(May 3-4, 2013) FRUITA, Colo—The mountain biking endurance race by day, and mountain bike party by night, known as the 18 Hours of Fruita once again served to blow out the winter cobwebs from riders across the nation. As has been common in recent years, the race sold out quickly, and the weather was just perfect for fun mountain biking and a good time for all.
For 2013, the course stayed identical to previous years, which meant that the racing would be done on a 7.3 mile lap of smooth burned-in singletrack around Highline Lake. If anything, the dry desert environment provided abundant fine dust that wreaked havoc on mountain bike drive trains. Also according to plan, racers were left guessing at the midnight start as race promoter Troy Rarick held his ‘race start’ cards close to his chest. As racers lined up in a perceived pecking order, Rarick, an original founder of Over The Edge Sports and Fruita mountain biking as we know it since 1995, threw everyone a curve ball with an about-face 180 degree opposite direction start.
Once the start chaos was over with a quick lap through the campgrounds, the race was on, and singletrack shredding progressed in earnest. For most racers, this would be a team event, and for the fourteen male and female solo racers a challenge of will power and stamina would begin.
Coming out on top of the solo contestants, Drew Geer of Boulder and racing for Kappius Components (kick-ass mountain bikes hubs) came out on top by completing 27 laps in 17 hours 35 minutes and 32 seconds. It was an incredible effort, and Geer said, “I am beyond tired; it was quite an epic adventure. It’s a great course, it’s a technical course but not scary technical. To ride it fast is really hard; there are 200 plus corners out there!”
On the flip, the people having the most fun were on a team, which by default lent to another entirely different race experience. With classes that ranged from 2 person to 8 person teams, a happy place of suffering was guaranteed for all. Besides the experience of racing in an event that starts in the dark and finishes in the light, the team competitions take on a level of enthusiasm seen in no other events. Mountain Flyers own ‘Bike Date’ photographer, Corie Spruill, who raced on the second placed women’s 4 person team (whom all raced on fat bikes) said, “The last lap was pretty intense, you were just going on adrenaline. There was always someone out there cheering you on.”
For those interested, it’s an event that requires some element of fitness, but is certainly not exclusive to an ‘uber’ athlete crowd. Having fun on two wheels is the mandate, because after all, it’s an 18 hour mountain bike race party.