By Eddie Clark
(October 1-2, 2011) COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Just like all of the other National Championship mountain bike events, the 24 Hour Nationals Championships was held at a new location this year. For the 2011 edition, Palmer Park in Colorado Springs was utilized for its vast network of singletrack trails and central location.
Fortunately, the race was contested in near perfect weather which included plenty of sunshine, light winds, and mild temperatures, which was graciously welcomed by racers and their support crews.
Without question, the 13.4 mile course was anything but easy, and in some ways even resembled the Moab course with its sandy sections and unique sandstone formations. The technical nature of the course produced severe penalties for lapses in concentration by means of technical rocky sections, sandy bits, short power climbs, and the plentiful cacti which lined the course and flatted more than a few tires.
At twelve noon, racers had a mass start via a Le Mans run across a grassy field to find their bikes and get on with the business of burning laps around Palmer Park. The first racer to complete a lap was Russell Finsterwald riding on the four-man Pro-Cycling team.
While much talk was made of the power house women’s SRAM team consisting of Rebecca Rusch, Jenni Smith, Sanya Looney, and Kelly Boniface, the Pro-Cycling team also had every bit of a stacked power team. Before any other competitors came by, Finsterwald handed of his timing chip to Kallan Beisel who held the same fast pace. Combined with the strength and speed of Brady Kappius and JJ Clark, team Pro-Cycling set the high mark of 23 laps completed in 23:15:42, and in doing so won the four-man team national championship.
With little surprise, the 4-person women’s power house SRAM team claimed the national title with solid consistent riding to complete 20 laps in 23:32:08. Undeterred, the WMBA of COS women’s team, which included Julie Glenn, Stephanie Ward, Lindsey Watson, and Kerri Mosman, fought valiantly to the very end to earn a respected second place in the 4-person women’s national race.
After taking a solid victory in the US Marathon National Championship in Bend, Oregon, Pua Mata (Sho-Air Specialized) was on the fence about contesting a 24 hour solo title, but obvious fitness and an un-satiated taste of victory saw her taking the line at Palmer Park to put on an impressive show of riding. Mata’s, race would not be without trials or competition though. In the first half of the race, Alpine Orthopeadic’s former 24 hour solo national champ, Jari Kirkland, was hot on Mata’s wheels, but eventually dropped out. And, in the cold dark hours of early morning, Mata had the misfortune of sitting on a cactus in the dark after her light battery died. Fortunately the solo men’s champ Josh Tostado (Bach Builders) was able to lend some help to get her back on-track to a commanding 24 hour solo victory.
Speaking of Josh Tostado, the third time at 24 hour national championship solo racing proved to be a charm when he claimed his third national champion’s jersey. On a down-note, some of his closest competitors did not start due to being sick. With 90 minutes to go before the 24 hour mark, Tostado had a clear enough lead to enjoy watching the race finish from the pits, which was quite different from his last lap suffer fest to defeat a charging Kelly Magelky in the 2010 24 hour solo national championships.
Undeniably, 24 hour solo singlespeed racer Evan Plews (Ibis-Kenda) put in a significant performance by completing 18 laps in 23:02:55, which was the second fastest solo time recorded for the entire event and rightly deserving of a national champions jersey.
Full results here.