- Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

HENNIKER, N.H. (AP) - A few times a week, Jonathan Sawn of East Hartland, Conn., bikes to work. But Sawn’s ride to work is no gentle ride across town, he bikes 20 miles each way to complete the trek.

This long ride, Sawn said, is done partially to help train for a 24-hour solo bike race at Pats Peak in Henniker.

“My particular training is focused on getting a lot of time on the bike,” he said. “Training starts, for a race in June, really it starts back at the first of the year so you can be as ready for it as you can.”

Sawn is one of some 350 to 500 riders who will be making the journey to compete in one of three different mountain biking events at Pats Peak’s 16th annual Mountain Bike Festival on June 10 and 11.

The first of these events is an endurance ride, event coordinator Jim Wall said.

“The original race is what we call the 24-12-6 hour race,” he said. “You start at 12 noon on Saturday, you’re given an amount of time to race and the person or team that completes the most laps in the period of time wins. You have a six-hour race that starts at noon and ends at six in the evening, you have a 12-hour race that ends at midnight and your 24-hour race ends the next day at noon.”

Wall said the idea for the event came originally from Tim Farmer of S&W; Sports in Concord, a company with which Pats Peak has a close relationship. Farmer proposed the event 16 years ago as purely a 24-hour race. The idea was quickly approved by Pats Peak, Wall said, and has grown ever since.

One of the events added since the event’s inception is the downhill race.

“Racers start at the top of the mountain, the very top, and race to the very bottom,” Wall said. “That is a gladiator type event where they are in full gear, full face helmets, shoulder pads, back braces. They can get from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the mountain in somewhere typically between two and three minutes. It’s not straight down a road, it’s across slopes, through woods, over jumps, over bridges, over drop off ledges.”

The final event is a cross-country race, typically one or two laps of a 7.1-mile course, put on through Root 66 Northeast XC Mountain Bike Series.

This event has served as a focal point for the event because of the opportunity for interaction it provides between riders of all skill levels.

“The marvelous thing about it is the first people to go out on the Root 66 portion on Sunday morning are the beginner types . and they’re out there with these ironmen and women,” Wall said “It’s a neat interaction that goes on because, for a lot of people who are out there for the 24 hour race, this is maybe what that young, inexperienced rider might aspire to. They’re also fresh legs and full of vim and vigor and they’re rooting these people on who have been riding for 20 hours at this point.”

Sawn first got involved in the Mountain Bike Festival through the Root 66 race and has since participated in all different types of races at the event.

This will be Sawn’s fourth time competing in the 24-hour race, a race which he said is as taxing on the mind as it is on the body.

“The mental challenge is a lot more just because there’s a lot of things that are going on, everything hurts, nobody likes to be out in the middle of the woods in the dark by themselves,” he said. “It’s one of those kinds of events that … when you’re in the event, it’s not a whole heck of a lot of fun but that sense of accomplishment, after you finish it, a day or two after you start to think to yourself, you know what that was pretty good, I think I’ll do it again next year.”

Sawn said the event has only gotten better since he started participating, an accomplishment he credits to the organizers.

“Everyone at Pats Peak that runs this event, and all the others things that they do, they do a great job and they’ve spent a ton of money and time improving the course based on feedback from the racers so I know that’s really appreciated because it’s made the whole event a lot better.”

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Online:

https://bit.ly/2qUGP0T

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Information from: Concord Monitor, https://www.concordmonitor.com

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