Though-Biking the Colorado Trail


Jan 3, 2010
S. California
Greetings Monkeys,

I will be through-biking the Colorado trail, from Denver to Durgano this summer. As this is one of my first long-distance, solo camping adventures with my bike, I have a lot of questions that maybe you can help me with.

First and foremost, has anyone here through-biked the trail in this direction? If so, please send me a PM or post your experiences here-- they would be greatly, greatly appreciated. I have found a few blogs around the interwebz that give me a good idea of what it will be like, and I have been hiking and camping all my life, so some solid time with my maps has given me a pretty-solid picture, but I'd love some first hand advice.

I'll be trying to keep the weight in my panniers less than 25lbs total if I can manage it-- my first question being, besides the obvious (tent, stove, sleeping pad, tubes/pump etc.) what would you consider essentials for distance-biking? It should probably be noted that I'll be stopping in 4 towns over the course of the 500 miles, and will be taking my time (probably looking at 18-20 days, including some days off of biking to hike a few 14ers). I have some ultralight gear, including my solo-tent and stove, but also have a fair budget to invest in anything that might be deemed necessary.

Finally, if any Monkeys want to meet up along the way, I'll be stopping in some major locales and would love to spend a day riding trails without my gear if anyone wanted to meet up for some good riding and a beer. As of now, I will be stopping for maildrops and possibly a night in a real bed in Frisco/Breckenridge, Buena Vista, Lake City and Silverton.

Any and all advice is welcome, thanks monkeys :thumb:

The Toninator

Jul 6, 2001
High(ts) Htown
Unfortunately I did not get to do the whole thing. I was training for a 24hour solo race and messed up my good knee. After a few weeks of prepping for the Colorado Trail I realized I wasn’t healthy enough to do the whole thing and bring all of my gear to camp along the way.
So I modified the plan to go solo unsupported from Denver to Twin Lakes but stay at a hotel/motel each night. For gear I had a Camelbak 1500ci RimRunner.
CT quick map book, Colorado road map (for bailout routes)
GoreTex rain jacket and pants
1 set ‘normal’ cloths synthetic very lightweight and lightweight flipflops
1 biking shorts, jersey, undershirt, arm warmers, leg warmers
2 tubes, patches, pump
Multi tool
sram qucklinks, 3 full chain links
Travel thing of sunscreen
Tiny travel bottle of chamois butter
Emergency Blanket
Cellphone, ID credit card, insurance card with emergency contacts taped to it.
Band-Aids and various smallish knickknacks.
Section 1 of the ct was nice, struggled on section 2 (very high heat that day, high altitude, exposed, and forest fire.) Bailed after section 2 and got a ride to Bailey.
Intended to bike Kenosha to Breckinridge but felt I wasn’t prepared for the massive day off road so I bailed and took the road down to Fair Play and back up to Breck. Still a nice day but regret not being able to do that section.
Next riding day was from Beck to Copper Mountain via the hike and bike then got back on the CT over Copper Mountain back down to Leadville. Massive day, massive rain, awesome hugh day. Loved it.
Final couple of days were pretty easy. They had just cut some new trails on the CT/Divide from Elbert down into twinlakes. Nice ride.
Had a friend in from texas pick me up and we rode Monarch Crest a couple of days later and some mild stuff in Crested Butte.
Any questions feel free to ask and have a great trip!
If you haven’t checked it out look for the Colorado Trail Race. Should be some good info from those guys on the trip and whatnot.


Jan 3, 2010
S. California
Wow, thanks Toninator!

I'll be riding my Felt Nine Pro. It was hard to find a rack that would fit both disc brakes and a 29'er-- I found a Topeak rack called the Super Tourist that fits pretty well, leaving my tire a good inch of clearance even when weighted down with all of my gear.

As of now, my gear list is essentially as follows. Let me know if you think anything is overkill or if I am missing anything.

1 Cat's Meow Sleeping Bag
1 Mountain Hardware 'Sprite 1' Solo Tent, Freestanding
1 set of "normal clothes" (lightweight shirt, shorts, flip-flops, maybe a pair of comfy boxers)
2 sets of biking clothes (1 padded shorts, 1 padded pants w/ zipoff legs, 2 lightweight shirts [one longsleeve, one short], 2 pair socks, 1 pair riding gloves)
Emergency clothes (Gore-Tex rain-jacket and pants, balaclava, emergency blanket)
1 SnowPeak Giga camping stove w/ 3 small canisters (30min cooking time/each) per segment, will be shipping myself more at 3 points during the trip
1 small Chamois Butt'r
1 Multitool
6 Extra chain links (SRAM quicklinks)
2 29'er heavy-duty tubes
1 patchkit with 6 patches and ample vulcanizing gel
1 small sunscreen
1 small Doc Bronners (toothpaste, shampoo, dishwasher)
1 bottle Iodine tablets and neutralizer
Food, mostly dehydrated meals and grains, some granola for on-trail energy, and a few days worth at a time of my home-made energy gel
1 first aid kit (antibiotic, bandages etc.)
1 copy of the CT trailbook
1 GPS receiver with 1,000 waypoints
Cellphone, ID card, Insurance etc.
A good book and a camera

The remaining concerns I have are:

Hydraulic disc brakes. I am very comfortable fixing cable-drawn disc brakes, but worry that I could find myself on the trail, perhaps in low temperature, with seized up or malfunctioning hydraulic disc brakes (they are Deore XT) and have trouble fixing them on-trail. Should I be carrying a bleed kit?

GPS. How well-marked is the trail? Should I expect to have to use my GPS frequently, or would I be alright entering every-other-waypoint and using a TOPO? I have been camping and navigating by map and compass all my life, but this is a new trail and I'll be solo so I'd like to be as safe as possible.

Camera. I have been using my iPhone for pictures for the past year or so and do not have a functional camera. I would like something of higher quality, with a longer battery life (though I may end up bringing a solar charger with me), and light/compact (i.e. no Digital SLRs). Any suggestions?

Thanks for the help so far, I'll keep you all updated on my progress as I prepare and finish planning.
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The Toninator

Jul 6, 2001
High(ts) Htown
Sorry, my brain is totally scattered today very busy but your trip is very interesting.
Water Tabs and neutralizer – great. Maybe some cheese cloth to filter oot the mud, dirt, twigs and wiggly things before it goes into whatever your going to use to drink from before you purify it.
Maybe a small note pad and pen. I brought my sony wsc50 with me and did not have to charge the battery because i just didnt use it that much.
I just used the trail maps. On all of the parts I was on the trail was just plane ole blazed out hiking/biking trail. I had a little problem finding the trail head at copper mountain but it really is just at the end of the golf course on the right just past the fence. Trust them :) but I cant really speak for the whole thing.