Mountain
Photo: Dave McElwaine

Essential gear for 24-hour racing

A race like 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo takes some extra planning and special gear. Here's what we learned from this year's race.

By this point, you may have read a few of my follow-up stories from 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. It was my first 24-hour mountain bike race in about 10 years, so I had to relearn how to race an event like this. Perhaps most importantly, I had to sort out what gear to bring. In the aftermath of the race, I decided to poll my four-man team, which was organized by Canyon’s Jeremiah Bishop, to compile a few tips about what equipment makes this kind of race easier and more comfortable. Here is what we came up with.

Jeremiah Bishop

What I’m glad I brought: The item I was most glad to have that’s not needed in a normal race was my Radical Lights setup. The multiple settings to save battery came in handy on double night laps. Although it is harder to ride double night laps, it gives teammates more time to sleep, which makes a difference by the morning laps.

What I wish I’d brought: I really wish I had a zero-degree sleeping bag. It was cold out there! [Jeremiah bought a $25 sleeping bag at Target the day before the race and shivered through the night in the back of his Canyon sprinter van.]

Justin Mauch

What I’m glad I brought: I would say the best thing we had with us were the antacid tablets. Racing full-out for an hour and then only having a couple hours rest before going out and doing it again, your stomach doesn’t have much time for digesting real food. The antacids definitely helped me with keeping the sugar-filled upset stomach feeling under control.

What I wish I’d brought: Better baby wipes? I felt like I had pretty much everything I “needed.” A friend was racing with the Presta Coffee crew who had an espresso machine in their camper. They were turning out lattes between laps — pretty luxurious setup that has to cut a few seconds per lap. I grabbed a coffee after my last lap and wish I had had that setup throughout the night!

Cooper Wiens

What I’m glad I brought: Topeak Mini-20-Pro multitool. This tool has everything I need for on-the-go bike work, including a chain breaker and tire lever. It’s super compact, and I never ride or race without one.

What I wish I’d brought: Tire plugs! I brought plenty of repair equipment, but no plugs. After I slashed my tire on lap one, I had a whole ordeal trying to get the cut to seal, trying to boot my tire, missing a handoff, and eventually just having to put a tube in. Plugs would have made it a 60-second fix.

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo rock drop

Spencer Powlison

What I’m glad I brought: Along the lines of what Jeremiah said, I was so glad to have a dialed light setup, a Light & Motion Seca 2500 Enduro. Some of my worst memories from past 24-hour races have been when my lights cut out in the middle of a lap. This time, I had no issues, even though I did a double lap at the full 2500-lumen power. Plus, I remembered how fun night riding is, so I’m going to put that light to good use beyond the races.

What I wish I’d brought: More warm clothes. I really underestimated how cold it would get out in the Arizona desert. When you look at a weather forecast, always remember that the high temperature might only hold for 10 minutes in the middle of the afternoon, and that low temp could go on for hours in the morning if it’s cloudy. I would have loved a warmer puffy jacket, more long-sleeve jerseys, and spare legwarmers.