Consider the following numbers: 240 miles (386km) and 21,760ft (6,630m). That's how far Trek Racing Co-Op team rider Kelly Magelky rode and how much climbing he did during last weekend's 24 Hours of Moab, which also served as the US 24-hour national title race.
Though Magelky wasn't able to catch eventual winner Josh Tostado (Bach Builders), he did push Tostado to his physical – and mental – limits, finishing barely one lap behind and with the confidence that he can one day win.
Like most elite 24-hour solo riders, Magelky's bike is a decidedly standard machine with none of the fancy ultralight bits typically found on dedicated short-course cross-country bikes – durability and reliability are more important over the long haul here, not shaving a few grams.
In fact, everyday riders will be comforted to see that the bike is a nearly 100 percent stock Trek Top Fuel 9.8, not the top-end 9.9 SSL.
Though the 9.8 shares all of the 9.9's features and suspension technology – including 100mm of travel, the one-piece magnesium Evo upper link, Active Braking Pivot rear end and carefully tuned Full Floater dynamic shock mounts – the OCLV Black carbon fibre blend (instead of the 9.9's Red series mix) and workhorse Shimano Deore XT componentry (instead of the 9.9's XTR and custom FSA two-ring carbon crankset) obviously add some weight.
Substitutions and upgrades from stock are also few and far between, including a matching Deore XT cassette and Shimano chain, ESI Racer's Edge silicone foam rubber grips, and a faster-rolling Bontrager Revolt Super X rear tyre. Magelky has even retained the bigger – and heavier – 180mm-diameter front rotor in spite of his wispy 65.7kg (145lb) weight, if only because he couldn't be bothered to make the switch.
Magelky's battle-scarred ESI silicone foam rubber grips are well used
Total weight is a reasonable – but far from superlight – 11.44kg (25.1lb) complete with his requisite spare tube, CO2 canister, rear light and bottle cages.
But don't think the extra weight slowed him down: Magelky's 1:03 first lap was the fourth-fastest of all participants – multi-person pro teams included (Tostado was just four hundredths behind) – and the conservative parts pick netted a mechanical-free run throughout the race. And don't forget that that first lap also included Moab's traditional Le Mans-style start.
So, no, kids, while super tricked out bikes are undoubtedly nice to have, they're clearly not an absolute necessity to go fast.
In addition to the short-course cross-country speed, Magelky's laid-out short-course cross-country position stands in distinct contrast to the more relaxed setups preferred by some of his competition. Though he stands only a moderately tall 6ft (1.83m), Magelky rides Trek's largest XL frame size and runs a 120mm-long stem, flipped down.
Magelky flips his stem and runs a 620mm-wide flat Bontrager Race X Lite bar
"I've lengthened out a lot more and my bars are a little lower. I feel like any time my bars are higher I have a lot more pressure on my hands," he said. "My bike is pretty much set up the same way if I did a two-hour cross-country race or a 24-hour race and I've had no issues with my back or anything like that."
According to Magelky, that efficient position is only possible through lots of off-season core work in the gym – a key pointer he picked up from long-time 24-hour veteran Mary Grigson. "She was always an advocate of a lot of core strength," he said. "I would see the difference going to the gym all winter long and then staying on top of the fit ball, especially before 24-hour races. I would realise that I was very comfortable, even 18 hours in."
Magelky's training regime is fairly classic but his race day nutrition is anything but, including virtually everything but typical energy foods. According to the self-employed video producer (whose high-powered clientele includes National Geographic and musical group The Fray), 'normal' grub rules the day.
The Top Fuel features Trek's latest suspension tricks, including the one-piece Evo upper link
"Corn chips, tomato soup, oatmeal – anything that's warm in the middle of the night that can keep your morale up and has good calories and good salt," he admitted. "I drank an Ensure pretty much every other lap, Snickers bars, Kit Kats, gummy bears… you name it. If it was sweet and had sugar and had calories, I was going to eat it. Quick calories but my stomach was 100 percent fine at the end of the race."
Magelky's stomach wasn't the only thing that was fine at the end of the race as he looked surprisingly fresh when he came into the finishing tent for the last time and also maintained fairly consistent lap times to the bitter end. Indeed, Magelky says he's never felt fitter or faster, and save for two light failures during his night laps and a lapse in concentration, one can only wonder what might have been.
Next year, next year. And in the meantime, any lighting companies out there looking to sponsor a promising 24-hour rider?