On Sunday Lynda and I set out to put in a fast time on the Kokopelli trail on our single speed Konas. The punchline: we both finished in record time, LW @ 15:21 and DH @ 13:19. It was a day of 2 Epic love! Here’s the nitty gritty.
Last weekend – when many riders had set their sights on a Kokopelli trail ride – we stayed local for some important events that had been on the calendar all year. I never imagined I’d be excited for such things…but what can I say. Life has expanded lately and I’m finding room for all of it.
May 25 was the date we had set aside for our spring KT run. When we first planned it, it was to be a SS mission for speed. Then events seemed to get the better of us. LW had to back off the training for awhile, then I got a last second request to be in LA for business all last week. A week in gridlock at sea level is rather lousy prep for KT! Honestly, we had scrapped the KT idea a month ago. Well, verbally between us, anyway. I had my secret hopes to keep the ride alive…and had actually tailored my training for the push.
I got back from CA Fri night. Sat morning we looked at the forecast for Moab/Fruita and it looked perfect. What do ya know, LW was all fired up to do it, too. Our KT rose from the ashes of burnout and city dwelling…now the question was how to put the logistics together and get on the road ASAP to get’r done? A $250 shuttle, that’s how…Sun 12:30 AM we arrived in Moab with enough time for a 2 hour nap. LW blasted off at 3:10 AM, I left at 4:17 AM.
Initially it was all familiar. Heading up Sand Flats in the dark, how many times have I done that now? What was completely different though this time was the tension in the legs caused by 34.18 gearing and 225 oz fluids on board. And, Lynda was riding ahead of me. Just past the turn off of Sand Flats road she had drawn a big ol heart in the sand in a spot I couldn’t miss…who knew such experiences awaited on the KT?
LW had similar gearing – 34.19 – and we both thought the La Sals were waaaay harder than with gears. Yes, we are human and both of us ended up walking on pavement – more than once too. Between the SS challenge and the extra weight I was hauling for this one (my water filter is AWOL! Anyone seen it?) I hit the top of the La Sals 15 min later than normal, 3 hours. I wasn’t too concerned though as I figured since I wasn’t going to filter I was actually already ahead of schedule. What an optimist ;)
The N Beaver descent was fun as always and before I knew it there was RGH. A short climb later and it was time for probably the toughest part of the ride, the rubbly Cottonwood canyon climb. This thing kicked my ass. I whimpered. I walked. Whimpered some more. Stopped and stretched my back some. I cursed no less than 6 false summits. It was less than 40 minutes but felt like a lifetime. In ’06 Jon Brown set the SS KT record and won the OA as well. He said he walked most of this section, now I understood why. I descended the Shandies somewhat shellshocked by the difficulty of the La Sals with a sudden respect for anyone that has SSed this thing. Some courses seem easier to me on SS, but not this one. Not by a longshot.
At the bottom of Cottonwood canyon there was Lynda filtering water. Record attempt be damned, I couldn’t just ride on by an encounter with my dream girl now could I? Of course not :)
6:16 to Dewey. Or, should I say what was Dewey. 45 min off the pace of my last two rides here. Hmmmm…..could I cover the next ~76 miles in 7 hours? I wasn’t so sure. I thought about sticking my feet in the swollen Colorado river until LW got here then finishing with her. But I wasn’t yet ready to throw in the towel. I ramped it up for Yellow Jacket, felt great and did it in 57 minutes. How about that. Game ON. It was going to be close, but I now recognized the sensations….a challenging goal, a ticking watch, 75 miles of trail and a deadline. I suddenly felt great. Towards the end of Yellow Jacket an ATVer asked me if I had a minute: “sorry, I don’t” and kept on motoring. I was on a mission. Hey, if LW only gets 4 minutes this guy gets nothing!
The KT is a biatch to gear for. In the La Sals you want small gearing for the long, sustained steep climbs. In the rolling to flat east section a big gear would be great. What is fastest? The challenge beyond McGraw bottom was maintaining concentration to rev it up to 19 mph, coast to 14-15, repeat…for miles on end. It wasn’t that hard to do being a high cadence guy, but it was easy to forget to do it. Kinda strange, eh?
I wondered where LW was and how she was fairing…
There was a surprise appearance of Chris and Marni at McGraw bottom. What a nutcase, he just did the KT SS a week prior and was back out there touring it with friends. Manic! I slowed as I came up to them but they told me not to lose my flow so no unclipping occured. Being cheered on during a self-support event was confusing and welcome all at once.
Water. I had to make a call: head to Westwater for a refill as I was getting quite low, or continue on at risk of dehydration but without the 15-20 min time penalty. I knew there wasn’t much time to spare, if any…I’d been rationing water for quite awhile which was affecting ability to fuel. It was all getting rather thin, but I had a lot of cytomax gels that didn’t need much water. Then I remembered the chem tabs in my first aid kit. No brainer: no WW detour, treat some Salt Creek brine if I really have to.
Last year I did the desert section of the KT many, many times. It has great flow and I was really looking forward to it. The part between Westwater and Rabbit Valley in particular is full of fun terrain, great for the SS, lots of rolling short climbs and fast descents. It did not dissappoint! OK it was Memorial weekend and the ATVer factor was pretty high. LW was even harrassed by one of them. Evidently it made him feel good to harrass a 105 lb gal on a SS.
The difficulty of doing a blog for the two of us when we didn’t ride together should be obvious…but here’s one piece of her ride I do know about. There’s this short hike a bike and there were some ATVers there, watching her hike this thing that the ATVs have beat into dusty oblivion. One guy has the gall to tell her she needed a motor, to which she replied “Honey, I’ve got only one gear and I started at Moab 3am this morning!”
Spunky! But that’s nothing coming from this gal. The other day she noticed a bunch of cigarette butts in her yard, obviously they came from the neighbors flicking them over. She picked them up, took a big handful over to the neighbors door, knocked, and when he answered said “here these are yours” after which he put his hand out and she filled it up…and he was clammoring on the ground picking up the ones that fell through his fingers, stammering all the while…
They don’t call her Mighty Mouse for nothing!
Right, so this bike ride….forward progress continued…the Salt creek drop in was surprisingly rideable. I arrived dry. Gawd I’ve never done a KT in the Moab to Fruita direction when I didn’t drink this nasty thing, it always makes me thirstier. I had something like 1:35 to match the current record leaving from Salt Creek. I was pretty sure nothing short of a catastrophe would get in my way. I could taste success. Then, shortly after the first hike a bike, wow my legs were just noodles. It was an unfamiliar sensation for sure. I could barely pedal and felt sort of strange. Maybe it was the chem tabs from Salt creek? LW tells me it’s something called a bonk. Well anyway, gels, figs and salt creek brine chased it away…and then the snake episodes. Snakes! Not once, but twice I had to climb around snakes that wouldn’t leave the trail, and I wouldn’t roll over them. It was steep rocky and not much fun…more time burned. Now it was getting tight.
Troy built just is never that much fun after 138 miles. That climb was a hike. But from there it was fun ripping tech singletrack to the finish. Mary’s was never ending, mostly cause I was watching my watch – 14 minutes…12…10…9…oh thank gawd there’s that last climb!
13:19, a meager 7 minutes faster than Jon’s ’06 ride, but hey, I’ll take it.
LW rolled in shortly afterwards. That girl is so gritty…doing KT in a day requires some prior planning. We both paid the price for the last minute decision to do it. My price was a lack of a water filter, hers was forgetting to swap out her saddles. I’m not going into details, other than to say her price was much higher than mine ;) OUCH!
Oh yea, we both rode our PowerTap MTB Disc wheels laced up by MC. They both worked too! My stats were:
156 W ave
207 W normalized power
VI: 1.32, just about what every SS ride turns out to be…
11.3 ave speed
12:42 rolling time
13:19 elapsed time – which means stopped time was 37 min, but actually less cause the rolling clock stops when carrying for hike a bikes. So prolly under 30 min time stopped. That’s as good as I’ve done on the KT.
With this ride, I think I can speak for us both that this obsession has found closure. The KT is beautiful, wonderful riding. And so are many other places…the quest moves on to new pastures.
congratulations, you two … in all dimensions!!! what an absolutely wonderful write up!!! and, what a FANTASTIC way to feed the obsession(s). you two take good care of one another and recover well!
Good thing you did not stop when that ATVer hollered you down at YellowJacket. I am sure it would have gone something like this:
ATVer: You there, yeah, you look a bit like you are in a hurry.
DH: I am.
ATVer: Well you know, you need a permit to be in a hurry in these parts.
ATVer: Yeah. (pulls out a walkie talkie) Sally, we got a pedal biker in a HURRY. Send Backup.
Also, there is some thick irony in an ATVer telling Lynda that she needs a motor. If only he KNEW who he was talking to!
Congrats to both of you on an epic ride. I hear you on the closure. My closure came in a less dramatic way, but it was closure none the less. At least for a little while anyway.
On to new obsessions!
Congrats on a great TT!
1st.. you gave best reason there is to not be there the weekend before
2nd..Amazzzing rides D & L
oh and.. “this obsession has found closure”, well not sure if it’s closed for me…………I still want 24hrs, basicaly twice the time it takes you guys… hummm, sort of silly when I think about it but then again it is a fine obsession…..
Nice one! Both of your times are almost unbelievable. Closure will only last as long as that 13:19 which is to say a very long time I think.
Awesome! You’ve raised so many memories.
I still don’t have closure coming from that direction. My first year, 270 oz. of water graced my back and a 34/16 gearing left my legs whimpering, a lot! I still had 100 oz. just past the Rabbit Valley parking area and I figured out I was dehydrated around Salt Creek when the bomb went off in my head and body and I slowed to a crawl. It took everything I had to climb Troy and make that Mary’s Loop circuit. The big gear was all part of the grand plan to push hard through the last 70+ miles after Dewey, on the flats (yeah right!) as the water weight diminished while I drank. A slight but constant headwind ruined any dreams of flashing through the desert like lightning and poor hydrating (conservation) left me weak a the end.
I’ve learned a thing or two since then. 34/20 sounds very nice to me.
I THINK Jon Brown ran an even bigger gear than my 61.6 gear inches. Seriously!
By the way those are your ss records right, not your geared records which for you I believe is in the 12 hour range…?
Congratulations to both of you. A great writeup, you covered a lot of ground, literally :-)
Ed – yep, LW did a 15:03 geared and I did a 12:41. Both were in ’06. FYI I’m guessing the SS factor cost us both at least an hour for this one…you rode a 34.16 on a 29er??? Gawd that is just nutz. Your cadence must have been in the 20’s for the first 3 hours. I recall that desert headwind well in ’06. I rode with Jon much of that day…I figured I’d lose him in the deserts with my gears but that wind kept us together, he was never even close to spun out. I thought I recalled him using a 32.16 on a 26er but I had zero interests in SS at the time so could be way off ;)
An interesting thing about running a bigger gear is that it limits power – strength, not fuel supply, becomes the limiting factor. So, being overgeared in the La Sals seemed to have the benefit of not being *able* to destroy energy systems for the more dynamic riding of the desert section. All in all, for my abilities at present, I think the 34.18 (on a 26er) was the perfect gear. A lot smaller than many would use, but hey, it worked ;)
** Correction **
I looked up my story from ’06. The gear I ran was a 34/18 and I guess I somehow stuffed THREE 100 oz. bladders into my pack :-)
My cadence in the La Sals was one step at a time. Clack, clack, clack……Never again! Last year I ran a 32/20 or even a 32/22, I can’t remember. Felt much better at the end.
As for Jon Brown’s gear selection, I looked around but could not find definitive info but I’m pretty sure I “heard” or read that he ran some insane gear that was bigger than mine and close to or over 60 inches. I could be wrong. Obviously my memory is not flawless.
With a 36×20 on a 26er, I didn’t have to walk in the la sals and I rode much of the climb above rose garden hill. I’d say that likely means I went too small. On the other hand it was great for touring! :)
Chris – your gearing was similar to ours – right in between. Perhaps you were undergeared, you do have incredible leg strength. But it could also be that you *didn’t* walk when you should have. Neither LW nor myself *had* to walk in the LaSals, we chose to. One of the benefits of training with a power meter is the ability to quantify the type of efforts that will leave a mark later in the ride, calibrate that to your PE, and avoid them in the early stages.
Chris – with those quads of yours you should have geared much much bigger. Ha!
And anyway, when you walk you get to see the road better! That’s why I CHOOSE to walk all that steep stuff. :P
All of you are ridiculously strong. I mean seriously.
I certainly “should” have walked above rose garden hill but I was so f***ing happy to be awake again that I couldn’t stop myself. I felt pretty spun out after dewey, much worse after Yellow Jacket which I also pretty much totally cleaned.
In the La Sals perhaps I should have walked in spots but I never felt like I was pushing a huge gear at all. Someday I’ll try to “race” again with a 2:1, otherwise 36×20 was perfect for just enjoying the ride for me.
It’s about time you two leave that poor little trail alone! It’s clearly out gunned and it can only handle so many scorch marks.
Thanks for taking us along for the ride.
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