When the 24 hour Solo World Championships in Canada were canceled recently, I seized the opportunity to once again race in the Vapor Trail 125. The last time I did this race was 2009 and it had been shortened that year because of weather. I had wanted to do this event again for some time but every year something always conflicted.
The Vapor Trail is a one of a kind bike race you start at 10 pm and ride through the night climbing and descending some of the coolest riding in Colorado! The descents are so technical that I decided to run a Santa Cruz Blur XC with a 120mm fork and seat dropper a bit heavier than my usual race bike but the added comfort would be a big bonus throughout the race. The weather this year was looking to be perfect and the group of about 60 bad-asses started off down Main Street, Salida cheered on by a large number of spectators. There was a slow neutral start for about an hour before the racing really got going. Once the neutral start ended we started the dirt road climb to the Colorado Trail. After about 15 minutes I couldn’t see any lights behind and continued my pace up to the CT.
After a long dry summer, the Colorado Trail was a bit dry and dicey and I was making all kinds of mistakes, blowing through corners and almost sliding off the trail a couple times. Descending off the CT down to the cascade campground was the start off the long climb up to and over the alpine tunnel. This climb was about an hour and a half, followed by a good 15 minute hike a bike over the tunnel then the first of many rocky descents. After the next 20 minute downhill, I began the climb up to Tomichi pass and the 45 minute hike bike up to Granite Peak at over 12,000 feet. The hike a bike was extremely hard but beautiful and very peaceful, the night was perfect not to cold and even at the high altitude it was dead calm making it a really cool experience. When I reached the summit I knew that I had about an hour of incredible downhill on the Canyon Creek trail which is one of my favorite downhills and riding it at night makes it even better. I reached the Snow Blind aid station at about 4:30am and rolled through what I thought was the aid but no one was awake then I saw a head poke out of a tent and was greeted by Dave Wiens. I was out of water so they helped fill my bottle and I grabbed a bar and rolled off to the hour climb up Old Monarch Pass.
When I reached the top of Monarch Pass the aid was just getting set up. I was glad that they had my drop bag, I was able to drop one of my lights but kept my helmet mounted MiNewt Pro 750 on because it was only 6am and still dark. From the top of Monarch Pass is the start of the Monarch Crest Trail, one of the coolest and also one of the most well traveled trails in Colorado. Watching the sun come up on the Crest Trail is my favorite part of this race, it is really just amazing.
Coming off the Crest Trail I reached the Marshall Pass aid station where I was hoping to get some food but no one was there so I continued on to the Starvation Creek trail, which is a super fun downhill to the Poncha Creek road climb back to the Marshall Pass aid. This was the low point of my race, I felt like I couldn’t get out of my own way and it seemed like the climb was taking forever. When I finally got back to the Marshall Aid, they were there and all set up, I pulled up and started grabbing any food in arms reach! I had a cookie in one hand and bacon in the other and I was alternating shoving each one into my mouth, I was just glad to be eating something.
The final section of the race is Silver Creek and the Rainbow Trail really gave me the energy I needed to finish strong, especially the rainbow trail another classic Colorado single track, super fun up and down, flowy, buff trail. I hit Highway 285 at about 10:15 am I was hoping to finish before 11:00 and I had plenty of time to hit my goal! When I finally rolled back into Salida and the finish it was 10:42 and I had broke the course record by an hour! The Vapor Trail is definitely a one of a kind event and a tough race.