Nuttleman completes 17 laps
Numerous Crested Butte riders had strong showings in the sixth annual 24 Hours in the Sage, starting at high noon on Saturday, August 16 and finishing 24 hours later.
Almost 150 riders competed and were met with near-perfect conditions for 24 hours of riding—overcast skies and a little bit of rain as they made their way around and around and around.
The course was just over 13 miles long, starting and finishing at the KOA campground. It included such trails in the Hartman Rocks area as Alonzo’s, the Luge, Sea of Sage and Beck’s, to name a few.
Crested Butte resident Max Nuttleman took the men’s solo bike title, finishing 17 laps over the course of 24 hours. The Brick Oven/Crested Butte Builders team of Heather McDowell, Chrissy Oliveri, Starr Jamison and Krista Powers won the women’s race. Father/son iron lungs Dave and Travis Scheefer joined forces with John Holder and Scott Travis to take the four-person single-speed title.
Nuttleman is no stranger to endurance races, yet this was his first foray into 24-hour bike racing.
“I’ve done some long bike rides with friends, but I’ve never raced one,” says Nuttleman.
Therefore, with no past experience to work with, Nuttleman kept his strategy simple.
“I wanted to do what Stubbe (Jason) did last year,” says Nuttleman. “He did 17 laps.”
With that goal in mind, Nuttleman resisted the urge to join the adrenaline-driven early race pace and settled into third place through the first four laps. By the fifth lap, Nuttleman caught up to the solo leaders, including Stubbe, and took over first place.
“I knew what worked for me,” says Nuttleman.
Nuttleman and Stubbe proceeded to trade off in the front during the late evening hours before Nuttleman eventually took the lead for good. Still, it was far from smooth sailing for Nuttleman as he got a taste of successive nighttime laps in the saddle with a light to show the way.
“I thought the night was really hard,” says Nuttleman. “You can’t go very fast. The faster you go, the harder it is to see.”
Not only that, but as the night wore on, so did the party among the fans, team riders and support teams at the transition area.
“Everyone else is sleeping or drinking and hanging out by a campfire and I just wanted to join them,” explains Nuttleman. “I just kept it moving every time I came through.”
As is often the case among 24-hour race competitors, Nuttleman gained a boost from the rising sun and was 30 minutes ahead of the second-place rider. From then on, he started counting down the laps.
After 16, he considered calling it good until word got out that the second-place rider had plans on making a 17th lap before the time cut-off.
That got Nuttleman out for one more trip around before he could sit down with the title.
“After the 16th lap, I was hoping he wouldn’t do another,” says Nuttleman. “That made me ride a 17th lap.”
The Brick Oven/Crested Butte Builders women’s team had a smooth 24-hour experience this year for the win, after battling against their friends last year to finish in second place.
They set a team goal to improve upon last year’s showing and met it as they averaged one hour and 15 minutes per lap, led by McDowell, who was turning laps at a pace of one hour and eight minutes.
“Heather was a hammer this year riding,” says Powers. “We all put in faster lap times.”
While the only opponent in their class was left far behind from the start, the women remained on track to improve upon last year and battle with some men’s teams as well.
“We were just staying competitive with ourselves,” says Powers. “We were putting times against the men’s times and for a while we were in fifth place.”
According to Powers, about the hardest part was getting out of bed to ride another lap.
“It was hard crawling out of your warm sleeping bag and into your cold wet shoes,” admits Powers.
But once on the bike, all was good.
“It’s so fun,” says Powers. “I came off every single lap with a huge smile on my face. It’s a race I’ll do in some capacity again and again.”
In the end, the team completed 19 laps, well enough for eighth-place among the men’s four-person teams.