The Tour 14er: An Epic Bikepacking Adventure

Justin Simoni, endurance athlete extraordinaire, conquering one of the many mountain passes on his Tour 14er trip.

Justin Simoni, endurance athlete extraordinaire, conquering one of the many mountain passes on his Tour 14er.

UD Ambassador Justin Simoni, knows how to dream big.  Like, really big.  At a recent talk at Bent Gate Mountaineering in Golden, CO, Simoni (also known as The Long Ranger) shared with a wide-eyed crowd his story of conquering the Tour 14er last summer.  The personally inspired mission consisted of biking to and summiting all of the Colorado 14ers (53 of them officially, and a few others tacked on for “fun”) with no crew, no use of a motorized vehicle, and no outside aid.

Simoni would be attempting an FKT on the route too, aiming to dethrone Roy Benton from his 1995 record of 37 days, 12 hours.  Even to hit the Benton’s time, Simoni, a skilled mountain biker turned mountain runner, would need to summit 1.5 peaks each day.  Not so tough for an endurance athlete, right?  Well, on a route where trail heads could be separated by 175 miles of rocky, steep, and unpaved roads, and the athlete is to travel from one to the other in a self-propelled fashion (i.e. on a bike), the task grows more daunting.  Also, due to the unsupported nature of this challenge, Simoni would need to carry all of his gear with him for the duration of the trip.  From sleeping essentials to summit gear, a hydration pack to a headlamp, Simoni would divvy up the load between a custom-fit bikepacking bag and the Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest he’d wear on his back.

Simoni recounting his Tour experience to a full house at Bent Gate Mountaineering.

Simoni recounting his Tour to a full house at Bent Gate Mountaineering.

When asked about how his inspiration for this trip, Simoni stated “The idea came from a love of riding my bike and seeing where this beautiful machine can take me… For this particular trip I thought, “Let’s bike to all the Colorado 14ers!” I could do them in separate, smaller trips, but it would take literally years to do so. So, going light and fast and linking up everything made sense. I discovered there was already a record, so there was my baseline. Could I come close to that time? Who knew? Let’s find out! And away I went.”

The adventure would be a rigorous one.  Looking at the stats, this trip consisted of:

Total Hike Mileage: 387.9 miles (624.265 km)

Total Hike Elevation: 154,727 feet (47,160.8 km)

Total Bike Mileage: 1,609.1 miles (2,589.6 km)

Total Bike Elevation: 151,335 feet (46,126.9 meters)

A virtual flyover of the course helps illustrate its magnitude.

The Long Ranger's Route

The Long Ranger’s Route

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Run Like A Mother…

If you haven’t checked out the Another Mother Runner books they are worth a read. Dimity and Sarah are hilarious and their banter about running, being mothers and life in general will put a smile on your face. They are funny, down to earth, busy moms that fit in workouts where and when they can.

Dimity - Another Mother Runner

Both ladies find time to write and tour the country going to running stores and races to encourage other mothers to get out for a run – making them Ultra Moms in our eyes! Ultimate Direction is proud to support the group and loves hearing their witty updates via their podcasts and social media posts. Take a gander at what they are up to. They also help put together training programs

Sarah - Another Mother Runner, Co author of Run Like a Mother

Recently they interviewed an Ultra Mom who completed the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim->


Limited Edition 30th Anniversary Handheld Has Landed!

Be one of only 300 people to get the UDXXX 30th Anniversary Handheld. Each handheld is numbered and unique making it truly a one of a kind. We used the excess Cuben Fiber Silnylon from our Signature Series packs for the pocket – which will fit most smart phones. We wanted to make something fun and unique to commemorate our time in the industry and my up-cycling some materials we were able to help lessen our impact on the environment, a small step but one we are proud of.


  • Medium volume pocket fits most smart phones
  • Cool Wick Air Mesh strap is soft to the touch, breathable and wicks moisture
  • Soft and thin chafe-free edge binding
  • Key fob and interior security divider
  • Adjustable hand tension strap
  • Up-cycled Cuben Fiber Silnylon material from our Signature Series Packs

Snag one of these Limited Edition Handhelds for yourself or get it as a gift. FYI – Father’s Day is just around the bend!



Triple Trek pt2

10 o’clock at night, standing alone on the bank of the Colorado River in full flood stage.  Can I swim across?  Theoretically, yes.  Emotionally, no.  I conducted an inventory of my emotional reserves and made a rational decision:  I’m not going.  I measured, and my cajones weren’t big enough.

Span Bot

This trip I had brought a Space Blanket, so wrapped myself up in that and slept soundly, while learning that sleeping in a Space Blanket keeps you both remarkably warm and remarkably wet, becoming quickly soaked in your own perspiration.

Next morning I hiked upstream to allow for the fast current, eased myself into the brown water, and swam across with no incident, and without regretting the previous nights decision.  I busted butt up Red Lake Canyon (what lake?), across the various fins and valleys the Needles are renowned for, including the infamous Elephant Hill jeep road, reaching Squaw Flat Campground by mid-morning where I had a friend waiting for me with food supplies for the rest of the route.

Except instead of my friend, there was a note pinned to the campground sign which read: “You didn’t show up so I left.  Hope everything is OK.”

No food and 45 more miles to go wasn’t that OK. Kaput again. Busted.  Without further ado I put out my thumb and began the long hitchhike back to my car, pleased that I had extended the route, but also noticing that by failing at Spanish Bottom last year I got a direct boat ride back to the start, while failing at Squaw Flat meant it would take hours to hitch all the way around.  My second ride was pretty good though, peaceful because there was no radio in the car.  I asked why, and he explained he stole the car two days ago and had already sold the radio.


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Triple Trek

I pushed through the Tamarisk thicket on my hands and knees, being careful to avoid puncturing my air mattress, then waded out up to my waist in the cold, brown, swirling water, my shoes sticking in the mucky bottom, and while wearing a backpack, tried to get on my yellow inflatable mattress. It was an awkward moment. Peter and I had discussed practicing the technique in advance, but since Boulder had been cool and rainy, and we don’t like being cold, we skipped that part. So this was our first try – it was not going to be elegant no matter what – so nothing to do now but trust our plan, lunge up onto the mattress, and start paddling across the Green River.

We started as far upstream on Queen Anne Bottom as we could get, having first rappelled down a short cliff band, and were aiming for Millard Camp on the other side, after which the River pushed up against more cliffs, making an exit from the River impossible, and a much, much longer River trip probable.  I kept wondering how Peter was doing behind me, but never turned around – we really had to make that one exact spot – if he didn’t make it there was nothing I could do about it, and vice versa, so I looked toward my spot paddled for it. The Green was running 14,740 cfs, so I was “ferrying” – pointing myself slightly upstream in order to get as far across as possible while the strong current pushed us downriver. It was going to be close. The River turned left here and we were aiming for the right bank, so the water was moving much faster on this side – I paddled harder – hmm, really need to make this I thought, but the current was really strong now. A wedge of rock stuck out in the River, I figured there would be an eddy line behind it – yup, still 15’ from shore but the eddy line grabbed me just as I was being swept past the exit point – made it!

I scrambled onto the rocks, took off my pack, and looked for Peter. He was on the same line as me – he narrowly made the eddy line but recirculated twice before managing to get out, as his arm strength was too far gone.

Not too bad. Our plan worked. It was 10am on the first day of our planned 3 day, 100 mile trek in Canyonlands National Park.

16 River Gear

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Travis Macy’s Book “The Ultra Mindset” Hits Shelves Today!

Travis Macy's Book- The Ultra Mindset

Travis Macy’s Book- The Ultra Mindset

As if being a successful ultrarunner, adventure racer, cyclist, coach, and teacher weren’t enough, UD Ambassador Travis Macy recently added the title of “author” to his resume.  The Colorado native, most famously known for his Leadman win, has spent years competing as an elite athlete around the globe while still balancing responsibilities as a husband, father, and busy academic professional.  Until this point, it’s been a mystery how one man could balance it all, but for our benefit, Macy has boiled down his recipe for success into eight simple principles, outlined in his new book, “The Ultra Mindset.” For a sneak peak at one of the chapters or to enter the Ultra Mindset ULTRA GIVEAWAY (which includes race entries and great prizes from UD and others), click HERE. Continue reading

Zola the Gypsy’s Annual Shoe Review!

APRIL 1 – 

It’s spring; time for our Annual Shoe Review! The Shoe Review is a time-honored tradition – every running publication always does Shoe Reviews, seemingly every other issue is a Shoe Review, so it’s time Zola did one too. We will use the same format all the other top-notch magazines use, but since shoe company’s don’t advertise with us we’re a little unsure what to base our awards on, so we’ll just make stuff up.



Who thought of these names anyway? How do you even pronounce it? “Hoka One One” probably means “stupid honky” in Polynesian.

The Hooka, Haka, Whacka – or whatever it’s called – is a nice green color, so it definitely scored high marks from our Review Panel of Leading Industry Experts, who like green. Their impressionable subconscious minds were also very impressed after seeing famous runners wearing this brand, the massive type font used on all the t-shirts, and the brand name being plastered everywhere.

The average age of our Expert Industry Leading Panel Review is 63 years old, all of whom have had at least one knee operation, so they also appreciated the maximum cushioning of this shoe.

It thus earns our coveted Shoe of the Year Award! The fact that Hoka was purchased by Deckers, who is throwing huge amounts of money at the sport and sent Zola a free ticket to visit their testing facility in the south of France, has nothing to do with winning the Award.

What our Testers Say:

I.M. Tookool, from Poughkeepsie, NY says,Studio portrait of young man

“Uh, yeah, thanks for the free shoes man, I really needed some new kicks. I couldn’t figure out how to tie the laces, they already seemed tied together with a little plastic thing-a-ma-bob, but that’s OK.”

Who this shoe is best for:

Old men; overweight people; trend-followers.



A great shoe with absolutely impeccable credentials, the S-LAB LOL-d9-Plus is very similar to the S-LAB J/K-p5 and the S-LAB CYA-8p, as well as the S-LAB WTF, and replaces the popular S-LAB OMG, and the S-LAB TMI-69 which was only sold in 13 countries, but not this one, except in certain states, and only during June.

Our Testers loved this shoe, praising it’s affiliation with the most famous runner in the world, it’s extremely technical and completely incoherent naming system, the association with all things french, and the incredible video’s of running the Matterhorn taken from a helicopter. The only drawback noted was that its blinding red color caused their wives to throw it in the trash when they weren’t looking.

The Salomon S-LAB LOL-d9-Plus was an easy winner of our “Hope They Advertise With Us Next Year” Award.

What our Testers Say:

Gandalf1Rickey Gale, from Lake Wobegon, MN says,

“I’ve looked everywhere, but I can’t find this shoe; I don’t know what happened to it. I hope they send me another pair, and hey, could you send me some lycra tights too?”

Who this shoe is best for:

Europhiles; attending techno-raves; older guys trying to pick up younger women.



La Sportiva took a bold new direction with this model, widening the toe box so it fits normal feet instead of only Italian super-models who have had their little toes surgically removed.

Another bold innovation are the shape of the lugs on the outsole; instead of the usual weird little squares, triangles, and other complex geometric shapes all the other company’s use that have nothing to do with function, Sportiva shaped their lugs like waves. This was so intriguing, the Helios is the only shoe of the entire Test we actually put on and tried. The waves worked well walking to the local bar, and would probably work really well on a trail. Sportiva has trademarked a name for these waves, but I can’t remember what it is, and don’t feel like reading the hangtag to find out, so you’ll just have to figure that out yourself.

What our Testers say:

michael-j-fox-movies-and-films-and-filmography-u5Luke Warm from Malibu, CA says,

“I love the black color, the yellow highlights, and the sticky rubber on those waves; it’s really rad at my skateboard park.”

Who this shoe is best for:

People who run rocky technical trails, as long as the rocks are smooth and rounded, because after all these years there still is no rock protection plate, which is why it won the “Close, but no Cigar” Award.



The MT 100 is an update from the MT 110, which is an update from the MT 101, but not the MT1010, and which has nothing in common with any of them, except they were designed by their famous runner, who actually doesn’t wear them.

Thus, the MT 100 wins our Best New Update, Sort-Of, Award!

Our Testers gave high praise for the name of the shoe, which is the only name out of the entire Test they could remember, and for the conservative earth-tone color scheme, designed at the exclusive Boston prep school the company owners daughters attend.

What our Testers Say:

Art Majors, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn says,jesus-was-a-hipster

“I was using these way before they became cool. I loved the 101; it was great. I hated the 110; the worst shoe in the world. Oh wait, I can’t remember, maybe it the other way around.”

Who this shoe is best for:

Hipsters; runners who weigh less than 125 lbs; biking to Starbucks on a fixie.



The 87th version of this venerable shoe has the same great features it’s had for the past 35 years, and thus would have won our coveted Shoe of the Year Award, except we were so sick of still seeing it we just couldn’t deal with it.

What our Testers Say:

Dot Matrix, of Why, AZ says,hipster-girl-by-katekillet

“I have bought every version of this shoe ever made. That was back in ’86, or maybe ’89, the year I almost won a race, in my age group. I could run an 8 minute mile back then. Yeah, those were the good old days. Did I ever tell you about the time I …”

Who this shoe is best for:

People who have pinned all their old race bibs onto the backside of their bedroom door.



Yes, they still make these, even after settling a lawsuit in 2014 for 3.75 million dollars. Fortunately, after selling gazillions prior to that, they could afford it. The 5-Fingers is one of the most famous shoes in the world, having been the poster child for the “minimalist” movement, even though none of the proponents of minimalism ever wore them.

We thus Award the 5-Finger the “Probably Should Update Award”.

What our Testers Say:

Hugh Donit, of Cool, CA says,Gollum.1

“I have been continuously injured for the past 5 years, but I’m absolutely positive that if I keep wearing these, they will cure my injuries, which started when I bought these 5 years ago.”

Who this shoe is best for:

Orthopedic Surgeons; people who ride recumbent bikes.

ASICS 2120


This is the running shoe that started it all. This is the granddaddy. The icon, the gold standard, the crème de la crème, the example of how to make huge sums of money by having footwear made in Asian sweat shops for $15 and selling them to wealthy white Americans for $100; the shoe that had nothing going on except color updates every 6 months requiring dealers to discount their existing stock and purchase more; the shoe with the sweeping marketing claims that are vague enough to prevent lawsuits; the shoe model all other shoe company’s have tried to emulate.

Thus, the 2120 wins our Lifetime Achievement Award.

What our testers say:

Utar Lee Klewless, of Boring, OR says,Beer Commercial Guy

“What makes this shoe great are it’s features; the ‘RG-8 Platform Support’, ‘X-9J Arc Compound’ and of course the ‘Special Unilateral Cross-Diagonal Banding Structure’, all really help my running.”

Who this shoe is best for:

Retired shoe company execs living on their yacht in the Bahamas.


Please Post Comments; we need your valuable feedback.  We will use it to improve our testing methodology in subsequent Gear Reviews.

Transgrancanaria 125K+ (2015)


Funny, that actually went about as well as I could’ve realistically hoped. TGC had been on my to-do list for a couple of years now. Friends’ descriptions intrigued me, and I found the surface-level details to be attractive: a route that logically traverses a geographic feature (the entire island!), travel to a foreign land, high-level competition, a long but still sub-100mi distance. Nevertheless, I barely made the trip due to a lingering shin twinge that left me woefully underprepared for so much running so early in the season. However, when my shin showed signs of affirmative health two weeks before race day, I put my faith in my consistent uphill skiing over the past two months and several reports that the track was steep and technical (i.e. giving me lots of hiking breaks), and began making some last-minute plans to race. Continue reading

Training for Barkley – Boulder to Winter Park As the Crow Flies

Guest UD Blogger: RunAroundaRoo’s Heidi Kumm about Jeremy Ebel’s Adventurous Training Run Over the Western Slope, essentially from Boulder to Winter Park as the crow flies!

Jermey Ebel - West Bound

Jermey Ebel – West Bound

There are a few reasons to head into the wilderness with a pack full of gear, a compass and a map but this particular trip had a very specific purpose – navigation and misery training for the Barkley Marathons.The Barkley Marathons is really just one race; a one of a kind 100 mile ultra meant to test your mental tenacity and technical skills.

In short, the race is set up rather sadistically – you receive a transposed course map to study the night before the race then head to your tent just waiting for the conch shell to blare your wake-up call. An hour later you’re at the start line of a race fewer than 20 people have completed even though hundreds have started, just waiting for the race director’s cigarette to burn out. Then you’re off, headed into the Tennessee brambles in search of a book where you’ll rip out one page to prove you found it. You get no GPS, no outside help, no aid stations as you navigate from one book to another, for a total of five loops if you’re lucky [?!] enough to complete the race. It is just you, your compass, your interpretation of the map and the razor sharp briars around you.

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