Ever wonder what it would be like to ride a mountain bike across a scenic, but challenging, course for 24 hours straight? Me neither! But that’s exactly what competitors in the 24-Hours of Moab mountain bike race are preparing to do when the event gets underway today at noon local time in Moab, Utah. As you can probably deduce from the name, the ride won’t end until noon tomorrow, after a very long, and grueling, day in the saddle for the riders.
Racers are allowed to compete in three categories, riding as an individual or part of a two or four person relay team. If they are part of a team, they’ll be allowed to switch out from time to time and get some much needed rest. The individuals will have it the toughest however, riding solo while trying to accumulate as many laps as possible before the 24 hour cut off.
The course is a challenging one for sure. Consisting mostly of old jeep trails, the route winds its way through the scenic backcountry that Utah is so famous for, ensuring that the riders will at least have something beautiful to look at along the way. Not that they’ll have time to notice however, as some of the bigger drops will have them rushing down hills at over 40 mph, as they carefully pick their lines hoping to avoid danger along the way. The entire route is just 15 miles in length, and the top riders will be able to finish laps in under an hour, but the more than 1360 feet of vertical gain on each lap will have their legs crying out for mercy. Especially when it is the middle of the night and they’ve already been riding for more than 12 hours straight.
The race has been going on for 15 years now, and during that time it has earned itself a reputation as one of the top endurance mountain biking events in the world. This year, there will be more than $20,000 in cash, and another $15,000 in prizes, up for grabs, although for most of the riders it is all about the fun and camaraderie of the event.
[Photo credit: Xavi Fane]