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The White Rim, an FKT story

By Reese Ruland


The White Rim Trail is a 100-mile route in Canyonlands National Park. Calling it a road is an overstatement. There are long sections of rough slickrock, steep, sandy descents, and sustained 15% average climbs. Let’s just say that it is meant for mountain bikes, jeeps, and dirt bikes, not my little Honda HR-V.

I found myself out on the White Rim trail near Moab, Utah because I was trying to ride this route as fast as possible — maybe faster than any woman has gone before me ...

Runners and mountaineers have strived to set Fastest Known Times (FKT) on famous routes for years. Even before Strava, they’d time themselves to the top of peaks or on epic loops to virtually race their friends and rivals.

Over the years, the FKT obsession has trickled down to the world of cycling, which in my view, is terrific. Maybe it’s because I’m a runner, but a solo challenge where it’s me vs. the clock is always enticing. There is no drafting, no aid stations, and no outside help. The trail conditions and weather are different on each attempt so it's important to pick the right day and time for your attempt. 

In order to feel athletically fulfilled and purposeful, I need a goal — either a race or a self-imposed challenge, something on which I can focus my energy and attention. I do best when I obsess a little. Having a goal gives me peace of mind. I can rest easy that I’ve got some sort of purpose, that I’m not just excelling at "exercising." 

I’m not just a trail runner. I’m an avid cyclist and endurance junkie, though more of the road and gravel variety. I only recently became interested in mountain biking because of the White Rim FKT attempt. In July, my friend mentioned the idea of riding the White Rim, and without even thinking about it or assessing my own terrible mountain biking skills, I committed.

I started riding my Santa Cruz Blur in September and logged a whopping six rides on it. In retrospect, that wasn’t the smartest move. Much of my training consisted of lunch rides and some longer weekend rides, switching it up between my road and mountain bike, so I didn’t feel 100% demoralized each ride. While I do love training and long rides, the best part of any big adventure is figuring out the logistics. What gear to bring. How my bike should be set up. What tires to run. I’m so new to mountain biking that it was all an exciting learning process.

Going from road riding to mountain biking was a bit of an adjustment. I’m generally terrified for the entirety of my mountain bike rides. I get rigid like a breadstick whenever I see something steep, loose, or technical. Riding a mountain bike for 100 miles was a bit daunting. But I figured that at some point during my seven hours on the bike, I’d eventually adjust to the terror and relax at some point — hopefully.

This entire undertaking was out of my comfort zone. Which is what we all need from time to time. Big dreams and aspirations aren’t generally the problem for people, it’s your comfort zone that will kill you. So I encourage everyone to find a challenge that excites them and put your energy into it.

My gear for the women's White Rim FKT:

Santa Cruz Blur, small
Reserve carbon wheels
ENVE M7 Bars
Quarq power meter
Maxxis Ikon 2.2
Maxxis Aspen 2.2
Skratch Labs Hyper Hydration
Skratch Labs SuperFuel
S-Works Recon MTB Shoes
Velocio Concept Bibs and Jersey
UltraAspire Hydration pack
POC Ventral Air Spin NFC
Oakley EV Zero


  • Dan Sutton- you might have watched the wrong video. Did you mean to comment this on A Red Bull video? How is riding your bike on a trail offensive. Boomers are the worst.

    Britney on

  • Reese, great stuff. My wife and I rode it with friends and their truck over 3 days. We went back in the fall to tackle it in a day, that was about 18-19 years ago. It was a great day. Dan Sutton needs to relax, does he even know that that stretch of “road” can be full of jeepers and motorcycles? There are plenty of miles our there for just boots. Next up ride Pearl Pass (Crested Butte to Aspen and back) in a day.

    Scott on

  • Tired of the endless (and vain) focus on “best times” and etc. It’s really iffy to be riding MTB in a wilderness area, too – just an insult to nature.

    Next time, why not ask someone to write a reflection on the splendor of the surroundings instead of their little stab at celebration of self?

    Dan Sutton on

  • So cool! I rode the White Rim years ago with a bunch of young men ages 16 – 18 however, we took 3 days to ride it! Thanks for sharing!

    Krogerski on

  • Reese- WOW! Loved watching this, will be sharing. You are much cooler than my aunt on FB, trust me. Great work, can’t wait to see more.

    McLean on

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