This last weekend I had the opportunity to take part in the craziest bicycle event of my life, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around what happened. After 7 years in the bike industry I've seen a lot of things. 7 Interbikes, a 24 hour urban alleycat, multiple fixed gear street races, bikepacking/gravel trips in the north woods yet somehow this one was by far the wildest. What is this event you ask? The longest 1 day race; The 25 Hours In Frog Hollow.
The 25 Hours In Frog Hollow takes place right outside of Zion National Park in Southern Utah among some of the most amazing scenery in the country, and some of the best desert mountain biking. The race is scheduled every year on the day that Daylight Savings Time ends so you get an extra hour of racing giving you 25 hours total between 10AM Saturday morning and 10AM Sunday morning.
I am not an endurance cyclist, nor do I pretend to be one. I ride bikes. I don't race bikes. But when a good friend contacted me and asked me to be a part of his 5 person co-ed team at this year's Frog Hollow race I reluctantly said yes. Most people think that working in the bike industry you have tons of time to ride bikes but unfortunately, that's not always the case. Between running Fyxation and raising a couple munchkins, I haven't really ridden a ton this year and my longest mountain bike ride was maybe 20 miles (big maybe).
I was part of a very experienced crew that had competed in numerous 24 hour races and they'd even competed in this exact race 2 years ago so they had plenty of experience with race logistics. I pretty much just had to pack my gear and stick my thumb out and I got picked up a brand new Cruise America rental RV and we headed down to Virgin, UT for the race.
When we got there teams were already setting up and the event organizers had converted this dusty patch of desert into what was now called Frog Town. 405 riders participated in the race and most brought along either a family or support team. Because of this the place was packed with people, dogs, kids and bikes and it was a very fun environment. There was everything from noisy RV's that ran their generators at all hours, to simple tent set ups. We were sort of a mix of both but took pride in our minimal use of our generator. Even though I could have slept in the RV I brought along my old 2 man tent from college that has been severely neglected these last few years and I camped under the desert stars.
Our team was made up of 4 men and 1 woman and all had done this race before, except for me. These experienced riders and residents of Frog Town brought along all the supplies we could possibly need and our little patch of desert would soon be cranking out amazing camp meals, a constant source of heat from a rusty garage sale chimenea and tons of drinks. Our team name was Ace Hi Is Always A Good Idea, which I still have no idea what that means. Unfortunately for me, the last time my team did the race they were called the Shot-Skis so of course we all took a shot of Fireball at 9:30 AM right before the pre-race meeting.
The race started promptly at 10AM, which was now 9AM in Frog Time, and first group of riders ran to get on their bikes after a Le Mans start. Our first rider was our strongest and he headed out into the course with the lead group. The course consists of a mix of jeep roads, single track, dry river beds/desert washes and some gnarly rocky sections. The total course is about 13 miles and riders ascend about 1000 feet of vertical per lap. Average lap times are around 1:20 but the fastest riders started coming in about 50 minutes after the start of the race.
Photo Courtesy of Gro Races Facebook Page
Riders have to swing through a tent for the lap to count and after giving the race organizers his team name and bib number, Tom gave me a clothes pin that was like a baton and I headed out onto the course. My plan was to take tons of photos throughout the race to really give readers an idea of what the course looked like day or night but after the first 4 miles of the race, I went into survival mode. I took off too fast to start the race and spent most of my first lap trying to get my breathing and heart rate under control. The cinnamon flavored Fireball burps definitely didn't help.
After closely watching live race results throughout the course of the event we realized that we were sitting in 3rd place behind 2 teams that we had no chance of catching. We were however in sight of the teams behind us so we couldn't let up if we wanted to keep our 3rd place position. At the start of the race I didn't really think this was a possibility but we had a pretty strong team so we all kept riding as hard as we could. For me this meant completing 5 laps including 2 at night which were some of the most sketchy, but fun mountain bike rides of my life.
I only had one fall during the race which happened of course, in the worst possible section called the Jem Drop. The Jem Drop starts with a tight right hand switchback that drops about a foot straight down and is followed by a series of stair steps down a sandy single track trail with a rock wall on one side and a steep drop on the other. Sounds fun eh?
The race organizers set up a 24 hour monitor at this section to help pick up the pieces from the inevitable crashes but also to ensure that the riders that choose to wisely walk down the feature don't get run over by the guys that didn't. I lost my balance, tried to un-clip, couldn't and landed on my face. Fun stuff at 3:30AM.
When all was said and done, our team completed 22 laps and narrowly got 3rd place by beating out the 4th place team by 10 minutes. I don't know if I'll be back at the 25 Hours In Frog Hollow as a rider again, but I may just be saying that because my entire body hurts right now. Huge shout out to my team and for the race organizers for putting on a great event.
Full race results are below and I'll be updating this post with some additional links once I find out who the photographers were that were stationed on the course shooting us riders throughout the event.
Official Race Photographer (Photos available November 12th)
Coupon Code: My fellow racers can use coupon code FROGHOLLOW25 to save 15% off here on our site