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Mountain biker ascents ridge from Vail Lake

2008 Suzuki 24 Hour Series webcast
Men's Solo class

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Laps completed 2 Time of report (PDT) Saturday, 4 p.m.
Rob Lichtenwalner approaches the timing tentLichtenwalner approaches the timing tent in 94-degree heat at Vail Lake Mountain Resort.

Rob on a Roll

2007 24 Hour National Series men's solo champion, Rob Lichtenwalner, travelled all the way from Nazareth, Pa, to compete in the Vail Lake Mountain Resort event.

Partly this was to commence an earnest defense of the title he surprised himself by winning, and partly it was to find out what all the fuss is about with this course.

"I've heard the Vail Lake course is good to ride, and I've decided to ride every Granny Gear 24 Hour course that I can. They're all really well thought out, and they never get boring. When you ride a lot of laps as a solo rider, that's important," says Rob.

As a champion, the owner of a landscape gardening company had no hesitation in shouldering the challenge of his title. And rode through the first few laps in the lead. "I'm in probably the best shape I've ever been in," he said a few days before the race, and judging by his early laps he is going to make it tough for anybody who wants to take the series title from him.

"I can't take too much time away from the business, though," he says, "everything seems to come apart when I'm not there!"

Laps completed 17 Time of report Sunday, 10:30 a.m.
Chuck Wheeler on a Roll

Wheeler Closes the Deal

When conditions are very hot, it can be an advantage coming from Phoenix, Arizona, like race winner Chuck Wheeler. While Pennsylvanian Rob Lichtenwalner climbed off at 9 a.m., Wheeler was out enjoying the morning sun and logging more laps until 10:18. He completed seventeen laps for a total of 173.4 miles, to record his first win at a Granny Gear Productions race.

"I've been doing 24s for about ten years now, but this is only my second Granny Gear race," he said, looking surprisingly fresh and chipper at the finish.

Last year Wheeler competed at Moab, where he was 29th after the first lap, stayed out of the top fifteen until nightfall, and then started to climb up the rankings to finish the race in fourth spot.

"I don't really have a strategy," explained Chuck, "I just go out and ride and try to stay constant. It works less frequently now that a lot of riders are getting so good."

"I'm not used to racing in those kinds of temperature," said Rob Lichtenwalner at 9 o'clock on Sunday morning. He'd done the math, realized that he wasn't going to catch Chuck Wheeler, and that Eddie O'Dea wasn't going to catch him, so he climbed off and went for an early sleep. "I'm happy with second place points. It gets my series title defense off to a good start," he said.


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