The North South Bikepacking race is set to roll out from Fort Collins’ Lee Martinez Park on Friday at 6am. The 609-mile self-supported gravel race (similar to the CTR) with roughly  52,150 feet of elevation gain will end in Trinidad, CO.  NoCo has five racers on the start list.


  • What: 609-mile self-supported gravel race
  • When: July 7th, 2023. 6:00 AM
  • Where: Lee Martinez Park. 600 North Sherwood Street, Fort Collins, Colorado 80521, United States
  • More information- Website

Tyler Phillips got some great photos from day one

NoCo Racers

  • Zack Allison Scratched at mile 245
    Off the CO North South Trail. Lots learned. first bike packing “race”. Had a great start felt like I was riding within myself for the first 8 or so hours. Stillwater pass was a bit more than expected for, chunk, altitude, rain. Made it down to Granby with wet feet from a complete road wash out but saw the rain on Rollins and thought I’d change socks when dry. Caught a few people that decided to skip that whole section. Found my friend @tyrel_fuchs in Granby as a big surprise. 2 quarter pounders later I started up the single track to Winter Park. Always hard to gauge where the speed will be on average, trails and side paths slow things down a bit but are better than some high mountain highways. Hit the bottom of Rollins as it got dark. My head unit still had some battery but ended up bricking out. As it started raining and I was trying to charge the roam from my dyno hub I wasn’t really going fast enough to make charge so limited to phone for nav and just wasn’t confident enough to make it over Rollins in the dark and damp with just that. I huddled up in the bivy set up for a nap. Cloud never really passed so woke up and got moving over the damp snowy cold Rollins. Got the head unit charged on the way down at least to 20%. Never really warmed up for the first few hours until the bottom and up mammoth gulch it became sunny and 85F. As I hiked some, most of Mammoth, I was feeling pretty beat. I know it’s not supposed to be easy but I just felt like the @focofondo fatigue and work and stressful run in, mostly my heart to ride, was dragging more than my ability. The descent off mammoth gulch is real chunky. Glad to ride all of it but damn then you fly into central city and wave at all the gamblers to climb to the top of OMG road (Virginia canyon) to descend to Idaho springs. I had a solid think in Idaho springs and decided not to continue. I’ll giver a go again next year for sure, maybe something similar in between. No mechanics, bike and set up were good, didn’t expect to cold wet camp in 35F and damp at 11k feet. The technicality if it is probably the most fun for me at this point but a little more life balance and I’ll feel more myself and ride better.
  • Devon Pia Scratched at mile 245.6
    North South Colorado was an ultimate test of will power both mentally and physically. I knew coming into this race that I would be tested on my ability to sit in the saddle for extended periods of time on minimal sleep, be exposed to all types of weather and ascend over 40k feet of elevation. That is all I prepared for. There is a line where the physical ability becomes less important than the mental strength it takes to make it to your next destination. Unfortunately, my journey ended in Idaho Springs where I pulled myself from the race.From town there were plenty of grueling climbs, some chucky and unrideable to smooth, but daunting. Finishing up Cameron Pass to Gould was my first refuel and I was feeling great. From Gould, getting onto HWY 125 to Willow Creek Pass I got caught in a pretty gnarly hail storm but made it to the top of Willow and the sun came at the prefect time to warm up with bones! Heading over Stillwater Pass to Granby was another tough climb due to the time already in the saddle and the elevation gain. I rode it with two others, Brad Bingham and Eric House, who definitely brought motivation to the climb. Thanks boys! We rolled into Granby around 9:30pm, got a few slices of pizza and then took off to Winter Park for the first night of “rest”.Day 2 started off on 3 hours of sleep but I was feeling good. Anxious to get over Rollins Pass to Idaho Springs we departed Winter Park around 4:30am. The climbing was yet again going to be tough but what I didn’t expect was the gnarly decent down the backside of Rollins. Pass. 7 miles of what felt like rock gardens put a toll on my body which, ended up giving me notion that my journey was slowly coming to an end. Once I got down to Tolland and made the right turn to Mammoth Gulch Rd I felt pretty broken. Ankles were swollen, but mentally I knew I’d have to push to Idaho Springs. With only 10 miles to go from Central City I stopped and refueled, rested the body a bit and was back on the bike around 2pm.Making it down to Idaho Springs, around 2:45pm, was a relief off the shoulders but not off the ankles! Mentally I was not prepared to sit for the amount of time I felt necessary for my ankles to recover. In total I pedaled for 26 hours making ground on 246.5 miles of the 609 miles. I will be back next year with some more knowledge on what to expect from this amazing race that leaves from our backyard! Until next year Fort Collins!
  • Andrew Chapman Scratched at mile 106
    Was really hoping my shoulder would be good, was my biggest concern leading into the event. Was having such a great day, cruising along to my plan, 3 hrs on then 10-15 minute shade breaks during the heat. After about 8 hours of smooth sailing my shoulder started acting up, worse while in the descending position. I got to Gould with the intent to stretch, eat my dinner and power nap. Woke up two hours later to a very polite wake up call from a park ranger. Shoulder was still screaming at me. Slept in some trees behind the ranger station, got up early and got on the bike. Everything felt the same. I climbed back up to Cameron pass, made a difficult and overly dramatic text to Mark then rolled back to Greeley via poudre canyon.
    If ya gotta scratch there can always be some for of redemption I suppose.
    Had a great ride home…apart from the shoulder that is.
  • Matthew Begeman
    Leaving FoCo I was relaxed and excited. I chatted with fellow riders about some of their experiences and what they were looking forward to, as I had little experience and was still searching for what I was looking for in this ride. The first 90 miles to Chamber lake was amazing and a section I will gladly do again. I didn’t drink enough water during this time so had to stop for 10 minutes to gather myself before pushing to Gould. Once there, David Sedelnick caught back up to me as we had been back and forth for the last 45 miles. There I had a Mountain Dew, 2 Milky Ways, chips, an ice cream bar and refilled water from a jug that the gentlemen in front of us had graciously left. From there, David and I started chatting to see what our plans were for the rest of the day and where we had thoughts of sleeping. About 15 minutes later, the calories kicked in and I rolled away from David into a rainstorm and a pretty rocky uphill and downhill section. I pushed on for a few hours to then encounter a road closure sign at the turn off HWY 125. This was a decision point that kind of caused some controversy. I didn’t know what to do really, the road had a big sign saying closed 5.5 miles ahead and I knew we had to be on it for around 10 miles. I didn’t have service so couldn’t look up anything about it, was not notified beforehand of the closure, couldn’t see if the riders in front of me went on the road, etc. I ended up staying on HWY 125 until Granby. Would I go back and ride that road now knowing what I know, yes I would but it is what it is and that’s the call I made after almost 12 hours of riding and being in the rain for the previous 2 hours. At the end of the day, I rode the course from 2022 as the section I missed was an addition to the 2023 course. Still seems pretty cool to me!

    Night 1 was early to bed at 9:30 pm at a campground near the base of Rollins. Tossed and turned for hours as the adrenaline was still going. Probably slept for 90 minutes until I got going again at 1:30 am to press on over Rollins toward Idaho Springs. The densest fog I have ever been in while riding up to the top of Rollins and down to Mammoth Gulch. Could only see 10-15 ft in front of me so it made for a super slow descent. The few snow fields at the top were crazy and awesome, but I know my mom would hate it if I told her I almost slid down them 3 different times. I truly wish I had a full suspension cross country bike for the descent from Rollins and Mammoth because of the rocky terrain. It was really rough going for a few hours on a gravel bike with 44c tires.Had 2 foot long sandwiches in Idaho Springs within an hour or so of recovery time sitting at the park. Saw the parents for 5 Minutes outside Conifer as they drove past and then pressed on to Lake George. My thought was to get to Canon City late at night but wasn’t prepared for the onset of fatigue and slow terrain ahead. Made it to Lake George right after sunset to refill water at a campground and spend the night sharing a campsite by sleeping next to someone’s car. Night 2 was in bed at 10:45 pm and up at 1:15 am. I woke to see on trackleaders that Colin Allen had passed me and had a 18 mile lead. I put in a good effort for about 5 hours, thinking Colin was just riding through the night. I got to Canon City at 7 am to wait outside the subway until it opened at 7:30 am. Meanwhile, I took my phone off airplane mode as I tried to make my battery last the whole trip, to find Colin had pulled over to sleep somewhere and I was chasing no one. Downed two more foot long sandwiches and pressed on to Westcliffe. (I will 100% go back to ride from Deckers to Canon City as this was such an amazing and beautiful route. Too bad I saw half of it in the dark)The climb outside of Canon City was so tough, with the morning sun and muddy road, I struggled to turn the pedals over. This was one of many moments I wish I had MTB gearing instead of my gravel bike 2x set up. I made it to Westcliffe to find Colin and Tim Tait not too far behind me. A quick refill of fluids, plus a slushie, and a few snacks I had stored in my bag and I was on the move. I was told there were lots of washboard roads between Westcliffe and Walsenburg but I didn’t expect that many. This section was hot, windy, bumpy, had short and steep climbs, and barren. I stopped once outside of Gardner to eat a bag of chips and sit in the shade of a bush as I knew I had at least 2-3 more hours before Walsenburg. (This was my least favorite part of the whole route, even though it was the fastest by just a few mph).I stopped for 90 minutes at a gas station outside Walsenburg. I was deep in the well at this point. About an hour goes by and Colin rolls in. We chatted for a little about where we could potentially sleep further down the route as it was only about 6 pm. It didn’t seem like he wanted to ride with me but I’m not sure I gave off the vibe of wanting to ride with him either. I mean, how can you tell after 500 miles, 3 hours of sleep and just being put through what felt like an extra spin cycle of a dryer for the past 5 hours.
    I pressed on to finish the last 95 miles until Trinidad. 15 miles in, I refilled water in La Veta as there was nothing along the rest of the route. I leave town to see a faint red blinking light in the distance. I had thoughts of it being Colin and knew that if he was camping in Cuchara about 10 miles up the road, that I would too. But if he was pressing on through the night, then I would too. (I got competitive for the first time this entire route and let me say, it makes your legs hurt to be competitive after 515 miles on the bike). It took me 10 miles to close a half mile gap as we slowly climbed up towards Cuchara (at the base of Cordova Pass). As I catch Colin, I ask if he was going to camp (deep down I was hoping he would say yes), but he said maybe, don’t think so. I guess it was happening. It was 9:45 pm and I was going to bike about 6 hours more to finish this thing.While I could have rode with Colin for the rest of the way, I didn’t know how I would feel deep into the night/morning so I wanted to give myself a few miles as a buffer in case I started bonking. My butt hurt so much at this point in time that I was out of the saddle every two minutes trying to make things more bearable (things never felt better). I pressed on to the top of Cordova listening to a Flume album on repeat, trying not to think about animals coming up behind me to try and eat me. The last 45 miles were mentally really slow. Took about 4 hours and I kept thinking I was going in reverse on the course as many of the roads looked similar under headlamp. I actually stopped once to browse the map on my computer to make sure I wasn’t going in circles (that’s what sleep deprivation does to me I guess). The remaining hours go by with me being scared sh**less not knowing what animal eyes I was seeing along the road. It’s pretty surreal shining a headlamp into a tall grass field at 2:30 am to see 100 sets of eyes looking at you.

    As Kip Taylor once said at the end of a 95 miles FoCo Fondo Training ride, “What would you want if you had to do the whole thing all over again right now?” For that training ride, I responded by saying if you gave me all the nutrition needed to complete the ride, I would do it. For this ride, I’d say a full suspension MTB bike, a few friends, some Aleve and maybe a few more days.

  • Nicolas Ceniceros Scratched at mile 169.5
    I have to say it was tough. Lots of climbing. Lots of mosquitoes. But I had a blast. Still can’t believe I biked to Gould in a day. The part of the route I did. Stunning. 10 out of 10 will try again next year. Shout out to nick and McKay for letting me crash their cabin to dry up and rest.

Route Details

Track The Leaders

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