Kokopelli Relay

Riders are returning to the Moab area for the Kokopelli Relay race on June 7 and 8. [Photo courtesy of Cameron Scott]

Bicyclists will ride 525 miles from Moab to St. George with teams continuing through the night to see who can be the fastest to complete the ride.

The cyclists are beginning at 6 a.m. on June 7 and the race will come to an end at 8 p.m. the following day.

Formerly known as the Vision Relay, and before that the Rockwell Relay, the scenic race has new directors this year as well as a new moniker — Kokopelli Relay.

Clay Christensen, owner of Endurance Utah, and Cameron Scott are co-directing the bike relay race, which they’ve added to other Endurance Utah cycling offerings: The Salt to Saint Relay and a mountain biking Eden Epic event.

Kokopelli Relay racers will start at Grand County High School, 608 S. 400 East, continuing on past Wilson Arch, Monticello, Mule Canyon, Dirty Devil Bridge, Escalante and the Bryce Canyon area. The route also passes through Capitol Reef National Park, and within a few miles of Grand Staircase National Monument.

“We’d love to encourage people to come out,” and cheer contestants on when they take off from the high school, Scott said. “Participants come from multiple states. We’d love to get communities involved any way possible.”

Scott said there is no other event like this race.

“It’s very, very scenic — that’s what draws most people to it,” he said. “It’s quite the experience.”

The cumulative 33,000-feet elevation variation, due to climbing up and down hills, makes it a challenging ride, Scott said.

“One person on the team is on the ride at all times,” meaning someone will be riding throughout the night, Scott said.

Teams will switch riders at 23 designated transition locations that have been deemed safe along the route. Distances between transitions average roughly 22 miles, although mileage varies due to steep elevation climbs on some legs of the journey.

Forty teams, each comprised of four to eight riders, had signed up as of May 22. Registration closed May 25, although spectators are encouraged for the early Friday morning send-off in Moab.

Volunteers to help with the event are also welcome and can just show up at the high school by 5 a.m. on June 7, Scott said.

Tod Turley, from California, is participating in the annual relay for his fifth time.

“I’m always looking for really cool adventure races,” he said. “The absolute beauty of the entire course, from Moab to St. George, is unparalleled.”

Plus, there’s only one stoplight in the 525 miles, making for “incredible uninterrupted racing,” he added.

A long, relatively empty road makes providing team support more possible, he said. A support vehicle will provide ice packs if needed, and give racers time checks so they’ll know if they’re gaining or losing ground.

“It’s so isolated, if something happens to the bike, we have a support team there ready to help,” Turley said. “There will be water hand-offs.”

Four “waves” of riders will create dispersed riding on roads that will remain open during the event. Cyclists are required to follow all road regulations, including stopping at lights, yielding and riding as far to the right as possible, if there is a shoulder. However, sometimes it’s safer for cyclists to ride closer to the road’s center, forcing cars to go around them, Scott said. When cyclists hug the shoulder, motorists often do not give them the 3-feet allowance required by law, he said.

Although the race officially ends at 8 p.m., cyclists who are still on the route can continue the ride on their own. In races this long, there can be a 15-hour disparity in conclusion times, Scott said. Some people finish in 38 hours, while the quickest riders have completed the course in 23 hours.

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