At 6pm Saturday the field of riders crossed the start/finish line for the last time bringing the inaugural 6-12-24hr World Time Trial Championships in the Coachella Valley of Southern California to a close. Ian Fillinger from Kamloops, BC Canada took top honors in the 24hr race by hammering out a very impressive 432.6 miles. In the 12hr race, Kurt Searvogel from Sheridan, LA out distanced the rest of the field with 249.4 mile race total.
The 24 hr Race
The 24hr race began Friday at 6pm rolling out with a small race field of four riders. Joining Fillinger in the 40-49 age group was RAAM Vet and accomplished ultracyclist David Hasse from Fond Du Lac, WI. Hasse was going it unsupported as he did earlier in the season when he won the HooDoo 500 voyager division in Utah. Rounding out the field were Stephen Bugbee in the 50-59 age group and Bob Davidson in the 60-69 division.
Heavy rain pelted the riders as they headed out into the desert and it didn’t stop for the first 8hrs. The cool 50 degree temps that accompanied the rain made conditions even worse. There was great anticipation of an epic battle between Hasse and Fillinger, but it wasn’t long before those dreams were snuffed out. Whether by choice, or necessity, Hasse’s decision to race unsupported may have played a big part in his demise. An undisclosed mechanical problem that occurred well out on the long loop proved to be too much for him to overcome and race officials sagged him in.
Meanwhile Fillinger, who’s sponsored by Team H&R Block was well out in front doing a great job of high tempo riding while not getting pressured to push a strong pace. That effort put him 3 1/2 hours ahead of the field by 7am on Saturday with a 13hr mileage accumulation of 243 miles. ”My plan was to go out hard and be at or near the front for the 1st lap and then see how things were developing,” said Fillinger. ”Given the layout of the course, I rode a full Norco TT set up (bike, helmet etc) and felt that was a good choice as the winds were a factor all day.” Fillinger piled on 8 of the 22 mile short loops and took advantage of the entire 24hrs by tacking on a 14 mile partial lap at the end.
Bugbee and Davidson both maintained a similar pace as they completed the first 243 miles by 11am on Saturday with Davidson on top by 25 minutes. Both went on to complete four of the short loops thus ending up with an identical mileage total of 330.6. Davidson took 2nd overall in the 24 hr race by finishing 51 minutes ahead of Bugbee.
The 12 hr Race
When the race field of six left the start line at 6am Saturday, desert skies were clear and the temperature was a very cool 40 degrees. The lineup for this race included: Jim Gourley in the 30-39 age group, Kurt Searvogel and Darin Crowley representing the 40-40 group and Joel Sothern, John Caton and Martin Hukle competing in the 50-59 division.
Off the front early setting a very strong pace was Texas Time Trial 12hr Champion Searvogel who looked to be in great form. Jim Gourley chased him as hard as he could for the first 50 miles or so, but according to Searvogel, “He just couldn’t close the gap between us to any less than a minute and a half.” At the completion of the 121 mile long loop it was Searvogel back first in 5hrs 56min, followed by Joel Sothern in 6hrs 16min and John Caton at 6hr 24min. Gourley had dropped back to fourth on his return electing to wisely back off of the gas and let Searvogel go.
Caton returned from the long loop showing obvious signs of an abrupt confrontation with the pavement. Crew Chief /Crew Lena Caton explained that “John stopped long enough for me to strip off a layer of clothing as it was warming up. He chugged a bottle of Boost while I picked gravel out of his arm and took a good look at his swollen thigh.” ”The rear derailleur was messed up, but thankfully still rideable so I sent him on his way.” When later asked about the incident John had a very short and sweet answer, “After scraping myself off the ground I managed to rally a strong finish. No sympathy from my wife who says “Shut up and ride.”" Ah yes, the true love and passion of Ultracycling……
There was no more drama for Caton on this day and he and the other riders began to rapidly click off the 22 mile short loops. They had a good day weather wise to race in the valley aside from the winds. It wasn’t really due to the intensity of the wind, but rather the ever changing direction. Searvogel had this to say about the wind: “It just kept changing direction and we couldn’t catch a break from it. First from the NE, then E, then SE then S then SW and W then back to East. It kept changing direction to match our turns. First 11 miles was ok then we had a headwind until mile 80. Then a crosswind to 120. On the 22 mile loop the wind stayed out of the east all afternoon.”
Searvogel took both the overall and 40-49 age group win with 249.4 miles, followed by Joel Sothern who was 2nd overall and won the 50-59 group with 231.3 miles. It was John Caton rounding out the top three by placing 3rd overall and 2nd in the 50-59 age group with a 226.5 mile effort. Martin Hukle finished with 208.3 mile and both Darin Crowley and Jim Gouerly cranked out 187.3 miles.
Race Director Rick Boethling was very pleased with how the event went and had this to say: ”Great first year event, we had a very solid race field who all rode really well. After the rainy start for the 24s, it turned into a stunning Saturday for all the racers. We are looking forward to a bigger and better 2012.”
Many more race photos by Lena Caton at: http://61224worldchampionshiptimetrial.shutterfly.com/
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