Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kokopelli Trail Race 2007

May 18th, 2007: Somewhere around 10:30 pm the BLM showed up, just before the 12:01 am start time. Panic set in as they started saying we couldn’t have this race. Finally a $275 dollar ticket was issued and a bunch of us rode the Kokopelli from Loma to Moab (to make a long story short). Some folks started before the 12:01 time and about 25-30 of us waited until midnight.

Riding at night felt great, it was so warm and the sky was clear but the little moon there was slowly disappeared. The singletrack section (the first 15 miles) got more technical and less manageable. I fell pretty hard on my left arm and talked myself into relaxing a bit knowing that an injury now would cost me big later. I couldn't seem to stay on my bike, walking stuff I'd normally ride. I think my seat was a little too high. I had too many things mounted to the seat post though so there was no adjusting at this stage of the game. Once I finished the hike a bike out of the Salt Wash I felt better.

I decided to ride fast the rest of the night since I felt so good and got to Dewey Bridge by 8:15, filtered water (sour, yuckee water) and started the long and arduous climb towards the La Sals which would last the next 10 hours. The climbing was slow and hot but the company was good. There were about 5 of us that kept yo-yoing each other. It’s always nice to know you’re not the only one out there suffering.

I kept my eye on the clock and kept my breaks short, filtering quickly and drinking lots, I was set to finish in 18 hours. I was struggling on and off almost the entire race with waves of nausea. I kept it at bay though, which was a blessing.

Second filter location, Hideout Canyon with about 10 other people. Funny things were said and people were tired, for me it was the comic relief I needed. I tried to keep may stay short as the shade and cold creek were way too inviting. Nearing Fisher Creek there was a little rain which cooled things down a bit. The lightning kind of freaked me out and I began having irrational thoughts of dying on the trail....it passed. By the time I descended Castle Valley I was fine but not feeling super strong for that last push up La Sal Mountain Loop Road.

I never doubted I could do it and quitting was never an option especially not at this point. I just didn’t know how fast I could do it and it was 4:15ish so I had to dig deep if I was going to make it in 18 hours. I topped the climb at around 5:35 and kept moving to fly down the big descent to the finish. Turns out this descent never wanted to end and the head wind was downright apathetic to my 18 hour finish time goal. I rolled in around 6:30 and lit up with a huge grin as I passed Matt taking my photo.

I had goose bumps I was so happy; I did it, finished that is. At that point I couldn’t have been disappointed with the extra 30 minutes it took especially since I was almost 2 hours faster than last year. Completing a race like this is a success in itself and I had conquered it along with 34 other people out of a 60 person start. I was the second female and 18th overall. Lynda Wallenfels smoked the course in 15:06. Dave Weins was top male in 12:45!

Overall it was a humbling and as usual for a race like this, character building experience. I’m still recovering; my neck is tight and my shoulder feels like needles are being poked in it, sometimes knives. My mind and heart are bobbing around, not so happy to have returned home to cold weather and snow. Nevertheless, I successfully completed my first and favorite race of the summer. The endorphins are slowly wearing off which sends my emotions flying, but I know that’s a part of it and it shall pass.

As for now, rest, relaxation, hydration than get ready for the next one. I have to say though that this one is special, more than the others could ever be. It sits deep in my soul and somehow shapes my heart. I don't know if this makes sense but I actually miss the KTR. Riding the KTR last year and this year was like a soul-searching retreat, an escape from the material world. The desert heat and sand have little mercy on a suffering, tired body trying to reach a tangible goal. The elements perform as they must without thought or consideration nor without judgement. Me, my bike, the earth.....pure, natural and free.

Kokopelli Trail Race Preparation Days

I thought I would recap on the past month before I give my full KTR report since I haven't been up to date with my blogs.

I had just less than four weeks to prepare for this one as I arrived in Fruita April 21 to begin riding my bike that other than a few rides in Fruita mentioned earlier, had been collecting dust since last October. I was so happy to be on my bike that I blew off the pain I was feeling in my lower back. I woke up day five, moved the wrong way and just like that my lower back completely seized up. I cried over my cereal and wondered why this happened and how I was possibly going to accomplish my May 19th Kokopelli Trail Race only 3 weeks away.

After an acupuncture appointment that morning and a muscle relaxer that evening, the next day I woke up still tight but good enough to ride. Lynda Wallenfels consulted me on a 3 week preparation plan for the race and I was able to stick to it and so began the race day countdown.

My significant other, mechanic, advisor, and best friend Matt Fletcher arrived 2 weeks after I did and spent the next 2 weeks making my bike race ready. We always find ourselves contemplating the same question prior to these races, “Which bike should I ride?” I had been training on my Ventana, very light but not as much travel as my Blur. I figured for the 142 miles I should take something with a little more cushion to help absorb things a little better. Turns out after 142 miles, you’re hurting so badly anyway that I’m not sure it matters. The Blur it was though. The tuning and changing and fixing began. Matt mounted two more water bottle cages on the frame and attached everything else he could so I didn’t have to carry it on my back.

He bought me a great bag called the Wing Nut (appropriate name I thought) which moved the weight from my shoulders to my lower back. I had a patch/tool kit as small but prepared as could be. I tried to figure my caloric intake needs and all that other stuff to carry only what I needed and again avoid a heavy back load like last year. I was ready as I could be and my training was going well, now it was just to complete the race in 18 hours. This year the race went from Loma to Moab which was said to be harder but I wasn’t scared, I like to climb and I don’t mind the heat………..