Words: Lael Wilcox

Images: Rugile Kaladyte

The Kenai 250 is a 257 mile self-supported mountain bike race in the Kenai peninsula, the only area in Alaska with a large network of singletrack trails maintained by the forest service. The race organizer, Michael Braun, stitched together a route that connects the trails with highway miles. It’s 60% singletrack and 40% pavement. The race has been going on since at least 2013. This year, with 36 starters, it’s a record setting year for participation. This will be my first time racing it. I grew up in Alaska. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to ride and race in my home state. A couple weeks ago, Rue and I went out to tour the trails-- several of which I’d never ridden. In a single day, from my bike seat, I saw a moose cooling off in a pond and both a lynx and a grizzly bear crossed my path. Alaska is still very wild. I’m really looking forward to riding through the night and experiencing this full route in one go. It would make a great multi-day tour as well.

The race sets off tomorrow (Friday, July 26) at 9am Alaska time. Follow our progress on trackleaders.com:

http://trackleaders.com/kenai2... the route on Komoot:

https://www.komoot.com/tour/19... more information with a guide for the route on Bikepacking.com:

https://bikepacking.com/routes... have a very special bike for this ride. This race is low key, but I feel like it’s a great opportunity to test out what I see as my ideal setup for endurance singletrack races (like the Arizona Trail, the Colorado Trail, the Oregon Timber Trail and the Highland 550). My riding speciality is long distance gravel and dirt, particularly climbing. I love any kind of endurance challenge and will give this race all I have.

I’ll be following up with the story after the race. The best part is, I have no idea what’s going to happen out there. Several of the competitors have raced this route multiple times. A few have signed up with the goal of finishing. All are welcome. The comradery of bikepacking is a big reason for why we’re all out there.

The men’s record for the Kenai 250 is 27 hours, 24 minutes. The women’s record is 36 hours, 32 minutes. A recommended touring pace is 7 days.

Bicycle: 2021 Specialized Epic Evo Pro

Modifications:

Hope Components

Brakes (Race Evo E4)
Carbon Handlebar
AM/Freeride Stem
Evo Crankset (with 28T chainring) Bottom Bracket

Ergon GP2 grips with bar ends Ergon Women’s SR saddle

Shimano XT pedals


Lights

Hope R4+ LED headlight (with 2 cell ES battery) Lupine Blika 4 helmet light (3.5 Ah battery) Planet Bike taillight


Navigation

Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM on K-Edge mount Backup-- iPhone with Komoot


Luggage: Revelate Designs

Custom framebag
Prototype Shrew LP seat bag
Mag-Tank 2000
Mountain Feedbag
Topo Designs x Chaco Quick Pack
Topo Designs Accessory bags (micro & small)

Repair kit

Lezyne hand pump
Tire plugs
SWAT mini CO2 head & cartridge
Spare 29er tube
Wolf Tooth pack pliers
Shimano 12 speed quicklinks (in headset-- hope I don’t break my chain!) SWAT multitool (in headset)

Electronics

iPhone
earbuds
iPhone charging cord Micro USB charging cord

Anker 6.7Ah power bank Lupine USB charger

Clothing: PEARL iZUMi

Men’s Vortex WxB Hooded Jacket Women’s Cargo shorts
Women’s Canyon top
Merino Tall Wool sock

Men’s BLVD Merino 1⁄4 zip
Men’s PRO gel glove
X-Alp Summit shoes
Patagonia synthetic insulated vest REI Co-op Minimalist GTX mitts


Protection

Bear spray
Mosquito repellent
Albuterol inhaler
Wallet
Clear safety glasses
Cloth face mask Specialized Prevail II helmet


Nutrition

24oz Rene Herse Purist water bottle
Trail Butter
GU Roctane drink mix, gels, chews, liquid gels Lithuanian cheesecake bars
Blini with farmer’s cheese
Wild Fruits Jam Tarts