The Kona Bikes 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race will begin its second decade when it happens on February 13-14. A full field of duo and multi-person teams and solo racers is expected at Willow Springs Ranch, north of Tucson, Arizona.
The popular event, now in its 11th year, features fast and flowing Sonoran desert singletrack and draws mountain bikers from around the world - especially those looking for a break from winter in colder climates.
"The registration numbers tell us that even in down economic times people still value the quality of life derived from the great outdoors," said Todd Sadow, president of Epic Rides. "Bringing people together in a positive environment to celebrate the many benefits we enjoy as mountain bicyclists: physical challenges, fitness and enjoying Nature - especially Southern Arizona's unique desert landscape are critical components."
In addition to stimulating the local economy with an influx of approximately 3,000 visitors, the event raises funds for local nonprofits, including the Arizona Cancer Center, the Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition and several trail advocacy organizations including the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and the Arizona Trail. In recent years, the event has averaged more than US$20,000 in funds raised for the various charities.
An anticipated 1,600+ riders will compete. Among those are Marco Copelli, a seasoned Italian endurance racer with 43 24-hour events on his resume. After missing last year due to conflicts, Copelli will be attending the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo for the first time.
Evan Plews and Sarah Kaufmann won the 2009 solo men's and women's races.
Sadow said this year's event will utilize the same course, which combines 10 miles of singletrack with jeep roads to provide a 16-mile loop that is challenging without intimidating intermediate level riders.
Each year the race is dedicated to some person or organization or cause, and this year is no exception. The 11th edition is dedicated to Stan Koziatek, who is responsible for introducing the tubeless tire conversion system to the mountain bike industry and for driving the impetus to use tubeless tires on dirt. Organizers say they are well aware of the improvement that comes along with tubular tires - "more time riding and less time fixing flats".
For more information visit www.epicrides.com/twofour/24.htm.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.