Pre-riding the course late Thursday afternoon, looking south toward Mt. Lemmon. The beautiful weather didn’t last as long as everyone at the event hoped.
Editor’s note: Jenny Herbold was co-author on this article and is a regular Singletracks contributor and Exercise Physiologist.
It’s like the circus has come to town.
RVs are positioned cockeyed into narrow spaces of tilted desert, stacked one on top of the other in a sandwich of generators, tents, and logo-covered pop-ups. Trucks and cars crowned with bikes are skewed helter-skelter into any nook and cranny. Some have perched in a spot for a week or more. Love your neighbor or bust, they say.
This is the 24-Hours in the Old Pueblo (24HOP).
Some riders come to party. Others probably bit off more than they could chew, the 24HOP being their first endurance event. But many train hard and go for a podium spot. And for those riders, the appearance of Lance Armstrong and his former Postal posse boosts the motivation to win.
Crack a cold one and join us as we take you through a chronological essay of images highlighting the excitement and exhaustion, the fast laps and slow, the parties and post-race celebration. Welcome to the 24HOP.
Maxxis Tire Toss on Friday afternoon. Participants could win a free Maxxis tire if they could hook one on the metal saguaro.
Plenty of dogs around to enjoy the race. Especially on Friday when the weather was spectacular.
Supplies are never in short supply for Friday’s late afternoon celebration. This wagon full of suds was handed out to any and all.
Welcome to the Whiskey Tree. This is where the real party starts on Friday night, just a few hundred feet down the trail. Friends gather to hoot and holler in the desert.
A committed pilot: Taking the sidecar to the Whiskey Tree party.
The man they call simply, “The Princess.” He’s famous — or infamous — and says nobody knows who he really is.
Part of the Whiskey Tree tradition is to hassle racers getting a test lap in. That often means a beer shower and sometimes a stinging slap on the backside.
Costumes and drunken yodeling were encouraged all weekend long.
Calculated preparation by solo racer Mike Castaldo of Chico, CA. Each of those bottles contains about 300 calories. In 2015, Castaldo won the World Solo 24-Hour Mountain Bike Championships in Weaverville, CA.
While some people spent Friday night prepping for the race, others were content to keep the party rolling.
Pano of the morning of the race (Saturday). The calm before the storm. Looking down from near the top of Solo Alley.
The pre-race captain’s meeting.
The energy and enthusiasm were palpable at the start.
And they’re off. This is called the stampede … and it is.
Singletracks contributor (and article co-author), Jennifer Herbold, comes in to grab her bike after the run. She did the race while I watched from the sidelines.
Spirits were high once things got rolling despite the changes in the weather.
The famous Rock Drop section draws crowds to watch as riders bomb down the front side and pop a small jump before swooping down toward the start/finish.
Refueling between laps. VERY grateful for the covered tent!
Refueling of a different kind. As the weather turned, a little winter warmer was in order before a lap.
Roadies welcome: Lance Armstrong showed up with a few old teammates, including George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, and Dylan Casey. Lance was pretty focused but accommodated tons of photo requests and joked with racers and volunteers in the start tent. Lance’s team, WEDU, placed third in the four person men open category.
A beer and some chow hit the spot after a lap. Or during for some people.
Volunteers like these guys make racing happen. And they were there doing the job without complaint despite the conditions.
Headed out for another lap with the right gear is important at 24HOP.
In the middle of the night the energy began to drop a touch but these racers smiled when I came near. This is what happened when I told them I needed to see their game faces.
Just slightly after 1 A.M. the rain began again as riders set off into the inky blackness of the Arizona desert. Not a complaint was heard as they left the tent.
Sunday morning “power hour.” The calm before the second storm.
Single speed racer Alex Hardt, with flat pedals and Vans slip-ons. He completed 14 laps, landing him 3rd place in the Male Single Speed Solo category. At the time of this photo, it was about 40 degrees out before the second wave of rain Sunday morning.
Wide-eyed and ready: Riders came down this hill toward camp usually carrying a pretty good head of steam despite the deteriorating weather on Sunday.
The misty, Sunday morning rain along the Solo Alley downhill, complete with a trail river.
Battling the elements on Sunday. And finding the will to fight through to the end.
Mike Hurst, Durango, Colorado, after the lap in the wet, cold conditions. Despite this look on his face, Mike was going to town and having a good time.
Single speed racer Alex Hardt between laps 12 and 13, warming up near the propane fire.
The conditions were really hard on gear, and there were plenty of mechanical failures because of it.
Big smiles and spattered faces were a common sight as Sunday wore on.
FINALLY! Everyone was happy to be done. And be on the podium …
Chase Edwards deserves to smile–this is what a win looks like.
Ignacio Rivera de Rosales was pretty tired at the end. But he not only raced (fast by my account), he also worked with several teams of young racers who participated as part of the El Grupo youth cycling club. As he walked away, he mentioned something about next year…