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Nat Ross

Mark Lalonde followed by his brother Jesse

Singlespeed USA 2008

By:
Cycling News
Published:
May 19, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:00 BST

Held in conjunction with the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendar for Ultra Endurance event...

May 20, 2008

Held in conjunction with the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendar for Ultra Endurance event #2 "Dirt, Sweat and Gears (DSG)", Singlespeed USA was a fun event for singlespeeders that went down the day before. The event description on the website for Singlespeed USA (SSUSA) described the event as "The Trifecta of Singleness beginning at noon the day before DSG. Participants will ride their single speeds on an undisclosed course for more than one hour and less than 46,000. Five percent of the field will go on to participate in the second chapter of pedal pushing. The third and final chapter is quite bumpy…"

Hmm...sounded intriguing. Initially, I had wanted to race my Rig in this event, but figured it would hamper my ability to defend my title in the 12-hour race on Saturday. Looking back, I should have done both.

The men's field was stacked and the women's field was whacked (only one woman tough enough registered). The event promoter Clay Higgins wanted my personality involved by commentating, so I asked two of my partners in crime Rebecca Rusch and Yuri Hauswald to join me in my freak show on the mic. Styled out in our festive attire we started the event in true singlespeed style with a psych-out in the cross-country. All the fast guys lined up in what they though was the front of the line while talkin' smack amongst each other before the gun went off. Grant (the co-promoter) psyched everybody out when he started the race backwards from the rear of the field, so everybody quickly turned around and chased his bunny ears and mailbox bike into the ground.

The cross-country course entailed two shortened laps on the DSG course, without the first two miles of steep hills taken out for the wimpy singlespeeders. Right away, Jesse and Marko LaLonde developed a gap on the competition and went on to finish one-two in the first event. Did I mention that competitors had to chug a PBR [Pabst Blue Ribbon beer - ed.] or a Root Beer in between laps?

The first stage results were close to this:
Women: Rebecca Tomawicki
Men: Jesse and Marko Lalonde followed by Jake Kirkpatrick, Dejay Birtch, Ohio Rob Kranz, Curtis Inglis, Fuzzy John Mylne, Thad Hoffman, and the Reverend Ben.About twenty competitors advanced from cross-country to the next event. That stage was a super short hill climb up to Clay's Tree house. The gearless guys and gal grunted up the hill in a lung buster effort that saw the same leaders as the cross-country.

Twelve competitors advanced to the third and final round. This round had nothing to do with bike racing, but would determine the overall Singlespeed USA 2008 Champions.

Let the games begin! Eight finalists moved to the third stage of "Jousting". Multiple heats went down with the best two out of three advancing. The semi finals had Jake Kirkpatrick against Jesse LaLonde and Marko LaLonde against The Reverend Ben Horton. At the end of the play day, Jesse and Marko went home in fourth and fifth, Jake the Snake took third, and the Reverend Ben gave up the belt to Ohio Rob who won the finals! He joined Rebecca Tomawicki as the SINGLESPEED USA 2008 Weiner's.

This event was a gas! Make sure you make it to Tennessee next year if you missed it this year.

See you on the dirt,

Nat Ross

Winter triathlon start

Winter Tri Guy

By:
Cycling News
Published:
May 16, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:00 BST

This winter Colorado has experienced a white, wet, cold one -- especially in the Front Range where I...

February 16, 2007

This winter Colorado has experienced a white, wet, cold one -- especially in the Front Range where I reside. The nasty weather has made for an interesting winter training regimen. Like most cyclists in the state, I have spent my fair share of time on the trainer and rollers. However, at some point in January, I cracked. Enough was enough, and I found myself cross country skiing, running, and snow biking more and more. Guess what? Those outdoor activities comprise the exact categories of the USA Triathon National Championships that were slated for my hometown of Winter Park the first week in February. Naturally, this race really intrigued me.

Back in the day, I was an All American NCAA Division I skier. A combination of skiing, running, and academic scholarships paid for college. After school, I was completely burned out on ski racing, so I coached the Western State College team and Summit High School teams before leaving the scene completely to focus on bike racing.

I love to classic ski and find time every winter to kick and glide for hours on end. It is a peaceful workout that completely taxes one's body. It's probably the best exercise you can get period. Over the past ten years, I have ski raced less than ten days. Talk about burned out on nordic racing, there are so may great races in my backyard, but I just didn't have the desire to put on a race bib and line up at the start.

My motivation changed big time this winter with the horrific weather that gave me a bad case of "Cabin Fever." I was running again and had a bad-ass setup for a snow bike. My Gary Fisher hardtail 29 was easy to modify. After exchanging my 29 inch rims for some 26 Snow Cat (44mm) rims I was almost there. I added 2.5 tires and a Bontrager Switchblade carbon fork. My winter bike is a gas to ride! It floats over the snow with ease and emulates pedaling in deep, soft sand.

Back to the race -- I was as prepared as I could be for race day. The field was stacked with big guns like: Mike Kloser (Nike), Brian Smith (Trek), Josiah Middaugh (Saucony), Jay Henry, and Gretchen Reeves (Tokyo Joes), Mike West (Maverick), Dawes Wilson (Moots), Brandon Dwight (Boulder Cycle Sport/Scott), and all the tri guys that I don't know. There were even a few Canadians.

The format was as follows: run 8K, bike 15K, and ski 10K, the weather was perfect at 30 degrees with partly cloudy skies. The run separated the field instantly. Brian won the run, with Kloser in a close third, Jay was 12th after the run, and I was in 17th. The first transition went super smoothly, and soon we were on the bike. I knew that Brian and Kloser were going to be hard to catch on the bike if not impossible. I rode up to Jay immediately, as he had not chosen his tires wisely. Spencer Powlson (2006 U23 National Champion) was hot on my tails and eventually passed me at the end of the first lap. He was on fire and was riding like a madman. Folks, watch out for this kid!!! Man can he ride a bike.

I smoked the bike and finished it with the fifth fastest time just over 45 minutes The ski was next and I was really looking forward to it. Going into the ski, I was the seventh Amercian. Things looked great, and I was ready to reel in some guys. I worked my way up to third overall by passing Spencer on the ski. However, on the finishing straight, I made a silly error while passing Andy Biglow (fifth). Spencer outsprinted me for the money. I ended up qualifying for the World Championships to be held March 2-4 in Flassin, Italy. Congratulations to Brian Smith and Gretchen Reeves who both finished second.

Winter tris are a gas. Get in on it before all the snow melts!!!

Check back in March for an update on racing against the Euros.

Thanks for reading,

Nat Ross

Nat Ross

Mas-o-menos

By:
Cycling News
Published:
May 16, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:00 BST

In a high school Spanish class I learned that mas-o-menos meant 'more or less'. The unique phrase...

March 5, 2007

In a high school Spanish class I learned that mas-o-menos meant 'more or less'. The unique phrase stuck in my head so naturally I was intrigued to find a mountain bike endurance festival race with the name.

After doing my homework, the event ended up as my first mountain bike race of the season. I hooked up with Lee and Kevin of the Bike Barn from Houston, Texas and their hosting skills were the bomb!

More or less was the certainly the theme of the weekend. The amazing venue is located in BFE Texas, right by the Mexican Boarder in South-West Texas. Back in the day, NORBA had an early season race in the Chihuahuan Desert that attracted top pros from Colorado like Dave Weins (Polo/RLX) and Rishi Grewal (Klein). This year was no different as Travis Brown (Trek/FRS) and I ventured down south to get a taste of some early season singletrack. There were races of all sorts including: the Kids Kup, 30, 50 and 100 kilometres. I'll give you the 411 on the 100 kilometre track.

I more or less came over-prepared for winter weather and the climate was amazing, so I had to take scissors to my long sleeve jackets, jerseys, arm warmers and full leg warmers. Don't worry - this was a good problem to have. I pre-rode the entire 50 kilometre lap on Thursday, because I was so excited to be riding singletrack again. I should have saved some of the course for Friday, but the riding was so sweet, I couldn't help it!

More or less? More - I brought my hard tail, but would have rather had my race day full suspension there. More once again - I decided, after pre-riding the course with too little air pressure, to add 10 psi to the Bontrager Dry X front and rear tyres.

Race Day - I had a great warm-up as I rode from our lodging to the venue. More or less, the start was a sprint to the singletrack and was super chaotic. The Texas racers charge hard and are in race shape this time of year, so it was game on from the get-go.

After analyzing the course, I figured the race would be won or lost on the main climb on the second lap. That was the case, mas-o-menos . It was extremely important to keep contact with race leaders on all the singletrack throughout the first 30 kilometres.

Brian Fawley (Titus/Kenda) tried to separate the field with surge after surge. While closing the gap on one of these efforts, I bent my middle chainring meaning I now had only two chainrings. The guy would not give up and his efforts made an elite group form at the front.

There were six of us in that group until the bottom of the long steep climb. Evan Plews (Scott USA) attacked going into the hill and ended up putting two minutes on the rest of us by the end of lap one.

Now, it was more or less damage control for the second 50 kilometres. Travis and I decided to close the gap on the long descent coming into the feed zone. However, it was to no avail, as Evan had put more time on us than we had anticipated. Evan was going so fast that he ended up slicing a tire on the sharp rocks in a creek bed allowing Travis to take the reigns and he never looked back. More or less, everybody at the front of the race rode the second lap all on their own.

I hated being by myself in the wind, but my legs couldn't match the pace that Travis had set and my body was having a hard time with that intensity in the heat. I tried to put more effort into each pedal stroke, but all my legs could do was pedal lightly or cramp. I was asking every course marshal and all the racers that I would pass if they had any electrolytes, Sport Legs, or salt. I was so pathetic, I was even licking the salt off my helmet straps just to survive to the finish. Amazingly, my legs survived the climb the second time up yet I was not able to leave my granny gear once from bottom to top.

I was ecstatic to see the finish line. Travis ended up breaking the course record and winning the race in style on the new Trek 69er. He finished just in front of a young speed racer from Luxembourg named Christian Helmig. I rounded out the top three just in front of Evan and Scott Henry (Trek/VW). It was an amazing race that I can't wait to do next year, because there's nothing wrong with a little early season epic singletrack, more of less.

See you on the dirt

Nat Ross

Nat Ross (Subaru/Gary Fisher) held off Giant's Josh Tostado

Dirt, Sweat & Gears

By:
Cycling News
Published:
May 16, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:00 BST

Mountain bike racing has made a strong comeback! I just finished Race #2, Dirt Sweat & Gears , on...

May 4, 2007

Mountain bike racing has made a strong comeback! I just finished Race #2, Dirt Sweat & Gears, on the NORBA Ultra-Endurance Calendar in Tennessee. The 12 Hour race was a first-year event that was first class. Given the popularity of endurance racing, it's very rare to get all the greatest talent together in the same place at the same time. It doesn't help that there are so many cool races to compete in across the States. But, these events require an immense amount of time, money, and energy to do. Racers have to plan their race calendar with the expenses in mind and it usually means that endurance racers stay closer to home with the exception of several races each year.

However, endurance riders and racers came from 31 states to break in the 10-mile course for Clay Higgins and his crew. I first heard of the event last fall when Byron Swezy (promoter of Montezuma's Revenge) told me he was helping design a race venue in the South. This put the race on my radar. It also helped that the course had 1,500 feet of climbing per lap. I love to climb!

So, I loaded up my Subaru Tribeca with all my gear and hit the road. I left Colorado in the middle of a blizzard and headed east. The twenty hour drive was painless as I was excited to do a new event.

When I parked in the camping area to pre-ride the course, I met the race director Clay and his main man Kevin who hand made the majority of the course. After the race, I told Clay that I was kidnapping Kevin and taking him back to Colorado with me to build some more stellar singletrack.

I pre-rode the course on my Gary Fisher 29er hardtail and decided that I would race on my full suspension Race Day 29er. The course was mainly singletrack with some super fast jeep roads to mix it up. It was twisty and turny with more than a few climbs. One of the longest climbs was named 911, but the toughest one the legs was the unnamed climb in-between miles nine and ten. The course was littered with roots and sharp rocks everywhere. After pre-riding, I felt confident with my choice of Bontrager Tubeless 29 ACX's if the course was to stay dry. I dialed in my pit going through my, Camelbaks, Light and Motion lights, food, clothes, Smith eyewear, and immense amount of gear. There are a lot of details to take care of before an endurance race. That night, the promoter hosted a "Meet and Greet," so we signed autographs and answered questions about racing for the crowd.

Ready to see how the race unfolded? There was a lot of pre-race hype as every category was stacked. The singlespeeders had to go up against "Fuzzy" (John Mylne) who has won everything this year. The battle was going to be tough between DJ Birch, Jake Kirkpatrick, and the Fuzz.

The women's Pro field was stacked too with gals like Rebecca Rusch (Specialized/ Red Bull), Monique Sawicki "Pua" (Ellsworth), Carey Lowery (Specialized), and Erika Tieszen (Giant).

The Pro men that I had my crew keep a watch on were Sloane Anderson (Topek), Josh Tostado (Giant), Rob Lichtenwalner (Cannondale/Bare Naked), Ernesto Marenchin (Aslylum Cycles), Eddie O'Dea (Kona), and of course, Tinker Juarez (Cannondale).

When the race blasted off at 8 am, I made sure to be front end of the chaos. Tinker flatted on the first lap, so Josh Tostado and I rode away at a blistering pace, as there was US$150 cash for the fastest lap. We were both a few seconds away from that prize, but I had a much larger goal in sight. Josh and I rode together for the first three laps until I began to cramp. Strangely enough it was not my legs. I had chest cramps that would not leave me alone. Finally, by lap five they were gone. At that point, I could pick back up my pace and chase down Josh.

Tinker had started to close in on me, and I had to make my move. I had lost over seven minutes to Josh going into lap six, so it was now or never. I chased hard and got a lucky break. Toast had flatted right in front of me. I rode the next three laps without stopping as to put as much of a gap on both Tinker and him as I could. It worked, and the gap kept growing. It's amazing what a difference driving the pace can make with your headspace. It is so rewarding to be in the lead! Everything worked out amazing for me, and my legs stayed super strong. As I crossed the line with my arms up, I almost crashed into Clay the promoter. Whoops….

Hanging out with everybody at the post-race BBQ and enjoying the flowing beer was rewarding. The amount of prizes that were given away and raffled off was one of the biggest that I have ever witnessed. Racer's got their monies worth out of the entry fee for sure. The band rocked out well after the awards ceremony had ended, but I was worked, and wanted to put my feet up and chill out. The podium was first class as we were paid out in cash!

Talk about Southern Hospitality at it's finest. I'm already signed up for Dirt, Sweat and Gears for next year. I would like to thank the boys from Moab Bikes for all the help. Thanks Guyz!!!

Ride On,

Nat Ross

Nat Ross (Subaru / Gary Fisher)

24 hour nationals not getting easier

By:
Cycling News
Published:
May 16, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:00 BST

Solo Race #34 for Nat Ross is in the books. One would think that the more you do--the easier they...

August 8, 2007

Solo Race #34 for Nat Ross is in the books. One would think that the more you do--the easier they get. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

I knew going into the race this year that it was going to be extremely tough. It was my second 24 hour race of the summer, but my first race against Chris Eatough since last year's National Championships. Although the field was stacked with the best endurance racers in the nation, I figured that Chris, last year's champion, was the man to beat. If you have not seen the movie by Gripped Films called 24 Solo, then you should! Do yourself a favor and check out www.grippedfilms.com.

If you've watched it then, you know why Chris consistently wins races. One major key to his fitness this year was winning the BC Bike Race. His preparation for nationals included a six-day mountain bike stage race in Canada. I, too, did a stage race before this event. It was RAAM-Race Across America, where our four-man team (Beaver Creek-Catlin) defended our title.

For the second year in a row, the USA Cycling 24 hour national championship was in Wausau, Wisconsin, located just up the road from the offices of Gary Fisher. Earlier in the week, I stopped by the mothership to pick up my new carbon 29' hardtail appropriately named "SuperFly" for the event. I spent the better part of an afternoon dialing in the new race bike. I worked on configuring my saddle fore/aft, saddle angle, and height as well as my effective body extension. I am super anal when it comes to my race bikes. They are all set up with identical saddle characteristics so that every time I hop on to a different bike, my legs can't tell the difference. I have used the WobbleNaught fit for the past four years. Lately, I even started doing fits in Golden, Colorado, out of the www.ProBikeCenter.com.

As a key part of my preparation for the race, I survey the course and find locations on the course to feed, attack, ease up, and conserve energy. It pays to know the course inside and out. Typically, I pre-ride one lap on the course two days before the race, however this year I pre-rode two laps full-throttle two days before as well as one lap around the course the day before. On race day, I arrived at the venue three hours before the start to make sure that everything was dialed. I was ready for the throw-down that was about to take place.

Growing up in the mountains as a Colorado native, I'm not all that accustomed to humidity and heat. Fortunately, the weather forecast for the weekend (mid 80's) was going to be quite mild. I remember reading somewhere that you can cool your body's core temp by as much as two degrees with a shaved head, but it's not like I would ever consider cutting my hair to cool down. I guess I would rather look cool than be cool.

As I was pre-riding the course I heard several people say, "There's Tinker". Oh well--at least I was getting called one of the fastest longhairs on two wheels. Tinker is a crowd favorite wherever he goes, so my feelings weren't hurt too badly.

Back to the race, Myron Billy "The Man" and I ate a quick "greasy spoon breakfast" with the Tough Girls at 6 am and headed to my tent to get ready for the big day. Myron is my support guru and went over all of my bikes to confirm that everything was dialed. I warmed up by running the Lemans running start several times and hopped on the trainer for a good half hour. I like to start fast and make sure that I'm ready for a full day and night of racing. I learned that technique from Rishi Grewal (Klein). He was the first pro to get into 24 hour racing and was immediately successful because he started super fast and held on to win almost every endurance event he entered before retiring.

Fast forward to the Start. I showed up to the start a few minutes early and took a spot at the side of the course keeping my iPod on rocking out to Mos Def-- because I still get nervous before the big events. The run went smooth enough, and I found myself on the bike within the top 20. I worked my way to the front of the group before the first singletrack, and quickly got into the groove. When I have good legs, I like to be aggressive and animate the race. Usually for the first lap, I like to be the first racer across the line. Marco took the first leg on the Trek/Fisher 4-Man team and came across first this time, although I was right behind him. My first lap turned out to be the fastest solo lap recorded during the race.

My legs felt great and were perfectly rested. I charged the next two laps at my own pace and didn't even look back for Chris. You see, when you race Chris, you basically sign up for second place. He rarely makes mistakes and has the best crew in the business. His support crew has re-written the book on 24 Hour Solo racing due to their extremely high efficiency rate.

I knew that I had to keep the pace high if I was to stay in front of him. Shortly into the fourth lap, I heard Chris approaching from behind. I figured the time was coming, but was not ready to give up the lead yet. Eatough rode up to me and we both took pulls as we passed many other racers for the remaining day laps. He tried to drop me on every technical section of singletrack; however, I rode my ass off to keep up with him since he has such an advantage over me on the "East Coast style" rocky, rooty, singletrack. He was unable to gap me and we rode till dark together.

Unfortunately, I made my biggest mistakes of the race on laps three and four. All I had put into my system was basically sugar (Clif Bloks and Clif Shots)-whoops. My stomach was rotting and by the fifth lap my stomach was in knots and I could not eat anything solid. I knew this was going to be trouble for me for the next few hours. I had no choice but to let up and ride my own pace and try to get my stomach back to normal. Chris put some time on me at this point, and I was never able to get it back.

My second mistake happened several laps later. I pushed my battery too long on my helmet and it went out with over ten miles to go on the ninth lap. That lap was slower than I wanted, and I lost a bit more time. By now, I was a good fifteen minutes back and was in full chase mode. Mentally I was almost at a cracking point. I had tried so hard to crack Chris, but ended up cracking myself. Much different scenario from what things was like during the daylight. I rode through the night chasing Chris hoping he would slow down, but that, of course, never happened.

Soon, the light came and I found myself with only several hours remaining in the race. Yee Haw! There comes a point when enough is enough, and there was no way I was going to reel Chris back in. Mentally, I had given this race all that I had--at this point, I was already settling for second. Mark Hendershot (Santa Cruz) was sitting in third, but he was a ways back. We looked pretty locked in to the exact podium from 2006-Eatough, Ross, and Hendershot.

In the end, I was pleased with second place, as I could have not ridden any better that day. Hats off to Chris and Pua as the National Champions. They both get the Stars and Stripes for a year. Chris better watch out next year, because I won't be settling for second!

See you on the dirt,

Nat Ross

Ross on the men's podium

Not the best 24 hours

By:
Cycling News
Published:
May 16, 2008, 0:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:00 BST

Another season's end is nearing and I am still without a World Championship title. My last race did...

September 22, 2007

Another season's end is nearing and I am still without a World Championship title. My last race did not go as planned, and it is unsettled as I reflect upon solo race number thirty-five. However, I should mention that I still climbed on to the podium in third place. For most races, a top three is my goal, but every now and then I feel like a course suits my racing style so I put my eggs into the winning basket. That was the case for the 24 Hour Solo World Championships this year.

There were several plusses to the race as well as plenty of minuses, however, it was the plusses that had me all excited to show up and take some names. There were some big plusses. The race was in the fall, and I am always stronger as the season progresses. It was at sea level and coming from high altitude things couldn't be better. The course had over 2,000 feet of climbing per lap, and Chris Eatough (winner from 2000-2006) was not on the start list. Also exciting my lighting sponsor Light and Motion released an ultra light new model called the Rusch (named after Rebecca Rusch—2007 World Solo Champ!).

There were also minuses. Who would have thought that the temperature would be 100 plus degrees? The race promoter did not list the race rules on the website, and made some modifications come race day that included; no support on the course (only in pit row) and no iPods. Are they kidding? Not that the lack of music had anything to do with it, but my race did not go as planned.

Race Day

I showed up early to the venue and got in the groove with my crew. I had two locals that were joining my A-Team staff of Myron Billy and Brett Batchelder for the weekend. Aussie Bob and Alex were ready to experience the pits first hand. I buttered them up by taking the crew out to see "SuperBad" at a local movie theater on Friday night. The movie was the bomb, and my crew was in great spirits and eager to help me ride to victory.

Alex had been checking the weather on the internet, and warned that the temps were going to be unusually high. This was very worrisome, so I revised my race strategy to include hydrating and eating whole foods during the day laps. I also decided to back off my tempo at the start and not go out as fast as I typically do. Instead, I chose to top off my tanks with fuel and start riding aggressive during the night when the temps went down to something more tolerable.

Noon

After the messed up call-ups the race began with a leman's style run. I came in behind two Aussie's Jon Claxton (Giant) and Andy Bell (Kona), hopped on my bike and lead out the field out on to the Laguna Seca racetrack. I set a decent pace to spread out the field and was quickly joined by Brent Miller (Titus/Kenda). He drove the pace while John and I followed his wheel with Tinker Juarez (Cannondale) right on our tail. Right away, things were not clicking for me. I was swerving all over the singletrack. I was not one with my bike, and my legs were not feeling up to it. After forcing myself to continue at this pace for the first half hour, I decided that I had to pull aside and pedal at my own rhythm. It was unfortunate to let the leaders go ahead before the midpoint of the first lap. Typically, I like to keep contact if I am not setting the tempo, but on this day it was not happening for me.

I came in on from first lap with two large empty water bottles, grabbed my CamelBak, two fresh iced bottles, and an iced towel for my neck. Starting out on my second lap I was in ninth or 10th position, and at that time, I thought that the leaders were going too fast for the current conditions. However, I turned out to be wrong – way wrong.

During the remainder of Saturday's daylight I picked my way back up to fifth place. I climbed up the intense sun exposed hills at a steady pace, but not too fast as to avoid cooking myself. Before nightfall, I was around 30 minutes behind the leaders, Tinker and Kelly Magelky (BMC/Sports Garage). This was not the position or place I wanted to be in forcing me to wait anxiously for the sun to go down and the temps to cool.

Before nightfall, the extremely high temperatures started to take its toll on many racers in the field. Two of the top contenders for the women were forced to stop early; Monique "Pua" Sawicki (Ellsworth/Ergon) and Louise Kobin (X-Fusion). Brandon Draugelis (Bare Naked/Cannondale) and Yuri Hauswald (Marin) were also puking on the course, and were unable to keep fluids in while Sloane Anderson (Ergon) and Keith Bontrager had called it a day. The sweltering daytime temperatures on the course were starting to affect most of the competitors. I tired to put on blinders to the carnage on the course, but when you roll through the pits lap after lap and see tents being taken down and medics pumping racers with IV's, your head starts question your actions.

Nevertheless, I tried not to let it bother me that I was so far behind the leaders; I kept telling myself that the leaders would crack. So, I trudged on through the night unfortunately without music.

During the evening, John Claxton, who was in third, had cracked, and he was pushing his bike. Josh Oppenheimer, who was in fourth, had also lost a few positions. Now the old guards would end up with prize money if experience and patience would come into play. After moving up into third there was a fierce battle going on behind me for the remaining spots on the podium. Ernesto Marenchin (Sologoat) and Mark Hendershot (Santa Cruz/Syndicate) were steadily making their mark on the race. Mark and Ernesto are always on my radar as Mark is strong and always solid, and Ernesto beat me at Worlds three years ago in Whistler, British Columbia.

The night dragged on forever, and I never made ground on Kelly or Tinker. Kelly was setting a mean pace, and Tinker matched it ten feet behind. I was in no-mans land and hating it. It would have been nice to have some tunes kicking instead of silence at this point in the game. When the sun came up everybody was dreading the last few laps in the heat. Ernesto turned it on big time and closed within ten minutes of me. I was stoked that my new SuperFly carbon hardtail ran so great, and that I had no mechanicals. At the end of the race, I was happy to finish on the podium, although overall I had a crappy day as a professional bike racer.

I want to congratulate Rebecca Rusch (Specialized/Red Bull) as she had an amazing race. She won the event and would have finished within the top ten of the men!

Thanks for reading,
Nat Ross

Author
Nat Ross

As a six-year professional mountain biker who's competed in twenty-eight solo 24-hour races, you'd think that ultra-endurance racing has consumed every waking hour of 35 year-old Nat Ross' adult life. But this lean, long-haired and laid-back Coloradoan has a more complete resume than even the most upwardly-mobile corporate go-getter - although that won't stop him going the distance when it matters.