious,” said Fabro. “The ridgeline descent was where you had to know where you had to keep up your momentum, be safe on the descent but be able to push it up the next little pop-up, so that was the key: conservation of momentum.”
Fabro lowered the existing record, set last year by Abigail Hippely (Maverick), by 1:55 with a new record time of 56:34. Without letting up, Fabro continued to push hard on the pedals even after her rear derailleur refused to work during lap number four. While cyclocross season is a long way off, Fabro put in some pre season training by running much of the course with her bike slung over her shoulder. Even with the cyclocross effort, Fabro clocked a lap of 1:10:49.
In the end, Team Mammoth outdistanced every other team by one lap. They came, they cycled and they claimed the overall title for 25 laps, or 255 miles with 37,450 feet of climbing divvied up between Fabro, Tom Mazaitis, Richard Price, Jason Senior and Percy Stevens.
For results in all categories for this year’s 24 Hours of Temecula, click on “History & Results” at www.grannygear.com
Total mileage for the 24 Hours of Temecula measured 8,023 miles with 222.71 vertical miles of climbing. Check back at www.grannygear.com to learn more about this and Granny Gear’s other races.
The Inaugural 2006 Granny Gear 24-hour National Points Series travels next to the 24 Hours of Conyers on May 20-21 in Conyers, Ga. near Atlanta. Next stop is the second annual 24 Hours of Big Bear, the go-to 24-hour race at the heart of it all in northern West Virginia. Then comes the first ever 24 Hours of Killington on July 22-23. Next up is the first annual 24 Hours of Landahl on September 16-17. The 12th Annual 24 Hours of Moab finishes off what looks to be Granny Gear’s most thrilling season ever on October 14-15.