More riders, more singletrack and more fun are on tap for riders and spectators at the Kona 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, which will take place February 16-17 near Willow Springs Ranch, north of Tucson, Arizona.
Now in its ninth year, the event is a winter mountain bike destination for many North Americans. The race features fast and flowing singletrack and a festival-like atmosphere in Southern Arizona's Sonoran desert landscape.
An anticipated 1,650 riders will compete in the event, 200 more than the 2007 race, and a huge increase over the 176 contestants in 2000, the 24 Hours in The Old Pueblo's first year.
Promoter Todd Sadow said this year's event will incorporate another three miles of singletrack, utilizing existing trails "improving safety for the riders and others in the area while ramping up the fun factor another notch."
Among the elite riders drawn to the desert for some warm-weather racing are past solo winner and national 24 Hour solo champion Cameron Chambers, who will join a four-person singlespeed team and former 24 Hours. Former winner Tinker Juarez (Siemens Cannondale) will also race Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member and 2007 Leadville 100 winner Dave Wiens, Team Kona riders Barry Wicks, Matthew Slaven and Kris Sneddon and Team Cyclepath's Nelson Snyder, who will be tuning up for his adventure racing season. Snyder won the singlespeed solo category in 2006.
In the women's race, former national short track and Super D champion and 2007 La Ruta winner Sue Haywood (Trek / VW) will take on US National 24 hour solo champion Pua Sawicki (Team Ergon-Ellsworth).
The ninth annual event is dedicated to Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member Richard Cunningham, founder of Mantis Bicycles, whose contributions to the sport include being a mountain bike editor, advocating for mountain bike access, and making innovations to mountain bike design.
In its first eight years, the event raised approximately US$65,000 for various non-profit organizations, plus more than 10 tons of food for community food banks. For more information about the event go online to www.epicrides.com/twofour/24.htm and stay tuned to Cyclingnews for race coverage.