By Dave Iltis –
The 12 and 24 Hours of Flathead, a mountain bike race in its seventh year, will be held on August 17 and 18, 2019 in Kalispell, Montana. The race will be held in the beautiful Herron Park. The race will feature both a hand-cycle, adaptive course, and a bicycle course.
We asked race organizer Tia Celentano to tell us more about the event.
Cycling West: Tell us about the history of the race. The race has an adaptive component and is one of the few, if not the only, 24 hour race with an adaptive category. Tell us more about this.
24HF: We are Montana’s only 12hr, 24hr and Adaptive mountain bike race! Our bike race is a 501(c)3 and our mission since day 1 has been to provide adaptive equipment and recreational opportunities to individuals living with paralysis. For the first 4 years of the race, we really wanted to incorporate an adaptive course, but there were some logistics we needed to figure out and connections we needed to make. We made a connection with Moving Forward (they have a similar mission as ours) and they are run by a group of individuals that are paralyzed. So Mark, one of our board members, made contact with Matt Sather of Moving Forward and together with the help of a few others they were able to design an adaptive mountain bike course for the race!
CW: Can you describe the course?
24HF: The non adaptive course is roughly 8.5 miles with just over 1330ft of elevation gain. You start out on a fun single track for a few miles and then you hit a dirt road, which is where you get some of the elevation, you follow the dirt road to the top of the Chase downhill section and then you take a ride down the Chase and then you connect with the Boundary single track which you climb to the top of the Notch overlook and then you come down the Notch single track and make your way back to the start! The Chase and Notch downhill sections are not the same and each offers a different type of experience. The Chase has some pretty fun berms and sharp corners, while the Notch has some technical rock features and sharp corners and no berms. As long as you remember and know to sit back on both of these DH sections, then this is a course for everyone! We’ve had 13 year old kids and 70 year old adults do this course.
CW: What sort of pre, post, and in-race festivities are there?
24HF: All summer long many of the breweries in Flathead Valley host us with their community nights. This is where they donate a portion of all their sales to us, like $1 for every beer sold. On these nights, we give away a free entry to the race and give away stickers, bottle openers and other fun stuff. We also answer questions people may have about the race as well and try to entice them to register! For the race festivities, we have 2 musical acts this year performing, we try to have 2 every year, this year we have the Mike Murray Duo and Dan Dubuque, both are local musicians who are super talented! We’re stoked to get them! On Sunday, right before the awards ceremony, we will be having a Tex-Mex lunch that is free to all the participants. This is being sponsored by Red’s Taco House of Kalispell.
CW: Proceeds of the race go to an adaptive grant. What sorts of things do the grants fund?
24HF: This grant can go towards the purchase of new tires or equipment that an adaptive person may need in order to recreate or just to get outside or it can go towards bigger things like a mountain bike, adaptive paddleboard or kayak. We really believe that everyone who lives here shouldn’t be restricted to the types of activities they can do just because their not able bodied. We want to help them, because this stuff is so expensive and we want to help with that burden. An adaptive bike can cost anywhere from $6k – $12k…that’s as much as a car!
CW: What options are there for motels and camping in the area? Are there options for family fun after the race?
24HF: There is actually a bike hostel right in downtown Kalispell, Kalispell Hostel. It’s owned and run by Wheaton’s Cycle, which is our 24hr Title Sponsor- they’ve had our backs and believed in our mission and us since the beginning. The hostel sleeps up to 8 people and it’s right downtown! People can also continue to camp at Herron Park for $10 a night or head over to Bigfork and camp right on Flathead Lake; there are a ton of State Parks on Flathead Lake and many offer paddleboard rentals and kayak rentals too. They can also head over to Glacier National Park, camp in the park or at a hotel; and on the way there are a ton of family places to stop at (water slides, tree house, go carts, mini golf, house of mystery and zip lining) or they can head up to Whitefish Mountain Resort for more fun mountain biking; they have DH trails which are accessible by lift or cross country trails down below and a ton of fun family activities to do as well such as Alpine Slides, walk in the tree tops and even tubing!
CW: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
24HF: When people hear 12hrs or 24hrs of mountain biking, they automatically assume they have to bike for that long, but that’s not the case, at all! First, you can ride this event solo or in a team of up to 5. Second, you don’t have to ride the entire 12 or 24 hours, you can take a break whenever you want, because everyone wins a prize or even two! We do have special prizes for most and fastest laps though. If you do the 12 hour course with a team of 5, each person only needs to ride two times and they are done! Because we heard that so much, we incorporated a Hot Lap, which is just a single lap, there’s a small fee, but you start when you want in the 24hr time frame and just do one lap! One of my favorite things about our race is, the fee to enter is small compared to other races, especially if you sign up early. We don’t giveaway a cotton t-shirt that’s 3 sizes too big; we give away performance t-shirts or something sweeter. This year we had custom Buffs made, which are awesome and totally unique AND we get a ton of sweet bike stuff donated by Wheaton’s and QBP and that allows everyone who enters to win something; bike tire, tools, socks, etc. In so many ways this isn’t your traditional bike race, from the music, to the food, the courses and the prizes; we think we’re pretty unique and we hope our past and future racers think so too!
August 17-18, 2019 — 12 and 24 Hours of Flathead|, Kalispell, MT, A non-profit race to provide awareness and adaptive equipment to individuals living with paralysis and other life altering disabilities. Race features both bicycle and hand cycle courses. Held in Herron Park., Tia Celentano, 406-261-1769, [email protected], 24hoursofflathead.org, facebook.com/24HoursOfFlathead