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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 1:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:39 pm
Posts: 3290
Location: Ocean Beach
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Bike(s): Mojo3, Carver Ti, Delirium
Favorite Trails: Hmm........
Summary and final thoughts....

I was aiming for a finish time of 10-12 days, so I'm stoked it came within that. I wanted to see as much of the landscape as possible so I didn't plan to ride a lot at night. I liked the Denver to Durango direction. This gave me a few more days to acclimate as the route gained elevation. And it got sections I was less interested in out of the way first. The early parts were pretty awesome though, and much more rideable than the second half.

The section from Mt Princeton HS to Silverton was by far the hardest. Lots of tough climbing and hike-a-bike; even when rideable it was often rocky and technical. I could do without the Sargents Mesa/Mt Unnecessary moto day, but aside from that most of the trail is awesome. I'd like to ride the CT the opposite direction as well, it would be a whole different ride. And I'd like to do it more on race pace to see how much faster I could finish. This ride was more like fast touring. There were a few days I could have ridden later but most days I was completely whooped by the time I stopped. Aside from hiding out from lightning the storms I got hit by didn't slow me down much. I did stop early a few times when there was a storm threatening or visible up ahead, but I'd usually get up earlier to make up the lost time.

Overall stats -

589.8 miles total (includes ride from metro to Waterton Cyn), +77,605/-74,915 feet elevation gain/loss. Moving time 134hrs - moving average 4.3mph. My usual speed is around 5mph so this makes sense with overall steepness and elevation. Average per race day 53.6mi, +7,055/-6,810ft gain/loss.

Gear -

Bike is a mostly stock Transition Spur. Replaced tires right before CT with Minion DHF and Aggressors. XT brakes. Drivetrain was GX Eagle with 32T ring and 10-52 cassette. I had planned to use a 28T ring but never got around to swapping it in. The 32 was ok, the elevation would usually get me before I ran out of power or traction.

I had a custom frame bag made by Rogue Panda. Revelate Pronghorn handlebar bag and an assortment of smaller bags on bar, downtube etc. For the rear I picked up an Old Man Mountain rack that carried a dry bag with my sleeping bag, pad and tent. I can't use a seat bag at all on this bike, not even a tiny one. The rack worked out really well. I do need to make some minor tweaks to it, but I will definitely use it again. Not only could I carry the gear I needed, but I was also able to make full use of the dropper post.

I had no real mechanicals aside from the bent rotor on the last day, and only two gear issues. First was the Katadyn befree filter. For some reason the flow slowed from its normal gush to a similar speed of a Sawyer mini right at the start of the trip. It still functioned but it was really annoying, and no amount of shaking or swishing would improve the flow.

The second was the rear rack. Or rather, my packing of dry sack on that rack. The rack itself was rock solid. Whenever the dry bag hung over the end of the rack, it would bounce up and down with every bump on the trail. It didn't impact the ride but the sound was really annoying. I tried rearranging the straps many times and nothing worked. There are no good lash points on the rack to hold a strap in place so the bag could slide forward or back. I'll probably be drilling out some slots soon to help hold the straps and cargo in place better.

Food, water, logistics:

- water was a non-issue, there were streams running everywhere. You'd have to plan for water a bit more later in the summer.
- food - I did bring a stove and used some backpacker meals on the Buena Vista-Silverton section. Figured it would be colder than it ended up being and that I'd want hot food. Could have gotten by without it but it was nice to have.
- from start to Mt Princeton there was a resupply available every day, although due to covid hours many places weren't open late as their stated hours
- camped out every night. Places like Buena Vista were super busy and I'd heard rooms anywhere were $300/night minimum. Where's motel 6 when you need it??
- did laundry once at Leadville, had showers that day and swims a couple other days on the ride
- mailed stuff home from Buena vista - extra clothes I'd brought expecting more rain, and a few things I hadn't used

I didn't see as many other bikepackers as I expected. Non-racers seem to mostly go Denver-Durango so they would have been out there, just pacing ahead of me so our paths didn't cross. Tons of thru hikers and backpackers though, I'd guess 30-50 per day. Some doing CT, some CDT and others doing Collegiate Peaks loop or section-hiking. Almost all of them were cool and just stoked to be out. "How's your hike going" could easily turn into a 5min conversation so I talked to a lot of them. It would have been cool to hang out with a lot of them more - the only downside to travelling faster by bike is you didn't see almost any of them again.

There's not much I'd change if I did the CT again. Pack lighter would be the main thing. I brought extra clothing expecting colder temps and more rain, so I ended up mailing some of that home. I wouldn't change my setup much. Definitely swap in the 28T ring. I'd get my dynamo hub built into a 29er wheel as well. Its nice to have that as you can use it to power a light for night riding.

Hard to say if I liked the CT more than AZT or not. They are both very different but memorable in their own way. I just wish I had more time to do both of them multiple times!

CT was harder than the AZT for me, even with its Grand Canyon portage. They each have similar elevation gain but the CT does it in 300ish fewer miles. And most of that is between 10,000-12,000ft. The AZT tops out around 9,400 or so. So the climbs were longer, more frequent and a lot more rocky on the CT with significantly more hike a bike. Storms are a threat throughout the ride. Most of the trail is rideable when wet so rain itself is not a show stopper, but lightning can be, especially above treeline.

The following 5 users would like to thank evdog for his or her post:
avidtest, Big Clyde, Dirtrider, Ld00d, OldDogDan
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 1:58 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 31, 2008 9:54 pm
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I was going to chime in with a mildly clever "nice marmot", but you beat me to it.

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