Every year, Epic Rides dedicates the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race to a person in the mountain biking community who's had an unforgettable impact on growing the success of the sport. 2013 is the first year that the race on February 16-17 is dedicated to not just one person, but a group of dedicated people who've guarded and grown the rights of mountain bikers through advocacy and sustainable trail building - the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).
Founded in 1988 by a group of California mountain bikers, IMBA is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit educational association whose mission is to create, enhance and preserve great mountain biking experiences. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2013, IMBA has contributed to the sport of mountain biking; a young but growing sport that has struggled to gain equal access to lands that equestrians and hikers previously had exclusive access to. Without IMBA, many of the trails mountain bikers ride today would still be off limits.
"IMBA's staff, board and invited guests are getting stoked to ride the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo," said Mike Van Abel, the IMBA's Executive Director. "It's a privilege for us to work on trail access issues every day, and it's even better when we have the chance to ride with the mountain bike community that we serve."
For the seventh consecutive year, the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is the largest 24-hour mountain bike event in the USA. But the event itself is just one facet of what Epic Rides President Todd Sadow describes as "the mountain biker’s Burning Man"; with 24-Hour Town suddenly emerging from the desert with tents, campers and RVs, forming a temporary city of more than 4,000 spectators and participants.
Tucson, Arizona is not only home to race organizer Epic Rides and the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, but it is also an internationally recognized outdoor recreation destination thanks to the trails development community consisting of Pima County, the City of Tucson and the leading mountain bike trail advocacy club in Southern Arizona, the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists (SDMB). And with the recent announcement of SDMB becoming an official IMBA chapter, trail advocacy and access in Southern Arizona will only become stronger.
"This partnership is a win for everybody involved," said Zach MacDonald, president, SDMB. "Because IMBA provides support and handles all of the administrative tasks, not only does it free us up to focus on trail building, but we also expect to double our membership within a year."
IMBA is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, and its worldwide network of 32 countries includes 35,000 individual members, more than 750 bicycle clubs, more than 200 corporate partners and 600 retailers.
IMBA will be honored at the event with a Social Hour starting at 6p on Friday evening in the Exchange Tent, followed by a Dedication Dinner at 7p. Registration for the dinner is required, and limited to the first 100 attendees.
In its 10-year history, the 24 hours of Old Pueblo has been dedicated to people like Susan DeMattei, Olympic bronze medal winner; Steve Anderson, past IMBA president; the late endurance mountain bike athlete Mike Janelle; and Stan Koziatek of Stan's No Tubes.
World-class mountain bike talent scheduled to attend in 2013 include Tinker Juarez, returning to the solo class for the first time since 2009; Pua Mata, who will ride on an Arizona High School Mountain Bike League team of teenage girls; defending co-ed duo champions Rebecca Rusch and Nat Ross dubbed as the King and Queen of Pain; local professional talents TJ & Chloe Woodruff; and the president of the IMBA, Mike Van Abel. Notable defending champion teams include the Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team and five El Grupo Youth Cycling Teams; one of which is the defending youth champion.