Kelly Boniface and Nate Bird help Kris Cannon step away from her bike for the first time in nearly 24 hours after she locked up second place in the 2008 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike race in Utah. Cannon will race in the solo division again, and Boniface will again serve as a part of her support crew, along with Amy Harris. Bird, meanwhile, will ride as a part of a two-man team.

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Kelly Boniface and Nate Bird help Kris Cannon step away from her bike for the first time in nearly 24 hours after she locked up second place in the 2008 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike race in Utah. Cannon will race in the solo division again, and Boniface will again serve as a part of her support crew, along with Amy Harris. Bird, meanwhile, will ride as a part of a two-man team.

Steamboat cyclists gear up for 24 Hours of Moab

Riders set to take on endurance event

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Are you riding in this weekend’s 24 Hours of Moab? If so, send an e-mail to sports@steamboatp... with your name and team name, and we’ll include the results in upcoming stories.

— Kris Cannon went into her first solo 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike race two years ago without expectations, and she insisted she was doing so again this year as she prepared Wednesday for her second solo ride in one of endurance mountain bike racing’s biggest events.

“Anything can happen in a 24-hour race,” she said cautiously. “These girls are really good. I hope I have a good race.

“I hope I’m ready.”

She certainly was ready two years ago when she powered her way to a second-place finish in the women’s solo division, and if her race results from this summer are any indication, she could be in for another big ride.

Cannon finished second in the 12 Hours of Snowmass event and then won the 24 Hours in the Sage race in Gunnison, setting the course record.

But the Moab event, which starts at noon Saturday and runs all night for a noon Sunday finish in the slick rock of the Utah desert, has been her focus all along.

“It would be great to podium again,” Cannon said. “I would just be thrilled. I’ll go and ride my bike and try and not think about anyone else. I’ll show up and do what I can. I hope to have a good ride and a good 24 hours.”

Cannon will be among the leaders of a talented field of local riders heading to Utah for the event, which this year doubles as the 24-hour national championships.

That’s one thing that helped spark Nate Bird’s drive to ride the event.

He joined Dax Massey earlier this summer to ride the massive TransRockies mountain bike stage race in Canada. Despite several rough mechanical breakdowns, the pair finished just off the podium and were left motivated to tackle Moab.

“I’m super pumped,” said Bird, who has greatly increased his training this summer and seen a jump in his results to match. “We’re ready and anxious to get out there and get hammering on the pedals.”

He doesn’t hold back with his hopes for the team. They want to win, and he said he’s ready to pay the price to do that.

For a duo team, it will mean a sleepless night and no letup in the often cold overnight hours.

“We’ll just have enough time between laps to get back to the camp and get the bike cleaned up and refuel our bodies,” said Bird, part of a large contingent of Team Honey Stinger/Trek riders heading to the event. “But I feel pretty relaxed and confident.”

Steamboat also will be represented by a four-man Honey Stinger/Trek team headed by Len Zanni, as well as another four-man team including residents Chris Tamucci and Brent Boyer.

“This will be one of the hardest races I’ve ever done,” Bird said. “All that’s left is to go out and prove what you have in you.”

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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