New Ultimate Direction ambassador Kyle Richardson is a young, hungry athlete who spends more time running Boulder’s Green Mountain and scrambling the First Flatiron (and many more Flatiron classics) than nearly anyone else in town. He’s motivated by the big, classic routes, whether on foot, on rock, or by bike. Last month Kyle took on a real cycling test piece: the White Rim in a Day. With a new Signature Series 4 Ultimate Direction Race Belt and just a few additional pieces of gear, he laid down a stout time, getting a feel for the landscape and appreciating the process. Here’s Kyle’s first person account.
On March 30th, I decided to do what is known as the White Rim in a Day (WRIAD for short). The White Rim trail is a 100 mile loop in Canyonlands National Park that circumnavigates the Island in the Sky Mesa.
The “White Rim in a Day” (WRAID) has been a classic for mountain bikers since it was first done (probably) by Buzz Burrell (Ultimate Direction Vice President) in the mid-1980s. The trail is most commonly done as a bikepack or with a sag wagon and broken up into a 2 to 3 day outing. The White Rim has been completed on a unicycle , single speed, and even hand cranked.
The White Rim has been completed by bike in just under 6 hours by Andy Dorais, which is mind blowing and truly heroic in comparison to my 9hr 38 min effort.
I forget who said this first, but “The best bike is the one you have”. I’d surely would’ve opted for a hardtail 29er if I had it at my disposal, but this wasn’t an option. My tried and true gravel grinder would do the trick just fine.
The terrain around the White Rim is fairly tame in terms of technicality. In reality, it’s just a jeep road with the rockiest sections lying between the Whitecrack and Airport campgrounds (east side of the loop). There were a couple sand traps, but they were practically all rideable and the longest stretch lasted only a couple hundred feet. That being said, I didn’t care how rocky or sandy things would get. I wanted to explore the landscape and would hike-a-bike if that’s what it ended up taking.
I rode the loop counter clockwise, which starts with 9 miles of road heading North and then a long 15 mile descent to Mineral Bottom and finishes with a 5 mile – 1,300 foot climb up the Shafer Trail.
Reflecting on the ride, I can’t help but have a deep sense of appreciation for the landscape. A yearning to go back and explore every nook and cranny; to learn a place even more. My imagination flows through the many twists and turns of the landscape, dreaming of the next exploration. The desert is truly magnificent.
- Ultimate Direction Race Belt
- Bike: Fuji Tread 2.0
- Tires: WTB Nano 40s
- Oveja Negra Frame Bag (water), Revelate Designs JerryCan (food), Timbuk 2 saddle bag (bike tool, co2s, etc.)
- 2 hard bottles, 1 reservoir, 2 soft flasks
- Patagonia Houdini
Where to find Kyle:
Great ride!! The White Rim is a world classic – no road (or even trail) crossings for the 100 mile loop – once you’re 50 miles in, there is no option except another 50 miles.
Good job with your 9:38 – anything under 10 hours is solid.
Yes, first WRIAD (confirmed by NPS Rangers) was June 1985. Certainly on a “hardtail” as suspension hadn’t been invented yet. Come to think of it, my bike back then oddly resembles the modern “gravel grinder”: relaxed road geometry, no suspension, drop bars (it was hand made by Tom Ritchie). It was a tough day, as the Green was in flood stage, the road in Potato Bottom was under water, so I had to carry the bike in talus above the road for about a mile.