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Lachlan Morton will embark on the Colorado Trail for a second time with the Australian setting out to honor his late friend and professional cyclist Suleiman “Sule” Kangangi, who tragically died in August.
Morton will set off on the epic 530-mile ride at around midday local time Tuesday. He previously rode the trail back in 2019. This time around Morton is not aiming to break a record but is instead concentrating on the experience and hoping to raise donations to help support Kangangi’s family.
Kangangi crashed during the Vermont Overland gravel race in August and sadly died from his injuries. He was just 33 years old.
Kangangi was a member and the captain of Team Amani, a squad of off-road riders from Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. He and Morton raced together over the last few years and when news of Kangangi’s death was publicized Morton posted a tribute on his Instagram account, stating: “Cycling lost one of its best yesterday. The world lost one of its best. I’m lost for words. We’re all going to miss you.”
Morton will take on the Colorado Trail as an experience rather than a record-breaking attempt, and in a statement released Monday, he acknowledged that Kangangi would be on his mind throughout the ride.
“If I’m being honest, I’ve just tried to keep myself very busy which I know is not necessarily the right way to do it but I know I’m going to have a lot of time out there to think about him. No doubt, I’ll be thinking about him for sure,” Morton said Monday.
He also wants to use the ride to support Kangangi’s family with EF Education and Cannondale joining forces with Morton and the organizers of Kangangi’s recently set up GoFundMe page. $70,000 has been raised so far and anyone who makes a donation for Morton’s ride will have the chance to go forward into a raffle to win a Cannondale bike. All of the donations go to Kangangi’s wife and children.
The Colorado Trail runs between Denver and Durango and covers 530 miles of trails with nearly 75,000 feet of elevation gain through the Rocky Mountains. Morton will take on the ride unsupported, just as he did in 2019 during his first attempt.
“I did it once before in 2019 and it really kicked my butt. It was by far the hardest ride I’d done. The severity of the route. It was very slow going. It took me four days and I was hiking for probably 12 hours. It’s very technical and unrelenting,” he said.
“It was everything I could do to finish it. I’ve thought about it at least every week since then, how much it kicked my butt and how much I need to go back and try to make peace with the route,” he added.
It’s not just the distance that Morton finds daunting. The elevation, altitude, and general conditions of the course will all be major factors over the coming days.
“It’s not about chasing the record. It’s about having that experience. I think about the route in its entirety and it still scares me in a way, which is cool. It’s good to have a challenge where it is very uncertain if you can achieve it. I know I’ve improved in all the areas that brought me undone last time,” he said. “It’s about applying those improvements, not to go faster but to enrich the experience. The most satisfying thing for me is to put myself in seemingly extreme conditions like being over 12,000 feet on a very technical single track at 2 a.m. when it’s zero degrees celsius and windy.
“To be comfortable in that situation, that’s what I find rewarding. The last time I was in that situation, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m in way over my head, I’m scared.’ To be able to come back knowing I’ve accumulated the experiences and skills necessary and to come back and be in the same situation but this time it’s, ‘Wow, I’m enjoying this. This is a cool challenge.’ That’s the thing I’m looking for.”
If you want to support Sule’s family but do not wish to or cannot participate in bike raffle, you are welcome to contribute to the GoFundMe.