The Colorado Trail Race: A Self-Powered Adventure

Every July, a small group of bikepackers line up for the 530-mile Colorado Trail Race (CTR), one of the toughest backcountry ultra-endurance bikepacking races. This new film by Aaron Johnson captures the trail and the people who choose to race it non-stop from Denver to Durango. Also, find a few words about the film by Aaron and details about the race.

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This week Aaron Johnson finished his new film The Colorado Trail Race: A Self-Powered Adventure which documents the annual race on the Colorado Trail and the people who ride it:

Film, photos and words by Aaron Johnson

Ever since my first bikepacking experience on the Colorado Trail in 2013, I’ve been fascinated by the concept of bikepacking racing, the idea of relying only on yourself to move as quickly as possible over a long distance route. I’ve experimented with filming these experiences in the past, from that first CTR, to the Arizona Trail Race and the California Sierra Trail Race, and I wanted to build on those films with a more in-depth look at the people who do these races and what their personal motivations are to suffer for days on end, alone in the wilderness. The Colorado Trail has always been my favorite long distance route, and after racing it this past summer for the third time, I decided to try and put together the film I always wanted to make about the little-known sport of ultra-endurance bikepacking racing.

Colorado Trail Race, A Self-Powered Adventure, Film, bikepacking video

  • Colorado Trail Race, A Self-Powered Adventure, Film, bikepacking video
  • Colorado Trail Race, A Self-Powered Adventure, Film, bikepacking video

About The Colorado Trail Race (CTR)

The Colorado Trail Race is a 530-mile ultra-endurance bikepacking race along the Colorado Trail, which stretches from the outskirts of Denver to the small town of Durango in the southwest. The route is primarily singletrack, with several Wilderness detours that add some dirt roads and pavement to the mix. With about 75,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain, much of which is above 10,000 feet, the trail is demanding, taking anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks for racers to complete. The course record is currently held by Neil Beltchenko at 3 days, 19 hours 50 minutes.

Colorado Trail Race, A Self-Powered Adventure, Film, bikepacking video

Aaron Johnson

About Aaron Johnson

Aaron is a San Francisco-based photographer who’s main passion lies in outdoor exploration, specifically long-distance endurance events, either by foot or by bike. He enjoys sharing these experiences through photography and film. Learn more about him at

  • Brad Ells

    Love the film! Fantastic footage of the most beautiful parts of the trail! I love that you added the phone in’s. Thanks Aaron for a quick snapshot of what CTR is all about. I am ridiculously psyched to do this beast this summer for the first time! It’s all that I’ve been thinking about lately!

  • Cameron Dube

    just ate a whole jar of olives watching this! can’t wait to do it!

  • I think I got cheated, is the music only on the southbound years? ; -)
    Super flix! Don’t let the sleep-dep supermen scary you off. Sleep all you want, follow the rules & you’ll get even more out of it. All the Highs & the Lows, just longer to savor them.

  • Andrew Wade

    Excellent film. I’m curious how the drone shots were executed. I’m hoping to ride(tour) the CT this summer. I’ve seen quite a few reports of people touring the CT on plus size hardtails which is the bike I would be using. Is this an uncommon setup for the trail?

  • I need to ride this trail.

  • Inspiring movie, as always, Aaron!

  • Chubby bikes work just like you’d imagine. It’s a tradeoff- nice on the descents, obviously more rubber to push on the climbs. I liked it though, and would still use a 29 plus if I ever did the trail again.

  • Bryan

    it’s in my sights. Can’t wait.

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