Race Fever at the Season's First 24 Hours of Adrenalin Runs Hot|
Monday, May 05, 2003
FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. (April 6, 2003) As kite-flying gusts swirled above McDowell Regional Park at noon on April 5, a field of endurance mountain bikers 300-strong readied themselves for a calendar day’s worth of pedaling, playing, and socializing with fellow members of the fat tire crowd. 35 solo racers stepped to the start line for the Merrell LeMans start while swift-footed members from 52 teams took off on the running sprint to be the first cyclist on the trail.
Turning heads with a strong showing in the teams category was the "Bonty 5" headed up by veteran mountain biker Keith Bontrager and his team of Arizona Single-Speed wielding young guns. Two weeks prior to racing, Bontrager suffered a burst blood vessel inside his right nostril which caused him a few pre-race problems and sent him to the hospital the Friday afternoon before the race and the Saturday afternoon of the race. The latter visit was executed after signing in and was an express visit to allow Bontrager time to get back to his teammates and back on his bike.
"This is the first I went to the emergency room before a race," said Bontrager who was released from the hospital and was quickly back in the saddle by 6pm Saturday for his part of the team rotation. With about 2kg of greased gauze stuffed in his nose Bontrager completed an estimated 6 laps despite looking like something out of Raging Bull.
Bontrager’s Bonty 5 took home the first-place jersey for 150-199 cumulative age category by completing 30 laps on the 11-mile course with a time of 24:29.
Just turning heads, the all-female team "Dirty Daizies" from San Diego, California dressed up the field with custom helmets planted with yellow plastic flowers contrasted against turquoise jerseys. The five-member Daizies boasted one rider whose first lap on the 11-mile course would count as her second off-road ride ever. By noon on Sunday, the still-intact team had completed 16 laps with a time of 24:18.
Nightfall lowered temperatures in the desert from a daytime high of 70 to near freezing and riders stayed paces which kept them warm but quick throughout the night. Night riding can reveal a rider’s personal prowess, as was evidenced by Men’s Solo Champion, Jimmy McMillan, who matched his nighttime and daytime lap times with near equality. "It’s my thrill, riding at night," said McMillan. He added an explanation as to why he didn’t slow during darkness, "I didn’t think the terrain was anything technical and I was pretty comfortable on the course."
28-year-old McMillan traveled to Arizona from his home in Richmond, Virginia to compete in his second 24-hour race as a solo rider. His neighbors in the soloist’s pit area helped him in his transition between laps and even without his own assistance, McMillan rode away with the win after completing 23 laps with a time of 24:00.
Women’s Solo Champion, Agnes Drogi, a native of France who now calls Phoenix home, takes a break from racing as an expert in this year’s Mountain Bike Association of Arizona’s 8-race series to focus on endurance racing both as part of a two-person team and now as a soloist. Only a month and a half separates her first 24-hour race from this weekend’s race and as one-half of a top five finishing duo, Drogi was encouraged to race solo by the duo’s other half. Drogi’s expert pacing put her so far into the lead in the women’s field that by 10:30 Saturday night, she decided to finish in the top five of the overall Solo category. She met her goal by completing 20 laps with a time of 24:02 and finishing fourth overall.
With over $160,000 valued in prizes and 13 events staged at rugged, scenic venues across North America, 24 Hours of Adrenalin™ garners status as the industry’s most innovative event organizer in mountain biking. 2003 marks the 10th anniversary of 24 Hours of Adrenalin™ and the world’s largest 24-hour mountain bike event held at Hardwood Hills in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.
Returning as sponsors for 2003 are Mountain Bike Magazine, Hooked on the Outdoors, Platypus Flexible Hydration Systems, Nightpro Lighting Systems, Louis Garneau, Kenda Tires, Ellsworth Bicycles, Inc., Clif Bar, mtbr.com, Gatorade, Mavic, Therm-A-Rest, Hayes, Thomson, and Rudy Project. New series’ sponsor are Merrell, Solarc, CycleOps, Saris, and MasterLock.