The Contagious Mountain Biking Club (CMBC) is hosting their annual 24 Hour of Light bike race. “This is one of the last remaining 24-hour mountain-bike races in Canada, and it is the only 24-hour race in North America where no lights are allowed,” said Sammy Salter, president of CMBC.
No lights allowed! The fortunate thing about summer in the Yukon is the never-ending night, which allows Yukoners to enjoy activities all through the night. “Bikers ride through the night on single track, with no artificial lighting allowed,” said Dan Bader, communications director of CMBC.
“Let me tell you, taking that 3 a.m. lap, emerging from the dark woods when the sun is just starting to come back up, is a pretty incredible and inspiring feeling.”
This is the only 24-hour race in the world where lights are prohibited. The race starts at noon on Saturday, and teams ride as many laps as they can over the next 24 hours, ending at noon on Sunday.
It’s a relay, so only one rider from each team can be on the course at once. The first rider does a lap and then passes off the timing chip to their teammate to complete the next one, and so on. Riders can also ride back to back laps if they choose.
“It’s more a festival race,” said Bader. “There are always a few serious teams who are ‘in it to win it,’ but we’ve added a family category recently to make it kid-friendly and have lots of side events to keep people entertained while they are in-between laps.”
The race is hosted by CMBC’s partner, Biathlon Yukon, at the Biathlon Yukon Club on Grey Mountain Road. “We’ve held it there for a number of years and really appreciate their help and support,” said Bader. The course typically includes some double track (Magnusson ski trails), a bit of dirt road (Fat Tire Fever, Woodcutter’s Road) and a lot of single track (Midtown Boogaloo, Mother T, Go T and others).
It’s an intermediate course with a good mix of terrain over the 12 km. The youth race is 6 km, the mini bike course is 1.5 km, and the run bike course 150 m. “Since this is a fun festival, a lot of people will take breaks from riding and just hang out with their friends,” said Salter. “There is no obligation to have a rider out on the course for the entire 24 hours … though that is the fun of it for a lot of people!”
Whether you’re young or old, competitive or just in to have some fun, the 24 Hours of Light race is a fun day out. “This is the clubs biggest fundraiser of the year, it helps cover the cost of a lot of the other small events and work that we do over the year,” said Bader.
“Money aside, this is a great event that can be enjoyed by all levels of riders that are focused on having a good time, not necessarily a fast time. Some people ride all night; others come for a few laps, go home to bed and make up for lost time in the morning … you can really make it whatever you want.”
You can enter the race as a solo rider, with two-, four- or five- to eight-person teams, with a number of categories. “Thanks to some amazing sponsors, we have awesome prizes, you get free camping, free coffee throughout the event and we provide you with a nighttime snack and breakfast,” said Salter. “The social aspect really makes this an amazing community event.”
The 24 Hours of Light bike race runs from June 23–24. Visit their website for more details, 24HoursOfLight.ca.