Some adventures require a little something extra. Whether that's an audacious goal, great friends, a stellar crew or a coach ensuring you, you're capable of great things - it's the combination of all the little things, that make the grandest of adventures possible.
This was certainly the case for me a couple weeks ago.
The iconic double crossing of The Grand Canyon - The Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R) – is a route I hadn't had the chance to complete until recently. I had run a handful of times in the Grand Canyon, mostly on the South Rim, but running to the North Rim and back in one shot was a serious run, and one on my bucket list. To make matters more interesting, I wanted to add a multi-sport aspect to this already epic route – riding my bike from the biggest hole in Arizona, to the biggest hump in Arizona, Mount Humphreys Peak, then switching from my cycling shoes to my running shoes to summit the 12,600ft volcano. If you’ve heard of the “Hole to Hump” route, my adventure plan was a bit more daring – adding in the double crossing of the canyon instead of the typical down to the river and back up the canyon again, – and with a bit more reason – riding (instead of running) the 70 mile stretch between the Grand Canyon and Mount Humphreys. After installing my own Saris fork mounts in my Dave & Matt van, I was ready for all the multi-sport adventures, and since this one only scared me a little bit, I knew it was worth doing. You can check out the full route details on Komoot, in my latest collection where I’ve detailed the entire journey with maps and pictures.
So why did I go through so much trouble to make the trip to Arizona when I have perfectly good trails in my home of Colorado. The answer for me is simple: I love exploring new places, on foot and by bike. Of course, the purpose of this multi day adventure did have a greater purpose. I prefer to use big routes and multi-sport adventures as a means of training. Running back and forth across a big ditch then riding for several hours on tired legs the very next day seemed like the perfect way to prepare for my next race – Madeira Island Ultra Trail, a 115km ultra distance foot race, traversing the Island of Madeira, Portugal, while climbing over 7,100 meters (23,000ft) in the process.
The point of these multi-day trips is less about the time it takes to do them, and more about the experiences gathered along the way. Wondering if a route plan is possible is part of the fun – whether it’s the length, potential route finding in a new location, the amount of vertical relief or if that track my Komoot routed me to is really a mountain bike trail or a gravel road – planning something that tests your limits is what allows you to break through them. Even though I do these types of multi-sport adventures quite frequently, I’m still amazed by what I learn about myself each time I complete them.
One thing in particular I learned from this trip, was the amount of goat heads I can have in both tires combined and still keep a semi ridable tire pressure – I had 32 in the front tire and 28 in the back FYI, and a hand pump was sufficient to keep the necessary PSI and give me an added arm workout.
In the end, the whole route was a success. I completed it in 3 days, completing the double crossing of the Grand Canyon on foot the first day, riding to Mount Humphreys on gravel (and a small section of MTB single track) the second day, and running Mount Humphreys peak the third day. My “Hole to Hump” route is a perfect example why multi-sport days add even more opportunity for adventure, enjoyment and fun.
Hillary Allen is an endurance athlete specializing in Ultra marathon distance trail running. She prefers steep and technical terrain earning her the nickname the "Hillygoat." Based in Colorado where she grew up, Hillary is also a coach, teacher and author of Out and Back, a runner's story of survival against all odds. She's earned course records and wins all over the world racing 50km all the way up to 145km, and although running is her specialty, Hillary has also picked up gravel bike racing.
Follow Hillary’s adventures @hillygoat_climbs.