In 2017 I raced the Bikepacking Triple Crown consisting of the Arizona Trail Race (757 miles), Tour Divide (2745 miles), and Colorado Trail Race (538.9 miles).  I learned many  bikepacking lessons during those 4028 miles. Some were simple lessons that were easy to apply, while others tore me down and recovering from them was extremely hard.  As hard as they were I pushed on so I could bring you this list of things I learned.

Most noteworthy is that some of the bikepacking lessons are good for long races or short ones or in life in general.

To see some lessons others learned while on various trails checkout our post, the Most Common Mistakes Bikepackers Make.

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Bikepacking Lessons Learned

Arizona Trail

  • The first 3oo miles of the AZT are a beast.
  • Arizona can be just as hot in October as it is in April.
  • Be able to carry more water than you think you should be able to.
  • Hiking the Grand Canyon in cycling shoes is a terrible idea.
  • Drink more water than you think you should be.
  • You can hike the Mogollon Rim faster than you can bike it.
  • Even Rick James couldn’t keep rhythm in the Happy Jack section.

AZT sign - bikepacking lessons - Arizona Trail Guide - 2019 ARIZONA TRAIL RACE RIDER SURVEY

Tour Divide

  • Knowledge is power.
  • Your mind will give out before your body.
  • Don’t listen to your ego.
  • Towns will kill your finishing time.
  • It is possible to fall asleep on your bike.
  • Ziplocks don’t work to keep things dry.
  • Making it through week #1 doesn’t mean you’ll make it all the way.
US / Mexico Border Tour Divide Finish bikepacking lessons - press release

Colorado Trail

  • You will walk even more than you thought you would.
  • Don’t over do it, listen to your body.
  • Know as much about the trail and your options as you can.
  • You will get caught in a thunder storm(s).
  • Test your set up multiple times before hitting the trail.
  • Storms move incredibly fast on the CTR, don’t under estimate Mother Nature, she can be a real bitch.
  • Mileage between towns is relatively short at times but it still takes a long time to actually get there.
Colorado Trail bikepacking Craig Fowler- Bikepacking lessons


Read these next or checkout the main resource page.

Gear lists from the AZT, TD and CTR; Pros & Cons; Things I’d do different; and Tips.

Stony Pass - Colorado Trail - Bikepacking - Hiking - Colorado Trail Dispatches
Cold-Weather-Bikepacking-Craig Fowler-Colorado Trail-How to


Arizona Trail Logo - pregnant triangle - One of Seven Project - Arizona Trail Guide - FINISH TIME CONTEST
Tour Divide/Great Divide MTB Route Logo - tour divide guide
Colorado Trail Logo- One of Seven Project - colorado trail guide
Kokopelli Trail Logo - Kokopelli Trail Guide - Bikepacking

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