Mark Hendershot (Santa Cruz Syndicate) powered to 5th place at the World Solo 24 hour championships September 1-2. For the 7th year in a row Hendershot put up a top five finish. Known as the “godfather” of 24 hour racing, or “grandfather” for those who keep track of the length of his grey chin hairs, Hendershot knocked off 18 laps on the 13.4 mile course at Laguna Seca, CA.
Hendershot and his lovely wife Roberta took off from the great north country for a 5 day trek to the Pacific race venue in the big white serial-killer van. Day two and a separated tire bounced them off the highway in Grand Island, Nebraska. There they met Joe, the tire dude who drives 50 miles a day to work, and Smokin’ Joe, the tattoo dude who stopped to admire Mark’s tattoos. Day three, and a stop to ride in the mountains outside Salt Lake City, followed by sunset at the Bonneville Salt Flats. All of the racer boys stop at Bonneville. Mark met the speed record holder for logging trucks and off-shore boats. All was good until the guy with the Lotus got up tight when the scrawny tattooed bike racer drooled on his car. After all, if you’re gonna drive a Lotus, you’d better be prepared to wipe drool off your car.
OK, back to the race. It was brutal. Saturday temps were over 100 until nightfall, and precious few trees provided any shade for the racers. Four of the top ten men succumbed to the heat and were pulled from the course by medics. Hendershot rode conservatively throughout the day, waiting for the cool night air.
“This was a tough course, a lot of climbing, over 2000 feet per lap, and really hot. The competition was tough too, probably the deepest field I’ve seen. Darkness was a blessing. It took all night to cool off from the daytime heat. The Milky Way was amazing, followed by a gorgeous moonrise. I had a great ride at night.”
Sunrise brought a shake-up in the men’s race. The ambo crew and medics were busy with dehydrated delirious racers. And Hendershot moved up to 5th place. Time to get back to work. But first, breakfast served at a port-a-john poop stop. In one end, and out the other. A rejuvenated Hendershot sliced 10 minutes from his lap times as Sunday morning heated up.
Just before noon a brush fire roared up, swallowing the Sea Otter downhill course. Ash filled the infield as planes and helicopter dropped water and retardant. Crews scrambled to get the hell out of there. Mark rode on, not sure what awaited him at the finish line, wondering if his pit area was in flames. As he crossed the finish line, fire contained, Roberta’s waiting arms, Mark was glad to be done with the 24 hours of Laguna shit hole.
As always, Mark greatly appreciates the support of his sponsors:
Santa Cruz Bicycles
SRAM, RockShox, Truvativ, Avid, DT Swiss, Kenda, Crank Brothers, Chris King, WTB, Clif, Troy Lee Designs, Lake Shoes, Zeal Optics, Sock Guy, Hammer Nutrition, BURN Energy Drink, Giro, Lupine Lighting Systems, Hydrapak