A New Record in Old Pueblo
22 February, 2024

A New Record in Old Pueblo

By: Taylor Lideen

INTRODUCTION

Taylor Lideen, along with teammate Lachlan Morton, just dusted the course record for 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, lopping 7:00 off the previous best time while winning the event by a handful of seconds. Lideen’s an old hand at Old Pueblo and, now that his name is atop the all-time leaderboard, he’s also the most appropriate cyclist to give a rundown of his record-setting race, the course’s wildly variable conditions, and the unique, desert-festival spectacle that is 24 Hour Town.

DUO WITH A TWIST

As a native Arizonan, I think OP is the Super Bowl of bike racing. It’s also the very first 24 hour race I ever competed in, so I’m very familiar with the course and the spectacle of it. But this year, I went with a new approach, opting to ride as part of a duo instead of my usual solo act.

A few months ago, I had the idea to race OP as a duo with a twist. Instead of trading the baton every lap, which is what most duos do, I wanted to divide the race into two 12-hour shifts to preserve the feeling of a longer style event without the brutal impact of a full-on 24.

Lachlan didn’t take much convincing. I asked him last-minute, in early January, and he was immediately stoked on the idea. He’d never been to OP but had heard great things about it (all of which I confirmed). We’ve raced quite a bit together, and he’s always been a great dude on and off the bike, so we decided it was on!

Our approach was unique. From what Race Director Todd Sadow said, OP had never been raced this way before. Lachlan started the race with the Le Mans running start (I was happy to let him experience that part!) and then rode for the first 12 hours. After lap 11, at about 12:30 am, I took the baton, and was planning to take the final 12 hours until the race ended.

IN 24 HOURS, EVERY SECOND COUNTS

Except for the finish, the highlights of the race might be looking through Lachlan’s times and the moments before I left for my first lap. The anticipation was building, I was so ready to get riding, but I was also just enjoying some hot soup and talking with my crew. That moment is pretty special to think back, and knowing how it turned out makes it that much better.

We really had no expectation of chasing the overall win for the event, but once the sun came up, our crews had discussed the potential to reach 24 laps with the challenge of going after the all-time record. I’d originally planned to finish the back half, but when I came in from my 11th and saw Lachlan fresh and ready to rip his 12th, it made me think we might actually be able to go after it, so I passed the baton and sent him off.

Lachlan had gotten six hours of sleep, so it made sense for him to attack the final two laps, but we talked with the crew and decided it was gonna be a split effort through and through, with 12 laps each. When he came in, he’d put about 1:30 on PurEnergy Performance, the four-man team behind us. He passed the baton to me, and the pressure was on – I put my head down and never looked back once.

The finish was pretty wild, too! I had about 30 seconds on the four-man team, but there was a long line into the timing tent. I was trying to find a way through without pushing past people, and I saw Todd yelling at me to come through. Next thing I realize, Nolan (from the PurEnergy) is running up behind me. I got through with just two seconds between us! Talk about a sprint finish.

 Needless to say, we’re happy with the results! Taking the overall win really put a huge stamp on the effort of everyone involved – from sponsors like ALLIED to the crew who kept the wheels spinning (Kenny Wehn, Mike Rice, Erin Newell, Matt Liljenquist, Tom Hopper, and Matt Shapiro) and my wife, Mary – and tied things up better than I could have ever expected.

 I was so happy to see how enthusiastic Lachlan was about the race, especially since this was his first experience at 24HOP. Lachlan was the perfect partner, and I think we made a pretty damn good team.

“ICONIC” WEATHER, ICONIC COURSE

OP is notorious for having “iconic” weather – which potentially includes torrential rain, unending wind, even freezing with snow – so you just have to be prepared for anything. But usually, it can be packed pretty tight and you can blitz through it. I love this course so much, regardless of the weather conditions, and that's part of what makes the race so special. It can really be a toss up and change the feel entirely if it's wet.

This year, the course was super dry, dusty, and loose, so you had to be really mindful of cornering – balancing on the edge of having the perfect amount of traction without pushing it too hard and losing the front end.

My favorite section on the course is right after the Whiskey Tree, called “His and Hers” trail. It's a gradual downhill singletrack trail where you can really pump the bike through the washes and in/out of corners. (I'd be willing to bet that's Lachlan's favorite part also.) It makes everyone smile out there.

 Another highlight is the "Bitches," which are seven-or-so steep, pitchy climbs on the gasline road leaving 24 Hour Town. They’re always daunting, but it's a fun challenge to keep the momentum going up and carrying speed down the backside.

This year, the Bitches got me; I lost a bottle on one of the descents. I had to pull over, drop the bike, and run uphill into oncoming night-rider traffic to get it – those Infinit calories are so precious, I couldn’t leave the bottle behind.

Between my unplanned bootpack and the “sprint” finish, I guess I still got my run in after thinking Lachlan would do all the footwork during the Le Mans start! I'm sure people were wondering: “What's this guy doin’?”

MORE THAN JUST A RACE

The competition and the course are the best, but the real reason to be at OP is the atmosphere.

Growing up, I went to MTB races with my dad, and this event really encapsulates what true MTB racing means to me. Everyone's camping together and hanging out for the entirety of the race. Campfires, sharing meals, seeing friends come right through your camp on their laps, and just an overall party – you can't be sad at 24 Hour Town.

I had originally planned to nap in the early afternoon/evening before my shift, but I couldn't find sleep as hard as I tried. I was too excited. So I went out to the fire and sat with friends, eating as much food as I could while keeping my legs up. There was pretty much no cell service, which usually would be a bummer, but we had such great company that it truly didn't matter. (I was able to FaceTime my Mary right before I headed out, which was important since she couldn't be there.)

After the race, I was pretty delirious from effort, and Lachlan and I shared some laughs and reminisced a bit. After a quick cleanup for the awards, we headed to the beer garden. The atmosphere was just chaos (in the best way). Seeing so many friends in the crowd going crazy for our effort was truly special.

I've never been much of a team sports kinda guy, but this race may have changed that for me. Standing on the podium beside someone who put as much heart and hard work into getting us to that top spot is something I'll always remember. It was really a pleasure to partner with a guy of Lachlan’s caliber who’s also so humble and kind with a positive attitude. It made things really low stress and super fun. We worked together so well, and I have to say it might have been one of my most memorable races yet.

Once we headed out, we beelined it for the only spot I had been thinking of since the sun came up: In-N-Out. My go-to order is two double-double protein-style burgers, two orders of fries, and a strawberry shake. Nothing better!

RIDING INTO THE 2024 SEASON

As much as it hurt not to be selected for the Life Time Grand Prix for 2024, it gives me the opportunity to go to some of my favorite/bucket list races that I usually can't squeeze in with the tight LTGP schedule (Breck Epic, Unbound XL, etc.). I’ll still be at a handful of Life Time events, but I’m excited for the chance to pursue my own calendar more.

Next up, I'm headed back to the desert in just about a week. My wife, the dogs, and I will drive back to AZ for the Duel in the Desert (BWR Scottsdale and then the Cactus Cup). I’m also definitely adding some new races to the calendar, like Midsouth Gravel, which I am super excited about, and one other race I have my eyes set on is the Vapor Trail 125. I'm gonna do my best to fit that into the schedule this year.

Taylor splits his time on the bike between work (logging road miles on the perfectly balanced ALFA) and play (12-hour parties on the dynamic BC40).

We spec’d both to Taylor’s preferences and needs, and you can find us in the chat bubble if you want to tailor one to yours. Cockpit, wheels, drivetrain, and even (especially!) paint – every ALLIED is 100% customizable, because every ALLIED is 100% Made Here.


A quality human being doing unconventional things on the bike, and acting as a great ambassador for this thing we all love so much. #ALLIEDfamily

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