Saturday, June 30, 2018

2018 AZTR Gear List - What I Took And Where I Looked

Welcome to my Arizona Trail Race resource page.

I will eventually be listing here all of the gear I took, used and discarded. I will review my thought process and provide my* opinion on what worked and what did not so you may want to check back here from time to time.

The 300 finish line.

This will be a work in progress and if you intend doing the AZTR 300 or 750 you would be NUTS to just rely on my account. Do your homework and do lots of it. You cannot know too much about the AZT.

Please start with an Arizona Trail Association membership and go from there. These people do an amazing job providing this volunteer constructed trail and deserve your membership as a pseudo entry fee for the race.

Happy Jacks......

AZTR750 Home Page race page

Coach Lynda Training Plans - very highly recommended!

National Park Service - for all Grand Canyon information/trail closures/water shutdowns

Train, fully loaded, on tight, technical single track, not fast open roads.

Blog Links

John Schilling 750 blog 2016

John Schilling blog 2013

John Schilling Gold Canyon details

Jeff Hemperley blog 2017

Jason Shearer 750 2017

Justin Smith 750 winner 2017

Jeff Zeimeski 750 2017

Neil Beltchenko 750 Winner 2016

Neil Beltchenko AZTR Bike

Dave Wicks AZTR 2016

Josiah Morgan 750 2015

Aaron Boatman 750 2012

Forest Baker 750 2013

Joe Grant 750 2016

Brian De Blanc 750 2017

Jill Hueckman 750 2014

Jill Hueckman 750 2012

If this is your current level.....the AZTR isn't for you!! Yet.....

Extremely good core and upper body strength endurance is needed.

Tool Kit

My tool pouch contained this. I didn't need any of it apart from chain lube......


My kit. I'll list the contents later.


The bike. Details later.

I hope this helps prospective racers/tourers but make sure you do your research properly!! It need to be in a format you understand and can relate to when you are dog tired and beyond rational thought so that you can still progress forward on the route.

Grand Canyon Traverse

My carry system for the Grand Canyon traverse was a copy of what I had read Neil Beltchenko used in his 2016 race win. (I re-read Neil's notes about 2 weeks out from the race and found where he said he WOULD NOT use this method again, as it hurt like hell and was his weak point).

My 2 cents worth as an overview of the hike is that any carry system is going to hurt you and just plain suck after carrying an awkward load like a bike that far. So, you have to understand how much you are willing to suffer. Want an easy carry? well, then you will suffer carrying a large pack over the 650 miles prior to The Canyon. Mailing a pack to the South Rim? You may suffer a significant time loss waiting for the post office to open, plus the extra off route miles to pick it up(they all add up!)

I used Mountainsmith strapettes to carry my bike. I used a small section of strap that linked the bottom of the two shoulder straps. This link I looped around the head tube of the bike. I didn't attach it in any way, the weight of the bike simply rested in the strap.

Blue strap wrapped under head tube for support and to link shoulder straps.

I chose my Camelbak specifically so that it would not cause me to overheat during the race, plus it was going to provide back protection with it's lumbar bladder. I planned on having water in it at all times to provide a cushion effect but I was forced to drain it at Cottonwood Campsite when I found the spigot switched off there.

While not a great photo, the photo below was taken at about 5pm on the North Kaibab trail as I climbed toward Cottonwood camp.. You can see the Mountainsmith straps are mounted around the seat tube and you can also see the blue strap that links the two shoulder straps, at the bottom, where it wrapped around the head tube, just above the fork crown.

North Rim "Hilton". The strap setup is clearly visible.

I used some hi-vis velcro straps that I bought from the local hardware store to strap the front wheel to the frame and the bars to the frame.

Canyon setup.

I didn't find any issue with having the rear wheel still attached to the frame. I was very mindful though as I climbed out the North Kaibab about overhanging rock so that it didn't topple me into the black abyss!

Practice hiking downhill. That is the real killer of legs!!

 As cyclists, most of us have little interest in the hiking setup. Don't fall into the trap (that even the best guys) I fell into by only really testing my final carry system once. Sure, I did plenty of hiking with a heavy pack but I should have carried the bike, using the actual carry system several many more times. 
The big thing about whatever carrying setup you go with is to TEST IT SEVERAL TIMES AND BECOME COMFORTABLE WITH IT!! 
I cannot stress this part enough. 
The next most important part is to have as light a bike as you can. I felt pretty strong throughout my carry due to my strength training. What let me down was the weight of my bike and gear (maybe 48-50lb), which eventually caused a lot of discomfort to my shoulders where the straps rubbed them. I had scabs on the front of both shoulders for a week or so afterwards, where they had been rubbed raw.

If you are still keen on the race, this video of the 2014 AZTR750 by Aaron Johnson is a MUST watch. As you will see, the single track is tight, the switchbacks stupidly steep, the cacti super sharp and the whole shebang is conducted at between 4000 and 9000ft elevation!

*Edit: As of mid 2019 there looks to be a change to the start date and distance/makeup of the AZTR for 2020.
 The race will take in more former wilderness area, newly opened to bikes, which means even more single track AND elevation. Please check in at in the Ultra Racing section to find all the latest details as posted by race director (and all round top bloke!) John Schilling.

Get out there and good luck!!

My opinion might not be worth shit - so do your own research!


  1. Hi Dave,
    Great write-up on your AZT race! Very impressive :)
    What model handlebar ends do you use? And how did you like them? Comfortable?

    1. Hi Micheal. Glad you liked it (and stayed to the end!)
      The bar ends were just some Chinese cheapie that I found on Ebay for about $9! They were perfect plus their finish is rubber so they are very grippy, in fact they grabbed my clothes too many times to count as I walked by!

  2. Would love some more details on your bike carry system. Once again, awesome account of your AZTR!

    1. I’m not sure what more I can say? I described it and had multiple photos. You have to work out the rest.....


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