2016 Director’s Report
Ultra-Marathon bicyclists gathered at Thornapple-Kellogg Middle School in Middleville this past weekend for the 34th National 24-Hour Challenge. There were a lot of heat issues and a few falls, but no reported run-ins with motor vehicles. We are still spooked by the Kalamazoo Bicycle Massacre a few weeks back.
Riders came from 20 states, Canada, Brazil, the UK and Japan to test their endurance over a 24-hour period. Traditionally, a majority of riders are Michigan residents, but that flipped this year – 55% were from out of state. Medal winners were even more tilted, with 17 Michigan medalists and 42 from out of state.
Jessop Keene, 24, of Ellsworth, WI, set a new Male Overall High Mileage record, 516.7 miles. That figures out to a 21.5 mph average for the entire 24 hours The 500-mile barrier was first broken in 2007, by Chris Ragsdale, of Seattle, WA. Billy Volchko, 26, of Kent, OH, also bested the 500-mile mark this year, posting 509.1 miles in his first appearance.
Cassie Schumacher, 44, of Akron, OH, took the Women’s Overall High Mileage award with a ride of 430.7 miles, approaching the record for Women’s Overall High Mileage, 440.2 miles, set in 2004. Cassie is also our Most Improved Female rider, beating her previous average of 348.7 by 81 miles.
The Most Improved Male rider is Joseph Weissert, 55, of Spring Lake, MI. His ride of 423.1 miles exceeds his previous average by 176.8 miles. Joseph also had the highest mileage of any Michigan male this year.
The highest mileage of any Michigan female was 415.5, by Valerie Litznerski, of Kalamazoo.
Valerie and Jessop were also winners of the UMCA 24-Hour World Championship jerseys.
In addition to Overall High Mileage several new class records were set this year Jessop Keene set a new record for the M18-24 age group; Billy Volchko set a new record for the M25-29 age group; P Ostman set a new record for the M60-64 age group; John Harthoorn set a new record for the M65-69 age group; Valerie Litznerski set a new record for the F30-34 age group. In the pairs categories, Dave Stebbins and Lindsey Lilley set a new Father-Daughter record.
Of the 272 registered riders, 240 posted mileage this year. They averaged 264.2 miles, as opposed to 271.9 last year.
Riders usually bring friends or family to act as crews to keep them moving without delay. The event also has 150 volunteers to keep things running smoothly.
Weather is always a huge factor in mid-June Michigan. Skies were clear and the afternoon temperature peaked at 92 degrees, so the riders had a lot of heat to contend with. Several cases of heat exhaustion were reported. Many riders went too hard in the heat and were unable to take advantage of the cool overnight hours.
Spectators experienced a “dust devil” in the camping area during the hot afternoon. At first, only loose papers flew, but then it was 10×10 shelters and tents flying through the air. Only minor injuries were sustained.
There has been a lot of road construction in Barry County this year, making our riders nervous about road availability on Challenge weekend. Many thanks to Doug Peck and his crew at the Barry County Road Commission for lots of smooth, new pavement, just in time.
Riders must finish 7.6-mile night loops before 8:00 AM sharp to get credit. Archie Carter, 66, of Evansville, IN, was the last rider in and missed the closing time by 20 seconds. He still earned a medal, but sadly, with 7.6 fewer miles than he rode.
In addition to 217 traditional Solo Upright bikes, there were 14 Recumbents and 5 Tandems in the ride.
A PDF of preliminary results is available here.
Complete results are posted at www.n24hc.org/results
The 35th National 24-Hour Challenge will be held on June 17-18, 2017.
Cover photo of Catherine Culkin by Mike Banno.