24-hour mountain bike races are very popular these days. It's a simple format: whoever can lay down the most laps in 24 hours wins. The winners typically don't sleep and you'd better be well-accustomed to night riding for long hours in the saddle. If I had the time to get in a bigger volume of riding, I'd love to try a 24-hour race, but I'm just not there yet.
Thus, for the last couple of years I've had my sights on the 6-hours of Frog Hollow near Virgin, Utah. Much more manageable. The race has existed for a few years now, but I've always had something come up to thwart my plans.
My aid station--everything I need to survive several hours circling through the desert.
These timed races are completely self-supported so you need to set up your own aid station. I decided to forgo the Camelbak and rely strictly on water bottles for hydration. To save time, I had 5 full bottles sitting in ice ready to trade out after each lap. Plenty of food, tools, and spare parts rounded out the gear at my pit.
My #1 fan.
Another reason I was excited for the race: the mass le mans start. It's tradition at these types of races for racers to lay there bikes down along the start of the course and then at the gun, run a hundred yards or so to your bike. It's a bit chaotic, but very fun.
Bikes laid down and ready for the le mans start.
The Frog Hollow course starts with a rolling moderate climb of graded dirt, single track, and jeep road that takes you from the starting area on Sheep Bridge Road up to the top of the JEM trail in the shadows of Gooseberry Mesa. JEM has long been a local favorite. It starts fast with a few small drops followed by a sweeping, loose right turn. On the first lap a guy in front of me wiped out pretty good here. After the turn, a course marshal signals whether you have the option to ride JEM's infamous techy Virgin Limestone switchbacks. The rule is if someone is walking through the tech section ahead of you, you too must walk it. There just isn't enough room for a rider to pass someone walking their bike. Being bunched up on the first lap, everyone pretty much had to walk that section. Things spread out by the second lap and I was able to ride the tech section the remainder of my laps. It's more of the same for several miles after the Virgin ledges: gradual downhill, moderately sharp turns, and occasional roller bumps.
Things change drastically as you near the Virgin River. Up to this point the course traverses the middle and lower red members of the Triassic Moenkopi Formation. The red members make a nice smooth base for mountain bike trails (St. George's "Green Valley Loop" is another good example). Close to the Virgin River, you drop down through the stratigraphic section and get into the Timpoweap Limestone, the very bottom of the Moenkopi. The Timpoweap is unforgiving on bikes and bodies. Ledgy best describes the Timpoweap trail surface. There are short but abrupt climbs that require finessed power moves. You must constantly shift your weight to and fro to avoid endoing on blunt-edged steps. This section is a full-body workout and it becomes dreaded by the fourth and fifth laps.
The 12-mile race loop ends with a wash crossing and mild dirt-road climb up to the start.
My first two laps went well and came in around an hour each. I took a bit of a break after the 2nd lap and still felt good during the 3rd lap. The 4th lap was significantly slower, and I have to admit, I was so drained on the 5th lap that I walked a couple of sections.
The event was well organized and everyone had a care-free attitude. These are the qualities that will have me back next year.
RESULTS: I completed 5 laps and 65 miles in just under 6 hours--good for 8th place out of 25 in the solo male category.
Last 5 feet of the race and still managing a smile. That's success in my book.
Death Valley is well known as having the lowest point in North America in Badwater Basin at nearly 300 feet below sea level. Much less we...
At 11,253 feet, Lone Peak isn't the highest summit in Utah's Wasatch Mountains (that'd be Mt. Nebo in the southern Wasatch ...
Running barefoot along the salt flats near Stansbury Island, Great Salt Lake. I had an excellent 20-mile run around and over the top of ...
The Trans-Zion is a 48-mile route across Zion National Park that wanders from the East Entrance to Lee Pass in the Kolob Canyons section o...
Here are some highlights from the rest of our trip with friends to Kauai. We fit a lot in in just a few days. Big thanks to Casey and Mil...
Here are a few photos from a little jaunt to seldom-visited Black Crook Peak near Vernon, Utah, back in June. At 9,274 feet, it's not ...