The 24 Hours of Moab Live Bicycle Race

2008 Part 1 - Part 2


Part 1 - Dax & Dean of the "Shake & Bake" Team Pedal To Victory

Campgound at 2008 						Moab Bike Race - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Every year, thousands gather to watch the most exciting off-road bicycle race in the world.  Join us, as we review the excitement of the 2008 24 Hours of Moab.

Moab, Utah - October 12, 2008

After midnight in Moab, it is 39 f degrees outside, but the wind chill on exposed human flesh feels like 34 f degrees.  To the north, in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, a major winter snowstorm rages.  Although no precipitation has fallen here in the past five days, the storm to the north is acting like an atmospheric vacuum cleaner, pulling in strong winds from the south.

Watch the Video, "24 Hours of Moab, 2008"

 

Friends shake 							hands before the race - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)At Noon Saturday, the thirteenth annual Suzuki “24 Hours of Moab” mountain bike race began at its traditional course “Behind the Rocks”, ten miles south of Moab.  For those who do not know, the “24 Hours of Moab” is the premier endurance race of its kind.  For all of those years, Laird Knight and his Granny Gear Productions has been the driver behind this event.
 
As the huge regional storm was building to the north on Friday night, thousands of mountain bike racers and race fans made camp on a former cattle-grazing land near the Start/Finish line.  As they spent the night in tents near the course, I slept in my heated travel trailer, at the full-service Moab Rim Campark, ten miles away.  Even in my sheltered spot, I awakened several times overnight, fearful that my trailer might blow over in the wind.  I can only imagine how little sleep the racers and fans may have gotten in their campground that night.
 Full bike racks, 							prior to race - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
On Saturday morning, I drove to the race site, intent upon finding the two-man Bach Builders Team, also known as “Team Shake & Bake”, comprised of Dax Massey of Boulder and Dean Miller of Littleton, Colorado.  Having met both men in the parking lot of a Moab supermarket the previous day, I wanted to photograph and interview them before the start of their 24-hour race.  Upon my arrival at the camp and racecourse, the thousands of tents, bikes and racers made me realize that finding Dax and Dean was unlikely.
 
As the minutes counted down to race time, the winds built up in equal measure. Sweeping winds alternated with vortices of super-fine red dust. Almost immediately, the actuator on my digital camera developed a gritty feel. Looking like bandits or bank robbers, many of the fans around me wore bandanas over their noses and mouths. After realizing that the western bandana is really an early type of filtration device, I lamented the fact that I had left mine at home.
The race includes an exciting “LeMans Start”, patterned after the classic sports car race of old.  Rather than running to their sports cars, our bike racers first ran one hundred yards out, then one hundred yards back, before jumping on their bikes and pedaling away.
 
With the strong wind and the loud public address system whipping up the crowd, the race start was pure pandemonium.  Crowd control broke down, with fans, photographers and racers intermingling like Native Americans stampeding a herd of American Bison toward at cliff. 
 
I would like to say that after the race started that the dust cleared, but it Racer, holding his 							team baton - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)did not.  After the racers pedaled furiously away, the PA announcer told us that we would not see the leaders return from their fifteen-mile loop for about an hour.  Being a long distance bike-racing fan is like working for the CIA.  There is endless boredom, punctuated by occasional action, when the riders return.  If the race itself is a test of endurance, for fans it is a test of dedication. 
 
Since I am a math whiz, I realized that at the pace of one lap per hour, I would see each of my favorite team riders not more than twelve times over the 24-hour period.  After eating more dust than ever before in my life, I decided to leave the scene, planning to return for the final hour of racing, late Sunday morning.
Why would so many people brave such hardships to participate in or watch a 24-hour bike race on a remote, windswept mesa?  The roots of off-road bicycle racing go back to the late 1960s, when a few intrepid souls raced up (or was it down) Mount Tamalpais, in Marin County, California.  Not to be outdone, young men and women throughout the Rocky Mountain region took up the sport in the 1980s and 1990s.  Now that it is a mature, if niche sport, off-road bicycle endurance racing appears to attract participants in their late twenties to their early forties.  There are younger and older participants, but the core group has “Generation X” (for extreme?) written all over them. 
 
As I complete and post this article, the high, cold mesa is still a beehive of activity, with racers, volunteers and support staff monitoring the ongoing race.  As I prepare to retire, it reminds me that Dax and Dean will have little rest again tonight.  Only when one passes their team baton to the other, can the first rider rest for an hour or two, depending on their riding schedule.
I forgot to mention that when I met Dean on Friday afternoon, an injury to his right hand and wrist prevented him from offering me a traditional handshake.  Undaunted, Dax and Dean planned to come in first in their self-supported Duo-Pro class.  If they finish at all, they will be my heroes.  As I write this article, time wears on.  According to current race results provided by www.grannygear.com, Bach Builders/Team Shake & Bake is currently in thirteenth place overall and they are first in the Duo-Pro category.  While they clocked early laps at one hour, eleven minutes, their after-midnight lap times have fallen to one hour and thirty-one minutes.  Go Dax and Dean.  I shall cheer your anticipated victory at the finish line on Sunday at Noon.


Part 2 - New Energy Portal Opens at the 24 Hours of MOAB

24 Hours of Moab, 2008 						sign - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Every year, thousands gather to watch the most exciting off-road bicycle race in the world.

Moab, Utah - October 12, 2008

As we know, the Anasazi, Pre-Puebloans or The Ancients, depending on which name you wish to apply, vacated “The Far Country” now known as Moab, Utah by 1350 CE.  Between 650 BC and the time of their departure, they took the time to leave visual messages for us to find and enjoy.  Whether their art took the form of pictographs or petroglyphs is not important.  What is important to us in our current time is that they were both visually and artistically oriented.Fremont style Indian 						Rockart - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

 
The term “starving artist” simply could not apply in their environment.  Only after sufficient hunting and gathering to see them through the winter, did they have time to create their painstakingly incised rockart.  Experts estimate that each pictograph may have taken several weeks and several separate processes to complete.
 
From 1350 CE until now (2008), is 658 years.  Although the exact number of years is not important, it is important to see how we, the new stewards of Mother Earth are treating both Gaia and ourselves. 
 
Not five miles from my first visit to the unique and previously undocumented rockart of Johnsons On Top mesa, lies the 24 Three mountain bike racers 						- Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Hours of Moab off-road bike race.  After viewing the first hour and the last hour of this unique and unparalleled bicycle race, I came away with enough memories to fill a lifetime.  In fact, the unusual and intense 24-hour racing format lends itself to new energies and activities.  If you read my previous article, you know that I was on a mission to track down Dax Massey and Dean Miller, the two and only members of the Bach Builders Shake & Bake Duo Pro mountain bike racing team.
 
Having checked the race website for live race results both late last night and "Liquid Gray Infinity" team raced "Just for Fun" - Click for 						larger Image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)"early this morning, I knew that Dax and Dean were well on their way to a category win in the 24 Hours of Moab and an overall category win for their five-race season.  Whether by design or by circumstances, these men are elusive.  Not only had I missed them on the racecourse yesterday, but again today.  Just after the race ended at Noon, I enquired about them at the scoring table.  The gentleman there told me that they came in before Noon and did not need to go out for one more grueling fifteen-mile lap.
 
Bike racer, 						crossing the finish line - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Determined to see them and congratulate them on their win, I waited the two and one half hours until the awards ceremonies began.  Since there was nothing else to do while waiting for the ceremony, I mounted the four flights of stairs that ended at an observation deck almost thirty feet in the air.  There, Suzuki Motors, the corporate sponsor of the 24 Hours of Moab provided an unparalleled view of the Behind The Rocks area and the La Sal Mountains.  The only furniture on the deck was six iJoy massaging lounge chairs.  What better way to relax and meet new friends than when everyone is "relaxing to a near-professional level massage in the great outdoors?  Thank "Optically Delicious" team drags golden and silver light into the 						scoring tent - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)you to Suzuki Motors for supporting the 24 Hours of Moab in such a great way.
 
When they came to unplug the massage chairs, I made my way downstairs to the awards ceremony.  Around 3:00 PM, Dean and Dax came to the podium to accept their Moab and series championship trophies on behalf of their sponsor, Bach Builders.  Engrossed in capturing the scene on my Sony MiniDV video camera, I had time to take only one still shot. 
 
"When they exited the stage, I took off after them.  Just as I visually located Dean, I remembered that I had left my gloves on a folding chair, back at the awards ceremony.  By the time I retrieved my gloves, both Dax and Dean had disappeared.
Six hundred and fifty-eight years after the Anasazi vacated Moab area without a trace, so too did Dean and Dax.  The Anasazi left us with enduring artwork for all to enjoy.  Dean and Dax added to their reputation as the best single-speed, Duo Pro mountain bike racers in the country, if not the world.  Congratulations to Dax Massey and Dean Miller accept their Championship Trophy - Click for larger image 						(http://jamesmcgillis.com)Dean and Dax.  With luck, I will catch up with you again, at the 2009 24 Hours of Moab.
 
Email James McGillis
Email James McGillis
Click a banner below to visit our partners in a new window: