The Main Categories in a Nutshell
Seasoned 24 racer, Chuck Wheeler, of Scottsdale, Az, overcame the defending champion Rob Lichtenwalner, of Nazareth, Pa. to score his first solo victory in a Granny Gear Productions race at the opener of the six-race Suzuki 24 Hour National Series, April 26/27, at the scenic Vail Lake Mountain Resort, just 10 miles from Temecula.
A heatwave drove temperatures well into the 90s, and after pushing hard through the afternoon many riders welcomed the nightfall, but then began to feel how much extra they'd put out in keeping cool during the heat of the day. Wheeler, who has a history of coming from behind, proved more consistent during the night than 2007 series champion Rob Lichtenwalner, who finished second. Wheeler completed 17 laps, compared to Lichtenwalner's 15. Eddie O'Dea finished third with 13 laps.
Namrita O'Dea, Eddie's wife, won the women's solo race with 11 laps, ahead of Terri Wahlberg on 10. Liz Baumgardt-Kays finished third with eight laps. 2006 Race Across America winner, Shanna Armstrong, was in contention with O'Dea for much of the first day, and looked the stronger climber, but after two painful falls on her left femur during the early night, Armstrong - who is using this race as training for her Badwater Ultramarathon attempt this July - decided to exit the race.
The Duo Pro category was dominated by Colorado rides, Dean Miller, of LIttleton, and Dax Massey, of Boulder, riding in the Shake and Bake team. These two led the race outright for most of the first 12 hours, but through the night the two single-speeders were overtaken by the Men's Expert team of Grizzly Outfitters/Continental Construction, from Big Sky, Montana. In the end Shake and Bake completed 24 laps to the Grizzly Outfitters's 25.
Also notable was the struggle in the Men's Sport category. The team from the Simi Cycle Center bike shop finally moved into the lead, ahead of the Manic Monkey Riders team, as darkness fell. From there on they stretched it out all the way to the finish, and recorded a total of 24 laps. Manic Monkeys called it a race at 21 laps, and third place was claimed by the tenacious Naval Special Warfare Flyin' Frogs team, who ended the race with 20 laps.