To be brutally honest, this event is unique and really hard. You've never done anything like the Vapor Trail 125 before. You will be riding technical singletrack at extreme elevations, much of which will be in the dark of the night. You will encounter temperatures from sub-freezing to 80º, gnarly sections of trail and you will be deep in the Colorado backcountry. You MUST BE self-sufficient and be able to have the ability to get back to town if you decide to drop out from the event. If you have any doubts about whether you can complete this event, this probably isn't your year. The Vapor Trail 125 is difficult for the most seasoned mountain bikers and racers. We are not going to sugar coat it - make sure you aren't biting off more than you can chew.
Start to Aid #1
26.5 miles, 4,000 ft climbing
The race starts at 10 PM on the F Street Bridge in Downtown Salida and heads out of town via Poncha Boulevard and County Road 140. After crossing Hwy 285, you will continue on CR 140 to CR 250, where you turn right and begin the first dirt road section on your way up to the Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail is the first section of singletrack, which will have you headed north towards famed 14er, Mount Princeton. After an amazing section of the Colorado Trail, which is traversed at night, you will turn left onto CR 290 and pedal for 0.4 miles to Aid Station #1 (Cascade) at 26.5 miles.
Aid #1 to Aid #2
30 miles, 5,100 ft climbing
Leaving Aid #1 you then climb the old railroad grade and turn left (West) on CR 162. Your next turn is South onto CR 295 and head towards the Hancock townsite. Next you will turn West onto CR 299 and go over Hancock Pass, a burly 4x4 jeep road with plenty of hike-a-bike for most mortals. After descending Hancock Pass, turn left (South) onto Tomichi Pass Rd. This is a much smoother section of road then Hancock Pass, but will still be difficult at this point in the night. After crossing over Tomichi Pass, you will ONLY DESCEND for 0.25 miles, where you will then turn right on to the infamous Canyon Creek Trail. The ascent of Canyon Creek Trail is just shy of 1-mile long, however, 98% of it is a hike-a-bike and takes you to the high point of the race at 12,600 feet. The descent is 8.5 miles long, it is the most technical descent of the race, and nearly all racers will tackle this in the dark. There is a short climb after this amazing descent, which will then have you drop down to USFS Road 888 (Tomichi Pass Road). Turn left onto the road and an immediate right into Snowblind Campground, which is Aid Station #2 (56.4 miles).
Aid #2 to Aid #3
14 miles, 2,500 ft climbing
From Aid Station #2, you will proceed south on USFS Road 888 for ~ 4 miles to the bottom of Old Monarch Pass Road, where you will turn left. Old Monarch Pass Road, while not steep, is a long and tedious climb. Settle in. After cresting Old Monarch Pass you will descend for less than 0.2 miles and take a right onto singletrack which will bring you to Hwy 50. Take care crossing the highway and turn left (North) to reach the Monarch At The Crest Store and Aid Station #3 (70.5 miles). Aid Station #3 is well stocked and here you will have access to your drop bag. Aid Station #3 is also a great place to decide how much you have left in the tank, as you will still have 55 miles to ride with 35 miles of it being singletrack.
Aid #3 to Aid #4
11 miles, 1,050 ft climbing
From Aid #3, you will take the glorious Monarch Crest Trail to Marshall Pass, Aid Station #4 (80.9 miles).
Aid #4 to Aid #5
11 miles, 2,100 ft climbing
Aid Station #4 is also Aid Station #5 as you will pass through it twice. From Aid Station #4, you will ride a sweet little section of the Colorado Trail to the Starvation Creek Trail intersection, where you will turn left and descend Starvation Creek. At the bottom of Starvation Creek Trail you will turn left onto Poncha Creek Road, which is a 4.5 mile climb and for many past racers it is the cracking point, as it is usually in the heat of the day. You will then hit Marshall Pass again, which is Aid Station #5 (92.1 miles).
Aid #5 to Finish
29.2 miles, 900 ft climbing
You will then ride the same section of single track back to the Starvation Creek Trail intersection, but this time you will turn right and stay on the Colorado Trail. Stay on the Colorado Trail until the Silver Creek Trail, where you will turn left. Enjoy the amazing descent down to the Rainbow Trail, but remember that the very last section of single track on Silver Creek is privately owned by Steve Miller (not "fly like an eagle" Steve Miller) and he has granted us permission to cross this section of his land. PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL of this, as without his permission we'd be SOL! Then jump on the Rainbow Trail, and savor the last fun, but cruel joke, Vapor will play on you. The Rainbow Trailhead to town is about 20 miles with ~ 1,000 feet of climbing. The Rainbow Trail has a few annoying power climbs and then finishes with a fun descent to Hwy 285. The last road section of the course is Hwy 285 to County Road 120 (turn right on CR 120) after going through Poncha Springs. CR 120 is 95% DOWNHILL to the finish line at Absolute Bikes!
Below you'll find the answers to the most commonly asked questions we receive each year. If your question(s) is not answered below, please reach out using the "CONTACT US" form at the bottom of this website.
Great question! Many folks continuously ask us how the VT125 compares to the Leadville 100. To be honest they are in two different solar systems. The VT125 has much more demanding/technical terrain, 8 hours of night riding, higher altitude, and your crossing over the Continental Divide 5 times. If you've completed the Leadville 100, take your finishing time and double it. That will be a good gauge of how long the Vapor Trail 125 will take you. Finishing times year after year range from 13-24 hours.
We sure do! You can study the course and/or or download the course to your favorite GPS device HERE.
Yes, the race starts at 10:00 PM on Saturday, September 7 on the F Street Bridge in downtown Salida. This means you need to leave Salida prepared to ride through the night. Make sure your lights will work for 8+ hours. Make sure you have ample clothing to go over 12,000 ft twice.
There is no right or wrong answer here. But we'll point you in the direction of having the most fun! In the past, much enjoyment has been had by racers on 120mm or 130mm full-suspension mountain bikes with dropper posts and moderately aggressive 2.4 tires. Also consider your gear choice. Most folks are running 28T and 30T front chainrings paired with their favorite 12 speed cassette.
The average elevation of the VT125 course is 10,000 ft. You'll be well over 12,000 ft in the wee hours of Sunday morning. You need to be prepared for temps at night to be below freezing to afternoon highs on Sunday pushing 80ºF. It could rain. It could snow. Remember you can drop warm clothing at Aid #3 on top of Monarch Pass. We are not going to tell you how to dress, but be ready for temps of 30ºF to 80ºF.
EVERYONE will hike-a-bike during the Vapor Trail 125. The most notable hike-a-bike comes shortly after Tomichi Pass...and it takes you up to the Canyon Creek descent. It will take the fastest of riders 45-minutes to get up this hike-a-bike. We suggest leaving those super stiff carbon shoes at home...unless you want to destroy them. Canyon Creek isn’t the only place you’ll push your bike. There are a few other short hike-a-bikes on course. You've been warned.
Yes! A helmet and handle bar light are suggested. You will ride the Colorado Trail at night - it's one of the most technical trails of the entire course. Don't skimp on your lumens. Keep in mind your lights need to burn for 8-9 hours. It's not a bad idea to pack a camping head lamp to fix any mechanicals you might have at night or as a back-up light source.
Yes, we will mark the entire course with flags, ribbon, arrows and small red LED lights. With that said, every single year people go off course and miss turns. It is highly advised to have the route on your GPS device as back up. The course GPX file can be downloaded HERE.
In between the aid stations you need to be 100% self-sufficient. Meaning you need to have all clothing, food and hydration you need. Racers should plan taking 3-6 hours to go from Aid Station to Aid Station. Plan accordingly.
Sorry, no. Your entry fee goes 100% into the event production and is also a major fundraiser for the local groups that help grow and maintain the mountain bike and trail experiences in the Arkansas Valley. You can transfer your entry to another racer via BikeReg if you would like. You can also purchase event insurance through BikeReg.
We will provide the traditional aid station items you are accustom to: water, sports drinks, sweet snacks, salty snacks, cooked items, etc. At Aid #3 (Monarch Pass) you'll have access to an aid station as well as your drop bag. We take pride in our aid stations and you'll be excited to see the buffets.
We will transport 1 drop bag per racer to and from Aid #3 atop Monarch Pass. Drop bags should be no bigger than a small duffel bag. As long as it fits, you can put whatever you like in your duffel bag. Typically racers will put specialty food items, drink mix, spare tire, spare parts, etc in their bag. You can also stuff your drop bag with items used in the first 1/2 of the race - items such as lights, warm clothing, etc. All drop bags will be transported back to Absolute Bikes after the Aid Station has closed.
All racers are responsible for getting themselves out of the backcountry should they decide to DNF. Easy spots for racers to get picked up by a loved one or friend is Aid #1 (Cascade) and Aid #3 (Monarch Pass). Both of these aid stations are easily accessible by vehicle and also in or close to cell service. The rest of the course is not easily accessible by vehicle or in cell service.