Steamboat riders dominate 25 hours in Frog Hollow
November 8, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — You don't just wake up and decide to go ride your mountain bike in a 25-hour race by yourself if you've never contemplated such a feat before.
Helen Beall certainly didn't come quickly upon that idea.
"I would have said they were crazy, that no one in their right mind would ever do that," Beall said. "I remember, I did actually say that to someone."
That was six years ago, Beall said, her first year riding in the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow mountain bike race near Hurricane, Utah, a small city tucked into the southwest corner of the state, near Zion National Park.
She competed as a part of a four-woman team that year, an idea that seemed crazy enough, but it became more normal when she returned each of the next four years, and when she went back this year, what had seemed not just impossible but dangerously insane at first, suddenly seemed tantalizing.
"It's about always pushing yourself to that next level, seeing what you're capable of," Beall said.
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That's why she decided to tackle the 25-hour event solo this year.
As it turns out, she and a big pack of other Steamboat Springs racers are capable of quite a lot.
Steamboat was represented in dominating fashion at the annual event.
Mindy Mulliken led the way with a crushing ride in the women's solo category. She finished 17 laps of the 13-mile mountain bike course, setting the women's record and winning her division.
Beall was second with 12 laps.
"It was one of the most amazing weekends of bike racing I've ever had," Mulliken said. "It was awesome."
Alex Pond laid down 20 laps to finish second in the men's solo division. Rob Peterson logged 12 laps to finish third in the men's singlespeed race. Miranda Schrock, from Steamboat, and Peter Van Dyke, from Eagle, teamed up to place fifth in the co-ed duo race while Kyleigh Lawler, Erin Early, Britni Johnson and Julie Wernig came together to place second in the four-person women's team event.
The event has become a staple on the calendar for many of the top local mountain bikers, and they again represented en masse this year, racing Saturday, through the night and into Sunday.
The riders point to Peterson as the driving force behind that. He's the guy the brings many of the supplies and, in their eyes, much of the fun.
"He's the backbone of the fun factor," Mulliken said.
The "through the night" part of the weekend is the best and the worst of the experience.
The course featured a bit of everything. There was some road riding and tough climbing early in the course. Fun, flowy "no-brakes, no-pedaling" singletrack awaited later, and there was some tight, technical riding through boulders to keep everyone alert at night.
Still, the course can wear a rider down.
"The hardest part was that 3 a.m. lap," Mulliken said. "I feel asleep on my bike going down the road. I woke up, opening my eyes to me riding my bike."
She opted for a bit of a break after that lap, laying down for 15 minutes at the main riders' camp. It proved enough to give her a recharge, and she was back out on the course in short order.
Her 17 laps tied the women's course record and her time, 45 minutes faster than anyone previously, gave her the record to herself, though she didn't know it at the time. Later, she regretted not squeezing in an 18th lap.
She'd already secured first place in her division, but that's not what took her to Utah to ride in the first place.
"I don't race just to win," she said. "I like to challenge myself, and I really wanted to see how long I could keep going. Parts of it you really enjoy. I wanted to be there to see the sun come up, but my goal was just to keep riding the whole time."
That, she accomplished.
Others did, as well.
Beall said she felt almost fresh on her 12th lap but hit a physical and mental wall she didn't expect and pulled to a stop after that. She sat down at camp and watched as the sun rose over Zion, secure in second place and content having done something that not so long ago she figured was impossible.
"I just sat there. I spent 30 minutes just watching the sunrise, not moving," she said. "I just really appreciate that I got myself through the night, that I accomplished a goal I set out to do."