Granny Gear Productions is taking the 24 hours of Moab to the next level - more like a World Championship. Although there already exists a 24 hours of Adrenalin World Championships, no 24 hour event is formally sanctioned as a World Championship by the UCI.
"Call it what you like - world, global, galactic championships, it doesn't really matter what the race is called. The fact is that if it draws the top pros from all over to a legendary course, then it's the de facto world championships regardless," said Laird Knight of Granny Gear.
When asked why he's putting one of his races into the championship ring, Knight said, "It's by popular demand. I've been asked by many pro racers and industry people, and basically been told, 'You should be running the world championships.' This request is something I've heard increasingly over the past two years. This year it built to a point where the call to action was clear, I felt compelled to deliver that for people. I'm happy to oblige. I realize how important it is, how much pros want a quality event to represent the best-of-the-best.
"I'm not really interested in getting into a shouting match about whether ours is the real 'world championship' or not," said Knight. "That's why we're calling it the Galactic Championship. Galaxies are bigger than worlds and this race will be bigger in every way that any world championship, to date. Plus, it's just more fun to call it The Galactic Championships and that's in keeping with what this sport is all about."
The 2008 event will be held at the Behind the Rocks venue on October 11-12. The 14.9 mile (24km) Moab course is known for its desert scenery and challenging terrain, and has drawn some top racers annually for its 14 years.
"[Moab] is one of the largest races in the US, it's a truly world-famous destination...," Knight explained why he picked Moab. "Also it is one of the best venues for the pros to be seen. You've got hard-core mountain bikers there from all over the country and all over the world. Pros will get a lot of exposure there and a lot of support. Also because it's one of the largest events we produce with one of the largest pro turnouts, the cash purses have been the largest in the world for a number of years."
Pointing to Granny Gear's long history of 24 hour racing, Knight indicated he wasn't afraid of stepping on the toes of the 24 hours of Adrenalin World Championship or any other promoter. "This sport is about competition and if there can't be some fun competition among race promoters then we all lose. Ultimately, it's the racers who decide by their attendance, which are the truly important, must-go races, and they are going to attend the races of race promoters that work the hardest for them."
Over time, Granny Gear intends to sanction the Galactic Championships to events in other countries. "I like that idea a lot and I look forward to having that, but first there's a lot of work to be done to get us all to this point," said Knight.
In addition to the racing, a rider's forum will be held Friday night before the event to discuss possibilities for the future of 24-hour racing, at both the national and international levels. Granny Gear Productions is accepting suggestions for agenda items in the meantime.
"I would go just because it's Moab," said 2006 Moab champion and Cyclingnews diarist Nat Ross, of the Gary Fisher - Tokyo Joe's team. "European riders like the mystique of Moab, they'll come over for it, I'm sure," he added.