Sunday, February 17, 2013

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

Yesterday was a well earned rest day for us so we headed out into the desert just North West of the Catalina Mountains to watch a whole lot of other folks on an epic mountain bike ride. Well, we watched a few hours of it anyway.

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is a 24 hour mountain bike race. Yeah, you read that right, it's a 24 hour race! From noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. Most participants do it relay-style, some hardy souls do it solo. We knew that Hans' second cousin's fiance was participating in a relay team, that gave us the carrot we needed to get ourselves out there. (And then I forgot to take a picture when we found them!)

The course is a 16 mile loop with 1200 foot elevation gain. Each loop ends at the Transition Tent where riders check in and hand off a baton to the next relayer on their team or just continue on if they are soloing. Results are based on number of laps completed in 24 hours and category of rider (solo, duo, team, etc.)

It was a long haul out a dirt road to the entrance, but you could see the "24 Hour Town" from a long ways off.

We knew the start was at noon and we attempted to arrive by 11am. Once we got through the entrance gate ($5 and 2 cans of food/each) we were in a nightmarish maze of tiny dirt roadways through haphazardly parked RV's, tents, trucks and cars, port-a-potty's, vendors plus bikes and people flowing steadily to the starting area...and we were in our giant truck! All of these factors were fighting for the small bits of space available between cactus and creosote and rocks.
We were very lucky to find a parking space with easy in/out access.

Once parked we made our way to the starting area with 10 minutes to spare.
The crowd waits along the opening "chute" moments before the start.
The first set of riders must run to their bikes.

The party had definitely started!

We even saw a few riders do this as they came through!

There were 538 relay teams and solos participating. Here are the first runners (riders) coming through the chute! They grab their bike from an assistant and off they go!

After the start we climbed a rock pile overlooking the 24 Hour Town and the drop into the transition/finish area:

The big white tent on the right is the transition tent.
People are camped and parked in any available spot in the desert, leaving small dirt roads for access.

This is the open desert terrain the riders are tackling.
About half of the course is on single track, the rest is on dirt roads.

As the riders finish a lap the course takes them up on this little rocky hill where they must drop off a rock face and make a turn towards the transition tent with lots of spectators watching them:

Two riders making the turn to drop down the rock face.

Rider dropping down the rock face.

Rider making the turn at the bottom of the rock face.

After a few hours of taking in the scene around the 24 Hour Town we headed on back to our cozy home, thankful that we were not camping out in that mass of humanity for the weekend!

On the way out the race course crosses the exit road.

The event was held on a private ranch which leases space to the event coordinators. But the usual occupants remain on site. We wondered if the racers had to contend with any of these guys on the course!

It was a fun and different kind of day in the desert!


  1. The ride down the rock pile looks difficult. I wonder how many people endo on that. Great photos, it's good to see what we missed the year we were out there.

    1. Without all the spectators I think the rock drop would be scary but doable actually! We did see one person fall at the bottom, who knows how many did fall during the course of the race...watching riders enter the transition tent, there were a number who obviously had fallen at some point on the trail! Quite an interesting day!

  2. I assume you and Hans were staking it out for next year!! Get those legs ready. That would be 12 hours each...piece of cake!

    1. HA HA HA HA!!!! And that would be a great big "Hell No"!!!! We laughed about how maybe we could each do two laps but that would be it! :-)

  3. I was just gonna say too, that you probably are staking it out for next year.! But sure looks fun and interesting to watch. Love that capture on the Javelinas.