This September, pro mountain bike racer Payson McElveen set out to challenge the record time on the 530-mile Colorado Trail. Discovery and Despair on the Colorado Trail documents his attempt to set a new fastest known time on the route. Find his complete gear list and watch the video here…

With his regular race schedule on hold due to the pandemic, Payson McElveen shifted his focus to longer and longer rides. In May, he climbed the height of Mount Everest as part of the Everesting Challenge… entirely on singletrack. For part of an upcoming Matchstick Productions Film, he linked together 100 miles of trails in Crested Butte in a day. In late September, he had an opportunity to head out on his first bikepacking trip on the Colorado Trail—a rugged 530-mile route from Durango to Denver. After a two-week crash course in everything bikepacking, Payson set out to tackle the route as fast as possible, which ultimately led to a rollercoaster of emotions, and left Payson with a newfound passion. Watch Discovery and Despair on the Colorado Trail below, followed by Payson’s complete gear list.

  • Discovery and Despair Colorado Trail
  • Discovery and Despair Colorado Trail


– Trek Top Fuel 9.9
– Bontrager XXX Kovee wheels
– SRAM Eagle AXS drivetrain. 32 tooth chainring/Quarq powermeter x 10-52 cassette
– Rockshox Reverb AXS dropper post
– Rockshox SID Ultimate 120 fork, Deluxe Ultimate DebonAir 115 shock
– Maxxis 2.35 Ikons, Orange Seal Sealant


– Topo Designs Bike Bag on the handlebar
– Oveja Negra frame bag in the main triangle with 2.5 litre Osprey hydration bladder.
– Bedrock saddle bag
– Revelate gas tank on the top tube

First Aid / Toiletries

– Alcohol swabs, 4×4 gauze, sterile non-stick pads, fabric tape, antibiotic ointment, butterfly bandaids, Ibuprofen, Benadryl, super glue, suture kit
– Kineseo tape
– Chamois butter
– Sunblock
– Toothbrush/toothpaste
– Chamois butter

Sleep System

– Emergency bivvy
– Therm-a-Rest inflatable sleeping pad


– Garmin InReach
– Garmin Edge 530
– Heart rate strap
– Anker Powercore II 20000 portable charger
– USB and iPhone cables
– Bontrager daytime blinky light
– 4x AA batteries
– Black Diamond Headlamp
– Light and Motion Seca Comp 2000 handlebar light
– iPhone
– Apple corded headphones
– Spare SRAM AXS battery / charger
– GoPro

Repair Kit

– 2x CO2’s
– Tube
– Tire plugs
– Gerber Dime multitool
– Specialized bike multitool
– Chain lube
– Spare SPD cleat
– Fabric patch
– Spare brake pads
– Specialized bike multitool
– Chain lube


– Voler Black Label Velocity bib shorts
– Voler Black Label Velocity short sleeve jersey
– Voler arm warmers and leg warmers
– Thick wool baselayer
– Patagonia Nano Puff hooded puffy jacket
– Lululemon rain/wind shell
– Lululemon wool socks
– Beanie hat
– Hand-Up gloves
– Endura Deluge Gloves
– Buff
– Bontrager XXX MTB shoes
– Smith Network Helmet
– Smith Attack MAG MAX glasses


– Assortment of GU gels, stroopwafels, chews, and bars to get me to Silverton before the gas station shopping sprees started.


– Driver’s License
– Credit Card

Discovery and Despair Colorado Trail

To learn more about the route, make sure to check out our guide for the Colorado Trail.



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