Video: Keegan Swenson Tries to Take Back his FKT on the 100 Mile White Rim Trail

Mar 14, 2021
by Ed Spratt  

bigquotesThe White Rim Trail in Moab is a famed 100-mile loop in Canyonlands National Park. In 2019 the record was set, the “Fastest Known Time” on a bicycle was under 6hrs. This is no easy task for any human, the loop stretches across the vast canyonlands carved by the Colorado River. It's full of a colorful landscape that has eroded into countless canyons, mesa’s, and arches. This makes for a daunting task on a self-supported bike adventure.

Current US Cross Country National Champion Keegen Swenson once had the infamous FKT on the White Rim trail but recently lost it. Since losing it Keegan has made it a priority of his to return and reclaim the FKT.
Monster Energy

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Member since Mar 16, 2017
2,953 articles

  • 69 2
 The mind of an elite endurance athlete is wired so differently to the regular mind. Imagine beating a record on a ride this brutal and still planning to come back to go faster just because you think you can. By contrast I'm satisfied with a Strava KOM on a segment only three other people have ridden. Serious respect to Keegan.
  • 3 1
 It’s the killer mindset and the genetics/natural ability for elite athletes’ bodies to be able to constantly push and respond.
  • 15 5
 @Arepiscopo: I think some of that killer mindset is actually self medicating/therapy of sorts. Exorcising mental demons and using the myopic focus to leave the world behind.
  • 4 1
 I would not say they're physically wired differently. Some people just consider competition to be of utmost importance, and who's to say if that always leads to healthy outcomes. I only say this because some of the best young racers I've ever met had super whack parents whose competition mindset bled into unnecessary aspects of their lives.
  • 10 1
 @seth333: I would disagree on the wiring/ability thing. I played (American) football through college and a few times I went against guys who ended up in the pros, including some guys I played with that had serious NFL looks. Those cats were physically built differently that most people. They could run faster, lift more, and were just capable more than most of us despite how much time we put into training. Not taking anything away from efforts like this at all, because damn, but genetics are a huge part of being able to do what professional athletes do as well as they do as long as they do it.
  • 10 0
 Did you see that sprint at the end? When I do Mag 7 (which is less than half that ride) I can barely turn the cranks over after the Portal. Top XC racers are on such a different level!
  • 2 0
 Mag7 through Portal will beat your body up differently. Much more upper body required for the technical terrain on Mag7 as compared to riding a doubletrack for 100 miles along White Rim. The climbing though, think its over 6k vertical, your legs will hate you, mine did.
  • 9 1
 Just looked at the video and realized the segment they're using for timing is the one I targeted when I did this back in 2017. I got the KOM for it back then with a 7:49. Looks like I'm pretty far down the leaderboard now Smile Pretty amazing what these guys and gals are doing.
  • 24 15
 Looks like it would be quicker on a gravel bike!
  • 3 5
 I agree. Worth putting drops or tri bars on for the aero at least. Given away by seeing him constantly putting his forearms on the bars!
  • 6 0
 I rode it a few weeks ago, it's more rough than it looks in places that can save you a lot of energy. I think a hardtail is the perfect compromise, I really enjoyed having open line choices with my Pivot 429.
  • 26 0
 There’s a reason these guys are doing it on FS bikes. The White Rim is pretty rough for considerable stretches.
  • 7 2
 @dThass I’ve done WRIAD four times, and can confirm that a gravel bike would be inordinately slower. Even on a hardtail, that ride seriously beats you up. Proper XC race bike is the ticket. Aero bars could help, but for the most part it’s too rough out there to sustain aero position.
  • 7 0
 @dThass looks like you have to go prove it!!
  • 1 0
 Some of it, sure. It’s been about 20 years since I last rode it but I recall it being a bit rough. It’d take hands and wrists of steel-reinforced rubber to do it with any modicum of comfort. So I guess Keegan is the one to try it!
  • 12 2
 Yeah I mean, I've never been there but I have watched a five minute video of a professional who is at the sharp end of FKT times. He obviously chose the wrong bike. Should have used a gravel bike. I know.
  • 3 0
 Peter Stetina rode it on his gravel bike to check that theory last year and quickly decided it wasn't faster. The previous FKT he had (that Keegan just beat) was on a full sus. w/ aero bar clip on extensions.
  • 3 0
 Lol ya, I bet you're idea is better than the dudes actually riding it. Having ridden it, you would be hike a biking long sections because of the sand. As everyone else said, the trail is physical and you need a mountain bike, even a full suspension as all these guys are riding, to ride it quickly.
  • 1 2
 I've done it on both a full suspension, and hardtail, in both directions. Fully self supported both times. Gravel bike would suck for the long sand stretches. My time on Keegan's route was about a 7:45, but I did it at a hotter time of year, didn't have a camera crew following me just in case, and so I had about 6 times the amount of water that he did, and still had one full bottle at the finish. There are definitely rough stretches, but if you're fit and hitting it hard, the hardtail wasn't that bad. A light XC FS would probably be best. My FS was a Ripley LS with an MRP Stage 140, and my race wheels and light tires. Time was just a few minutes difference, but difference in wind is a big factor. Definitely want to go wide on the tires. My Ikon 2.35s were a life saver for keeping me going in the sand. You wouldn't make it up any of the steep climbs with the gearing on a gravel bike either (not to mention the lack of traction on the gravel bike in the loose climbs). You'd be walking many sections with the gravel bike.
  • 1 0
 @TucsonDon: Would 2.35 tires on an unsuspended bike work? If the tire size and gearing deficiencies of a gravel bike could be addressed, would it then be a faster bike, or is suspension of benefit too?
  • 1 0
 Yes, I did it on a 26" fully rigid single speed, rocked DMR supermoto tires in 26x2.2. They loved the paved road and sandy sections alike and did well on the rock too. I know Stephen Fitzgerald recently lapped it on a Rodeo Labs Flaanimal with 650x2.4 tires equipped, but I don't think he was going for the FKT. I do believe suspension is a benefit, not for the speed, but more for not beating up your body as much. I was worked after my lap which took over 13hrs, started before sunrise, ended at dusk.
  • 4 0
 Maybe there key domograpic don't care but Monster Editor needs a copy editor to fix their press releases.
  • 33 1
 Ironic comment.
  • 1 0
 @Austink: I was so confused if that was on purpose or not.
  • 3 1
 @cwoodyp: Maybe I should've put in a third "mistake" to make it more obvious for those that didn't see it. @austink
  • 2 0
 @mi-bike: there are more than 3 “mistakes” as is....
  • 4 0
 Crazy effort but well worth it. He'll come back on the new Blur releasing this year book it
  • 1 0
 I was there in my truck and the temp guage got up to 118. Cook a pizza in your oven, when you open the door to pull it out, that's what it felt like. I'd like to ride a motorcycle around it.
  • 1 0
 With the speed this guy is riding, always it’s going to be headwind. Much respect. I’ve done more than several times and can say that full suspension bike is the better option.
  • 3 0
 So much respect for this kid. Amazing effort. Great attitude too.
  • 1 0
 Hell ya!!! nice work, I have ridden that trail with my family and friends over 3 days, and its cool to see someone does this.
  • 2 0
 Average Watts: 293. Damn Keegan, well done. What is that, 4.5 w/kg over 5.5 hr?
  • 2 0
 Time to get out there on an ebike with dual batteries with an unrestricted top speed to take KOM.
  • 1 0
 It's going to take a lot more of this kind of content to break the SoCal Monster bro lifted 2WD truck with a huge No Fear sticker stereotype.
  • 1 0
 Lazy writing to only include the text of Monster's press release. I think you should, at least, identify the person who held the FKT prior to this.
  • 3 0
  • 3 0
 Amazing! Dude is a beast
  • 4 4
 i'd rather drive/ride/camp and enjoy this amazing area than speed through it with extreme suffering. but i'm f*cked up that way.
  • 3 0
 When you knock it out in sub 6, you can go back the next day and enjoy it at party pace. Nobody is saying these guys don't do both.
  • 4 4
 6 seconds is honestly too close to call. Any difference in timing practices between Stetina and Swensons time could wash his lead
  • 8 0
 Well it's a strava segment KOM so timing practices aren't that relevent
  • 2 0
 @superxavi: GPS breadcrumbing is even more subject to error
  • 10 0
 @pizzaordie: The same can be said of Stetina's time though... his easily could've recorded as faster than it was while Swensen's recorded slower or vice versa. It's an open course and the accepted practice so it stands, irrespective of inaccuracies on either side.
  • 4 3
 @badbadleroybrown: Yup. Strava accuracy can be all over the place but the inaccuracies are equally applied to all Strava attempts - so its his 100%.
  • 2 0
 They do usually use a secondary timing system for these. Dude standing at the "start/finish line" with a stopwatch/timing clocks is pretty hard to fool, easy to get within 6 seconds of accuracy.
  • 1 0
 Did he go Up or Down on the cliff section ?
Going down at speed would be risky but fun .
  • 1 0
 The switchbacks? You go down them to start the ride and then you go up another set at the end of the ride.
  • 1 0
 @Austin014: Funny how loops work like that Smile I've done it the same way Keegan did. It results in the least amount of driving. You park where the loop comes closest to the highway. You end up going down one set of swtichbacks near the beginning and having to go up the other near the end. Some folks try to make it easier, and will drive all the way down one set of switchbacks and start from there. Either climbing the switchbacks right away when fresh, or going the other way so you hit the other set of switchbacks midway through, but get to end on a descent (that way doesn't sound that great actually since it's a steep loose dirt road switchback descent, not fun singletrack and you have to be on the brakes a lot) Anyway, that requires about an extra hour of rough driving in the car to try to make it easier. I prefer Keegan's route, that way you're descending a long sandy stretch after you come down the switchbacks instead of climbing that long sandy stretch, which is brutal. The wind can be crazy down in those canyons, sometimes it feels like a headwind all day, even though you're changing directions.
  • 1 0
 Inte riktigt en medelsvensson den där Swenson.
  • 2 0
 Not really a middle-aged son, that Swenson
  • 2 0
 He's only like 27... not middle-aged at all.
  • 1 1
 Who has the current fkt?
  • 7 0
 Keegan Swenson 5:28:17
Peter Stetina 5:28:23
Payson McElveen 5:33:58
  • 2 4
 WTF is FKT=f*
  • 5 0
 Just like it says in the opening paragraph at the top of the page FKT = Fastest Known Time
  • 2 0
 @GT-CORRADO: respect
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