Gregory wins Old Pueblo race

Friday, March 4, 2011 9:22 PM
Courtesy Photo/Shawn Gregory
Shawn Gregory rounds a corner in the annual Kona Bikes Old Pueblo 24-hour mountain bike race in Tucson, Ariz., on the weekend of Feb. 19 and 20. Gregory won the male solo singlespeed division.
Courtesy Photo/Kiviok Hight
The top-4 placers in the male solo singlespeed division at the Old Pueblo 24-hour mountain bike race sponsored by Kona Bikes on Sunday, Feb. 20. Shawn Gregory (blue coat) holds his first-place trophy and Jeff Hemperley, right, holds his fourth-place medal.

USA Cycling professional mountain bike racer Shawn Gregory took first-place in the Kona Bikes Old Pueblo 24-hour race in Tucson, Ariz., on the weekend of Feb. 19 and 20 in the male solo singlespeed division.

This is the first time the 40-year-old, Dolores resident has won the Old Pueblo after placing second last year. The Old Pueblo is one of the largest 24-hour races in the world. The race hosted nearly 1,900 contestants on the 17-mile trail, about 20 of which were from Southwest Colorado, and racers battled 50-mile-an-hour desert winds, rain and cool night temperatures in the 30s. But that didn’t slow Gregory down, as he won his division in 15 laps.

“I go down to Arizona a lot and try and ride on the trails down there,” Gregory said. “Tucson is tough because for us up here, it’s difficult to train riding mountain bikes when there is snow everywhere.”

Gregory keeps an odometer on his singlespeed mountain bike and he says he has rode close to 4,400 miles on trails within the last year. The 2010 mountain bike season was Gregory’s best and he feels that 2011 has been even better so far. He is currently ranked No. 2 nationally in the solo singlespeed category based on his finish in the 2010 USA Cycling 24-hour Mountain Bike Nationals in Moab, Utah.

“This year has started out really well so far,” Gregory said. “Last year, I was on the podium in pretty much every single race I did.”

Originally from Denver, Gregory, President and founder of Tuffy Security Products, located at 25733 Road H, uprooted his business to Cortez mainly because of what Southwest Colorado offers in mountain biking trails. Gregory says the trails are some of the best in the world.

“It’s a really good place. People travel here just to ride on our trails here,” said Gregory. “I think some local people don’t know that. One of the reasons I moved here was for the mountain biking in the area.”

Rico resident Jeff Hemperley, 44, also competed in the male singlespeed solo division and took fourth-place. Hemperley, originally from Las Vegas, Nev., is friends with Gregory and the two have trained together for about the last five years.

“I raced against him in the Escalante Days race in Dolores. I met him through there and just became good friends,” Hemperley said about Gregory. “We both have the same interests and aspirations, and both like riding singlespeed’s.”

Hemperley doesn’t race pro, but each USA Cycling race is open class and welcomes anyone. He and Gregory take pride in beating competitors almost half their age.

“We’re all on the same playing field. I’m an old man and still kicking the youngin’s butt,” Hemperley said with a laugh.

Hemperley feels the high altitude training in Southwest Colorado has put him in the best shape of his life, but states that mountain bike racing is a very mental game.

“If you get weak mentally, It’s game over,” Hemperley said. “You’re going to be cold, you’re going to be wet, you’re going to be tired, you might hallucinate a little bit. The 24-hours are tougher. You got to go from point A to point B. There’s no option to quit, unless you get hurt or something crazy happens. It’s equally as much mental as equally it is physical.”

Next up for Gregory and Hemperley will be the Big Friggin Loop in Sedona, Ariz., on Saturday, March 19.

Gregory is sponsored by Tuffy Security Products, Kokopelli Bike and Board, Big Loop Maps, Schwalbe Tires, Trek Bikes, Hammer Nutrition, Trails 2000 and the International Mountain Bike Association. Fans can follow Gregory’s progress through his blog at and Hemperley’s progress through his blog at

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at