24-hour Mountain Bike Races

Last week, writing for New York Times’ new sports magazine, PLAY, I covered 24-hour mountain bike racing, which I’ve always thought to be among cycling’s oddest of disciplines. And I’m into this ultra-endurance stuff. But biking for 24 hours nonstop? Well, that’s one thing I have yet to put my body through.

Here’s my hash-out of a couple upcoming 24-hour events, as seen in last week’s PLAY e-newsletter. . .

Riding Knobby Tires to Exhaustion
By STEPHEN REGENOLD
Published: July 12, 2007
Pedaling a mountain bike for 24 hours straight might sound like some strange form of torture. But the enduring race format, which involves solo and relay-team riders cranking as many laps as possible in 24 hours on a pre-marked course, is now celebrated at dozens of events around the country each summer. Two of the biggest—24 Hours of 9 Mile in Wausau, Wis., and 24 Hours of Killington in Vermont—take place the weekend of July 28. At the Killington race, part of a national series of six 24-hour races, riders pedal a 9.28-mile course that includes a thigh-killing 1,798 feet of elevation gain per lap. Team and solo riders pedal through the day and night, donning powerful bike lights once the sun sets to illuminate the twisting technical trail. Points are racked up with each completed lap. In Wisconsin, 24 Hours of 9 Mile is the national championship race for one of cycling’s strangest of subgenres. The solo winners will spin through more than 200 miles of knobby-tire riding, starting Saturday at 10 a.m. and not stopping until Sunday at the same time, when they finish—ragged, muddy, and zombie-like, but smiling from knowing they just pulled off the nearly impossible.

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Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.
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