12-hour mountain bike race debuts; registration open

If 12 hours of “taint-smashing fun” on a mountain bike sounds like something you’d be into, look no further than the inaugural Salida 720 race May 5. Produced by avid mountain biker and Salida local Keith Darner, the race route features the “most technical loop of any race in the state.”

Darner, owner of Chocolate Bunny Productions, has put on many mountain bike races across the state, but this is his first 12-hour race. “I’ve been working on (this race) for five years. I wanted the name to be different from other 12-hour events. I was trying to think outside the box. The race is 720 minutes.”

While the race name is obvious (there are 720 minutes in 12 hours), the “subname” will be decided through a contest. Registration officially opened Feb. 14, and the person who suggests the winning name by today will be given a free race entry. Suggestions can be emailed to Darner at Keith@ChocolateBunnyProductions.com.

One informal suggestion, Darner said, came from a friend. “Twelve hours of mountain biking taint-smashing fun.”

The biggest hurdle in bringing this event to Salida, Darner said, was getting permission from the Bureau of Land Management. The local BLM office had been overwhelmed with the extensive permit applied for by Christo, the artist who planned to drape silver fabric over sections of the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City.

“I was told the BLM had no resources to manage my event from their end.”

But when Christo announced in January 2017 that he was pulling his permit for his Over the River art installation because of the election of President Trump, Darner leapt into action.

“I re-sent my request  same packet with different dates  the next day. One year later, I finally have the permit.”

Showcasing the Salida Mountain Trails and creating an event in the shoulder season to “help drive the local economy” are two of Darner’s motivations for bringing this event to town.

“This event will bring no fewer than 700 people for two to three days.”

The race route includes North Backbone, Backbone, Upper Sand Dunes (for experts and pros), Sweetwater and Chicken Dinner in the the Salida Mountain Trails trail network.

Darner said the idea is to race that loop “as many times as you can in 12 hours.”

Racers can ride solo or in teams. “Two-person male teams will do the course in 1 hour, 5 minutes, or 1 hour, 10 minutes. So they could do nine or 10 laps in 12 hours.”

Competitors can ride in two-, three- or four-person teams. Entry fees start at $90 for a solo rider. More information about fees can be found at ChocolateBunnyProductions.com.

“I need a shit-ton of volunteers. I’ll need 40 along the route, with the in-town section the most critical.”

Volunteers can sign up by emailing Darner.

Also, there will be a costume contest, and costumes with Mexican-American flair are encouraged because, duh, the race is on Cinqo de Mayo.

“I highly encourage (would-be competitors) to come and ride the course because of the level of technicality. It’s one of most technical loops of any race in the state,” Darner said.