There were many champions in attendance at the 24 hour National Championships at 9 mile, and I got to ride with a few of them.
Johnny G. and I did the Championship Duo category. It was John's first 24 race. I think we made a great team. It was fun being out there with you John.
In the middle of the night last year, (my last solo race), I got passed by Chris Eatough just after the second Red Bud crossing. I tried to hang with him, but couldn’t. This year I got another shot at it. He passed me at the same point in the middle of the night, and this time I was able to hold his wheel all the way in to the finish area. It wasn’t like I was competing with him, it was just cool to come into the main pit area, right on the champion’s wheel. Another reason I bring it up is because Chris Eatough is a great champion. There are guys on every mtb course who yell, scream, and swear trying to get past you, even when there is no room to get past. In all of the 3 or 4 races I’ve competed alongside Chris, he has always been the calmest, most polite guy when it came time to pass. Even when he was in a heated battle where every second counted he understood that you were racing too. Thanks Chris, you do the jersey proud.
Then later in the race, in the early morning hours, I rode with Jerry Daanen, ½ of the 2007 Championship Duo. He was just finishing out his late laps, since they had no chance of losing 4th and little chance of moving up.
We talked for a mile or two about the strength of the field and the race, and just having fun riding. Then we got to the long gravel road with the 2 short climbs and he showed why he was the reigning champion, as he rode away from me on his singlespeed. It was good ridin you with Jerry.
As the sun started to heat things up again I caught Fixedgeargus, reigning singlespeed solo champion, and Expo teammate. We rode together for a few miles and talked about the race. Just usual riding with your teammate stuff, but mostly we talked about the last champions I want to mention.
The Expo Juniors.
They don’t get to claim the official title, but they rode like champions. These guys rode their hearts out and woulda coulda and probably shoulda been wearing the Stars and Stripes. They finished second by only a few minutes, after 24 hard hours of racing.
I say woulda coulda shoulda because if you take away one flat tire and one fluke accident with a errant pedestrian, the finishing time gap might have been 5 minutes the other way. But as they say in NASCAR, it was just one of those racin’ deals.
Stuff happens in a race and that’s why you do the race. You never know until it’s over, and that is why the Expo Junior Team are all champions to me. They gave their all, worked as a team and never gave up. They have what it takes to be on the top step if they ride like they did this weekend they will get there very soon. You guys were the class of the Expo team, and I think the class of the field this weekend. I’m very proud of all of you.
It was a great weekend and a great way to finish out my last 24-hour race.
Oh, and the bonus, John and I got to stand on a National Championship podium. We ended up 5th place in the Championship Duo category. Thanks John, it was a fun race.
Maybe next year I’ll find out if it’s more fun in the pits than on the racecourse.
I’ll have pictures as soon as fixedgeargus sends some.