Kokopelli Trail….I Think So

It was Wednesday afternoon when I received a phone call from Mike a good friend of mine. Mike and I recently completed the Colorado Trail thru-bike in early September. He asked if I wanted to bike from Loma, CO to Moab, UT on the Kokopelli Trail this coming Monday along with a few friends. It was short notice, but my mind quickly started to think what would prevent me from my next endeavor.  Later that day I comitteded, and began to get very excited.

More research and another bikepacking list was in the works instantily.  For this trip I knew right away I wanted to use my hardtail 29er.  I particularly want to see how it rides in desert conditions as I plan on competing in the Arizona Trail Race 300 version this coming spring.  Just this past weekend I took a short trip to 18 road while visiting Grand Junction as I needed to pick up my computer and go to the Subaru dealer to get my car checked out.  The test ride was a bit rough but that’s what you get with a hardtail.  I put on my touring seat, bought some new grips, and put on the pounds to test it out!

Here is my tentative setup for the Kokopelli Trail.
Very excited to use my new Ergon Grips.

Kokopelli Trail Gear List:

  • The Bike
    • Specialized Stumpjumper HT comp carbon 29er
      • 2X10
  • Wearing:
    • Sugoi bibs
    • Zioc shorts
    • Pearl Izumi base shirt
    • Sugoi jersey
    • Giro Dnd gloves
    • Pearl Izumi socks
    • Shimano shoes
    • Giro helmet
    • Smith sun glasses (replaceable lens)
  • Osprey Raptor 3L:
    • Water 3L Osprey bladder
    • Pearl Izumi knee/arm warmers
    • Smart Wool cap (fit under helmet)
    • Spare tube
    • Tire levers
    • Patch kit
    • Power link (10 speed)
    • Replacement lens’ (low light and clear)
    • Map
    • Repair kit (small stuff sack)
      • Super glue
      • Extra Stan’s
      • derailleur cable
      • Duck, electrical, athletic tape
      • String (for tire sidewall slash to sew up)
      • Curved needle
      • Rag
      • Aquia-mira (back-up water purification)
  • Revelate  Design rear saddle pack
    • MSR Pot and stove
    • Snow Peak Mug
    • Orikaso fold flat camp bowl
    • REI spork
    • Katadyn Hiker Pro  (water purification)
    • Bivy sack
    • Camp socks (warm)
    • Long underwear
    • Gloves
    • Hat
    • Camp t-shirt
    • Boxers
  • Revelate Design handle bar bag
    • Sleeping bag
    • Down Jacket
    • Mid-layer fleece
  • Revelate Design Jerry Can rear top tube bag
    • Crank Brothers multi-tool
    • Justins peanut/almund butter
    • Honey Stingers
    • Emergency packets
    • Tea bags
    • Starbucks Via
  • Planet Bike front top tube bag
    • Cliff Bars
    • Cliff Shots
    • Cliff Blocks
    • Snickers

This was the the exact same set up for my Colorado trail thru-bike.
Check out http://www.revelatedesigns.com/

Crested Butte Classic and My First Endurance Race

Every fall around late September the annual Crested Butte Classic takes place. Not only would this be my first CB Classic but it would be my first endurance race. I started to dabble in races this year but nothing this long. I figured if I want to get a feel for long distance races, the CB Classic, which is 100 miles, would be a great introduction as the vibe is pretty laid back. Still I was pretty nervous the day before the race.

The new bike.

I woke up at 5:30am after an on and off night sleep with thoughts of the race going through my head. I made some bacon and eggs, chowed it down and got my bike things in order.  The race start was at the Brick Oven Pizzeria, just a few blocks from my house.  At 7:00am the sun was just about up and about 70 bikers took on Elk Avenue and eventually HWY 135 for the neutral start. Lap one started with the steep road climb of Strand Hill.  It is usually a tough climb  but everyone was taking it easy as I expect most endurance races start. I did however want to get in the middle of the pack. I reached the summit of the Strand road climb and started the decent.  I was riding my new Stumpjumper hard tail 29er, it was only my 6th time on the bike. This was also my first hard tail, so the downhill was slow and rough on the body. The climb to the top of Deer Creek is very steep with a hike-a-bike section. I was just starting to get warmed up and feeling pretty good. I got to the ridge of Deer Creek and started my decent, again the new bike was holding me back.  I am not a very good downhill rider in the first place but this was really starting to aggravate me.  After a few more climbs and descents I got to Gothic Road. Thoughts started going through my mind as to weather I should push the pace more or continue to go at my current pace. I ended up taking advantage of the road riding and pushed pretty hard.

I went home to eat some bacon, refill on water and snacks and check in with the race volunteers at the Brick Oven. On to loop two which brings riders up and over Slate d’Huez which is a brutal forest road climb. Here I passed about 5 other riders and felt really good. Once I got to the top I knew I needed to haul down 403 which is a very technical and steep decent, I did just that. After I dropped down on to Gothic Road, I started another long prolonged climb up to Schofield Pass and eventually the climb up 401. At this point I was almost out of water, I was carrying 24 and 16 ounce bottles in my cages. I started to worry about dehydration. I savored my last bit as I got to the top of the 401 climb. All out of water and very thirsty I descended down the fast and flowey 401. This year the race included lower 401 which has a few power climbs, this was no easy task after 60 miles of riding behind me. I was super thirsty at this point and was thinking I would stop in the town of Gothic at the Maroon Hut to fill up at the spigot.  I never ended up getting water, and started biking up Gothic Road again at a pretty good pace.

Me on the Dyke Trail a week earlier.

After more bacon and refills at my house, I check in at the Brick Oven again and head out to the Dyke Trail, the final loop of the Classic. At this time in the day there is usually a good  head wind coming from West to East. As I headed West I could really feel it. I started the climb up Kebler Pass and caught up to another rider, Billy Laird. We introduced eachother and chatted about what position we were in. I told him I thought were top ten, but it was hard to say. We rode together for a while until I pushed on with a slightly faster pace. Once I got to the top of the Dyke Trail I start to feel pretty tired, and as fitting as it sounds I took a super narly crash. I don’t even know what happened but I just lost control of my bike and slid head first down the trail. Initially I thought I hurt my wrist pretty bad as I put it out to brace myself.  I sat on the ground hurting, then inspect my bike.  For a moment I considered quitting, but I had made it so far I couldn’t quit now.  After a quick inspection of my bike, I saw my front tire was out of true but everything else looked good. I continued on hurting. Every uphill hurt my body in some place or another but all I could think of is getting down to the West side of Kebler Pass.  My pace was slow but I ended up passing a few people;  guy that got a flat, and another guy that broke his frame, then finally Dave Oches and Evan Ross both Alpine Ortho Riders just before the final decent. Knowing my downhill skills were lesser than theirs, I told them I would be ready for them to pass me, and they eventually did. After the downhill I reached the West side of Kebler Pass.  I caught up to Dave and Evan as they were chatting and not riding too hard. I passed them only to have Dave catch up with me shortly after. I beat Dave to the top of the pass but he soon turned on the burners and took off.

As I rode down to town by way of the Wagon Trail, I felt very accomplished. Not only will I finish the race but I think I did a heck of a job overall. Sure, I could probably ride these trails in my sleep, but I was stoked. I finshed the remainder of Kebler Pass and rode into town. I arrived at the Brick Oven to be beyond surprised with a 5th place finish. A amazing experience for my first Endurance race, I think I’ll try another!

A Mind Changer

First and foremost my name is Neil Beltchenko. I’m 24 and reside in Crested Butte, Colorado. I love mountain biking in the summer and skiing in the winter. This spring I made a goal for myself to thru-bike the Colorado Trail. I’ve only mountain biked for around 2 years now, but the idea to travel on my bike through the Colorado mountains by way of singletrack kind of blew my mind! As I wrote a few articles for websites about my trip, I realized I enjoy sharing my adventures and thought I should create my own blog. Here are the links to the articles I wrote. Hope you enjoy.

Thanks to Singletracks.com for publishing my first article.
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Days 1-3
Part 3: Days 4-6
Part 3: Days 7-10

I wrote a more visual friendly article for Crested Butte local Frank Konsellas and 14erskieres.com.
Part 1: Denver to Buena Vista
Part 2: Buena Vista to Durango

We also carried a spot device and you can check out our progression on Trackleaders.com

Here is Mike (right) and myself (left) in Durango, Colorado at the finish with a Happy Camper IPA from Santa Fe Brewing Co.