Real Talk on Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Jan 22, 2017 at 0:01
Jan 22, 2017
by Ben Aylsworth  
 
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"Bikepacking?" I asked. "What the hell is that?" "It's like canoe-tripping but you carry everything on your bike," Mike replied. "Sounds stupid," I responded.

And boy was I right....

Perhaps it was the fact that we'd never done a day of bikepacking in our collective lives. Or maybe that we chose the rather intense Colorado Trail as our first foray into the world of bikepacking... and then to do it in 10 days. But man 'o man bikepacking is dumb as hell. Which is exactly why we loved it. Loved the shit out of it. If you're thinking of doing this trip, let this be a warning to you. You're gonna have an amazing time. But you're probably going to spend more of the day riding (or walking) your bike than you want to. And, if you're like me, shit your pants because you ate a burrito for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Silverton. (Honestly, I thought it was a fart.)

The following video tells the story of three Canadians; Jonny Bath, Michael Bain and myself. Like you, we live to ride our bikes. But we're regular non-sponsored joes (full disclosure I did get a pro-deal from Canfield Bros... but to be honest I think it was a mistake - suckers!). Did I mention the video is 30 minutes long... you'll probably want those back.

Enjoy!


And here's the somewhat repetitive slideshow that usually follows these Pinkbike posts:

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
The conspiracy behind Denver's International Airport is cray cray. This is Blucifer. He murdered his human father. True story.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
First stop.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
A somewhat blurry photo of a blurry memory. Mile 0.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
Learning curve was steep.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
The setup. Mostly Relevate Designs stuff.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
The Colorado Trail kills for scenic pees. PS look at his triceps flexing! You know that chamois is tight when...

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
Roadies we ain't. There are 6 Wilderness Zones with mandatory detours for cyclists. We took full advantage of hitchhiking.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
He's single ladies... just kidding. Wife, three kids, two dogs and a cat. Move along.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
Availability of trees dictated tent set up. This 1 x tree set-up was our go to if only one tree was available.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
If pushing your bike for hours isn't your thing cancel your trip.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
Taintenance was our number one priority.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
Getting to this point involved the most prodigious hike-a-bike we've ever experienced.

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
Wanna get high?

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail
Bikepacking the Colorado Trail


MENTIONS: @SnM-Ben / @CanfieldBrothers

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56 Comments

  • + 16
 Great job - anytime your audience is eager to share your misery, you've achieved something special. It's really impressive that you captured much of the highs & lows without any tag-along photog/crew... I hope this inspires others to try. I'm inspired for sure!
  • + 3
 I was worried about the extra 5 lbs it added to my load but agree it was worth it. Thanks for watching Smile
  • + 5
 If you have never done a trip like this then you are missing out.. Patience is required as there is alot of hike a bike, but you will be rewarded with a remarkable experience bar none. I have been fortunate to do some bikepacking in the Lakes Basin area or Nor cal.. unforgettable.. epc adventure great fishing incredible star action...
  • + 9
 Type 2 fun
  • + 4
 I can't wait to do this trip. For anyone that really knows this route (bear in mind I've never ridden any of it- bEAST coaster here) would a hardtail be sufficient for most the riding or is this definitely full suspension territory?
  • + 9
 if you're used to riding a hardtail on the beast coast, then you can ride a hardtail here. CO trail isnt the smoothest bit of trail in the state, but it's a hell of a lot smoother than most of what's out east. From a CT native now living in CO.
  • + 4
 That said i'd personally choose a light "trail" (~120-140mm) bike for this adventure
  • + 4
 Definitely doable on a hard tail, perhaps more effcient across 500+ miles too.
  • + 6
 We had two hard tails and one full squish for this trip (all 29ers). Our take-away was the hard tail was ideal. There's one section, Sergeant's Mesa, which fully sucked on a hard tail.. there's no footage of that in the video because I was too miserable to take out the camera. (Which I know is the right time to take out the camera but sometimes you've just got to hammer it out Smile
  • + 5
 Hard tail makes it easier to carry stuff in my experience. You won't be shredding 50mph with all that crap hanging off anyway. Plus a HT is way more efficient in the brutal climbs. But then again, some of the climbs out here are so brutal with a loaded bike that it's more efficient (calorie burning wise) and just as fast to just hike-a-bike. Another reason why I prefer flats with Five Tens for bikepacking out here. Kudos guys. I've yet to do the whole thing. Too worried about the wilderness bypasses, but glad to see it's pretty easy to hitch hike.
  • + 3
 I think you could go either way... I did it on a 150mm "enduro" bike this summer, and had a blast. That being said, I was passed by some dudes on hardtails, and even one fully rigid bike, and they were having a good time too. Some decents (like Breck-Copper) do get rowdy when loaded with gear, but certainly do-able on a hardtail. Except for Seargents Mesa. That's just unpleasant on anything.
  • + 6
 I accompanied Ben on this hilarious shit show (literally -- he's not joking about those Burritos. That field of columbines will never be the same...) I say ride the bike you like to ride. Ben and I both rode hardtails, but fairly aggressive ones (him Canfield, me a Last Fast Forward). When you can't drop your seat, or even get behind it, you need to trust your bike. Unless you want to walk. Which we never did. Downhill.

And I swear the slack head angle made it easier to push. Which we did a lot of.
  • + 2
 I did it this summer on my Cannfield nimble nine. The hardtail allows for more storage on the bike so you can get it off of yourself which is a big plus. The girl that I did it with also had a hardtail and we were able to pass some weekend warriors on their FS bikes (got to the monarch crest part of the trail on a saturday where you have a lot of riders paying for shuttle rides to the top from Salida).

No matter what you decide on it is brutal at times and absolutely spectacular.
  • + 2
 @SnM-Ben: Oh, Sargents Mesa - What a kick in the teeth. Awesome video, guys. I CT'd last summer, and your sentiments and struggles resonant so hard. Even though it brings back all of my memories of HAB and sleet and lightning, is it strange that it makes me want to go back? Thanks for sharing.
  • + 1
 @Toriminertori: lol... I remember having to peddle Sergeant's Mesa on the downs- it was so janky. And totally agree, the more that time passes the more I block out the effort and remember the joy. I guess that's how women have a second child lol. Thanks for watching.
  • + 4
 It's videos like these that make me focus out of reality and into planning my getaway to colorado for life.. great job bys, glad a bear didn't catch you... now back to reality. Cheers!
  • + 6
 All hail Blucifer!

Oh, and I'm stealing your word... "taintenance" - Instant classic!
  • + 2
 I was on the trail at the same time as you, just a couple days ahead. Great video! I admire the discipline it took to stop and take all that video/photos. I came off the trail with hardly any footage because I was too beat to stop and take any pics. Oh well, I enjoyed your footage.
  • + 2
 Amazing experience, well done boys. Hats off for keeping the laughing and joking around, if its not there, its not worth it. And...finishing it off with LCD soundsystem is pretty unreal. You made me add something to my bucket list, thanks for the sharing !
  • + 3
 Great video and photos, looks like you guys had an awesome time! I did the race last year and saw the three of you out there on segment 23 just a few hours before I made it to Silverton.
  • + 1
 Wicked, that leg into Silverton is ball busting. Stunning terrain but it beat us down lol. How was the race?
  • + 2
 @SnM-Ben: Quite the adventure, as you already know. It definitely was a ball buster, seg. 22 and 23 felt like it went on forever, but I cant complain as it was the most beautiful section of the whole trail. @18:45 I was the rider that dropped into that rocky section right after. Would have loved to stop and chat but I was rushing to make it to Silverton before the grocery store closed.
  • + 1
 @kyle10bike: Totally remember. Amazing that you remember but not surprising. We saw so few other people, riders especially, out on the trail. That remoteness is just another reason to love the experience. Thanks for reaching out!
  • + 2
 That was INCREDIBLE! Amazing feat physically and mentally. I loved the video and that it wasn't a professional, done-up epilogue. Made it seem so much more real and relate-able.
  • + 3
 Great video- I enjoyed it quite a bit. The editing of the rider in the meadow advancing with the drum beats was a cool touch.
  • + 1
 Thank you!
  • + 2
 This looks like a misery fest mixed with the best time of your lives! I did the COBDR www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkS-XI4w61s two years ago and am in awe that you can pedal (or push!) a mountain bike! Bad ass!!
  • + 3
 Judging by the photo captions, looks like it went perfectly. The best rides are all about adventure, torture, and continual snarkiness.
  • + 2
 Epic fn stupidity! Jonny gets the the win for manualing his monster truck @ 4:48. Ben; you should cross post this to hiking.com. Great video edit!
I love you guys!
  • + 2
 Thanks Tim. Miss ya. The sad part is that was a pretty good manual for me...
  • + 3
 Never - and I mean NEVER - look into Blucifer's red glowing eyes!. Especially before a flight.
  • + 3
 That was an amazing vid! Well edited. This is what it's all about. Good job PB for posting this.
  • + 3
 Thank you! I agree. I wasn't sure it was going get past their editors... happy that it did! (Thanks Pinkbike!)
  • + 2
 That rear tire pic, looks like a Minion SS! Great tire, glad you used it on that trail! My friends hate it though, whenever they follow I throw a pretty good rooster tail.
  • + 2
 Awesome! Some serious miles and climbing but the scenery and memories are worth it! Great ride and nice vid
  • + 1
 Thank you!
  • + 2
 Great video Ben. You did a great job of capturing both the beauty and camaraderie of your trip.
  • + 1
 Thanks! Smile
  • + 2
 Revelate bags. Not Relevate. Just correcting so people can actually search their stuff. It really works well.
  • + 1
 Sorry. My bad. Agreed it's amazing.
  • + 2
 Hell yeah. We rode it two summers ago. Like you said, the learning curve is steep haha. Awesome!
  • + 3
 what month was this trip?
  • + 2
 We flew into Denver on the 22nd of July and flew out on 2nd of August. Seemed like an ideal window although typically I think this is the Monsoon season. We got lucky with almost zero rain.
  • + 3
 @SnM-Ben: Yep, for some reason we didn't have a monsoon season last summer.... usually those dates are smack dab in the middle of it!

Great writeup, I'm not sure if you helped or hurt the reasoning inside my head to do this trip at some point!
  • + 2
 Two thumbs up for July Talk and Hey Rosetta!!
  • + 2
 Totally inspired me. Going to round up my buddies now.
  • + 1
 Good luck! Smile
  • + 2
 Watched the whole thing! Awesome!
  • + 2
 That was super inspiring, great video, thanks guys!
  • + 3
 Fuck yeah!
  • + 3
 That was awesome.
  • + 2
 I was curious as to what tires you all used?
  • + 2
 I believe two of us used Conti Trail King 2.4s. Handled the trail like a champ. I don't remember what the third bike used.
  • + 2
 Ben is devoted to Conti Trail King 2.4 ProTection; Jon is the Maxxis man SS Minion 2.3 EXO in the rear (can't remember what was up front); I ran Specialized Butcher/Purgatory 2.3 GRID. Veteran riders we hit up for advice recommended beefier sidewalls - definitely a good call and one less thing to worry about. We each carried one tube in our kits but thankfully didn't have to use any!
  • + 2
 @mhb1970: I had a Maxxis 2.4 Ardent TR EXO Moar Acronyms up front. Fast rolling combo.
  • + 1
 Awesome Guys !! One for the ages.

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