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Chapter #162: 24-Hours of Moab 2010 - The Race - January 24, 2011


Rider #2 uses four arms and two handle bars to take up the shock going downhill - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com) 

24 Hours of Moab 2010

- The Race - 

After an exciting start at the 24 Hours of Moab 2010 off-road bicycle race, I moved farther down the course to watch Lap #2. One half mile beyond the Start/Finish line, the course briefly parallels Behind the Rocks Road. By positioning myself near there, I was able to photograph action sequences that featured a brief ascent, followed by a quick drop to the bottom of a sandy arroyo. Those quick terrain changes guaranteed lots of action.
Losing control upon entry to the arroyo in 2009 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com) 
After freewheeling downhill almost from the start, that first climb requires a quick application of energy. As they top the hill, each rider is up off their seat, pumping to maintain speed and momentum. After surmounting that knoll, the racers experience a gentle down-slope, ending in a quick drop to the bottom of a wide arroyo.
 
Over the years, the steep drop to the sandy bottom of the arroyo has flattened considerably. Only two years ago, some racers clamped on the binders and tumbled head over heels down that steep slope. Now, thousands Wheel slippage spells disaster for this 2009 racer - Click for final results (http://jamesmcgillis.com)of laps later, wind, rain and bicycle tires have combined to erode that slope. Rather than an unmanageable drop, the evolved location now resembles a high-speed ramp. Behind the Rocks was cattle country for many years, so the new ramp will be safe only until the next big storm widens the arroyo and recreates the precipice, as it inevitably will.
 
 
Be sure to watch high-speed action from the 24 Hours of Moab 2010 on the accompanying YouTube video.
 
 
 
 
 
Spanning the arroyo each year are two rubber conveyor belts, laid out, end-to-end. Ostensibly, they provide a smooth, continuous surface for the racers. If the old gravel-transport belts were not present, riders might bog down in the deep sand. In past years, we have noticed continued problems with the layout of the belts. Initially, they provide the correct course trajectory; including a slight right turn at their midpoint. During practice day on Friday, the belts begin to migrate, leaving their ends separated by ever greater distances. By race time, racers must traverse a few meters of deep sand, causing danger, delays and frustration.
 
"The Other" fixes a problem on the course at 24 Hours of Moab 2010 (http://jamesmcgillis.com)This year, my friend, “The Other” decided to fix the belt-gap prior to Lap #2 of the race. Until this year, when I caught his shadow on a couple of photos, no one had actually seen The Other. As I watched, The Other assessed the dysfunction of the two belts and then took remedial action. Moments after The Other finished overlapping the belt ends, second-lap leaders appeared over the crest of the hill. As the riders made their high-speed dash down the ramp and across the belts, we saw the shadow of a mysterious character disappear in the wind.
 
That day, I was lucky enough to catch the shadow of The Other both before and after he rejoined the belts. Here, on this page is a slideshow showing how The Other helped with safety and speed at the 24 Hours of Moab 2010. After transiting the belts, riders then sped across the plateau, as if heading straight for the peaks of the Sierra la Sal. Soon, they too disappeared over the horizon. The animated GIF image on this page shows how The Other helped make the 24-Hours of Moab 2010 race safer and faster than ever.
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