Local cyclists ready to burn in Furnace Creek

Katie Dorsey, Herald staff writerOctober 1, 2012 

Burning legs — and skin — be darned, Joe Stacks and Brad Atencio don’t plan to give up as they cycle under the hot Death Valley sun this weekend.

The Richland residents will compete in the Furnace Creek 508, a bike race that starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Valencia, Calif., and finishes in Twentynine Palms, Calif. The deadline to cross the finish line is 7:30 a.m. Monday.

Stacks, 58, and Atencio, 47, are riding together to raise money through the One Team One Fight partnership, which benefits the Navy SEAL Foundation and 31Heroes Project. Both organizations assist military families.

So far, Stacks and Atencio have raised $1,600, but they are hoping to hit $2,500.

“I really respect what they do,” Stacks said of the Navy SEALs.

Stacks is jumping into the Furnace Creek race for the first time, while Atencio has completed it four times — in 1999, 2000, 2010 and 2011. A fifth finish would put him in the event’s Hall of Fame.

Stacks’ wife, Rochelle, and their friend Larry Dodson of Richland will accompany the duo as their support crew. Stacks will race the first 84 miles before Atencio takes over for Stage 2, and they will alternate for the rest of the eight stages.

About 24 two-man teams will compete, including David Fischer and Diane Strycula of the Chinook Cycling Club in the Tri-Cities. Atencio rode in his first Furnace Creek race with Fischer.

Former Tour de France cyclist Floyd Landis also will be among the participants.

Atencio’s best finish with a four-man team was 29 1/2 hours, and he estimates that he and Stacks will complete the 508-mile race in 35 hours.

“It’s just a good challenge, and I really enjoy the team aspects of it because we have the team that’s riding and our support crew,” Atencio said. “Plus, the dynamic of being awake for two days and everyone getting really tired and making everything work when everything’s working against us, it’s a different dynamic, and it’s fun.”

To make a donation, go to www.31heroes.com/support-a-otof-athlete/ and select Joe Stacks or Brad Atencio from the “Choose the athlete you’d like to sponsor” dropdown and complete the fields.

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