Words by Maxx Chance with Photos by Kurt Refsnider 

Bike packing is so hot right now, and I am stoked to be the newest one to jump on the bandwagon. I was thinking about what might be the right kind of trip to jump into, maybe a quick weekender, maybe something longer and more committing. I wasn’t sure what my first bike packing trip was going to look like, all I knew is that I wanted to do one before the summer was over.

Luckily for me, I was invited to join a trip on the Colorado 14ers loop with professional Ultra runner, Hillary Allen, and Bike packing badass/guru/doctor Kurt Rufsnieder. The trip would be 250 miles in the Arkansas Valley of Colorado, with five 14ers along the way. Kurt would ride them, Hillary would run them, I would do a mix of both, and we would connect it all by bike on the Colorado trail and other trails and dirt roads. Did I know what I was getting myself into, NOT AT ALL. Sounds like a good time to me, sign me up!

I could go on and on and on about this trip, it was one for the books. So I will try to sum it up. Here are my takeaways from the trip:

  • The Colorado Trail is a gravel route
  • When in doubt, try.
  • Always bring a spare derailleur hanger…(or have an amazing mom who will drive you a replacement bike on her day off)
  • Rain makes the forests beautiful, but it makes you very wet.
  • Coffee stops are amazing
  • Just because it looks like you can “just add water” doesn’t mean that it is a “just add water” meal
  • Good friends, smiles, and laughter can get you pretty damn far.
  • The mountains are amazing
  • Never let Kurt take you to his “Happy Place”

The trip was amazing, the valley is beautiful and summiting 14ers is a great way to experience the mountains and feel small yet powerful. The trip was not without setbacks. I broke a derailleur hanger and had to switch bikes, we barely slept one night as rain flooded the ground under our mid, and it snowed on mosquito pass the afternoon we were going to head up. But the key is surrounding yourself with good people, being flexible, and having a good attitude. Things always turn themselves around and you might just finish the trip on time and before the afternoon rain sets in.

Till the next one,