Granny Goes Galactic

Granny is typically the mild mannered, conservative type, but her recent press release is out of this world:

24 Hours of Moab

Galactic Championship of 24 Hour Mountain Bike Racing
Set For Moab, Utah, USA, Earth
Pioneer of the Sport Goes Large To Create the Greatest Event
in The History of 24-hour Mountain Bike Racing
Davis, WV, USA, Earth – Granny Gear Productions is promising to assemble the greatest field of 24-hour mountain bikers yet seen for the race that is expected to settle the still-unanswered question in 24-Hour racing: can the Europeans, or the Aussies or Kiwis, beat the Americans, or put another way: who is the greatest 24-Hour mountain bike racer in the world this year?

One question, however, is this: what will the event be called? Laird Knight of Granny Gear says, “Call it what you like – world, global, galactic championships, it doesn’t really matter what the race is called. The fact is that if it draws the top pros from all over to a legendary course, then it’s the de facto world championships regardless. But we thought, why stop there? I like a “Galactic” Championship. While we know that 24-hour racing has spread across the globe, it’s not yet certain if it popularity has propagated from Earth to other planets in the Galaxy, but it is possible. And, as soon as we hear of any 24s on another planet, we will send them an invitation, too. It occurs to me that earth-bound mountain bikers are really going to have to bring their A-game when that day comes.”

Then why not call it the Universal Championships? Knight again, “Well, the latest estimates by astronomers tell us that the known universe is 30 or 40 billion light-years across and in the sixteen years since the original 24 Hours of Canaan, in 1992, the news, even traveling at the speed of light, would only have reached out sixteen light-years. That only gets us about two-tenths of a percent of the distance across our own galaxy. The good news though is that this would encompass at least a couple of dozen solar systems, granted, many of them would only have heard about this very recently.”

Granny Gear Productions has chosen the universally acclaimed venue of “Behind the Rocks,” at Moab, Utah, (USA, Earth), as the location for the 2008 24 Hour Mountain Bike Galactic Championships, on October 11-12, 2008 (Earth year). There have been numerous UFO sightings in this area.

The Moab course is known for its stunning desert scenery and challenging terrain, and has become one of the cycling world’s classic races in the 14 years that 24-hour racing has been held there.

Invitations are being made to riders in every continent in the world of 24 hour mountain bike racing. A key side-event at Moab will be an all-welcome rider’s forum on Friday night, to discuss possibilities for the future of 24-hour racing, at both the national and international levels. Granny Gear Productions is receiving suggestions for agenda items now. (Alien racers welcome)

Pro categories racing for the Galactic Championship (and for a cash purse expected to be in excess of $30,000), will include Solo Men, Solo Women, Duo Open (men, women, or both), 4-Person Men, and 4-Person Women. The world-class, dare it be said, galactic-class course is 14.9 miles (24 km) in length and contains 1,100 ft (335 meters) of climbing in each lap. (Aliens note: Gravity of 1-G, and atmosphere of approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen with increasing levels of carbon-dioxide)

“I would go just because it’s Moab,” said 2006 Moab champion Nat Ross, of the Gary Fisher – Tokyo Joe’s team. Ross is respected the world over, having taken two top-five places in the past three years at the top 24-hour race in Europe. “European riders like the mystique of Moab, they’ll come over for it, I’m sure,” he added.

In a question and answer session, Granny Gear Productions president Laird Knight began by explaining the forces that have motivated his company to produce this race.

Q: Others here and in Europe have called their event world championships, why are you now throwing your hat into the uber-championship ring?
A: It’s by popular demand. I’ve been asked by many pro racers and industry people, and basically been told: ‘you should be running the world championships.’ This request is something I’ve heard increasingly over the past two years. This year it built to a point where the call to action was clear, I felt compelled to deliver that for people. I’m happy to oblige. I realize how important it is, how much pros want a quality event to represent the best-of-the-best. I’m not really interested in getting into a shouting match about whether ours is the real “world championship” or not. That’s why we’re calling it the Galactic Championship. Galaxies are bigger than worlds and this race will be bigger in every way that any world-championship, to date. Plus, it’s just more fun to call it The Galactic Championships and that’s in keeping with what this sport is all about. So, we declaring it now, in (Earth year) 2008, the Suzuki 24 Hours of Moab will be the international and interplanetary Galactic Championships of 24-hour mountain bike racing.

Q: Why choose Moab as the venue?
A: Moab has cache to the name, and deservedly so. It’s one of the largest races in the US, it’s a truly world-famous destination, and the Suzuki 24 Hours of Moab has already achieved world-renown in 24-hour racing. Also it is one of the best venues for the pros to be seen. You’ve got hard-core mountain bikers there from all over the country and all over the world. Pros will get a lot of exposure there and a lot of support. Also because it’s one of the largest events we produce with one of the largest pro turnouts, the cash purses have been the largest in the world for a number of years. So you’ve got an absolutely world class race course, a world-class cash purse, you’ve got world-class competition already, a world-class timing system, and world-class race production.

Q: How much has the 24-HOUR SERIES title sponsorship from Suzuki Auto made this possible?
A: The support from Suzuki Auto gives us the resources to pull out the stops. With their support, I feel very confident about our ability to deliver nothing less than the biggest and best race that Granny Gear has ever produced. It’s going to be a race to remember, for sure.”

Q: This Galactic Championships seems likely to “steal the thunder” of other “world-championships,” on what basis does Granny Gear Productions assume the right to do this?
A: We created and popularized 24-hour racing team-relay racing, starting in 1992. When we accepted John Stamstad’s famous “team” entry in 1996, we created the 24-hour the first solo category and Stamstad’s performance that year set the stage for all the solo endurance mountain bike racing racing since then. More importantly, our commitments to professional event production live up to the greatest aspirations of pro racers. Our events are top-notch in every way. And besides, this sport is about competition and if there can’t be some fun competition among race promoters then we all lose. Ultimately, it’s the racers who decide by their attendance, which are the truly important, must-go races, and they are going to attend the races of race promoters that work the hardest for them.

Q: What will you do?
A: Our intention is to create a true global championship. We are going to create an awareness of 24-hour racing as a world sport, a global phenomenon, rather than as a fragmented national or continental level sport. We are going to showcase world-class athletes, tell their stories and build their reputations on a global (if not galactic) scale. Out of these successes the sport can begin attracting the kinds of corporate support that will facilitate more global travel and competition. We are also going to make inroads in media coverage for 24-hour racing, and it’s our intention to deliver all of these qualities to create the Galactic Championships as a truly prestigious and legitimate worldwide competition. In time, we intend to sanction the Galactic Championships in other countries. I like that idea a lot and I look forward to having that, but first there’s a lot of work to be done to get us all to this point.

Q: How will you attract the top racers?
A: There are three important things the pros are looking for: Can I make a name for myself, will my stories be told? Is the cash purse worthy of my efforts? Will the race run smoothly and provide the information I need to play my game to the limit? We are committed to delivering all of this. Our state-of-the-art RealTimeâ„¢ scoring system, gives the pro racers the information they need to strategize their events, for their support crew, to figure out where the competition is, what needs to be done to win the event. It also allows anyone, from anywhere in the world to follow the race in real time. That capability is unprecedented and unparalleled. We have delivered the largest cash purses in the world, year on year, for many years {ed. note: $458,000 in the last ten years}. Lastly, we will be investing heavily in attracting media coverage by top-drawer photographers, journalist and TV coverage of the athletes who bring their A-game to the competition.

Q: What do you see as the hallmark of Granny Gear events?
A: The spirit of 24-hour mountain bike racing was best summed up by MTB Hall of Famer, Joe Murray, who approached me during the second year of the 24 Hours of Moab. he said: “This is really cool. This is the way mountain biking used to be.” He was referring to the sportsmanship, camaraderie and fun he witnessed. These are all hallmarks of the sport, but qualities which many people feel have been lost in an overly-competitive racing scene. For our part, we have always held tightly to these ideals and it shows in our events.

Q: What is the most significant difference between the 24-hour format and the competitive cross-country mountain biking racing format?
A: 24-hour racing has a much broader appeal. You see that in the mixture of teams. From top-drawer pros to people who have nothing but fun on their agenda. We warn people not to come if they’re not experienced, but even rank beginners come and they race and they love it. It’s also one of the only places where pros and amateurs race on the same course at the same time. We worried that this would be a problem when we ran the first races but it turns out that it works great. The amateurs are psyched to get to race with famous racers and are very considerate, giving way to the pros at the first call. And the pros love the encouragement and respect that they get.

Q: 24-hour racing has truly become a global phenomenon, does this ever surprise you?
A: People ask if it I ever thought it would get this big and I answer, “Yes! I knew it would.” I don’t mean to sound cocky, but I knew this would be a blast for mountain bikers and after the first 24 Hours of Canaan, it was obvious to me that I was on to something really big. It’s just so much fun, racing at night, knowing that all your buddies are waiting for you back at the start-line. It plays off the intense camaraderie of the sport in a way that never existed before in mountain bike racing. There’s going to be huge growth, world-wide, for many years. 24-hour racing has a certain viral quality as anything that’s this much fun is bound to have.


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