DANNY'S VIEW OF THE 2004 CALVIN's 12 HOUR CHALLENGE FROM THE LEAD PACK
A cloudy night allowed for a very mild 58 degree F start, but just 37 minutes in, rain began to fall and lasted about 90 minutes. By late morning the sun was out warming temps up to 75, but so was the wind. Our lead group of about 20 finished the first 50 mile loop in 2:12.
Of the 5 men who finished in the lead group last year, I was the only returning rider. Just before the first turn on the 2nd loop after a long fast pull at the front, I swung wide and Frank Sebode (on my wheel) over-corrected catching my rear wheel and crashed separating his shoulder and tearing ligaments. On his wheel was Ernie Marenchin who also crashed and may have broken his thumb or wrist. On his wheel was Gary Waggoner who also crashed. On Gary's wheel was John Jurczynski who also crashed. After waiting for about a minute until everybody got up off the road and seeing there were no serious injuries, our lead group resumed riding with Waggoner & Jurczynski catching back up.
Our lead group of 7 finished the first 100 miles in 4:28, but on the start of the 3rd lap, there were only 5 of us left: myself, Karen Mckee, Tracy McKay, Gary Waggoner, & John Jurczynski. I was clearly the strongest/fastest, and with the group down to five, we were able to use the whole width of the narrow roads for perfect echelon drafting. 11 miles into the 3rd lap as we were approaching the scene of the accident on now closed US Rt. 42, a race official stopped his vehicle ahead of us telling us the race had been canceled after 52 year old Robert Bachtel was hit and killed by a pick-up truck. Disappointed that the race was over, but understanding under the circumstances, we turned around and rode back to the start/finish area at Shawnee High School where a somber mood prevailed. Some riders rode a couple of the 7 mile loops, but most were gathered around talking about the incident and trying to console race directors John & Anne McKinley.
Tracy McKay of Alabama is doing the solo RAAM this year after finishing a two-person Team RAAM in 2002. Karen McKee - the 2003 Michigan 24 Hour National Challenge winner (she set new course record of 428 miles there and only 6 men beat her!) and the 2003 Iowa UMCA 24 Hour Championship winner (she rode 400 miles qualifying for RAAM) was on target to beat Sandy Earl's very impressive 249 mile Calvin's women's course record set in 2002.
Poor John & Anne McKinley had to face a race promoters worst nightmare. All afternoon at the high school, a lot of love poured out to them by the many riders who have enjoyed their terrific event for so many years. Quoting a line Robin Williams said to Matt Damon many times in the movie "Good Will Hunting", I looked at Anne & John and said to them multiple times "It's not your fault". I hope that they continue the tradition of Calvin's 12 Hour Challenge for many years to come.