In a year with limited racing but plenty of fitness, former top road pro and now gravel racer Peter Stetina chose to focus on record attempts and FKT (fastest know times) as his competitive objective for this season and the legendary White Rim trail in Utah caught his attention when pro mountain biker Payson McElveen (Orange Seal Racing) set the standard last year and in the process, kicked up a new wave of interest and “secret” competition on the 100-mile route.
He did the deed just about a month ago to little fanfare.
Since FKTs are not sanctioned, the rules are more just suggestions. There’s no official starting point for the White Rim loop, McElveen established his record by starting and finishing at the Horsethief Trailhead and riding counterclockwise, the most popular way to ride the loop but it means that the hardest climb – Shafer Mill – comes at the very end. Just about a month after McElveen’s record ride, Quinn Simmons, the 2019 junior road race World Champion and World Tour racer who currently rides for Trek–Segafredo, beat the mark by just three minutes in May of 2019. However he bucked tradition and started his effort at the bottom of Shafer, thus hitting the climb first while fresh.
Drama ensued as to who held the true record until U.S. mountain bike National Champion Keegan Swenson (Stans/Pivot Pro Team P/b Maxxis) chopped a whopping 10 minutes off the record last October, which was even more impressive because he completed it by riding the traditional route, starting at Horsethief and smashing over Shafer at the end.
Swenson’s FKT of 5:30:21 was the time to beat and Peter knew he’d need to search out every marginal gain possible to take down this record. He studied the course and tinkered with equipment, ensuring he had the best possible bike and gear setup for the course. He picked a day that was just about a year later (October 2020), headed to Utah and set off on course at record pace. Then, after some unexpected silty sand and a forced delay due to 4×4 traffic, Stetina regrouped and raced toward the finish, crossing the line a mere 16 seconds shy of the record. It stung to be so close and Peter knew with a clean run, he could get the FKT. So, he stuck around Moab to rest and recover and then set out AGAIN on the White Rim four days later on October the 6th.
And now with a time of 5 hours, 28 minutes, and 31 seconds Peter completed the loop and set the new fastest time by 1:58 minutes going in the traditional direction.
Check the video below where Peter breaks down his bike setup and gear choices for the White Rim FKT.
You know, in case you’re planning on breaking the record or something.