Tag: bikepacking

Arizona Trail – Day 8 on a Mountain Bike

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April 15 – Finish

12:00 am Tortilla Mountain 3249 Feet above sea-level climbing switchbacks.

2:15 flat out near Kelvin Florence Highway Trailhead – Not like I was pushing it flat out, but my back tire had a flat bad enough to break out a tube. A sidewall gash is a perfect reason to stop drop and sleep. But before sleep, I needed to do some work. After a new tube was dropped into the rear tire it was time to cook.

Oats, apple, cinnamon, quinoa was on the menu. This was the last camp meal I had with me. I heated up my water, mixed it in the bag and placed it between my ribcage and my right elbow. The alarm clock was set for 2 sleep cycles. I fluffed my hydration pack, placed my head on it as the warmth of camp meal bag added comfort as I nodded off.

3:30 am ate a few bites of my camp meal and then was on the bike Rolling to the trailhead. I had a hope of something magical being in the lock boxes at the trailhead. It was full of empty bottles of water, empty bags of chips, empty this empty that. It wasn’t that I needed anything at that point in time. I knew from now until the end of the race there was one faucet and one dirty river water opportunity and no food. I closed the boxes and moved out. Next destination, water at the public works fence faucet.

The morning was crisp and chilly. I looked for a way to cherish it the best way I could. You want to cuss the cold while being thankful it is not blazing hot like it will be in a few hours. By 7:15 the sun had broken over the mountains and it was time to bask in the sunlight and brew a cup of Coffee. I mad soup out of what was left in my camp meal packet. That was the best Quinoa colored water a boy could ask for.

I inventoried and here is what I had

  • A few baby food packets
  • Some bee pollen,
  • Chia seeds
  • Dark chocolate.
  • I was saving my nun tablets and my beat elite powder for the muddy water of the Gila River.

It looked like I might have a thousand calories for today’s efforts. My food every 15 minutes was not going to happen today. For the math folks out there I’m 6’4 and require a base of 3200 calories a day if I’m sitting at a desk resting. Today is not going to be one of those resting days.

Coffee on the Arizona Trail
The Gila section was a big surprise. I’m not sure why more people are not riding out here. It hugged the side of the hill curving back and forth.

9:30 am – Last waterhole on the Gila – Mud river fill up.
I used the cleanest shirt I had and filtered the water going into my bottles. At a few spots, there were families playing on the other side of the river. It looked like a great spot to play all day. My day was looking up…. up 2,000 feet and then down to picket post.

Gila River - muddy

Gila River

4 pm Passed on Tally Tank – Biggest mistake I made in the race. By this point I was out of food.

With 10 miles to go, I flatted out and had to put a tube in. This left one last tube in my kit.

A few miles down the trail, the replacement tube went out with a bang and left me down in the dirt where my Coast flashlight jumped off my bike and dedicated itself to the AZT.  After 2 tubes I ran out of options and just started to push a flat bike to the end. I was running low on water but thought I could get to the end of the race ok.

The last water on the mountain bike trail

I picked up a 1/2 jug of water from a very suspect pool. The thinking was to have it if I need it. A wee bit longer and I treated it and started to drink it. Even though I was taking small sips, in time the water ran out.

Along the trail, I would pray and thank God for the opportunity I had to be where I was. Three short years before I was flushing chemotherapy out of my system and growing a new head of hair. This year I was hacking at completing the goal of making it to the end of the Arizona Trail 300 mile mountain bike race. There were people God had blessed me with that helped me get to that very spot. I gave him thanks daily for them.

He was looking out for me at the end of the race. I had a small nap before jumping into the Gila section. With little rest came slow reactions. I wasn’t sure why I sliced a tire and then proceeded to run out of extra tubes, but when I came walking around a corner to see a rattlesnake across the trail I knew exactly why I needed to be pushing and not riding a bike.

Rattlesnake - AZT

6:56 – Done

Gila River - muddy
Derrick Perrin Completing the AZT 300

DONE

There is no band, no cheerleaders, and no trophy for completing the AZT. In fact, if you get there before the 750 folks get there I would imagine they might heckle you for not riding “A real distance” I wouldn’t blame them. Ahead lies more miles for them than they have just ridden and you are on your way to Waffle House while they keep trucking.

In the end, I did get a trophy.
AZT 300 Trophy
My mother had picked up rocks along the way. She had all members of my family glue them up and now I have a trophy for my efforts.
Thanks Mom!

I owe a huge thank you to my wife, Kendra, for staying back and taking it in the face. Litteral puke in the face. Our 3 little ones were very unhealthy while I was on the trail. She is a rock-star mom and wife. I don’t expect for her to understand why anyone would want to get on a bike and ride off into the wilderness, but she gives me support to do it.
From fighting cancer to raising children, to working a business together there is no one I would rather have at my side. She is amazing day in, day out.

My final thank you goes out to the Ragan Family. They have been there for me and my family for years. Their son James opened doors for me that I never thought I would need to walk through.

2018 follow-up

I just saw my aunt Tish a few days ago. She is still recovering from her illness in Arizona.  Her Texas doctor was truly surprised to see her walk into his clinic. As he put it to her, “By reading your bloodwork I just knew you were going to die in Arizona”
Well my crazy aunt is still with us and we are happy.

AZT Wood Sign

Arizona Trail – Day 7 on a mountain bike

April 13 – Day Goal – Get off the Mountain

Steve and I hit the trail and it happened to be the wrong one.

Oracle Ridge, AZ

Oracle Ridge would be a pain in the tail at night. Since we were rested up it was not near as bad as I thought it would be. Here is some raw video from the ridge. Passage 12: Oracle Ridge

Oracle Ridge on a Mountain Bike

There were several downed trees on the ridge trail. About an hour in I was tired of them and thought if you remove one then that is one less hurdle for someone to cross when they are on this difficult passage. I put down the bike and with all my force chunked a tree truck down the mountain. I think it sort of shocked Steve.

Black and white photo AZT - Passage 12: Oracle Ridge
When you are on the Oracle Ridge section of the Arizona Trail you have to have tough clothing or tough skin. Some parts are wide open in all directions and others are narrow bushes and stunted trees that you have to force your way through. It felt like the plants were out to get you.

By noon we hit the Magic Gate. It wasn’t long and Steve needed to leave a deposit off the trail.

We continued our descent off of Mt Lemmon

The single track opened up to double track with a lot of down in it. I was riding fast and didn’t know I left the ground till I was back on it and my suspension compressed. Yep, with plenty of extra pounds on bike, I caught air coming off the mountain. I gave a big “woo” in celebration. When asked by Steve if I should go back and get it on film I quickly answered “No, I wasn’t trying to fly and wouldn’t be so lucky on the next attempt”

Brakes, please!  The down was shaky and shady so I stayed on my brakes to keep me from becoming ground beef. Hard breaking turned into break squeak to all our break scream. I had to pit and pull my tools out to put in my spare pads. Where are my tools you ask? They are in by LONE PEAK saddle bag. They are the first thing I put in the bag before packing it with everything else. You can see the gray back in the photo below.

Oracle Ridge MTB

Somewhere along the trail, we found people working on the Arizona Trail Passage 13 and we’re very thankful and let them know how much we appreciated the work they put in on the trail.

4:30 High Jinks Ranch Stop

An afternoon ride. are next to the main destination would be the watering hole at the high Jinks Ranch. Ever since reading about this ranch I was really looking forward to seeing it and making it a little water stop oasis.

Derrick Perrin resting at High Jinks RanchAfter arriving at the High Jinks Ranch I heard Steve talking about ditching the race. I really did not like this idea. You understand people are on the trail and pushing their bodily limits but you really want to see your fellow riders make it across the finish line. Sure you’re in competition and you want to be first place and you want to be the fastest and you want to be the most badass guy around but you also want the other people who are on the race to accomplish their goals as well.

The folks at the ranch were nice to offer hot water, coffee and a room to stay, or a place to tent. We probably hung out there for about 30 minutes cooking up a coffee and a warm camp meal. We used their facilities and then placed a small donation in the donation box and headed back out on the trail.

Steve boosted his energy level and got back on the bike. The American Flag Trail was nice to us. We seemed to make a good time as the sun was coming down.

It was 100% night as we approached 77. We heard my mom cheering for us as we came down the hill and under the highway.

At the trail’s intersection with Highway 77 I had a decision to make. The choice was to ride to picket-post with what I had on my bike or ride into Oracle for a Circle-K resupply. I chose to punch on and pass on getting food and batteries. Steve did the same.


Finding a campsite when sleep deprived is a pain. Sure you have been on a bike for 15 hours, but the term tired is relative when you are on the Arizona Trail.

We left Tiger Mine Trailhead and said goodbye to my mom who was there to cheer us on. Steve was about ready to quit and I kept prodding him on and on sometime around 9 we stopped for a hot meal and some coffee in hopes that we would ride all night.

By 11 Steve was looking to crash anywhere and I mean anywhere. Everything was looking really good to him. So we went ahead and found a spot right off of the trail. It seems that my camping spot was really close to a new cactus friend of mine. I backed into it and found a piece the size of a fist mounted on the back of my calf muscle. Steve yelled at me not to move anywhere and he came with his Leatherman tool and began to rip the spines out of my leg.

Derrick Perrin Cactus in Leg If I was tired when I first set up camp I was definitely not tired now. But I managed to set up camp and bed down it was a decent night sleep.

11:30 North Tiger Mine Campsite


Stay with me on the next day of the AZT

Green Gate towards Tucson.

Arizona Trail – Day 3 on a Mountain Bike

Somewhere around 2 I finally hit some single track. This cooled me down quite a bit. I kept on with my meal plan of eating something every 15 minutes. At some point, it began to be a struggle. Just the mental capacity and discipline of stopping and eating was not fun.

I missed the exit for twin lakes and had to backtrack to the road and make my way there. It was 3ish if I remember it correctly. I showed up with at least a 1L of water so I went thru the process of putting on all my layers but my 2nd pair of long johns, ripping open a pair of hot hands, blowing up an air mattress, slipping it into the bivy and then slipping me into my sleeping bag liner. I stopped moving and the cool of the night hit at the same time.

Note to future riders: Hot air rises, cold air drops. This is good to know because if you are sleeping in a valley or close to the water the cold air is coming for you. Twin Lakes has been a great goal the last two years, but I will not sleep there again.

All zipped up I started to hyperventilate. 2nd year, same spot, same symptom… what they hey! Once I realized the Kelty classic bivouac sack will not breathe I had to unzip and let some cold fresh air in. I didn’t know saving my life could be so easy.

Derrick Perrin at AZT - Twin Lakes

I figured by the time I got packed and rolling there would be a rider pulling into Picketpost. Congrats to Pete Basinger for the 2 days 13-hour win. You are a beast.

April 9 – Day Goal – Tucson Hotel

I’m not sure if I set an alarm or not. I do know that if I had not prepared my camp stove right outside my bivy, I’m not sure if I would have made it out before 10 am. The Colossal Cave was my next item to check off the map. I wanted to get there before the heat of the day. The plan was to rest in the heat of the day and buzz into Tucson around sunset.

AZT300/750 trail sign. I knew there was a lot of fun riding ahead and was very optimistic for the day. I had no idea of the magic that lies ahead. The trail takes a few detours to run underground.  The first is 83 and the 2nd is interstate 10. At 83 I stopped for a breakfast of Pink Salmon. There were clouds in the air that had me checking the weather radar often.

AZT 300 signAt Gabe Zimmerman, some sweet soul had a poster and two styrofoam coolers sitting trailside. You could see empty glass coke bottles sitting next to one. As I walked over to open these white treasure chest I could not hold back tears. You read trail reports and hear about trail angels and their magic, but this was my first experience. Thank you, whoever you are.

After the angel refuels stop, I was soon battling horse traffic on the Arizona Trail. Thou shall not spook the horses, but come on with the horse shit people. I ran into a pair of riders and they let me know the clouds were connected with the fires on Mt Lemmon. But no worries because the trails were open.

I took a nap at the group campsite near the cave. I quit here a year before. I spent 6 hours resting and cooling down. I knew I was going on and didn’t know how hard it was going to be making Tucson. It was not that bad after all.

Came off the trail and hit up IHOP and then crashed hard. Overnight I had laid out baby food packets and made sure to inhale one or two each time I got up for a bathroom break.

Move on to day 4 of the AZT

MTB - Kentucky Camp

Arizona Trail – Day 2 On A Mountain Bike

Around 2 am someone is waking me up. What the hell? This is a bed for one. It was Tish. She wasn’t talking to clear and when I asked if she was climbing into my bed she just mumbled and made herself at home. Long story short Becky was alarmed and a few moments later we called 911 thinking Tish was having dying on us. It freaked me out so it was in the truck and we headed off with my mom to the hospital in Sierra Vista.

I was taxed with the job of calling loved ones sharing the bad news.

Well, what about your race? They all asked.

To hell with the race, that old trail will always be there. I can come and ride it another time. I was seriously shaken up by the shape she was in.

We trailed the ambulance and fire crew to the hospital. The doctors ran some test, rehydrated and boosted up her potassium levels. Canyon Vista Medical Center 5700 E. Highway 90 Sierra Vista, AZ
After a few hours, she started to make complete sentences and could walk again. They ran a culture but would not have results for a few days so they let her go. She didn’t seem perfect, but she didn’t stroke out so I felt like continuing my effort on the AZT.

Day 1’s sidewall gash had grown a stalactite overnight. I noticed when I started riding and something was ticking the fork on every rotation. 

Orange Seal tire sealantWe traveled back to Xanadu so I could get back on the bike. A quick stop for a food order at The Chuck-wagon and I was off into the wind at 10:30 am. Despite the stroke scare, the trip to the hospital, and really slow food service, I was still ahead of the game by 3 hours.

Bikepacking gear at Kentucky CampI made it to Kentucky Camp and was hot. I went ahead and made camp behind the old building. I got some food and bedded down to get a little rest. It wasn’t long and a couple who was through riding the Arizona Trail wanted to chat. So we talked for awhile and I let them know about the microwave in the building. Yes, there is a microwave to heat water in the Kentucky Camp building. This was a blessing. So after a few Camp meals and some coffee, I headed off into the sunset. 3 hours spent relaxing in camp. When I left the camp a text came in from Steve saying he was 3 hours away.

Couple riding the AZT

And then it was dark again

Sometime after 8 p.m. I tore the plug out of my sidewall. I knew it was going to be a long night so I put in a tube. Every mile I Road got me closer to the bike shops in Tucson. It was a long night with a beautiful moon. Oftentimes I could turn off all lamps and just hike the bike with no light other than the moon. There were sometimes I thought I was going to be run over by deer that I would startle out of the bush.

Starlight photo AZT
This was the section that Steve and I tackled last year overnight. I kept on hearing him say in the back of my head there are only three little humps and we are over this big hill. Well, I counted three humps all night long. Somewhere around 2 I finally hit some single track. This cooled me down quite a bit. I kept on with my meal plan of eating something every 15 minutes. At some point, it began to be a struggle. Just the mental capacity and discipline of stopping and eating was not fun.

Move on do day 3 on the AZT

Arizona Trail – Day 1 on a Mountain Bike

April 7 – Start of the Arizona Trail Race

Friday – Race day Goal – No rest till Kentucky Camp
My mom had brought Cinnamon Rice Chex as a special breakfast treat. Thanks, mom!

Breakfast with a bike at the Xanadu Guest RanchWe packed up and made the drive from Sonoita, AZ to Parker Canyon Lake. I wasn’t the last person to show up, but I was cutting it really close. Aunt Tish didn’t make it out of the truck to wish me off. My mom, Becky, took a few photos and wished me well. After the standard prep talk from Scott, the pack is off.

Specialized Camber with frame bag

I give my last goodbyes and head off into the Canelo Hills. This year starting on time afforded me the opportunity to ride with a lot of different riders. A lot of riders complimented me on the Triumph Over Kid Cancer frame bag. This was a prime opportunity to let folks know why I was out on the trail.

Casper from Denmark and I seemed to play tag all through the east hills. Good news, I didn’t seem to have weak lungs like I did in this section of the ride last year.

AZT 750 rider Casper Ortvald

Casper Ortvald on day one of the Arizona Trail – 2017

A few miles in I learn that my bag test the day before was not thorough enough. I was questioned with a group of riders about a missing orange bag. Yes, I was the owner of the lost orange bag. I really didn’t believe the rider when they said someone had it and was bringing it up the trail. I had just put my bike down and was ready to head back down the trail when I saw Jeff Hanson and his wife Jennifer coming up to greet me with my handlebar bag. I was grateful.

Jeff Hansen - Arizona Trail 300

What is in the orange handlebar bag?

I had carried an extra niteze wire bungie and used it to secure the orange bag into place. Once setup this bag stays put for the rest of my ride.

bike packing handle bar bag

Riding in a group had its benefits and drawbacks. I had plenty of water and knew a waterhole was getting close. I wanted to be sure to always keep 1 liter of water until I made it to the next refuel stop. So I missed a water spot I used last year.

Water spot on the Arizona TrailIn the next mile, I found a small pool of suspect water. This water was not flowing so I used my tabs to treat it before loading it into my hydration pack and sending it through my Sawyer mini. I chose to put the Sawyer inline this year so I had immediate access to water. On my 2016 ride, there were too many times where the 35 min tablet wait was a pain to deal with. The Sawyer allowed me to scoop my bladder into a pool of water, hook up my water line and start to drink. This would also work as a gravity filter. I could just hang my bag in a tree and let it drop into my bottles.

Mountain bike riders hiding in shade

Riders on the Arizona Trail Race

By mid-day, I kept passing riders hiding in bushes. I couldn’t blame them. It was hot on the trail. Last year I hit Patagonia 5 minutes after the stores closed. This could not happen this year. The Canelo west trailhead hosted 4 or 5 resting riders.  one rider asked me something like “How’s it feel to kick the Canelos in the ass?” I let him know it was the other way around.

Canelos west meant fewer riders yet an easier ride despite the gusty winds. You get out on the trail and feel all alone. There might be riders out there but you don’t see or hear anything. Around 5 I hopped off trail to take care of some bush business.

If you are ever feeling lonely or need to see someone just stop  off trail for a #2 … someone will show up.

The need for water

Down Under Tank 03-035a (Mile 18) was my next water stop. I had a mission this year. I missed the cement damn with the pipe that feed off the bottom Trap Tank. It was a minor victory, but I was glad I found it. Very nice and cold water off the bottom of the stock tank. As I was topping off I met a fellow Texas rider named Don Schwieters (750). He quickly earned my respect for being a Tour Divide 2016 finisher with the time of 29:07:58. Congrats on that achievement Sir. Don’s AZTR750 time was 13:08:25. Congratulation on that achievement also.

Down Under Tank 03-035a arizona trail
Don Schwieters at Down Under Tank
Don Schwieters

Evaporative Cooling – My best friend in the desert

If I was stopping for water I would fill up to capacity and then work on cooling off my body. My hometown is so humid I never get to take advantage of the body’s natural ability to cool itself. On the trail I got into a routine of taking off my long sleeve shirt, soaking it in water and putting it back on. I would also wet my hair to enjoy the cooling effect. This helped me lower my body temp so I could push on in the heat of the afternoon.

Water trough on the Canellos section of the AZT
The Down Under Tank water held me all the way to the corrals at Red Bank Well 03-068 Mile 21 when I met Don for the 2nd and last time. He was off to conquer the 750.

Front wheel off of my bike

The Canellos – Translation – what bicycle tire nightmares are made of.

Mile 20.5 – sidewall gash – Orange Seal to the rescue. This was larger than my cut from last year. Stan’s couldn’t seal that one, so I knew a tube was in my near future. Orange Seal, do your thing to my front tire, please. I really didn’t want to use up a spare tube and lose my sealant setup. I pulled my front wheel and placed it where the cut was face down in the dirt. I was hoping the dirt from the outside and the sealant from the inside would make a bond. It did and I was back on the trail. I strolled off the trail to a mine opening and waited for the fix to work.

It worked! After pumping a bit more air in I was back on the trail. It wasn’t long before my slacker riding got me in trouble. It was just a little sidewall rub but it was at the perfect spot to rub off my dirt seal. Once again, off the bike yanking a front wheel out of the forks while pulling for a superglue pack. Waiting for the glue to set I kept placing bets in my head of how long this might last.

Canellos West

Getting back to civilization

The ride to Patagonia was pleasant. I was a bit surprised when the trail ran out and I was on the blacktop. All this happening when the sun was still up. Wow.

The women with the white dress on?

As I was on the blacktop heading into town I saw a greenhouse farm and then looked up to see an angelic woman walking in my direction. This same scene was repeated a 1/2 mile later. So if someone knows where the ladies in all white are going please let me know. It was intriguing to me.

In Patagonia, mom and aunt were ringing a bell and cheering me on. Well, my mom was, my aunt didn’t seem herself. Not at all.

Once in town, hit up the Velvet Elvis for a large hot plate of spicy spaghetti.

Derrick Perrin at Velvet ElvisIt was a surprise to see how many riders came into town why I was sitting there eating. The Hansens had the same Velvet Elvis craving.

Next door, the Mercantile had a few rides hanging out cursing the Conelos, but today it was not the Conelos that was the problem but the heat.`As riders would come to the store I would hop up from the restaurant and go trade war stories. I was hoping my 2016 riding buddy Steve would show up. He never showed up. 

bikepacking the AZT300

After night fall

My sidewall gash was letting air out of my tire but I chose to air it up and ride to Sonoita, Arizona. Becky and Tish were staying another night at the Xanadu Guest Ranch and I knew it was an option for good rest. During my 12 mile ride to Sonoita, I had made a change of plans. Sleep 3 hours at the ranch and then head out to Kentucky Camp. I made the ranch 3 hours earlier than I did the year before.

I walk into the room and quickly notice it feels like an inferno. Tish was shivering and could not get warm. Mom pulled me to the side and said she had booked Tish on the first flight to Texas the next morning. They tried to get into a clinic but couldn’t get an appointment.

Overall I was feeling good at this point. I grabbed a shower and put on my camp clothes. It was bedtime. Around 2 am someone is waking me up. What the hell? This is a bed for one. It was Tish. She wasn’t talking to clear and when I asked if she was climbing into my bed she just mumbled and made herself at home. Long story short Becky was alarmed and a few moments later we called 911 thinking Tish was having dying on us. It freaked me out so it was back in the truck and we headed off to the hospital in Sierra Vista.

I was taxed with the job of calling loved ones sharing the bad news.

Well, what about your race? They all asked.

To hell with the race, that old trail will always be there. I can come and ride it another time. I was seriously shaken by the shape my aunt was in.

We trailed the ambulance and fire crew to the hospital. The doctors ran some test, rehydrated and boosted up her potassium levels. Canyon Vista Medical Center 5700 E. Highway 90 Sierra Vista, AZ
After a few hours, she started to make complete sentences and could walk again. They ran a culture but would not have results for a few days so they let her go. She didn’t seem perfect, but she didn’t stroke out so I felt like continuing my effort on the AZT.

Day 1’s sidewall gash had grown a stalactite overnight. I noticed when I started riding and something was ticking the fork on every rotation. 

Orange Seal tire sealantWe traveled back to Xanadu so I could get back on the bike. A quick stop for a food order at The Chuck-wagon and I was off into the wind at 10:30 am. Despite the stroke scare, the trip to the hospital, and really slow food service, I was still ahead of the game by 3 hours.

bikepacking the AZT300

Finished – How one man lied, cheated, and stole his was to completing the Arizona Trail Race

Derrick Perrin on bike

Things didn’t work out as planned this year, they never do. Never! In 2016 everyone around me was healthy and I tapped out of the (Arizona Trail Race) AZT300 due to an illness. Jump to 2017, I’m healthy and everyone around me is sick.

On one hand, planning, workouts, sponsorships came together perfectly, and then there was chaos falling apart in the opposite direction.

It takes me back to my chemotherapy treatment days. For every victory out there, there was something kicking you in the nuts trying to break you.

Every decision had a bad effect on someone.

I had a mission to go and complete this race and dedicate it to the memory of James A. Ragan.


My family was not going to make the trip to Arizona so I offered up a seat to my aunt Tish. She jumped onboard and me, my mom and my aunt took off west.

Mountain bike on a suv rack

April 5

Balmorhea, Texas to Sonoita, Arizona. We made one pit stop in El Paso, TX to pick up a new set of grips. Thanks, Crazy Cat Cyclery. You have a nice shop.

As a small business owner, you have to complete all the to-dos before getting on a bike and riding off into the wilderness. My last to-do was a big law video production. To get this one completed I found myself in a parking lot 35miles west of my cozy bed at 3:30 am. Not having internet sucked. By 4:30 the edit was complete and uploaded, everything had been checked off the list and it was time for rest.

April 6

Prep day Thursday
The first day to have all the bags loaded up. A small amount of anxiety knowing that day 1 and the Canelos are calling. At the Xanadu guest ranch, I had a great talk with Don, a road tour rider from Nebraska. Don spent the last part of March traveling Arizona by bicycle. He and his riding buddy were quite the inspiration.

Packing bike bags is a problem without a perfect answer. You must keep heavy stuff down low, items needed quick need to be close, and bedding gear tends to be fluffy and bulky. So if you pack for weight alone you will not have quick access to the things you need. If you pack for quick items you might have a lopsided bike. If you pack your pack… blah blah blah, I will figure it out as I go was the plan.

There were fires causing a detour in the route up Mt Lemmon. I was bummed hearing this because I wanted to trudge through the suck that came with taking off to Redington Road and climbing the mountain.

Camber frame bag

Move on to AZT Race Day 1

AZT Gear and bike 2017

Included in this listing are a few videos associated with my gear carried during the 2017 AZT300 mountain bike race in southern Arizona. To see more AZT videos from Derrick Perrin please visit https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnIAlMPx0_ZNiRzyvsITyut4IoDTBDUOE

Thanks for watching. If you have questions of comments please jump over to YouTube and comment on each individual video. I would love to hear from you and any suggestions you have to make bike packing better for everyone.

Derrick Perrin resting at High Jinks Ranch

Arizona Trail Photos – 2017

Derrick Perrin setting up to ride AZTR300

Photos of the Arizona Trail Race 300 by Derrick Perrin.

This is my collection or photos taken while riding in the 2017 edition of the AZTR. At this point, I’m still editing my trail report but wanted to share my photos with you.

Race Day 1

Day 2 on the AZT300

AZT Day 3 - Twin Lakes to Tucson

Day 4 - Rest and Repair

Day 5 - Leaving Tucson

Day 6 - Rest Day 2 - On Mt Lemmon

Day 7 - Oracle Ridge passed Tiger Mine TH

Day 8 - North Tiger Mine TH to Kelvin TH

Final Stretch - Kelvin to Picketpost

Post Race unwind - Texas - Chispa Road

Thanks for taking a look. If you see someone you know in one of the above photos please let me know so I can mark who it is.

From the back of the pack

-Derrick Perrin

Bike Packing Inventory – My Arizona Trail 300 Gear

Bike packing gear for the Arizona Trail 300 mile mountain bike race

Mountain bike loaded with gear

Bike packing gear Arizona Trail 300 – Take this list for what it is worth. On my April 2016 run of the Arizona Trail Race I rode 112 miles before tapping out due to a respiratory issue. My gear never failed me and I was happy with the bikepacking gear I took with me.

This post is setup as an inventory. I tell little about the trail or my time on the bike. This is just a list with some photos of the items I thought important enough to carry down the Arizona Trail.

There is always a fine line between an objects usefulness and its weight. Choose wisely. This is my list of gear I took on the Arizona Trail this year. Please comment below on any gear you would have left behind, or any bike packing gear you can’t live without.

track leaders  aztr name=Derrick_Perrin

When on the trail I can be tracked at the web address above.

Derrick Perrin snacks on the trail

The Ride - 2015 Camber 29"

Get some wheels man!

You can’t ride in a bike race without one and I chose a Specialized Camber FSR – she is a 2015 model. https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bike-archive/2015/camber/camber-29/65381 is the site that will take you to all the nerdy specs.

Camber 2015 by Specialized Bikes

Camber 2015 by Specialized Bikes

I upgraded my pedals to “Bennies Platform Pedal” MXGRN ANO. These pedals have an unbelievable amount of traction. Just a warning to wear soccer shin guards, and upgrade your shoes before stepping up to the Bennies.

Green Pedals

Beenies is French for jab you in the shins and make you bleed.

Medical & First Aid

Biek med kit

Pelican 1050 – 7x3x5 inch air/water tight medical kit. I never had to use anything from the kit but I think it was a great solution.

The Medical Kit

Took an assortment of goods and packed them into a Pelican 1050 Micro Case Series water tight locking container. We made a run to Walgreen’s and grabbed items that would be useful on the trail.  My oldest son Grason was very involved with my first aid kit. Thanks for helping out son. Glad you are on my team.

Here is what fit in the box:
  • WoundSeal Powder – Single use x 4
  • Krazy Glue
  • Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer Spray – .33oz
  • Large Gauze Pad 4x4in 3 count
  • Butterfly bandages – 10 count
  • Alcohol Swab pouches
  • Anti-Diarrhea – Loperamide 6 count
  • Anti-Nausea – Ondansetron 4 count
  • Pepto-Bismol 6 count
  • Tooth Brush – Cut to fit in box
  • Plackerd – floss pick
  • Toms – .75oz toothpaste
  • Thera Tears – 1oz bottle
  • Travel needle and thread kit

In my bag I carry a 5oz bottle of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen. I bought it at HEB and I’m now on my 2nd bottle. It has few harmful chemicals and works for me.

Essential oils were very important for me to carry.

dōTERRA Oil for the bike race

The following oils were part of my med-maintenance kit I used every day:

Luggage

I switched from my Specialized Hardrock to a new Camber a week before the race. This changed up a lot of my luggage and bags. I had planned on a rear rack, handlebar, triangle, and back bag. The new bike frame nixed the center bike triangle bag. So with loss of space I grabbed a pair 2 sea to summit bags from my local Dick’s Sporting Goods.

2013 Specialized Hardrock Comp 29

The bike that got replaced – My 2013 Specialized Hardrock Comp 29er – with kid bucket on the back.

Packing gear for the Arizona Trail 300 mountain bike race

Aqua

My back pack was a Kelty Basin 15 Hydration Pack. Its max space is 15L. The reservoir held 3 letters of liquid leaving me with 12L of space. I tried not to pack clothing and light weight gear in my back pack. I did this so there would be less of a load on my back and shoulders. I packed my water tablets and some food on my back.

After washing by pack I filled it up with water and it tasted like a backyard water hose. No one wants that. Sure it will jog a childhood memory, but nothing else good comes of it. I switched out my bladder with a Camelback Antidote 70oz / 3L reservoir.  This did the trick. The removal straw was great for refilling the pack and getting me back on the trail.

Keeping it clean

Purification was done with Potable Aqua tablets. I also packed a 16oz bag with a Sawyer filter on it. The tablets take 30 minutes to bake the water and another 5 to neutralize the first tabs you dropped in the water. I broke out the Sawyer filter late in day 1 just to test it out and to bypass the 35 minute tablet wait time.
Next ride I will be connecting my Sawyer as on inline filter. I till tap in into my straw. I will still have to figure out how to get my electrolyte since the filter will knock them out.

Kelty 15L hydration pack tag

Kelty – Basin 15L

On my frame I carried a standard water bottle. I bought it at my local bike shop called, The Pedal. This was full of nuts the entire race. I had planned on using it as dry food storage and as a backup for my camelback.

Packing gear Arizona Trail 300 mountain bike race

Some spots were green while others were brown, but I never passed up a chance to top off my water supply.

D_Perrin_AZT300_ (91)

sea-to-summit-bw

Yea I know slapping a compression bag on your front bar and wrapping it up with a bungee might not be the best way to pack your gear when riding but it worked good for me. The stuff sack on my back bike rack carried the gear the same way. The bottom end of the bag was tied to my seat post and the rest was tied with niteize tie downs. The open end was secured down and topped off with a bungee cord.

MY HANDLEBAR BAG WAS A SMALL COMPRESSION BAG FROM SEA TO SUMMIT:
PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

Size Variation S
Length 7 in/
Height/Depth 16 in/
Weight 4.5 oz/128g
Volume 10 liter to 3.3 liter
Color Red

On my back rack I could carry a bit more and went with a large compression bag from Sea to Summit:
PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS
Size Variation L
Length 9 in /
Height/Depth 20 in/
Weight 6.2 oz/175g
Volume 20 liter to 6.5 liter
Color Blue

Grub

Here is what I packed at the start of the race

Nuts & Seeds

  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pecan
  • Sunflower
  • Pumpkin

Chocolate – 5 bars of 90% dark organic chocolate – 1200 calories per bar

Pop Tarts – 3 packs of berry goodness

A gluten free chocolate chip cookie

nuun for bikingYou can’t exactly pull over and pick up a power aid. I relied on Nuun electorate tablets. These tablets are great for hydration and keeping salt in your system. I also packed pink Himalayan salt.

I like my daily coffee, well lets say I like coffee daily. HEB Organic Instant CoffeeIts good stuff and caffeine is great for keeping you going. On road trips I travel with HEB’s Central Market Organics instant coffee. This give me the option to run in, buy a hot cup of water and make organic coffee on the run. It didn’t work so well on the trail. It seems that all the water is cold out there. I got in the habit or taking a pinch and holding in my mouth. Next, add a mouth full of water and make a mouth full of espresso. Thank you Mathew Lee for that tip.

Gluten free cookie

Repairable?

Mechanical

Specialized 29' hub from a 2015 Camber

Bearings after the crash

Parts to keep going

I packed a lot of goodies for the ride. Figuring I was not a contender for a sub 5 day finish, I wanted to be safe and not sorry. I had been working on upgrading my hard tail Specialized Hardrock before the race. Some of the items set for the HR were:

  • SRAM x5 rear shiftier
  • Spair shift cable
  • SRAM x7 derailleur
  • Power link chain connector

Since I had the new Camber I just packed these goodies as spare parts for this years run. A mini took kit was also part of the pack.

Bike packing gear Arizona Trail 300 Stuff SackI packed one spare tire, 3 spare tubes and one bottle of Stan’s NoTubes. My sewing kid also had a few feet of fishing line in it. I was planning to use this on any side gashes.

Gadgets and Gear

Documentation

GoPro with a custom external mic adapter

Custom modifications to capture the ride better.

GoPro has made a name for itself in the video world, but have not been able to perfect audio. Thankfully they made cameras with mic inputs. I modified my GoPro case to accept an external lapel microphone. I packed 2 batteries made by Wasabi Power. The GoPro can be externally powered so when I was taping a hole for the mic I also tapped one for the USB connection. This allows the GoPro to be powered by one of my USB lithium ion battery packs.

Derrick Perrin wearing a GoPro Hero 2

GoPro up on top

Audio

I packed a lapel microphone to hook into the GoPro. I also packed a small Olympus audio recorder in my rucksack. WS-822 is the model. It uses one AAA battery that is rechargeable via usb. The lapel works great with this unit. I plan on recording long stretches of tail some with and some without video.

NAVIGATION

GPS Map 64 by Garmin

Cracked Garmin GPSMAP64

The Garmin was my heavy hitter for the trail. I also had my Samsung S4 loaded up with the trail notes, water reports and PDF copies of all my gear. The Arizona Trail site has an app for purchase that is very useful.
http://www.aztrail.org/apps.html
Make sure you download all the information in the app before heading out on the trail. Some spots have great reception but don’t plan on having any.

Old school mapping

I carried paper ques for the entire AZT300. This would list trail descriptions and where to turn. The Arizona Trail is different for hikers and mountain bikers.
Since water is a big concern I pack a hard copy of all the watering holes. This was up to the week accurate when printed. http://www.aztrail.org/watersources.php

Help

For years I have been a subscriber to Spot GPS. For this race I upgraded to the Spot Gen3. This added one more outgoing message capacity. If you are ever going out in the world and need some safety you might want to look at getting one of these.

Spot GPS device

GEN3 of the Spot GPS family.

The entire race is tracked using GPS units like this. The spot is the most popular. To see the race as it happens please visit: http://trackleaders.com/news?prefix=aztr16

Arizona Trail Race 2016

Power

I tried to keep it simple. There is few options to plug in while on the trail. All of my bike lights take AA or AAA batteries. This included my head lamp mounted to my bicycle helmet.

I bought Anker 8 watt foldable solar charger. It has one usb connection and the capabilities to mount to your back pack and charge while you hike or ride.

My main charger pack was the Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger, The Smallest and Lightest 10000mAh External Battery, 10000mAh – Model: A1263 X000X6WKNR  Ultra-Compact Fast-Charging-Technology Power Bank for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and More

Bikepacking BatteryI had two other lithium ion battery packs rated at 1000 mAh.

It was important to have charging capabilities because my life support devices depend upon it. GPS, SPOT Gps, and my phone all have micro USB connections and can be externally powered. My Sony pocket camera can also be powered and charged by usb.

Clothing

It is true, you must wear clothing on the Arizona Trail. A rider must be prepared for hot days and cold desert nights. Once again a rider must balance between light and right.

Triumph Over Kids Cancer helped with clothing in a big way. Each year they host a lot of fund raising events. Each event is sport driven in some way. May is the golf scramble, then in September the Giddy Up race, and November a volleyball tournament. I was able to have a run at any left over attire from the TOKC head office.

Rain was not in the forecast, but I wanted to be prepared. I bought a set of frogg toggs from Academy Sports in Corpus Christi.

A down puffer coat was also a must have. They pack extremely small and are light weight. The one I ordered last minute from Amazon came in in true knock off no name fashion, with the zipper on the wrong side. So I’m set to ride in a woman’s coat.Derrick Perrin in down puffer coat

Derrick Perrin on Arizona Trail

TOKC shirt on Derrick PerrinLayering up is the way to go. My base setup is a pair of Specialized mountain bike shorts on top of boxer brief undies. I ride in a white long sleeve shirt so I don’t have to coat my arms in sun block.

For this race I purchased a Field & Stream hooded long sleeve shirt with thumb holes at the end of the sleeve.
The hood is a ninja variety.  I can close up the mask and cover my entire face except for my eyes. This makes for a great wind break and keeps warmth where it needs to be.Ninja Bicycle shirt

When it gets cold I will toss on my long johns and keep the shorts on. My smart wool socks will also come out for cold weather riding. There will be a balance between riding and cooling. If you ride hard when its cold you will sweat and then it will start to evaporate and chill your body. My friends at TOKC gave me a few extra shirts to leave behind. This will lighten my load as I ride and have a desire for clean clothing. On warm days I will be riding in swift wick socks.  In the past few years I have relied on Swift Wick socks for my running activities.

My bike was 5 days old 3 days before the race. Those 5 days I was completing my final training workouts and trying to break in the new Camber bike. Wednesday morning I dropped it by The Pedal bike shop for a last second tweak before hitting the road. A man approached me in the parking lot and wished me good luck. At the time I didn’t know who he was but was glad to learn it was Roger Brittain and it was great to have a fan before we left Corpus Christi.

Derrick & Sophie Perrin on the back of a truck, on a bike.

Travel stop. Took us 16 hours of drive time to get there.

Bike packing gear Arizona Trail 300

Thanks for reading. Once again, I only made the 112 mile mark. To me my bike packing gear seemed solid. The one thing I wish I had packed was a camp stove and a coffee cup. Hot morning oatmeal would have been an awesome way to start the day. If I was to go out and run it again on the same budget I had, I would do it exactly the same. If you have any questions please reach out. Derrick @ bigboxpro dot com

Hardrock company photo

Bike packing and future adventure

What is bike packing?

Best put it is the combination of mountain bicycle riding into the wilderness loaded down with backpacking gear. Over the last few years the concept has infected many. There are now off-road races that are timed using month long calenders in place of a stop watch. These are races that don’t allow support. No wimpy Tour de France team racing next to you and handling you food and water. Nope, just a rider and the gear that rider is willing to carry.

And yes, this is something I’m wanting to do.

My rookie sEason -2016

I live near the coast and have a 3 hour drive to get into the Texas hill country. Training in a town at sea level and fat makes things difficult but not impossible. Part of training is knoladge and another is mental. I know you think I’might mental for being excited to ride into the mountains with no support. You have to train for bear attacks and lighting strikes and become a bicycle mechanic. Well one of 3 is something one must study. Getting deep in the woods on a bike is great. Having to hike that distance with a gimpy bike is not great.

Opportunities

The big goal is the Tour Divide race from Canada to Mexico. This is the race I wish to ride but need to build up to it. The beauty of the bike packing events is thee is no qualifying criteria and no burden to race with the best racers in the world.

When you hit the trail you are tracked by satellite. A rider can ride the day of the main race or can do an individual time trial (ITT). These satellite timed results are compared to other racers of the same year.

What races to ride

A few races have my attention right now.

The Arizona Trail 300 starts close to Mexico and runs close to Phoenix. It’s big brother is the AZT 750. Basically take the 300 and add 450 miles and a climb into and out of the Grand Canyon. Once you hit Utah you are done. Top contenders I’m these races complete the adventure in 2 and 8 days respectfully.

Next, the Colorado Trail. This is the 500 off road trail from Durango to Denver. You can also run it the other direction. Most races will alow you to do that.

There are some other day long races that look fun.

So my next thing to do is get the lungs in shape, upgrade the bike, and take a wilderness cpr class. I get to ride at San Angelo State Park often. If someone wants to go out and train let me know.

Other adventure

I’m very interested in hiking the Lone Star Trail. I’m only wanting to hike it because they have banned bikes from the trial. It runs for about 100 miles in the Big Thicket National Forest. Check it out in east Texas.

-Derrick Perrin

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