Contributed by Brink Messick, Volunteer & Partnership Manager, San Luis Valley
As snow begins to fall in the high country, southern Colorado’s lower elevation trails beckon riders who are just not quite ready to call it a season! The second annual 12 Hours of Penitence mountain bike race will take place on October 8th at the Penitente Canyon Recreation Area near Del Norte Colorado. This event takes advantage of a 17 mile lap that includes the best of Penitente’s challenging climbs and fast flowy descents that wind through incredible geologic formations with sweeping views of the San Luis Valley and Sangre De Cristo Mountains.
Over the last five years the BLM’s San Luis Valley field office has partnered with stewardship organizations like Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado and the Southwest Conservation Corps to help expand Penitente’s trail system. Now with over 25 miles of sweet single track combined with on site camping, local food vendors and generous regional sponsors, the Penitente Canyon Recreation Area an ideal location for a 12 hour event. Friends and family members traveling with racers will enjoy exploring the canyon or visiting near by attractions like Joyful Journey Hot Springs, the Great Sand Dunes National Park or Del Norte’s historic down town all of which are an hour or less from Penitente.
The small towns tucked away in the rural San Luis Valley are steeped in history and tradition. From it’s conception the race was meant to benefit the surrounding communities and showcase all the region has to offer. 12 Hours of Penitence race directors have decided that a portion of the 2016 event proceeds will be donated to Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado to help continue their great work in the San Luis Valley and all over the state! Racers who raise more than the minimum amount for entry will have the chance to win additional prizes.
Categories include mens, womens, and coed, solo, duo, or trio and the total number of individual racers is capped at 150. Penitente trail descriptions and maps have recently been updated on MTB Project and more information about the race can be found at 12hoursofpenitence.com