Kirkland crushes field to take 24-hour National Title
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 03 October 2012
14 laps, 189 miles, 16,800 vert
The woman just does not quit, unless she’s got an insurmountable lead.
Alpine Orthopaedics rider Jari Kirkland secured the second 24-hour mountain bike national title of her endurance-racing career at the 24 Hours of Colorado Springs Saturday, September 29-30.
Her Alpine Orthopaedics teammate, Zach Guy, finished in fourth place among men, riding 16 laps for a total of 216 miles.
While the race is scheduled to run for 24 hours straight, it took Kirkland just 22 hours and nine minutes to earn the prestigious Stars and Stripes jersey.
The 13.5-mile course was laid out in Palmer Park amidst a labyrinth of sandstone features, ancient bluffs twisting through scrub oak, yucca, and pinion pines.
Kirkland has ridden numerous 24-hour races in her career on a variety of courses but found the Colorado Springs course less than enjoyable.
“It was so bad,” says Kirkland. “Four or five times you double back on yourself—there were several technical sections. It didn’t flow at all. There were lots of moments when you needed extra horsepower. There were definitely some tricky spots.”
Kirkland jumped out into the lead on the first lap, building a one-minute advantage on her closest competitor. After three laps, her lead grew, eventually lapping the woman in second place.
“After the third lap it was game on,” says Kirkland.
As the race wore on and Kirkland’s lead continued to grow, she stepped off the throttle to play a bit more conservative game on her last two laps.
“There were two big drops and I rode them the whole race but on the last two laps I decided to walk them,” explains Kirkland. “You don’t want to be that close and blow it when the Stars and Stripes are in your future.”
After 22 hours and 14 laps, Kirkland was well enough in front that she was able to step off her bike and sit out the final two hours confident that the title was hers.
“I thought, if I don’t have to do this again I’m done,” says Kirkland. “If I had to, I would, but it would have hurt real bad.”