by Jesse Mast

Ellicottville may be a good place to enjoy some fun and relaxation — unless you’re racing a mountain bike for six hours straight.

Then it’s just fun, though possibly a bit vexing at the same time.

Intense competition is what will drive hundreds of cyclists to compete in the 14th annual 6 Hours of Power mountain bike race. The event, hosted by Holiday Valley Resort, is set to take place Sunday, July 14.

This is not a typical race in which contestants vie for first place to a finish line. Instead, riders will pedal for six hours and the winner is whoever completes the most laps in that amount of time. This makes 6 Hours of Power not just a test of speed, but also endurance.

“There are no skill levels such as beginner, sport or expert as in typical mountain bike races — it’s all about the pure endurance and stamina,” said event organizer Mark Lawrence.

Lawrence said the event has grown in popularity over the years, drawing riders from more than seven surrounding states.

Beginning at Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center, the racecourse is a 10-mile loop featuring just about every terrain type including rock gardens, hard-packed access roads, technical single track and 1,200 feet of elevation changes.

“Anything can happen,” said Lawrence, “and if riders save energy, the field can change in an instant.”

The race begins at 10 a.m. with a Le Mans-style start, in which riders race a quarter mile to retrieve their bicycles from their racks.  From this point on, it’s six hours of intense bike riding.

After each lap, riders will dismount and walk through the transition area. Beyond this area, each rider will have a pit area, which provides an opportunity to rest, eat and rehydrate before tackling the next 10 miles.

At 4 p.m., the final lap of the race will begin, and whoever is left riding will make one last push for a chance to be declared winner of 6 Hours of Power.

The race will officially end at 6 p.m., followed by dinner for all entrants.

Bragging rights are certainly included in the victors’ spoils, but cash awards, trophies and other prizes will also provide incentive for riders to exert themselves for all six hours. Cash awards will only go to overall winners in the male solo, female solo and team divisions, while trophies and prizes will be awarded three-deep in each category, division and age group.

Pit areas will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning at 7 a.m. on race day.

Online registration is available at until July 9. Registration fees are $105 for teams and $65 for soloists. T-shirts will be given to preregistered entrants and as they last on race day.

Proceeds from the event will be used to benefit HEART Animal Shelters.

Race-day registration will be available, if not sold out. The field limit for each category is 100, except for solo male, which is 200.

Do you have what it takes to endure all six hours?  Grab your mountain bike and find out.