Brick Oven/Crested Butte Builders team takes second
Jari Kirkland covered more than 193 miles and 17,000 vertical feet in 24 hours, devastating her competition to win her second consecutive, third total, solo women’s title at the 24 Hours of Moab Saturday and Sunday, October 11-12.
Meanwhile, a four-person men’s team from the Brick Oven/Crested Butte Builders (BO/CBB) contingency battled their way into second place just 12 seconds ahead of third place in the final four laps.
All of this despite a massive dust storm, freezing nighttime temperatures and a prolific sandy Moab course.
“It was nasty—you’re just breathing that Moab dust,” says BO/CBB rider Dave Ochs. “I’m still coughing that stuff up.”
“It was the worst wind they’ve had in Moab,” echoes Kirkland. “It was unbelievable.”
Not only did the wind disturb one’s own psyche, it wreaked havoc on the course itself.
“Not only was the course sandier than it’s ever been the four years I’ve raced it, if there was a line through the deeper parts, it was gone,” explains Kirkland. “I got off my bike on every lap. There were a couple sand pits that just weren’t rideable and as a solo rider you don’t want to use that much energy for 10 seconds.”
Three miles into her first lap, Kirkland was out in front of the women solo riders and never looked back, eventually building a two-lap lead on her nearest competitor.
With no one to challenge her, Kirkland was left to her own devices to keep going.
“I was really far ahead and I could have taken a nap and won,” says Kirkland. “It was a mental battle to just keep going.”
By 5 a.m. the winds had subsided but the temperature dropped, leaving Kirkland to wear everything that she brought with her.
“I put on everything I had,” says Kirkland. “That one lap was super slow and cold.”
Kirkland emerged from the dark and cold of night with her spirits and lead still intact, eventually finishing 13 laps, one shy of her record-setting effort of 14 laps last year.
“I felt like I rode better than I ever have,” says Kirkland. “I was in the best shape. It was just a really slow year.”
Team BO/CBB had a slightly different experience on the course as they found themselves in a battle for second place to the bitter end.
The race opens with a running sprint around a bush and back, and team rider Dave Ochs was determined to take the bush run crown.
“Who cares what I did on the bike,” says Ochs. “I had to get that bush.”
He won the bush race and turned in a solid first lap to put the team in second place in the men’s four-person expert class.
“Ochs winning the bush race got everyone pumped,” says BO/CBB rider Dan Loftus. “Just to see his mutton chops coming around the bush was hilarious.”
BO/CBB teammates Aaron Huckstep, Loftus and Orion Corcilius maintained the opening pace set by Ochs to remain in second place but as the day turned into night trouble befell team BO/CBB.
“I had a lap at night and the sand got ahold of me and just dumped me,” explains Ochs.
Three laps later, Team BO/CBB had dropped back to fourth place but as the sun came up, the team rallied to put together four final laps on fire.
“The second the sun came up, Orion turned a wicked fast lap,” says Ochs.
Ochs pushed the team back into second place by seven seconds and Huckstep carried the momentum to hand off the final lap to Loftus just minutes before the 24-hour cutoff with the third-place team just one minute back.
It would come down to one more lap pushing the 24-hour race into the 25th hour.
“I was tired,” says Loftus. “Really, really tired. I just took off and gave it hell.”
As the teams waited at the finish to see who came over the final hill in front, Loftus was embroiled in a one-on-one battle for second place.
“I felt like I had a great lap and didn’t really look back and then this guy flies past me on the downhill,” explains Loftus. “I jumped on his rear wheel and drafted him.”
Loftus bided his time until the two riders hit one final uphill when he made the pass with 300 yards left in the race to fly into the finish line to secure second place for the BO/CBB team.
“Loftus came over the hill, head down, just freakin’ hammering,” says Ochs. “25 hours came down to 12 seconds. It was kick-ass.”