Photo courtesy Granny Gear Productions, Inc.

Last fall I rode 24 Hours of Moab as my first mountain bike race ever. Seeing a tent city pop up in the middle of the desert, riding a fairly technical course at speeds I didn’t think I had in me, and doing it again in the dark while hanging around the start/finish area with my teammates eating food and watching the other racers was collectively the highlight of my mountain biking experience last year.

As a former participant, I am now on their mailing list and I just received a rather disturbing email from Lance Knight, the race director.

After 16 Years, This Year May Be The Last 24 Hours of Moab
In recent years there’s been a trend towards teams signing up later and later. Distressing as this has been, taxing our ability to anticipate and plan for the size of the event, we’ve been gratified to see late registrations consistently pour in, and “save the day.”

This year, going into the last two weeks before the race, our pre-registrations were only slightly down from previous years. That was a little un-nerving but not alarming, given the trend we’ve observed. In previous years we’ve seen 40-60 teams sign up two weeks before the event and fully 75-85 teams sign-up in the final week leading up to the race.

This last week we have seen only 10 additional teams sign up. Now that’s alarming. It does not bode well. While in recent years we have seen fields of well over 350 teams, at the rate things are going, even 300 teams would appear to be an optimistic expectation.

There is no doubt that the economy plays a huge part in how we spend our recreational dollars. For my part, I am purchasing a new bike and taking the family on a much needed vacation. With gas still over $3 a gallon, plus registration and camping fees, 24 Hours of Moab is just not feasible for me this year. “I’ll go next year,” I told myself, and apparently I am not alone. But unless something changes, next year may not happen.

24 Hours of Moab is a tradition among mountain bike endurance races and to see its demise would be tragic. With the race occurring this weekend, it is very short notice for teams to pull together an entry, but there are some things you can do if you’d like to help:

What can you do about it?
a) If at all possible, sign up and field a team in this year’s race.
b) If you can’t race this year, put a shoulder into making 2012 happen
c) If you’d like to make a contribution on behalf of your team, register a “phantom” team.
The Men’s or Women’s Solo Singlespeed class is the lowest entry fee ($162 total).
An inordinately large “turn-out” for the solo singlespeed class would certainly send a clear message about the support for the continuation of the event. (Even if you don’t show up, we’ll mail you this year’s T-shirt!)

Let’s see what we can do to save this iconic mountain bike race. If you’ve ridden it in the past and loved it, if you plan to do it “someday,” or if you just hate to see traditions die, please consider helping out.

You can read the race director’s complete message here.

And you can register for the race here.

# Comments

  • element22

    Wow that would be a sad thing to see happen…I do understand why people are holding back a bit.. But to see this go would be a shame.

  • trek7k

    Well, just looking at the banner above I see one place they could save some money – the cash prizes! $20,000 is a lot of cash to put on the line and I understand it’s important to draw the top riders but maybe there’s room to cut there. Clearly it’s a marketing decision – if the top riders come, the thinking goes, more regular Joes will sign up to race alongside their heroes. Perhaps those top riders themselves would be willing to make concessions to keep such a great event afloat…

    People like to bitch about the cost of mountain bike races all the time but the fact is the promoters aren’t getting rich off these things. In fact, many events end up losing money, though few have the potential to lose as much money as 24 Hours of Moab due to its scale. Let’s hope they pull through!

  • dgaddis

    I wonder how many people really care about whether the pro’s are there or not? I don’t, at all…but I’m not sure how others feel about it.

  • steve32300

    I don’t race,although I’ve been in Moab during the 24 hours of Moab race and it was deffinately an experience seeing main street crawling witth mountain bikes,like an ant hill evacuation,mtn. Bikes were EVERYWHERE.It was really cool because no matter what we did or where we went,we were elbow to elbow with other Mtn. Bikers.The resteraunts were so packed we were litterally rubbing elbows with other Mtn. Bikers while we ate.I’ll never forget it.

  • mtbgreg1

    @dgaddis, I’m with you. I’ve never been enamored with pro riders or really professional sports of any kind. Growing up, I would rather be out downhill skiing and actually DOING something myself instead of watching the pros play football on TV. Personally, I’m more interested in living my life and enjoying it to the utmost instead of following super closely what the pros are doing.

    Of course, the pros push our sport and help bring it publicity, and we need something to aspire to, I’m just trying to relate my general philosophical position on the topic here…

  • AK_Dan

    Yes I think gearing it towards the ‘Regular Joe Rider’ would be a good thing too.

    Umm, how about some advertising in different areas?
    I read a lot of MTB publications and visit many websites on a daily basis so Im not completely clueless, however I find myself in Moab right now for the Outerbike show and didnt even know this race was happening this weekend – that is poor advertising.

  • basindaddy

    There are a ton of local Utah riders that don’t do it because it rolls into sunday. If dates were changed to friday/saturday I’m guessing numbers would increase. I have no qualms with the sunday schedule, but if that’s what it takes to boost the numbers it would be worth considering.

  • Danno#1

    From what I’ve seen, Granny Gear Productions races are the most expensive 24hr endurance bike race events. With the economy and people holding back on expendable cash flow, I’m sorry but this was going to happen. Lower the entry fee and scale back on unnecessary fluff like the inflated cash prizes and T-shirts. How many T-shirts do we really need? Granny Gear pulled out of 24hr of 9-mile and Big Bear this year because of budget problems. A local grass roots group pulled together a race on the same date just a few months prior to Granny Gear pulling the plug on 24-9 and an awesome Wausau24 event was born with entry fees at a fraction of what Granny Gear had. Look at how popular Tour Divide is and there are no cash prizes, lol. People will ride to ride.

  • NCBikingJim

    Ok, I usually don’t comment about these types of things but on behalf of a club that has successfully put on not only a 6 hour event that sold out in less than 36 hours as well as a major 24 hour event in the South East that has sold out or nearly sold out every year a lot goes to be said of being a more grassroots event.

    I also help put on a 12 race cross country grass roots series that has been very successfull and attendance has increased every year for the past 5 years.

    A lot has to do with the attitude of the people putting the race on, what is being done with the monies from the race, etc. For example for the endurance races any profits go back into a fund to help maintain the trails and to help create new ones.

    For those in the South East you’ve probably already figured out who I am and which endurance races I’m speaking of. If not and you would like to know, shoot me a message.

  • mahanjoe@gmail.com

    When it comes down to it, non-mainstream sports come down to tradition, not competition. maybe that is the trend everyone is realizing, that they enjoy going to moab with their crew to ride, and they are realizing they dont have to pay a race fee to do it the very next weekend.

    I am against racing myself, i could care less who knows who and how fast is fast. i enjoy the ride, as everyone else should because that is why we started. if this is the last 24 hours of moab “RACE,” then we should all just go next year for that so called reason we started…”FUN!”

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