Mike Curiak is an underground Laird Knight, an enduro junkies pimp. He's cooked up an unsupported race through 142 miles of mountain and desert. Are you self-reliant? Resourceful? Smart? Lucky? It'll take more than good legs to get to the finish line of this epic adventure. And those that do...and some that won't...will be thanking Mike for the crack fix he's cooking up.
The rules are completely foreign to me, and at first pass I thought "what the hell? Does he want to see folks die out there?" No outside support. No drops. Bring what you need or do without. No drafting.
The funny thing is, as I was preriding the route over the weekend, I gained a good bit of clarity on why those rules are set up the way they are. It is the purest of individual pursuits, the purest accomplishment to complete the event under ones own power, entirely. It demands a certain toughness from which MTB riding has it's roots, but have gone the way of the dodo with the myriad of supported event formats.
KTR may kill me, but it is a beautiful quest to consider.
Now, for those of you considering the event, you must decide right now whether to keep reading. Reading this will help you prepare, perhaps...but may also take away some of the surprises in store. If you prefer surprises over survival, stop right here X.
There are a lot of tricky elements to this race. It has some of everything, something for everyone. Lots of climbing. Lots of ledgy, rocky jeep trail. If you like the Moab 24 hour course, you'll be right at home. It's also got quite a bit of smooth dirt road and pavement, that if the winds are good you'll scoot effortlessly across; if headwinds are the order of the day add 2 hours.
Some tidbits. Consider the source - neither of us had ridden any of these trails before (except sand flats road).
- there is no perfect tire choice. Anything you choose will have trade-offs. I'll air on the side of floatation for sandy/rocky conditions.
- Water. You'll think about it a lot during this ride. Fisher creek is good, but way high up and early in the race. The Colorado river is accessible at Dewey (albeit requiring a bit of a scramble under the hwy bridge), and 12 miles later the trail goes right alongside the river, easy access there. It's muddy though. Westwater has tap water, but will cost at least 10 minutes. Salt creek is big, fast, and muddy. The next 11 miles past Salt creek will be challenging with the previous 130 in your legs...so if you're dry...I'm sure there are other options I'm missing here, but the salty dogs that have done this before have earned the right to hold those cards closely.
- Lights: don't feck around if you are serious. Moonlight ain't gonna work in a lot of spots. The lead riders will likely be to Dewey by sunrise - and guess what - the hardest terrain of the course (except the Fruita singletrack) is the second half of the Slick rock and Dewey section. Part of that includes a 3000+ foot descent on jeep roads of varying quality. Lighting will be a big issue here.
- Difficulty: it varies wildy...but every time I was tempted to call it the "Kokopelli Road Race", some twist would settle me down. There is basically no singletrack until mile 130 or so...but that doesn't mean it's easy. The first 2.5-3 hours is mostly climbing, including one long paved descent (with some very sharp surprise curves waiting in the dark). It gets more interesting as you descend out of the LaSals. The views are great too BTW! The surprise part of the course for us was the section past some biatch of a hike-a-bike, I think it's called Rose Garden Hill? The two cottonwood canyons...lots of super slow, techy climbing in sand, that'll be challenging in the dark. How rigid guys get through this is beyond me...I kept thinkng of Ed on his 34x18 29er rigid and going OMG as I was in my 22x30 full squish and thinking it was harsh...The 10 mile section past Dewey is also a bit challenging, mostly from sand. After that the course is relatively easy, not nearly as much climbing...until Salt creek, anyway.
- Signage: the route is marked quite well up to Rabbit Valley. The Rabbit valley and Loma trails are poorly (or not at all) marked. Pre-ride this if you can; finding your way through this area in the dark would be, well, impossible without GPS or prior knowledge.
The top of the first extended section of climbing. 8300' elevation.
Lots of these kinds of views. We won't see 'em on race night tho.
Lynda isn't even peaking for this event, but damn is she riding well! She's a tireless crackhead.
Funny story about this hill. It's known (I think) as Rose Garden. I've got a different name, though. Lynda and I got separated at one point, and I had been planning on stopping at some water sources to filter...but by this point realized I'd blown right past them all. Dumbass. As I descending to the base of this nasty climb, a cocophany of magpies greeted me with their laughing ridicule "dumbass, dumbass, dumbass!!!" For me, this will forever be Magpie Hill. Strange mojo here, tread with caution.
It's all a hike. Here's looking down Magpie Hill.
Flower season is on!
All in all, it is an enormous undertaking to complete this course in a day. I did use a powermeter and scored about 850 TSS points over 2 days, and we had nuclear tailwinds both days. Lighting, water, feeding, pacing, luck, karma, common sense, clear thinking under duress, and plain old brawn will all have to align just so to reach the finish of this one.
It's an epic I eagerly anticipate.