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Payson Stampede - NE
Payson, Arizona, USA, September 20-21, 2008
Ross and Rusch win Payson Stampede
By Sue George
Nat Ross and Rebecca Rusch returned to the Payson Stampede, the penultimate USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Calendar Ultra-Endurance event in Payson, Arizona this weekend. On their way to winning the men's and women's solo 24 hours races, they had plenty of time to check out the venue that will host the 2009 US National 24 hour championships.
"I love desert racing," said Ross, who described the course as a nine-mile lap with 1,300 feet of climbing per lap. "Last year, Rebecca and I came to do it because it was in the Ultra-Endurance series, but it was at a different time of year."
The move on the calendar from May last year to September this year meant hotter temperatures for racers - as high as 90 degrees and very dry conditions - during the daylight hours.
"I just took a bottle to start with and then grabbed my Camelbak for more. I think the water in the bottle evaporated before I even had a chance to drink it," joked Ross, who was otherwise unfazed by the heat.
"It was really, really hot. I was putting ice in my sports bra," said Rusch.
Ross lead from the start. "I like to race against the team guys. I tried to stay in front of them as long as I could and then I tried to ride with them as long as I could. That will make a lap of mine about a minute faster," said Ross of his winning strategy. Ernesto Marenchin (Asylum) and Dave Harris would finish in second and third.
Rusch also took the fast approach at the start on her way to a win. "After 24 hour worlds [which she won -ed.], I was pretty spent emotionally and physically, but I came for points in the national series and to preview the course for 24 hour nationals next year. There was no rider list, so I had no idea who was coming."
It turns out that Rusch was one of just two pro women's racers. She would do battle with Lynda Wallenfels, a successful pro racer in the 1990s who has returned to racing during the past few years after a break to have children.
"I didn't know what I would have in my legs," said Rusch. "Lynda's race strategy was to go out conservative because of the heat. Mine was opposite - to go out fast and see where I was. By 7:00 in the evening, I had two laps on her. I think I was among the top guys then."
Eventually the heat would take a toll on Wallenfels, who later told Rusch she wasn't feeling like herself at the race. Wallenfels sat out a lap during the day and then stopped again at night.
Rusch was curious about what was happening with Wallenfels, who also coaches Rusch's boyfriend.
"I went over and talked to her and she said she wouldn't ride more night laps, so I took a three hour nap and we both rode more laps in the morning. We then rode the last lap together and just chatted and stopped early," said Rusch, who estimated she rode 17 of 24 hours.
"I could have kept going if I needed to, but I was happy not to," said a tired Rusch, who spent much of the week before the race filling her duties as a part-time firefighter, including combatting a major, historic fire in downtown Ketchum, Idaho.
Both Rusch and Ross also took the fastest lap primes - both logged on their first laps.
Course preview time
The race was a chance for some to scout out the terrain and likely course in advance of the USA Cycling 24 hour national championship that will be held here next year.
"It was fast rolling with really steeply pitched climbing," said Ross. "There were super sharpy jutty rides - like Brian Head, Utah - style rocks. So there are serious repercussions when you go into them wrong, and you have to be careful at night."
"The course was a little more challenging than last year. There was more climbing."
The course featured a section on a road that some riders were hoping would be eliminated for safety reasons before next year's nationals.
24 hour solo Elite men 1 Nat Ross 21 18:24:45 2 David Harris 21 19:13:18 3 Ernesto Marenchin 19 18:49:01 Elite women 1 Rebecca Rusch 18 20:36:35 2 Lynda Wallenfels 14 20:36:32 Men 19-29 1 Ben Sullivan 13 23:21:57 2 Brian Botthof 3 5:12:57 Men 30-39 1 Chad Sheirbon 12 23:23:37 2 Lawrence Knight 11 22:49:39 3 Christopher Web 11 23:41:38 4 Chuck Riddell 6 18:49:19 5 Toby Ford 5 10:03:21 6 Nicholas Pela 5 21:13:15 Men 40-49 1 Chuck Wheeler 18 22:35:33 2 Mark Hamer 8 20:23:34 3 Stephen Boyle 5 5:08:39 Women 39 and under 1 Cindy Mcfarland 6 8:01:12 2 Hillary Mathis 1 1:34:29 Singlespeed 1 Faron Adcock 13 22:42:06 2 Scott Countryman 12 24:01:42 12 hour solo Men 30-39 1 Zachary Stanford 12 11:41:24 2 Chris Gardner 9 10:34:35 3 Matt Field 8 11:57:32 4 Tom Stack 6 8:45:43 Men 40-49 1 Randy Harris 7 8:54:57 2 Michael Thiele 7 11:42:45 3 Trever Bushnell 6 6:34:59 4 Chris Bosselmann 5 7:47:53 5 Ken Creager 5 9:20:04 6 Eric Dunn 4 8:19:37 Women 39 and under 1 Danielle Musto 11 11:45:07 2 Lisa Barnard 4 5:00:45 Women 40+ 1 Hayley Wihongi 7 11:02:04 Men junior 18 & under 1 Kallan Creager 6 8:22:10