We’re coming for you, Arizona! During the recent cold snap that engulfed our country, Adam and I looked into flights and dates for our upcoming Arizona Trail bikepacking trip. The Arizona weather – and cycling – had us dreaming for April to arrive. We’ve opted for a one-way flight because we both have some flexibility on our return and our general schedule for the trail. We really don’t know how far we’ll make it or how fast it will take us and the last thing we wanted was to have some imposing deadline looming over us. Heck, maybe if we’re really moving well we can simply keep cycling up to Salt Lake City, UT to fly out!
As February comes to a close, we are realizing we still have a few more things to figure out.
- Should I get a new sleeping bag? The one I have is lovely but it’s definitely a warmer, 3-season bag. Having a 2-season bag would sure scrunch up smaller…but they aren’t cheap!
- Do we bother with a new pot set? We have our old, MSR pot setup which is completely still functional. At over 10 years old, it has definitely stood the test of time (and use!). The new ones are titanium and so much lighter…but do we really need a new set? It seems like such a waste.
- How big of a pack should we take? We’re going to have most of our gear attached to our bikes but will each carry some type of pack with hydration set-up on our backs. I’d like to keep things as minimal as possible, especially on our backs. Of course, this question leads to the bigger question of “Why haven’t you done a mock pack yet?”. I dunno…lazy?
- Little snack bags for our handlebars – I call them feedbags. They mount on your handlebar for easy access to small food items or a water bottle or anything else in that size range.
- Water bottle cages for our forks – need to get them ordered and mounted to carry extra.
- Getting to trail head is still a bit of a mystery for us. The official start is in a non-biking area and a 2.6 mile hike each way plus access to the trailhead from Tucson has to be arranged.
Not worrying about food for this trip and counting on resupplying along the way (gas station burritos…!) sure take a lot of the stress out of planning. It is definitely something that I’ve learned throughout my travels in the US: resupply is easy! With towns available on a regular basis, there is no need to be carrying a week’s worth of food. We anticipate being in a spot with a food resupply about every 3 days and water much more frequently.
We’ve watched as many YouTube videos as possible on the AZT (you know, for research!) and are simply stoked. We’ve looked at elevation profiles, distances, and trail reports as much as we can without driving ourselves nuts. What has been interesting is comparing distances and elevations to local or other well-know rides we do. For example, the first section (from the Mexico border) on one app we have shows us 69 km and 1,400 m of climbing. In comparison, our local epic trail, the Seven Summits, is a 30 km trail but also involves 1,400 m of climbing. Same amount of elevation/climbing but one is less than half the distance. And we do that in the 5-6 hour range versus the 10-12 hours we’ll have on the trip. Of course, the trail will probably be much looser with steeper climbs, plus the added complication of being on loaded bikes to throw off our balance; we know that going into this with too much confidence can be just as devastating to a person as going in without any confidence. But going through and seeing these types of stats helps us realize that were are likely quite capable of this, at least in a technical riding sense. The biggest unknown will be my health and that is, quite frankly, something I do not have complete control over. I’m doing my best to mitigate risk factors (ensuring sun wear and that I’m in decent physical shape before starting) but who knows!
We have our bikes. We have our packs. We have our gear. And now we have our flight down. What else is there?