Video: Challenging the FKT on the 140-Mile Kokopelli Trail

Jul 24, 2021
by Canyon  

What is a Fastest Known Time? Take a ride on the Kokopelli Trail to find out...

Before attempting mountain biking’s most-coveted FKT—the 140-mile Kokopelli Trail spanning from Loma, Colorado to Moab, Utah—Pete Stetina hosts discussions with elite cyclists to determine what it will take to lower the current record time of 10 hours and 56 minutes (set by Kurt Refsnider in November 2020).

See Stetina apply his learnings to the trail in this short film documenting the process of: How to Beat the Kokopelli Trail’s Fastest Known Time.

bigquotesThat was the stupidest thing I've ever done.Pete Stetina



56 Comments

  • 34 8
 So apparently there are elitists that don't want you to bring a camera crew, because that's external motivation? Wow, people really go all the way to carve out a niche to feel special in.
  • 18 19
 The whole idea behind most of these ultra races is to be fully self supported. A film crew is considered support. You can self document all you want, but if you know there will be other people on route filming you along the way, then you're breaking the rules. These one day routes that riders are doing individual time trials, chasing the FKT, have a lot more grey area when it comes to film crews. There are no race directors putting rules into town place. One thing still stands, you must do it all yourself.
  • 26 0
 @kyle10bike: I found the FKT guidelines and apparently someone put in that rule as of the 4th of februari. "Spectating in person by friends, family, or photographers is supportive, and thus not in the spirit of this style, and will be classified as Supported starting February 4, 2021 (all FKT classifications previous to this date will remain unchanged). Phone and digital communication is not considered support, and spectators and support people at the start and finish is also allowed."
It still qualifies as a FKT, but puts you in a different style category.
So yes, this is in the "rules", but screw that. What's the point of 'in the spirit of this style' if you are allowed phone? By phone, you could have your coach yelling at you all the way or give you pacing/route advice if you wanted to. Is a drone filming you allowed? Are you allowed to be applauded by unknowing bystanders or do you need to yell at them to appear unfriendly? Seems this is put in purely to keep this a elitist hipster thing and keep out commercialism or ex-pro's competing. Well that worked well... If you see how this dude was descending at the end of it, because he was totally spent, I'd say tick the spirit of the rules box! :-D
  • 4 0
 how else would they get dope action shots of that stache??!?!
  • 43 4
 @kyle10bike: filming isn't support. I don't care how you slice it. Whining about a film crew is making excuses why you ain't winning. The whole Lael and the GDMBR fiasco a few years back. Put a bad taste in my mouth about the self supported, ultra endurance spectrum... Reality is, they are bunch of mentally ill, masochistic, gatekeeping, elitists. That whine because a chick is beating them (by laughable distance and speeds) and still has time to stop to do clips for a full on documentary. I got into ultra endurance racing for a bit. I got out immediately. Not becuse it was hard. Because the people had shitty energy.....

Sorry Brad... I don't ride my bike for 226km, on less then a 1000 calories, for 18 hours, sleep for two and ride another 100km before I eat some gas station hotdogs, all the while my body is literally dying on the cellular level. All while posting on my social media with the token. Dirty, sweaty, black and white close up of my pain cave face.... mirrored with my strava stats... Just to say I rode a long way, fast, all by myself.
  • 10 2
 @OlSkoolJake: Thanks for saying this way better than I can, being somewhat limited by not being a native English speaker ;-).

About that chick: If she'd be wearing a bra, would that put her in the 'supported' category? ;-)
  • 2 2
 @OlSkoolJake: in some languages the synonim for spectators is “supporters”.. if they are just filming from the bushes then whatever, but if they are cheeing or giving you some info, then they certainly are supporters.. when you go alone, the mental of it becomes really important.. on the other hand, we do need nice content to promote the sport, so im split on this
  • 3 3
 @OlSkoolJake: filming, or photography, or even some rando yelling on the side of the trail are certainly all support. Whether you want it or ask for it or not.
  • 6 2
 When you're in the pain cave, living type 2 life... If you've been there. You know some dude yelling GO GO! Whilst hold a camera in your face.... Wouldn't even register on the brain. The mind and body go into lizard mode at that point.. Because it's already dying from the inside out. Part of the thrill of racing is the high from that mindset those conditions bring on. Trust me you ain't hearing shit. But your breathing and heartbeat. The only support is your mind.
  • 4 2
 As with many solo achievements, the style in which you did it is important.
  • 8 1
 I think there is more at play here than just someone filming or motivation. I would certainly take more risks on the bike knowing that someone was there to call for help instantly vs needing to do that yourself if you hit your head. Getting way out there solo is creepy and part of the mental challenge. I bet I would set up my bike differently as well to shave those last few grams if I had someone with me or waiting at the start/finish a phone call away and didn't have to limp my way out solo. It levels the playing field for people who don't have the resources or desire to bring a crew along, so I'm all for it.
  • 4 6
 @jeroenk: that's great that you can have your own opinion on the subject and I respect that. If you can't follow the rules in an ultra, then it's not for you. If you want to make a documentary on the route, then tour it.
  • 2 1
 @jeroenk: I did not know that about the FKT rule. Thanks for sharing. I don't have a problem with the rules of self supported races, so I will continue to follow them when I race these events.
  • 2 1
 @mrmizzle5: you couldn't have said it better.
  • 2 1
 @OlSkoolJake: Lael’s situation was the first thing I thought of. No way is having a camera in your face support unless they are giving you supplies. Its even more ridiculous since there’s no prize purse or winnings you get from things like this or the GDMBR. Yes you might be sponsored somehow, but you don’t get anything more than the name recognition and the bragging rights to say you crushed a time.
  • 4 0
 If you are an introvert and recharge by being alone, is that an unfair advantage?

FFS. The “rules” get so arcane.
  • 4 0
 @piranah: It appears that you've never received emotional support from someone in a time of crisis. If the FKT rules are that you can't receive support, you have to recognize that the emotional support of someone telling you to go faster, or even just giving you updates as to how you're doing with regards to the FKT is definitely support. Having someone else think for you is huge. Having someone encourage you is huge. That support can be more important than someone handing you food, or fixing a flat for you.
  • 2 1
 @adamszymkowicz: Then why are people allowed to have phones, or listen to music? That emotional support could be a pace recording or what about (as in the video) seeing people on the trail and they encourage you.
  • 1 1
 @OlSkoolJake: BRILLIANT reply.
  • 1 0
 @WildWynooche: so is spectating support or is it spectating? Support would be a table with water, food, bike station, etc.
  • 2 0
 @adamszymkowicz: If emotional support is considered "support" than every racer of GDMBR should be disqualified. They all get emotional support from random strangers, friends who live near the route, or significant others meeting them to say hi in some towns. Hell, I've done it myself. I dot-watched and rode a section of the race through Colorado with my friend in 2014. Should he have been disqualified? I was there to support him. If that kind of support is illegal for self-supported races than GDMBR should have a rule against conversation with anyone not participating in the race.
  • 1 0
 @piranah: Absolutely. I know people who have recorded messages from their significant others to get them through the bad times in a race like that.
  • 4 2
 @OlSkoolJake: preach dude. Saying emotional support = supported is just moving the goalposts to gatekeep the scene. "Self supported" has always meant "no material aid". I hope none of these gatekeepy fkt bros have ever carried spot transceivers, sent "I'm okay" texts to their loved ones, or made bailout/contingency plans. God forbid you feel supported/safe in any way.

Let's be honest... If it's supposedly about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation then it's really just the amateurs trying to keep the pros from messing up their cool little scene.

Props to Pete on a great effort!
  • 2 1
 @kyle10bike: just because rules exist doesn't mean they can't be changed by reasonable people who realize the rules are anachronistic.
  • 2 1
 @pgomez: just because somebody does not like rules in principle, or is a total outsider to even understand the purpose, history and context of why the rules are in place, doesn’t mean that such rules need to be changed to keep the outsiders happy.. if you dont like it - dont participate, or start your own event with a different set of rules
  • 2 1
 @GZMS: Tradition for tradition's sake is lame. And if you're going to be exclusive with something that becomes popular, you can expect it to be picked up, overhauled, and eventually replaced by people who make it more inclusive, accessible, and appealing.
  • 2 0
 @pgomez: every organiser is doing the events the way they like it.. you either organise your own stuff the way you like it, or you offer your help and influence from within.. bashing what somebody else is doing is akin to complaining about politics but never voting..
  • 1 0
 @GZMS: I completely agree. My reply was specifically to @kyle10bike who said "If you can't follow the rules in an ultra, then it's not for you. If you want to make a documentary on the route, then tour it."

Pete did exactly what you're saying. He organized something the way he liked it. For people to sit on their tradition high horse and pooh pooh what he did because there were some people with cameras along the way is petty.

Let's be real. The people with the cameras were there so he could share what he did with us mere mortals (and so he can make a living), not to give him "emotional support".
  • 1 0
 @pgomez: I must have misinformed you of my opinion. What Pete did is amazing and I support him and others efforts on this route. I clearly stated that I "thought" a one day ITT had different rules about filming. I do however agree with the rules in place.
  • 1 0
 @kyle10bike: ok so we all agree
  • 14 1
 Aero bars on an mtb make me feel funny.
  • 3 0
 Show me in the doll where the aero bars hurt you
  • 6 0
 Great job, great ride, thanks for sharing all the grim and gory details, bike setup, etc. I couldn't believe the jackass in the razor spinning out and sending the dust cloud all over you... I can understand getting out in front of a cyclist so you're not waiting like the one later in the video, but no need to shoot dust all over someone, no matter how spandex clad they are. I really appreciated the scenes of you watching yourself on the descents, humbly laughing at yourself but also a great illustration of how much the previous hours had taken out of you. Props to your videographers for finding some great shots of the chunky terrain and epic environment. My one bit of feedback regarding the video is that for one moment it was confusing if I was watching your 2nd half pre-ride or the actual FKT attempt, but I don't watch many mtb "edits" that are over 5 minutes long and I found this whole film engaging and interesting... probably because I "enjoy" a lot of this type 2 fun myself. Way to go!!
  • 12 0
 SXS drivers are legally required to be a*sholes who put all other trail users at risk, dontcha know?
  • 4 0
 Wow doing that trail in under 11 hours is amazing! I did that trail on bike tagging along with a trail runner and we had a support vehicle to set up camp, it took us 4 days. There are some very remote, very steep, very rocky, very beautiful sections all with very hot days and very cold nights in a very dry area that can get very wet very quickly. I am very impressed!
  • 1 13
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Jul 24, 2021 at 13:39) (Below Threshold)
 A good ride would blow his pants off with an e bike! Pass him l like he's standing still.
  • 8 0
 If God is watching isn’t that support?
  • 3 0
 History shows it isn't.
  • 1 0
 Did he ride the Kokopelli in reverse? If so, Why did he decide to ride it in reverse? Is there a FKT for the other direction? How does one decide which direction is the one to actually ride/race? This looks like he rode from Moab to Loma/Fruita.

Just interested to know what the proper direction is and also which way is quicker?
  • 1 0
 That was always the direction when there was the underground race. I think that race got broken up because of permit issues and it got switched to a FKT route.
  • 2 0
 Camera man is not support! To put that much into a ride is amazing. I did 104 miles on a bike in a day and was dead what he just did was beyond badass! Great job.
  • 1 0
 Used to play soccer with this dude growing up! He ran f*cking circles around us lol. Happy to see him doing his thing out there (and making awesome videos for us to watch).
  • 1 0
 Like the video and there atmosphere. Nice touch of the tuba blow concluding the video.
  • 1 0
 So like, if we have proof it happened, did it like, even really happen, dude?
  • 2 0
 Did he beat the FKT?
  • 2 0
 Yeah
  • 1 2
 @kyle10bike: thanks. no tine to watch that.
  • 1 0
 By about 30 minutes. Kurt is fast, but not more-than-a-decade-as-a-World-Tour-Pro fast
  • 1 0
 I love that part of the world. I cant wait to go back
  • 1 0
 Wow man, great video - amazing quality!
  • 2 0
 Cool stuff!
  • 1 0
 And in the end I want to thank myself….
  • 1 3
 Surely the camera man could have given you water man that river stuff looked gross, right under the bridge where everyone pees. No thanks
  • 1 0
 Nope... that would unambiguously break the "self-supported" rule. The river does look gross there, but that water filter does a good job.
  • 1 0
 @PAmtbiker: a lot of sediment in that section of river, I plugged a filter once there as I didn’t take the time to let the sediment settle before filtering. My buddy and I were doing an out and back on the Kokopelli and learned our lesson. Had a collapsible jug for the way back to let it settle. But the water is fine.

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