2009 24 Hours of Moab/USA Cycling 24 Hour Nationals Headline: Dustin "El Bandito" Phillips assembles a Flathead Powerhouse Squad to rip apart rocks and riders!!!
It isn't too often that an up and coming sport director can pull off the man strength required to also ride his own team onto the podium, let alone the second step at a national championship. But thats what my boy Dustin from Hammer Nutrition did this weekend at the 24 hours of Moab. For those that don't know D, he used to represent MT at world cups in the glory days of our beloved sport. Now he runs sponsorship at Hammer, has a beautiful young family and gets out on a ride every blue moon or two. Yet somehow with his full schedule of dad, director and part time bandit, he still hasn't lost that little something old guys never lose: Man Strength. It's that certain something that Brent Ruby's lab can't even explain. In short, he's been in enough fights to know how to throw down even when he knows he doesn't have the firepower.
While he knew he didn't have his cup legs from the 90's, he did know one thing, him and his Hammer team went to Moab with only one thing on their mind: Ripping Legs off. And that is exactly what we did. Running four man at a 24 hour race is kinda like running 500cc at a motocross event; while everyone else needs to conserve, four man champ class runs at full gas round the clock til there's nothin' left but chewed up rocks and slain challengers.
Anyway, enough primer, on to the race report. Ben Parson was selected as our le mans style start man due to his big lungs and sharp elbows. After the famed run around the juniper bush and back, Ben was third out the bike parking and out on course! He turned in a super solid first lap riding somewhat within his means. Some of the guys really opened it up on lap 1. Moto GP racer Ben Bostrom rolled a 59 something to my best of 1:03:19, wow i suck at biking;( Amazingly, after 7 and a half hours of racing, we found ourselves tied, yes tied for the overall, with a team called Pro Cycling. They were a super legit crew that deserved the win for sure. They were Ice cold with no mistakes over 24. The night laps were an amazing experience, like nothing I've ever done on a bike. The darkness however was not our friend and dawn found us 30 minutes behind Pro Cycling and Trek/Honey Stinger only 3 minutes behind attempting to take 2nd from us. To make matters worse, one of their riders, Max Taam, was completely fresh after recovering from an earlier swollen eye. I was set to go out on my fifth lap with no sleep and maybe a couple minute head start on Max. At this point, Some father figure from trek/stinger, "Max is gonna chase you down" As usual, I smiled and said maybe, but this was not the answer I gave my to myself in my own head. I thought to myself, who in the !~@$@#@ does this guy think he is? Can he see me? Can he see my white shoes and my Cannondale 29 with green-fade to black flames crawling up from my XTR cranks? Do I look like the type of goon that gets chased down with 2nd on the line? I was offended and seething with anger. I could barely control myself. And then Parsons gave me the baton, I blacked out. Rage. Throttle broken off past full. Eyes on the prize with no peripheral vision. I don't remember that lap, just taking 30 seconds from their rider and passing the baton to Matty B who inherited my fire. He too rode like the devil had possessed him, easily putting probably the best day two lap of anyone still on course! At that point we knew we had it, gifting Parsons a 10:50 lead into the last lap. Ben rode safe and got us home in time for second. We were stoked, top step would have been so much sweeter but we learned a lot and we will return next year for redemption.
Super props to Dustin, Brian Frank and Hammer Nutrition, et al, for sending us to an amazing event that we couldn't have done on our own. We did our best to fly the colors with pride and I'm pretty sure everyone knew we meant business. Hopefully 2-10 will find us on the top step!