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EPIC SW BIKE RACE TESTS RIDERS ENDURANCE AND SPIRIT

24 HOURS IN THE OLD PUEBLO’S 12th Year WILL BE REMEMBERED AS THE “WINDY YEAR” Wind gusts over 25 mph early Saturday blew several bikers into cactus and many were sporting cholla spines as they navigated the 16.1 mile course around Willow Springs Ranch about 45 miles north of Tucson. 1850 riders turned out for the running Lemans Race Start, perhaps 5-6,000 people including volunteers, spectators, deputy sheriffs, paramedics, search and rescue settled at the base of Black Mountain in southern Pinal County not far from the World famous Biosphere in what is known as “24 Hour Town” which each years springs up to support this epic sporting event. The track record is 58 minutes for the 16.1 miles and traditionally this event is plagued by challenging weather, each year has its trademark, this year wind, other years, rain, mud, snow or biting cold, Sunday morning usually brings more sober faces and the kidding is often gone as solo riders wind out their string trying to ride for 24 solid hours and the relay teams who trade off in this huge tent set up on the track and used for the finish. How do you take a chunk of desert, drop 5000 people on it and the next minute search and rescue is picking up women spectator on hillsides with a broken foot. Pima County deputy sheriff patrol the 24 Town on quads but today was Windy and wiping people hard, a real hat chasing afternoon with promise of rain.