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After a year without much domestic racing, the cycling world has entered a renaissance of riding popular routes in pursuit of the fastest known time (FKT). While the running community has an entire website dedicated to tracking fastest known times on dedicated routes, the cycling community still relies on haphazard information strewn about different corners of the internet.
My first knowledge of an FKT came from Rebecca Rusch’s 2013 record-setting ride of the Kokopelli Trail, a route with one of the earliest FKT cultures of any long-distance mountain bike trail. Over the past few years, other famed routes like the White Rim, the Colorado Trail, and the Arizona Trail have taken center stage as elite athletes target records and inspire more attempts.
According to the running site, the selected routes must be notable and distinct enough so that others will be interested in repeating it. Last May, I saw a crazy ride get uploaded from Menso de Jong titled “The Los Padres Traverse” and he had clocked the fastest time on the Strava segment created to track the FKT. A couple months later, Lance Haidet and Christopher Blevins bested the time, albeit in a team category. The running FKT Guidelines are well-established and carry over into the record-keeping of some sites like Reese Ruland’s cyclingfkt.com.
The chase for this crown on the men’s side made the route notable and distinct enough to inspire me to train for my own attempt. The only other woman with a recorded time for this traverse had bikepacked the route. I was inspired by the women who went after the White Rim records in the fall and set my sights on establishing this route for the West Coast.
The Los Padres National Forest is the second largest forest in California. There are 10 designated wilderness areas within the Los Padres, along with thousands of miles of trails and some of the most spectacular natural wildlife and scenery. This route takes you across one of the famous coastal ranges through the Sierra Madre Mountains. I’m honored to have the ability and means to share this story and I hope more people get to experience the magic hidden in the backcountry out there.
The resurgence of FKT’s are here to inspire and empower you to take on challenges in Mother Nature. You decide what these routes mean to you, if that’s a pursuit of a swift time or a simple adventure. An FKT is truly what you want to make it, nothing more and nothing less. I hope my pursuit of the Los Padres Traverse FKT will inspire more women to take on similar adventures and explore beyond.