Friday, October 17, 2008

More MOAB

Steph and I can't seem to get enough of this place. We visited back in 2001 and loved it. Since then we've dreamed about a return someday. Thanks to my work relationship with the Cannondale Mona-Vie Pro Cycling team, we were fortunate to have this trip. I last mentioned we were heading out the hotel door to ride slick rock. With breakfast and coffee in our bellies, we were at the trailhead. It was a bit chilly with the higher wind gusts around town and even more so at the start of the trail. We dressed apropriatetly and knew we would probably be shedding layers as we were shredding sections of the trail. On our last visit, we had not done the "Practice Loop" which the guidebook says is a good introduction to the Slick Rock trail riding. Allowing amazing views of the canyons below and the La Sal mountains, we rode many off camber sections and steep descents into and on exposed little rock ridges to the next technical sections of the trail. No beginner riding by any means, at least in my humble opinion. After two miles of the practice loop, we merged onto the main trail. We opted for the "easier" direction at the junction of the official loop. We both commented that yes, Slick rock is cool and all but, we surely were more impressed with the previous days riding in Fruita on the fast hard packed dirt trails. We probably would not ride Slickrock again if we go back to MOAB...There is just too much to ride in that area. Don't get me wrong, we had a great ride. Here are a few more photos from that day...

Steph tearing across "Swiss Cheese Ridge"- The wind almost blew us off!

Steph at "Shrimp Rock"

Wheelie, Wheelie, Wheelie Fun!

After our ride we headed over to the 24 Hour race venue and it was perfect timing to meet up with our contact Matt, who was just heading out for a ride on the course. We got the lay of the land and then headed back into town for dinner. Both starving from the days effort, we decided to eat before a shower and call it an early night knowing full well the demands ahead of staying up all night charging lights for the Cannondale teams.

Saturday (race day) brought higher winds and dust all over the MOAB valley even up into the La Sal mountains...I never could have imagined how bad it was. I have experienced the wrath of the wind and a dry land at Sea Otter every year but, this was bad...We should have packed our ski goggles!

Gusty and Dusty!

We arrived two hours ahead of the start of the race and were instantly assulted by the desert sand in our faces and covering every inch of our clothes. There was a lot of down time in the first few hours of the race and Cannondale Mona-Vie was well on their way to a win right off the bat. German rider Ben Sontag set a blistering first lap time followed by Bart Gillespie who ended up setting the fastest time in lap two of the race, which actually he beat in lap six by one second and held that time throughout the rest of the race. No one even came close to beating it. As day light faded, I had the charge station set up a ready to ride. Working with a Pro Team is something I have dreamed about for many years working as a bike mechanic...My chance was now and I was organized and on my game.

Bike after bike, I set up bar mounts for lights and aimed them for maximum forward visibility. The riders, Ben, Bart, Alex, Bryan, Issac, Matt, and many more were really cool and into the Exposure Lights. They just make sense...No Cables, No external battery packs, No cord connections...Why would you want anything else? Ok- Work Plug installed....After all this was a work adventure more plugs to come! Exposure had sent us a special fleet of the new 2009 MaXxD lights for the team. They have actually been using the Enduro and Joystick all season.

Night time fell and the cold air set in. Cold to the bone!
Steph had an opportunity to go out for a ride on the course with Elena Hall who was on one of the Cannondale Mona-Vie Just For Fun Teams. Elena crashed about two miles in because of someone who fell in front of her. Well, she lost her light and sheered part of her clamp. She asked Steph, What am I going to do? Steph, who I must add was helping me with tech support for the race stepped up in fine style....She said "You are going to put my light on your bike and go on" She helped Elena get that set up and off Elena went. Steph back tracked on the course and found the light thanks to some very honest folks spectating. She came back into the pit and I got her a
new clamp and off she went back on the course. I started to worry about her around 11:30....Bad thoughts were going through my head about her breaking an arm or worse and then she rolled in with a smile ear to ear! No worries, it was wasted energy!

Cannondale Mona-Vie kept raising the bar for the other teams to chase them on. Bart Gillespie set the fastest night lap around mid-night and no one beat that either. These guys were very impressed with the MaXxD lights. They are extremely bright and allowed them to maintain a very fast race pace right on through the night. The only rider not on Exposure Lights due to a previous long standing contract with another light brand for 2008 was David "Tinker" Juarez who was racing this one in the Solo division. Tinker is an absolute machine! I was a silent observer of his pit stops. Rose, Tinker's mom was providing his support. When she anticipated his arrival, ther
e were two mechanics on his bike and changing his battery pack for his light, Rose would give him food that he had a couple of bites of and then he was back on his bike, not stopping for more than five minutes per lap for the whole race. He would at times get a new pair of shoes or a new helmet or a quick change of clothes. How he does it is just beyone me? Tinker is just an incerdible rider and a bike industry legend. I hung out with his Mom and the mechanics, Ryan and Carl around the space heater talking about his race. She is also amazed at how he does it. He is incerdibly driven and that was very obvious as he continued to storm on out back on the course.

Tinker at 7 am after a long cold night.

I am proud to say that the Cannondale Mona-Vie team (pro1) won the teams division and the pro2 team took third place. Mona-Vie pro1 was first overall and pro 2 was fifth overall. Tinker enden up second place after an incerdible solo effort. Bart Gillespie was crowned King of the race setting both the fastest day and night laps. That is great for Exposure Lights. We provided the team with top notch professional support and it was quite an honor.

Here are some stats on the race:
The Pro1 team completed 21 laps, traveled 313.11 miles and climbed 28,560 feet.
The Pro2 team completed 19 laps, traveled 283.29 miles and climbed 25,840
feet.
David "Tinker" Juarez completed 16 laps, traveled 238.56 miles and climbed 21,760 feet.

The Cannondale Mona-Vie/ Exposure Lights Pro Teams on the podium
Photo courtesy of- Matt Ohran.


Congratulations to all of them for this amazing effort....and a big Thanks goes out to my employer James and Exposure Lights USA for making this possible for me to be a part of. A special thanks goes out to my lovely wife for staying up all night with me and helping provide the support for the team. Being a small part of this event has helped me live out my dreams and make them reality.

Steph and I pretty "charged" at 3am in the Cannondale Mona-Vie pit.
Photo courtesy of- Matt Ohran.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net

Steve said...

Thanks very much Christian. I appreciate the feedback.

Cheers!
Steve