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.