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Endurance racers Kait Boyle and Kurt Refsnider have devised a response to two of the most common pandemic-inspired trends among mountain bikers: pushing farther into the backcountry to escape ever-increasing crowds and coping with the loss of racing by conquering FKTs (Fastest Known Time) records. Boyle and Refsnider, each holders of multiple FKTs on massive backcountry routes, unveiled today the Backcountry Bike Challenge powered by Ride with GPS, a do-it-yourself series of mountain bike challenges.
The Challenge strives to inspire riders to experience some of the world-class backcountry trails around the country and to fundraise in support of the organizations that maintain those trails. The Challenge also aims to expand upon mountain biking’s fastest known time (FKT) culture and encourages riders to tackle the routes in any style, whether it’s bikepacking, supported rides, or riding a trail in sections.
“It’s while riding in the backcountry to connect to the landscape, others, and myself that I feel the most alive and joyful, and because while challenging myself to ride my best in pursuit of an FKT that I learn the most and realize that I am unlimited,” Boyle said in a press release. “I hope the Backcountry Bike Challenge provides inspiration, resources, and a platform for other cyclists to seek fulfilling experiences, challenge themselves, and connect to the landscape on backcountry trails.”
Boyle holds FKTs on the Kokopelli Trail, the Arizona Trail 300, and Coconino 250.
A mix of iconic and lesser known trails and routes are included in the Challenge, ranging from 40 to 370 miles in length, including:
- Kokopelli Trail (Utah)
- Maah Daah Hey Trail (North Dakota)
- Massanutten Ring loop (Virginia)
- Duluth Traverse (Minnesota)
- Teton MTB Route (Wyoming/Idaho)
- Alpine #7 Trail (Montana)
- Wyoming Range National Recreation Trail
- Bikepacking Roots’ Colorado 14ers Loop
- The Grand Loop (the original bikepacking race route in the Lower 48)
- Rose to Toads above Lake Tahoe
- Highlights of the Colorado Trail, Arizona Trail, and Oregon Timber Trail
“These routes include where I’ve had many of my most memorable and impactful experiences on trails,” says Refsnider. “They’re also where I’ve pursued and exceeded some of the biggest personal goals I’ve set as an athlete, helping me realize just what I’m capable of. That’s one of many reasons why we want to help others get out on these trails.” Refsnider currently FKTs on the Arizona Trail, Grand Loop, and Kokopelli Trail.
The Backcountry Bike Challenge will benefit trails through donations from series participants to local trail organizations and participation in several trail work days later this summer. “The experiences we have while bikepacking, riding on backcountry trails, and chasing FKTs are not possible without the stewardship by individuals and organizations. I hope the Backcountry Bike Challenge increases a sense of connection to trails and compels folks to become stewards or donors or to participate in trail work or advocacy,” Boyle says.
Riders who complete any of these routes will be entered into a year-end drawing for prizes from Ride with GPS, Industry Nine, Pivot Cycles, Revelate Designs, Küat, GU Energy, SMITH and more.
Visit www.backcountrybikechallenge.com and follow on Instagram for more information, including maps, guides, GPS/navigational data, trip planning information for each trail, and announcements for additional trails and routes—particularly in the eastern half of the United States—in the coming months.