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Morton on the Colorado Trail in 2019; (photo/Thomas Woodson for EF Pro Cycling)

Lachlan Morton Rides Colorado Trail to Benefit Fallen Kenyan Cyclist’s Family

With the support of EF Education and Cannondale, Morton will raise money for Sule Kangangi, who died after a fall at Vermont Overland last weekend.

Lachlan Morton embarked on the 530-mile Colorado Trail on Tuesday for the second time in his career. But this time, he rides with a memory as painful as the race itself.

Last weekend, Kenyan cyclist Suleiman “Sule” Kangangi died in a tragic accident during the Vermont Overland. He’d spent the previous month competing in U.S. gravel races for Team AMANI.

Kangangi and Morton became friends while racing and training together across Africa, Europe, and the U.S. When Morton learned that his friend died in Vermont’s 59-mile road race, he knew he wanted to do something in memory.

A GoFundMe campaign for Kangangi’s wife and children has raised $70,000. Now, Morton — with the support of EF Education and Cannondale — wants to raise more. They’ve created a contest that includes a Cannondale bicycle and other gear.

“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,” Morton told EF Pro Cycling. “No doubt, I’ll be thinking about him for sure.”

Race Ends in Tragedy for Team, Family of Kangangi

Kangangi had traveled to the U.S. this summer for a short season of gravel racing. As captain of Team AMANI, he raced in the Leadville 100, SBT GRVL, Gravel Worlds, and Vermont Overland — the last race on the team’s gravel calendar.

Since 2016, Kangangi worked to promote cycling in East Africa. He came to the U.S. as part of Team AMANI’s focus on inclusivity. This was the first season Kenyan riders joined the team.

Kangangi had already proven his ability in the sport, finishing eighth at Gravel Worlds. When the team competed in Vermont, Team AMANI’s two other racers, John Kariuki and Jordan Schleck, placed first and third.

But instead of celebration, they faced the tragedy of Kangangi, who had died in a high-speed crash. Race organizers didn’t immediately know the exact circumstances of his death.

“Sule crashed at approximately mile 37, about two hours into the start of the race. According to other riders, the chase group did not hear or see him crash, and neither did anyone behind him. The next rider arrived within less than one minute after his crash and immediately stopped to render assistance to Sule. Other riders who descended Long Hill also stopped to render aid. Local EMT’s arrived shortly after, followed by an ambulance,” Vermont Overland owner Ansel Dickey said in a statement.

Kangangi later died at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.

“Sule is our captain, friend, brother. He is also a father, husband and son. Gaping holes are left when giant’s fall. Sule was a giant,” wrote Team AMANI on Instagram. “Instead of leading us at the front of the pack, he will now lead us as our guiding pole star as we press forward in the realization of his dream. Pumzika kwa amani Sule, you shall always be with us.”

 

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Morton Returns to Colorado Trail

Morton started the Colorado Trail around midday Tuesday and plans to ride unsupported. The well-known bike route connects Denver and Durango, Colo., with 527 miles of rugged trails, covering nearly 75,000 feet of elevation gain.

When Morton first finished the trail in 2019, “it really kicked my butt,” he told EF Pro Cycling.

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Lachlan Morton on the Colorado Trail in 2019; (photo/Thomas Woodson for EF Pro Cycling)

“It was by far the hardest ride I’d done,” he said. “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.”

Interested in following Morton’s progress the second time around? Track his route in real time as he rides.

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Andrew McLemore
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An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Cuenca, Ecuador, which he uses as a home base for adventures throughout the Americas. When he's not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he's hanging out with his dog Campana.