The 2007 24 Hours of Moab was a resurrection of the event, following last year's disastrous weather conditions. This year's weather accommodated 400-plus teams and 60 solo riders by steering a cold front to the north and east, leaving Moab dry, cool, and breezy. Dust and dry were the order of the day, leaving teams and riders to focus on the fundamentals of the race.
Our man Chris Eatough (Trek-VW) was calm and prepared in the days leading up, and this levelheaded approach carried through right up to the start. Trek mechanic Steve Borkoski prepped two identical Trek Top Fuel full-suspension bikes, with matching new 2008 blue SID forks. Bontrager Revolt Super-X 2.2 Tubeless tires were chosen, to combat the deeps sand and reduce the potential for punctures on the short, sharp rocky sections. Chris ran 85 psi in the SID fork, and 75 psi in Monarch rear shocks, aiming for a comfortable setup in the rough.
The course was classic Moab, with alternating sections of hardpack dirt, deep sandy wallows, and slickrock outcrops. In nearly all of the rocky sections, multiple lines lensed out from the main trail, making line selection a minor challenge in some places! All riders commented on the sand, noting it was sandier than in years, rendering some sections completely unrideable.
Chris came out of the opening LeMans-style start in about 40th place, and managed to work his way up to 6th or so overall by the end of the first lap. Settling into his routine of ultra efficient pit stops and a comfortable pace, he was in the Solo lead after lap 2 and never looked back. He steadily gained five to 10 minutes per lap on chaser Josh Tostado.
Perennial contender Ernesto Marenchin broke a chain on the first lap, and never recovered from the mishap, eventually abandoning around 11 pm. Josh dropped out of the top five around midnight and similarly pulled the plug in the early morning. Chris managed to maintain a comfortable pace until around 3am, when he started taking longer breaks, needing rest, food, and warm clothing to combat the 40 degree nighttime temps.
However, even these stops never lasted more than 10 minutes as Chris stayed motivated through fatigue and soreness to lap 2nd place by daybreak. Considering the laps were now taking 1:40 (as opposed to 1:15 near the start), this was a significant lead!
By 9:30 am, Chris had completed 14 laps, and the next rider down had only just begun a 12th lap. It remained to be seen if the 2nd place rider, Travis Macy, could complete two full laps before the noon cutoff, and therefore challenge Chris for the lead at 14 laps. We on the crew watched and waited for Travis to roll through, completing his 13th lap and beginning his 14th. At around 11 am he came through, and begun a 14th lap, but we knew there was no way he'd manage to start a 15th lap before the cutoff.
Chris had won! He walked into the timing tent around 11 am, scanned his RFID badge for the last time, and logged out of the race as the winner, with 14 laps by 11 am. Travis ended up with 14 laps by 12:41pm, an amazing result for an otherwise unheralded rider.
© BikeRadar 2007