12 Hours of Action

Local racers and unique challenges highlight annual 12 Hours of Mesa Verde bike event

Kokopelli team rider Jeff Fox clears the tunnel under the highway in the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Kokopelli team rider Jeff Fox clears the tunnel under the highway in the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde.

When it comes to unique mountain biking opportunities in the Four Corner’s area, few events can compete with the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde Bike Race.

Held at Phil’s World on May 10, the popular endurance event hosted more than 900 riders from around the country.

Competing against some of the top mountain bikers in the country, several local riders placed well, while nearly every competitor cherished the event’s overall experience.

Local riders place well

With riders travelling to the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race from as far away as Alaska, competition was stiff. Even so, several local riders performed well.

Leading the local charge was Dolores resident Shawn Gregory, who won the single speed solo male division for the third consecutive time and the fourth time overall.

In all, Gregory completed eight total laps around the 16.4-mile course in a total time of 11 hours, 46 minutes and five seconds.

“I felt pretty good,” said Gregory. “I did a (300 mile) race in Arizona four weeks, so I wasn’t sure about my fitness, but it went well.”

Also performing well in the single speed solo male division was Dolores resident Vincent MacMillan and Cortez resident Terry Gorsuch. MacMillan completed 7 laps in 11 hours, 54 minutes and 54 seconds to finish sixth overall, while Gorsuch completed seven laps in 11 hours, 58 minutes and 57 seconds to finish seventh.

Other top local placers included Cortez resident Ha Thi Huynh, who completed four laps in 8 hours, 33 minutes and 17 seconds to finished 13th overall in the solo female class, and Cortez resident Ryan Buff, who completed six laps in 11 hours, 43 minutes and 9 seconds to finish ninth in the solo male division.

Race presents unique challenges

While to hardcore mountain bikers, a 16.4-mile course is in no way intimidating, the continuous nature of the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race tends to present unique challenges.

Discussing those challenges, Gregory pointed out that riders that completed eight laps traversed more than 131 miles.

“It sneaks up on people,” said Gregory of the race. “You have to be mentally strong and keep going. One of the big things that gets people is that they don’t consider the distance. All those little hills add up.”

Helping to balance out the hills however, a large crowd cheered riders near the start/finish line, which, according to Cortez resident Dylan Schwindt, helps make the race special.

“Seeing members of the your friends cheering you on is a lot of fun,” said Schwindt. “It’s a great atmosphere.”

Race puts local area on map

More than just a challenging race with a great atmosphere, the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race has brought notoriety to the local area.

“Not long ago, people didn’t know about Cortez and Phil’s World,” said Gregory. Now I can be at a race in Arizona or Wyoming and they know right where it is. It’s huge for the area.”

A truly unique event, the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race promises to continue in the future, thereby benefiting countless members of the local community.

Local rider Rex Robichaux competes in the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Local rider Rex Robichaux competes in the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde.