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September 24, 2021: Traversing 137 miles of majestic high-desert, the Kokopelli Trail is one of the most iconic long mountain bike routes in the West. Wrought with as much challenge as beauty, the rugged Kokopelli provides passage from Moab Utah’s La Sal Mountains to Loma, Colorado. The trail is popular with day riders, bikepackers, and guided groups, and once in a while, a rider will attempt to complete the full trail in a single day. Athletes have tested their endurance on this trail for more than 2 decades, occasionally redefining the possibilities with Fastest Known Times (FKTs) that may have previously seemed impossible. FKT culture grew substantially in 2020 as Covid-19 cancelled most organized races. Long-standing records were being challenged around the world, and the Kokopelli Trail inspired many to test themselves across its desert miles.
On a cold November morning in 2020, ultra-endurance mountain bike athletes Kait Boyle and Kurt Refsnider both crossed the figurative Kokopelli starting line but set out upon journeys all of their own. The women’s FKT stood strong for nearly 8 years, and Kait had yet to successfully finish the trail in its entirety. Two years prior to this ride, Kait won the 24 Hour World Championships but was shortly after involved in a car crash that put into question her ability to ever race bikes again. But as her challenging recovery progressed, she eventually set her sights on the Kokopelli as her first competitive goal. Simply starting this ride was a milestone in itself, but her focus was now on the opposite end of the trail and the mountains and canyons in between.
Having established an FKT on the Kokopelli once before (and witnessed that record broken just months earlier), Kurt knew that this effort would require a faster ride than he once thought possible. The storied evolution of the record both fascinated him as well as provided formidable challenge in the miles ahead, and his love of the Colorado Plateau landscape added to his desire for another fast ride on the trail.
“The Kokopelli Trail is an immensely powerful journey whether one does it four days or one day,” explains Refsnider. “It has been a test piece for long-distance riders for decades, starting with the first single-day ride on the trail in the late 1990s by Gary Dye. I initially rode the trail in 2009, and ever since, it’s compelled me to come back and see whether or not it’s possible for me to go a little faster.”
Boyle adds that “for both Kurt and me, and hopefully for many others, FKTs aren’t about comparison. They’re about inspiration, and you can use that inspiration to set and reach ambitious goals of your own. But those goals don’t need to have anything to do with riding fast.”
No matter how their rides end, the high desert will leave an imprint on these riders, and the story of the Kokopelli will continue to evolve
Fastest for Now is produced and directed by Cort Muller and can be watched on Küat’s YouTube Channel
About Kait Boyle and Kurt Refsnider
Kait Boyle (Victor, ID) and Kurt Refsnider (Prescott, AZ) share a long list of records and wins in some of the toughest mountain bike ultras. Boyle is a 24-Hour World Champion and Arizona Trail 300 record holder. Refsnider is the only person to have won each of the Triple Crown of Bikepacking events (Tour Divide, Colorado Trail Race, and Arizona Trail Race) and was the first rookie to win Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Invitational 350 winter ultra. Boyle and Refsnider are also the co-founders of the Bikepacking Roots non-profit and the Backcountry Bike Challenge.
About Küat Racks
Küat Racks designs stylish and easy-to-use products that help cyclists and adventurers get out and do more. What began as an idea for a better way to transport bikes in 2008 has evolved into a thriving company that creates high-end, awesomely engineered hitch racks, roof racks and accessories that push the envelope of innovation. Team Küat is composed of avid cyclists, outdoor enthusiasts and fine ale connoisseurs. This motley crew of dreamers and schemers pool together their diverse talents and interests to bring you sharp design, quality products and awesome customer service.