When the pandemic put Durango, Colorado, resident Payson McElveen‘s typical race schedule of mountain bike and gravel events on hold, he shifted focus to discovering the bike in new ways. From Everesting on 100-percent singletrack in May, to linking 100 miles of Crested Butte trail in a day for an upcoming Matchstick Productions film, he found himself intrigued by riding farther and further.
In late September, sandwiched between an early season winter storm and the rapidly dropping temperatures of changing seasons, Payson found a window to strike out on his first bikepacking adventure–the Colorado Trail from Durango to Denver. Despite a lack of experience, Payson was inspired to cover the 530 mile route as fast as he could, and spent two weeks taking a crash course in equipment, strategy, and preparation required to do a record-attemping FKT (fastest known time) on the route. Despite generous guidance from many bikepacking veterans, Payson learned that there is no substitute for experience. On a ride that took him through a roller-coaster of discovery and pain, the experience rendered from his first bikepacking adventure ultimately left him wanting more from this newfound passion.
Check it out below! If you think you can do better, do it before Payson does.
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