Eatough Wins Second World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin|
Sunday, November 04, 2001
The sun shined warming the air to 99ş as the crowds gathered and cheered on the lead riders. After the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championship participants were called out to the starting line there was one minute of silence in memory those lost in the September 11th tragedy. In the next minute the likes of Tinker Juarez, Rishi Grewal, Chris Eatough, Mary Grigson and Katie Lindquist were running the 0.3-mile LeMans start and 1-mile prologue lap and began the 10.3 mile non-shaded course.
In the menıs field Chris Eatough-GB (TREK/Volkswagen) was the first to complete the LeMans followed by Rishi Grewal-USA (Klein) and then Tinker Juarez-USA (Volvo/Cannondale). On the prologue lap, Tinker moved ahead and passed Rishi and Chris. Tinker was 3 minutes up by the second checkpoint but a flat tire pushed him back to third. In the Womenıs field Cristina Begy-USA (Independent Fabrication) was the first solo women to complete the LeMans and Prologue lap followed by Mary Grigson-Australia (Subaru/Gary Fisher) and then Katie Lindquist-USA (Moots). Mary was first off lap one.
The pace was fast and furious among the top three men! Know one wanted to give up the lead. The temperature hit 105ş and all watching were wondering how they could handle this pace in such heat. "They still have 20+ hours to go," was whispered by many.
By the fourth lap things started to look like they were about to change. Tinker was out front. Rishi was starting to bonk and a slow lap put him in third by almost 20 minutes. Chris Eatough had left the pit areas approximately 3 minutes behind Tinker however he was the first to come in and following 2 minutes behind was Tinker. Chris Eatoughıs display of toughness left Tinker Juarez disheartened. He came in from his lap, got off his bike and sat in his chair and was talking with his pit crew. He did not get up for the next 45 minutes. Then Chris finished another lap. What was happening? Tinker just fell one lap behind, but he did not seem concerned. Shortly after he dropped out of the race to everyoneıs surprise!
By 6:00pm the temperatures fell to a comfortable 79ş, Chris appeared to be falling into his own groove and now had a slight lead taking some of the pressure off. Rishi Grewal appeared to be getting his game plan back together and pressed on. But it was 8:00pm when Rishi came in exhausted and realized that it was time to stop. Chris continued to press on while other competitors emerged such as local James Dover who had now eaten away Chrisıs lead to 20 minutes and Marcel Knaus of Switzerland was 30 minutes behind James just 9 hours into this 24-hour race. The race was not over yet!
Mary Grigson continued to lead the womenıs field while the second through fifth jockeyed for position. By 9:00pm Mary had 1hr 15-minute lead. She was going to be tough to catch. Katie Lindquist held third behind Cristina Begy for the first 5 hours before Monica Nelson pulled into third and pushed ahead. Katie never let more than 20 minutes separate them which would prove to be key as Katie moved back into third place at approximately 4:00am Sunday morning ahead of Monica. By 8:00am the pace that Cristina was holding while trying to catch Mary had worn her out and a long break gave Katie the opportunity. Katie attacked and moved into second place.
As the sun began to shine it was apparent that Chris was having trouble and second place 43 year old James Dover was eating away at Chrisıs lead. Do not forget Chris was the only one left in the race after Tinker Juarez, Rishi Grewal and Chris raced for the early lead in 105-degree temperatures. It was later discovered that Chris had begun to bonk at 10:00pm despite eating and drinking as planned however he pressed on. James Dover responded by attacking and closing the gap to 10 minutes on the last lap. Chris in return responded like a true Champion and held onto his lead, winning by 10 minutes, the smallest margin to date defending his title to make him the first athlete to hold the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championships title 2 consecutive years.
Chris earned himself $1800 and a set of Mavic CrossRoc UST Tubeless wheels. James Dover earned $1100; something I speculate this dark horse did not expect to achieve. Third place was Marcel Knaus of Switzerland. Fourth place was Mark Hendershot-USA. Fifth place and top Canadian Male was Tom Zidek of Canmore, Alberta. Steve Fassbinder-USA came eighth riding an Independent Fabrication single-speed. The top eight men were financially awarded.
Mary Grigson of Australia was crowned the New World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Champion and awarded $1800 and a set of Mavic CrossRoc UST Tubeless wheels. Cristina Begy made another push and by the last lap Katie and Cristina were a mere 6 minutes apart. Katie continued to give all she had, finishing second 14 minutes ahead of Cristina. Monica Nelson, the top Canadian Women came in fourth.
It is usually said that a 24-hour solo race is won and lost in the dark hours of midnight to the morning when competitors are mentally and physically fatigued. For this event it was the fast pace at the start during extreme temperatures turned out to be the major factor that led to many unforeseen performances from some of the strongest competitors.
At the close of 2001 World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championships in the words of Champion Chris Eatough "this was the toughest race I have ever done!"