End of a era - Saying goodby to Sage

Normally, I would be writing up the race report for the 24 Hours in the Sage right now, talking about all the fun times we had racing, the competition, the fire booter and all the other excitement that we came to look forward to during our weekend at the KOA. Well, not this year. Yes, we still went out to Gunnison for some fun times riding at Hartman's Rocks and hanging out at the KOA. But we didn't get to race. The 24 Hours in the Sage was not held this year and more then likely, last year was the final hurrah of that great race. Sage was the most family friendly venue of all the 24 hour races I've done, as well as one of the best courses with something for every kind of rider. Word of mouth alone led to the race filling up for three years in a row. But as people's racing tastes change and events compete on a packed calendar, something's gotta give. Unfortunately for the people registered and ready for the "best 24 hour race at a party" it was 24 Hours in the Sage that ultimately gave in.

I'm sad to see this happen, given that Sage was my first exposure to 24 hour racing and also my first 24 hour race. I ran Pit Crew for Nick and his friend Bret at the 2006 event - helping them as best as the runner I was at the time could help. I remember how cold and wet everything was and how hard it was to keep the riders moving. It seemed like the  stupidest and craziest thing possible. I couldn't even ride the course back in 2006 - I tried and turned around on Behind the Rocks - the first section of singletrack. It was just too technical for me back then. And then in 2008, Nick and I raced duo for our anniversary. I got the mellow start and we were riding two laps at a time at that point - except for the night laps. I did a few night laps, but Nick did most of them that first year. I also remember walking quite a bit on Rocky Ridge and nearly panicking coming off the Notch. Then came 2010 and we were a well dialed 24 hour racing team, showing up with the Turtle and a plan. 2010 was one of the closest battles among the Co-Ed duos, with the race coming down to the 19th lap of the race. Every year, I was able to ride more of the course and we rode more laps. In 2011, we won the duo class outright with 20 laps, beating the men's duo by a few seconds. 2012 was another solid 20 laps and outright win in the duo class. Finally in 2013, we got within minutes of being able to head out for 21 laps, despite Hartman's Rocks deciding to claim some carbon spoils. That will never happen now, as we dropped down to the 12 hour race in 2014 for a variety of reasons.

It's very easy as outsiders to say that if the race had promoted more or if there had been more advertising, then the numbers would have been there. But Sage was never advertised through much more then word of mouth and always got the numbers. I know I've spent plenty of time bragging about how much fun that race was and how awesome the course was. As did everyone else I knew that had ever done the race. Once the news that the race was canceled due to lack of interest, there were the typical "hold the race anyway" comments. Again - easy to say for the outsiders who just show up, pitch a tent, eat some of KOA Dave's yummy food and ride a couple of laps over the course of the 24 hours. But we riders aren't the ones involved with the nitty-gritty. Event safety, permitting and staff and the general stress of making sure the event is well run and that everyone is safe. The staff isn't there to make money off the riders - they are there to ensure that we have a great race and everything runs smoothly. Those things we don't see as we race and party at the KOA. It's also easy to say that they should have held the race with the people who were signed up, and then announced that it would be the last year for the event. Would more people have signed up last minute if they had know that it was going to be the last year for the race? People always say that they would have, but the voting was being done the wallets in the months and weeks before. People don't just sign up for a 24 hour race the week before just for fun and old times sake.Was the cancelation news I wanted to get the week before the race? No. But I understand the reasoning and decision making process that led to the cancelation.

So there will be tales coming from this weekend. Just not from racing - from getting out of town and exploring without an agenda and without lofty racing goals.


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