‘Getting the record is nice for sure, but I’m just happy I had a good day out on that trail.’
Lachlan Morton shoved off in the dark at 2:31 am Saturday morning to ride the Kokopelli Trail, his aim to travel quick and beat the heat. By the end of the ride, he’d ridden the fastest known time on the classic 140-mile route from Moab, Utah to Loma, Colorado, at 11 hours and 14 minutes. The previous record was 11:52, held by Kurt Refsnider.
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Along the way he overcame the dark (his headlight went out after 30 minutes) and a mechanical issue. He filtered his own water from the Colorado River and carried all his own provisions.
And when it was done, he took a swim in the Colorado River. Hear from Lachlan on his big day out below.
What was the experience like?
It was sweet! I got through the first two climbs in the dark but I think I made a mistake charging my front light, because it didn’t work very well. I say it didn’t work very well, but it worked well for half an hour and then it had no more battery.
So it was pretty dark for the first three hours and I was taking it pretty easy on the downhills, but then going as hard as I could on the uphills. And then I got a little rain actually up on top of the La Sal mountains, which made it a little muddy. It was nice when the sun came out. It sort of felt like I was just getting started, but I was already maybe three or four hours in. I got to the first place to get water which was at Dewey Bridge and filled up there. I got there earlier than I thought I would. But maybe 5km later I broke my back wheel. I was coming down one of the many rocky little descents and hit a rock on the side of the rim and the sealant came shooting out of the rim. I performed a botched change, which took me like 10 minutes. I just put a tube in it, pumped it right up, and hoped for the best.
For the next hour it started to get hot and I was trying to find my groove again. Then I found another little spot to fill up on water by the river and from then I knew I had enough food and enough water, so I just pushed on from there for the last four hours. It was one of those days where everything feels like it’s going smoothly. My body was feeling good, head’s good, and you could actually just enjoy it and not battle with yourself too hard.
In a normal race, mechanical issues like that would constitute a tough day. Yet you still felt like everything went pretty smooth despite all of that.
Yeah. I mean, I think if this had happened to me a year ago it would’ve put me off. I feel like it helped that I wasn’t obsessed with getting the record. I managed to stay calm about it. I also know now, that in these long events, 10 minutes feels like a really long time when you’re standing on the side of the road but you can bring that back pretty quickly. You can also lose it pretty quickly if you overcook it. But that’s just kind of part of it. I also knew that the whole situation was my error.
You didn’t set out to break the record, but it’s still a cool by-product. How does that feel?
I mean, it’s cool! I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Kurt for all that he’s done in ultra racing, and also for everything he’s done outside of racing with the big bikepacking routes, everything he’s done for cycling communities. To be able to go out there and have a smooth day was huge. Getting the record is nice for sure, but I’m just happy I had a good day out on that trail.
What about that route will you remember?
It’s a pretty crazy route in that you start in all the red rocks in Moab, but then you climb to nearly 9,000-feet and even at that height, somehow, the trails are still sandy. There’s snow up there but you’re still on a sandy trail. The coolest thing about this trail is that there’s something different every few kilometers. You go from it being really rocky, steep stuff but all still fun and manageable, and then you go around the corner and get two kilometers of sand, and then you’ll be back on a dirt road for a while or even on a paved road, and then you jump onto some single track. It’s just a super exciting trail. Time passes pretty quick. And it’s also really hot and there’s not much water.
You said you always get something different out of these rides from pushing your limit. Did you feel like you got there this time?
Definitely. It’s just great having that feeling again of being out, doing things. After the last few months, everyone’s sort of been questioning what they do and why they’re doing it. For me, it’s nice to be going out and doing something again.