|The National 24-Hour Challenge was shortened this year due to a thunderstorm in the middle of the night. Shortly after midnight (12:07 AM), lightning conditions caused officials to suspend riding and riders huddled with their bikes in the Thornapple-Kellogg Middle School building. The slow-moving storm eventually passed and riders were back on the road at 4:17 AM. This was the longest suspension in the event’s year 35-year history.
Safety Director Gary Goscenski (Paw Paw, MI) was being advised by rider Joe Lundberg, a TV meteorologist from State College, PA. Joe in turn was being updated by two of his meteorology co-workers back in Pennsylvania. Weather radar was put to good use.
As for the ride itself, a similar storm early Saturday morning left support crew tents tangled and wet, but didn’t impact the start of the event. At the starting ceremony, riders from the United States, Bulgaria, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, India, and Mexico were honored with their flags and national anthems.
Promptly at 8:00am, the riders made their way out of the starting area and on to the roads of Barry County, with the front-runners setting a blistering pace. That pace was facilitated by good weather for riding – overcast, warm and only slightly humid, with light winds.
The front-runners completed their 126-mile lap of the county in just over five hours, and Ellsworth Wisconsin’s Jessop Keene, 25, led Billy Volchko of Kent, OH, and Scott Perry of Fishers, IN, after steaming through the checkpoint.
The three leaders continued into the night, each putting up 265 miles in the first 12 hours. At night, rain both preceded and followed the suspension period, causing everyone’s totals to drop in the end.
While no new records were set due to the suspension, defending champion Jessop Keene (Ellsworth, WI), 25, set a blistering pace and completed 425.5 miles in 19 hrs, 50 min of riding time, about 21.5 mi/hr average. Daniela Genovesi (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 49, and Jessica Anderson (Raleigh, NC), 28, tied for Women’s Overall High Mileage with 378.7 miles, a 19 mi/hr average.