Cannon grabs 2nd |

Cannon grabs 2nd

Creekside squad takes women's sport division

Kris Cannon celebrates with her support team, hugging Kelly Boniface and high-fiving Nate Bird, moments after discovering she had finished second place in the women's solo division of the 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike race.

— The weekend’s 24 Hour of Moab mountain bike race, which concluded at noon Sunday in Utah, was supposed to be only the first step in a return to endurance competitions for Steamboat Springs rider Kris Cannon.

She said she had hoped to find where she stood among the best endurance athletes.

She got her answer loud and clear Sunday: right at the top.

Cannon finished second in her first solo Moab race, logging 11 circuits of the intense desert course.

“I am absolutely thrilled right now,” she said, only moments removed from accepting a check for $600 for her finish. “It’s slowly starting to sink in. I’m psyched. This was a big one.”

The 35-year old mountain biker got her biggest break in the wee hours of Sunday morning when her closest competitor, Cat Morrison, withdrew from the race after sustaining an injury in a fall.

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Still, Cannon earned the placing with a steady approach and the help of her support team, Nate Bird, Kelly Boniface and Tad Huser. She survived the first hours of the race, which were whipped by powerful gusts of wind, but was fourth when darkness first fell across the sandy and unforgiving trail. She powered through the night and never paused for more than a few minutes at the end of each lap.

Slowly, that consistency ground up her competition.

Only Jari Kirkland, of Crested Butte, who repeated her 2007 Moab championship and wrapped the title up for the third time in four years, eluded Cannon. Kirkland won with a dominating performance, finishing 13 laps and passing Cannon for the second time as they pedaled to complete the final stretch.

“It was all hard. It was hard weather and a hard course,” Cannon said. “There was never a gift and never a point you could relax and just ride.”

Other Steamboat riders had plenty of success at the weekend ride.

Team Creekside Cafe, made up of Steamboat residents Kelly Landers, Carri Wullner, Jessica Lobeck and Salt Lake City resident Liana Gregory, won the women’s sports division in one of the closest races of the day.

Landers laid down the team’s fastest lap time of the race on its last run. That was three minutes better than the second-place team could do and good for a 3 minute, 28 seconds victory.

Karen Tremaine paired with Clint Ball, of Golden, to finish sixth in the Duo Pro/Expert division.

The race style was a first for Tremaine, who has spent years tearing up the local Town Challenge circuit with her pink singlespeed. She and Ball kept to one gear at Moab, as well, and managed to top plenty of duos on regular multi-geared bikes.

“I didn’t know what to expect, and it was tough, but good,” Tremaine said. “Clint rode a double in the middle of the night which really helped us out a lot.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was nervous before, but now I’m actually considering maybe doing it again.”

Injuries and sickness didn’t keep the Steamboat Men’s Expert team, Healthe-HoneyStinger-Boa, from a 15th-place finish.

A pair of Men’s Sport teams with Steamboat ties also finished the race.

Steamboat resident Wayne Amsbary and his team, The Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, finished 28th, and Steamboat’s Brent Boyer and That’s What She Said finished 64th.