The Vapor Trail 125, what a great race, 125 miles of some of the best riding in Colorado, 20,000 feet of climbing and all at night! What’s not to love? The weather in Colorado this year has been pretty iffy so I was a little nervous about getting worked over by rain and or snow in the middle of the night at 12,000 feet. I definitely packed for the worst: I had 2 jackets rain nickers extra warm gloves and a hat, along with the warm clothing I started the race in. I started the race with enough water to last me the 8 hours it would take to get to the top of monarch pass where I could get another full pack.
The start of the race at 10 pm on Main Street, Salida is so cool; lots of people come out of the bars to send us off into the night. The competition this year was very high with Jesse Jakomait, Cary Smith, Zack Guy, Jeff Kerkove, and Kyle Taylor (who you have probably never heard of but you will be hearing much more about this kid in the future). When we finally hit the dirt after a long neutral roll out of town a group of 5 quickly formed with Jesse, Cary, Kyle, Zack and myself. Jesse, Zack and Kyle jumped to the front and made a move to quicken the pace, Cary went with for a second and I was off the back. I was having some stomach issues and wasn’t really sure what was wrong but I was extremely bloated and it felt like an alien was going to pop out of my stomach at any moment. I have been in plenty of races where I’ve felt like crap, so I wanted to try and wait it out.
When we hit the Colorado Trail I was still not feeling well and after a couple of people passed me I was in 7th place. About halfway through the Colorado Trail section the bloating started to go away and I was feeling normal again. By the first aid station I was back with Cary and Kyle. Then Kyle decided to put the hammer down and left Cary and me alone on the long climb up to the alpine tunnel. About halfway up we caught and passed Kyle, another 15 minutes went by and Cary dropped off and I was by myself in 3rd. I was feeling good at this point so I tried to push hard to catch the leaders who were now in sight. Halfway up the hike-a-bike to granite peak I overtook Zack for second place and just had Jesse in front of me. The decent down from granite peak is one of the longest and best downhills that I know of, it’s about an hour of berms, rollers and rocks to deal with, I definitely had the right tools for the job my Santa Cruz TallBoy was smashing everything in sight and with the new Niterider Enduro 2200 lighting the way, I could go as fast as I wanted.
About 15 minutes from the next aid I noticed that my dropper post was sagging about an inch or more, this would’ve really sucked for the big climbs to come, I was hoping that it was just low air pressure in the post so I decided to stop at the Snow Blind aid station to try and pump it up. Luckily they had a shock pump and I got it pumped up and it was good to go. It took about 5 minutes to get it done though and any time I had just gained on the downhill was thrown out the window.
After about an hour and 20 minute climb, I was at the top of Monarch Pass. This is always my favorite section of the race! The sun is just coming up and I can’t imagine a better place to watch the sunrise than the Monarch Crest Trail. At each aid station, I was pretty consistently 15 minutes behind Jesse, I knew he had been strong all night and was probably not going to crack now. I went as hard as I could anyway because you never know and I had no idea who was behind me or how far back they were. I ended up coming in just under 13 hours, not my best time, but not bad for this race, Jesse ended up beating my course record by 4 minutes, congrats to him, he was flying! I do tons of riding in and around Salida and I really love that this helps with the trail work that goes on in the area and I will be back again for this race, it’s one of the great ones.