By Steve Medcroft
The 24 Hours of 9-Mile in Wasau, Wisconsin, host to the 2006 NORBA National 24 Hour Endurance National Championships, was called Sunday morning after twenty hours of racing. Chris Eatough (Trek/VW) became the 2006 Solo 24 Hour National Champion when severe thunderstorms rolled into the region and threatened the safety of competitors, crews, volunteers and spectators. At the time, Eatough had essentially lapped the entire solo men's field. Nat Ross (Subaru/Gary Fisher) was second on the trail.
Staged in and around a nordic ski park, the 2006 edition of 24 Hours of the 9-Mile was Eatough's first visit to the Wisconsin racecourse. "I liked it," he said by phone on Thursday. "It had a lot of singletrack and suited me." Suited him because although Eatough first thought he would race conservatively, the extended stretches of singletrack gave him an opportunity to open gaps on his closest competitor. "I planned to start out conservatively and follow people. But it worked out that I could ride the singletrack quickly without using up a lot of energy."
The only racer who Eatough needed to shake was eventual runner-up Ross. "I wanted to be up front with the team riders in the first lap," Ross said during the fourteen-hour drive home to Vail, Colorado on Monday. "You have to have a good run or work your way through the field to get there though. I had a good run and was top four or five. Chris was ten seconds behind me after the first lap." The pair got together for the second and part of the third lap. Then Eatough upped the pressure. "Chris started attacking me on the singletrack and I never saw him again," Ross said.
For results and a full race report from the US NORBA 24 Hour National Championships, click here.