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Sunday, February 25, 2024

24 Hours In The Old Pueblo - Back At It

The 24 Hours In The Old Pueblo ("Two Four HOP") is an iconic 24 hour long mountain bike race heralded for its fun, fast course, thorough organization, enthusiastic volunteers, unique expo, rambunctious riders, and rowdy fans. For 24 years now, about 4,000 people have gathered each year over Presidents Day weekend in an expanse of open Arizona desert to race, ride, and simply celebrate a shared passion of mountain biking. It's a big party.

Most of the 2,000-some riders race as a member of a relay team, where one team member rides the 16.7 mile lap while the other teammates hang out at the team camp or at the race venue. The other team members then take turns riding laps for up to 24 hours. There is no minimum number of laps, but to be an Official Finisher, a team's final lap must be completed AFTER 12:00 noon on Sunday. Many do not make that finish line.

This year, 165 riders lined up to race solo, that is, a team of one. Like the team relays, the solo rider races laps from noon Saturday until after noon on Sunday, taking breaks as necessary or desired. However, the solo rider does not pass the baton to a teammate. It's all on the individual rider to race those laps.

Desert forest at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.
Lean carefully through those turns.

In 2003, I raced Two Four HOP with friend Dan Cook as a Duo Team, finishing 13 laps to place 18th out of 45 teams. We both believed we left several laps out on the course and promised to return to race it better. But racing Duo Team meant that we saw each other only in the transition tent, so we decided to return as solo racers to have the option of riding together.

Years passed. Dan moved to Northern California and spent his limited spare time sailing competitively. I continued to ride, but drifted away from mountain bike racing. Now, 21 years later, I finally returned to Two Four HOP for my first 24 hour solo race.

It wasn't fast. It wasn't pretty. No lap was easy. That last lap was brutal. But I found a way to keep pedaling when I could have stopped short. 

Official Finisher. 7 laps (117 miles). 25 hours, 36 minutes. 55th out of 113 male solo starters (no age groups).

That's the same number of laps that I rode all those years ago on that Duo Team. 

I'm not done yet.

Full race report, people stories, venue/course details, and images ahead, after I get home and recover. For more event information, go to the 24 Hours In The Old Pueblo website and the 2024 Results.

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