Steamboat Springs His first go at competing in the 24 Hours of Moab in Utah as a member of a two-person team didn’t provide any great surprises to Steamboat Springs mountain biker Nate Bird.
“Like I thought, it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done,” Bird said.
It may have been one of the hardest, but for Bird and several other local riders, it also was one of the most successful.
Bird teamed with Boulder friend Dax Massey for a second-place finish in the Pro Duo division. Steamboat’s top solo artist, Kris Cannon, was also second, finishing as the women’s solo runner-up for the second time in as many attempts.
“I’m so happy. I’m ecstatic,” Cannon said about the race, which started at noon Saturday and finished at noon Sunday. “It hurt, but to get a second at a national championship, it’s just great.”
Bird and Massey locked horns early in the race with a pair from Montana, and all was even after two laps. That twosome slowly built a lead, however, adding five minutes after three laps, three more after four laps and three more, again, after five laps.
Bird and Massey, riding for Honey Stinger/Trek, slowed the bleeding as night came but never managed to make up any ground and eventually finished one lap short, with 19 laps to the winners’ 20.
It was still a comfortable victory over third place, which finished with 18 laps.
“The goal was to win, but we can’t be disappointed taking second place at the 24-hour nationals,” Bird said. “It was a great culmination to the best season I’ve ever had in my life. It leaves me hungry for next year.”
The story was similar for Cannon. She was only briefly in the race for the championship, but she locked up second place equally early in the race.
She finished behind Jari Kirkland, who finished ahead of Cannon in 2008 and has won four of the past six 24 Hours of Moab women’s solo races.
Cannon, also riding for Honey Stinger/Trek, lapped Laureen Coffelt on her 10th lap early Sunday morning, all but assuring she’d locked up second place.
She hammered out three more laps — inhaling Backcountry Provisions sandwiches as she went, she said — just to be sure she had her podium spot sewn up.
Kirkland finished with 15 laps, Cannon 13 and Coffelt 12.
“Jari’s just a great athlete,” Cannon said. “We were close the first couple of laps, but she had a better day. To come in second to her, I don’t have a problem with that.
“I definitely put it all out there, and I’m thrilled.”
A number of other teams with locals and local interests raced well Saturday and Sunday.
Steamboat rider Carri Wullner finished fifth in the women’s solo, completing 10 laps.
A fast final lap from local Chris Tamucci helped the Men’s Sport four-person team, “Last Chance,” climb from 15th to 12th. The group, which also included Steamboat’s Brent Boyer, finished 17 laps.
The team ended up finishing 24 seconds ahead of their nearest competition, the Bellingham Banana Hammocks. Tamucci’s final lap was five minutes faster than the Hammocks’, nine minutes faster than the team that finished 14th and 13 minutes faster than the team that ended 15th.
The Gnarly Nurses, a five-person team featuring Steamboaters Erin O’Malley, Chris Taylor, Chris Pottinger, Cassie Held and Elizabeth Provo-Hanlen, finished 27th, having completed nine laps in the coed five-person division.
A Honey Stinger/Trek team featuring Honey Stinger co-owner Len Zanni dominated the entire event, winning the men’s four-person championship with 22 laps and logging the best finish for any entry in the entire event.
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org