Gripped

For me, biking is a sport of obsession. I’m obsessed with my weight. I’m obsessed with equipment. I obsess over favorite roads and trails. I obsess over important events and races. It’s a sickness.

I do not wish to be healed.

I love when some new aspect of cycling takes hold of me, makes me start thinking about it constantly. I love mulling over whatever has gripped me, turning it over and over in my mind, seeing every angle of it, trying to solve it. How could I ride a trail faster or better? How should I prepare for an event? How can I get down to 150 lbs?

 

I Am Rational And Pragmatic

Some obsessions take hold slowly. Last week, Brad sent an email out to a group of people saying that he’s interested in riding something I hadn’t even heard of until this point: The Kokopelli Trail Race. I looked at the description of the race — a completely self-supported ride of the 142-mile Kokopelli Trail in one day — and deleted the email message without replying.

I figured, after all, Brad was joking when he sent that message. I mean, a couple months ago, when I talked about bonking, Brad’s and Rocky’s experiences on the Kokopelli Trail were two of the three stories I used to describe what an ultimate, pull-out-all-the-stops bonk looked like. So for Brad to suggest doing this course at all — leave alone as an unsupported race — seemed a little wacky.

Other people did reply, though, saying this race looks like an interesting challenge. So I fired off a reality-check email to straighten them out:

Out of like a million attempts, we’ve completed this ride once. And that was with support meeting us in at the following places:

  • Base of Beaver Mesa climb
  • Fisher Valley
  • Dewey Bridge
  • Westwater Ranger Station Underpass
  • Rabbit Valley

Remember: even with the support–carrying only the water we needed to get us to the next meet-up spot, we started at 4 am, and finished at 11pm.

Doing this ride totally unsupported means you’d have to carry your lights all day, along with clothes for both cold and hot riding. And of course, a full day’s worth of food and water. How much water is that? and how do you carry that much?

Man, that drop into and climb out of the canyon before Troybuilt in the dark, when you’re exhausted, was hard. Most of us were so tired we crashed once or twice on the downhill. And we were so wiped out we got lost in the climb out. We all agreed we never wanted to do that again.

And what about bonking, the way Brad did between Dewey Bridge and Rabbit Valley? What if you do that on this race, but there’s no sag wagon to pick you up, Brad? What do you do? Die?

I figured that would bring everyone to their senses.

Instead, it made me start thinking about what the solutions are to the problems I had identified.

And when I say “thinking about,” I of course mean “thinking, increasingly often, until it consumed all my waking thoughts.”

I was no longer thinking of it as an interesting problem. I was picturing my setup, my gear, my effort, and my strategy. And I was asking my wife about whether I could fly out to Utah in mid-May.

 

I Am Neither Rational Nor Pragmatic

I don’t have much in the way of endurance cycling boasting rights, but I do have one pretty impressive credential: I have never DNF’d (for you non-racing types, that’s short for “Did Not Finish,” and it’s what officials write by your race number when you quit a race. “DNF” can be used as both a noun and a verb). My attitude stays level even when I’m suffering, and I’m able to push through bonks and keep going.

So, yeah, I think I could do the Kokopelli Trail Race. Here are some of the thoughts now constantly swirling around in my head:

  • What would be my goal? Finish before midnight.
  • How could I save on gear? Find a friend who would make a pact with me to ride together. Then divvy up redundant gear. We could share a water filter. We could share a pump. We could share light. We could share a phone (for just in case.). I’ll need to check with the race organizer as to whether this violates the "self supported" mandate.
  • How would I avoid mistakes? Everyone gets punchy after riding for long enough. I know that my brain stops working well after 18 hours or so on the trail. Having someone along to double-check decisions is probably a good idea, though I’m not sure that two addle-brained riders are better than one.

That’s just the start of it. If I’m going to do this ride, I’ll need to be in extraordinary shape by the beginning of May. Which means I need to start training seriously now. The side-benefit of this is it would leave me good and fit for the Cascade Creampuff (Kenny, Chucky and I are hoping to get in), and — of course — for the Leadville 100.

See, I’ve got it all figured out. What could go wrong?

I mean, besides everything?

0 comments

  1. Unknown

    you’ve never dnf’d, but have you dfl’d? every cylist worth his (or her, loretta) salt has dfl’d.i’ll ride the ktr with you if you promise not to sing. ever.

  2. tayfuryagci

    it would be so cool if I wrote down the three gazillion things that could go wrong when you’re doing a 250km something MTb race. But I won’t I’m lazy. Instead I’ll just comment randomly and say what I’d do, to get ready for the race, during the race, finishing the race and after the race.I’d train like this: I would quit my job (considering I’m fatty not tayfur the college-student-like-hobo). I would sell my house, I’d send the family to a long vacation. I’d get up at 5:00 AM everyday and ride 100kms. Then I’d hit the gym, after a 2 hour workout I’d rest for a while and then ride another 100 kms. Then I’d got to the nearest pool and swim for a cool 20 miles. Then I’d get out of the pool only to ride another 100 kms. At around 01:00 AM next day I’d die and they’d find me in a pool of my own urine, feces and a bloody pulp which used to be my lungs.During the race: I’d fill my 3 lt camelback with this mixture: Powerade (the yellow kind), honey, rock salt, nitroglycerine, multivitamine mixture, kerosene and some more stuff like this. I’d ride a fixed gear with a 52T front and 11T rear. Finishing the race: Taking my gear ratio and power drink into consideration I would finish the race well before the best guy. I would leave the handlebar and hold my fists in the air and howl like a werewolf. I would attack the medal giving people and bite off the race commissar’s feet off.After the race: I’d eat a few of the spectators and sleep until Leadville.What did I just do man?

  3. Unknown

    I’ve always wanted to say this. You’re Doomed, Dooooomed, Doooooooooomed, I tell you!Let’s see now. You will have to train harder than you ever have before to complete it. It’s a hellishly tough, insanely long ride with no support. There’s a substantial chance of death, disfigurement, or dread disease. At least two of the idiots on the ride are trying to figure out how to do it with less equipment. Your riding partners would be two guys who, if there was a law requiring our names and the name of our equipment to match our epic ride experience, would be named Shackleton and Scott, and their bikes would be called the U.S.S. Scorpion and the Hindenburg. To top it all off, the weather should be ridiculously hot, it will be wretchedly dusty, and the race organizers sound like the most brutal sadistisc civil engineers this side of <i>Organization Todt</i>. Frankly, I don’t see how you could do anything but go. Hey, wanna ride a 400k brevet with me in July?

  4. Unknown

    You realize that your "sharing" equipment strategy is in direct violation of the priniciples of the race and even if you finished under those circumstances by sharing), your conscience would get the better of you and you would dq and your perfect record would be dashed to pieces? You also realize that of the four finishers last year, two finished in over 21 hours? You realize that you have four year old twins that deserve to have a daddy to abuse when they become teenage princesses? You further realize that you have a wife that would kill you if you die in this event?There. My work here is done.

  5. Unknown

    You realize that your "sharing" equipment strategy is in direct violation of the priniciples of the race and even if you finished under those circumstances by sharing), your conscience would get the better of you and you would dq and your perfect record would be dashed to pieces? You also realize that of the four finishers last year, two finished in over 21 hours? You realize that you have four year old twins that deserve to have a daddy to abuse when they become teenage princesses? You further realize that you have a wife that would kill you if you die in this event?There. My work here is done.

  6. Tom Stormcrowe

    Eldon, I’m not gonna doomsay you! If you really want to do this race, you WILL WORK your ass of to get in condition to do it without bonking so bad you ride off of a 1000′ drop and say wow, what a story this’ll make, just before you splat! That’d be a waste of a perfectly good mountainbike, by the way, not to mention a pretty fair satirical writer!::GRIN::

  7. Jill

    I say do it. But, then again, I’m lined up to do a similarly long race where the consequences of bonking or making a poor decision in the dark at 1 a.m. could result in my freezing to death. Hey – you only live once. (sometimes, literally 🙂

  8. Unknown

    The Kokopelli Trail Race Training RegimenStep 1: Make sure life insurance premiums are paid up to date.Step 2: Does it really matter what step 2 is since you’re going to die anyway?

  9. Tom Stormcrowe

    Frankly, it sounds like panniers and a trunk bag will be needed! I might just be in shape for this ride in 2007! My wife thinks I’m nuts for even thinking about it!

  10. Loes

    Bah. I’m jealous. I want to ride that race even though I would totally kill myself and get a DNF for sure. But fatty, just train your ass off and if you’ll die, at least you’ll die on your bike.

  11. Zed

    You know, it’s the "this is impossible" thought that makes this race so tempting. Cycling-related things wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if you knew they’d be easy.

  12. Ariane

    Hahaha… I was reading the info on the KTR website… "…don’t ask someone else to save your ass. Start hoofing it and, as you walk, think about the error of your ways." Ahaha… that makes me laugh. I wonder how long it would take me to walk the last hundred-or-so miles…?

  13. Unknown

    I know I’ve already won the stupedist thing on two wheels award, but I think I outdid myself this evening. Its sub-zero (centigrade), icy, windy, dark and drunks on the road, so I am riding, along no handed, trying to turn on the light on my watch so that it would illuminate my computer so that I could see how fast I am going.

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