Taking on the Arizona Trail 300

Outside Magazine

by Aaron Gulley

In April, I rode 300 miles in a through-push on the Arizona Trail in an annual bikepacking race that bills itself as “No entry fee, no prizes, absolutely no support.” Friends and family asked me why I did it—why I do any of these endurance races. Everyone acts like there’s some quick, straightforward answer.

For me the AZT starts with the desert. The Sonoran, that rugged swath of stony, rolling wasteland that sweeps up from the Sierra Madre in Mexico to engulf a chunk of Arizona and southeast California, has captivated me since I first visited a decade ago. Up against the harsh, stripped-down topography, there’s lush and whimsical flora: cholla that look like topsy-turvy erector sets, sunshine-yellow creosote bushes, and the giant saguaros, which somehow balance between majestic and ridiculous.

When I heard about the Arizona Trail Race (AZTR) a handful of years ago, I knew I had to do it.

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