The ‘07 Kokopelli Trail Race, Part II: The Race Heats Up

05.22.2007 | 4:17 pm

A Note from Fatty: A couple notes before I get started on today’s installment of my KTR ride.

  1. Susan and I just got back from the oncologist’s, where we were planning out her chemo program. Susan starts her chemo program a week from today. From what I’ve heard, even though she’ll still be undergoing chemo this August, I’m very hopeful that she’ll still be able to come with me to the Leadville 100. And the Doctor said we should for sure plan ourselves a nice trip to Italy a little further down the road during one of the 2-3 month breaks between chemo programs. So that’s good.
  2. Kenny and I are quoted in this Denver Post article about the KTR. I have just one question: how did I wind up sounding like a new age goober?
  3. I just heard from the guys at Twin Six that the Fat Cyclist jerseys are now on the way to my house, and should be here by this Friday. Which means I have the three-day weekend to get them packaged and ready to ship by this Tuesday. I am incredibly excited to see these jerseys, to wear them, and to get them shipped to you.

You want to know the biggest reason I was glad for the sunrise while riding the Kokopelli Trail? I was tired of dodging those stupid kangaroo mice. As someone who doesn’t like to kill anything I don’t intend to eat (that came out more barbaric than I meant it), I spent hours in the evening avoiding kangaroo mice as they panicked in the sudden glare of my lights and jumped right toward my wheels.

I don’t think I hit many, but I’d be surprised if I didn’t get any.

Anyway, as the night turned to day, the guys I had bunched up with turned toward Westwater to fill up on water. I still had enough — by my projections — to keep going and thus avoid the four mile detour.

I crossed the road that led to Cisco, and then entered onto one of the sections of singletrack I had really been dreading. In my experience (I’ve ridden the Kokopelli Trail a number of times, just not in this direction or without support), it was one of the most painful, slow, agonizing, and interminable sections of the whole trail.

And so, naturally, this turned out to be one of the funnest, easiest sections of the whole day for me.

I don’t know why I suddenly had energy, but I had it. I don’t know why I suddenly loved riding my bike so much — even though I had already been on it for more than six hours — but I loved it. I was just happy to be there.

Even though my feet hurt so much.

I started wondering why I liked this section of trail so much today, when I had always hated it before. I could think of a few good reasons:

  • Distribution of Vertical Gain: Even though the altitude at either end of this section of trail is about the same, the way I was going this time bunched up all the climbing at the beginning, giving me a mostly downhill ride for the rest of the section.
  • Temperature: For the first time ever, I was riding this section of trail early in the morning instead of in the heat of the day. This made a huge difference in how the trail felt (I would observe this fact in reverse later in the day).
  • Trail Flow: Some trails are just more fun in one direction than in the other. There may be no quantifiable reason for why, but you know it’s true.

Meet Your Fellow Racers
Now that it was light, it was more natural to talk with others who were doing this race. At least I thought so. The first rider I passed, I said, “Hey, awesome morning, isn’t it?” to. He didn’t answer. He had headphones on.

Okay. Here’s a rule. If you are on a crazy race where you are going to be spending hour upon hour alone, you are required to greet each and every other rider in the same circumstance. Take out the stupid headphones for a second. Say hello. Acknowledge that you’re both doing something pretty darned cool / stupid / unusual, and wish the other rider lots of luck. Could I get someone to second the motion on this?

To be fair, this was the only guy the whole day who was too preoccupied with himself and his music to say hi.

And in fact, shortly afterward, I came across another racer — this one very friendly — who was taking a short break, to have a smoke.

Let me repeat, in bold and italics so as to make my astonishment clear: A racer on the Kokopelli Trail was having a smoke. 

Sadly, it wasn’t until a few minutes later that I thought to wonder: How many cigarettes does one ration out for the Kokopelli Trail Race? A pack? Two?

Here’s a simple way to tell if the day’s going to be warm: If it’s 8:00am and you’re switching to your sleeveless mesh jersey, it’s going to be warm.

As I crossed the road to get to yet another stretch of sandy, rocky singletrack, I jiggled my camelbak. Not much there. I sucked on it and got the dreaded “Shlurrrpp” sound that tells you you’ve finished it off.

You have no idea how pleased I was with myself: I was ten miles away from Dewey Bridge, the point I had chosen as my first place to replenish my water, and I had two bottles of water left.

Not bad.

Minor Dilemma
It was on this section of trail that I came across my first ethical dilemma for the ride. The rules for the KTR say that everyone takes care of themselves — if you break your bike, you fix it yourself, with the stuff you brought. If you need food, you better have brought it yourself.

But see, this rule doesn’t work well with my own personal rule, which is: if you see a biker on the side of the trail, you ask if s/he needs help.

Anyway, I came across a rider pushing her bike. She said her rear derailleur was broken. That sounded familiar. So, even though it was against the rules, I asked if she wanted me to help change her bike into a singlespeed so she could continue. “No, I’m just going to hike to Dewey Bridge and call it a day,” she said.

Wise choice.

But what if she had wanted help? Or what if any of the several riders I saw on the side of the trail that day had wanted help? I guess I would have been DQ’ing both them and me to help, in which case I think I’d rather be DQ’d than finish the race. If a rule precludes me being a decent person, it’s a stupid rule.

My feet were hurting something fierce as I saw the Colorado River down below me. The halfway point, in distance anyways.

Getting Ready For the Hard Part
I pulled into the Dewey Bridge campground area, then took my time (about 40 minutes) eating lunch, cleaning my glasses, lubing my bike chain, and filtering a gallon of water from the muddy Colorado river.

I was in no hurry to start, because I knew that the remaining part of the ride — about 65 miles, if I remembered correctly — was nothing but steep climbs and fast descents — no easy rolling for the rest of the day.

While I was thus dawdling, a couple of riders rolled in and asked if I planned to go on. Both times I said yes, then asked if they were going to keep riding. Both times they said no. My theory is that from the looks of me, they figured I was done and would be a good person to commisserate with.

It was 9:40am when I got back on my bike, fully expecting the steepest, hottest, most painful, most difficult day of riding in my life.

It’s kinda cool to think in superlatives that way.

PS: If you’re a geek like me, you might want to check out what my GPS had to say about the trip so far. Click here to see the map, elevation, speed, distance, and other stats for the ride from Loma to Dewey Bridge.

PPS: If you want to cheat and see what my GPS data showed for the second half of the trip, click here.


  1. Comment by monkeywebb | 05.22.2007 | 4:26 pm

    Still hardcore and there’s more to come.

    I agree with your personal rule, and always carrya a couple extra patches for those situations. Two out of three times my pump comes off my bike it’s for someone else’s bike. That might say more about the people I ride with than what kind of person I am, but still…

  2. Comment by dug | 05.22.2007 | 4:54 pm

    i say one pack of cigarettes. two just seems like overkill.

  3. Comment by Boz | 05.22.2007 | 4:57 pm

    Great story about a great ride. Now that I see the route profile, I know I need to loose alot more lbs. to ride that trail. Some day…
    Hope the chemo goes as planned, she deserves a good break. Also, I hope the jerseys are as good as they look on the ads. Part III, I can’t wait.

  4. Comment by bikemike | 05.22.2007 | 5:18 pm

    good job mr. baggins. can’t wait for the part where the elves come and save you.
    oh, this is going to be good.

  5. Comment by LanterneRouge | 05.22.2007 | 6:26 pm

    Dug is correct. As a former smoker I can tell you that it’s 1 pack if you’re smoking non filter Lucky Strikes (my former brand). Anything menthol would require at least 2 packs.

  6. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 05.22.2007 | 6:30 pm

    Let me get this right. You ate lunch? At 9:45? You ate cliff block shots at 9:45 and you’re calling that lunch? Why weren’t the cliff block shots you ate at 10:30 considered lunch?

    You ate cliff block shots for nearly 24 hours, and you’re calling one of those cliff block snarfings lunch?

    Out of the 90 cliff block shots you ate, you’re saying that 5 of them were lunch? Did you pick those 5 shot blocks out before you started the race (“ah, yes, here are my orange flavored ‘lunch’ cliff block shots, I must not mix them with the other 85 orange flavored cliff block shots that I will be eating at all other times NOT considered lunch.”)?

  7. Comment by fatty | 05.22.2007 | 6:34 pm

    botched – it was lunch because i had a packet of shot bloks AND a protein bar. and i took off my shoes and dangled my feet in the river while i did it.

  8. Comment by DOM | 05.22.2007 | 6:41 pm

    Thanks for taking us along for the ride figuratively. I couldn’t hang if you took us along literally. I agree, better to offer and risk being dq’d. One karma point per offer.

  9. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 05.22.2007 | 6:49 pm

    Oh as for the rules: Who cares? I’m sure, in some people’s minds the fact that you “dropped” the light would violate some strict interpretation of self-supported blah blah blah. Anything other than having pre-stashed water and food only changes the self-supported-ness (i.e. difficulty) of the ride by a factor of bout one-millionth.

    “No drafting” I read somewhere. Please. Most finishers averaged about 8 mph. Unless there was an amazing head-wind, I don’t think you’re picking up much of a draft at 8 mph.

    Would you really feel any different about finishing the race if you’d helped that woman and then got an official DNF?

    Do you think if you’d helped that woman and she single speeded it all the way to the finish line, she’d feel bad about recieving a DNF?

    The vein in my right temple is throbbing. I think I need some valium.

  10. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 05.22.2007 | 6:52 pm

    Oh, you ate a protein bar. Well that changes everything. Obviously lunch.

  11. Comment by Jeremy | 05.22.2007 | 7:00 pm

    I thought lunch would be the knee warmers.

  12. Comment by Co | 05.22.2007 | 7:06 pm

    Botched is well named, eh? although, with my own difficulty in dealing with illogic, i kind of agree with him…

  13. Comment by Born4Lycra | 05.22.2007 | 7:29 pm

    In our present state of collective mind with regard for and desire to help our fellow man or woman I would suggest we (the non family members of TeamFC) would have been very disappointed if you had not stopped and offered help. The overall self supported ideal/rule is fine but in this situation I reckon it bends without actually breaking. Well done on your part FC.
    I second your motion regards communication with other riders during the ride. Should be mandatory.
    Great story so far.
    Seriously FC somebody mentioned yesterday getting you to sign their top, I was thinking the same thing and would most appreciate you while sticking it in the bag just scribbling your monica with a marking pen on the front if you don’t mind.

  14. Comment by kenny | 05.22.2007 | 8:25 pm

    How can the fruta to dewey section have more elevation gain than the dewey to slick rock section? Can that be right?
    I think the Denver Post gave me your quote of eating 90 shot blocks. I only ate 78 and that 78th one about did me in.

  15. Comment by fatty | 05.22.2007 | 8:58 pm

    kenny – i was surprised by the elevation gain in the first section, too. maybe it’s just wrong, although in the first section there are some big climbs and lots of little climbs. i like the idea of telling people we did 24K+ feet of climbing, so i’m not going to question the data.

    born4lycra – you just want my signature so you can forge my signature and steal my identity, right? seriously, if you want a sig i’m flattered and embarassed; email me a reminder and i’ll do it.

  16. Comment by Caloi-Rider | 05.22.2007 | 9:01 pm

    I thought shot bloks were sorta waxy. There must be something about eating them after 30 miles that makes them more appealing, and something about eating them after 120 miles that returns them to their less appealing state again, and something about getting a PhD that makes you dyslexically refer to them as “block shots.”

    Can’t wait for the next installment. Somehow, I think reading this allows me enough vicarious experience to not have to actually ever do it myself.

    Great stuff, Fatty.

  17. Comment by MTB W | 05.22.2007 | 9:08 pm

    FC, I think born4lyrca just wants an autographed jersey so he can sell it on E-Bay for a huge profit! That is what happens when you become a celebrity – everyone wants your sig so they can sell it.

    BTW, the linked map also shows that you did a big loop right after crossing the border into Utah. What happened there?

  18. Comment by fatty | 05.22.2007 | 9:50 pm

    mtb w – i was curious about that loop, too. turns out if you go to the larger view of the map (there’s a link to do that under the little map that shows up in motionbased) and zoom in tight enough, you’ll see it’s not a loop. More of an “omega” symbol shape.

    i’m such a geek i just zoomed in as tight as the map allows, switched the view to Satellite (which gives you a great sense of the topography), and retraced the first 30 miles or so of my ride (you can drag the map view around with your mouse — it’s very slick). zoomed in that tight, you can see a couple of places where i took a wrong turn, realized my mistake, and turned back. pretty cool.

  19. Comment by MTB W | 05.22.2007 | 10:18 pm

    Wow, that is some very cool stuff. I am amazed at the detail that it gives you. The view of the topogrophy is incredible; I can follow the trail thru the trees, hills, etc. I might have to break down and get a GPS for my bike.

  20. Comment by Al Maviva | 05.22.2007 | 10:33 pm

    Nice to see my Shot Block endorsement from last year is working out. Even though I love them and think they taste like candy, I’m not sure I could eat 18 packs of them in one day…

    Oh, hell. Who am I kidding. I could eat 18 packs in one day… as long as the NCAA basketball playoffs were on, and I had plenty of popcorn and beer to wash them down with.

  21. Comment by MAJ Mike | 05.23.2007 | 3:16 am

    I do love the garmin. I have to quit using the stick software and start usig the website though.

    Great ride stories. Makes me want to get back to mountain biking. Unfortunately, riding anything other than essentially flat trails around here requires loading the car for an hour drive one way.

  22. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.23.2007 | 4:58 am

    I am releived to hear that FC & Kenny did not both eat 90 Shot Blocks (Blocked Shots?). It would have been too much. I noticed the 90 quote in the Denver Post article, and immediately began calculating the chances of that, as well as the relative shotblock consumption rates. Kenny would have to be consuming them much faster to eat 90 in 15 hours. FC: 90/20:20 = 4.4 sb/hr Kenny (actual): 78/15:15 = 5.1 sb/hr Kenny(DenverPost) : 90/15:15 = 5.9 sb/hr. Clearly the 5.1 is within reason (as much as anything about doing this race is reasonable), but 5.9 sb/hr would have been excessive.

    Now I am going to fly the race on the geosat/garmin thing…

  23. Comment by Jose | 05.23.2007 | 6:08 am

    I did an endurance race last march (it was only 60 miles nothing compared to KTR, but they still call it endurance), as per fatty’s advice, I decided to eat Shot Blocks. I ate 4 packets, 24 Shot Blocks, equivalent to 3.7 SB/Hr. Those things taste well at the beginning but after 6 hrs I could not stand them. I can not imagine eating 90 BS, unlike Dug in Lotoja, I hope you did not swallowed them complete and actually remembered to chew them.

  24. Comment by dpcowboy | 05.23.2007 | 6:42 am

    thanks….more please.
    And if there is an XL jersey left over…I would llike it…is there ANY levtover, or are they all spoken for?

  25. Comment by chtrich | 05.23.2007 | 7:30 am

    Fatty – I’m sure you know you can combine the two ride segments into one via the MB website right? Then if you use the desktop software you can export from MB and impport into the Garmin TC for your records. Just a thought for you.
    Great stories thus far.

  26. Comment by Mocougfan | 05.23.2007 | 7:47 am

    Gotta admit that at 37 I’m glad to see I have the possibility of a few good riding years left in me. Not that I will be riding Koko in 15 hours like Kenny “the jet” Jones, but I would like to do this ride next summer. Sounds fun in a painful sort of way. Thanks for bringing us along.

  27. Comment by Bob | 05.23.2007 | 8:14 am

    I remember riding with a guy who pulled over and lit up a cigarette, but that was Gemini Bridges, not the one-day Kokopelli Trail.

    I’m not a smoker. In fact, I’m allergic to cigarette smoke, so I have an instant dislike of everyone who pulls out a cigarette, mostly because you can tell they think they’re cool, like they’re Laughing At Death. In my mind, most smokers are addicted in a pathetic way that underscores a weak will. Why am I saying this? Because hearing that story makes me want to smoke. What could be cooler than lighting up during a 142-mile bike race? American Spirits, here I come!

  28. Comment by Mocougfan | 05.23.2007 | 8:19 am

    Bob–I’d stick with not smoking if I were you.

  29. Comment by Tim D | 05.23.2007 | 8:20 am

    Back in the day when we did the Polaris Challenges, the highlight of the overnight stop would be to crack out the whiskey and light up the cigars.

  30. Comment by Badder | 05.23.2007 | 8:39 am

    Geeezzz Fatty I’m impressed. I switched your GPS map to satellite, zoomed in and found out you rode most of the ride just off the trail! Isn’t the ride hard enough without you blazing new trails the whole way!?!

    Great job and I can’t wait for my jersey. Do you have any of the Fatty bike stickers you could throw in as well???

  31. Comment by Boz | 05.23.2007 | 8:43 am

    Are you sure that was a butt ? Coulda been the chronic. That would probably make the ride more interesting. Just wondering.

  32. Comment by becomingblue | 05.23.2007 | 8:59 am

    You were ‘planning’ on helping so maybe you should get an official DNF. Who should I contact.

  33. Comment by becomingblue | 05.23.2007 | 8:59 am

    You were ‘planning’ on helping so maybe you should get an official DNF. Who should I contact.

  34. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.23.2007 | 9:17 am

    Just finished the virtual tour KTR Part 1. I had to bail out, because I ran out of Shot Bloks!

  35. Comment by MAJ Mike | 05.23.2007 | 9:43 am

    I’d kill for a couple of XL’s myself.

  36. Comment by Kathy | 05.23.2007 | 10:44 am

    Do you have any pictures on the trail? I’d love to see you at “lunch” dangling your feet in the river. Or, is it against the rules to have “assistance” taking a photo? I just got a mental image of Gomer running down the streets of Mayberry yelling, “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!”

  37. Comment by LanterneRouge | 05.23.2007 | 12:04 pm

    In theory, how would one go about contributing to the Send-a-fat-cyclist-and-his-lovely-wife-to-Italy fund?

  38. Comment by Achbee | 05.23.2007 | 1:37 pm

    Lots of funny, interesting stuff….but, I’m waiting to hear thoughts about the Landis hearing. Surely there’s enough Landis/Le Mond material to keep the blog humming.

  39. Comment by rz | 05.23.2007 | 2:05 pm

    Great story, FC.

    What I found interesting after reading the Post article and “listening” to what Curiak had to say is that when you were faced with the ethical dilemma, you didn’t hesitate to stop and help. I hate to call out Curiak because god knows I couldn’t do that ride (not yet at any rate), but what about recognizing the common experience you were all sharing and making that part of the ride? Shouldn’t that transcend the rules?

    Maybe I am being too philosophical and hokey. I think I’ll eat some ravioli.

  40. Comment by Mocougfan | 05.23.2007 | 2:22 pm

    Is it tomorrow yet? I want part III!!!!!

  41. Comment by Mathias | 05.23.2007 | 4:50 pm

    It is highly likely that those kangaroo mice are in fact reincarnated cyclists who had run over kangaroo mice in a previous life.

    just droppin some knowledge!

  42. Comment by Jenifer | 05.30.2007 | 6:49 am


    I loved your race report! It took me right back into that whole crazy day. Here’s a link to my report from the race; we had a lot of similar experiences! BTW – why FAT? You don’t fat to me. Do you have a Fat Chance?

  43. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Vote for Fatty…Or Vote for One of Fatty’s Friends | 01.22.2010 | 10:14 am

    [...] Kokopelli Trail Race: Part 1, Part 2, Part [...]


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