There are some events that pull you in, plant seed in your head, keep you coming back for more and more. The Vapor Trail 125 is just such an event. Maybe it is the great riding, the super sweet volunteers, the ridiculous challenge of this ride, the fact that it benefits a good cause, Salida Mountain Trails. I have shown up 5 times now and every time it has beaten me down, made me feel small, weak, tested me and left me exhausted, sore and happy. It is about as tough a day as one can find, yet every year the field of riders gets faster.
Going into this years ride I was not sure what was gonna happen out there. I have been racing a good bit and my legs are just toast, my back is always tight and my hands perpetually numb. I got much advice leading into the VT 125 that recommended me not to ride, to rest. Good advice, but I was still hungry for more racing, riding, adventure and sometimes I am more stubborn than smart. There is also the desire to go faster, to break 16 hours, I came so close last year even getting lost and I wanted to give it a go again.
If you haven’t ridden the VT125, it is hard to put into perspective how hard, brutally punishing and wonderful it is. Starting at 10:PM you ride for 8+ hours in the dark, covering some technical and challenging trails filled with roots, rocks, tight turns, loose sandy switchbacks, a million places to die. You climb and climb and climb, sometimes convincing yourself that it will never end. There is hike a bike, there are long long dirt road grinder climbs, there is the Colorado Trail, Canyon Creek, the Crest Trail, Starvation, Silver Creek and the Rainbow Trail, so much singletrack, so much to smile about.
Well as predicted it hurt. Pretty much right off the start my legs felt like bricks, my back was on fire and my hands throbbed begging for more blood. It was painful but manageable and the miles slowly rolled under my tires as the night turned into morning, the morning into day. I had so much fun pushing hard on the Colorado Trail, I almost wanted Canyon Creek to never end that trail is just awesome even in the dark. The Crest was a pleasure as always, Starvation actually made me smile not cringe. I didn’t hate myself or the world climbing up Poncha Creek as I did last year, it still hurt but slipped behind me so much easier without the negativity, ah got to love being positive. I railed down Silver Creek and kept it smooth and fast on the Rainbow Trail, keeping the rubber side down and the miles flying by. It was a good ride, I made it in at 1:30 for 15.5 hours a personal best, stoked, but I also know I can go faster…..guess I’ll save that for next year.
Huge thanks to the crew at Absolute Bikes for the hard work of putting on this event and the amazing and sweet hearted volunteers helping us get through the day out there! Thanks to Rock N Roll for being my family and keeping me grounded. As always big big thanks to Rhett Griggs and Griggs Orthopedics for everything he and the team does for us. Team GO had a very good run out there, Jari Kirkland won the women’s race and setting a new course record! Neil Beltchenko scorched it out there nearly pulling off the win, ending up in a close second who knew Neil was This Fast! Evan Ross pulled off a great ride and pulling off 6th place. Brain Sullivan muscled through the whole damn thing with one gear and no suspension! Congratulations to all who take on this beast and finish still smiling, what a great way to spend the weekend.