My bike racing career started as a triathlete. After a couple years of passing people on the bike and then getting passed by them on the run I realized maybe I should focus on my strengths and just ride the bike. When I first moved to Colorado, I lived in Denver and commuted by road bike while working as a tech in a shop. One October, I went out to 24 Hours of Moab to be support crew for my buddies. Even though I’d only mountain biked once or twice I immediately felt I should be racing and not wrenching. The entire feel of the race was exhilarating, starting with the infamous La Mans start.
The next year those friends asked me to join their team. So, I bought a used mountain bike and they taught me how to mountain bike on those uphill rocky switchbacks that filled Front Range trails. The 24 Hours of Moab event was my very first mountain bike race and it helped me fall in love with the sport of mountain biking with the great community that shows up to it every year.
After that year I moved away and was unable to make it back to the race, until this year… but was it my last? A couple weeks before the race, its director Laird Knight sent out a race communiqué explaining this may be the last 24 Hours of Moab. Like many races it has been hit hard by a little mismanagement in this unpredictable economy where registration and sponsorship money are down. 24 Hours of Moab is a race that has hosted the National Championships and the legends of endurance racing and beloved by many of us “average joes”. It seems a race that would never disappear, but unfortunately its future is dim. But that didn’t bring a down mood this weekend.
My camp had two teams of four and a team of two along with a bunch of dedicated friends to make us food and fix our wrecked bikes in the middle of the night. The camaraderie of not only my friends but other racers is one of the things that makes mountain biking and this event special. When you ride by someone at 3 a.m. you are both sharing that odd tired, excited state of mind and can’t help but cheer each other on. Bissell’s Andy Jacques-Maynes won the solo category after being dared by his twin brother to race it. Osprey Packs sponsored Honey Stinger team ran a clinic on how to race a four-man 24-hour team — and in the process set the fastest laps of the weekend. And my two friends, who taught me how to mountain bike and brought me into this wonderful sport, found time to train when they weren’t hanging with their kids to take second in the Duo Pro category.
Now that I’m back I don’t want this race to go away. I will be sending Laird an email today promising a team next year. I encourage all of you to do the same. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them you will be there next year with a team and with the expectation that the race will continue and that everyone including the racers and the race organizers will have a new appreciation for the event and how special it is.