As our nation’s collective attention tracked the fate of the confederate flag this past weekend, another Dixie uprising was going down in Southwestern Utah. The Dixie 200 is a sinister, ultra-endurance bikepacking race that’s evolved steadily since 2010. The event is the brain child of Jedi trail master and endurance guru Dave Harris, who spent years solidifying the route while also creating the Dixie 311 (permanent ITT challenge) and the formerly raced and now often toured, Dixie-Lite. Although it’s generally agreed the Arizona Trail 750 is the hardest on-dirt bikepacking race, it’s also agreed that Harris’s Dixie 200 represents bikepack racing’s hardest, two hundred mile track. Indeed, nothing comes easy on this remote route which tackles a staggering 30,000ft. over 205 miles. dixie_profile_2012 Right off the line, the Dixie 200 climbs over 4000 ft. in the first thirteen miles to reach the high country adjacent to Brian Head Ski Area. Riders are treated to miles of alpine singletrack, traverse the Markagunt Plateau and then sends the Virgin River Rim trail. What makes the Dixie 200 route so special is how the race incorporates seldom traveled trails like Marathon, Grandview and Spruce with known gems like the VRRT, Thunder Mountain, Crawford Pass and Dark Hollow trails. Your navigation skills will surely be tested and most riders encounter their fair share of missed turns and wrong tracks. Decent on-route resupply options exist, but timing and nutrition strategies impact potential utilization of these resources. In 2015, many riders would forgo sleep to make the most out of cooler, nighttime traveling temps. But this decision would also necessitate racers carrying two plus days of food from the start to avoid being skunked by closed gas stations and reaching restaurant resupplies after hours.
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Dave Harris (standing right) preps racers at the 2015 Dixie 200 grand depart // Ackerman Photo
Fourteen athletes representing five western states formed the largest field ever to line up for the 7am grand depart. Following the action proved very exciting on Trackleaders.com! Dixie 200 veteran Aaron Johnson was charging strong until saddle sores took him out at Harold’s Place, two thirds of the way through his ride. Pedaling with him was Todd Tanner of Sandy UT., who was crushing and on track to establishing a new course record of his own. However GPS issues led to a navigational error and ultimately relegation for Tanner. The two front-runners were chased by a strong pack of locals and visitors alike who kept the pressure on for the entire race.
Got trail? Better have navigation skills for the Dixie 200 // Aaron Johnson Photo
In the end Mike Barklow of Midvale and Jason Wolf of SLC took the win, also becoming the first two Dixie 200 competitors to ever complete the Pink Cliffs Out and Back time bonus challenge. Hot on their heels were CTR veterans Rick Miller and Scott Shirey who both turned in impressive, sub two-day performances. Nick Woodland, Tom Wolf and Michael Ackerman posted sub-60 hr rides and Evan Solberg represented the California contingent’s only finisher in the 2015 grand depart. Former course record holder Mike DeBernardo of Salt Lake City set out on an Individual Time Trial on Sunday AM, setting the bar for subsequent 2015 ITT attempts with a 1:22:15 finish. IMG_7781 After completing this route, it’s easy to understand the 200’s growing popularity. The trail is a fantastic primer for the 500+ mile Colorado Trail Race or a righteous tour in its own right. Traveling through some of Southwestern Utah’s most scenic, remote and rugged backcountry real estate and providing omni-present resupply puzzles, self-care conundrums and navigational challenges, just attempting this route is a noble feat. Harris concludes, “I’m calling the 2015 Dixie a success. The hot forecast had me a bit nervous but everyone managed it perfectly. The kit sophistication has risen to new levels, apparently that translates to smarter riders too.” Congratulations to all the athletes who answered the Dixie’s rebel yell and made a stand on this beautifully brutal beast of a route.
Gearing up to ride through the night on the 2015 Dixie 200 –Aaron Johnson Photo
*Info and quotes for this race report have been sourced from racers’ personal experiences, the 2015 Dixie Race thread at Bikepacking.net, Trackleaders.com and 2-Epic’s official homepage for the Dixie 200

4 Comments

  1. Michael Ackerman
    Michael Ackerman

    EDIT- This was Aaron Johnson’s first go at the “200” Dixie route. You can see more of Aaron’s amazing photos, from this race and other adventures at: http://www.ajphoto.net

  2. Great writing, Michael!

    The Dixie has had very small fields I think in part to one particular endurance icon being less than enthusiastic after riding the 311 – it was just plain harder than expected. That was 5 years ago and but a distant memory.

    It is very gratifying to see so many dynamic riders (such as yourself!) come and push the limits on the route and leave with a positive experience. That was my original vision and this year was 20-20.

    The growing bikepacking community kicks ass.

  3. Rick Miller

    Your description nails it, Michael. This compact tour has a little of everything, and something for everyone. Except, of course, the tangled blowdowns on Spruce Trail that the USFS thoughtfully removed right after the race!

  4. Thanks for the write up Micheal. The only thing I would argue is that this route is not 30K in climbing, but more like 26K at the very most. That is still a lot over only 200 miles.

    Bikepacking needs more short and technical mountain biking routes like the Dixie 200. We already have enough routes which consist of primarily just dirt and paved roads. Bikepacking needs more mountain biking!

    I didn’t realize until a few days after I quit, but I was really bummed to not finish this year! I won’t go into the excuses, but the key word was “preparation” for me this year. This route demands both a bike and a human that are both in premier condition!

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