I’ve probably said it before and I’ll probably say it again, the Kokopelli Trail holds much meaning to me. My adventures in the endurance self-support mountain bike scene started with the KTR in 2006. I had no idea what I was getting into then, but knew there had never before been a female finisher. My dream quickly faded before my eyes when I learned that Jari Kirkland had showed up but more impressively when I saw a little lady with pigtails fly by me like a bat out of hell (that would be LW, at the time I did not know her). My finish in 2006 was the hardest thing I had ever done on a bike. It took me 20 hours and 30 minutes! I had a pack equivalent to something one would carry on a week-long backpacking trip loaded down with randomness that I ended up carrying with me the entire 144 miles. I got lost, confused, and hot, bothered, lost again, hallucinated, and wanted to quit more times than not. It was not an easy task and when I think back I can’t believe I drug myself to the finish. Since 2006 I have done the KTR three more times including this year and each time offers such a completely different experience.
This year I managed my best time and best feeling ever on the KTR. I don’t know why I felt so good. I honestly didn’t think I could pull this one off so soon in the season with the complete lack of any organized training under my belt. School, having just finished, has been brutal this semester and I think I was just longing for some time in the saddle. I also can't resist the opportunity to ride through Fisher Valley during sunrise, it is one of my favorite places on earth.
I have been experimenting with different ways of eating both on and off the bike and perhaps this contributed to me feeling so good. I never really felt sick to my stomach, which if you know me you know this is huge. I occasionally would eat some digestive enzymes and kept drinking CarboRocket, an occasional Kep's Ball, some baked yams, cashews, and coca-cola. The worst feeling I had was climbing for the first several hours. I was victim to my 32x20 gear and could not sit; the hills were relentless at times. I wondered what I was doing out there, so early, so little training, and mainly I wondered why I was on a single speed. Once I got through the worst of the climbing I started to feel a wee bit better but when I looked at my watch at Dewey Bridge and realized it was 8:30, I got antsy. I left quickly and remembered last time I made it through Yellow Jacket in 45 minutes. This time it took me nearly 30 minutes longer in Yellow Jacket and this bothered me. My only real goal at the start of this was to finish, but when I started feeling better instead of worse, the possibilities of a faster finish enticed me. At first I had delusions of a 16 hour finish. When I left Rabbit Valley at 2:30 it dawned on me that a 1.5 hour pace to Loma is what the big dogs put down and let’s face it, I’m of the feline species. Thereafter I imagined a 16:15 which slowly became a 16:30 then an under 17 hour and finally I just figured I would finish eventually and would just have to be ok with whatever that was. Turns out I am pretty happy with a 17:16 time and more importantly I had a great time out there. I looked at my watch quite frequently in those last couple of hours in an effort to go faster but somehow neglected to do so when I finished, stupid. I'm sure it was only a few minutes that had passed by the time I did look at my watch for my 17:16 official finish. I guess I was just so happy to be done I really didn't care at that point what time it was.
I felt great, happy, well hydrated, and well fueled for most of the race. I don’t know if it is being on a single speed but I just seem to enjoy myself so much more on the bike these days. I definitely had pain, especially in between my shoulder blades and neck and feet; but this time I just was able to handle it better. I believe that two rounds with the CTR have helped and 17 hours or so on the bike compared to 6 plus days really isn’t that bad. It helped me to just stay in the moment and finish the section I was on before I would allow myself to think about the next one. It seemed to go by a lot faster that way. Before I knew it I was riding, well mostly walking, down the Salt Wash, up Troy Built and onto Lyon’s and Mary’s. I rode much more than I thought I would on Lyon’s and Mary’s. Matt and a couple of friends were at the bottom of Mary’s and so was Ringo (my squirrelly cattle dog). Ringo ran the last hill on the road with me before he took off after some poor prairie dog. That finish was so sweet, even though it wasn’t until then that my stomach got sour.