Final Sunset at the 24-Hours of Moab?
As off-road mountain bike racing aficionados know, Laird Knight, the race director and promoter of the 24-Hours of Moab may have run his last Moab event. After seventeen successful years conducting the 24-HOM, Laird may be ready to absorb his 2011 losses and move on to other events. This year, team entries at the fabled race fell by almost one-third. Some blame the current economy. I believe otherwise.
In 2008, when I discovered the event, pro teams abounded at 24HOM. Talking to old-timers, I discovered that Honda Motors previewed their snazzy Element vehicle at the race in 2002. In 2008, the race was dubbed the “Suzuki 24 Hours of Moab”, in honor of their sponsorship and participation in the success of the event. In 2009, Rebecca Tomaszewski and Dax Massey teamed up to win the Mixed Duo Championship, completing seventeen laps and placing 30th overall in the race. In 2010, Shimano, Specialized, Mavic and Baja Designs all had big booths at the venue. In 2011, Dale’s Pale Ale had their beer-bus parked in a prime location, but rumor has it that they paid no sponsorship fee for that honor.
Heading into 2011, sponsors and racers alike looked at their calendars and said, “Maybe next year… There is always a ‘next year’ at the 24-Hours of Moab”. Now, only months later, a 2012 race is unlikely. Searching my race photos from 2011, I found banners or booths sponsored by Baja Designs, Camelbak, Ellsworth, IMBA, Nutro, Serfas, Specialized and Yakima. Perhaps there were others, but suffice to say, in 2011 there was plenty of safety fencing empty of advertising logos and signs. Sponsors, both old and new can help offset costs at the event, but Laird has said that too few sponsors is not what would cause him to cancel the 2012 Moab event.
Laird recently said, "My take on the team drop is simply the shift in demographics that is taking place in the sport. Many former Moab racers are getting older, having families and not riding as much, let alone racing. The economy might be 10% or 15% but I think the demographic shift accounts for the vast majority of the no-shows." While that may be true, the number of needed participants in the race is not all that large . An increase of 100-200 new riders in 2012 might tip the scales in favor of staging the event. If I am interested enough to attend the 24-HOM each October, how many others might be likewise interested? Whether they write about it, post a YouTube video or sponsor a race team (real or phantom), it would help. Sponsoring a youth team would create new energy now and boost future-year attendance.
On October 8-9, 2011, where were most of the stars of U.S. mountain bike racing? Finishing twenty-one grueling laps between them, Colin Osborn, John & Pete Gaston and Len Zanni of the Honey Stingers Bee Team were the only Men’s Pro Team in attendance. In 2010, there were nine Men’s Pro teams and three Women’s Pro teams in the race. Honey Stinger Bee Team, Rebecca, Dax and all you other hot pros; we need you now to express your interest in racing at the 2012 24_HOM.
Below is an animated GIF image of the 2011, and what may be the final sunset at the 24-Hours of Moab. Using our back-up webcam, MoabLive.com was able to capture thirty-five images at the venue. Our old Logitech “Cue ball Cam” could not color-balance the darkness of the scoring tent and the brightness of the setting sun. As the sequence begins, it is midafternoon on Saturday, October 8, 2011. On frame 27, the disk of the sun appears in the gap between the tent roof and the bluff to the southwest. Over the following five frames, the sun, which appears dark blue, shrinks until it sets Behind the Rocks.
Also visible in the five sun-slides is a bubble of new energy light, emanating from the sun’s corona. Behind the Rocks, new energy flowed to the racers on the course, the scorekeepers, fans and the sponsors in attendance. For a moment, all who were present at the race were of one family, and bathed in new energy. Through the lens of a failing webcam, we can see that new energy showering from the sun. Although rarely documented, plasma-flow events are “real”, meaning that charged particles may strike the Earth in any given location. Present that day, but undetected in the bright light was the 2011 Draconid Meteor Outburst. Less than two hours after the race start, our unknown neighbors in the western sky were lobbing as many as 680 meteorites per hour into the Earth’s atmosphere. If I am not mistaken, stardust fell widely Behind the Rocks near Moab that day and night.
Naysayers will tell you that the 24_HOM is an unmitigated disaster, carving up and destroying a fragile desert environment. Before racing started there in the 1990s, the history of the place included the overgrazing of cattle for almost a century. In addition, four-wheel drive or social roads carved up the high plateau. By connecting several existing desert tracks, Granny Gear Productions created a racecourse that has stood the test of time. Yes, some racers ignore or misinterpret the course markers. Few racers, however, wish to exchange the singletrack for an uncertain fate in the sagebrush. Those who go off course, do so mainly at night, when fatigue or poor lighting take their toll.
Environmentalist that I am, I believe that Moab’s annual gathering of gearheads and their greater family is too precious to let fade into the western sunset. If you care about the 24-Hours of Moab in any positive way, now is the time to take action. Rebecca & Dax, Honey Stinger Bee Team and all you other racers, your fans are waiting to hear that you will be in Moab on October 6-7, 2012. Only if you respond, will there be yet another sunset at the 24-Hours of Moab.
It is time for me to publish these thoughts and let this story go. The outcome notwithstanding, I will be there, Behind the Rocks at sundown on Saturday, October 6, 2012 beaming a live webcast of the sunset to the world. I only hope that the madcap mayhem of a 24-hour bike race will be going on all around me. Until then, I will see you at Moab24Live.com. Happy trails.
Email James McGillis
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UCLA Student Rampage of 1966 Shuts Down the San Diego Freeway (I-405 Northbound)
News Items for November 22, 1966
On July 14, 2011, as the impending three-day closure of the I-405 Freeway known as Carmageddon loomed, Los Angeles Times sportswriter Jerry Crowe blogged, “To the idea of shutting down the San Diego Freeway on the Westside, as will happen this weekend, a group of former UCLA students can say, “Been there, done that.”
In November 1966, as The Times reported under the headline, “UCLA RAMPAGE,” thousands of students stormed off campus. Initial disbelief turned into a disorganized, but effective protest of UCLA's surprising Rose Bowl snub in favor of USC. Twice, students marched onto the freeway and briefly stopped northbound traffic. On that Tuesday, only days after backup quarterback Norman Dow (in his first and only start) led the Bruins to an upset of USC at the Coliseum, The Times reported, obscenity-shouting protesters “left a trail of shocked and bewildered spectators.”
The year 1966 was my first at UCLA and watching our underdog Bruins vanquish Troy was epic. To Bruin fans, the L.A. Coliseum felt like its counterpart in ancient Rome. After the victory, we left the Coliseum chanting “Rose Bowl, Rose Bowl”.
Despite the UCLA win and otherwise equal records that season, a technicality bequeathed the Pac-8 title and a coveted berth in the Rose Bowl that year. Later the Pac-8 became the more familiar Pac-10. More recently, the conference morphed into an ambiguous NCAA entity known as the Pac-12. If the original Pac-8, then known as the Pacific Coast Conference had at least something to do with geography, the Pac-12 can make no such claim. Since many saw Arizona as another politically conservative suburb of Los Angeles, it was easy enough to rationalize stretching the Pacific Ocean into the Desert Southwest. However, even the most brazen sports fan would have a hard time making the case for the Pacific Ocean being anywhere near Utah or Colorado, where the 2011 conference additions dwell.
Major Leonids Meteor Showers occur in thirty-three year cycles. Major closings of the I-405 are rarer still, with this one happening forty-six years later. Since 1998, the Rose Bowl has vaporized like a comet into the mind-numbing Bowl Championship Series (BCS). In January 2011, the TCU Horned Frogs played the Wisconsin Badgers at the Rose Bowl. Only the teams, their diehard fans and inveterate sports bettors know who won that game. Rather than being about geography, history and proud tradition, the Rose Bowl somehow morphed into a financial institution. Whether it is in support of sports betting or cold cash for the Tournament of Roses, it is all about the money now. Still, motorists on the I-405 can rest easy about a recurrence of the “UCLA Rampage” of 1966. Thanks to the BCS, it is unlikely that a victory in any future UCLA vs. USC game will affect commuters as they trundle up Sepulveda Pass toward The Valley. Will anyone in that line of cars chant, "Go Horned Frogs, go".
On the afternoon of November 22, 1966, word got out on campus that UCLA “had been robbed” of their Rose Bowl berth. Almost immediately, spontaneous demonstrations started on campus. Using tiredness as my excuse, I declined my friend Leonard’s fervent invitation to join the demonstrations. Instead, I studied for a while and then fell asleep on an unmade bed in my dorm room.
In that time of increasing political tension and sporadic campus violence, UCLA students were restive. Still, our campus had not yet experienced any organized protests, as had happened up north at Berkeley. From the drumbeat of Sgt. Barry Sadler’s Number one hit of 1966, “Ballad of the Green Berets”, we knew that an American war raged on in Vietnam. Still contested among LA riot aficianados is whether the 1996 UCLA Rampage was larger than the summer of 1966 Sunset Strip Curfew Riots. Those riots, associated with the closing of the nefarious Pandora's Box nightclub became world famous in 1967 when Steven Stills and the rock group Buffalo Springfield released their song, “For What it’s Worth”. In the late fall of 1966, group consciousness on campus was looking for any excuse to get out of hand. An unfair ruling by a commission of unnamed sports officials became the flash point for mob action.
In the early afternoon, a call to action swept through campus, with students yelling, “To the freeway. Shut it down”. After the I-405 freeway closure, bonfires had flared into the night at campus demonstrations against the oh-so-important Rose Bowl berth. Near midnight on November 22, 1966, Leonard came crashing into my room, still red-cheeked and sweaty from a long run uphill to the dorm. Today, Leonard is a distinguished college math instructor and a published author. That night, as I listened to his story, I wondered whether he had been one of the provocateurs.
Interstate 405 is located over a mile from the UCLA campus, but undeterred by that distance; the demonstrators began their unruly march. Down Westwood Blvd. they surged, and then west along Wilshire Blvd. to the freeway. Once there, the mob scrambled straight up steep banks, or marched up the on-ramps and off-ramps to the San Diego Freeway.
In the glare of afternoon sun, startled northbound motorists saw hundreds of young people chanting along the side of the freeway. Soon after their arrival, demonstrators began flagging down anyone who would stop. In the interest of safety, traffic slowed, and then one driver came to a halt in the slow lane. Lane, by lane, the budding anarchists proceeded, until all four northbound lanes of the I-405 freeway came to a complete stop. Soon, highway patrol and LA Police arrived, threatening to arrest anyone who did not disperse. Like a school of fish, the crowds dispersed, and then reformed and retook the freeway. As more LAPD reinforcements arrived, officers with bull horns herded the crowd back to Wilshire Blvd. and then followed them on their long walk home.
Custom Google Map of the I-405 Closure Areas. For further information, click on route or icons.
View I-405 Shutdown Map in a larger map
In my dorm room that night, Leonard was exultant. Mobs could rule. People had power. He had been part of something bigger than himself, even if it was an anarchistic mob. In an act of benevolent avoidance, my higher self had gently put me to sleep for the duration of events. In that early version of what we now call a “flash mob”, there were no arrests or criminal charges filed. With impending wide scale protests against the Vietnam War, future demonstrations across the country were often less peaceful.
With the benefit of forty-seven years of reflection, I believe that something important happened at both the UCLA Rampage and the more recent I-405 Carmageddon closures. Despite the divergent reasons for the closures, in each a bridge captured the public imagination. In 2011, California spent millions to topple half of a bridge, simply to add a carpool lane to the northbound side. In 1966, students discovered an energy bridge to their own future. Did stardust energy from Comet Tempel-Tuttle assist them in their peaceful, if raucous closing of the I-405?
Dec. 4, 2012 - Reader Tom Conerly's comment:
Thanks for posting the I-405 freeway photo from 1966. I searched for it to show my son in law. However, you might want to expand your blog...it was not just student unrest. After the announcement picking USC for the Rose Bowl, a bunch of us from Trojan Hall decided to do a victory lap, along UCLA's fraternity row.
I was in the back seat of my roommate's Chevy Malibu SS 396 holding a speaker out the window, blasting the USC fight song. Behind us were at least 20 cars full of USC red and gold. As we made our second lap, hundreds of guys flooded out of the fraternities and chased us down Wilshire Boulevard. I remember running at least two red lights and barely escaping.
Later after being radicalized, I did my best to "burn down USC", and married a UCLA girl, but that day in Westwood still stands out. All I mean from “burn down” was that I quickly lost any rah rah feelings for USC. I spent a lot of time at UCLA (Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on the Janss Steps at noon for free) and always liked it there.
See if you can find a pic of another of my seared memories-the 500 cop cars parked on the hill by the dorms in 1970.
Dec. 4, 2012 - Jim McGillis' Response:
Perhaps you are referring to the afternoon that fire alarms sounded almost simultaneously at Dykstra, Sproul, Rieber and Hedrick residence halls. Every police cruiser and fire truck in West Los Angeles headed for the dorms. There was so much apparatus on the streets that they created their own traffic jam. When first responders arrived, nothing was amiss, except for the sabotaged fire alarms.
If we both recall the same episode, I wrote about that in my eBook. To keep the riff-raff out, I charge $.99 for the book. If you are not completely satisfied, the book has a 101% money-back guarantee. Ha!
Although I will not disclose my sources, I knew both of the fire-alarm commandos. Although no one asked me to participate, I did little to discourage those who did. When four alarms sounded, the dispatchers at police and fire headquarters gave us everything that they had. Their heroic, yet futile response left me with an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Today, we might refer to such an act as domestic terrorism. Had the plot unraveled, there would have been several expulsions from UCLA that year, perhaps including me. How long is the statute of limitations on a crime like that?
During the Radical 1960’s, many of us perpetrated antisocial acts against the institutions around us, sometimes even our schools. Looking back on it, there is no excuse for such antisocial activities.
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The I-405 Mulholland Drive Bridge Comes Down in Pieces
In 1962, my father and I drove thirty-miles from Burbank to Santa Monica, California. New that year and new to us was a 4.1-mile stretch of Interstate I-405. In true California fashion, the new freeway went straight up and over Sepulveda Pass. Its predecessor, Old Sepulveda Blvd. wound its way up and over a longer, more arduous route.
The new freeway featured four lanes in each direction, so traffic flowed with ease. A chain-link safety fence separated the northbound and southbound lanes. My father’s car was a 1962 Impala SS, with a 327 V-8 engine and a four-barrel carburetor. Gasoline was less than fifty cents per gallon and the speed limit was sixty-five miles per hour, which we easily reached.
At the top of the pass, the roadway curved gently to the right and then traveled under a marvel of a concrete bridge, spanning the freeway without any center support. Unlike any previous span in the Los Angeles area, the new Mulholland Drive Bridge was tall, graceful and elegant in its proportions. Despite its size and novel construction methods, the price tag for the bridge was only $1.8 million.
By 1964, my friends and I used “the i405” as our quick conduit to the beach in Santa Monica. On a good day, we could travel the thirty miles in less than an hour. Even though the freeway was less than three years old, parts of the concrete roadbed had started to shift and sag. This made the downhill run from the top of Sepulveda Pass to Sunset Blvd. a white-knuckle ride in my friend Bill’s 1957 Chevy Belair. As the road heaved and turned, we passengers held our breath at the approach to each turn. Although the classic Chevy looked cool, handling on a rough and curvy road was not its forte. As Bill clutched the wheel, The Rolling Stones', “Satisfaction” blared out of the car radio.
In 1962, California's population was seventeen million. According to the 2010 census, the population of California is more than twice that, now standing above thirty-seven million. Repaved and widened several times, the I-405 through Sepulveda Pass simply cannot handle twice as many cars as its designers intended. What is the latest solution? Widen it again, of course.
In order to squeeze a carpool lane into the northbound direction, the elegant and timeless Mulholland Drive Bridge will come down in halves, beginning mid-July 2011. If all goes as planned, our former “bridge to the future” will disappear by half over a three-day weekend. During the planned 53-hour closure, the southern half will come down in a cloud of construction dust and debris. Despite adequate warning to stay away from the planned freeway closure, you can bet that many in Los Angeles will not get the message. Oblivious or curious, they will head for the beach or the Valley that weekend. After all, freeway traffic jams, called sig-alerts in LA, are a time-honored tradition.
On that day in 1962, my father looked up at the bridge as we approached and asked, “Do you know how they built that?” In my awe of the whole scene, I said, “I have no idea. How did they do it?” “I read about it in California Highways," he said. "It's a free magazine, telling us all about our new freeways and how they build them. According to the magazine", he said, “they dug six holes almost one hundred feet deep into the mountain. Then they built the six support columns in those deep holes. Next, they built the bridge deck, which hovered just above old ground level. Although the support columns are solid, reinforced concrete, much of the horizontal structure is hollow. Rather than spanning that wide gulf with steel girders, the bridge relies on prestressed, reinforced concrete tubes to carry the load. After every aspect of the bridge was completed, workers with heavy equipment dug out all the earth beneath the bridge, slowly revealing its final height. It is towering above right now", he said as we passed beneath the shadow of the bridge.
Last winter I shot a few pictures of the Mulholland Drive Bridge, while traveling northbound in the afternoon rain. This week, I traveled in each direction over Sepulveda Pass and shot a few more images for posterity. After mid-July 2011, one half of this iconic bridge will be missing from the Los Angeles skyline. Until its two-phase bridge replacement reappears in several years, the I-405 through Sepulveda Pass will remain a work in progress, much as it has for the past fifty years.
In 1966, loss of a Rose Bowl berth to USC precipitated the "UCLA Rampage", which led to the first closing of the San Diego Freeway (I-405 Northbound).
Email James McGillis
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1970 Ericson 35 Mk II Sailboat "WindSong" Now in San Diego
In 1995, I became the third owner of WindSong, a 1970 Ericson 35 Mk II sailboat. In the past fifteen years, I have sailed her to Isthmus Cove at Santa Catalina Island over fifty times, often with adventure, but always in safety.
What makes a Bruce King Design such a pleasure to sail? First is the sail plan, with plenty of power, even in even a moderate breeze. Second is 5000 lb. of lead, encapsulated in her sleek fin keel. Working together, even under extreme conditions, those two aspects assure safekeeping for captain and crew. In high winds or heavy seas, a King design incorporates such a strong “righting moment” that there is little danger of a knockdown. Even on those rare occasions when her semi-balanced spade rudder shall breached the surface, I know I am in God's hands, and therefore shall not fail. Short of a gravitational eclipse, there is no prospect of turning-turtle. Even when the tattles tail and all sheets are to the wind, a Bruce King yacht shall carry you home. Thank you, Bruce.
Known for designing the most beautiful sailing yachts of the past fifty years, some ask if Bruce King shaved performance in favor of good looks. An observer of Bruce King designs from the 1960s until his retirement in 2004 knows that early in his career, he "got it right". Over the years, he modified his original designs no more than necessary to execute the requirements of any particular project. As time passed, he advanced, rather than hackneyed his developing design aesthetic.
Once delivered, Ericson Yachts owned the designs. To his chagrin, Bruce King's artistic and aesthetic control ended when the design left his drawing board. Hence, the chop-shop stern modifications on various model Ericsons.
Whether it was the “Classic Plastic” Ericson 35-2 or one of his later super yachts, we see a gentle evolution of form throughout King’s career. In a testament to the young Bruce King’s abilities, almost 600 of the 7000 yachts attributed to his designs were Ericson 35s.
With an overall length of 34’ 8” and only a 27’ 10” waterline, why would the designer give up almost five feet of boat length to the bow and stern overhangs? While heeling moderately under sail, the leeward waterline of the Ericson 35-2 lengthens to nearly thirty-two feet. In the sailing realm, longer waterlines equal greater hull speed. Combining that clever design element with a concentration of weight amidships minimizes the “mass moment of inertia”. In plain English, an Ericson 35 sailor can find peace in the three dimensional time-space reality we call ocean sailing. If you like your peace with a dash of excitement, then WindSong is the boat for you.
Known as a racer/cruiser in its early days, most Ericson 35 - 2 sailboats have now transformed into coastal cruisers. This, it turns out, is a task for which the boat is ideally suited. From Marina del Rey to Two Harbors at Santa Catalina Island is over thirty nautical miles. On many of my transits to the island, I overhauled and passed boats larger and longer than mine. With the élan of a racer and the accommodations of a cruiser, there is no better boat to spend a few leisurely days and nights on a mooring at Isthmus Cove.
Finding myself suddenly single in 2003, I became a live-aboard in Marina del Rey, California. After a few sleepless nights, staring at the ceiling of the cabin, I recalled that living aboard WindSong was part of the adventure that I sought in life. As early as 1972, on a visit to the LA Boat Show, I decided that I wanted to live aboard a sailboat. In 2003, with homelessness as my alternative, it took me a while to become comfortable with my dream come true.
During the next two years, I spent more hours aboard WindSong than ashore. Rekindling MedITSearch.com, which is my executive recruiting business, took many hours of telephone and computer time. By late 2004, when I rejoined my recurrent odyssey to the Four Corner States, WindSong became less active as a cruising boat and more of a floating haven for me. By 2007, I had moved on to a new and rewarding relationship with an other. Despite our mutual love for WindSong; we spent only occasional weekends aboard.
In 2011, over forty years since her launch in Orange County, California, WindSong calls out to a new owner. She is a good boat overall, so in another forty years, we hope that an interested party will Google, “Ericson 35 WindSong” and read this epistle. If the year is 2048, I will be 100 years old. Even then, I will be happy to discuss all that I know about WindSong and what makes her a great yacht.
Author's Note: In May, 2012 I sold the boat WindSong. She now has a new home in San Diego Bay, California. Look for her sailing there, or perhaps anchored at Two Harbors, Catalina Island.
Email James McGillis
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