KTR v2.0: a record ride

Yesterday was the last big ride of my Moab build.  I was looking for a 12 hour ride, and after last weekends apparent form on the White Rim with the Pocket Rocket, why not give the Kokopelli trail another go?  I was thinking that with a lot of  luck 12.5 hours was within reach.  That course is such a bear…but I came close.  Without further ado, here’s the new mark on the Kokopelli Trail as a solo, unsupported effort:

I’ve uploaded the ride file here.  As always, it’s in WKO+ (aka Cyclingpeaks, ya know, the software used by T-Mobile for season planning in ’07).  I was riding the new Yeti which is disc brakes only – so the file doesn’t have power, it’s speed/hr/distance/time only.

I followed the same set of rules we used for the May KTR event – basically that of self-sufficiency, carry what you need, accept no outside assistence, no water/food drops, no drafting other riders.  In a sense, this was an even more pure event as it was done solo.

As it was for the other 55 competitors to do the Kokopelli trail in May, KTR loomed large for me for months.  All the planning, the preparation, the anticipation – it was all so juicy; the highlight of my early season.  It also meant that I’ve done all the legwork into putting together a good KTR ride, so all that obsession wasn’t required this time around.  Simply make a few tweaks to the plan based on how the May event turned out and go giver’ the gas.  Those tweaks were:

– a new filter for the water filter.  The dang thing failed on me in the May event.  It worked great yesterday.

– an easier start.  Initial pace is a delicate balance in this event because the first 2:45 are uphill with perhaps 5,000′ of climbing.  Go too hard and you’ll pay dearly later in the day…go to easy and you won’t make that time up.

– travel lighter.  I packed enough food for a week last time and finished with prolly 6 lbs of food in my pack.  I was going to finish in 13 hours or shortcut the end, so either way I didn’t need that much food.

– take in more calories in the first 6 hours!  I totally blew this in May…in part because I was going so freaking hard for the first 6  hours.  It’s hard to eat when you’re gasping for air.

Here’s the bike setup:

The bike worked great, for the most part.  It felt much faster on the climbs than the Dos, and it was downright comfy for the long haul.  It really inspired confidence on the fast descents.  The only downside is the Fox rear shock blew last week so I put on a Cane Creek cloud nine I had.  Great shock if you like bob and lack of adjustability…I can’t wait to ride this steed with a decent rear shock.  Some details you’ll see if you blow the image up full res…a goofy looking  custom light on the bars.  This is my most recent, as yet unblogged K2 bar design complete with bitchin cooling fins.  The battery is tucked away in the 2nd saddlebag under the saddle.  It worked flawlessly, turning the night into day.  2nd spare tube on the downtube attached with Dicky’s favorite method: duck tape with tabs.  PT pickup; the power tap pro was used in computer only mode.  North Face pack, courtesy of Boris in ’05 for registering for all 3 E100 events.  It’s a great pack; for whatever reason, I just can’t use a Wingnut.  Weight down low kills my lower back.  In the pack I had a water filter, food, 100oz fluids, and another water bottle.  Total capacity was 150 oz.  It was warm for my 5am start, so arm/leg warmers was all I needed.  I also had my new (previously blogged) helmet mount K2 light.  Way more light than I needed because the sun rose before the descending began, but hey, it was another testing session.  That’s it.  Light and simple.

Friday, the day before the ride, it dawns on me about 12:30 pm that I haven’t started packing yet and it took months for v1.0 and slight panic sets in.  It’s only a training ride, right?  Ha!  Anna had volunteered to go with me on the trip – do a hike in Moab after I started, then drive to Fruita to pick up the remains.  So off we go at the crack of 6pm.  We were both beat and didn’t make it past Monticello. 

2am Saturday I was more than wide awake, I was wired.  It was game time.  I always look forward to the last big ride of a build for long events, they are a special beast in my mind.  It is the time when it all comes together, and is always an indication of how well the block has progressed.  3 hours later we’re in Slickrock parking lot, ready to rock.  Anna is amazed at all the stars in the sky; I’m amazed at all the light my two systems are throwing.  “Look at all the stars!”  “Look at my lights!”  It went back and forth like that a bit, then I gave up.  Off into the night I roll…this time alone and without the full moon.

So what do you think about when you head out for something really, really big?  I could wax philosophical here a bit…but the truth is in my mind I’m going over my checklist:  when to eat, how much, where to filter, pacing goals, contingency plans (gotta be flexible) – all the little details.  Once I got that all worked into the seams of my conciousness, it was time to unleash the mp3 and let it do its magical PE lowering trick.

At about the 2 hour mark I hit the first bit of pavement.  It wasn’t quite light yet, but there was plenty of “seeing” light.  The vistas below made me gasp; the La Sals were covered with deep snow, and the aspens were in full fall regalia.  There was a little snow in shady spots left over from last weekends snowstorm.  This was a magical part of the ride, when vistas were huge, both mountain and desert, and I was patting myself on the back for the decision to start later this time.  Starting at midnight, you miss all the high mountain scenery; starting at 5am the ride is literally a “mountains to desert” experience.

The top of the paved climb was going to be a good benchmark for how my pacing was going.  PE was pretty low initially, so I expected to be maybe 10 minutes behind the pace of May, but was surprised to hit the the top only about 1.5 minutes behind the May pace.  I was also using a HR monitor to keep myself honest.  It was going to be a good day.  Rolling over the top of the La Sals, it was time to switch the clear glasses for the shades.  The sun was up now and right in my eyes at times.  But wow!  The views from up there were mind boggling.  Sunrise in the deserts below is a scene I won’t soon forget.

The first 2 times I’ve ridden this section I’ve felt great on the Beaver mesa descent, but I was starting to feel really flat.  Then there’s that short steep climb just before you pop into Fisher valley (I call that the 4 hour climb), and that thing had me seeing stars.  PE was through the roof; this was the toughest part of the day.  Inner demons were lurking.  Was I going to have to enact the cell phone contingency plan?  I had to stop and eat a bit, collect some wits, and carry on. 

By Rose Garden hill I was back on top, feeling great.  Hike-a-bike is something I really dislike, but I’ve done a lot of it lately and seemed to fly up that thing with ease.  Suddenly PE dropped out of sight and the legs were snappy as could be.  This is a phenomena I’ve come to recognize as a sign of really  high CTL – taking a long time to open up.  Usually it’s not 4  hours…but I don’t typically start big rides when I’m already at record CTL either;  The techy stuff to Dewey bridge seemed easy and went by quickly.  A quick check of the water supply revealed I had plenty to stick to the McGraw filtering plan. 

I was really feeling good now, wow!  The yellow jacket section went by in just over an hour, and a few minutes later I was at McGraw draw.  Time to filter.   It had to go quick – in May the filter fiasco took so long I completely shut down afterwards.  The filter improvements worked a charm and I was outta there in good time.  Quick chainlube, a mix of some Drip/eFuel, eat some solid stuff, drink an extra water bottle while doing it all, carry on.  The singletrack alongside the river was totally overgrown with tamarisk…and the late summer storms had made the following section quite nasty with erosion ruts & big rocks/boulders.  In fact, much of the course was a lot rougher than in May – but in general the sand was less, so I figured it was a wash.

After a few short climbs, it’s on to the pavement near Cisco.  From here to Westwater it was all about the steady, fast pace.  My tire selection was partly based on the fater parts of the course – a tubeless fastrak on the rear for low RR on the flats, and a big (but light) Conti 2.3 on the front for the sandy parts.  Power was still great and in fact the section from Mcgraw to WW took only 1:23!  I had visions of a sub 12 hour time for awhile, but as the heat of the day set in, my stomach turned south and calorie intake was getting much reduced.  Oh well.  By McGraw (at t=6:56) I had already taken in 2600 calories and that certainly saved my bacon in the afternoon heat.  After awhile, all I could think of was Salt creek.  My head was baking, and a big cooldown was needed before that final techy bit of singletrack and hike-a-bike.  Knowing how long that final 11 miles takes, stopping meant I wouldn’t make my 12.5  hour goal…but something about that creek, that heavenly cool goodness at just the right place, it calls to me and I am powerless over it’s beckon.  So in I go, water filter in hand, and filter a couple bottles for good measure as I sit neck deep.  Made sure to remove all electronics this time around – in May I torched my camera in the creek. 

I spent something over 10 minutes at the creek and was almost cold when heading up the mostly hike-a-bike stuff.  Like RGH, the hikes went fast and easy.  It wasn’t the deathmarch of before.  As the singletrack became more rideable, it was quite fun this time.  The canyon walls were putting parts of the trail in the shadows by now, the coolness was awesome.  There were a lot of folks out there riding (it was a saturday afternoon afterall) and were giving me some strange looks with the funky light system still on the bars.

Finally, that last little hill came into view.  I looked at my watch and seeing 12:38 made me smile.  Much to my relief, Anna was there with chocolate milk in hand, icewater, and a soft seated truck.  (note to self:  riding in wet chammys is way bad for the butt).

Some interesting stats:  ride time was about 11.5 hours.  That means I spent about 1:11 on hike-a-bike, water filtering, and pee stops.  The later was happening at an alarming frequency the first 6 hours…dang was I ever hydrated.  Post ride CTL is 158.  Pre-ride TSB was -10, about as high as it’s been for 3 weeks.

Those are some downright silly numbers, even for my standards.  After last weekends white rim binge I knew I wan’t ready to taper yet…but today?  Yea, I’m ready ;)

It’s been a helluva season, and there’s only one thing that could make it any better.  Time to let that taper work it’s magic.