re-sized MB Honey Stinger team

12 hour mountain bike challenge at Snowmass

Nat Ross boasts that he’s done more 24-hour mountain bike races than any other rider in the world but when it came to helping out with his home town challenge Nat felt less could actually be more.

“I pretty much persuaded [the organizers] how much fun it would be to do a 12-hour race,” Ross said. “There’s a whole slew of 24s, but there’s only one other 12-hour race in Colorado. The 12-hour format is a relatively new format. It doesn’t require as much energy or time for everyone that’s involved, and it’s still a lot of fun.”

That last statement encapsulates the concept of the inaugural 12 Hours of Snowmass, which lands at Snowmass Village on Sept. 14.

For an event that benefits two local youth non-profits, event organizers wanted something that would attract as many locals as possible.

“They know their community and this is a way to involve that community in a cool new event,” Ross said. “We wanted to attract intermediate and beginner riders. Doing a 24-hour race is a bigger commitment, both from organizers and riders. It’s a bigger investment with lights and timers and a bigger time commitment for those competing. This way, you’re not so tired and exhausted at the end of the event. You can still enjoy your weekend.”

That’s not to say the 7-mile course at Snowmass that features 1,600 of vertical gain won’t test every rider in the field.

The term intermediate is relative to surroundings, Ross noted, before adding that in mountain communities, riders tend to be more experienced in general. Hence, a loop that features plenty of variety: Everything from tough climbs to tricky singletrack.

“If someone was coming not from elevation and not used to a ski area venue, they might consider it tougher than intermediate,” he said. “There are parts of this course that are expert lines. There might be some downhill and uphill sections that some people might feel more comfortable walking.”

“Which,” adds Ross, “I think makes for a great course. You don’t want to be on your bike the whole time in the same gear.”

Riders can choose to ride solo, in teams of two or three, or on an open team of up to eight riders.

Categories also include a ski patrol team, a bike shop team and a chance to race for the title of “Clydesdale 12 Hour Solo World Champion.”

The proceeds from the new race benefit the Aspen Youth Center and Extreme Sports Camp, both non-profits that help adolescents. The drop-in youth center is a refuge for local youth throughout the school year and during the summer, offering a variety of games and activities as well as outreach programs for grades 4-12.

Extreme Sports Camp provides summer camp experiences for children with autism.

“Very few non-profits seem to collaborate together on fundraisers and when Elizabeth Miller, a former board member of Aspen Youth Center and now director of Extreme Sports Camp, approached us to work together on a fundraiser I thought it was a wonderful idea,” said Sarah Visnic, executive director of the Aspen Youth Center. “We wanted to do something unique and fun that would target locals. … We thought it was a great way to raise money for our two youth non-profits.”

Along with the race, there is also fundraising dinner at a Woody Creek ranch where racers and teams will be auctioned off to bidders. (Depending on how many laps the auctioned riders complete, the bidders will have to pay accordingly.)

Organizers are tentatively hoping to raise as much as $10,000 for the whole weekend.

“I kind of see it as an end-of-the-season party,” Ross explained. “The Aspen leaves will be falling or just getting there. It will be a great way for people to get together and have some fun together while looking forward to mud season, even the next winter.”

For more information, or to register, go to, or call the Pro Bike Center at 390-9730. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Photo Zoom

Craig Chalmers, a bike patroller at Snowmass, tests out part of the course for the inaugural 12 Hours of Snowmass. The intermediate course is a 7-mile loop with 1,600 feet of climbing and plenty of singletrack.

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

Thanks to Nate Peterson of The Aspen Times for this article.

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