Monday, May 21, 2012

Kokopelli Trail Ride 2012

The Salsa Selma Ti ready to roll the KTR.

It's been tradition for awhile that the weekend after Mothers Day a few of us meet up and ride the Kokopelli Trail from Moab to Loma, Colorado fully self supported and in one push. This time there was only three of us. No other takers.

I have completed the Kokopelli Trail route 5 times. Every time in one push, fully self supported and always on a single speed bike.....duh. I have completed the route twice from Loma to Moab and three times from Moab to Loma. My first time in 2007 was on a full ti rigid single speed. This year was to be my sixth completion but it wasn't to be a complete finish of the KTR. I take it for granted that is is a done deal. The company was spot on but the route had different ideas for us three riders who started the ride this year. The climb up Sand Flats was the typical semi-hammer fest at a moderate speed. Paul Adams; a fellow rider from Kokopelli Bike and Board Racing Team out of Cortez, Colorado was along for the beating as well as fellow Rico resident Dan Holmes. No other takers. I even posted the event on Facebook but not a single other peep showed. That tells you that it is a hard endeavor to undertake. Surely there are other rides out there to tackle that are much harder but this one is a good one day beat down. This year proved that very much.

We started the ride at 10 pm from the Slickrock Trailhead. We made good time and the route conditions to Fisher Creek were ideal. THe temperatures were pleasant as it wasnt too cold or too warm. Lightning flickered in the distance in the North. Once we climbed up to Beaver Mesa the perfect conditions changed. The typical hard packed double track I expect changed to inches of silt, sand and whatever else you like to call the moon dust type soil. This lasted all the way to Hideout Campground area where we would filter for the first time on the ride. It took twice as long to descend this section as normal due to the soft loamy conditions. It was a constant battle to keep the bike straight and upright in the loose sand and I was thrown into a tree once while attempting to descend. It was the worst conditions on this section in my personal history of the route. We made it down to Hideout at about 4amish and filtered water. The water was abundant and we made quick work of the task. We headed off to Cotton Wood Valley and the infamous Rose Garden area which includes some of the routes most brutal hike a bike. Paul and Dan where not having a great time here as it was there first time to ride this section. I knew all to well what we were in for and just pushed on. Hike, ride, hike. Repeat.

We finally arrived at the mighty Colorado River at 7:40am and I was thinking we were behind a bit for making a great overall time. We ate some food and laid down in the gravel parking lot there at Dewey Bridge. I wasn't feeling all that great as my stomach felt upset and putting food down was hard. We finally headed off to the Yellow jacket section where it can be rough in the sand sections. The sand was mostly ride-able and had to walk only a couple times. After the Yellow jacket section we cross back over HWy 128 and head along the Colorado River where we would filter again soon. We filtered and even soaked our feet in the water. It felt good. We were in no hurry to get back on the bike.We continued with the route leaving the river and heading toward Westwater. This next 12-15 miles is not pleasant. It is a straight shot through the grasslands and on the single speed it seems like an eternity. At this juncture my only thought in my head is to get to the shade at the train tressel. Also with the heat and wind as well as the humidity levels rising causing me to sweat much more than I wanted I knew our water supply was going to be lacking on the push to Salt Creek where I usually filter. We all three made it to the train tressel taking time to eat some food and talk about our water supply and what to do. I suggested we ride over to Westwater Ranger Station to fill back up. It was only a mile away and we rode over to find a nice spicket of cool water. We drank and filled up the bladders and every bottle we had. We headed back out and rode the asphalt to the turn to Westwater Mesa doubletrack. It was hot and humid and I pushed hard to get through this section. Dan was off the back a bit but hanging in there. Paul was just pedaling and seeming to enjoy himself. I think. His new bike was performing awesome. It was his first ride on the Salsa Selma Ti single speed. I have the same bike and just love it. We regrouped at edge of Westwater Mesa where it drops down and continued on in the heat with visions of finishing but at this point a finish at Rabbit Valley was looking real. I knew Laura would be at Rabbit Valley riding and we would decide when we arrived there. It took us awhile to get through to Rabbit Valley and arrived at 3:52pm. I saw the van and knew I was done for the day. Paul and Dan were done as well. We collectively decided that was enough and called it a day. Open a cold beer! 

So, we didn't complete the whole route and it was my first time not to finish on a KTR attempt. The heat/humidity and the time it took thus far to this point made the decision easy as the Salt Creek section would be hard work. Sure, it was doable but two to three more hours out there didn't sound so inviting. I knew Dan was done and Paul as well. I really had a second thought to continue on but once a beer was cracked it was game over. 

120 miles and 13,994 feet of climbing with a total time of 17 hours and 42 minutes since we had left the Slickrock trailhead in Moab. I rode my Salsa Selma Ti single speed with a 32x21 gearing. My longest time for that route. It doesn't matter as it wasn't a real race just a great ride with some friends. I'm not sure if I will do it again but maybe a bike pack trip on the Kokopelli in the future. Time heals all pain and I may change my mind. Ride on!!!!

Slickrock TH

Dan getting ready.

Paul atop La Sal loop Road.

Hideout filtering stop. 


Filtering on the Colorado.

Grasslands on our way to Westwater.

This says a lot.


On Westwater Mesa.

Dan on the Westwater Mesa.

Paul looking a bit worked.

Dan kind of enjoying himself. 

Me having some fun out in the heat.

Paul near Castle Rock.

Dan cruising by Castle Rock.

Me taking self portraits to amuse myself.

My Garmin telling the story with the stats.

Pauls new ride. Not so new after a 120 miles.

Paul looking amused.

Last climb of the day.

Rabbit Valley finish. 

Damn it;s hot and I'm baked. 

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