• Race Report: Vapor Trail 125

    The Vapor Trail 125 is broken up into 5 sections. Each little section has it's own little flavor to give you a taste of Colorado in it's purist form. This event is epic to say the least. The views, terrain, and people involved make this underground one of the top events I have ever had the pleasure to compete in. Below is a recap to the best of my dazed and confused memory.

    Blanks Cabin Aid Station
    The race started at Midnight. Temps in Salida were pretty mild...about 60 degrees when we head out. The race began with a moto lead out for about 7 miles of pavement. We rode as a group for 6 of those 7 miles. Once the moto pulled away, I went to the front and went into my rhythm. I was comfy and just kept pedaling. Soon we entered a forest service road which was a gentle grade and gravel. I looked back only to see 3 other lights with me. I looked farther back to see no other racers. I was pretty surprised. The 4 of us pushed on in a pace line. The 3 riders with me all had the same jerseys...so I was keeping an eye out for team tactics. We rode on for a few more miles. Then a light came up behind us. It was Matt. He said nothing and just kept moving forward. He was also on a singlespeed. His pace was faster than I wanted to go....in fact no one chased him. We then rolled onto the first check point. Here we entered the Colorado Trail.

    Cascade Aid Station
    Once the Colorado Trail the course went to demanding singletrack. The soil was like kitty litter. Very very loose. My "testrider" tires from Conti were not really liking this stuff. I was having issues keeping the front tire from washing out at speed on corners. And not being able to see over the edge of the trail......was scary. On this section of trail we saw it all: roots, rocks, steep climbs, and wash-outs. Due to some minor tire wash outs and hike-a-bike sections I was caught be 2 other riders. They went by.....only for me to come upon one of them moments later fixing a flat. The enire time since we left the start line in Salida....we had been climbing. This was obvious by the tiny little lights in the valley below. We soon dumped out of the Colorado Trail onto a gravel road which took us to the Cascade Aid Station. Since I was good with all nutrition, I checked in then kept moving forward.

    Whitepine Aid Station
    After departing the Cascade aid station we entered a 10 foot wide section of trail. This trail went up and up. The grade was mellow, but just steep enough to know that you were climbing. This trail eventually dumped out onto a gravel forest service road....then a really rough forest service road. The road continued to climb. For me at this part of the course it was about 5:30 AM. The temps were right near freezing and my toes were cold. Cold enough, that I would ride a mile then get off and run 100 yards. Then get back on. The road continued to climb. The sun was starting come up and it was starting to let me finally see the CO country side. Once off the road we headed on to the Alpine Tunnel. This trail was on the ledge of the mountain and was rough! Think railroad tracks minus the rails. I continued on passing frost on the small vegetation and old mining relics. Once at the end of the Alpine Tunnel trail the course markings pointed up! The course was steep requiring hiking with the bike. I hiked....and hiked....and hiked. Once to the top, the sun was up enough to show that I was well above the tree line.

    To the left of me it was down the side of the mountain.....to the right it was the same thing (see above picture). The trail pointed to the right, so down I went. The course pretty much descend everything I just spent the last 5 hours climbing. Once to the bottom the course took a hard left onto a road....or at least they called it a road. I am not sure a 4x4 would make it up this road. After some short riding followed by hiking, and then more riding I turned the corner only to see a small road going along the side of the mountain (see picture below).

    This climb took forever! Once finally to the top I got to descend some sweet trail. At the bottom I finally emptied out onto a road which rolled into the aid station. Dave Wiens was manning the station and said that I was doing well being the 7th person to pass through. He asked how I was doing, and I told him fine. In fact I felt like a million bucks. At the aide station I ate a few cookies, filled my bottle, and pushed on to Monarch Pass.

    Monarch Pass Aid Station
    Upon departing for Monarch Pass I asked Dave Wiens how far it was to the top. He said only 13 miles. I was happy, cause 13 miles doesn't seem far....so I thought. It started with a super fast gravel road descent. Then a sharp left onto more gravel. Then a sharp left on gravel road to the top of Monarch Pass. The sign read "Monarch Pass 7 Miles". Cool! So I pushed it. About 1/2 way up I started to get bloated and really, really weak. It got so bad that I was having a hard time turning over the pedals....even the granny gear. I kept moving forward.....switchback after switchback. I was moving sloooooow. I was wondering if I could even finish this event. While crawling up the mountain I was caught be 3 guys. All 3 said I didn't look to hot....and all 3 dropped me like a bad habit in their granny rings.

    Top on Monarch Pass. Photo by Dave Nice

    Finally at the top of Monarch Pass I was met by Dave. He asked how I was doing. I told him I was cooked in more ways than one. I sat down and took in some food. One of the volunteers even had some pain killers which I downed with a Red Bull to cure my aching back. After sitting for 5 minutes, I decided to push on. It was a good thing I did, cause the best part of the course was to come.

    Indian Creek Aid Station
    After leaving Monarch Pass the course became a video game. Lots of fun flowy singletrack with epic views on the spine of the Rocky Mountains. After about 40 minutes of riding I started to feel better. I was able to jump the chain up onto the big ring and just rage the trails. I was shortly before 10 AM when I was riding towards Indian Creek. The weather was clear and temps were in the upper 60s. Everything was starting to click. My intake of Clif Bars, Power Bars, ELETE, and SIS was doing the trick. I pounded out the miles to Indian Creek which ended in a super fast rocky descent. This down hill was one to turn the brake rotors to liquid metal. By passing the station I pushed on to the next pass which had to be climbed. With worries of a similar experience to that of Monarch Pass I kept the pace respectable. While heading toward the pass, the skies began to darken with storm clouds. Sure enough, with in seconds it was raining....then hailing. I decided to not stop an put on clothing. I pushed on, only to see a racer standing under a tree to keep dry. This was one of the original riders that passed me at the beginning of the race. I gave a wave...then went on my way. About half way up Marshall Pass he caught me. We talked...then he dropped me. He didn't attack me, I just slowed down from fatigue. Finally, I rolled into the last aid station. I downed yet another Red Bull, then pushed onto the finish in Salida. The course ended with 10 miles of singletrack on the Silver Creek Trail followed by a 10 mile paved road drop into town.

    At about 4:28 PM, I rolled to the Finish Line. Good enough for 7th overall. You can bet I will be back for the next version....the event is as epic as it gets. I have never ever ridden anything like it!

    More pics here from Adam.