Ethan Johnson sees mountain bike racing heading in the direction of endurance riding. Johnson, 19, is a veteran mountain bike racer on the national scene but a relative newcomer to the world of endurance riding. But after faring well in the men's duo division at the 24 Hours in the Sage near Gunnison earlier this month, he is targeting longer races for the future.
"I want to start doing more endurance racing," Johnson said. "It seems to be the direction the racing world is going. There is more prize money and more sponsorship. Everyone can do it."
And it seems more and more Steamboat residents are getting involved and excited about 24-hour races -- so much so they are willing to pack up and travel to compete.
The second annual 24 Hours in the Sage was held from noon Sept. 4 to noon Sept. 5 during the Labor Day weekend, and seven teams made entirely or partially of Routt County riders competed in the Gunnison-area race.
Several teams nearly won.
The Steamboat Phat Girls team of Abi Slingsby, Tara Tiedemann, Jody Corey and Marin Campbell finished second, just five minutes behind the winning team. The women combined to race 18 laps in the 24-hour period.
Each lap was more than 12 miles long and gained 1,100 vertical feet.
"This was more of a cross-country climb," Slingsby said. "I haven't been to Moab, but from what I've heard, it's like Moab. There were rocks to climb. There was sagebrush to go through. ... I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else. Our team was great fun."
Team Honey Stinger, comprised of Kevin Hendrickson, Tom Bedell, Dan Vargas and Craig Russell captured second, completing 23 laps, in the men's four division.
Johnson and his partner, Adam McGrath of Boulder, paired to form team FUBAR and placed second in the duo division, completing 19 laps. The winners finished with 22 laps.
For the most part, however, the solo men and women divisions were the most popular at the Labor Day event. There were 29 men and eight women who completed the solo race. Seven riders competed in the single speed division.
Steamboat's Mark-O Ross-Bryant did the race on his own, completing 11 laps. The winner, Johnny Biggers, completed 18 laps.
Also competing from the area were: the Lactic Acid Build up Boys team of Ryan Radway and Matt Kriewall of Fort Collins (men duo), the 2crazy4this team of Evan Soard and Derrick Felt (men's duo), the Dry Mouth Guys team of Nate Byrd, Paolo Guidi, Bill Martorano and Rob Peterson (men's four) and the Dirt Divas team of Thea Kent, Chrissie Hodges, Annie Larkin and Lisa Huber (women's four).
"This was our second year riding, and, for all of us, it was our first race," Kent said. "We were totally psyched we did as well as we did."
The Dirt Divas picked up third in their division, completing 16 laps.
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