The 24 Hours of Moab: Impressions

Posted by on Oct 11, 2010 in Bike, Moab, Races | 4 Comments

Some things never change.

The 24 Hours of Moab is one of them.

Of course, there are subtle variances of minutia and nuance. In the weather. In the field. But those fade into the background of what is, and has been for 16 years, a gathering of enthusiastic, high-spirited people who love mountain bikes, the desert, and a stout physical challenge. Every year the story is the same: Individuals work together to accomplish rare feats of human powered excellence.

That story, one would imagine,  should start to grow stale after so many years, and so many variations throughout the racing calendar. After all, each bike race, from Wednesday Worlds to the Tour de France, is founded on exactly that same idea. But somehow the 24 Hours of Moab separates itself year after year. Why that is, I can’t exactly know. But after nearly a decade of participation, I have my theories and hunches. And in fact, I don’t think the answer is overly complex. It is, instead, rather simple: The people.

As I pedaled through the sand and rock and dark I saw around me riders doing the same. And like me, they were working as hard, and riding as fast, as their abilities would allow. Some were amazingly fast. And other’s remarkably slow. But all were pushing pedals over and through uncommonly difficult terrain. The iconic course at the 24 Hours of Moab is as technically and physically challenging as is reasonably possible. And yet, men and women who find themselves out-matched by the difficulty and magnitude of the event are able to rise above the doubt and uncertainty and beyond the vast unknown.

And not just those who are unfamiliar with the course, or the larger style and demand of Moab trails—but everybody.

And so we return. Year after year.

However this year the race had a looming sense of finality for me. And I am left wondering if I’ll return next year. Or the year after that. The foreboding gloom may be the product of a long and ambitious mountain bike season finally coming to an end. It may signal a need for rest and variety and other pursuits. The usual excitement and energy that I draw so heavily from while I race at the event was tempered by a bittersweet reality. Like seeing an old friend, but only briefly.

However, it was still an appropriate and fantastic way to cap the year. And today I sit—with tired legs and a foggy mind—looking back at the weekend with a sense of pride and satisfaction. My teammates and I had hoped to repeat our top-of-the-podium performance from last year. Alas, we finished on the outside, looking in. 4th. And yet, we rode faster and more efficiently than we did in 2009. We dug deeper. Tried harder. Smiled more. And for those reasons, I feel like 2010 was one of the best races I’ve been a part of. Steep competition. Scorching lap times. Fatigue. But there we were, flirting relentlessly with a podium finish throughout the long night and well into the morning.

I’d claim that our perseverance and passion and determination were unique. But, in fact, we were simply one of 325 teams and solo riders who learned over the weekend and in the wide open desert that they could be better and faster. More. A lesson that we seem to learn over and over. Year after year.

Some things never change.

The 24 Hours of Moab is one of them.

Image Credit: Zimbio.com

4 Comments

  1. Jonnie J
    October 11, 2010

    Amazing photo. And a great write-up.

  2. Kerry
    October 11, 2010

    Great article. It makes me want to experience this some day. Great photo.

  3. Jeff Higham
    October 11, 2010

    Amazing experience even if only watching from the sidelines as I was this year. I have a new respect for those that show up year after year and hammer out lap after lap. That was also the most campfire smoke I have inhaled in a single night.

  4. Jesse
    October 11, 2010

    Well said Adam. I’m not one to offer complements, but that was a great post. Pleasure being on your team.