24 HOURS IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
OUR LITTLE BOY IS ALL GROWN UP,
SHEEP OVERRUN REZ DOG CAMP &
PETER LOBBYS FOR TEAM THERAPIST
A solid four man team and three Rez Dog soloists did battle in this year’s 24HIEF in the lull before next year’s storm when Gallup hosts the 24 hour nationals. A report:
1. ALL STAR CAST ON THE SIDELINES. The depth of Rez Dog Racing hit home for many of us this weekend when we realized how good our four man team was doing even though four of our strongest riders – Andy, Chuck, Dirk and Alan – were on the sidelines. There were a whole host of reasons and excuses for these all-star no shows, but we’ll sum it all up by noting that Peter was making a serious pitch to find enough money in the team budget for a therapist. Good luck with that Peter.
2. BREAD SPRINGS SHEEP OVERRUNS REZ DOG CAMP. About an hour before the start on Saturday, Peter’s nemesis – the dreaded Bread Springs Loop Sheep – showed up, with a buddy, and found a perch overlooking the Rez Dog campsite (this year’s camp was in a prime location - not next to the port-o-johns like last year slum - thanks to Greg). Hum . . . maybe, Peter – who some say is still struggling with PTSD from T-boning the Bread Springs sheep last year – is on to something. Maybe there is something to this team therapist idea.
3. SOLO WARRIORS. Three dogs did very well in the brutal solo category. Paul DeWitt put in 8 laps in single speed male for 9th place and 131 miles. Eryn Hannick put in 5 laps in solo female for 6th place and 82 miles. Peter Tempest – who was only 10 minutes off the lead going into the night – put in 10 laps in solo male for 6th place and 164 miles.
4. FOUR MAN CHAOS. The guys who did show up to race in the four man category this year – Paul Barry, Greg Cavanaugh, Kevin Zwiers and Chad Meekhof – were fantastic!!! They hammered out 19 – yes, 19 laps or 311.6 miles – to claim a narrow (more on that soon) victory for third place over super strong competition. And . . . they did it in the face of adversity including Greg’s wheel problems and Chad’s lighting problems that cost them around 20 minutes during the night. They even overcame a botched transition when Greg showed up late (more on this later too) for the third lap exchange.
5. OUR LITTLE BOY IS ALL GROWN UP. We’re going to pick out one of the four man heroes for some special attention. Chad has always shown flashes of brilliance, but this weekend he started the race with a 1:06 lap – four minutes faster than any other Rez Dog lap. But it was not the beginning that was so impressive. Let’s set the finish: Going into the night our heroes were up by 19 minutes over Team 415 for the final podium spot. In the morning, after the mid-night mishaps our guys were trading places each lap with Team 415 in an absolutely thrilling race and it was clear that Chad would be riding the last lap. Kevin came from behind and put a few seconds on 415 on his last lap. Paul rode a hero lap to stay on the wheel of 415’s strongest rider (an absolute beast!). Greg – who had already put in four great laps and was feeling the pain – dug deep and stayed within three minutes on the next to last lap of the race. Chad – who had been peppered with advice from six different directions for three and a half hours – was nervous and distracted until a sense of calm and determination seemed to come over him in the last couple of minutes as he waited for Greg to come in. An hour and ten minutes later, the staging area exploded as Chad’s orange Screamer jersey came blazing around the final turn. Chad made up three minutes and put another five minutes on Team 415. He finished just ten minutes before the end of the 24 hours. It was – without question – the most exciting finish of the entire event. And . . . it was a coming of age for a rider with a great racing future.
A COUPLE OF CONCLUDING QUESTIONS: So why was Greg late for the third lap exchange of the race with Paul? Is there any truth to the reports that Greg was going around the staging area (while Paul was coming in) approaching complete strangers and telling them how he dropped Peter and Paul in the Road to McGaffey Challenge last week? You know, I’m sold. Peter is absolutely right. We do need a team therapist.