The 25 Hours in Frog Hollow bills itself as the longest mtb race in America. It takes the standard 24 hour race and adds an hour by taking place on the weekend that we roll our clocks back an hour for the change from daylight savings time to standard time.
The race venue is set in a beautiful location near Zion National Park. “Frog Town” begins to take shape on the Friday before the race starts on a high plateau with dramatic views of cliffs and rock outcroppings on all sides.
Although there are stories of starting this race with snow and 18 degree temps, this year was more typical, with lows in the 40s and highs around 70. Absolutely perfect riding weather.
As with most 24 hour races, this race starts with a LeMans start, forcing cyclists to awkwardly run through sand and sagebrush in stiff-soled shoes with tubes and multi-tools bouncing in their jersey pockets. Since I was part of the Crank Munkyz 4-person team and was slotted to ride the second leg, I was able to watch the melee from the sidelines.
As the first of several hundred racers grabbed their bikes and started pedaling up the gradual climb to begin the lap it was clear that the leaders meant business. The first five miles of the race is mostly doubletrack, with a few nasty little climbs that don’t mean much the first few laps, but will start to wear you down as the day progresses. The fun begins at the top of this climb
The long, rolling descent of the Jem Trail is a classic. It starts with flowing singletrack that leads to three steep hills of progressively increasing technical difficulty. The last of which consists of two tight switchbacks with a few rocks and steep exposure thrown in for good measure. From there it’s a big-ring fun-fest with dips and turns of all shapes and sizes.
Before completing the 12 mile lap there are several more sections that demand respect. Most of these are rocky step-ups that, again, get harder as the day (and night) progress.
Soon, however, you’re rolling back into the venue to the welcome cheers of spectators and fellow racers. At the end of the first lap, the first person to hear those cheers was Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing), who rode a blistering lap of 45 minutes, including the run at the start. He had given his 5-person team nearly a six minute advantage on the first lap alone.
As the daylight waned, the fun began. The Seca and Urban lights came on and the course took on a whole new personality. The rocks that were so easy to avoid when you were fresh and had sunshine now seemed to pop out from everywhere. In fact, the only predictable thing at night was that the two tireless Light and Motion employees, Ryan and Blaise, would be at their charging station ready to swap old batteries for fresh ones. They did a fantastic job for everyone lucky enough to be running L&M lights. I have a feeling they needed a nap and a shower before heading back to Monterey.
If you’re looking for a fun race with which to end your season, this is a good one. It was well-run with lots of good food and cheer, great riding and a spectacular setting.
For a full race report, check out Mountain Flyer's Coverage: http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/view.php/25-hours-of-frog-hollow-2011.html