The course of the Vapor Trail 125 is pretty well described on this site, but what’s it like to ride it during the event? How far between Aid Stations? Where are the biggest challenges?
This document breaks down the ride from Aid Station to Aid Station, giving a rider some idea what the day will be like.
How I arrived at this description: I sliced up the GPX file I recorded when I rode the course on my own early in August of 2013 and analyzed it with my gps software. I am not fast, my sustainable pace is generally barely fast enough to make the event cut-offs. When I did this I was going with no support, so that cost me some time. I was on a pace that would have gotten me through cut-offs, but not by much. So this is kind of the analysis of a slowest possible finisher pace.
- Start to Aid Station One. 26.5 miles. Between 4000 and 5000 feet of climbing. Took me a little over 4 1/2 hours moving time. Some pavement climbing, then a dirt road climb that is quite mild, but with an increasing grade. Nearly 3000 feet of climbing. Better be there in two hours or less or you’re already looking marginal to finish. Then it’s Colorado Trail, a very rugged and technical bit of it.
- Aid One to Aid Two. 33.5 miles. Between 5000 and 6000 feet of climbing. Took me a little under 7 hours. This is a big section. Through the night, coldest temps, most remote part of the course. This is the first and most important real test of the event. Leave Aid Station #1 ready for a long, cold, dark ride that you’ll remember forever.
- Aid Two to Aid Three. About 2,500 feet of climbing 14 miles. Took me 2:15. Aid #3 is where you’ll have access to your drop bag. This is the Good Morning section. The main feature is the climb to Old Monarch Pass. It’ll be getting warm, so you’ll have that to get used to. It’s a fairly mild climb, but a long one. It’s about 2500 feet of gain. Just a little on the tedious side. Wakey wakey!
- Aid Three to Aid Four. 10 1/2 miles. About 1000 feet of climbing. Took me an hour and 40 minutes. Monarch Crest Trail. This is a piece of candy that always seems to go by easily even when exhausted.
- Aid Four looping back to Aid Four. 11 1/2 miles. 2,500 feet of Climbing. Took me 2 1/2 hours. It’s a little inner loop, so you visit Aid Four on Marshall Pass twice. This loop is what cracks many of the riders who don’t finish. Be prepared for a honkin’ big effort from a tired body. This little test is probably the most often-discussed part of the course at the after party.
- Aid Four to mini-Aid Station at the Rainbow TH. 7 3/4 miles. About 800 feet of climbing and then a long descent. Took me about an hour 15 minutes. This is mostly candy. The climbing isn’t bad, and it’s broken up with lots of nice descending.
- Last mini-Aid Station to Finish. Rainbow Trail then pavement down the highway to Poncha Springs and on a County Road back to town. Around 20 miles, a little over 1,000 feet of climbing. Took me a little over 2 hours.
So it’s 5 aid stations, 6 aid station visits.