27 February, 2019
The 24 hours of old pueblo is one of the oldest 24 hour races around. It is also one of the biggest mountain bike events in america, with roughly 2,000 entrants and thousands of spectators. The festivities actually span over several days, with people claiming their campsites as early as Wednesday.
Willow Springs Ranch is in the middle of the desert, 1 hour north of Tucson (the nearest large city) but almost everything you could need is set up at the race. Great food vendors, beer tents, showers, porta-johns, and emergency bike repairs by Bicycle Ranch and Stans No Tubes.
The event usually fills up in a matter of hours and just getting in is an accomplishment . A couple of my friends were on the wait-list and were lucky enough to get in last minute. When they asked me to be their 4th rider, I somewhat hesitantly said yes. I enjoyed spectating at this event in the past but actually racing for 24 hours did not sound that appealing to me.
At 12 P.M. on Saturday the race started with a 1/4 mile le mans start. Ethan Jedlicka was elected to run for our team and did a great job securing a good position in all the chaos. Each lap is 16.2 miles with roughly 60% singletrack. The fastest lap times were sub 1 hour but anything under 1:10 (especially in the middle of the night) was very respectable.
Our strategy was to each do one lap at a time and then switch to double laps overnight. The temps dropped into the 30s overnight which made for some numb hands and feet on the double shifts. This may have slowed our laps slightly but it was nice to catch a few hours of sleep. When the sun came up again our lap times started improving and we were in a battle for 3rd place. We went into the 22nd lap with a small gap on the Canyon team, but unfortunately couldn't hold them off and finished 4th.
Going into the event we had no expectations to be on the podium so we were excited to finish 4th. The atmosphere at the Old Pueblo is amazing. Almost everyone is there just to have a good time and hangout, racing is almost secondary. Even with the cold, racing the 24 hour format was more fun than I expected.
Thanks Nate, Ethan, and Carter for talking me into racing and thank you Epic Rides for putting on some of the best events in the U.S. We will definitely be back.