Except for the few whackos who enter 24-hour races solo, the events are fraught with camaraderie. “There’s a real kid-like feeling of stealing experience with your friends when you are up all night at a 24-hour race,” says veteran 24-hour racer Dave Weins. “You really get to know people.” For that reason, and because it’s insanely hard to ride a mountain bike in technical terrain in the middle of the night, you should join a team for your first race. Weins helps organize Gunnison, Colorado’s 24 Hours in the Sage, a low-key event that’s ideal for 24-hour race newbies. The race is staged from the Gunnison KOA, whose grassy patches, hot showers and firepits make staying up all night easy and fun. The race is small at 250 riders, and the crowd is pretty congenial—often not the case at bigger races like Moab. “There are always welcoming groups clustered around campfires,” says Weins. “There’s a real sense that everyone is in it together.” As for the racing, the 13-mile course is fast, flowy singletrack on grippy decomposed granite that drains well if it does rain and isn’t too technical—perfect for surviving that surreal 3 A.M. leg.