The Big Half Day: 12-Hour Race Roundup

The 24-hour racing format makes for a very fun race, especially for the somewhat less competitive who just want to get out and push themselves turning cranks and enjoying the revelries that are mountain bike racing.  But 24 hours is a big commitment, even for a relay team. If you like the idea of such a format but are looking for a less extreme commitment, then you need to give a 12-hour race a go.  The half-day format is much less tiring, and any reasonably-fit group of four can jump in, and in most cases, you won’t even need lights. Of course, a 12-hour race also offers a less taxing alternative for the endurance racer seeking to compete individually.  Either way, it’s part race and part party, and something you’ll likely want to do again.  Here’s a roundup of ten 12-hour races to sink your knobbies into.

12 Hours of Tsali, Bryson City, North Carolina, May 2, 2015

Tsali GoneRiding
12 Hours of Tsali flyer from

Here’s your chance to spend a full day, 10am to 10pm, riding the East’s most popular trail system with a few hundred of your closest new friends.

12 Hours of Mesa Verde, Cortez, Colorado, May 9, 2015

Mesa Verde
They ride among us at the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde

Having ridden the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde in 2014, I can attest first-hand that the race is an absolute blast over a very entertaining 12-mile course carved out of the popular Phil’s World trail network.  Each year had a unique theme and my race in 2014 was overrun with spacemen and aliens.

Dawn to Dusk, Gallup, New Mexico, May 16, 2015

High Desert
Looking Down on a High Desert switchback in Gallup, NM

A couple hours south of Cortez lies Gallup, New Mexico, host to another super fun, 100% singletrack race course, the High Desert Trail System.  The race runs from 8am to 8pm, wrapping up just before sunset, which usually makes for a beautiful backdrop for the evening award ceremony.

12 Hours of Disco, Salmon, Idaho, May 16, 2015

Personally, I find 12 minutes of disco hard to take, let alone 12 hours, but this 8-mile course in the Idaho foothills promises to make for an excellent 12-hour venue.  By mid May, the days are pretty long that far north and you need not worry if you’re still on your last lap after 7pm.

12 Hours of Zombie Apocalypse, Conyers, Georgia, June 20, 2015

Photo: Steve Hampton
Photo: Steve Hampton

Fans of The Walking Dead know the show takes place in Georgia, so it’s only fitting that the Peach State play host to a zombie race.  While this is only a 12-hour race, it runs from 6pm until 6am to keep the zombies happy. Never fear if you don’t own lights, as NiteRider is on site with rentals available.

12 Hours of Cranky Monkey, Germantown, Maryland, June 21, 2015

When I lived in Virginia, Cranky Monkey put on some great races, and the 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey is no exception.  The race covers plenty of ground at Schaefer Farms, one of Maryland’s most popular and famous riding spots.

12 Hours of Bradbury Mountain, Pownal, Maine, September 19, 2015

Beautiful woods and rocky challenges at Bradbury Mountain, ME (photo:
Beautiful woods and rocky challenges at Bradbury Mountain, ME (photo:

Bradbury Mountain, Maine, is home to gorgeous woods, excellent trails, and what promises to be a wicked-good 12-hour race.

END-TOMBED, Arvilla, North Dakota, October 24, 2015

If you think it's scary now, wait until after dark! (photo:
If you think it’s scary now, wait until after dark! (photo:

Not to be outdone by the folks from Georgia, the folks from North Dakota have come up with their own scary race.  However, to make theirs scarier, the NoDaks wait until close to Halloween which means two things: darkness and potential weather.  Last time I went to North Dakota, I was scheduled to leave on October 17 and was stranded a full 72 hours following a major blizzard which left 4-foot-high drifts across the highways.  If you sign up for this one, come prepared for anything.

12 Hour Day Night Mountain Bike Race, Timaru, New Zealand, November 7, 2015

Looks pretty nice for November, eh? (photo: timaru12hourmtb)
Looks pretty nice for November, eh? (photo: timaru12hourmtb)

12-hour racing isn’t limited to this hemisphere.  The folks down under have set up a 12-hour pain fest as well.  If you’re escaping November in the northern hemisphere, consider getting in a long ride when you do.

Dirty Dozen, Warda, Texas, January 31, 2015 (2016 date TBD)

Here’s an opportunity for a long ride in the middle of winter here in our own hemisphere.  For me, south Texas is too hot to ride about 340 days of the year.  Mercifully, the Lone Star State has set up a 12-hour race during one of the other 25.

Keep ’em coming

12-hour racing is currently a much more popular format than 24-hour racing for all the reasons mentioned above. If you weren’t able to find a race in the list above to suit your fancy, try one of the races below:

Racing a 12-hour MTB Race. Photo: Oneplanet Adventure, via Flickr Creative Commons
Racing a 12-hour MTB Race. Photo: Oneplanet Adventure, via Flickr Creative Commons

Your turn: Know of any races that we don’t have on our race calendar–12-hour or otherwise? If so, add them here!