Taylor Lideen was on the brink. It was just after 9 a.m. on February 16, 2020, and Lideen had spent the past day and night riding the race of his life at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, the season kickoff for endurance racers and one of the biggest events in American mountain biking. He was tantalizingly close to achieving his goal and validating two years of work. The Phoenix, Arizona, native hadn’t just come to Tucson to win; he’d come to break his own record and ride what some considered to be impossible: 21 laps, for a total of 336 miles.
Lideen, then 29, had attacked the pack around midnight, building a gap on four-time 24-hour national champion Josh Tostado. By sunrise, Lideen’s lead grew to 25 minutes over Tostado and 15 minutes ahead of the pace he needed for 21 laps. He could have relaxed and played it safe. Instead, he uncorked a heater: his fastest lap in 14 hours, almost 10 minutes quicker than his prior one. When he came through the pits, his crew erupted like he’d won. Lideen pedaled out for his 19th lap and the coming coronation.