Twelve hours of roller-coaster action on two wheels

Local bike race will host 900-plus riders, donate proceeds to benefit local youths

Keeping the course interesting, a dummy biker is laid out along the terrain at last year’s 12 Hours of Mesa Verde. The race is Saturday at Phil’s World and Montezuma County Fairgrounds. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Keeping the course interesting, a dummy biker is laid out along the terrain at last year’s 12 Hours of Mesa Verde. The race is Saturday at Phil’s World and Montezuma County Fairgrounds.

Tires are pumped, chains are greased, and chinstraps will soon be tightened.

This year’s 12 Hours of Mesa Verde bike race is just around the corner, and as always, the one-of-a-kind event promises nothing but nonstop action.

Scheduled to take place at Phil’s World on May 10, this year’s event will feature more than 900 riders, who, along with sharing a common passion for mountain biking, hope to benefit a good cause.

Race information

Competitors in this year’s event will ride along a 16.4-mile course, which, in addition to an 1,135-foot total elevation gain, features technical areas and steep descents.

More than just a local or regional event, the race will feature riders from around the world hoping to put their strength, technical skill and endurance to the test.

Riders may compete individually, as part of a duo, or as part of a three- or four-person team with the goal being to complete as many course laps as possible over a 12-hour period.

Competitors will be divided into divisions that will include male, female and coed divisions in geared and single-speed categories. A children’s race, which is open to anyone under the age of 13, will also be offered as part of this year’s event.

Discussing what makes the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde event special, race board member Tonya Wynes began by speaking about the course at Phil’s World.

“(Phil’s World) is nationally known,” said Wynes. “It is unique because it’s like a bike-powered roller coaster. It has quite a bit of technical stuff in it.”

Race history

Although this year’s “12 Hours of Mesa Verde” race will feature more than 900 competitors, the now nationally popular event enjoyed humble beginnings.

Taking place for the first time on Mother’s Day weekend in 2003, the first race featured 40 racers who raced one lap around a 7-mile course.

Numbers slowly grew in the years following 2003 however, and by 2007, the event adopted its current 12-hour format and attracted 92 racers.

In 2012, nearly 800 racers signed up for the race and this year, registration was capped at just over 900 racers.

“We anticipated growth, but I don’t know that we anticipated the extent that it would grow,” said Wynes. “Now, it’s a huge competition for racers to even get in.”

Race cause

Founded as a nonprofit event, the “12 Hours of Mesa Verde” race has always donated its proceeds to organizations that benefit youth in the local community.

In 2013 alone, donated 43,000 dollars to local youth organizations, 15,000 dollars of which was given to the Pinion Project.

This year, proceeds will be donated to the Piñon Project, the Child Advocacy Center, the Southwest Open High School and the School Community Youth Collaborative.

“We keep (donations) local in our county and choose programs that benefit kids that are at risk,” said Wynes.

Always an exciting event, Wynes encouraged members of the local community to show up this weekend to watch some exciting racing.

“It’s a family fun event,” said Wynes. “There’s cheering and you can see racers come in. There’s always excitement at the venue.