by Danny Chew

Out of the 4 Calvin's Challenges [2000-2003] I have ridden, this year started out the least windy, but finished the most windy. Although Tom Buckley told me that his on bike thermometer hit 60 degrees F when the sun briefly peaked out, it felt like it never got out of the low-mid 50's to me. After one 50 mile loop, the lead pack had about 25-30 riders. About 100 kilometers [62 miles]into the event, the days clear STRONG/FAST man Mark Hekman took a monster pull which whittled the lead group down to 11 riders. Amazingly, Al Muldoon and another ? rider managed to bridge up to us making a 13 man pack which rode our first 100 miles in 4:36. Tattoo Man Mark Hendershot dropped off our group at the school.

About 107 miles in, Hekman and Brian Tober broke away, and only 4 of us [Steve Marshall, Jim Amelung, Ernie Marenchin, and myself] were able to painfully bridge up to them. After this, Hekman decided that a lead pack of 6 was small enough, so we stayed together [with everyone beautifully pulling through - although varying in length] until the end except for Marenchin who dropped off at 200 miles - settling for a 242 mile day. We had a 6 hour split of 130 miles, and rode our first 200 miles in 9:15 [2nd century in 4:39].

We made the decision not to attempt a 5th big loop which I was happy with since my loose, noisy left pedal was threatening to break. Had the pedal axle broken, I would have ridden back to the school slowly - applying inward force and seated at all times[this has happened to me before], but may not have made it back before the 12 hour deadline. Doing our first three 7 miles loops in 57 minutes [in a cold rain], I thought it might be possible to crank out 9 small loops and catch HPV rider Frank Geyer who we did begin to catch as he took longer to get his number punched than we did. However, as it became clear we would have to settle for 8 small loops and not catch Geyer, the big question was whether or not Geyer would have enough time to ride 9 loops. Having extra time left on the clock, we slowed down our last 2 laps to savor our day and enjoy the drying roads. We finished our 256 miles with 9 wasted minutes on the clock, and about 5 minutes behind Geyer who had more wasted time left, but not quite enough to ride another lap.

So 6 of us finished with a top mileage of 256 miles. Looking back in hindsight, our 5 man lead pack should have ridden a 5th big lap which might have kept us dry, and allowed us enough time to ride one small lap giving us 257 miles and top mileage honors over Frank Geyer by one mile! Even though Frank would have had a higher average speed [using his ending time of 11:46] than us [maybe our ending time would have been 11:58], we would have strangely "beaten" him on paper because we utilized more of our 12 hours than he did! Such is the nature 12/24 hour events where using as much of the full time as possible to crank out the most miles is crucial.

On my first Calvin's in 2000, I rode 263 miles leaving less than 2 minutes left on the clock. In 2001, Wesley Wilmer and I set the course record of 264 miles leaving less than 3 minutes on the clock. As I get weaker/slower from aging, I have to share top mileage honors with more and more people, having only been the sole winner my first year. I was however able to establish a new record in my new 40-44 age category, but Wesley Wilmer's 45-49 age category record of 264 miles might stand for a very long time.

A big congratulations goes out to Ann and John McKinley, their bearded friend, Chris Stauffer, Calvin, webmaster Barry Schroeder, and the rest of the volunteers which make Calvin's the best run and most attended 12 hour race in the country. I am proud to be part of such a terrific event.

Luckily, my loose, noisy pedal got me all the way home to Pittsburgh on my 1,065 mile week including Calvin's. I now am 534,000 miles along my million mile lifetime journey.

Danny Chew