Morton set to tackle Colorado Trail
500-mile adventure to benefit Starlight Children's Foundation
In the early morning hours on Sunday, August 25, Morton will roll out from Durango, Colorado, on a solo bike-packing journey along the Colorado Trail. Covering 500-plus miles on rugged landscapes high up in the Rocky Mountains, the Trail is a stunning place to ride a bike – and taking it on solo is an immense endeavor.
The Trail is home to the Colorado Trail Race in the summer, but the timing of the event did not work with Morton’s busy race schedule. Morton will be alone on his upcoming journey, although he will be traveling with others on his mind, as he is riding the Trail to raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia, whose Tour de Kids kicks off next month.
“I was doing a bit of work with the Starlight Children’s Foundation in Australia and it seemed like the best way to tie that in,” Morton says. “Challenging yourself while trying to raise some money for kids seems like a pretty cool way to do it.”
You can learn more about the event and the Foundation, and find out how to donate to the cause, here.
Morton is getting a head start on his pledge for the Tour de Kids – the event officially begins in September – with a Sunday departure on his epic journey, which will take several days to complete. The Trail passes through a handful of towns on the way from Durango to the Denver suburbs, but for long, long stretches of the way, it traverses the high-mountain wilderness.
With that in mind, after a week of road racing in Utah, it’s back to the mountain bike for Morton, one fully loaded with everything Morton will need to ride through and sleep in the remote terrain.
“The Colorado Trail always intimidated me, so I always just put it down as ‘one day I’ll do that,’” Morton said. “After GBDuro, I came back to Colorado and realized I was going to be here most of the summer, and I took a bit of confidence out of GBDuro. Mentally, I thought, maybe I was capable. I just thought, why not give it a go?”
With no shortage of challenges, a bike-packing trek of the Colorado Trail is a serious undertaking. It’s also the kind of undertaking you’d expect Morton to embrace.
“It averages 10,000 feet so you’re always at risk of storms. When you get wet at that elevation there’s no way around getting cold,” Morton says.
As if that 10,000-foot average was not hard enough, at points the trail gets over 13,000 feet. Altitudes like that far exceed the normal elevations riders expect in races like the Tour de France or the Vuelta a España, and riding alone up there in the thin air and exposed terrain is a daunting proposition.
Then there’s the Trail itself, which is tough going at times.
“There’s a huge amount of hike-a-bike and walking, which is another challenge. A lot of time to think about how slow you’re going and how little progress you’re making. And it’s a lot of technical mountain biking, which I enjoy, but it also takes me a bit out of my comfort zone.”
Then again, going outside of his comfort zone has been what Morton’s 2019 campaign has been all about, and it’s worked out well so far, whether he’s been bikepacking the length of Great Britain or racing his mountain bike two miles above sea level. Plus, it’s always easier to dig deep on the bike when you have something to strive for. Morton has that in the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
“In my experience, when you do something epic or where you’re really pushing yourself physically and mentally, it helps to have the right motivations and the right reasons for doing it,” Morton says. “It’s going to be nice to have a real purpose. When it gets tough you can think of the real reason you’re doing it.”
Equipped with that motivation – and plenty of bike-packing gear – Morton knows he can look forward to his latest adventure in what has already been a year full of them.
You can track his progress here.