WTB's hometown hero, Leo Pershall, put his head down and powered through the pain to a fourth place finish at the last (yes, last ever) 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championships in Gallup, New Mexico. Here's what our favorite crusher had to say while winding his way back home, somewhere in between New Mexico and the Grand Canyon:
"24-Hour Nationals was an 'A race' that I had identified heading into the season. This spring's training was hampered by low iron levels that did not respond to conventional supplementation, so I wasn't able to prep as I normally would for an event at altitude. That said, I arrived in the Zuni Mountains of New Mexico having optimized nutrition, training, and recovery as best I could and was aiming for a spot on the podium. The course was a 19.7 mile ribbon of singletrack with 1,800 feet of elevation gain per lap, that wound through beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest and meadows between elevations of 7,650-8,350 feet.
"I realized quickly in the race that the altitude was preventing me from producing my normal climbing power and that more than likely, the Stars and Stripes jersey was out of reach. I reminded myself that my primary personal goal was to finish the race knowing that I had given 100%. I dug deep and settled in the pain that would be my partner for the entirety of the race. The 24 hours brought high winds, heavy dust, and frigid nighttime temperatures. All said and done, I finished my 13th lap at 23 hours 32 minutes after starting, for a total of 256.1 miles, 23,400 feet of climbing, and a fourth place finish. Special thanks to my amazing wife and pit coordinator, Laurel, my tireless mechanic, Village Peddler's own Austin Lovelady, and, of course, WTB for awesome contact points via Comfort Zone grips, a Deva SLT saddle, and Nano TCS tires (never an issue, even following the flat-inducing, high speed rock garden that claimed many victims through the night.)"
Basecamp: Repair station, large tent, singletrack - what more could one want in life? If you have to pedal for 24 hours, it might as well be in high pine singletrack perfection. Way to go Leo, we're proud! Ain't no shame in 4th in the US!