Kenny’s 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo Race Report

03.1.2011 | 7:38 am

A Note from Fatty: I just got confirmation that I’m in for my fifteenth Leadville 100. Which means I should probably start training and dieting in earnest. I’m curious how many Friends of Fatty also got in, or are planning on to come up to watch, or support a friend / family member. Maybe we should have a barbecue? Leave a comment and let me know.

Another Note from Fatty: Back in early January, Kenny asked me for a favor: appeal to my readers to help him get into Kona Bike’s 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. My condition to him was that in return, he’d need to write a race report, with awesome photos. You delivered, and now he has too. Enjoy his story!

Kenny’s Race Report: Kona Bike’s 24 Hours in the OIld Pueblo

One of my favorite races is Kona Bike’s 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo put on by Epic Rides – a fast, swoopy, desert single track mountain bike race outside of Tucson. It’s the largest 24 hour mountain bike race of its kind.

The logistics involved in getting to the start line of the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo are time consuming and difficult. You need shelter, food, heat, a generator to charge lights, all of your bike stuff – tools, helmet, shoes and clothes to ride in. You need to coordinate everyone’s schedule and everyone’s stuff.

And you need to be mentally prepared to spend many, many hours behind the wheel. Racing for 24 hours following a 14 hour road trip is probably not the best pre-race preparation strategy. In fact, I’m convinced that it could easily cause a psychotic break and/or medical crisis leading to death.

But it had been a while since I had done this race with my team, the Jack Mormon Militia, and the memory of the painful drive had faded, and the memory of the super fun race had grown. So, when I was looking for an event in February, I decided that the 24 hours of Old Pueblo would be fun to try again.

My racing buddies Chucky and Josh said they were interested, but when I checked on-line registration, I discovered that the race was full. Later that same day on facebook, Epic Rides posted a contest for an entry to their race – write a “comment” on the Epic page, and whoever got the most “likes” on their comment would win the last entry of the race.

Yes, a popularity contest! And since I am a pretty big deal in the biking community …

OK, OK, maybe I’m not such a big deal – but I know someone who is. Sometimes, it is a good thing to be a Friend of Fatty. [Ed. Note: Is it ever not a good thing to be a friend of Fatty?]

Five hundred and eighty “likes” later, and it was time to get the JMM crew back together. Thank you, Fatty and to all the readers of the fatcyclist blog who voted me.

Getting the band back together

With a few calls and e-mails, I re-united with my old JMM team mates: Josh Wolfe, Chucky Gibson, and Matt Harding.


And because my winning entry was for a 5-person co-ed team, I added the first woman to serve in JMM ground combat – pro racer and fitness trainer, Lynda Wallenfels.


My team is fast. Very fast. But the 5-person co-ed category is extremely competitive. Since every minute of our lap times would count, I did some research and discovered a recent biking invention – these strange shifty bits that fit on your bike, allowing you to change between different gear ratios by just pushing a little lever. I know, it’s a radical thought, but I was thinking with the help of these things — I’m going to call them “gears” — I could pick up a few minutes on each lap. And we would be just that much more competitive.

And secretly, I was a little worried about having slower lap times than our token female JMM.

We packed up all our gear and headed down with a stop in St. George to pick up Lynda. OP town was crowded, but thanks to my girlfriend Heather and the cutthroat team, we had our spot reserved.

Pre-ride and course

We arrived just in time to pre-ride the course. We had all done the race before, but it always helps to refresh your memory. Especially in this race, where every living thing seems to have a thorn on it. The Cholla bush, in particular, is a nasty little desert creature that lurks just around every off-camber singletrack turn, waiting to hurl big prickly chunks of itself onto unsuspecting riders.

The OP race is not official, in fact, until a racer crosses the finish line dripping blood from a cholla-skewered appendage.

We finished our pre-lap just before the western sun set the sky on fire in one of the most amazing desert sunsets I’ve ever seen.


It was a good omen, and it turns out, riding a bike with gears is just like riding a bike: you never forget.

Wind. Dust. Rain

We woke up the next morning to menacing clouds, great gusts of wind and lots of blowing dust. Pre-race nerves were replaced with hunkering down so all our gear didn’t blow away. Josh took the LeMans start, followed by Chucky, then Lynda third, which would hopefully allow her to complete her first lap before we started lapping other teams. It’s harder for women to pass in these races, because all of us ego-maniac men hating being “chicked.” The team line-up would finish with Matt and then me.

Despite wind gusts of over 50 miles an hour, Josh did great in the run and finished his lap in the top 25. Next up, Chucky pulled off a 1:02; the fastest lap from our team. Lynda survived a wind-induced cactus encounter and also had a great first lap.   

By the time it was my turn to head out, we were starting to lap the slower teams. But thanks to Lynda’s daughter, Emma, I had a super-secret weapon – a hamburger bell mounted to my handlebars.


I don’t think my handlebars have ever had so much stuff on them before – they didn’t know what to do with all this mounted hardware. But the bell was totally worth it. Rather than an “on your left,” or “can I pass when it’s convenient,” or a “faster rider coming through get out of my way,” all I had to do was ding the burger bell and riders would immediately start looking for a place to move over. I liked the bell so much, in fact, I tried to steal it from Emma at the end of the race – unsuccessfully, it turns out, because Lynda took it off my bike when I wasn’t looking.

The Race Heats Up

By the end of our first rotation, the No Tubes team was ahead of us by about 10 minutes. We had a race on our hands! The No Tubes team had sent their ringer, pro racer Ben Sontag, out for two consecutive laps – two of the fastest laps in the race. But the key to a successful 24 hour team is consistency, and our team was very consistent in its consistency. With live iPhone results (which can become addictive, causing recurrent and frequent screen refreshing), we could see that we were staying within about 8 minutes of each other in our lap times.   

During the night, we put about 20 minutes on the No Tubes team, taking over first place.

My second night lap is always my slowest, and this time was no exception. It’s strange how I always feel like I’m going super fast, but I’m always about 8 to 10 minutes slower than my day laps.

When morning hit, the No Tubes team sent out Ben for two more super fast laps trying to bridge the gap. He came close, but when he finished his 5th and final lap, we still held a small lead.

I felt really good on my last lap. The rain combined with hundreds of riders circling the course had turned it into a hard pack speed track. There were actual skid marks on top of the dirt, it was packed so hard. The wind had subsided and the temperature was perfect. I was overtaking some of the lapped riders so fast that I would have to start ringing my hamburger bell from 20 to 30 yards back.

I came up on a young rider fairly fast and skidded to a slow pace behind him because there just was no cactus-free room to pass. I had already rung my bell before I reached him. I think I made him a little nervous because of how fast I came up behind him. He wobbled his bike around looking for a spot, and just as I was saying “no worries,” he slammed on his brakes, half wheeled me, and turned hard, knocking me to the ground on top of a waiting cactus.

I got up and hopped back on my bike, trying to say thanks for attempting to let me by – but in my cactus-prickled, out-of-breath haste, all I got out was a quick “thanks,” which I’m sure sounded sarcastic — as if I was thanking him for knocking me into a cactus.

Even with the cactus Incident, I pulled off my fastest lap of the race. Matt helped pick the spines out of my back and shoulder, while Josh went out for the last lap – securing us a spot at the top of the podium.


We got our trophies, packed up and headed home. We didn’t have much luck finding the local burger joint, Four Guys and a Super Fast Girl, so we had to settle for the nourishing burgers and fries at Five Guys, where Lynda out-ate us all.   

Chucky bought a pack of candy cigarettes, and we all had a celebratory “smoke.”

And then Matt celebrated our win by spending the next four hours throwing up out the window.

This was by far one of my favorite races of all time. Despite the hurricane gale force winds, 28 hours of travel and the fact that a week later, I’m still picking spines out of my back, I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in the Arizona desert.


  1. Comment by Douglas | 03.1.2011 | 8:40 am

    LOVE IT! Strong work Kenny and the JMM Team, or is it Team JMM? Either way I’m glad my “like” did not go to waste! Now I have to start training!

  2. Comment by Franky | 03.1.2011 | 8:45 am

    Congratulations to the winning team! And I really like the burger bell :)

  3. Comment by MattC | 03.1.2011 | 8:48 am

    What an awesome race report kenny! You guyz (n Gal) ROCK!

  4. Comment by Mike | 03.1.2011 | 8:54 am

    Truly Epic! Congratulations!

  5. Comment by Squirrelhead | 03.1.2011 | 8:59 am

    ROCK ON! Paying back all those “like”s with a WIN! Congratulations and great job on the race and the post.

  6. Comment by Chicken #349204, Spitz Tasty Chickens Chicken Factory | 03.1.2011 | 9:02 am

    We’re big fans of Kenny here! The hen next to me (#349203) nearly pecked my comb off in her excitement, in fact.

    Sent from my henPhone.

  7. Comment by Up North | 03.1.2011 | 9:07 am

    I NEED a burger bell – seriously.

    Congrats on the win.

  8. Comment by Erik | 03.1.2011 | 9:21 am

    Concerning Leadville, congratulations for the 15th time. Me and my buddy Josh, a lymphoma survivor currently in treatment, applied together as a team for this year’s LT100. We didn’t get in. In fact, we met last year at Leadville at the LIVESTRONG booth that I set up and ran (as I’ve done the last 2 years), and that was just 6 weeks after his initial diagnosis.

    We are both bummed that we didn’t get in, and I’m honestly wondering if there is some super-secret handshake and password you have to use to get into Leadville. You get in for the 15th time (presumably based on your awesome quads), and 2 guys who’ve never done Leadville get shut out (as did a lot of others). I don’t have the $2000 to pay as a gold sponsor or for the CTS camp, all I have is my 12 year-old Fisher hardtail and the hard work I’ve been putting into my personal fitness, losing 20 pounds since Thanksgiving with the anticipation of lining up at 6am on August 13 in Leadville.

    I may return to Leadville this year with the LIVESTRONG Colorado crew and set up another booth on the courthouse grounds, so please keep me updated on any Fatty Happenings.

    Sorry you didn’t get in; hope you get in next year!

    I’ve never heard this officially so I may be totally wrong here, but I think the reason I get in every time is because I started doing this race way back before thousands of people tried to get in every year. Before Levi. Before Lance. Before Dave Wiens. Before practically anybody. Before, in fact, there was even a lottery and all you had to do to get in was mail in your entry form.

    My guess is that as a “thank you” to those of us who have supported this race, nonstop, since before it was a big deal, the LT100 lets us bypass the lottery. We stuck with the race when it was small; now it’s sticking with us even though it’s big. Seems like the right thing to do, if you ask me.

    People who win the race get non-lottery status, too, from what I hear. So once you get in, all you need to do to make sure you get in every year after that is to win the men’s or women’s race. No big deal. – FC

  9. Comment by NYCCarlos | 03.1.2011 | 9:29 am

    Fatty. Someone has brought the baconbar to existence – Epic Mealtime.

  10. Comment by rich | 03.1.2011 | 9:37 am

    Awesome Job! 5 guys burgers is good, but I like the 4 guys and a fast chick burger place idea…..might be a franchise opportunity….

  11. Comment by D n S | 03.1.2011 | 10:35 am

    No go for me, watched the facebook feed as people posted they got in and received a second option email shortly after midnight. Looks like I’ll be hitting Ore to Shore the week before Leadville.

  12. Comment by nh_joe | 03.1.2011 | 10:37 am

    Great work in the race!

    Unfortunately, I won’t be joining you as a racer in Leadville this year. Looks like another year of volunteering for me…

  13. Comment by Ehrin | 03.1.2011 | 12:07 pm

    I got into my first leadville yesterday. Excited to race with you and other fatty readers in august.

  14. Comment by jodie_a | 03.1.2011 | 12:45 pm

    Great account of the race. Mmm Five Guys! Must be time for lunch, because I’m suddenly very hungry. Seems like the hamburger bell ought to be free after you eat there so many times per year. Possible marketing campaign for this summer?

  15. Comment by Angela | 03.1.2011 | 12:45 pm

    Congrats on the Leadville selection! Hubby got in as well and will be trekking to CO come August! Ride on!

  16. Comment by Erik | 03.1.2011 | 12:48 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with Fatty’s reply to my comment.

  17. Comment by The Flyin' Ute | 03.1.2011 | 12:51 pm

    Great post on that race. Sounds fun.

    LJ’s posse is in Leadville!!!

  18. Comment by Nick P | 03.1.2011 | 1:00 pm

    Congrats on the win JMM! I hope to do my first 24 hour race this season – pending I can convince 3 riding buddies to be my teammates.

    Coincidentally, I am headed to AZ in 10 days for a long weekend of MTB riding. Being from the Midwest, this will be my first desert riding experience and saying I am excited would be an understatement.

    Any trail suggestions from FOF within an hour of the Peoria/Glendale area would be most appreciated!

  19. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.1.2011 | 1:19 pm

    Congrats to you & the JMM, Kenny. Great race report!

  20. Comment by AngieG | 03.1.2011 | 1:31 pm

    Way to go Kenny!! As the others said, “Thanks for taking my Likes to the top”.

    For those FOF’s that didn’t get into Leadville, I have a crazy Fatty idea: You could put up a booth and do the Leadville 100 Miles of Nowhere style.

    How cool would it be to have a Team Fatty booth with 50 people on trainers? I mean technically you would be in Leadville riding 100 miles on the day of the LT100. You could do this as a fundraiser for Team Fatty Philly or Austin.

    Only crazy Fatty’s would do something that insane. We don’t need no stinking lottery, we’re Fatty’s right!

    This would in fact be the most awesome thing ever. – FC

  21. Comment by BunE | 03.1.2011 | 2:18 pm

    24 hours…meh!

    2nd year of missing the cut, I think I will do the 50 though. Girlfriend and I will be out there and I think a BBQ would be grand.

  22. Comment by Bob B | 03.1.2011 | 4:15 pm

    Great report, Kenny.

  23. Comment by Scott | 03.1.2011 | 4:44 pm

    FC –

    I got into Leadville! I’ll be riding with (hopefully, I can hang) the First Descents crew ( We’d love to meet the you and any Fatty readers August 13.

    In fact, my wife thought what better way to spend our 1 year wedding anniversary than watching being my support crew for Leadville. Ok that’s a lie, I said that. But that would have been awesome if she did.

  24. Comment by Lindaloo | 03.1.2011 | 6:49 pm

    Great post Kenny! Fatty I will be volunteering at the Leadville 100, and I could help get the BBQ organized.

  25. Comment by John | 03.1.2011 | 7:41 pm

    I did not get in, it was my first attempt.
    Will try to get in next year….

    looking for a different hundred miler….

  26. Comment by Chad | 03.1.2011 | 8:30 pm

    My girlfriend and I will be there to support a friend. BBQ sounds good. What about your famous brats?

  27. Comment by Jesse | 03.1.2011 | 8:48 pm

    Great race report!!

    I’ll either be watching or volunteering Leadville (I’m assuming I would’ve gotten a phone call this morning if I was crewing, but I could be wrong). Would love to meet you guys!

  28. Comment by roan | 03.1.2011 | 9:09 pm

    A really fine posting, an awesome team, loved the pics. I’m glad I could help, I likes you a lot, actualy only one ‘like’, amazing power of Team Fatty.
    And a Fatty finish 4 hour ride home.
    And if I may…page 128 April ‘Bicycling’ A Dream Bike Crossword puzzle. 1 ACROSS a Fatty give away.

  29. Comment by LPM | 03.1.2011 | 10:03 pm

    Erik, since your boy Lance did LT 100 it is very difficult to gain entry. Now every bucket lister on the planet wants a shot to compete on their Huffy. The best thing to consider if you do get a shot is to upgrade your 12 year old bike to something a litle more modern it will make a world ofdifference. They are always in need of Volunteers!!!!!!!!

  30. Comment by summer | 03.1.2011 | 10:36 pm


    i hereby accuse you of copyright infringement of heather’s interview for my article. but its ok. i still love you. and the rest of your post (your own words i mean) is good too.

    love, your eldest daughter.

  31. Comment by NYCCarlos | 03.2.2011 | 8:10 am

    one of my best friends just found out he got in. I’m gonna try to make it out there. we should DEFINITELY do a cookout or something. Any kind of hangout would be fantastic.

  32. Comment by GJ Jackie | 03.2.2011 | 8:25 am

    HAHAHA! I just snorted at the Comment by Chicken #349204 at 9:02 am.

  33. Comment by The Cheat | 03.2.2011 | 12:39 pm

    Ohno, my link was removed.

    Well, here it is again but with explanation this time; You can has cheezburger bell:

  34. Comment by Charlie | 03.2.2011 | 7:07 pm

    In for Leadville #7!

  35. Comment by Denise Brooks | 03.2.2011 | 7:30 pm

    My husband DIDN’T get into the Leadville 100, maybe because its full of guys like you who are DOING IT FOR THE 15TH TIME. Give us a break, quit for a few years, save room for other people to get in.
    PS We are in Seattle so none of the qualifiers are anywhere near us & we can’t take 2 long vacations this year.

  36. Comment by Jenn in AZ | 03.3.2011 | 6:13 pm

    My husband volunteered at Old Pueblo. He sent me a text while he was there that said “Celebrity sighting! I just saw Kenny!” Then he ended up logging Kenny in on one of his laps. He called me afterwards and said that he looked up from the book and said “Hey your Kenny! I voted for you!” His friend even took a picture of Kenny. I promise they are not stalkers….. :)

  37. Comment by Hergules in Davis | 03.3.2011 | 7:06 pm

    Didn’t get into to Leadville either. Been trying on & off for 15 years… got in once, but I think that was only because they knew I had blown out my IT Band and I would have to scratch. Yup, I’m sure there’s a conspiracy to keep me out. $2000 donation or $500 for travel expenses… hummmm…. I might just have to volunteer this year in order to move up in the pecking order for 2012. Hey, either way, hope to see most everyone at Livestrong Davis.

  38. Comment by Trevor | 03.4.2011 | 6:42 am

    I made it in for my 3rd Leadville and am very excited to have a great year of training. I would really enjoy having a get together.


  39. Comment by Jeremy J -Memphis | 03.7.2011 | 5:02 pm

    I’m in for my first Leadville! I am secretly researching ways to grow a third lung between now and then. In the meantime I am studiing all the wisdom you imparted to Levi before his first Leadville.


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