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Where the hell is Rapelje, Montana?? Its about 25 miles north of Columbus, MT amongst cattle pastures and hay fields. Driving north from Columbus you can see Rapelje out in the distance...it literally looks like a speck in a sea of wheat fields. Beyond the town itself are some buttes, but other than that it looks like the middle of nowhere.
Montana's ONLY 24 hour race, started in 2001 with 34 riders, and has steadily grown over the years and now boasts over 180 participants...and still growing. The race was started by Jason Frank to raise money for the non-profit Stockman Cafe and other worthy causes in the small community of Rapelje (for example, one year the race paid for new football uniforms for the towns high school football team).
The 24 Hours of Rapelje brings riders of all ages and skill levels from around the country to Rapelje each year. Riding solo, or in teams of 3 (3-man Class), 5 (Festival Class), and 6 or more (Carnival Class).
This race finds the perfect blend of athletic competition and a beer drinking tailgate party. From hardcore participants with impressive physical prowess to those who ride one lap and then sit around a campfire and drink beer for the rest of the race, this race is perfect for everyone!
All-day mountain bike races are more serious affairs at the six-race “24-hours-of” series that includes events at Vail Lake near Temecula, Calif., Conyers outside of Atlanta, Ga., Big Bear at Hazelton, W. Va., Killington, Vt., Landahl at Jackson County, Mo., and Moab, Utah. Professional corporate-sponsored riders compete for cash prizes at these marquee events.
At Rapelje, there are no cash prizes…only a trophy, a great course, great competition, and a lot of fun.
Course DescriptionThe course winds through dirt and paved farm roads, cowpaths, and up and down random sections of pastures (no trail). It rolls over sandy dirt, sage brush, lots of rocks, and dead gophers and birds. The only sign of civilization is the occasional windmill, fence, or the few farm houses miles away.
The 12 - 15 mile course changes slightly from year to year but always remains similar to past years. You start off right on the main
After following the farm road for a short distance, you veer off to the left and start through the fields. The first couple of laps have nothing but flags in the ground to guide the riders, but by the end of the 24 hours, there is a well beaten, but still very washboarded trail. This section of the course winds through rolling hills, past an old windmill, and then down into a the bottom of a valley before you start into the buttes north of town.
Coming out of the valley is the first decent hill that you have to climb, you find a lot of people walking this part!. You come out to the top of this hill and ride along the top of a sandstone butte through some rocks and trees (the only trees on the course) until you eventually end up at the halfway point. From here there is a fun winding little downhill before you start a LONG STEADY GRIND that takes you to a private gravel drive. You ride the gravel drive for a mile or so until you start into the last leg of the course.
The last leg of the course runs through more cow pastures and a small 'creek' with pallets laying across the mud. These pallets are a fun obstacle that breaks up monotony. Four creek crossings later, you climb out of the creek bed and end up back on a county road that leads into town and the transition tent.
View 24 Hours of Rapelje in a larger map
The race is scheduled for the Saturday in June closest to the summer solstice. Race begins at 11:00 am on Saturday morning, and ends on Sunday at 11:00 am. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, or you can download the registration form from the internet (Refer to "Registration" secion of this page).
$55.00 per racer that currently has annual USA Cycling license or $60.00 per racer that does not have annual license (one day license fee $5.00). Money orders or checks only payable to Stockman Cafe. Everyone must sign waiver the day of race. Participants under 18 years of age racers must have adult/legal guardian sign waiver. If you do not have a license, show up in plenty of time to handle the paperwork prior to the 12:00 p.m. race start time. Included in the fees is a t-shirt and two meals.
All USA Cycling rules apply. Racers must wear helmets while racing and warming up/down. A USA Cycling annual or one-day license is required and may be purchased on-site. Bring your own gear! You provide your own riders, bikes, and mechanics! Safe bicycle and ANSI/SNELL certified bicycle helmet required! Flashing red taillight and headlight required with a 2.5 watt minimum recommendation.
Trophy prize for top team in each class. Riders looking to find lots of money or fancy prizes and press releases won’t find any here!
A camping area will be designated for you to pitch a tent or throw a bag on the ground. This is a first come first serve basis, so if you want a certain spot be sure to arrive early. Campfires in a steel or ceramic fire pits are allowed depending on weather and current fire contditions. You must just be respectful to your neighbors and make sure you're not smoking them out! Also, please make sure you pick up all of your trash before you leave.
The Stockman Cafe features a full menu and is open for the full event. If you're not from Montana and want to try some good country diner chow, you won't be disappointed!
There are two meals included in your registration fees. The midnight pancake breakfast, and an excellent lunch after the race is over...all provided by the Stockman Cafe. The pancake breakfast is one of the most popular events of the whole weekend!
Showers & Facilities
Portable restrooms are provided around the campsite area as well as shower trailers to clean up if you should choose to do so. Use of these facilities are included in the race fees. Soaps and towels are not provided!
2007 was the first year to have live entertainment. This consisted of a band that played throughout Saturday evening.
REGISTRATIONRiders have the option of riding the race solo, or in teams of 3 (3-man Class), 5 (Festival Class), 6 or more (Carnival Class). Registration is currently $55.00 per racer that currently has annual USA Cycling license or $60.00 per racer that does not have annual license (one day license fee $5.00) payable with CHECK OR MONEY ORDER ONLY.
Participation will be limited to about 225 riders so be sure you register early!
Link to registration information will be available when available.
Getting ThereTake exit 408 off I-90 at Columbus and go past Town Pump, McDonald’s, Apple Village complex until you come to a T with the 307 restaurant on the right. Turn right and travel thru downtown Columbus and proceed west until you come to the cemetery. Immediately past the cemetery take a right and travel north for 25 miles until you are in Rapelje.
Or refer to map above.
External LinksAn article in the New York Times
A multimedia photo slide show with a lot of good information.
Put on by the Billings Gazette and narrated by Jason Frank, the race's creator and organizer.