Aspen’s annual pilgrimage to the desert | AspenTimes.com

Aspen’s annual pilgrimage to the desert

Nate Peterson

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Charlie Tarver, owner of the Hub of Aspen, has no desire to ever compete in a 24-hour mountain bike race again. But he’ll be in Moab, Utah, this weekend to cheer on a band of locals who will be grinding out laps in the first and greatest day-long race of them all, the 12th annual 24 Hours of Moab. “I’ll be there to cheer, to cajole, to basically just provide some support,” said Tarver, who last raced in Moab in 2000 when his Hub team won the men’s expert division, finishing 20 laps. “I have a pretty good feeling for what they’re going through when they’re out there on course. I’ll be the one telling people to get their butt back on their bike.”

The reason Tarver never wants to run in Moab again? Simple. Once you win the race, there’s really no reason to want to ever do it again, he said. “The last year we won it, we beat all the pro teams too,” Tarver said of his winning team, which consisted of Charles Eckart, Mike Scanlan and Butch Petersen. “It’s impossible to round up three or four guys who want to do it anymore to win.”Adam Williams, the service manager of Ajax Bike and Sport in Carbondale, has a different take on the pioneering race, which has spawned numerous other 24-hour events. Williams doesn’t even consider the 24 Hours of Moab a race, in conventional terms, but rather a gathering for pedalers from all over the country to hang out for two days in the desert, enjoying the sun and the great singletrack.

“It’s more of a fun event than about going to the desert to kill yourself,” said Williams, who is joining with some friends from Denver to form a four-man team. “I go mostly because it’s 6,000 people making a tent city in the desert and getting together to have a good time. I really don’t go to win. It’s not really a competition for most of us.”William’s favorite memories of the race from the past three years have come in the early morning hours. It’s a bizarre experience to be riding your mountain bike at 3 in the morning, and one that leads to easy companionship, he said.”Anything from 2 to 4 in the morning is just kind of weird,” he said. “You get up out of a daze, and you go ride your bike. Then you find someone on the course, and you just join up with them and start talking. That’s what’s fun about it, that you’re not really racing against someone, you’re racing against the clock. It’s different than other races.”

Williams knows of five to six other local teams heading to the desert to compete, including shop mechanics Tino Ochoa and Max Cooper, who will race together on a single-speed team. Tarver mentioned a number of locals whom he knows in the race, including two who will be riding bikes from his shop.”I’ll stay up all night and support them,” he said. “And I’ll be glad I’m not out there with them.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail is npeterson@aspentimes.com