24 Hours in the Sage Race Report: Gunnison 24 Hour Race Draws Dave Wiens and Townie Bike Champions

The Notch, a technical section along the 24 Hours in the Sage Course, claims another bike and its rider.

The Notch, a technical section along the 24 Hours in the Sage Course, claims another bike and its rider.

In honor of our friends that competed October 9-10 at 24 Hours of Moab and 24 Hours of Adrenalin (the 24 hour solo world championships), I’m finally posting my race report on 24 Hours in the Sage. The grassroots event takes over the Gunnison KOA for a full weekend of racing on the amazing trails of Hartman Rocks.

Hot showers, electricity, washing machines and all the amenities (thanks KOA Dave!) make for a pretty plush event. I’ll admit. I’m biased. After all, Eric and I both work the event. My favorite part? Timing through the wee hours (with enough vodka and Red Bull to make me want to cheer at 4:00 a.m.).

Not the first person to walk the Notch, a rider makes way along the course.

Not the first person to walk the Notch, a rider makes way along the course.

That’s not to say I’m not a fan of the non-stop BBQ and beer offerings, on-course Popsicle handouts, great people and sweet riding. But timing through the night, even when the sounds of music and announcing are long gone, is definitely fun. And, when I see pictures of myself after no rest all night, it makes me feel better about enjoying sleep. Because I look like death (or a crackhead!) after staying awake with the abandon of an 18-year-old.

Anyhow, read on for the full race report.

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Riders on course at the eighth annual 24 Hours in the Sage were treated, sometime around 10:30 a.m., to grilled hamburgers handed out by mountain bike superstar Dave Wiens. Equipped with a backpack stocked full of classic American grub, the Gunnison, Colo. local set out to treat athletes and log a lap for the KOA corporate team.

Eric prepares to lead out the 2007 24 Hours in the Sage.

Eric prepares to lead out the 2007 24 Hours in the Sage.

Nearly 250 athletes (plus support crews) took over the local KOA Kampground, which served as race headquarters for the August 21-22 event, unofficially donned the 24 Hour Townie World Championships.

“The Sage is one of the funnest races I’ve ever been to. The atmosphere was great and the campground was convenient,” said 15-year-old Noah Talley (Racer’s Cycle Service). The Utah wonderkid broke a course record with a fast lap time of 50:15 and his four-man team went on to win the event with a total of 25 laps in 23:48:57, also a course record.

“[The 24 hour format] is tough because you basically do a cross country race and your body shuts down. And then you rest and get back on your bike and do it again seven more times,” said Talley. “It’s really tough on your body and it’s hard mentally, too.”

Steamboat, Colo. rider Kris Cannon (Honey Stinger/Trek) rode straight through the night to secure her fourth solo women’s title with 17 laps in 23:26:31.

“I’m pretty excited about this year,” said Cannon. “[The Sage] was my first race [this year] so I wasn’t sure where I would stand. I just wanted to see if I could go out harder this year and keep it up.”

The 13-plus-mile course snakes through the Hartman Rocks Recreation Area and delivers smooth singletrack separated by technical sections. The 2010 event benefitted the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Operation Rebound, which provides sports opportunities for American troops, veterans and first responders who have suffered permanent physical injuries in the line of duty.

Kids rally for 24 Minutes in the Sage, and for good reason. The winner receives 24 crisp one dollar bills.

Kids rally for 24 Minutes in the Sage, and for good reason. The winner receives 24 crisp one dollar bills.

Beyond encouraging costumed townie riders to descend technical trails on 30-pound cruisers, the Sage is truly one-of-a-kind: in 2010, KOA team riders delivered Popsicles to on-course athletes in the 80-degree-plus heat; kids of various ages lapped the paddle boat pond in contention for the 24 crisp one-dollar bills awarded to the to top rider in 24 Minutes in the Sage; and support crews watched as KOA staffers lassoed an escaped pet yak.

Event organizers won’t promise yak sightings and Popsicle deliveries for 2011, but one thing remained consistent in 2010. KOA owner Dave Taylor, with the help of an amazing staff, slung free grilled food late into the evening. Free beer flowed through the morning hours.

For results and race info visit http://24hoursinthesage.com.

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There are plenty of great sites online that reference the Sage. I like these best: The Sage Facebook page has tons of great rider photos and comments. Addicted to Bicycles gave us some love. And, Xavier Fane, along with official race photogs About the Shot, took some amazing photos.

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