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Welcome to the 2008 Suzuki 24 Hours of Big Bear webcast!

Pre-Event Stories

Webcast is gearing up... Race reporting starts after the first lap on Saturday, 8 June

Big Bear Event Home Page
Webcast Home Page
Link to Story Board™ results
Link to RealTime™ results

Pre-race Stories

2008-06-06 - 2008 Race Favorites - Who's hot and who's not (here)
2008-06-06 - Course Statistics - What's a fast lap time?
2008-06-05 - Weather forecast still warming up - it could be hot
2008-06-05 - Living life to the max - Midwest trio does the utlimate 24 road trip
2008-06-04 - Steve Schwarz aims for three-peat
2008-06-04 - Entry numbers surge at Big Bear '08
2008-06-04 - Suzuki provides fun and entertainment for all the family at Big Bear
2008-06-04 - Weather forecast improving daily
2008-06-03 - USA Today, Dirt Rag contribute to Big Bear webcast extravaganza
2008-06-03 - Tinker Juarez to compete at Big Bear

MTB Legend Tinker Juarez to compete at Big Bear for the first time
Having competed for the USA in multiple world championships and the '96 Olympic Games, winning world cup races and tackling the Race Across America, as well as being a legend in the sport of 24 hour racing, Tinker Juarez is one of mountain biking's most broadly accomplished athletes. After competing at the Vail Lake and Moab 24s in previous years, Juarez, from Downey, southern California, now fixes his sights on the moister, rootier, terrain across the continent at Big Bear.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge. Toward the end of the 24 hours those technical sections could get really interesting," says Juarez who has recently relinquished his full pro status. "I'd always wanted to do the 24 Hours of Canaan or Snowshoe, but never had the chance during my pro career... I get to cherry-pick my races these days. One of the ones I put to the top of my list was Big Bear Lake."

A Look at the Challengers for 2008
Here's a look as who is as hot as today's weather here in central Virginia. I'm looking forward to the cooler setting of Big Bear Lake, where I'll arrive tonight.

For the Solo Men, it's Tinker Juarez. Duh. Mid-40s and still rolling strong, no matter his "poker face" that the course conditions don't suit him. This isn't to say that he won't be challenged, however. Last year's Men's Solo Winner Steve Schwarz is back to defend, as is Rob Lichtenwalner, last year's Series overall winner. Current 2008 Men's Solo series leader Eddie O'Dea is taking a miss on Round #3. After finishing third to Lichtenwalner's second at Vail Lake, O'Dea then cruised to the win at Round #2 in Conyers. Lichtenwalner will have to perform well this weekend to take the series lead.

On the Women's Solo front, Namrita O'Dea is skipping Big Bear along with her hubby, and the field is open with new challengers. Look for Liz Baumgardt-Kays to press home the advantage of attending all Suzuki series rounds to make a move up the overall standings.

The teams to watch are the brothers Small (not small brothers) from Pennsylvania, competing as Just 4 Brothers. Last year they came second overall at Big Bear - to the Athens Wrecking Crew, who are remaining down in Bulldog country this year.

As we saw at Conyers, local knowledge of the course and its setting should prove decisive. Challenging strongly for the wins in their class - and perhaps overall - are homegrown Men's Pro and Women's Expert teams sponsored by

I think the winners of the best team name have already been decided. Smokin' Fatties is this writer's sentimental favorite, but WV-based Smiling Sphincters slay all. I'm not even going there...

USA Today's Sal Ruibal, Dirt Rag writers will contribute to Big Bear webcast
Sal Ruibal is one of USA's cycling legends, not so much for his 'on bike' accomplishments as his 'at keyboard' feats. Having been cycling's biggest fan among the USA Today reporters since 1995, Sal has introduced numerous U.S. pro cyclists to a public that otherwise might never have known. For this and other acts of cycling penmaship he was inducted to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2007. Sal will compete in the Men's Solo category at Big Bear, and is a strong favorite to win the 55+ age group (read his blog to find out why). If you're impressed by that, then get this: between laps Sal has promised to stop and write reports for his USA Today blog, as well as a couple of stories for our own webcast. Can it be done? Will he regret it?... Will we regret it? Be sure to check back to see how this one pans out.

Other longtime media friends of 24 hour racing are the Dirt Rag crew, who will be getting down and dirty with a team entered in the Just for Fun class. The Dirt Rag riders will be using the race as a proving ground for mountain bikes in their test labs, including one from the Ellsworth line-up (we aren't sure which one just yet). Be sure to check our webcast for the unique Dirt Rag take on the event, as well as visting the blog on their own website.

We'd like to say a big TIA to Sal and the Dirt Rag folk - and any other journos who get inspired and offer to pitch in - for their valuable and fun additions to our webcast coverage.

Warm-hot mountain biking weather is forecast for race weekend

Thursday - Keep checking the forecast, because it's getting warmer and dryer. In fact, it is starting to look like it could be downright hot. Click here for forecast and bring all your hydration equipment!

Wednesday - We've had to revise our weather forecast notice (below). After some punishing, but brief, rain showers mid-week, the forecast is improving for the weekend. Since posting the weather data on Tuesday, the probability of precipitation on the weekend has dropped from 30% down to 20%, and the temperature has risen a couple of degrees to highs in the mid-80s. Cloud cover predictions are for more cloudy Saturday and less cloudy Sunday than previously stated. Overall, the weather looks like being dry and warm. As race director Laird Knight says, the course drains well and it should be in good condition.

Weather forecast/conditions at Thursday 5th Latest forecast
Sat: High 85-88F, Low 65F. Wind: WSW 8 mph. Sunset: 8:44 p.m. UV index: 8 (v.high)
cloud cover: 45%; daytime humidity: 55%; overnight humidity: 75%. Chance of thunderstorms or light rain showers. Probability of precipitation: 10%
Sun: High 85-88F. Wind: WSW 6-9 mph. Sunrise: 5:54 a.m. UV index: 9 (v.high)
cloud cover: 41%. Chance of thunderstorms or light rain showers; daytime humidity: 60%. Probability of precipitation: 10%

Suzuki provides fun and entertainment for all the family at Big Bear
Suzuki is pulling out the stops to make this year's Suzuki 24 Hours of Big Bear one of the funnest ever! They are bringing out their mobile stage with an upper deck relaxing and a host of events and entertainment including:
+ Massage Chairs
+ Interactive Games (vintage arcade favorites, Run, Run Revolution & Pull-up Competition
+ Green Screen Photo Station
+ Display Vehicles and ON-SITE Test Drives
+ LIVE Emcee for events and games
+ On-stage Pictionary @ 6:30pm
+ Bonfire & Marshmallow roasting @ 10pm
+ Movie Screening – The Princess Bride @ 9pm
+ Suzuki 24 Hour Scavenger Hunt @ 9am
+ Scene it? On-Stage Challenge after race kick-off
+ 24 Minutes Kids’ Race Group Stretch & Photo @ 3:30pm
+ Bonfires & Marshmallow Roasting
+ Movie Screening – The Great Outdoors @ 9pm
+ Suzuki Midnight Safari’s – 8pm – Midnight
+ Kids’ Race Photo Pick-up from 9am – noon
+ Suzuki Style Talent @ 11am
+ LOTS and LOTS of Prize give-aways throughout the weekend, including:

  • NEW iPod Touch
  • Free team entry to 2008 Suzuki 24 Hours of MOAB Series Championship
  • Gift Certificates to various retailers
  • Free massage coupons

Entries up for 2008
According to Laird Knight, "The word is finally getting out about the great racing at Big Bear." While entry numbers have increased significantly over 2007, with an epic 12.19 mile course there is not likely to be any congestion... just more company out there on the trail.

A Round-up of Some Statistics
Hey baseball fans! Or mountain biking fans. In the spirit of America's quintessential stick-and ball game, we've compiled some statistics for all the dataheads out there.

The fastest lap ridden last year was by Andy Weidrich of hometown team WVU Cycling, with a time of 1:03:08 for the 12.2mi course. That's a shade over 11mph average speed. I did that in my head. Honest.

The fastest women's lap was a 1:16:41 by Alexandria Fabbro of Velo Bellas and Mammoth Fellas.

The course record fastest lap is a 1:02:39, set by West Virginia mountain bike legend Gunnar Shogren in 2006. Speed runs in the Shogren family, as Betsy Shogren set a 1:15:10 women's course record the same year.

Interestingly enough, last year's overall winners, Athens Wrecking Crew-The Hub, set only the eighth fastest lap among their overall winning tally. That goes to prove that it's consistency, and not speed that wins the day. The average Men's Sport team lap time is a 1:30:00. That's as far as I'm going - no standard deviation calculations or regression analysis. I left my calculator back home in my pocket protector.

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About your reporter
Hi! I'm Paul Skilbeck. A journalist and press guy on the international mountain bike racing scene since 1989, I am your humble reporter for the 2008 Suzuki 24 Hour Series opener. This is how I look in my reporting clothes, but if you roll over the image you'll see that I'm not merely a pencil squeezer.

Before we get started, please don't forget the support by Suzuki of 24-hour endurance racing when considering your next 4-wheeled purchase. Your support of sponsors is what keeps them supporting the sport!






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