Highs and Lows on the Colorado Trail: A Bikepacking Story

Colorado Trail Narrative – Take Two

It was only a matter of time until my longtime summer adventure partner Andy Brubaker outdid me with a Colorado Trail video of his own.  Andy put together a 30 minute video, complete with a map of each day’s route, narrative talk-over, and superior video editing skills in his parallel telling of our ride together this summer.  Check out the video below, and if you get a chance, check out his blog – Midwest Adventure Report – while you’re at it.

Categories: Pedals and Packs

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15 replies »

  1. So happy to find this blog post! Two friends and I are considering riding the Colorado Trail Race in 2018 and although this might be a tough question to answer, do you think a rigid bike would do okay? From your video, it looks like at least one of you is on a full-suspension bike and both of you have suspension forks.

    Also, it looks like you are running FAT tires, are those 27.5+ bikes?

    I have a lot of experience racing a fully-rigid single speed but I suspect giant tires would help regardless of whether or not you had suspension. Especially if you did not. 🙂



    • Hey Martin,
      You nailed it with the bike choices we went with: Andy was on a full-suspension Kona Hei Hei and I was on a 27+ hardtail – a Why S7.

      I personally would NOT recommend trying to ride the trail on a rigid bike. There are a lot of CHUNKY descents and I could see wrist problems and general body wear and tear being way more likely on a rigid bike. Because the CT is not a conventional MTB trail (it’s a hiking trail that allows bikes on most of it), many of the sections are just plain jarring on the body. That being said, if you like the efficiency of a rigid bike and historically are not injury-prone, maybe you could pull it off. I think the general consensus on the trail is to go the full-suspension route though, so you’d definitely be an atypical exception if you showed up to the race with a rigid bike. Let me know what you ultimately decide!

    • I considered riding rigid on my partial northbound this year (460 miles in 8.5 days) but was very glad that I didn’t. There are lots of brutal, chunky descents. I was sore enough with a 100mm fork and Ergon grips! A fat front tire would help ameliorate the rigid suffering to some extent, but then you’d have to pedal all that extra rotational mass on the soul-sucking wilderness detours … next year, I’m strongly considering full-squish for CTR.

      • Yeah, I agree Fritz. Full suspension might be the best way to go, although the purist in me thinks that if I ever do race the CT, I’ll stick with my tried and true hardtail, granted it’s a very ‘plush’ hardtail with 27+ tires. And I’d go out on a limb and say that 100mm up front is NOT enough suspension for the CT. I had 130mm up front which, in my opinion, was barely enough to handle some of the chunkier sections.

  2. Excellent video guys very entertaining some beautiful scenery and very good editing loved the variety of shots and I now want to buy a drone and incorporate it into my videos for that extra wow factor. Looks so much better dynamic with two people than my videos as a solo adventurer. Keep up the good work

    • Thanks Chris! The drone is definitely a fun enhancement for videos, but shop around, as weight becomes a factor when you’re carrying GoPros, cameras and drones, especially if the majority of your trips are solo. I’ll have to follow along with some of your adventures as well!

      • Yeah thanks for the advice. I’ve only done one bike packing trip so far but haven’t taken my camera gear yet only on hiking and kayak trips. I’m looking at the DJI spark because of the size and weight I’m also looking at some solar chargers to or are you better just getting more batteries or your gear and charge them up when in town.

      • I did solar chargers for road touring back in the day and honestly, I’d just go with spare batteries and an Anker battery charger (I use a 13,000mhz one I think). The solar chargers are bulky, usually heavy, and not very efficient. An Anker battery charger is VERY small and light in comparison, and can charge way more times and way more predictably. I’d read some comparison reviews on the subject first and see what sounds best for what you’re doing though Chris. Cheers.

  3. Great video – very inspiring! Thank you for sharing. Made me hungry watching you ration cliff bars! Awesome footage – just amazing. I am thinking of a 29+ hard tail for my attempt and will check out the Why bikes. Much appreciated!

    • There’s a lot of information out there on bikepacking.com as well as the Colorado Trail’s website for all things CT-related, Garrett, but I think that late June through August (maybe even into September) is a safe bet. In late June you’ll definitely still have some snow at the higher elevations, but that’s when we did it and things worked out just fine. Good luck planning!

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