Category Archives: Mountain Biking

Last Minute Road Trip: Land of Enchiladas

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We were a little bummed last week when we found out our friends had a family emergency and we would have to cancel our trip down to Santa Fe for the weekend. Since we’d already scheduled time off from work for that Friday, we started thinking about alternative things to do or places to go.

With a clean slate, pretty much everything was in play. I scoured the internet travel sites looking for cheap airfare to places like Portland, Phoenix, Spokane, Boise and a couple of others but nothing popped out as a screamer deal. We considered staying put and getting some early season skiing here in Colorado since the some of the resorts have opened their “white ribbon of death” (one trail open with hundreds of people jamming it) but that held about as much appeal as it does every season. Moab sounded pretty good too until we found out that some kind of testosterone laden motorhead event was going on so that was quickly crossed off the list. We also thought about Jackson Hole but it was pretty cold and windy up there and we could easily get that down here.

After a couple of days of thinking about it, we finally decided we’d just do a mini road trip to Taos. We hadn’t done a trip down there in a while, it was close at only about 4.5 hours away, we could ride mountain bikes on warm, uncrowded trails, it was a ‘tweener season so the town wouldn’t be jammed with people working themselves into a turquoise buying frenzy and we could get our fill of New Mexican fare, which we were really looking forward to in our original plan. We thought we definitely had a winner!

We thought about camping but came to the conclusion we wanted “not cold”. We called around looking for cheap places to stay and discovered that because it was in fact the ‘tweener season, some of the places we’ve stayed in the past were closed. Then the idea of staying at the Taos Inn hit us. We’ve had an embarrassing number of margaritas in the Adobe Bar and heard countless bands there over the years, but only now realized we’d never actually stayed in a room there. Fortunately there were plenty of discounted rooms available so we booked a couple of nights, loaded the bikes and readied our GI systems for a weekend in the Land of Enchiladas.

The majority of the drive down to New Mexico from the Boulder Valley is pretty dull. First you have to fight your way through Denver, then there is the Indianapolis 500-esque, free-for-all stretch of highway between Denver and the Springs followed by the 100-year highway construction projects in the Springs proper. From the Springs on down to Walsenberg, where we turn west to take the back roads into Taos, it is pancake flat, barren and always windy…always, always windy. We had all day to get there so we decided from the start to kick back, dial up the iPod, drive in the slow lane and let the relaxing commence from the time we backed out of our driveway.

Let me clarify that the relaxing part actually started once we left REI where I had to buy a new lockset for our bike rack. I guess the last time I took my bike rack off, I laid the hitch mount’s lockset on my bumper and forgot about it. I’m sure it fell off somewhere along my route to work one morning and now it’s lost forever. I wish I could say this was the first time this has happened, but I can’t.

Once we got off of I-25 in Walsenburg and headed due west, we were immediately reminded why we love escaping to the desert from time to time. The sun was starting its final descent for the day and the colours of the desert, normally muted in the harsh midday sun, started to explode and the optical kaleidoscope commenced. It’s always a toss-up whether the sunsets or the food is the biggest allure of road tripping to New Mexico. Instead of debating that question for very long, we feasted solely on the sunset for the next hour knowing that the food and beverage part was not too far away.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the first thing we ate that evening was an appetizer of rattlesnake and rabbit sausage with a chipotle sultana sauce! Dee-freakin-licious. This of course was washed down with what Doc Martin’s Restaurant calls their “Perfect Margarita”…and it was. We won’t mention how many we had, but I will say they were all indeed “perfect”. Great food, great live music, great company…great day all around.

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I’m always stunned by the lack of people on hiking or mountain biking trails in New Mexico. I’ve ridden down there many, many times and seldom have I ever seen more than two or three people during a full day’s ride. It’s not like the riding is terrible either…it’s actually AMAZING. Maybe people are too interested in buying cheap turquoise trinkets to hop on a bike and explore the landscape? People certainly aren’t shy about packing the ski areas, but hiking and biking trails go pretty much unnoticed. I’m definitely not complaining here.

As we figured, there were only two other cars at the trailhead when we showed up at 10:30 a.m. This was late for us but we’d been busy stuffing our yaps with delicious huevos rancheros at the Bent Street Café while we waited for the temps to warm up. Keeping with our “just relax” theme for the weekend, we took our time getting our things ready knowing there was no need to beat the rush or worry about fighting through the throngs of other bikers on the trails. Also, before we left Colorado, I had realized that this ride would be my 100th ride of the season and I couldn’t think of a better way or place to commemorate it.

I love desert riding in and around Taos. Typically there are no long, protracted, painful, high altitude climbs like here in the Central Rockies. It’s still usually fairly warm during the day and even as people are skiing just a few miles away, I can generally still ride in shorts and a light jacket. And unlike riding in the desert around Moab and Fruita (which I love), riding around Taos and Santa Fe isn’t generally overly rocky, which can turn a half day on the trails into an exhaustion-fest. I’m not saying there aren’t some techy areas where you need to be on your game, but a lot of the trails out west of town are pretty straightforward, low stress riding.

We wound up only riding about 12 or so miles in and around the Taos Overlook Trail System. The Rift Trail, rated easy to moderate, pretty much encircles the entire area, with various other trails intertwined within it. I’d never ridden there specifically so was pretty excited to check it out. While riding we saw a grand total of one mountain biker (cool local guy named Roland), two hikers, one cute dog (named Moxxy), one bighorn sheep, one tarantula, a Redtail hawk, some mutant-sized crows, an ocean of sage, an epic view of the snowcapped Sangre de Cristos to the east, mind-blowing views into the Rio Grande Gorge and a bluebird blue sky that was immense beyond comprehension. It’s just crazy how places like this aren’t jam packed with mountain bikers and hikers, especially on such a typically beautiful New Mexico day. Again, no complaints whatsoever.

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For us, there is no outdoor activity in Taos complete without a stop at Orlando’s New Mexican Café afterward. We’ve been to Taos more times than we can count and eaten at tons of places, but Orlando’s is by far our favourite — bar none, hands down. Orlando’s has a genuinely friendly staff, consistently amazing home style, authentic, non-froofy food and a relaxed atmosphere perfect for reliving a day on the bike or skis. You may have to wait a few minutes for a table since it’s a small place with limited seating, but you can always grab a beer and sit out by the fire pit while you relax and make a new friend or two.

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We love New Mexico but it’s always good to get back home to Colorado. Although we didn’t get to see our friends, this little unexpected mini road trip turned out to be exactly what we needed to shake clean the Etcho-Sketch of daily life. Slow pace, no plans, no timetables, no stress, fun mountain biking, plenty of green chiles, tasty margaritas and a little touch of the funkiness of Taos.  Adios por ahora Nueva Mexico, pero nos vemos pronto.

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Travel light, climb high, ski hard, pedal far, live simply.

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Different Places, Different Paces

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I love autumn. LOVE. IT. And right now is arguably the best mountain biking of the year because the weather here in Colorado is about perfect. Not only that, it seems our entire state is blanketed in an ocean of gold leaves providing us a backdrop to trails that will take your very breath away. Because of that, the trails we’ve been riding all summer have suddenly taken on a different feel and it’s sometimes like we’re riding them for the first time instead of the 20th time. Even better, instead of dropping the hammer every time we clip into our pedals, our pace seems to slow and we tend to spend more time absorbing the views, our friendships and our good fortune of living in such an amazing place.

This week I’ve been making a point of riding after work just about every day simply because next weekend the time will change and our midweek afternoon rides will all but dry up with the lack of afternoon sun. Sure, we’ll still take a full afternoon off from to time to ride, but our staple afternoon routine of starting at 3:30 and riding until 5:30-6:00 (and many times later) won’t be so convenient as with the long daylight hours of summer. There is definitely some fun to be had night riding in the evenings, but again, not quite as relaxing as a summer ride if you have to wear a headlamp and bundle up against the cold.

As I mentioned above, I love the slower pace that seems to accompany this time of year. On Tuesday I rode with Adam and right from the start we set a nice leisurely pace, enjoyed the views, chatted aimlessly and caught up on life (like we don’t do that about every day) while riding familiar singletack we hadn’t been able to ride until recently because of the flooding. We’ve literally ridden hundreds and thousands of miles together since spring but I liked Tuesday;s ride as much as any other we’d done. We’ve definitely had epic days where we both were gasping for air on long climbs at high altitude and been gripped out of our minds on some pretty spicy descents, which aren’t really all that conducive to idle chit chat. That’s not to say we never talk when we ride, we do, but it always seems a little quicker pace of riding during the height of the season.

Same with my friend Carin, we’ve ridden hundreds of miles since spring and most of the time we’d just leave the trailhead and simply take care of business for mile after mile of singletrack. Yet, last night we left the trailhead to do one of our staple afternoon rides and right from the start, the pace was subdued. Unlike mid season, in a sixteen mile loop we probably stopped no less than half a dozen times to take in the view, talk about life, our future travel projects and take a few photos along the way.

To give you an idea of our pace, we can normally complete this sixteen mile loop, even with the climbing and couple of technical sections, in about an hour, maybe a few minutes more. This week when I rode it with Adam and again with Carin yesterday, it took us closer to two hours. Carin even commented at one point that she couldn’t remember a time when we rode so slow.

Sometimes during the season we’d get back to the car after a big day out and we’d feel mentally and physically exhausted, though fulfilled, with pushing our respective envelopes, which is always fun. But in direct contrast to that, I’ve felt that our rides this week have been even more fulfilling because it was more about slowing down and simply spending time with each other while we do what we love.

Same thing when I ski. Yeah, there are days when it’s fun to come out of the parking lot with our guns a’ blazin’ and just rip up thousands of vertical feet in a matter of hours on the piste — and those days definitely have their place in the mix. But the days I love most are the early mornings when we get up (and I’m talking about 04:00 a.m.) and skin up a resort long before the crowds ever wake. Just me and a friend trudging up some steep trail to a ridge where we’ll sit, talk and wait until right before the lifts open to the crowds whereupon we strap on our skis and helmet and let it fly in complete solitude. Same with the backcountry. I love getting away from the crowds, setting a climbing pace where we can talk, catch up, philosophise and exactly like I said about about mountain biking, do the things I love with the people I love.

I’m so fortunate to have such amazing family and friends who truly appreciate the fortune of good health and the fact that we live in such an amazing place and can do the things we do. But I’m even more fortunate that these same people appreciate what livin’ the dream is truly all about — sharing the things we love with the people we love. That’s the only stuff that counts when it gets down to it.

Travel light, climb high, ski hard, pedal far, live simply.

When It’s Not Fun, Well, It’s Not Fun.

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I love taking photos, especially when I travel or sometimes when I’m out riding my mountain bike, skiing and out road tripping. I also love taking photos of my friends doing what they do, or taking them for their Christmas cards and other such things. And sometimes I love taking photos just because I want to experiment with some creativity. The only times I don’t like taking photos is when I have to sacrifice a moment of enjoyment, like stopping during some amazing powder turns, watching life unfold in a foreign city or when I’m ripping some epic singletrack or basically when taking photos starts to feel like a job.

I seldom feel creative when I feel like I’m sacrificing one thing for the other. I’d rather enjoy the moment than alter it with hopes the altered moment will be better. I get lots of ski days in a season and ride hundreds, if not thousands of miles on my mountain bike in a given year, but the reality is that few of those days are epic powder days or mind blowing singeltrack adventures. Sometimes I have to decide whether I want to enjoy the moment, or capture the moment.

While I fancy myself a fairly decent photographer (when I actually do more than just point and shoot for giggles), I certainly don’t categorize myself as a “pro” photographer. I have a nice DSLR, have some cool mid-level lenses and I love trying to capture photos that will hopefully help me relive places I’ve traveled and spark memories of things I’ve seen. This especially applies to travel photography. I’m also the first to admit that I seldom share a lot of my photos with others because sometimes I want to remember them the way I want to remember them — without judgment, bias or critique from the general public. That may sound weird, but it is what it is. I did however start a website and do that thing for a while and even sold a few photos, but I haven’t been good about keeping it updated of late. http://barryreesephotography.com/index2.php#/home/

Anyhow, in the last several months it seems that I’ve fallen into that “point and shoot for giggles” rut and really haven’t flexed my creativity with the camera all that much. Here and there I will, but not as regularly as in the past. My buddy Jason is currently in grad school studying illustrative arts and is blowing my mind with his work. My good friend Jesse is of course crushing it with his amazing sculptures http://roguestudios.biz/. Similarly, my good friend Eleanor Moseman was just featured in an article in Nikon USA http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Learn-And-Explore/Article/hjbkuyyd/going-solo-a-two-wheel-photo-journey-across-asia.html. (No, I don’t even consider myself close to her level of talent!) My long time friend Marc Hudson http://marchudsonartgallery.com/, is also creating amazing things down in Santa Fe. My friend CJ, uber talented http://lathamjrphotography.com/. While they all serve as motivation for me to jump out of the rut and start creating again, I think it was more important for me to rediscover the spark for creativity from within. I personally think the best work always comes from within the heart, regardless of what art medium is chosen.

I had a fantastic mountain biking season, right up until the flooding here in Colorado washed away much of the local trails I loved to ride. I think a lot of the reason this season was so great is that every time I went out to ride, I focused on the ride and living in that very moment. If it was raining, I tried to enjoy it. If it was a day for lung busting climbing, I tried to get into the rhythm and enjoy the process. Blistering fast descents, well, let the adrenaline flow uninterrupted for a few minutes. Because of this, I seldom if ever took my DSLR along and mostly only opted to carry my little point and shoot. Part of that is because it makes me nervous to carry an expensive camera given my propensity to crash and harshly find the ground from time to time. Still, I just wanted to ride for the sake of riding and enjoy the scenery with my eyes.

This morning I was looking back at some of the snapshots I took while biking and stumbled upon a little project I did with my friend Bryan Kramer, who happens to race singlespeed mountain bikes all over the world. He’s a super cool guy who I always love hanging around with because he shares that live-in-the-moment attitude that I find so essential. I think being around him one evening back when I did this project sparked my desire to pick up the camera one morning and play around with some ideas. He fortunately humoured me and met me at sun up to take some photos and let me experiment a bit. Again, I am no “pro”, but it was a fun morning for learning a little about my camera — as well as how I could get my ass kicked by a guy with only one speed on his bike (I sport 30 gears by the way and sometimes would like another).

Looking back through these photos has gotten me back into thinking about formulating similar projects. Yes, I have some travels coming up soon and that is always my time to keep my camera at the ready and be creative, but right now I think I’m ready to narrow the focus and start learning some new things about photography and  some post shooting production methods. Who knows where I’ll take this line of thinking, but I think it’s safe to say I’ll be hitting up some of my friends to use as guinea pigs in the coming weeks. Now that I think about, there’s that living in the one of the most beautiful places on earth that could factor into photographic creativity as well.

Thanks Kramer for getting out on a cold morning back then.

Travel light, climb high, ski hard, pedal far, live simply.

Cha-Cha-Changes

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Had I taken the picture above two weeks ago, there would’ve been no whitish hue across the high peaks. However, every year about this time everyone here on the Front Range peeks up that way during their morning commute anticipating the first legitimate dusting of snow signaling the changing of the seasons. Yes, the leaves generally start changing colours a couple of weeks or so before the peaks get hit with white, but seeing the mountains change really opens the door for thoughts of the next season and all the powder days ahead.

Summer is always full of fun times filled with long days of hiking in the mountains amongst beautiful wildflowers, mountain biking along high ridges, strolling along Pearl Street with friends, music festivals, beer tastings and sitting outside at restaurants with friends long into the evenings. Then, invariably, come late August or early September, the wind will pick up one afternoon, it will smell different, maybe the rain comes and voila!, when you walk out the next morning to go to work, you feel that sharp bite in the air and you grab a jacket for the for the first time in three or four months.

When that scenario plays out, my little group of friends will typically kick into emergency mode and start getting all the season’s unfinished projects (mountain biking, climbing, etc) moved to front burner and completed before conditions dictate they be brought to a close. Just a few weeks ago we rode the Monarch Crest, a classic high altitude traverse down in Central Colorado, knowing that our window for dry trails (re:no snow) was closing fast due to the changing seasons. Sure enough, a week after we rode it, severe weather here across most Colorado pretty well closed out that opportunity for another year.

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Another way we “celebrate” the changes of the seasons is by sequestering ourselves into my garage for an evening to prep the coming season’s gear. For the change from summer to winter activities, we have come to affectionately call these little soirees our “Wednesday, Wax and Whiskey Sesh”. These are nights when we pop the top on a beer or sample a little whiskey while we wax and tune our skis. We also catch up on the latest doings in each other’s lives and in the case of this past Monday, start dreaming about all the powder turns we’ll make in the coming season. Of course during the actual ski season, these Wednesday evening sessions (about every 4-5 weeks) will convert over to reminiscing about all the powder turns we’ve made thus far and naturally, those still yet to come.

I feel bad for people who don’t get out each and every season and have things they love to do. If I didn’t ski, winter would seem way longer than it already is. If I only skied and didn’t mountain bike, trail run, climb, fly fish and camp when it’s warm, summer would just be a time when I had to mow twice a week until winter came back. Making the changes from season to season is easy when you fully throw yourself into life and just have fun with what Mother Nature gives us! Like the saying goes, “No such thing as bad weather, only improper gear and clothing”. Embrace the changes!

So, as you see, I’m usually not all that opposed to changes. In fact, I see changes as opportunities for new experiences, new views and new paths. However, sometimes changes can kick you right in the gut, like the loss of a friend or a family pet, both of which happened in my little household this past month. While the passing of life is painful for the people still living, it is one of the realities of existing we simply can’t escape. Sitting along the Bagmati River in Pashupatinath, Nepal a couple of years ago, watching pyre after pyre being built and seeing the steady stream of the deceased being cremated right before my eyes brought this reality home in very guileless and unnervingly graphic terms.

While adapting to changing seasons can be fun, changes like losing the people and things you love is certainly tougher to adapt to. When this does happen, my therapy is generally to get on my bike and go for long, long rides, maybe strap on my skis and go for a nice, long tour in the mountains or simply go camp by a river and just have time to think. The point for me is not to escape, but to experience ALL the emotions fully, without filters. My meditation is to fall into the arms of the places I love and simply let go. When I do this, I can honestly  learn to accept and more importantly, sincerely learn to heal.

Because of my spiritual and philosophical beliefs, I fully accept the reality of change and accept that there is nothing I can do that will ever stop it. What I can do though is live every day to the fullest, tell the people closest to me how much they mean to me, never let an opportunity for fun pass me by and sincerely live with no regrets. I’ll always miss my friends who have passed and definitely will miss the pets that I’ve loved, but I will always have the comfort going forward in knowing I’ve amassed an over-stuffed cache of good memories because I never let a day pass that I wasn’t up for a bit of fun.

Travel light, climb high, ski hard, pedal far, live big.

Suffering Nicely, Thank You…

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This past weekend was filled with many, many miles on my mountain bike. Some of those miles were solo, some shared with Donna and some shared with my friends Adam, Carin and Ann.

The thing I sometimes forget, or maybe have just come to accept since I’ve lived in Colorado so long, is how the terrain here can be a little less than friendly unless you can learn to enjoy a little pain from time to time.

A good percentage of the ski resorts here now offer lift rides to mountain bikers. In Vail you can even ride up in a cushy gondola with your bike, have a leisurely lunch of haute food complete with mind blowing views across the Rockies, then hop on an expensive, full suspension rental bike and literally coast all the way to the bottom on trails ranging from smooth fire roads to higher consequence, technical singletrack trails. It’s like skiing…ride up in comfort, ski down via your choice in terrain, repeat.

If you’ve read any of my blog entries from prior winter months, you already know that me and my friends will get up in the middle of the night, drive an hour or so to our ski resort of choice and climb to the highest point at that resort long before the lifts ever open. Then, at about 15 minutes or so before they drop the ropes  for “first chair”, we clip in to our bindings and rip some solitary turns back to the base. We have a monster workout and beautiful ski down done before the first person’s butt even hits the chair.

Cold? Yes.

Hard? Generally.

Painful and miserable? Can be.

Worth it? Always.

Knowing that about my winter preferences for ski outings, it’s probably no surprise that those preferences roll over into the summer months when my mountain bike gets top billing over my skis. Like skiing, some of the best terrain is not served via inbounds lifts so accessing it requires some work. But even on the days when we want to ride the terrain inside the resorts, we still prefer to work for the downhills, even if it is for only one trip down.

My friend Carin has been here in Colorado for a couple of months (from CA). Strong rider for sure, but something I was reminded of when I started riding with her was the fact that we live at over a mile high in elevation to start with and everything we typically ride involves going up from there. For someone coming from lower elevations, that’s a recipe for some serious pain. However, while it was fun to giggle as she gasped for air while climbing steep singletrack for hours on end in the first two or three weeks she was here, something inherent in her spirit came shining through those gasps — she loves to ride.

Carin, like Adam, Ann, Danny, Kris and a few more of my friends, actually enjoy working hard on a bike. It’s a matter of deep appreciation for something you’ve created. Sometimes you stand atop a ridge after a couple hours of grueling climbing, hands on your knees, quads completely pumped out, lungs heaving in oxygen dep and you’re left with nothing except the knowledge that YOU, and no one else (including a lift), got yourself up there. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not instant, it’s not always “fun”, it’s not always pretty, but at the end of the day when you lay your head on your pillow, you are 100% satisfied that you did something to fill your soul.

We are extremely fortunate to live in Colorado and get to ride in some amazingly beautiful places. Sharing that with people who enjoy the suffering and understand the rewards is just icing on the cake.

Here’s a quote from my friend Adam. Pretty much explains why I love riding with him.

Even with the scrapes, bruises, and thoughts of giving up encountered while biking, somehow I still smile every time I go for a ride…..” 

Climb high, ski hard, pedal far, paddle long, live big.

One Day I Decided to Build a Sailboat

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Let me start off by saying that I know little to nothing about sailing — probably closer to “nothing” truth be told. But this morning I was reminded by my friend Liz Clark http://www.swellvoyage.com/ why I’ve always been fascinated by sailboats. Liz is currently readying her boat Swell to be launched and find herself solo sailing the world again after a brief break.

Before I met Liz, I had some other friends who decided to buy an older sailboat and restore it top to bottom with the ultimate goal of sailing it around the globe. One of these friends had “some” sailing experience, another had less and the other had, well, let’s say they had limited experience.

In the process of restoring it and upgrading its systems, they would of course intimately learn all those systems (even designing and building some of them), get familiar with her handling nuances and understand her capabilities and limitations. It was the most fundamental process of not only building/restoring the boat, but building a personal relationship with her along the way.

Naturally, the restoration of the 37’ Valiant, sailing under the name of Syzygy at the time, was not without its challenges and setbacks. Yet, these three friends championed on for months and little by little Syzygy began to truly become worthy of the adventure they initially had their sights set upon. Not only had Syzygy morphed into what they had dreamed, but I could also tell from conversations with them that they too had personally morphed into something different.

To make a long story short, when the day came to set off, one friend had dropped from the mix, and in his place a new wife of one of the others stepped in. The husband and wife would sail her across the Pacific and the person who was still on board from the original crew would join them in the Tuamotus two or three months later. Syzygy sailed for well more than a year, eventually being sailed solo by the person who joined later in the Tuamotus, and then was ultimately sold in Australia. I might point out here that the couple onboard was expecting a baby and came back to the States to start that adventure — a far more challenging one.

As I watched them transform Syzygy into something they dreamed of and sailed it under the Golden Gate Bridge, I began to realize just how much of a lost art this is — to have an idea or dream and build it from ground zero. It’s just too easy to lay down some cash these days and get right to the “adventure” part. It’s also the reason many of today’s “adventures” mean little more than just ticking off another box on the bucket list.

As romantic and alluring as sailing around the world sounded, I knew that type of thing wasn’t probably going to happen in my world. I think my main obstacles were having no sailing experience at all and my disdain for physically being in the ocean. I like the ocean, but it doesn’t “call to me”. And then there’s the whole shark thing…but I digress. But as a result of them tackling this project and seeing it through, I found myself wanting to build my own sailboat, if only metaphorically.

As the title of this blog suggests, I like to ride bikes. I’ve always had a bike and a few years ago even dabbled in racing them (road racing) in a fairly competitive environment. For the past 25 years though, I’ve only ridden mountain bikes. It’s something I really, really like. It didn’t take long for me to put all the pieces together and decide I was going to build a mountain bike from the ground up and let that be my sailboat.

I spent weeks, probably months, researching and jotting down notes on what features I wanted (and didn’t) and what frames best suited my physique and style of riding. I honestly had no idea how vast the options were until I started looking. Naturally I employed the opinions and expertise of friends who ride casually as well as professionally so I could build a complete picture of the options before I would finally decide. When I had it narrowed down to two or three frame models, I then set about finding a good deal.

Being that I’d always just bought a bike in the past, I’d never really thought too much about the individual parts of a bike up til then. Therefore, I spent a considerable amount of time researching every component associated with the bike — every bolt, cable and link. I wanted to make decisions based on why, not just because it would fit. I wanted to build it with purpose. Time consuming? Yeah, because it was a lot of new territory for me, very much so. But as the project moved forward, the bike and every single component would become a part of me…and me part of it.

After two or three months of patiently shopping the internet, I had all the parts and was ready to build it. I might add that my patience saved me 60% off of MSRP!

There were certainly points where I would sit in my basement working on it, getting frustrated to the point where I’d have to walk away (i.e. hydraulic brakes). But I’d realize it was a learning process and the frustration was just part it. I had to remind myself that sometimes the things we really want, the important things, aren’t always attained so easily. Running a 100k was hard. It was hard to train for it and hard to run it. But I was patient, put in the work and eventually I finished. By doing so, I discovered what I wanted to discover about myself. The bike was my sailboat, a tool I wanted to use to sail off into adventures on, something I may need to depend on at times, so I practiced patience and I learned.

Now, when I go out to ride in the mountains here in Colorado, I believe every mile means something a little different than it would’ve had I just laid out some cash and rode it out of a shop. If it breaks, I know I can fix it. It’s a sense freedom in a way, independence. There is no app and no shortcut for that feeling.

I’ve built other bikes since and the process has admittedly become fairly easy. It’s only easy now because I took the time to understand the details and let them become part of me. There are a couple of things I still want to try like building a wheel from scratch, a true art, but that’s for another day. For now, I’m content to throw my chile pepper red sailboat on my truck four or five days a week and sail off into adventures that mean something, if only to me.

Thank you Liz Clark, Jon Haradon and Matt and Karen Holmes and a special thanks to Jesse Horton.

Climb high, ski hard, pedal far, paddle long, live big.