Tomorrow morning one of the most challenging cycling events anywhere on the planet will get underway from Santa Clarita, California. Two hundred riders will set out to compete in the Furnace 508, a race that is billed as “the toughest 48 hours in sports”, and is known for pushing its competitors to the limits of their physical and mental endurance.
The 508 mile course runs from Santa Clarita to Twentynine Palms, crossing through the Mojave Desert and Death Valley in the process. The riders will be tested by ten mountain passes, offering up more than 35,000 feet of elevation gain over the length of the course. And when they’re not dealing with the cool mountain temperatures, they’ll be getting baked by the desert heat.
Competitors can ride the race in three categories, solo, and two- or four-person relays. Solo riders obviously ride the entire 508 miles by themselves, while the relay teams break down the course into two and four segments of equal length, with each rider taking a segment. Last year, the first solo rider to cross the finish line was Michael Emde, who completed the course in just 27 hours and 28 minutes.
The organizers of the race are also committed to being eco-friendly, and have advised the athletes on how to be on a “green team“. The list of suggestions for the racers to limit their impact on the environment includes using hybrid team cars, eating fruits and vegetables that are purchased locally, and using five gallon jugs of water to refill their bottles. The hope is to have a challenging and amazing race while leaving no trace of their passing.