From Moab to St. George on two wheels

Kokopelli Relay celebrates decade

A group of elite riders depart from Grand County High School following an escort onto Highwya 191 on their way to St. George Friday, June 7. The Kokopelli Relay is a 525.4-mile course that winds through some of the most scenic areas of Utah. Photo by Anthony Militano

The 2019 Kokopelli Relay kicked off early Friday morning, June 7, at the Grand County High School parking lot. The race ended at Unity Park on Saturday, June 8, in St. George.

The Kokopelli Relay, formally known as the Rockwell-Vision Relay, has run for 10 years, and is generally considered to be the most challenging cycling relay race in Utah. In addition to the name change, Kokopelli cofounders Cameron Scott and Clay Christensen added 12 new transition stations – legs to the race – and eliminated cash prizes in an effort to attract non-competitive as well as elite riders.

Sponsors provided prizes and additional rest stops that attracted passionate bicyclists from California, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Ohio and Utah. This year there were 43 teams, one solo rider and one team of five. Teams generally consist of four or eight people, male, female or co-ed. The course had 23 transition stations and four that were manned by race staff.

The members of team “Wheelie Awesome” from Salt Lake City are representative of the type of cyclists who come to Moab for the Kokopelli Relay. The team consisted of two men and six women. Some team members were relatively new to competitive cycling, while others had experience.

All the members of “Wheelie Awesome” were excited about the race. Team member Lori Denning said, “We drove down last night and we’re going for the podium … we’re going to try to come in at least third among the mixed teams.”

The course was challenging and the race was non-stop. Rain or shine, dark or light, whichever team rode the 525.4-mile course to St. George first, won. The race was “non-supported,” which meant each team had to provide its own food, water and transportation at checkpoints. Moab sits at little over 4,000 feet in elevation and as the cyclists headed south on Highway 191, the elevation rose to the first transition station at Wilson Arch, less than 30 miles from Moab, at 6,150 feet in elevation.

Cofounder and event director Scott cheerfully noted that the Kokopelli Relay course passes through some of the most scenic parts of Utah. The race participants were immersed in natural beauty and rugged terrain that couldn’t be experienced in a car, organizers said.

“We are excited to be a part of the Moab community and we want to let people see how gorgeous it is to ride this course,” Scott stated.

As of 8 p.m. Saturday, 42 out of 43 teams had successfully completed the course. One team withdrew for undisclosed reasons about 100 miles short of the finish line.