The iconic Kokopelli Trail, running from Fruita, Colorado to Moab, Utah is likely ready for a break after having some fast athletes running its course lately. Most recently, Kait Boyle and Kurt Refsnider have claimed FKTs (fastest known times).
On Friday, November 6, Boyle and Refsnider, joined by endurance athlete extraordinaire Lael Wilcox, rode the 137-mile trail and uncovered two new FKTs. The three of them had planned to ride the trail on November 10, but a winter storm moved in and the riders bumped the ride up four days. This worked to their advantages and the riders say they had great temperatures, minimal sand, and the trails were tacky.
The Kokopelli Trail has nearly 15,000 feet of climbing and combines 4×4 trails, gravel roads, and technical singletrack for an epic ride. The trail was created by the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Association in 1989 and the route has had a history of FKT attempts. The idea of the FKT is that the attempt must be completely self-supported. There should be no support crews, food or water stashes, or drafting.
Boyle broke her record by 25 minutes with a time of 13 hours 7 minutes. Boyle claimed the new FKT after a two-year recovery from a serious car crash.
“After two years since racing my last ultra with a massive recovery process that never offered any certainty that I’d be able to race ultras again, I was really unsure of what I’d be capable of doing on Kokopelli,” said Boyle after her ride. “Having ultra-endurance powerhouse Lael Wilcox offer to race me added the vulnerability on top of wondering if I would be able to hold a record pace and if my body would even hold up to the 13+ hour effort.” Turns out, it would.
“But the 6,000’ of climbing to get over the La Sals,” Boyle continued, “felt effortless as I rode away from Lael. Time flew as I navigated the chunky climbing leaving the La Sals, and my legs surprised me as I held a steady pace in the second half of the race. The wheels started to fall off near the UT/CO border, but I found my reserves for the last 15 miles of singletrack, riding happily and strongly to the end at the Kokopelli Trailhead. My back got pretty distractingly tight by the end, but no longer in a way that makes me doubt my future in ultra racing. Overall, I’m just thrilled that after such a long recovery journey, I’ve reached this milestone of racing strongly again!”
Refsnider, who has records on the Arizona, Iditarod, and Colorado trails, and the Tour Divide, held the FKT on the Kokopelli Trail before Morton broke it in May. Refsnider beat Morton’s 11 hours and 14 minutes and shaved off another 18 minutes.
“I really wasn’t sure if my legs would have the speed to best Lachlan’s time, but on the chunky descents and climbs after the first 7,000′ of climbing, I found myself grinning and still smashing along. That’s always a good sign,” said Refsnider. “Ninety miles in, my legs put up a bit of protest, but more dried mangos did the trick, and I was able to keep the power up right into the final miles of singletrack. I also really enjoyed the grey, moody atmosphere – it’s a relatively rare one to experience on the Colorado Plateau.”
Boyle and Refsnider both piloted Pivot Mach 4 SL cross-country bikes, with Industry Nine wheels, and lightweight MRP Ribbon SL forks.
Recently, mountain bikers have also had a go at the White Rim FKT. Payson McElveen broke the record, followed shortly by Quinn Simmons. Just this summer, Lachlan Morton broke the previous time by 38 minutes. Rebecca Rusch previously held the women’s FKT on the trail.