South bikers join 24 hour bike race

Before taking part in the Powderhorn 24, a 24 hour bike race, this team of high school students pose for a pre-race photo. South junior Maxwell Hansen (2nd from the left) has done the race before but this will be South junior Ben Meier’s first time doing the race. “[My friends] said it would be really fun so I was like ‘Oh yeah, for sure,” explained Meier. Photo courtesy of Amy Meier.

Livia Lund, Features Editor


It’s t-minus 90 minutes until the start of the Powderhorn 24, a 24 hour bike race with a 4.8 mile route circling the blocks around Powderhorn park, and it’s raining outside. Hard. Two South juniors, Maxwell Hansen and Ben Meier are eating their pre-race meal at Pineda, a common hang-out spot for South students. With them are their friends and team-mates; junior Rocket Flahavan, from Saint Anthony, senior Charlie Pratt, from Edison and senior Chris Kastigar from Volunteers of America high school.

They eat their burritos and lament about their wet tent they have to sleep in tonight due to the fact that they forgot to put up a rain tarp.

Fortunately for these bikers, a 24-hour bike ride does not mean riding a bike for 24 hours straight. Each biker or team of bikers starts with a plastic punch card, called a manifest. They must get their manifest punched at each of the four checkpoints in order for their ride to count as a lap. Bikers may rest at any time or if on a team switch riders. Hansen explains that their team’s plan is to switch riders every lap and “at night maybe take two or three laps to let people sleep.”

Despite the switching off this race is still a huge commitment of time and energy. Bikers have to set up tents to sleeping overnight and most stay on or nearby the track for the whole 24 hours. So why would anybody do it?

“It’s just fun, it’s cool.” said Hansen simply, who has done the race along with Flahavan for four years. However, not all of the riders are that experienced. This will be Meier’s first 24 hour race. He was encouraged to do it by his teammates “They said it would be really fun so I was like ‘Oh yeah, for sure,” explained Meier.

Checkpoint 4: the start and the finish line of the race. Situated on the Greenway just off 10th avenue, it has a feeling of a spontaneous village. Many small camping tents with a few larger ones sprinkled in line the bike path. Later they will be used for much needed rest between laps. Large blue canopies, which mark the actual checkpoint are a buzz of activity with people typing on computers, or answering questions. Some stand just off the bike path with a hole punch in hand, ready for the next biker to come rushing in.

As you go through the route you pass houses with people watching the race and even kids cheering with signs. Building this support and community is a goal of the race says founder Elise Graham. “We are all homeowners in this neighborhood and we wanted to build this community further and get to know our neighbors.”she explained. “It’s so much work to do this event, to participate in this event, so there’s a lot of camaraderie amongst the riders but also amongst the organizer, volunteers, neighbors who are all coming out.”

That community is something that Hansen notices and appreciates about the race.“[The community] is super supportive…They’re just really nice to each other, they cheer each other on,” he said.

The boys laughed when asked if biking was a big part of their lives. “Yeah it’s a big part of our lives I’d say. I think we all bike everyday.” said Meier confidently. “I don’t have my [drivers] license so I bike everywhere and it’s also a way to hang out with people, on our bikes.”

However, despite their love for biking, 24 hours appears to be the limit. As far as post-race plans, Meier says simply “I’m not gonna bike home that’s for sure. I’m gonna get a ride home and go straight to bed.”