On Saturday a ragtag group of riders will pedal west out of Baker to start the Comstock EPIC, the toughest Nevada race you never heard of.
By Monday the fastest among them could be rolling into Incline Village.
Competitors who make it that far will have covered more than 510 miles, summited 15 mountain passes and climbed more than 35,000 vertical feet during the race.
And one more thing, it's unsupported. That means riders are forbidden from accepting any assistance along the way.
Even on the most remote stretches, such as one portion of the Comstock EPIC which could be as long as 90 miles without water, riders are forbidden from accepting anything at all.
"It puts you out there on your own," said rider Blake Bockius. "That is the draw, especially a new route. I haven't even been there, so it is like a discovery."
Rider Kurt Sandiforth contrasted the raw nature of the Comstock EPIC bikepacking race with downhill and other, more popular, forms of mountain bike competitions.
"That style of racing it is so built up, with all the licensing and all the big promotions," Sandiforth said. "I love this kind of grass roots style racing, just get a bunch of people together who like riding bikes and go for it."
Ted Oxborrow rides along Toquima Range Road in central Nevada. The road is part of the Comstock EPIC bikepacking course that crosses the state. (Photo: Trevor Oxborrow/Contributed to the RGJ)
Most people have probably never heard of Bockius and Sandiforth. But within the cross country and bikepacking world they have somewhat of a celebrity status.
Bockius, 53, of Truckee, has competed for years at the highest level including the Leadville 100, Stagecoach 400 and the Arizona Trail Race.
Sandiforth, 40, of Carson City is the first rider to have completed the Triple Crown of Bikepacking which includes the 750-mile Arizona Trail, the 2,800-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Race and the 500-mile Colorado Trail Race.
They're expected to be joined by at least two or three three other riders at the starting line Saturday morning, each with his own reason for attempting the grueling, backcountry race.
Ted Oxborrow hikes his bike up the Ophir Pass in the Toiyabe Range. The steep pass is part of the Comstock EPIC bikepacking course across Nevada. (Photo: Trevor Oxborrow/Contributed to the RGJ)
"I love that feeling when I roll into town or roll into wherever I am going to camp and am completely exhausted," said rider Josh Billings, 38, of Santa Cruz. "I get that to a certain extent to in day-to-day mountain biking, but I have a feeling that it is just going to be even more so."
Jesse Reeves, 31, a bartender from Reno, said he's racing in part to remind people about the importance of public land in Nevada.
It's a topic that's been in the news lately with the Legislature considering a resolution that would urge the federal government to give control of about 7 million acres to the state, a move outdoors enthusiasts fear would lead to property being sold to private owners which could reduce access.
"The solitude of it all, the desolation of it all really appeals to me and the fact it is all public, it is our land," he said of the route. "In this day and age when everything is so bureaucratic and commercial and corporate they are trying to strip it out of our hands."
A group of riders ascend McClellan Peak via Goni Road. The road is on the Comstock EPIC bikepacking route. (Photo: Trevor Oxborrow/Contributed to the RGJ)
Although the competitors come from different backgrounds and possess different skill levels, there's one thing they have in common. None of them will enter the Comstock Epic for the money.
That's because there isn't any. Nor are there any prizes. In fact, there's not even a true organizer.
Like other long-distance, bikepacking races, the event is more of an unofficial agreement on a route people can choose to ride. Although five are expected to start the race Saturday, someone else could come along later and ride the course.
Whoever posts the lowest time for the course by the end of the year would be considered the 2015 winner.
The course itself is the brainchild of Ted and Trevor Oxborrow, a father and son bikepacking duo.
The concept grew out of their involvement with the American Discovery Trail, a coast-to-coast hiking route from Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Del., to Point Reyes National Seashore near San Francisco.
Ted Oxborrow is the state coordinator for the Nevada section of the trail. Through that role he and Trevor became more involved in taking people out on the trail. But the trail was designed as a hiking route which means it goes through several wilderness areas through which bikes aren't permitted.
A group of riders in Nevada’s White River Valley, which is located on the Comstock EPIC bikepacking course. (Photo: Todd Whear/Contributed to RGJ)
As avid bikers, Ted and Trevor decided to identify a parallel route that's entirely ride-able. Well, mostly ride-able.
At one point where the course crosses the Toiyabe Range south of Austin it climbs about 4,400 feet in elevation over seven miles, topping out at more than 10,000 feet at the crest. The riders will most likely be carrying their bikes through that stretch.
"We'll probably hit some snow at the top," Trevor Oxborrow said.
In addition to the American Discovery Trail the route incorporates portions of the Great Basin Bicycle Route, a route established in the early 2000s.
The Oxborrows say the route is a nod to their deep roots in Nevada. Ted's great grandparents, Mary and Joseph Oxborrow, helped found the small town of Lund in the late 19th century.
Bikepacker Trevor Oxborrow on the Marlette Flume Trail near Lake Tahoe. The trail is part of the Comstock EPIC bikepacking course. (Photo: Ted Oxborrow/contributed to the RGJ)
He says the route, which he and Trevor have traversed numerous times, is a reminder of hardships early Nevadans faced. It's also inspiring to travel in their footsteps.
"It is very rewarding to experience what those first pioneers must have experienced," Ted Oxborrow said, describing the experience of promoting the concept of a remote race few have heard of and even fewer are likely to attempt.
"It is kind of romantic," he said. "Other than that I don't think there is any other reason, one would be stupid to do this volunteer for too long. I'm obviously stupid in that sense."
Trevor Oxborrow of Carson City rides across the Railroad Valley on the route of the Comstock EPIC, which is a bikepacking course across Nevada. (Photo: Ted Oxborrow/Contributed to the RGJ)
Follow the Comstock Epic online
Riders in the Comstock Epic are wearing Spot tracking devices that allow anyone with an internet connection to track their progress online. Use this link: http://trackleaders.com/comstock15